(Also euphemistically named the Ministry of “Defence” or “ Defense” in the U.S. Continuing along the line of my last post about the Ministry of Truth, in Orwell’s 1984, the ministry responsible for perpetuation of continuous war between the three superstates was – of course – called “The Ministry of Peace”)
In this week of the 9th Annual Ottawa Peace Festival, do you ever question what we are “defending”?
I’ve had a long fascination with history, and much of recorded history is war. My birth in the early days of World War II was an event that might have never happened, had my father not been diagnosed with Tuberculosis by military doctors when he and his only brother Claude went together to enlist in the fight against Hitler. My only uncle on my fathers side, Major Claude Abell of the North Novas is buried in a military cemetery in Cape Gris Nez, France, one of the approximately 42,000 Canadian servicemen and women that did not survive that war.
As a young boy, I listened to the radio show about the heroic Horatio Hornblower, of Her Majesty’s Royal Navy, based on books by C.S. Forester. I was drawn to study weapons, and their role, from the siege weapons of the Romans, through the long bow vs crossbow battle of Agincourt immortalized by Shakespeare in Henry the V, to the Spitfires and Hurricanes of the Battle of Britain, and the howitzers, machine guns and mines that were a part of modern warfare. I was a Queen’s Scout – an organization that arose out of the Boer War, and an army cadet, where I learned to parade, to salute, to shoot, and to read military topographical maps.
It was not until my college undergraduate studies in the early sixties, that I began to seriously look at the political side of war. This included a very thorough study of Hitler, the situation, tactics and forces that brought him to power, through to his final sociopathic rant against the German People for letting him down.
This was also the 60’s, of the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius. The U.S. was embroiled in the Vietnam War, wars raged in Burma, the Congo, Guatemala, in fact in some 56 countries around the world, but mainly in Africa, Asia, and Central America. Cast on one side as a fight against godless communism, and on the other as wars of liberation from colonial oppression, these became proxy wars between the superpowers – funded, armed, and heavily propagandized by the United States and the U.S.S.R. – often with direct or covert involvement of armed forces from the superpowers and/or from their respective allies.
When opposition to this extension and deployment of U.S. Military forces arose in the context of the Vietnam War, a huge political polarization occurred, which tended to drown out any discussion of paths to peace and reconciliation. It also resulted in a right-wing backlash that bedevils the U.S. and Canada to this very day. The result has been over sixty continuous years of a World at War, with the poorest and most vulnerable nations the inevitable victims, with millions of civilian deaths and hundreds of millions displaced – living in poverty and misery.
There is no moral high ground in the real history of this period of continuous warfare from the 1950’s – inaccurately called the “post-war period” – to the present day. The more I study and come to understand the root causes and progression of these hundreds of conflicts, the more disappointed and sometimes furious I become with the leadership of what is inaccurately called “the Free World”.
And we have such leadership because we, the people, buy into their fear and division tactics, and let them get away with wrapping themselves in the flag, even as they work against our best interests.