Bombing Innocents in the Name of Peace

“…the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”

– Hermann Göring in an interview during the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials (18th April 1946)

A mere few hours after the UK parliament voted to authorise airstrikes in Syria – British fighter jets have returned after bombing the first of presumably many Islamic state targets…evidently Cameron and his applauding war-hungry cronies were readying the big red button even as the “debate” was going on…more than ready to flex and pose in order to keep up with big brother of the US:

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In a world in which there are so many detractors that are more than happy to speak out against the disgracefully unfair and obvious propaganda driven politics which encircle the likes of countries such as North Korea…why then is it not as apparent that our political representatives are employing the very same offensive rhetoric as them? We have David Cameron bumbling away claiming the bombing and consequent loss of innocent lives, is the only way to keep the “woman raping, Muslim murdering, medieval monsters” of Isis at bay…and that they are “plotting to kill us and to radicalise our children right now.” This is obvious emotive political tactics dispatched with the sole intention of hoping people rid themselves of their logical faculties and instead devolve to caveman-esque reasoning: “UGGG…don’t take baby and woman – they my baby and woman.” 

But no. Many are falling for it – and with 397 MPs voting FOR, and only 223 AGAINST airstrikes it appears even the political elite are just as easy to convince. 

I find it especially odd that our dear sworn and trusted protector, David Cameron, is suddenly displaying so much compassion towards the British people when in the past it has lacked so heavily. The claim that he just wants what is best for us and that his main aim is simply to “keep the British safe” will likely be news to the millions of people currently suffering as a direct result of his strict and uncompromising austerity measures. Let’s not forget for a second that back in 2010, the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government announced the biggest cuts to state spending since the Second World War…hacking away at social security and the NHS without a degree of sympathy, cutting a potential of 900,000 public sector jobs between 2011 and up till 2018…add to that the tax and welfare changes implemented between 2010 and 2014 which saw the poorest tenth of the population hit the hardest by far, (38 per cent decrease in net income for 2010-15), whilst by contrast the richest tenth, Cameron’s BFFs, lost the least: it isn’t surprising that many are baffled that he could ever say he wants what is best for us with a straight face.

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But yeah, thanks so much for keeping us safe mate, you’re a real diamond! What would we do without you?

Despite the self-patting on the back, high fives, and raucous applause after Hilary Benn’s speech, which would likely make any sane non-bloodthirsty person weep whilst also being sick – I still feel that his empty and overly simplistic words only further cement the idea that adding our own stamp to the  3,000+ airstrikes against Syria since 2014 is likely a bad idea…apparently they hold “our democracy in contempt” – but so do the MPs on our own turf when they choose to go against what their constituents want, instead choosing to side with superpowers and mega corporations.

Oh, and in totally unrelated news: the targets of the airstrikes will largely be focused around the lucrative gas and oil fields Isis are holding on to at the moment. Just saying, sure there’s no link…but, thought it was worth mentioning. Who will hold on to those once this battle is finally over I wonder?

But let’s not focus on facts, we don’t need those that’s what has became obvious. Case in point in what was a rather grimly ironic announcement, Cameron cited British intelligence (something which appears to be severely lacking in the House of Commons) to put forth the claim that there are  approximately 70,000 non-extremist Syrian opposition fighters who are available on the ground to potentially help overcome Isis. But here’s where the intelligence runs thin and the pig-headed (no pun intended!) stupidity comes in…you see even if we were to believe these numbers – they are still not sourced from one unified group; in actual fact they are a mad mish-mash of over 100 smaller ones, most of which are too preoccupied with Assad’s Syrian army to be open to the distraction of putting their lives on the line against Isis to help out the west.

I mean everyone from Jeremy Corbyn to Vladimir Putin has pointed out the blatant discrepancies in just about every part of the west’s role in this conflict…but when it comes to actual answers he’s a slippery man to hold down:

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This is Cameron’s third large scale intervention, Libya, Iraq and now Syria…and despite this he was still so quick to ask “if not now, when?” as if it was a foregone conclusion that at some point we would definitely be dropping bombs on innocent houses in the mad campaign against a limited terrorist group. But my question would be, when will we learn? If not now, then when? Because so far we haven’t learned a single thing…anyone with a single brain cell can work out that none of the wars launched by the UK and US from Afghanistan in 2001, Iran in 2003, or Libya in 2011 have ended – as millions still suffer from those reckless and ill-advised decisions – and the recent vote and airstrikes will make that number even more…but who cares when we stand to make such a ginormous profit from a false imperialistic war?! Just as we always do…selling on weapons, and plundering countries for resources.

Well only the people seem to give a shit, or even spare a second thought for the innocents trapped in the middle of this terrifying nightmare. But it’s more clear than ever that the politicians are only in it for themselves. I feel entirely diminished and powerless due to this harrowing news…and have no idea where to go from here…I used to think that we were the good guys – now I’m not so sure.

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Oh, and finally I must add that Bridget Phillipson the MP from my hometown (Houghton & Sunderland South) voted FOR airstrikes and I am utterly ashamed. I am however, relieved to see that her views do not reflect that of her constituents…or at least none of which who are my friends anyway. 

Fight Club

I would like to think I am a lover, and not a fighter…after all, usually physical conflict doesn’t really solve much when you think about it. Obviously some people make it very tempting, but more often than not, non-peaceful ways to shut them the hell up, are somewhat frowned upon!  Naturally if your dear old Granny was being mobbed by a set of escaped rampant ostriches, you’re probably okay to get the broom out. But in most cases, you’re just likely to get yourself into trouble…

But I was forced to think about this by a guy today – and thanks to his inane question regarding the matter, I’ve been mulling over past bouts ever since…

I only really had one big proper fight at school – which is quite a feat as I went to an all-boys secondary in the North-East of England – not sure how I escaped, I guess I was very good at running away. Anyway, I used to be very embarrassed about its living memory – but now that I look back on it, it was a pretty funny situation, and one which I should have laughed off immediately – rather than getting all defensive about;  you know – blushing, and shrugging whenever anyone asked me about it.

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But back then I lived even deeper in my thoughts than I do now, I didn’t express much, apart from between my nearest, and dearest – stifled by shame, self-consciousness, and a bitter embarrassment regarding just about everything (like, literally.) So this is the first time I’ve told the story to a larger audience…so please bear with me…

It all started on an unassuming school day. I was with my friends on the smaller courtyard, where you could largely avoid the manic hustle, and bustle of the main schoolyard – by which I mean footballs being blasted off your face at every juncture, and/or birds shitting on you in passing, as they scrabbled for the scraps of leftover sandwiches.

That’s not to say it was totally peaceful where we spent our break-times. It was still basically a war-zone…

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Unwanted oranges, apples, and bananas (note: no chocolate was ever thrown) would fly from one end to the other – accompanied with blood-curdling cries, and bellowing swear word strewn sentences, that would even make Vinnie Jones wince.

On the day in question, it appeared to be particularly heated – and the various food items were flying with an increased ferocity. We huddled together, my friends and I, attempting to dip, and dodge any incoming missiles – before scraping them off the floor, and hurling them back. You could only pause momentarily to laugh, should it hit your target – because luxuriate in giggling for too long, and you can be sure that the dirtied tangerine segment would be SPLAT , back in your face!

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So it was quite a surprise when I was told that one of our sworn enemies (that day), now wanted to fight me…something about I had thrown a sloppy banana right off his forehead, and for whatever reason he wasn’t too fond of that fact. I didn’t even know who he was…so they pointed him out…of course, yup – just my luck – he was taller, and about four people wider than me. My friends didn’t care, the occasion had pumped them full of testosterone, and all of a sudden they wanted to see blood. A couple of them ran off to tell him I was up for it, as the others tried to make it seem like a great idea:

“He’s a year younger, man…he’s not even THAT big…well okay, he is…but you know – you throw like one punch, and then we all join in – then it’s like seven versus one! No worries  – YOU HAVE TO NOW!” 

NO! I wasn’t going to do it! No…but how to plot my escape out of this situation – could always go out the side-door, yeah…I began to walk away, with several friends still trying to convince me that it was a great idea – I wasn’t having any of it – “FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT!” Someone randomly screamed to my complete horror, and disbelief – before I knew it a crowd had circled in, barring my way out – and there he was, this massive entity. There was no way out of this, I’d never live it down if I ran now…or perhaps I could fake a heart attack…nah, that’s be even worse probably. It was time to face the music. I turned to my fantastic friends, who had basically orchestrated this whole thing – the excitement level for them was clearly off the charts – on the other hand, I was so scared I felt like I may literally shit my pants.

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I looked at my foe – clearly if he got his hands on me, he would literally murder me. One punch from him, and I’d be eating through a straw, for the rest of my life. Couldn’t let that happen. I’d obviously have to try some unusual tactics to avoid him caving my skull in with meaty fists. But what? I had no ideas, so just lunged in there – to no avail, thankfully he missed me too. I turned back to my friends, with a look that said “Jesus Christ – please fucking help you set of complete dickheads” – but no, they just made gestures for me to get a move on.

I was quivering with a fearful kind of excitement, everything was blurred in a mad frenzy – perhaps I would cry, that would be humiliating. Light bulb. I jumped in and booted him in the chest…I pretty much bounced straight off him, cue laughter from the blurs that surrounded me…I tried again, It was literally the only way I could think of to keep distance from this unnatural behemoth. It never worked, I just pinged back as if I was the pinball – and he was the strong flippers at the bottom. He attempted to grab me on numerous occasions, but never quite managed it.

So there I was – just flying in with useless kick, after useless kick. Like a demented version of Kung Fu Panda, but without any of the guile, or charm that makes him admirable. But I had no Plan B – I’d just keep trying this until a teacher would inevitably break it up…after all, there is NO chance any of the onlookers would do anything of the sort. That’d be way too mature, way too sensible.

“OI! WHAT’S GOING ON OVER THERE?!” 

“Oh, thank God” I thought to myself, with a sigh of relief:

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The crowd dispersed, in every direction – and we fled back to our respective corners. But there’s no real code, and soon someone, somewhere had snitched…and the teacher was over next to us, asking questions. “WHO WAS FIGHTIN’? HUH?”  Everyone insisted that nothing had happened, that he had been seeing things…“NO FIGHT? THEN WHY WAS THERE A MASSIVE CROWD? HMM?” One of my friends tried to cheekily claim that the crowd was to do with a Yu-Gi-Oh card, and that it was really rare, so everyone was crowding around to see…inventive, I’ll give him that – but the teacher didn’t buy it. And before long the truth came to light.

We were suspended for the day, the two of us. And while we waited for our parents, we had to sit together – which was awkward…I felt like at any moment he would smash my face through one of the glass cabinets, or at the very least strangle me to death with his banana stained tie. But he didn’t. Just stared at me non-stop, as I squirmed with unease.

Fortunately both my parents were out at work, so it fell to my Grandad to pick me up. Which was a lot less daunting. I slumped into his car, and he immediately wanted all of the details – did I get a good punch in? How big was he? etc, etc! I said he was massive, so I tried to kick him, but it didn’t exactly work out. I thought it best not to mention the fact that I was flying around like a terrible Hong Kong Phooey imitation. And that if I wasn’t so small, he would have probably crushed me to death…

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Anyway, we drove on to my Grandparent’s house, where we had mountains of bacon sandwiches, and gallons of hot sugary tea. My Grandma fussed over me, as Grandmas do – whilst my Grandad made me laugh with Rocky impressions. Later on he called me up to his attic, where he showed me an antique crossbow he had kept hidden for years. “YOU BETTER NOT BE SHOWING HIM THAT CROSSBOW KEITH, IT’S DANGEROUS!” called my Grandma from the kitchen…

He lied, and winked at me – whilst trying to fight back a grin. Then we went back downstairs, and lounged around watching cowboy films for the rest of the day. I suppose in this life, you have to take the good with the bad – and this memory encapsualtes that message entirely for me…it was both the worst day, and the very best day. And for that reason I wouldn’t change it, even if I could. 

Well…perhaps…I wouldn’t have went with the lame kicking technique – would have been nice not to be labelled “Jackie Chan” for the rest of my school-days! But yeah, never mind…

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