War milestone’s irony

York Press: War milestone’s irony War milestone’s irony

Let us hope that the 1914 Great War commemoration does not turn into the usual attempt by our politicians to transform the violence and the misery of war into a noble gesture of humanitarian concern.

The 1914-1918 war was the penultimate full-scale tribal war between European nations, which resulted – thank God – in the setting up of the League of Nations and subsequently the United Nations and the European Union.

Those involved in organising the slaughter slowly saw the light and came to an agreement to work together and to resolve differences by diplomacy.

The bloody tribal wars now being fought in Syria, Southern Sudan, Mali and the Central African Republic pinpoint the need of the European example as a blueprint for their future.

It is ironic, therefore, that as we celebrate a practical milestone in the recognition of the brotherhood of man, many of the politicians in this country are conspiring to break up the United Kingdom and walk out of the European Union.

They would be wiser to take a lead from the example of the well-documented exchange of Christmas carols and the famous football match between the British and German soldiers of the two front lines in the Great War.

Maurice Vassie, Deighton, York.

Comments (9)

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12:31pm Fri 31 Jan 14

LMHupp says...

A very wise message; although sadly many elements of the government and media seem intent on turning what should be a solemn commemoration into a festival of jingoism.
A very wise message; although sadly many elements of the government and media seem intent on turning what should be a solemn commemoration into a festival of jingoism. LMHupp
  • Score: 8

1:46pm Fri 31 Jan 14

Zetkin says...

"The bloody tribal wars now being fought in Syria, Southern Sudan, Mali and the Central African Republic pinpoint the need of the European example as a blueprint for their future."

Except that it's the "European example" of sticking our noses into to other countries' affairs in pursuit of profit and political advantage, that lies at the root of these bloody conflicts.

Mr Vassie's faith in our rulers is sadly misplaced, but he's right to pinpoint the example of the British and German soldiers who refused to fight on Christmas Day 1914; the solution to war lies with "ordinary" people taking extraordinary action, and refusing to do the bidding of our rulers who, frankly, don't care whether we have peace or war as long as they're making money.
"The bloody tribal wars now being fought in Syria, Southern Sudan, Mali and the Central African Republic pinpoint the need of the European example as a blueprint for their future." Except that it's the "European example" of sticking our noses into to other countries' affairs in pursuit of profit and political advantage, that lies at the root of these bloody conflicts. Mr Vassie's faith in our rulers is sadly misplaced, but he's right to pinpoint the example of the British and German soldiers who refused to fight on Christmas Day 1914; the solution to war lies with "ordinary" people taking extraordinary action, and refusing to do the bidding of our rulers who, frankly, don't care whether we have peace or war as long as they're making money. Zetkin
  • Score: 3

3:08pm Fri 31 Jan 14

York Fox says...

I agree with the sentiment that people must take action to stop wars, but it is the agressor nation's people that must act. Those that are threatened or attacked must defend themselves as against Germany in the two world wars. In both cases the heroically selfless actions of millions of people stopped the evil of murder and enslavement that was being purpatrated by our enemies, and I for one am proud that it was us, the people of Britain that stood up to be counted in the defence of freedom.

Unfortunately pacifism only works if both sides undertake not to fight, and unilateral pacifism ends in slaughter, enslavement and the loss of everything you and I hold dear.

Do not underestimate the threats which faced the UK, Europe and the world in 1914 and 1939, and do not underestimate the exceptional character, bravery and fortitude shown by the people of Britain and the empire, who stood alone in the face of unbelievable cruelty and danger.

If it wasn't for Britain, the world as you know it would not exist. I'm proud of that.
I agree with the sentiment that people must take action to stop wars, but it is the agressor nation's people that must act. Those that are threatened or attacked must defend themselves as against Germany in the two world wars. In both cases the heroically selfless actions of millions of people stopped the evil of murder and enslavement that was being purpatrated by our enemies, and I for one am proud that it was us, the people of Britain that stood up to be counted in the defence of freedom. Unfortunately pacifism only works if both sides undertake not to fight, and unilateral pacifism ends in slaughter, enslavement and the loss of everything you and I hold dear. Do not underestimate the threats which faced the UK, Europe and the world in 1914 and 1939, and do not underestimate the exceptional character, bravery and fortitude shown by the people of Britain and the empire, who stood alone in the face of unbelievable cruelty and danger. If it wasn't for Britain, the world as you know it would not exist. I'm proud of that. York Fox
  • Score: 1

3:28pm Fri 31 Jan 14

Zetkin says...

The First World War was not fought in defence of freedom. Germany was not hugely less free or democratic than Britain, and Britain was no less likely to invade other countries.

It was a war between imperialist powers over how they were going to carve up the world. Britain would probably have done better to stay out of it; victory came at a tremendous cost which only served to add to the strains placed on its declining Empire.
The First World War was not fought in defence of freedom. Germany was not hugely less free or democratic than Britain, and Britain was no less likely to invade other countries. It was a war between imperialist powers over how they were going to carve up the world. Britain would probably have done better to stay out of it; victory came at a tremendous cost which only served to add to the strains placed on its declining Empire. Zetkin
  • Score: 3

3:39pm Fri 31 Jan 14

York Fox says...

Zetkin wrote:
The First World War was not fought in defence of freedom. Germany was not hugely less free or democratic than Britain, and Britain was no less likely to invade other countries.

It was a war between imperialist powers over how they were going to carve up the world. Britain would probably have done better to stay out of it; victory came at a tremendous cost which only served to add to the strains placed on its declining Empire.
If Britain had stayed out of the first war, the second war would have been over before it had begun...and it wouldn't have been us that won. Think a little further ahead.

Wars occur sometimes as checks and balances on power, therefore without Britain, Germany would have ruled all of Europe unchecked, and when the inevitable war against its rivals Britain, or Russia began, we would have had no chance.

Appeasement from you shouldn't be surprising though, I guess.
[quote][p][bold]Zetkin[/bold] wrote: The First World War was not fought in defence of freedom. Germany was not hugely less free or democratic than Britain, and Britain was no less likely to invade other countries. It was a war between imperialist powers over how they were going to carve up the world. Britain would probably have done better to stay out of it; victory came at a tremendous cost which only served to add to the strains placed on its declining Empire.[/p][/quote]If Britain had stayed out of the first war, the second war would have been over before it had begun...and it wouldn't have been us that won. Think a little further ahead. Wars occur sometimes as checks and balances on power, therefore without Britain, Germany would have ruled all of Europe unchecked, and when the inevitable war against its rivals Britain, or Russia began, we would have had no chance. Appeasement from you shouldn't be surprising though, I guess. York Fox
  • Score: 1

4:10pm Fri 31 Jan 14

Firedrake says...

The reality is that we can never really know "what would have happened if ..." but it is interesting to speculate. Neil Fergussen has recently claimed that - had we stayed out of WWI in 1914, we could have used the opening couple of years to train up a fully professional army with which to wade in - swiftly and successfully - at a later date. Interestingly, Lord Clark made a similar observation concerning the opening phase of WWII shortly before he died.

It's all fascinating stuff and obviously we'll be seeing a lot more of it over the next four years! (I just hope the bicentenary of Waterloo doesn't get lost in all the 1914-18 ballyhoo!)

Oh ... and will we bother to commemorate the WWI post-script: the British intervention in Russia/Finland during 1918-20?
The reality is that we can never really know "what would have happened if ..." but it is interesting to speculate. Neil Fergussen has recently claimed that - had we stayed out of WWI in 1914, we could have used the opening couple of years to train up a fully professional army with which to wade in - swiftly and successfully - at a later date. Interestingly, Lord Clark made a similar observation concerning the opening phase of WWII shortly before he died. It's all fascinating stuff and obviously we'll be seeing a lot more of it over the next four years! (I just hope the bicentenary of Waterloo doesn't get lost in all the 1914-18 ballyhoo!) Oh ... and will we bother to commemorate the WWI post-script: the British intervention in Russia/Finland during 1918-20? Firedrake
  • Score: 4

4:23pm Fri 31 Jan 14

York Fox says...

Firedrake wrote:
The reality is that we can never really know "what would have happened if ..." but it is interesting to speculate. Neil Fergussen has recently claimed that - had we stayed out of WWI in 1914, we could have used the opening couple of years to train up a fully professional army with which to wade in - swiftly and successfully - at a later date. Interestingly, Lord Clark made a similar observation concerning the opening phase of WWII shortly before he died.

It's all fascinating stuff and obviously we'll be seeing a lot more of it over the next four years! (I just hope the bicentenary of Waterloo doesn't get lost in all the 1914-18 ballyhoo!)

Oh ... and will we bother to commemorate the WWI post-script: the British intervention in Russia/Finland during 1918-20?
Quite right Firedrake, of course we could never know for sure.

Of course the people of France and Belgium may disagree with the theory of delayed action, interesting though it is.

Also of course, we would have had to land in France by sea, which was hard enough in 1944 let alone 1916. And we wouldn't have developed the potentially war winning tank or possibly even air warfare without the experiences of the trenches. The Germans may have utilised their additional resources to create a military far superior to anything we could have created. We will never know.

What we do know is that in the grand scheme of things, we ended up with our freedoms, culture and lifestyle continuing, so perhaps the decisions taken were the right ones after all.
[quote][p][bold]Firedrake[/bold] wrote: The reality is that we can never really know "what would have happened if ..." but it is interesting to speculate. Neil Fergussen has recently claimed that - had we stayed out of WWI in 1914, we could have used the opening couple of years to train up a fully professional army with which to wade in - swiftly and successfully - at a later date. Interestingly, Lord Clark made a similar observation concerning the opening phase of WWII shortly before he died. It's all fascinating stuff and obviously we'll be seeing a lot more of it over the next four years! (I just hope the bicentenary of Waterloo doesn't get lost in all the 1914-18 ballyhoo!) Oh ... and will we bother to commemorate the WWI post-script: the British intervention in Russia/Finland during 1918-20?[/p][/quote]Quite right Firedrake, of course we could never know for sure. Of course the people of France and Belgium may disagree with the theory of delayed action, interesting though it is. Also of course, we would have had to land in France by sea, which was hard enough in 1944 let alone 1916. And we wouldn't have developed the potentially war winning tank or possibly even air warfare without the experiences of the trenches. The Germans may have utilised their additional resources to create a military far superior to anything we could have created. We will never know. What we do know is that in the grand scheme of things, we ended up with our freedoms, culture and lifestyle continuing, so perhaps the decisions taken were the right ones after all. York Fox
  • Score: 1

8:07pm Fri 31 Jan 14

Seadog says...

Ah yes ... the British intervention in the Russian Civil War of 1918-20! Almost airbrushed from history because - however well-intentioned it may have been - it was utterly hopeless from the start. Mind you ... we did manage to sink a Soviet battle-cruiser in Kronstadt harbour, did we not? According to some sources, anyway. The Russians have always denied it of course.

Either way, there are plenty of British war graves in Archangel which should not be forgotten. However, I expect selective memory proved expedient in our dealings with Uncle Joe a generation later.
Ah yes ... the British intervention in the Russian Civil War of 1918-20! Almost airbrushed from history because - however well-intentioned it may have been - it was utterly hopeless from the start. Mind you ... we did manage to sink a Soviet battle-cruiser in Kronstadt harbour, did we not? According to some sources, anyway. The Russians have always denied it of course. Either way, there are plenty of British war graves in Archangel which should not be forgotten. However, I expect selective memory proved expedient in our dealings with Uncle Joe a generation later. Seadog
  • Score: 2

8:49pm Fri 31 Jan 14

Seadog says...

Further info re my last post: Captain Augustus Agar I/c Coastal Motorboat No 4 (operating out of a small Finnish harbour in 1919) managed to torpedo and sink Russian cruiser Oleg off Kronstadt.

Thought I ought to check something dredged out of a distant memory: nice to have one's little grey cells endorsed by Wikipedia!
Further info re my last post: Captain Augustus Agar I/c Coastal Motorboat No 4 (operating out of a small Finnish harbour in 1919) managed to torpedo and sink Russian cruiser Oleg off Kronstadt. Thought I ought to check something dredged out of a distant memory: nice to have one's little grey cells endorsed by Wikipedia! Seadog
  • Score: 1

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