Image: Creative Commons – Kiss/Clipart
A former Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, had this to say in a recent speech:
Our country has to be capable of inflicting severe damage on any adversary – and that almost certainly means increasing military spending beyond two per cent of GDP.
Source: https://www.lowyinstitute.org/publications/address-china-tony-abbott 11/12/19
By Jingo! a striking idea.
Do you know the origin of Jingoism? I just looked it up.
It comes from a popular song sung by supporters of a British venture into Turkish waters against Russia in 1878. The chorus lines said this:
We don’t want to fight, yet by Jingo! if we do,
We’ve got the ships, we’ve got the men, and got the money too.
So there you are. Jingoism. An interesting synonym, according to Merriam-Webster, for hawk, war hawk or warmonger, and an antonym for pacifist.
Now a bit of honesty. I am a pacifist. I am currently 86 years of age. That is why I have quite a data base of war memories. I was born in 1933, the year Hitler came to power. I don’t remember this but I’ve read about it. I do remember a lot of other things.
My grandfather and uncle were in Japan’s Changi Prison. Another uncle was a Rat of Tobruk. Two more uncles fought on the Kokoda Trail. Another uncle survived a torpedoing of a troop ship. I was a national serviceman during the Korean War of 1950-1953. On a less family-focused scale, I have other memories.
I remember Pearl Harbour very clearly: December 7 1941. I remember the midget submarines in Sydney Harbour: 31 May-1 June 1942 (as a nine-year-old I looked through one of their periscopes for a fee of sixpence). I still feel the anguish of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: August 6 and 9 1945. I vividly remember the excitement of the Normandy invasion: 6 June 1944 – mid-July 1944. I shall never forget the joy of the Sydney Australia peace celebrations in 1945.
I marched more than once in the Sixties against the Viet Nam war. I learnt the songs and played my guitar with them: “We Shall Overcome,” “The Willing Conscript,” “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?” and “What Did You Learn At School Today?” to name a few.
I demonstrated against the crazy war in Iraq too: 19 March 2003, and the hazy war in Afghanistan, named misleadingly by President G W Bush on October 7 2001: “Operation Enduring Freedom”. Lord what fools those warmongers seemed to me. By Jingo! that’s still my way with things.
I’ve been out and about looking for anti-war quotations to weave into the rest of this post. Here they come.
…the role of the military is to fight and win war and, therefore, prevent war from happening in the first place.
George W Bush
I think war is a dangerous place.
George W Bush
Our enemies are innovative and resourceful…They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.
George W Bush
I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we’re really talking about peace.
George W Bush
There you have it. Thought samples from the supreme commander of the world’s most powerful army. It is hard to find better evidence for the need for checks and balances – the separation of the powers. I am thinking too of the Coalition Of The Willing (the USA, the UK and Australia) that gave us the Iraq war of 2003. Blaire, Bush and Howard; what a pity they were not checked and balanced!
Thank you for sharing this space with me. I have found a little more wisdom in other places. Here it is.
A rational army would run away.
Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu
O Peace! how many wars were waged in thy name.
All the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting.
Strike against war, for without you no battles can be fought!
In peace, sons bury their fathers; in war, fathers bury their sons.
How can you make a war on terror if war itself is terrorism?
In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.
During war, the laws are silent.
Quintus Tullius Cicero
All wars are fought for money.
All murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.
Right is right, even if everyone is against it, and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it.
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.
There you are then. Above are other shoulders to stand on. Most of them are worth standing on. I have been lucky down all these years to have lived in a country relatively undamaged by war. I notice with pity the misfortune of many of our asylum seekers for example, whose lives have been so riven by conflict – nation versus nation or civil war. Such a sad existence theirs and so worthy of our compassion. In 2010 I heard a speaker at a human rights conference talk about primary school children in Afghanistan whose school maths problems used war statistics, for the purpose of realism, as all their lives had been lived in a country torn by war.
I have just been reading about another ingredient of war. It is a very strange one really, but I suspect it is important, extremely important. It’s so linked to covert schemes. But if you look carefully, it keeps coming out into the open as a cause of war. The ingredient is oil.
It is hard to eliminate oil as a cause of the wars of recent times. In the Pacific war, for example, there is a strong case that makes the US and European embargo on oil for Japan in August 1941, one cause of the December 7 attack on Pearl Harbour. Reference: https://nationalinterest.org/feature/5-oil-wars-ended-disaster-14885 12/12/19
Hitler’s invasion of Russia clearly had the oil of the Caucasus as a motivation. As Hitler himself put it, “My generals know nothing about the economic aspects of war.” Source: loc. cit. 12/12/19
The Iran-Iraq war of the Eighties is another good example.
The Iran-Iraq War of 1980-88 dragged on for eight bloody years, and dragged down both of the combatants. Frustrated by the stalemate on the ground, both sides sought to strike at their enemy through oil. Iraq began the Tanker War in 1984 by attacking Iranian oil facilities and vessels trading with Iran. Iran struck back with air and naval attacks against Iraqi ships and oil sites and, more importantly, laid naval mines in the Persian Gulf.
Source: loc.cit. 12/12/19
The US conflict with Iraq in 1991 and 2003 seems another justifiable example of the power of oil, this time as a catalyst for the vast intervention of half a million troops. I remember reading somewhere that you wouldn’t get such a massive troop movement to protect broccoli.
I have decided to end my oil examples there. I can feel in my bones that I could go much further about oil if this were an academic treatise.
A volcano disaster has just happened in New Zealand so there is much tragedy adrift in the current news. Another awareness for me: my luck to avoid such sadness.
At the time of writing, Christmas is approaching. So peace be with you.