Friday, 10 January 2014

Stop the War:Britain's foreign wars a central issue in 2014 - the campaign goes on

Stop the War Coalition

1) Britain's foreign wars a central issue in 2014 - the campaign goes on
2) Battle of the Somme: the horrific epitome of the first world war

1) Britain's foreign wars a central issue in 2014 - the campaign goes on

Last year we helped stop a new intervention in Syria, please help us keep the war makers on the run in 2014.
  • As we approach the withdrawal date of troops, a debate is raging on the Afghan war. Many troops and bases are proposed to remain, further prolonging a conflict which has lasted longer than the first and second world wars put together, and which has not been about helping the Afghan people but about strategic control of the region. The rivalry with China and Russia makes the need for this western control even greater. We must campaign to ensure all troops and bases leave now.
  • We will be protesting against the NATO summit in Wales in September and joining the international day of action against drones on 4 October. Full details about these campaigns will announced shortly.
  • The 100th anniversary of the first world war will feature prominently in 2014. The government and its allies want to use the anniversary to highlight and promote the role of the military in society. Various 'revisionist' historians are arguing that this was a war for democratic freedom, despite the evidence that it is was an imperial war between rival powers, highly industrialised, which ended in revolution and major social change because of revulsion at its consequences. The government's plans have already run into high profile opposition, with 10,000 people signing the No Glory petition protesting these plans and there will be events across the country challenging their revisionism.
  • The government's attempt to rehabilitate the military is extending to promoting 'military values' in schools. Anti-war campaigners and teachers should oppose such moves, arguing that children should learn the truth about war.
  • The Chilcot report on the Iraq war is due to make its belated appearance in the New Year. It is our chance to demand aholding to account of Tony Blair, Jack Straw and the rest who took us to war in Iraq based on lies. There should be full disclosure of all secret documents and an indictment of Blair.
These priorities are explored amongst others in War and peace in 2014 on the Stop the War web site.

2) Battle of the Somme: the horrific epitome of the first world war
- Lindsey German

One of my Xmas presents was The Great War by Joe Sacco. It is a wonderful piece of art, a 24 page panorama of July 1 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

Originally inspired by a pull out book of the Manhattan skyline, it also draws on the Bayeux Tapestry that depicts the story of the Battle of Hastings in 1066. It is a series of connected tableaux which begin with General Haig walking in the grounds of his chateau behind the lines and progress through ever darkening scenes to the deaths and mayhem of injured and dying on the battle field.

The Somme is perhaps the epitome of the horror of the First World War, at least from the point of view of Britain. It was a major, planned onslaught against German trenches that was organised with industrial precision. Railways were built, cables laid, trenches dug in order to prepare for an offensive, which was mean to destroy the German defences and allow the British to gain a key advantage which would end the war. A huge week long bombardment of artillery was planned which would knock out most of the enemy, crucially take out their machine gun posts and allowing the British army to take over virtually empty trenches.

It was a total failure; the bombardment was 'impressive mainly for its noise' in the words of Adam Hochschild, who wrote the booklet accompanying the panorama. Many of the shells were duds, and two thirds were shrapnel, which was fairly useless in destroying barbed wire or machine gun emplacements.
The thousands of men who went over the top that morning therefore faced barrages of machine gun fire from troops from whom they thought they would meet little resistance.

Read the rest of the article here

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