In times of universal deceit, telling
the truth is a revolutionary act.
         - George Orwell

Napoleon once observed that "history" is a set of lies agreed upon. In an era of ubiquitous fake news and information warfare, this has never been more true. The very concept of objective truth in history is fading out of our world. Pure propaganda and outright lies are passing into our history textbooks as unquestioned truth, condemning future generations to false views about historical reality. But the task of sifting through the lies and propaganda is overwhelming, limited by the ambition and time constraints of most observors. Only those who have dedicated their lives to sorting reality from falsehood are qualified to rewrite "consensus" history as a duty to humanity. The contributors to this site endeavor to do just that.

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Sunday, April 9, 2017

Vimy Ridge 100 Years On: We've Learned Nothing

     Today (April 9th) marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge in France, a decisive battle that saw thousands of men lose their lives to capture a single square mile of land - "Hill 70".  More than 3,600 Canadians lost their lives, with another 7,000+ injured.  German losses were even more severe, bringing the casualty numbers over 10,000. Army veterans, politicians, students and tourists are gathered at the site this weekend to commemorate the battle and pay homage to those who sacrificed their lives.
     Canadian history textbooks are filled with references to the battle as a key defining moment in the forging of Canadian identity. The speeches being given today and in the days to come all speak of the "great sacrifices" made by the men who fought there, glorifying those sacrifices as having been necessary for the preservation of freedom and democracy.

Canada's Governor General David Johnson had attended the memorial ceremonies at the Canadian National vimy ridge Memorial at the last big commemoration in 2012, stating: “In many ways it was the birth of a nation. It was the first time Canadians fought together shoulder to shoulder.” This statement, and many more like it, are designed to make the current generation sympathize with the war-fighting actions of Canadian soldiers and  identify with the "sacrifices" made in wars past.  The same heart-tugging narrative is poured out in unison every Remembrance Day (November 11th) across the Western world.  Questioning this narrative is unthinkable, even provoking violent backlash against those who utter doubts about the morality of such wars.

The National Vimy Ridge Memorial in France was designed and built by sculptor William Seymour Allward. He also designed the moving war memorial in Stratford, Ontario, which greatly inspired me in my youth with its moving depiction of two soldiers after battle - one looking upward at God as if to ask "Why?", the other looking backwards, head covered with shame for having slaughtered his fellow man - and also its thought-provoking slogan,

                         They gave their lives 
               to break the power of the sword.

I have struggled with the question of "just war" all my life. When is it justified to kill our fellow human beings?  For countless generations, the answer has always been (and remains, according to our current unchanged morality), "when someone else attacks you first and your life is at risk."  This has been extended over the past generation (since Iraq, Kosovo and Rwanda in the 90's) to include the reason of "humanitarian intervention" - ie. it is OK to wage war in order to stop the suffering of peoples caused by oppressive governments.

The definition of "just war" has been greatly expanded in the post 9-11 world (by design) to include pre-emptive measures to go after "terrorists."  All that is required for this "just" killing, often by 'Reaper' drones in the sky, without warning, is the "reliable intelligence" that someone or a group of people is planning to commit a terrorist act.  Proof is never forthcoming, as this would jeopardize future "national security" operations.

The slippery slope we have gone down allows the United States and its allies to engage in widespread killing around the planet whenever it sees fit, being the final arbiter of who or who is not a "bad guy" and deserving of death.  It has become a matter of course as international law is flagrantly violated on a daily basis - now without a shred of media attention because of how routine it has become - as bombs drop mysteriously from the sky and unwanted individuals get assassinated because "someone" in the United States military and intelligence complex has deemed them an "enemy."  Sporadic terrorist incidents - which DO get media attention - are cited as the reason for this pre-emptive vigilance.

Very few of us have the time, resources, or inclination to research the dirty truth:  so much of what passes for terrible terrorist incidents around the globe are actually "false flags" - perpetrated by our own military-intelligence services for the specific end of frightening the population and justifying repressive police measures - all the while providing more justification for their own expansion as our "protectors".  It's one of the oldest tricks in the military's playbook:  always make it look like the "enemy" hit you first, this way you can mobilize the domestic population for a "defensive" war.

Fewer still are willing to address the root causes of war itself, and why we need militaries in the first place.  Nations arm themselves and create armies and miliatry preparedness because... other nations are doing the same.  It's a vicious feedback-loop that has been going on since the beginning of human civilization.  And despite our attempts to launch yet another "war to end all wars" - as World War I was called - they keep happening, because we haven't faced the ugly truth:  for some portions of our society, war is actually quite profitable.  It always has been, for the military and its profiteers.  The burden is always carried by taxpayers and the poor shmucks who get sent to the front line.  The same is true in Syria today just as it was at Vimy Ridge a century ago.

Let's not kid ourselves.  Today, the US wants to get rid of Assad because he stands in the war of some very lucrative gas pipelines from the Gulf region to Europe.  Libya was destroyed and Gaddafi removed largely to steal his 600-tonne stockpile of gold (which conveniently went "missing"). Western Oil companies have moved in and are pumping the black gold out at a record pace, without accountability.  The same thing happened to Saddam Hussein and Iraq:  after making hundreds of billions of dollars in arms sales profits and soaking up the reconstruction contracts, western military and corporate interests also moved in to steal that nation's gold and oil.

In Afghanistan, the reality is even worse:  we went in to take over the agricultural land of the region, and covertly harvest an ever-increasing crop of opium (and heroin, its derivative) to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars a year.  This is a "cash crop", with the profits being sopped up by the corrupt and sinister members of the militaries (and their private contractor friends) who are publicly paraded as doing "God's work" in a hopelessly "backward" land.

The average person is unaware of these ugly truths because the mainstream media is complicit in keeping us all ignorant on these matters. The trillions of dollars in annual profits keep flowing to our troops, our corporations, and our banks, so why should we stop the show now?  Why should we raise the awkward questions, and risk being alienated by our family and peers, potentially risking our careers and reputations by being labelled a "conspiracy theorist" or a "party pooper"?  Who wants to be THAT person, that shakes us out of our silent complicity and wakes us up to our immoral matrix reality?

The speeches will be read out at Vimy Ridge today as they have for a hundred years, jerking our emotions and soliciting our tears as we remember those who "so valiantly gave their lives"... for what?  Please remind me.  They died because military generals and politicians sold us a lie - that we were fighting for something.  I don't believe it.  Killing is killing, no matter how you slice it.  As a species, we need to get more creative in finding ways to prevent terrorism, humanitarian disasters by repressive regimes, and arms races by nations that are only arming themselves because we have armed ourselves.  Perhaps if we took the trillion dollars a year we spend on killing each other, and used that money to further a million separate projects that actually advanced human peace and development, we would soon find war disappeared.  I will keep dreaming of such a world, and will keep writing to promote it...

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