300 British soldiers have now died in Afghanistan

In the last hundred years so many lives – military and civilian – have been wasted in war.

Harold Nash of Wythall asked in the Birmingham Post: “[H]ow many of the thousands of good people who applauded Harry Patch on his way to his final resting place, can be sincere?  Sincerity means that when the next war is thrust upon us they will turn their country down and refuse to fight. That demands tremendous courage . . . 

“In my closing years the older I get, the more troubled I become about what I did in the last world war – like a lot of ex bomber crews.” 

“War isn’t worth one life,” said Harry Patch.  He described war as the “calculated and condoned slaughter of human beings”. 

If only Tony Blair and the other leaders involved had used their ready tongues to “settle peace round a table” – as Harry advised – without losing millions of civilians and armed forces in Iraq and wrecking the country’s economy. 

It’s too late to ask Harry for his opinion of peaceful and prosperous countries such as New Zealand, whose foreign policy prohibits them from attacking others, but not too late for this country to develop a civilised foreign policy. 

In 2003 MP John McDonnell, who has expressed interest in Defensive Defence and read the Schofield report,  brought in a bill to establish a Ministry for Peace . As he said, “If nothing else, the war in Iraq demonstrated starkly the need for a new way to resolve the world’s conflicts. Yes, the idea of a Ministry of Peace is idealistic, but it is not unrealistic. The concept is catching the wind of political interest in the United States Congress – a similar Bill has been promoted by Dennis Kucinich.” 

There is a Global Alliance for Ministries and Departments of Peace a ‘worldwide community of civil society campaigns, organisations, committed citizens and elected and appointed government officials from over 30 countries’. 

Trillions of good words can be seen on the websites of these organisations. Would they make more impact if they simply said, like the late Quaker solicitor Leonard Bird and army veteran Harry Patch: “War is out . . . definitely out . . .” ?

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