War is very much on my mind this week : the horrific pictures from Gaza of a city and surroundings pummelled by superior and relentless Israeli military might. 
   The media try to be balanced, yet there is no balance in reality. It reminds me very much of n. Ireland, where the Catholic nationalist/republican population were occupied by both RUC and the army and constantly threatened by Loyalist paramilitaries.
   The two sides are in no way even, as Israel prepare for a ground invasion which will see a lot more than the 700 Palestinians (many being being children) already murdered. The Israelis possess bomb shelters, both private and public to retreat to , as well as sophisticated equipment designed to take out Hamas'  missiles.
   Historical context is vital and never provided : from the highly problematic creation of a Jewish state imposed on Palestine, to the refusal of Zionists to negotiate with Yasser Arafat and the distinct probability that their Secret Service poisoned him.
   Their intransigence has created Hamas and Hezbollah and will almost certainly lead to Palestinians in Gaza supporting more extreme jihadists in future.
   Again it recalls the situation in n.Ireland, where the British army was initially backed by the nationalist/republican people as saviours, only for them to kill innocents on Bloody Sunday and show their true colours.
   All these terrors of warfare only reinforce the necessity for a negotiated settlement and Israel, just like Britain in the six counties, will sooner or later have to come to terms with that.
   The last person in the world they need to persuade them to join together for talks is so-called Middle East peace-broker Tony Blair. He should be sitting in front of an international court accused of war crimes, not lecturing the two sides on 'de-escalation'.
   As we tend to glorify the armed forces as 'heroes' , we should remember that many with severe injuries as a result of conflict - both physical and mental - are totally ignored by the authorities as soon as they are no longer needed.
   These soldiers are nothing but 'cannon fodder' for the grandiose designs of a disintegrating British nation-state and its rapidly fading Empire, as it still tries to act as an international policeman. ( Of course, this is selective and there was no talk of intervention in Bahrain, an ally, as this monarchy killed and tortured its Shia citizens. Indeed, Mrs Windsor endorsed this regime by inviting the King to her Jubilee celebrations!).
   All this makes it fundamental that we in Cymru take a lead in Britain and insist that the armed forces do not recruit school pupils.
   I was shocked to find that, over the summer, one Comp. in RCT was actually advertising for a member of staff whose prime responsibility would be the setting up of a cadet force within the school! What were the Labour controlled Council doing, allowing this to happen?
   Last Wednesday I was proud to take part in a small demo outside the Senedd, organised jointly by CBayRDay and Cymdeithas y Cymod, a Christian pacifist group.
   It was held because a petition was being handed in, with 1,400 signatures, to Roger Williams AM, Chair of the Petitions Committee, calling for a complete end to military recruitment in our schools.
   I was astounded to find out that Britain is the only country in the whole of Europe which defies the UN Human Rights Charter and allows them into schools.
   The Children's Commissioner for Wales, Keith Towler (who is always keen to adopt UN directives) must put pressure on WAG for Wales to fall in line.
   Private schools - which often have their own cadet forces, shaping the officer class - may unfortunately be outside the jurisdiction of WAG, but Comprehensives aren't.
   As a teacher, my 30 years experience was based primarily at two Comp's, one in a working-class and one in a middle-class area. In both instances, the army was equally intent on recruitment.
   They play all manner of war games with the pupils and portray themselves as an organisation offering training in various trades.
   Now, with the overriding propaganda of 'heroism', without a serious questioning of the occupation of Afghanistan, it is even easier for them to glamourise and glorify war.
   It is not just children in deprived parts of Cymru who are being targeted. Pupils in middle-class areas are enticed into believing they are officer material or ,in some cases, suitable for the trained assassination techniques of the SAS ; while poorer kids are led to believe that it is the only way out a life of unemployment. Tragically, it often is!
   Instead, we should be looking in Cymru to our great poets such as Hedd Wyn, Waldo Williams and Gwenallt, who have exposed the realities of war.
   In song, however, the finest anti-war songs of the last decade or so have both been written by the American Tom Waits, namely 'Day After Tomorrow' and 'Hell Broke Luce'.
   You couldn't imagine two more different songs either : the former a slow, sad ballad, a letter home from a soldier caught in a conflict he wants no part of, not fighting for freedom but 'Another day in the world here.' While 'Hell Broke Luce' is shout-sung like a mangled parade chant, exploding with black humour with lines like - 'I left my arm in my coat'.
   Rather than the army visiting our schools, why not more poets and singer-songwriters , giving an alternative message?





 A    GIFT   FOR  SURVIVAL
 

I’ve a gift for survival
and I seem blessed,
yet  never touch the holy water
as I leave our house.

I have driven down roads
while buses are being torched,
through roadblocks when troops
are blacked-up with the night;

down the shops with my wife
who can’t walk for losing breath,
or picking up my wee grandchild
who smiles a future I’ll not make.

There’s a map of this city
I’ve drawn in my head,
it’s like a code I’ve learnt,
my allies the names of streets.

Yet, I do cross over at times,
can’t help loving the parades,
those marching bands; if I’m a traitor,
I’m not one for confession.

The most I’ve held in anger
is a tennis racket not a gun,
but I know they’ll give us nothing
till we break borders and rise again.



 


Comments

11/18/2012 10:54

Hello Mike. You mention that there is "no talk of intervention in Bahrain"... I noticed that Britain's response to Bahrain was for the queen to invite their king over to the palace for tea and a photo-shoot, to celebrate how great she and other monarchs are; don't know if that counts as "intervention"...The mainstream media of course (including the Western Mail) more or less ignored this element and were more interested in Kate's first minglings with foreign monarchs.

Reply
Gus
11/19/2012 09:29

"Intervention" maybe but not the type that will make things better; but will actually send out all the wrong messages; Human rights abuses; no problem if you're mates with Liz!

Reply
Leon
11/19/2012 04:26

Mike, thanks for turning out for the Assembly thing on Wednesday.

Actual number of signatures was 390 online and over 1,000 on paper - ITN played it down.

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08/29/2013 22:25

I agree with you! Recruiting minors into the army is a practice from a bygone era.

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02/14/2013 11:21

You have done a marvellous job by exploring this subject with such an honesty and depth. Thanks for sharing it with us!

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05/07/2013 23:37

I have had a deep thought on the matter whether war is necessary for the mankind! And the answer I got was yes! It is not simple to explain the reason! But I know one thing for sure! Attack is the best defense! If we face threat from some agent, there is nothing wrong in declaring a state of war!

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08/08/2013 06:40

If there is a call for a need then i am willing to be a part of it to fight or the country. For as long as I am capable enough to do my job successfully.

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Daar zitten de vrouwen vaak in galajurk tijden te kletsen voordat het tot een contact komt.' De prostituees van het Zandpad klagen al maanden ...

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