Recruitment posters should come with a health warn­ing

Macclesfield Express - - BARLOW’S BRIEF -

THE re­cent com­mem­o­ra­tions of the First World War in­spired me to read more about the War to end all Wars. Once be­gan my quest for knowl­edge took me on a very painful jour­ney.

I fol­lowed the in­ex­orable path to the Sec­ond World War, the fall of Sin­ga­pore, the Burma Rail­way and fi­nally to the Iraq War.

Pre­cisely how many Bri­tons were slaugh­tered in those con­flicts is in­cal­cu­la­ble. The num­ber of prom­i­nent politi­cians sac­ri­fic­ing their lives in the fight­ing is a de­cid­edly eas­ier cal­cu­la­tion.

Whip­ping up the pop­u­lace and sham­ing those who de­mur ap­pears to be the stan­dard prac­tice for politi­cians in­tent on war. When those tac­tics didn’t work for Tony Blair he used non-ex­is­tent weapons of mass de­struc­tion to per­suade us. A mil­lion ob­jec­tors march­ing through Lon­don failed to ex­tin­guish his ar­dour for a war based on to­tal fal­lacy.

(As far as I re­call, none of the Blair house­hold took any ac­tive part in the fight­ing that maimed and killed thou­sands.)

So what have I learned from my re­cent stud­ies? I’ve learned that politi­cians start wars and or­di­nary fam­i­lies pay the price.

I’ve learned that any means of per­sua­sion will be used to in­vei­gle young peo­ple into bat­tle.

I’ve learned that war de­stroys moral­ity and com­pas­sion in a strug­gle where any means, no mat­ter how vi­cious, jus­ti­fies the cause. I’ve learned how lu­di­crous it is to ex­pect those who serve and suf­fer to re­turn home and sim­ply for­get. (Read The Rail­way Man for de­tails.)

Frankly, I’m dis­gusted with ad­verts pro­mot­ing the armed ser­vices with­out any ref­er­ence to the in­her­ent slaugh­ter.

It is, af­ter all, il­le­gal to ad­ver­tise cig­a­rettes with­out graphic warn­ings of hideous health risks. Is it not ap­pro­pri­ate to do like­wise for im­pres­sion­able young peo­ple con­sid­er­ing the most im­por­tant de­ci­sion of their lives?

This is not 1914. If we con­tinue to urge young peo­ple to join the armed forces we should at least be hon­est and state the risk to life, mind and limb.

(Maybe we should add that those send­ing them into bat­tle won’t be join­ing leav­ing West­min­ster.)

●● Army recruitment poster should come with a health warn­ing

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