Lest We Remember
For me, ANZAC Day is a day that civil society pauses and remembers those who have sacrificed their lives in the name of our country. It is a commemoration of our wars and a solemn occasion when the current generation promise the next generation that we will never throw their lives away as wastefully as we have in the past. Our history is littered with wars that were ill defined and devoured some of our best and brightest. We respect the glorious dead by promising not to needlessly fill the graves next to them with more wasted life.
For the last decade, ANZAC Day has been a farce to the respect of our glorious dead. Our involvement in an immoral war to prop up a corrupt regime in Afghanistan while we actively hand over Afghan civilians to torture units means we have ignored the lessons of the past and are now inflicting the very terror we proclaim we are fighting. How do we know the people the SAS attacked and killed in their revenge attack that's just been made public were the ones responsible for the death of a NZ soldier? A court decides guilt, are we now saying the SAS are a Court unto themselves who can decide who is guilty and who is not and kill both accordingly? When you are against war, it is because war makes good people do bad things.
When you dance with the devil, the devil doesn't change, you do.
Watching Wayne Mapp declare on Q+A yesterday that we are in Afghanistan because 7 NZers have died from terrorism in 10 years is the most intellectually bankrupt defense of this immoral war I've ever heard. Our threshold for occupation of Afghanistan is 7 dead citizens over a decade? Why the hell aren't we bombing KFC stores for double down burgers? Heart disease in a decade would kill hundreds of thousands of NZers, our justification for a war is less than one dead citizen per year?
Our presence and continued interference in Afghanistan is creating the terrorism, we have become the tyranny we are claiming to fight.
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