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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Lest we forgot

In our desperate fumbling for a national identity we have scrambled to blindly celebrate our war dead. For me, ANZAC day is a chance to remember all those amazing NZ lives that we pointlessly feed to the human mincer of conflict in various locations around the planet.

Morally I think World War Two was the only justifiable war, the rest if not questionable, were down right unethical. The sheer slaughter we committed to in World War One can never be justified, to hear wide eyed children tell TV cameras at dawn services that the soldiers ‘died for our freedom’ seems to miss the point all together, surely we gather to promise our young people that we will never ever again throw away their precious lives on unethical wars the way we have done so delightfully in our past.

Haven't we grown up as a Nation and will no longer feed the dogs of war with the lives of our brightest and youngest? When we do go to war it should only ever be for the right reasons and never simply to please an overseas power, aren't these the lessons we are supposed to have learned when we walk around our War Museums staring at the cringe worthy posters calling on men to fight for 'King and Country' as we pass name after name after name after name of the 'glorious' dead'?

Isn't that what we should be solemnly promising the dead at dawn? That they have not died in vain and that we have learned to avoid conflict without flag blinded nationalism that pointlessly slaughters so many? The worst irony is that this Government have not learned one thing from history and on this ANZAC Day we betray that solemn promise to the dead by once again sending NZ soldiers into an unjust war in Afghanistan that we have no hope of ever winning.

A poem for John Key on ANZAC Day

The Gunner's Lament

A Maori gunner lay dying
In a paddyfield north of Saigon,
And he said to his pakeha cobber,
"I reckon I've had it, man!

'And if I could fly like a bird
To my old granny's whare
A truck and a winch would never drag
Me back to the Army.

'A coat and a cap and a well-paid job
Looked better than shovelling metal,
And they told me that Te Rauparaha
Would have fought in the Vietnam battle.

'On my last leave the town swung round
Like a bucket full of eels.
The girls liked the uniform
And I liked the girls.

'Like a bullock to the abattoirs
In the name of liberty
They flew me with a hangover
Across the Tasman Sea,

'And what I found in Vietnam
Was mud and blood and fire,
With the Yanks and the Reds taking turns
At murdering the poor.

'And I saw the reason for it
In a Viet Cong's blazing eyes -
We fought for the crops of kumara
And they are fighting for the rice.

'So go tell my sweetheart
To get another boy
Who'll cuddle her and marry her
And laugh when the bugles blow,

'And tell my youngest brother
He can have my shotgun
To fire at the ducks on the big lagoon,
But not to aim it at a man,

'And tell my granny to wear black
And carry a willow leaf,
Because the kid she kept from the cold
Has eaten a dead man's loaf.

'And go and tell Keith Holyoake
Sitting in Wellington,
However long he scrubs his hands
He'll never get them clean.'

James K Baxter

On this ANZAC Day we should be forced to remember that there is no military solution in Afghanistan, there never was. Afghanistan was always an excuse to invade Iraq, our soldiers deserve better than being dragged into a pointless occupation by the demands of the United States of America.

The cold stares from the dead demand more from us.

Lest we forgot.


At 25/4/10 8:34 am, Blogger albatrossnz said...

You could say World War 2 was caused by World War 1. With the pressure and debt from the Treaty of Versailles put on Germany, you could see something drastic was going to happen. But really it was caused by a mixture of problems.

A friend of mine said there'd probably be less wars, if the leaders were forced to fight along with the soldiers. I agree with him.

Our soldiers do deserve better than pointless wars.

At 25/4/10 11:45 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You belittle their eforts by suggesting that they had no choice, where most Anzacs were proud to serve. We all at times stand up and fight for what we beleive in. Is there nothing that you wouldn't die to protect? You don;t have to beleive in hwat they beleived in but you do have to honour their conviction and sacrifice. That is what Anzac day is about. And it shouldnt be tainted by people pushing their political veiws.

At 25/4/10 1:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"When we do go to war it should only ever be for the right reasons"

Well then what's the right reason?

At 25/4/10 4:50 pm, Anonymous AAMC said...

War is politics (and business) and that's exactly the conversation that should be inspired by the sacrifices made. My Grandmother lost two brother as a result WW2 and their father fought in the Boer War and WW1, and I'm sure they believed in what they were fighting for, and as Bomber suggests, in the case of WW2 their cause was probably just. And so remembering them today I find it totally appropriate to question the motives and justifications of War and contemplate who truly benefits from it. Halliburton haven't done too badly out of it, and whoever was responsible for producing the 1.1 million hamburger patties that went to Afghanistan last month probably aren't doing too badly either. Anzac Day isn't tainted by this discussion, it is honored by it.

At 25/4/10 5:59 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The ANZAC troops fought bravely in the meat grinder at Gallipoli. what did they sacrifice themselves for? Not a lot.

At 25/4/10 9:11 pm, Blogger ewingsc said...

The Return of the Maori Battalion

Happy ANZAC Day


At 25/4/10 9:12 pm, Blogger ewingsc said...

ANZAC Day : A Letter To The Editor


At 25/4/10 9:15 pm, Blogger ewingsc said...

ANZAC Day : Afghan ‘Exit Strategy’ Won’t Involve Removing Any Troops : ‘Decades’ Of Additional Deployments


At 25/4/14 10:46 am, Blogger peter petterson said...

Everybody accepts that fact. From the Romans to the Americans...

Anzac Day is a reflection on the human wastage of wars as well as remembrance of those who paid with their lives so the rest of us could live. I'm glad Helen Clark said no to any Kiwi combat troops in Iraq, and Afghanistan was for our specialists rebuilding infastructure and our SAS doing what was necessary.

At 25/4/14 10:48 am, Blogger peter petterson said...

And so many wars created by empire builders and their demands for financial advantage.


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