Today is the day we remember all the people who have died in combat. We get together and stand silently for two minutes and feel a little bit sad about all that death. But, shouldn’t we feel sad about this all the time. Since the end of WW2, at least one member of the UK armed forces has died every year (except in 1968 and 2016).
I’ve always felt a little uneasy about remembrance events, especially when we mourn a UK tragedy while ignoring much greater tragedies in other countries. I’m not saying we shouldn’t fell sad, but, who should decide the importance. When the government say “We’ll have a minutes silence because X Brits have been killed” doesn’t that reinforce the idea that foreigners aren’t as important? It’s the whole suggestion that a nearby death is more important that a far away death.
A prime example of this is something I only discovered when accidentally watching the ITV news. Commonwealth personnel who died in WWI were buried individually, with headstones. The vast majority of dead German combatants were buried in mass graves. I don’t claim to be knowledgable about the First World War. I can’t believe that every single one of those German’s perpetrated acts heinous enough to forfeit their right to a decent burial. Well to be honest while we live in societies that values burial, I struggle to believe anyone should go without one.
Moving past the fact that the act of remembrance is incredibly selective, we’re into the more puzzling part. The duality that exists around the topic of war.
I think it’s fairly safe to assume that most people think war is pretty incredibly awful. Like, people know that terrible stuff happens. 46% of people thought Tony Blair was guilty of War Crimes!
So, every year we have a special day to remember the horror of war. We wear poppies as a symbol of hope (hope that authorities will stop sending people to kill each other I guess?). But, it seems like for the other 364 days people think we should bomb ISIS out of existence. Granted, airstrikes (in a very asymmetric conflict) are pretty low risk for the pilots. And while we have faith that these strikes won’t kill innocents, 54% of people think they will make future terror attacks more likely.
In 2017 the RAF said there was “no evidence” that their airstrikes against ISIS have killed any civilians. So that’s great. Even if every airstrike is “successful” and only kills the bad guys, Western intervention in foreign conflicts hasn’t had the desired effects in recent years. Almost no one believes Iraq will become a stable democracy.
Airstrikes by forces supported by the UK appear to be a lot less “targeted”. The Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen is causing massive death and destruction. Even though the US says Saudi Arabia is doing their best, there have been at least 57,538 civilian and combatant deaths. I bet whoever’s selling them weapons must feel pretty bad about those probable war crimes being committed.
Most of these results come from surveys from 3 years ago, so maybe public opinion has changed…
- 52% of Brits want to leave the EU. Presumably ignoring the fact that cooperation in Europe, and the formation of the EU, has reduced competition and made the continent happier and safer.
- At least 42% of the population don’t want a pacifist PM.
- The majority of Brits would feel better about their impending nuclear annihilation, if they knew we were going to nuke whoever was nuking us. Because… let’s have a reunion in hell?
- And no-one seems too bothered that we (or the UK government) are happy enough selling weapons to pretty sketchy foreign powers.
Until next time, when you see Theresa laying that wreath, remember how she votes in parliament, and hire me?