Saturday, January 21, 2012

War and Peace

Whether or not more 'civilised' nations should go to war  for the down trodden in 'less civilised' nations is a question I still find vexing. If the ostensible reason 'aiding the down trodden' is not the real reason  but 'oil and/or power' is,  then the answer to the question should be 'no'. However where protecting the down trodden or self defence is the main aim of   the war then the moral argument may be less  clear. Even so  the atom bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima at the end of WWII was in self defence  but with the benefit of hindsight the inevitable killing of so many innocents caused by those nuclear weapons should have precluded their use.

Civilised nations have for many years made plain their grave concerns about the down trodden of Burma but did not declare war on that country's oppressive regime. Now at last patience both within and without Burma ise being rewarded with the indication that Aung San Suu Kyi may join the reformed government's cabinet. If so  that could be a sign of  progress towards reform and civilistation in that country although of course she and many of her fellow down trodden citizens have had to pay a heavy price over many decades.

 I am begining to conclude that mostly nations should be left to their own birth pains of civilisation even though the hideous atrocities that can result are gut wrenching and tempt all but the hardest of hearts to try to intervene. That largely is what occurred over the centuries within the UK though I am far from convinced that this country is in C21  still on the path to civilisation - we appear to be straying but perhaps  I too digress...

That there are  millions of down trodden in Afghanistan is clear especially for  the millions of people in that country who happen to be female.  Even so I have had considerable doubts as to whether the UK should have joined in the war to protect them. I should have thought that for us to join such a war to aid the down trodden we should give priority to the down trodden in a nation where as the former colonial power we have  a more direct responsibility - as in Zimbabwe for instance where the Mugabe regime  regards keeping  its citizens down trodden, as a virtue.

However having decided  to join battle in Afghanistan   'civilised' nations should at least try to do the job properly. Obviously there will be casualties in a war even a just one . That inevitability  does not diminish the need for understanding and compassion for those who are killed or suffer dreadful injuries   and of course for their families and friends - both of soldiers and non-combatants on all sides. In that context one stands shoulder to shoulder with the French whose  combatants  suffered such grievous hurts this week. However the  decision of the French president to suspend all military operations with the NATO forces there because of the  four French fatalities which have just occurred,  is in my view, weak and disrespectful not least  to all of  the deceased and injured soldiers in this war.

Many NATO countries including the US are contemplating pulling out of  war torn  Afghanistan but this should be done in as dignifed and orderly fashion as possible and with a view to minimising the adverse effects on the down trodden who will remain well after the troops pull out. Simply suspending military operations in the light of 4 tragic deaths is hardly dignified or orderly.

Furthermore the message sent to that Taliban that killing soldiers will cause the political will to collapse is hardly minimising adverse  effects on the down trodden. I accept that the President of France might feel that the involvement of his nation's military in Afghanistan was a mistake and indeed as the question posed at the start of this blog post illustrates, the involvements of NATO and the UK too in the war might well be mistaken but is not the French response especially if a unilateral one, akin to  hoisting the white flag?

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