ANZACS- for King and Country

Every  year in this fair little country of New Zealand, we “celebrate” Anzac Day on 25th  April. We remember our “glorious dead” who  fought in  all  those wars for king and country;  beginning way  back  then  with  the  Second Boer War of 1899 in South Africa, supporting our British  countrymen  in  the British  Empire’s  fight against  the “evil” Boers, to  ensure  South  Africa could become a safe place for English  speaking white men to  colonise and rule over the black man.

Since then we have had the First  World War where 100, 000 New Zealand  men  (and some women) were shipped overseas, out of a total  population of just over 1 million people. 18,500 New Zealanders  were killed in  that  ‘war to  end all  wars’ and  more than 40,000 wounded. Anzac Day  “celebrates” the day  New Zealand and Australian  troops along with  troops from other parts of the Empire,  India, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland,  India, and Newfoundland  as well  as French  forces invaded Turkey   (a German ally) at Gallipoli. IfYeBreakFaith_VictorybondsposterThe “Great War”, as it was once known, was initially at  least, a European  war  to divide up  the spoils of empire, with  each  countries’  soldiers  the cannon fodder for money  and power.

‘Only’ 2799  New Zealand soldiers died at  Gallipoli attempting to  break  the Turkish  defences in  the harsh  hills above the beaches, where 87,000  Turks died defending their homeland. Nothing in comparison to the many thousands killed and wounded  in  the trenches  in Flanders and other parts of France;  machine gunned, shelled and gassed by  the “Hun” -the Germans.

Yet  New Zealand collectively now  glorifies  Gallipoli;  it was apparently (according to later  New Zealand historians who  should know)  our “nation-buildng”  exercise.  Yet after that  first  world war to end all  wars,  every  cenotaph

The Unknown Soldier
The Unknown Soldier

in  every  little town  and city across New Zealand which  named their dead, inscribed  the lines “Lest We Forget”.  In my imagination perhaps , it is ‘lest we forget”  those  who  died for nothing,  the horror,  the stupidity , the inhumanity to man of soldiers at  war;  not “lest we forget” our glorious war dead. Let us not forget  also, those brave conscientious objectors who  also chose to  suffer because of their fundamental  objection to  war.  Let us not forget  either, the many thousands of women and children  who  suffered at  the hands of those damaged men returning from the wars;  the family  and community violence caused  by  the trauma of war  and death.

 

            The Send-off: a Poem  by  Wilfred Owen: -English  soldier poet, 1918

And then  we have the “good war”;  the war  against the Nazis and the Japanese between  1939 and 1945,  where 140,000  New Zealand men and women were conscripted to  fight overseas.  Kiwi soldiers, while comparatively  small  in  numbers, played a significant role in  the European war  against  Germany  and later   against  the Japanese in  the Pacific. Could  that war have been  avoided  without appeasement of Nazi  and Japanese supremacism?  There are many  historians who  say , that  had the terms of  the  Versailles Treaty  not been so  punitive against  Germany , German nationalistic fervour would   never have produced  such  a cancer as the national  socialists. Similarly there are those who  argue that  had the Japanese also been able to  obtain  their  Imperial   “place in  the sun” , Pearl Harbour would never have happened.   Hindsight is a wonderful  thing.

New Zealand’s obligations for self-defence against  the Japanese is  inarguable;  The Japanese were planning to invade New Zealand as part of their Greater East Asia Co Prosperity Sphere,  along with Australia.  The evil  of the Nazis  is also  inarguable and the horrors committed by  them; New Zealand soldiers helped to bring  those horrors to an end.  Ultimately 11,900  New Zealand soldiers lost their lives  in the second world war. However New Zealand is implicated  in the war crimes resulting  from  the bombing missions undertaken  by  the Allies against  German dams   and the firebombing of Dresden.  And, we might  ask, why  weren’t we opposing the Japanese in their 1937-1945 horrific  occupation of China prior to  Pearl Harbour in December 1941?

New Zealand’s role in wars since the second world war has (aside from  several  small  UN peace-keeping missions) been less than exemplary.  4,700 New Zealand soldiers fought  in Korea  between 25 June 1950 to 27 July 1953, with 49  men  killed in  action. New Zealand  (under U.N. auspices but without Russian attendance at  that  security council  meeting ) was a party to  the genocide committed largely by  the Americans carpet bombing  every North Korean  town and city over that period.

Fighting as part of ANZUS, New Zealand enthusiastically  supported the American  pretext  for invading Vietnam from  1963 to  1975   ( supposedly to halt the insidious spread of Communism  across Asia), while the New Zealand national  government  supported the  bombing by  the U.S. of  cities and towns across Vietnam  Laos and Cambodia, causing more than  a million deaths.  37 New Zealand  soldiers were killed in that  war and many more  afflicted by  the  impacts of “Agent Orange”, the chemical warfare “defoliant” sprayed by   U.S.  planes  over the jungles and hamlets of  South  Vietnam.

Once again  supporting the U.S., New Zealand  inserted a small  number of troops into  southern  Iraq  near Basra during the second Iraq War.  While for most of its service there, NZ troops were confined to base, it is highly likely that  NZ troops were  well aware of  the  wide-spread  torture and murder of Iraqi  civilians in  that  area by  British troops . New Zealand  is,  by  its support of that  war,  also implicated in  the deaths of  the  hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who  died as a result of a war  based on  the pretext of Saddam’s  non-existent  “weapons of mass destruction.”

New Zealand continues its commitment to “freedom  and democracy” by  supporting the Americans in Afghanistan.  Initially promoted to the public as an incursion  to eliminate Al Qaeda as a threat   after the 9/11  bombing of the New York  towers,  the war has dragged on since its inception in  2001 and morphed into  the elimination of the Taleban  (an Afghan  Pashtun  tribal  entity with  previous links to Al Qaeda). New Zealand troops have likely been  involved in capturing Taleban  fighters and sending them  to  the US Bagram air base in Kabul  for torture. A rather dubious analysis suggest that  up  to  20,000  civilian  casualties alone have been  killed in  Afghanistan  since 2001- the mortality  figures for direct  war impacts are likely to be  in  the many many thousands. ( the U.S. doesnt “do  headcounts” anymore.)

New Zealand continues to  be a key  member of the U.S. run  western  intelligence community “Five Eyes”, which   attempts to  maintain the U.S state’s power and control  over most of the world, and while NZ has  publicly been  cast  in  the shadows of ANZUS because of its nuclear-free stance, it in  reality maintains an  extremely  active role.

However , even with  the huge  amount of information provided  by  internet   and phone tapping  provided to  “Five Eyes”  intelligence ‘experts”, it is clear  that  those security operatives have over the years since the second world war, acquired a farcical  level  of incompetence and  lack  of intelligence and judgment. Their wild misinterpretation of other  states’  and non-state entities’ intent and motives has resulted in  massive  suffering to  millions of  human beings. It is highly likely that  incompetence is not going to be changing any time soon.

In summary,  ANZAC Day;  that  tribute of poppies and wreaths and guns , celebrates not  our glorious dead, but  the utter farcical  futility of war and the greed of the powerful.

At  the time of writing,  the jingoistic   drumbeats of war  are sounding to  fight once more   the Russian  threat  against  “poor little”  Ukraine.

As the late and great  Pete Seeger sang: When  will  we ever learn?

 

The Lonely Primate

In the 2008 book Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection  by John T. Cacioppo and William Patrick, the  case is made that loneliness is an essential  and life-preserving  trait of being human. To  feel the fear of being unintentionally alone is what  keeps us safe; making us run  back to the safety of the clan. And  not just  a psychological  reflective process,  but an in-built physiological response to  the need to be part of the collective of ‘our” group.

trial2Could it be that the need to be  together drives every  one  of our “modern-day” activities: that  avoiding loneliness is the reason  why  we live in  towns and cities, why  we play sports, why we work  together, why  we fight together in  armies, why  we destroy the natural  environment around ourselves to  group together in bigger and bigger clans – that all  these activities are simply  excuses for us to  connect with our fellow primates? – that these activities are essentially meaningless except to  remove our fear of being alone.

The Social  Role Valorization  philosophy ,  developed by  Wolf Wolfensburger in  the 1970s,  offered   a model  and methodology  of inclusion for people with disabilities into  society.  Wolfensburger argued that   for people with disabilities  to have  equal status with the non disabled in  society, they  must have valued roles in  society.  The theory presupposes that   any person, to  be fully human, must   feel  and be included in  the human group  /society they  are geo-spacially part of -in other words, they  must feel themselves part of the clan and be welcomed as part of   the clan.   Wolfensburger argued that it was ‘meaningful’  activity that provided that  acceptance and value.

However, given  that  many,  if not most,  human  activities are intrinsically value-less and meaningless taken in isolation ( eg sports and war),  it would instead appear that the  core of being valued is  simply  the capacity to maintain   contact  with other humans in  a  manner that allows  reciprocal  communication and hence provides reciprocal protection and safety.

Could it be that  this “market-driven” world of consumerism  and destruction has been  elaborately constructed simply to  assuage this vulnerable soft little primate, who  cannot even see in  the dark, from  his  fear of being alone?

 

George Galloway and the “Killing of Tony Blair”

The obscene, machiavellian  and calculating Tony Blair may  finally get  his come-upance.

George Galloway,  UK   MP, has launched a crowd-funding project  via    Kickstarter   entitled “The Killing of Tony Blair”, to raise £100,000   so  that George Galloway  can   produce a  film  about Tony Blair and his life of exploitation and mass murder for profit.

Blair@ Karimov
Karimov, (L) the brutal Uzbekistan dictator, and the smiling Tony Blair (R) (courtesy of Craig Murray’s blog)

If this film  can really make a mark  with the public, there is a real chance that Blair and other war  criminals like him ,  will be making  their excuses  before the International  War Crimes Tribunal in  short order .

As of 28th  September,  the project had raised  £87,141  towards its £100,000 goal.

Make your donation now and make a real  difference for the future- lets stop  the killers!

Memento Mori

I am  reminded of my own inevitable mortality by  this,  as  always,  superb  and quirky literary  piece by  Lewis Lapham entitled Memento Mori ; The Death of American Exceptionalism — and of Me .

It is a  reminder that  we do  not live forever;  and why  should we should choose to want to?

Daleksmall
                     The Dalek

Yes, this life brings  to each of us a  superb melodrama of emotional  highs and lows ,  both wonderful  and tragic moments,  physical pain  and ecstasy.  But perhaps for me, it will not be a sad day  when  this feeble little ego; constructed upon  nothing but fear  and ignorance, departs this mortal  coil.

But what is indeed sad and tragic,  are those of us who continue to   hurt  our own and other species on  this little planet we chance to  be on, to  inflate our little fragile make-believe egos.

The New (Syrian) War to end a War

Once again  the United States is beating the drums for war;  just one more country it can  save by  killing its  population and destroying its infrastructure. The ludicrous nature of the arguments for war  put forward by  Obama, Kerry and  McCain  speak  volumes about the intellectual  capacity of those 3 gentlemen.

Bombing and murdering  another country’s people doesn’t stop  the bombing and murdering;  negotiations do. In  the end;  every  time,  the two parties must  come to  the table and talk.  However negotiating is, I recognise,  a  hard thing for bullies to  condescend to  do.

Perhaps wishful thinking on  my part,  but there does seem to be a growing understanding in  the world communities that these endless US wars in the Middle East  are in  fact  just pretexts for  destroying sovereign nations that might oppose US or Israeli interests in  the region.

It is instructive to listen to  Al Jazeera  attempting to whip  up  fear  that  the Assad government will do this or that if it is not stopped- the propaganda line is so obvious and implausible that  most people will  simply turn their news off.

The recent experience of what  happens when NATO and the US “liberate” another dark  skinned country ; Libya,Iraq, Yemen should be enough for anyone to  recognise that  liberation by  Western countries is not a benign  experience.  And as  Press TV notes, the US administration’s assessment  of “high  confidence” that  the Syrian  Assad regime carried out the chemical  attack  is an amazing piece of sophistry.   Since when was anyone convicted and sentenced to death  based on “high confidence”  that they had committed that offence?    Before we murder thousands  of people, and destroy  their capacity to live ordinary  lives-lets please have some evidence.  But that may be way too much to ask.

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Links

A great  article by  David Swanson  at  Washington’s Blog succinctly outlines the insanity of yet  another war.

A lovely article at  Just  World News from Helena Cobban on  the lunacy  of this war  and AIPAC’s lobbying

A   summary of the current  (9th  September 2013) state of affairs re Syria by  Lara Setrakian  at  Syria Deeply

Anything Goes

In the immortal  words of Cole Porter, “Anything Goes” in  the international  financial  world these days.  And while we are not yet  again  in  the giddy  1920′s leading up to  an even giddier depression, we are getting damned close!

The recent financial management fiasco  in Cyprus are very real proof that  the international sector hasn’t a clue;  from the small-minded reporters who  rub their hands in  glee that yet  another “irresponsible’   national  economy has bitten the dust, to the so-called national  Finance Ministers who  gloat  that  other irresponsible countries will  suffer the same fate as the Cypriots and  Russian “oligarchs”  (why please,  are all  rich Russians  “oligarchs”?).

It doesn’t seem to occur to  any of these so-called fiscal  experts that that they have abruptly and completely ripped the guts out of the banking sector across the Western  world. Given that the entire international  financial  sector is based on  sleight of hand and “confidence’ that things can only get better; we now are all in  deep  shit. One’s confidence may become a little shaky when you realise that once   things go  bad (because things have gone bad somewhere else -like Greece), you are going to  immediately lose almost  half of your savings. But lets not forget the small  Cypriot savers  who  now are unlikely to  ever be able to retrieve their measly savings, and without a job, may  simply starve, as the inexorable decline of the Cypriot economy gathers pace.

But what is your alternative to the bank?-stuffing your money under the mattress?,  or in your little safe in  the mattress? (recently invented by  an  imaginative businessman from Spain)- no – inflation is definitely going to  make that a pretty poor option-assuming you don’t get robbed first.

Others see their saviour in  Bitcoin,  suppliers for whom  have just  announced the first bitcoin ATM  in – guess where? -Nicosia,Cyprus. Lets hope the internet keeps working then…

Undoubtedly  the Cyprus economy  is minuscle in  comparison with other EU economies,  but for some reason their Northern EU neighbours have taken upon  themselves to  scapegoat  Cypriots, presumably not realising the mammoth impacts of their actions upon  themselves and the rest of the Western world.

But then really-why  am I  surprised?; the basis of capitalism is short-sighted greed and folly- why  should it be different this time?

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Postscript:

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v35/n09/james-meek/the-depositor-haircut

Economonitor: Cyprus Reopens for Business: NowWhat?

http://www.economonitor.com/blog/2013/03/cyprus-reopens-for-business-now-what/

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The BRICS Expose the West’s Hypocrisy By William Pesek

Who do they think they are, these upstart economies, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa?

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Betray Your Bank Before Your Bank Betrays You

By Jonathan Weil 

What’s a Slovenian with several hundred thousand euros in the bank supposed to do? Spread it out among at least a few different banks, that’s what. Or move the money out of the country, while it’s still possible.

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Cyprus: We apologise for any inconvenience…

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21965059

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