The abolition of the slave trade and the abolition of the death penalty had to overcome strenuous political opposition and apparently well-reasoned arguments as to why these were essential to the well-being, prosperity and security of society, but in the end the voice of reason and human decency prevailed (except of course in those barbaric states and nations that still have the death penalty).
Modern warfare is state-sponsored slaughter on an industrial scale, and 90% of the casualties are civilians. One senior British military official said it is now safer to be a soldier than a woman in a war zone. Isn't it time we said enough? Britain spends £45 billion per year on the military. Wouldn't we rather have funding for our hospitals, schools and universities, and our art galleries, libraries and museums? And wouldn't we rather not be a nation mired in shame because of the murderous consequences of our military escapades?
If you're not convinced, have a look at the following:
Simon Jenkins, 'Does Britain Really Need the Military?', The Guardian, 5th November, 2010
John Pilger, 'The War You Don't See', available to view for UK viewers on the ITV website until 14th January.
Jenkins argues that the British military establishment is maintained because of powerful corporate and political interests, and not because it provides any effective security for the British people in an era when conventional warfare is an increasingly remote possibility, and crime is a much greater threat to our security and well-being. Pilger argues convincingly that the media have been duped by politicians into presenting the public with a sanitised version of war, including the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, so that we have no idea of the true human cost. The film opens with a quote from General David Lloyd George, speaking to CP Snow, Editor of the Manchester Guardian, in December 1917: 'If people really knew the truth, the war would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don't know, and can't know.' Today, we do know and we can know. If we choose not to, we are culpably ignorant.
So, how about it? If we want happier new years for ourselves, our children and our neighbours in this global village, let's abolish war. Who and what are we fighting for? See the website of the Movement for the Abolition of War.