Recruitment posters should come with a health warning
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