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  • Writer's pictureMike Lyons


“Lest we forget”; “We shall remember them”; “They did not die in vain”.

The clichés of war! There is a missing “not” in the second quotation and there is one too many “nots” in the third quotation. Millions of young soldiers died in past battles. Judging by today’s beating of the drums of war, it seems that they may after all have been forgotten and that their efforts may not be remembered. It is not only the millions of dead. Many more were injured, mutilated and permanently maimed, both physically and mentally. Even more, there was the lifelong suffering of families, mothers, wives and children left behind.

That is the price of war.

Does the human species carry in their DNA, a brutal disposition to war? I struggled to find the best way to describe this until I read a commentary on Incorrigible Optimist - the recently published political memoir by Gareth Evans, in which he writes about “HPtFtU”: the Human Propensity to F…k Things Up. That’s it, I thought.

In today’s bellicose atmosphere, there is little recognition or acknowledgement of the horrors of war. The history of humankind is a history of bloodshed and cruelty on an unimaginable scale. And yet, nation upon nation continues to celebrate the great “victories” of war. Past war leaders are celebrated as heroes.

Battles such as Gallipoli, are celebrated as showing the “true character” of Australia’s heroes. Instead, battles such as these should be commemorated in sorrow. Those who lead so many young, innocent soldiers into these horrific battles should be remembered, not as heroes but rather as fallible humans. Perhaps well-intentioned – but all too frequently wrong.

And now, in 2017, the drums of war beat once more, even louder. For now, the world is transfixed by the exploits of North Korea. A short few years ago bombs fell on Iraq. The world lives with the terrible consequences to this day. Not long before that there was the horror of Vietnam (where the mighty USA failed). The escalating horrors of Afghanistan continue to this day, with America and its allies unable to “win” – what for? Those are only some examples of mankind’s failure to resist the ever-present threat of war.

What have these wars achieved? Only more losses, more horror.

The “leader” of the free world – the President of the United States talks of “fire and fury”, embellished by infantile commentary and tweets. His inability to resist war talk adds immeasurably to global threats of war.

Some consider that North Korea’s strategy is too far advanced and its militarisation to well-developed to be turned back by threats of war and sanctions. While the Americans mouth the word “diplomacy” they are unable to disconnect their rhetoric from threats of war.

China and Russia, North Korea’s immediate neighbours, with much at stake, have put forward a thoughtful “Double Freeze” or “two suspension” initiative offering a potential solution to this stand-off. Their proposal is a measured (risk free) recommendation for North Korea to accept a moratorium on missile testing and for USA and South Korea to suspend their war games. Rightly they argue that USA, as the more powerful nation should take the initiative! The Chinese and Russians have suggested common principles including non-use of force, the renunciation of aggression, peaceful coexistence and determination to do all they can to denuclearise the Korean peninsula.

Instead, USA, ignoring the merits of this proposal, continues to badger China to “do more”! China takes the view that US has a superstitious belief in the value of sanctions, pressure and threats. According to the Chinese – this approach disrupts the opportunity for dialogue, negotiations, co-operation and a co-ordinated response.

America choosing to ignore peace proposals from China and Russia, and demanding that they tow the American line is both childish and dangerous. Is it America’s fear of loss of face that causes Trump to choose hostility instead of discussion – just because the initiative comes, not from USA, but from Russia and China? There is the suggestion that “Donald Trump’s petulant and unpredictable personal character should not be understated in such a tense atmosphere.” The risk of miscalculation is too great.

How many millions of lives are at risk in this global standoff.

And yet the drums of war continue to beat!

There is no shame in supporting an intelligent and viable proposal from another nation – even a “non-western” nation. We should put aside our historic prejudices – the Soviet era ended more than a quarter of a century ago and Mao died in 1976 (41 years ago)!

There is no shame in fearing war and doing everything possible to persuade politicians – in USA and elsewhere that they HAVE NO MANDATE TO MAKE WAR.



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