War is very much on my mind, as I happen to be writing this on the day before Australia’s commemoration not only of Anzac Day, but of the centenary of the 1915 landing in Gallipoli by Australian and New Zealand troops that inspired the Anzac tradition.
A tradition that, however noble in its intent, is itself part-legend and part of a conflict that exemplifies not only the oft-quoted wisdom that “truth is the first casualty of war”, but the even more fundamental fact that falsehood is always the true cause of war.
All wars are actually about greed, on the part of at least one side if not both, but those who start them always falsely justify their aggression on such grounds as creed or need.
So-called “holy” wars are forever being fought for the alleged greater glory of imaginary gods, or even between same-god sects like Catholic and Protestant, Sunni and Shia.
And if the pretext is not theological, it’s ideological, as in communism’s assaults on capitalism or fascism’s against freedom, or else just plain illogical or even outright insane, as in the case of the North Korean regime that employs its pretence of being constantly at war with the rest of the world for the purpose of permanently keeping its people in a state of paranoid psychosis.
In other words, beneath all the piously self-serving and above all lying propagandist rhetoric of warmongers everywhere, it’s always and forever about nothing but all the usual profane lusts for power and loot.
But let me not for a moment give the impression that I mean to diminish or demean the countless millions of servicemen and women who have sacrificed their lives in humankind’s unending struggle against greed-driven aggression.
Some see those who fought at Gallipoli and all the other battlefields of the bloodbath we call World War 1 as unwitting pawns in the spat between the megalomanic German Kaiser and his cousin the head of the British Empire, and also as naive victims of the war profiteers on both sides.
But I disagree. Certainly there must have been some who were motivated by the cynical official “King and Country” propaganda, or any of several other similarly unimpressive impulses like imperialist jingoism, peer pressure or simple pugnacity.
Most, however, by the time they found themselves in the trenches and as a result had wryly dubbed themselves “diggers”, came to justly perceive themselves as fighting as bravely as possible for the purpose of winning what they sincerely saw as “the war to end all wars.”
As courageously as they devoted themselves to this cause, however, and as dearly as it cost them in blood and sweat, and their loved-ones in sorrow and tears, they failed to end all wars.
In fact, as Anzac Day sadly recalls every year, there have been even more wars since, and there’s no end even remotely in sight.
Rapacious regimes and terrorist organisations around the world keep employing race, religion and patriotism to empower and enrich themselves at the expense of innocent, ignorant and gullible young men and women.
And even the cause of peace is at times perverted for pressing into the service of war. For example, former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s so-called Perdana Peace Foundation is actually an anti-semitic pressure group, protesting as it stridently does against Israeli assaults on the Palestinians, and completely ignoring atrocities committed by Islamic regimes against other nations and their own people.
The weapons trade continues to flourish as never before too, with giant merchants of high-tech death in the US, UK and Europe hypocritically selling arms and ammunition to just about anyone, even their nations’ current or future enemies, as perhaps most notably to both sides in the bloody Iran-Iraq war, and to the Mujahadeen, now better known as the Taliban, in Afghanistan.
And it’s not just killing that the arms trade enables, but systematic corruption. Countries that clearly have no intention of or capacity for fighting wars are regularly sold billions of dollars in arms, at prices knowingly inflated to provide massive “commissions” to middle-men and defence-department and other regime officials, as in Malaysia’s notorious Scorpene submarines scandal.
As for the defence departments in question, most have nothing whatever to do with protecting their nations against offensive warfare, but defending the regimes they serve against the wrath of their citizens.
The most spectacular current example of this is the al-Assad regime’s massively destructive and murderous war against the majority of the Syrian people.
Though in many other countries, like Burma, Thailand and still to a large extent Indonesia, for example, the military actually is the so-called government, and also a major player in business, both legitimate and criminal.
Which brings us to the fact that the so-called war on crime in many such countries is actually a war on criminals who have the effrontery to set themselves up in competition with the military and their accomplices in politics, the police and judiciary, as currently evidenced by the intended execution of foreign and small-time drug-traffickers in Indonesia while well-connected local drug-lords get off lightly if not scot-free.
A similar system of “justice” prevails in Malaysia too, of course, where the only notable victims of the regime’s avowed war on corruption seem to be witnesses like the late Teoh Beng Hock.
And where the only apparent battle the defence department has fought and won in living memory has been against Altantuya Shaariibuu, the Mongolian woman allegedly implicated in the Scorpene submarines purchase and mysteriously murdered before being dismembered with C4 military explosive.
A case that has resurfaced recently as ammunition in the war that former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is waging against his latest successor, Najib Abdul Razak.
Who is going to win this conflict is anybody’s guess, but I’m betting it won’t be the truth. Thanks originally to Mahathir and currently to Najib, and with the help of the propagandists of the regime’s mainstream media, the truth was and remains the first casualty of the Umno/BN regime’s almost 60-year war against the Malaysian people.
So much so that it feels almost sacrilegious to be discussing such a bunch of lying, criminal scum in the same column as the true legends of Anzac Cove and all the countless other battle-fields in the sometimes honourable but always woeful history of warfare.