‘We who have dutifully served our nation, do hereby observe our greater responsibility to serve the cause of world peace.’
On Remembrance Sunday I went along to Whitehall to join Veterans For Peace on their march to the Cenotaph. And what a moving experience it was. I met many inspirational individuals who talked of their personal awakening and their mission to use their hard won enlightenment to bring awareness to others. A contingent from the US Veterans For Peace group had traveled to London to take part and they included Vietnam vets, Barry and Gene – surely two of the most transparently decent and generous-hearted people it’s ever been my good fortune to meet. I’m still basking in their uplifting charisma now!
Veterans For Peace is, in the words of their must-visit website:
…a voluntary ex-services organisation of men and women who have served in every war that Britain has fought since WW2.
We focus our work to:
Educate young people on the true nature of military service and war.
Resist war and militarism through non-violent action.
Stand in solidarity with people resisting militarism and war.
We hope to convince people that war is not the answer to the problems of the 21st century.
I followed behind these men and women, along with their families and other supporters, as we turned into Whitehall and headed towards the Cenotaph, and as we did so I became increasingly aware of how much strength each of them must posses and what a deep and painful inner journey each of them must have taken in order to bring them to this place, marching defiantly in public with the words of Harry Patch, the World War I soldier, printed on the back of their light blue sweatshirts: ‘War is organised murder’. Harry resisted until his death all attempts by war criminal elites like Tony Blair to use him as a tool of propaganda. But then this is how those elites use all those who serve in the military; those whom, in reality, they consider cannon fodder are cynically wheeled out to be praised by those who should be on trial at The Hague.
The large crowds were gone as we made our way to the Cenotaph itself, which begs the question, why should these veterans not be a part of the ‘official’ commemoration? They deserve to be. It’s a mainly rhetorical question, however, because the answer is, of course, they are dangerous. They are dangerous because they threaten to expose the corruption of a system using military interventions for strictly strategic and commercial purposes but which must have the support of a conditioned public to effect their aims; aims achieved through a relentless stream of propaganda amplified by the ever loyal corporate media which never wavers from the state/corporate line. They are, as Media Lens have so aptly put it, ‘state stenographers’.
What the men and women of Veterans For Peace know, and are so crucially speaking out about, is that UK and US foreign policy agendas have nothing whatsoever to do with humanitarianism, which is why you will never see Ben Griffin on ‘mainstream’ media news broadcasts where ‘heated debates’ are conducted between those who differ only in degree, never in kind. And thus the charade is played out. In my piece What’s Wrong With Channel 4 News Part III, I mention that I once asked the deputy editor of that programme why he would not report on the Iraq/ Afghanistan Winter Soldier hearings? From the piece:
He dismissed it in four words: ‘because it’s agit-prop’. Yes, the man who so strongly supports ‘our boys’ appears to think they are not worth hearing when they return from war and want to tell their stories; unless, that is, their stories support the official ‘good war fought by good old tommies’ narrative. Should they dare to tell their truth, their experiences become unworthy of Ed’s precious airtime; their incredible bravery is, for him, just an exercise in cynical political propaganda. The word ‘irony’ here is barely adequate. Our soldiers must adhere to a certain ‘noble’ ideal, even when they come back missing arms and legs, even when they are blind and disfigured, they must praise the war’s aims, they must remain ‘on message’ or they will simply be made invisible.
That is why we must do all we can in independent media to support Veterans For Peace and to spread their message far and wide. It sickens me that these amazing men and women should be marginalized and silenced when their powerful testimony is so desperately needed. Our leaders are truly the insane in charge of the asylum, their madness bringing death and misery to millions. Syria is only the latest long-planned roguery for which the innocent are daily paying the price. Only we can stop them, because it is we they are terrified of, we must remember that. It is we who hold the power in actuality. Truth is what they cannot bear; it’s the air that would choke them; the sunlight that would see them burn up like vampires.
So let’s speak the truth loudly and consistently whenever and wherever we can. And if we can’t all be Veteran’s For Peace, we can be activists for peace. Like Gandhi, like King, we can be dynamic and potent agents of change. Let’s do it!
“Why of course the people don’t want war. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.” (Herman Goering)