Tag Archives: New Zealanders at war

Patriotism: The Refuge of Scoundrels

The blog heading is one of Mark Twain’s quotes. But here is  a much  better one from Mr Clemens.

Man is the only Patriot. He sets himself apart in his own country, under his own flag, and sneers at the other nations, and keeps multitudinous uniformed assassins on hand at heavy expense to grab slices of other people’s countries, and keep them from grabbing slices of his. And in the intervals between campaigns he washes the blood of his hands and works for “the universal brotherhood of man”- with his mouth.
– “The Lowest Animal”- Mark Twain

Today, in my little part of the world; it is once again  Anzac Day, originally  commemorated to  mark  the bloody  failure  of the  British  Empire’s coordinated attack on Turkish  positions in the Dardanelles at  Gallipoli   in World War One, but now, ( supposedly) it ‘acknowledges the sacrifice of all those who have died in warfare, and the contribution and suffering of all those who have served.” Strangely however  this commemoration of all  who  have died in  wars is marked by   artillery salutes, marching uniformed men and much  fanfare about  this country’s patriotism. We are encouraged to  believe that Anzac Day now promotes a sense of unity, perhaps more effectively than any other day on the national calendar. People whose politics, beliefs and aspirations are widely different can nevertheless share a genuine sorrow at the loss of so many lives in war, and a real respect for those who have endured warfare on behalf of the country we live in. (New Zealand Government).

I for one,  am  appalled  that  the majority consensus in New Zealand appears to  be that  ‘plucky little New Zealand’  became a real  country  with its own  identity, and not just  a member of the British  Empire, by  maiming and killing its way through  a series of foreign “adventures”.  The one possible exception to this catastrophic jingoistic litany of murder and mayhem, is New Zealand’s very  real  contribution to  the war  against  Nazi Germany and  Japan  during the Second World War, when  a New Zealand invasion by  the Japanese Imperial Army was a high  probability at  one point.

Every  other war  we have fought, we have fought at  the behest  of others-  from  the genocide inflicted on the Boers during the Boer Wars as part of the British  Imperial  Army’s need to maintain  control of South African assets, the First  World War’s bizarre clash of European monarchies , the  staggering level  of genocide  inflicted on Koreans  by  the “Allies’ (including New Zealand naval  bombardment  of civilian areas) during the Korean War, our implicit involvement in American  genocide in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, our explicit connection to  rendering of Afghan suspects to   U.S. torture centres in Afghanistan, and our ongoing  complicity in the Five Eyes  intelligence project,  which  currently serves American  and U.K. interests in  promoting terrorism  around the world and destroying  human rights.

All in all,  it is not a record I for one am proud of.  Our ongoing subservience to  the  paranoid and psychopathic American  war machine and its  business interests, serves no-one’s interests  on this planet, other than  a few  crazed right wing  American  idealogues and the military/industrial  complex.

I was proud of my country  when our prime minister of the time, Norman Kirk, sent frigates to  Muroroa Atoll  in the south Pacific,  to protest  the French  destroying that island with nuclear bombs and contaminating the environment for thousands of miles.  I was proud when  our prime minister of the day,  David Lange, announced we would henceforth  be a nuclear-free nation, and even a little proud when prime minister Helen Clark refused to send   significant ground troops to Iraq  to  support the American  invasion there.  But we have sunk to new lows since those times, in obsequiously following our U.S.  masters into Iraq once more, to   fight a stupendously foolish  war  in Afghanistan,  and to  mouth support for America’s duplicitous  ‘war on terror’   while  unconditionally  supporting the key  centres of terror in the world; Saudi Arabia and Turkey,  along with support for the 60  year  old  brutal  Israeli  occupation of Palestine .

Despite successive  New Zealand governments’ posturings that  we are now a sovereign nation  because of Anzac Day, when are we truly going to be a proud and  independent nation  who  stands in truth  for peace and international justice?

 

 

Lest any of us forget…

When I was at  high-school in my quiet  little New Zealand hometown, the Army came round each  classroom every once in  a while to  show  what a great  job they were doing to defend us from the commies.

Claymore Mine operation
Claymore Mine operation

I  have always remembered one swaggering staff sergeant and his corporal explaining in great detail to  our class how the  anti-personnel mines they used in Vietnam to  fight the  vietcong; or “charlie” as they liked to call them -(short for “victor charlie” or “vc”)  – how  our honourable  soldiers would  park these little  green claymore mines on their scissor legs on the jungle trails with  tripwires for the unwary-be they  “charlie” or local  peasants and their children.

Once detonated  by  the tripwire , the blast shot six hundred  little ball bearings  at deadly velocity in  a 60 degree  arc, shredding anything  and everything in  their path.  Our staff-sergeant explained with  a weary  smile that that those cunning  little charlie used to instead turn the   mines around so  that they sometimes shredded “our ” men instead.

Our staff-sergeant made it oh, so  very clear to us , that this  virtuous war  in Vietnam was not just  a war  against  the evil  commies, but a war against  the ‘yellow peril’ who  would otherwise kill us good white folks in  our beds some day.

A Harvard University study estimates that  up  to  3.8 million Vietnamese people died as a result of that  war. A recent Guardian article  says that:

The US dropped more high explosives on Vietnam than the allies used on Germany and Japan together in the second world war. It also dropped napalm jelly, which stuck to its victims while it roasted their skin; white phosphorous, which burned down to the bone; fragmentation bombs, which hurled ball bearings and steel shards in all directions; and 73m litres of toxic chemicals, including 43m litres of Agent Orange, which killed vegetation and inflicted illness on those who were exposed to it.

Infamously, the US also bombed Hanoi – a city full of civilians with no air force to defend it.

And please, make no  mistake, our New Zealand  government was fully aware of our complicity in  these horrendous war-crimes against  a people who  made the mistake of wanting to kick out their colonial  oppressors; the French.

And  were  our NZ military  commanders also  oblivious to the massive firebombing of every   city and town in North Korea (and some South Korean cities too) during the Korean War that killed,  using wild under-estimations, over one and a half million people? I think  not. Were they  aware of, or complicit in the extensive war crimes committed by  British  troops in  the Malay Insurgency?

And please, let us not forget  our active   involvement  in the capture and torture  and murder of anyone who  might just  look  like the Taleban in Afghanistan.

whitepoppy
The White Poppy of Peace

But of course,  this has all  been in the name of freedom  and democracy, and of course our ANZAC nation-building exercise….

For there to be true honour for our country, we must  both  acknowledge  and compensate for the incredible human  suffering our involvement in those wars have inflicted on other peoples. Are we   a brave enough  nation for that?

 

 


 Links

What’s to Commemorate?
http://werewolf.co.nz/2015/04/whats-to-commemorate/