Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Anzac Day

There is no trace of it where I am at the moment (north of England), but I am quietly commemorating it.
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Not PC has made most of my points, in that war is the second worst state of being for any country. The only thing that would've been worse than World War 2 is surrender.
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Very few people in New Zealand today lived through war – directly. I don’t mean the country being at war, but the fighting being far away, which in itself is bad enough for the families of those fighting – but war on your doorstep. In that respect New Zealand is fortunate because of its isolation from invasion. Australia is less fortunate. East Asia carried a tremendous cost during World War 2, and subsequently in Korea and Vietnam specifically. The UK bore a high cost in World War 2, though this was little compared to the cost born by citizens of most other European countries (with the exception of those too gutless to do anything to fight the evils of fascism – there is nothing honourable in neutrality in World War 2, how can it be moral to be indifferent to the bigoted murderous tyrannies of Nazi Germany or militarist Japan?).
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Those who have lived through war have seen many things most of us would choose to not think about. The destruction of buildings, places, utilities we take for granted, the fear of being bombed or shot, the disintegration of normal life in pursuit of day to day survival and avoiding death. When all people do is that, there is little capacity to build, grow or have recreation. At worst, war sees the death and injuries of people, day after day. It is not like a one-off accident, because in war most of the deaths are deliberate. The enemy is out to destroy you, to destroy the means to retaliate, it is out to defeat you so it can conquer and pillage.
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Part of the price of this is destruction, the death of civilians - but then one should never forget who started it. World War 2 was started by Germany and Japan, the Korean War by North Korea, the Vietnam War by North Vietnam. Fighting war to fight tyranny is a virtue, appeasing tyranny is being complicit in the spread of evil - as Neville Chamberlain was to the peril of millions.
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Consider how the allies treated Germany and Japan after the war, how its citizens were treated, cities rebuilt, infrastructure repaired and modern thriving peaceful liberal democratic countries built. Consider how Germany and Japan treated those who it conquered. It was true imperialism, at best pillaging the natural resources, at worst executing the local population or using them for military experiments.
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The so-called “peace” movement would have you surrender for that. It is not that different from saying you shouldn't defend yourself against a murderer, rapist or thief - because you don't want to hurt the source of the harm.
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Liberal democracies don’t go to war lightly. Wars are expensive in terms of money and lives, and unpopular. Liberal democracies go to war in defence of themselves and their allies. Korea and Vietnam were both about that. In the first instance the war ended roughly at the same point as where it started, before North Korea attempted its conquest of the south. In Vietnam, the non-communist allies were so incompetent and unpopular that none of what the West could do saved a rotten regime from being conquered by another rotten regime, which was more popular. More recently, Iraq and Afghanistan would not have been engaged in war had their respective government not started them by their own aggression.
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I understand why people oppose the glorification of war, but ANZAC Day does nothing of the sort. Those who reject commemorating it are happy enough to have the day off work, and are happy enough to enjoy the freedoms protected by those who did fight.
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Those who do not recognise that are either naïve, stupid or sympathetic to tyranny.

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