Remember. Remember.

Remembrance Poppies

Remember. Remember

The third of September

When Britain was told “We’re at war.”

Lives challenged by fear

Loss crept, ever near

Death, knocking at everyone’s door.

 

When Stalin and Hitler

Signed pacts over bitter,

And Panzers cut Poland in fall;

Where others did waver,

To save a good neighbour

Great Britain stood proud and tall.

 

Men and women signed up

For the liberty cup

Keeping calm, they all carried on.

Britain fought on alone

When the Blitz set the tone.

Dunkirk’s bloodied troops met the dawn.

 

Next from Europe – the world

Into battlefields swirled

Against tyranny soldiers marched.

The Atlantic then raged

And the Med got engaged.

Barbarossa the Russians parched.

 

Another defender

That night in December

May have turned the fate of the war,

When American men

Joined the fighting and then

Hopes for victory brought ashore.

 

Through assassination,

To rid their nation

Of Hitler the generals planned.

That conspiracy failed,

But in France spirits railed

When with allied troops streets were manned.

 

Allies rushed from the West

When from East the Reds’ quest

To Berlin all hurried to get.

And on the eighth of May

Celebrate VE Day:

A liberty hard to beget. 

 

They have fallen for you,

For the many the few,

Their graves with red poppies tear.

Remember. Remember

Their duty they render

So that you can live without fear.

 

vicbriggs for HarsH ReaLiTy

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This article was first published as a guest post on HarsH ReaLiTy: http://aopinionatedman.com/2013/11/10/remember-remember/ with the following reblog message: Remembrance Sunday. This is my third contribution for HarsH ReaLiTy. A poem dedicated to those men and women who have fallen in defence of liberty. Thank you, brave souls. Your lives, laid down for our sakes, we shall always remember.

War! What Is It Good For? Absolutely Nothing.

Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with Project O.

Are all wars unjust or are some wars legitimate?

On the question of war. There is disagreement as to the legitimacy or lack thereof for the perpetration of violence of states against other states. States self-legitimate their actions through a variety of causes, which are oftentimes little more than thinly veiled excuses.

Here are some of the usual suspects:

1. Ideas: We are doing it for liberty, democracy,

2. Economic security: We can’t afford for oil supplies (or other scarce resources) to be in the hands of unfriendly governments,

3. Ethics or morality: He is an evil dictator who kills his own people,

4. Ideology – usually nationalism: We have a right to this land, it is populated by our people, they need our protection and we can only offer them security by taking over the land they populate.

5. Geopolitics – the zero sum game: We can’t allow the other Big Guy to have unchecked influence in that area for either economic, political or ideological reasons. Or: Land/Sea disputes: Historical ambiguity as to what belongs to whom, coupled with the discovery of precious resources on land or at sea can often result in war.

6. Security: We need to make a pre-emptive strike because the state in question is plotting an attack. Or: They are in our back yard so our security is under threat due to their external policy commitments. Or: Their political/ideological stance is destabilising the region which in turn is a potential threat to our security. Or: They have weapons of mass destruction. Or: They are building weapons of mass destruction. Or: They are planning to build weapons of mass destruction.

7. Politics – related to border security and economic advantage: They have elected or they have a government that is not of the right political persuasion (usually of the left, when the US would prefer a friendly and submissive right wing government or dictator), so we will attack to remove this government and institute one that would play the game by our rules.

8. Religion: God told me to. This is a holy war. (The Bushability effect) Of course, during the Middle Ages most wars were clashes between distinctive systems of belief, all vying for dominance.

9. Retaliation: They stole something of ours (oil / water supplies etc.) so we are attacking to claim back what is rightfully ours.

10. Civil Opposition: The government no longer has legitimacy, the people are against it. We are supporting the will of the people.

I cannot claim this list to be exhaustive so feel free to add to it. It is a start however.

International relations are anarchic. There is no way of policing how states act towards their neighbours or towards far away states that are deemed of interest. Before the Iraq war state sovereignty was respected in so far as states would not be threatened with war unless they ‘misbehaved’ externally. They had free reign on internal matters. The Iraq war changed that. Now no state is safe from external intervention. Syria is another example, and I am afraid there will be many more.

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This article has been written in reply to April, for Project O. Please follow the link below if you would like to read her full contribution: http://aopinionatedman.com/2013/09/26/project-o-article-104-april-georgia-usa-scheduled-for-9-26-1800/

This is the Q&A I have focused on for this piece:

Question 6: If you could share an opinion on a single international incident or topic that you either feel strongly about or that might not be known to the rest of the world what would it be? You have our attention.

April @ http://momof3isnuts.wordpress.com/ replied: “Being that I grew up during the Vietnam war, and experienced the debacle of the war in Iraq, I am strongly against war. I don’t have any unique thoughts, it’s just something that I can’t comprehend.”

Dotta Raphels says: “War numbs the human spirit period! Those whose lives have been touched by war will attest to this, war is not a good thing at all; many share your feelings. Still on 6, IMO we influence events in our everyday lives without even realizing it. I can understand anyone carving out a haven to protect their hearts or beings; sometimes it’s the only way we know how to cope with many dire situations which confronts us.”

Please Note: Let’s Talk Opinion posts engage with issues that are important to other bloggers – so it is all about connecting with others on matters close to their heart. If a topic catches your eye and you would like to contribute, please feel free to add to the comment box, reblog, share, email or message me on Twitter @shardsofsilence.

Or if like me you happen to be a former Hogwartsian send me a letter by owl ;)

The State of Syria

WFP Operations in Homs

When the world stood divided by the Manichean ontology of the two superpowers, the Syrian state, like most Middle Eastern states, could play a divisive game internationally and avoid imploding into civil war. A rear occurrence during the Cold War, such events now shape Western understanding of Middle East politics – Syria joins the legion of other nations in the region, fast becoming a violent arena where other states’ international agendas will compete with the plans of those caught in internal power struggles.

It is difficult to predict to what extent the involvement of other powers in the region can help the issue at hand without a UN resolution ratifying and legitimising action. Even if UN legitimisation itself can be called into question, it is surely better than no legitimisation at all bar state self-interest. Look at such success stories as Iraq and Afghanistan for an example. Oh, wait. That didn’t quite work out, did it?

I also disagree with the justification American citizens are provided with for US involvement. Judging by events so far, America’s security would be better served by inaction. If Obama has a different motive for initiating the attack, then he ought to make that clearer. It is shameful that fear for one’s own safety is once again the excuse.

In order to understand the extent to which the near-collapse of the Syrian state can be blamed on its politicians, an in depth analysis is required of the nature of the state and the state system in Syria. There is a shared assumption in the West that politicians can be either fully blamed for the disintegration of Syria’s civil society, but I think the situation is a complex one, and simplistic interpretations or sweeping generalisations ought to be avoided and challenged.

While Syria’s government did not respond appropriately to the ‘red flags’ that announced collapse, I believe there is little that they could do while working within the system to salvage the state. There are both internal and external, regional factors to consider.

In part, this collapse of the state’s infrastructural power in Syria occurred because of in-built self-destruction mechanisms. Its lack of flexibility and inability to find a political solution for the nascent conflict is one cause. The changing socio-political-scape in the region, and the emergence of a politicised class, with little or no stake in the system and a desire for reform, are two others. Finally, the flux of de-territorialised peoples in the region may have also resulted in challenges to Syria’s relative stability.

To achieve conflict resolution, Syria’s government ought to have fully reformed the system – a schema difficult to achieve, but not impossible for farsighted politicians, had there been any. Instead they prolonged the tension, and in the absence of reform, considering internal and external circumstances, civil war was inevitable.

Politicians’ actions are usually shaped by events to a higher degree than they can shape the events themselves. The rigid balance of power within Syrian society prevented them from both institutionalising a healthier, more participatory system, and from modifying that system when challenged by socio-economic and political change.

I sympathise with the plight of the Syrian people, and do not condone the actions of the Syrian government. Yet I cannot but feel unsettled by the possibility of so many civilian casualties as a result of external military action being added to the internal.