. How Should We Invest? A Juxtaposition of War and Welfare | London Progressive Journal
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How Should We Invest? A Juxtaposition of War and Welfare

Mon 8th Nov 2010

Cuts, cuts, and more cuts! The Tories are once again destroying the British people’s way of life. Thatcher’s legacy is alive and well, after a short hiatus. It is purely academic now, but we could have saved the welfare state. There would have been a huge truckload of public money at our disposal, had the last government not spent so much on war. War is an expensive business.

It’s that time of year when we all wear a poppy. This is an important symbolic act that I will continue to perform. This will not, however, prevent me from recognising the fact that war can often be a big, stupid, waste of money, time and life. We just have to keep up the pretence that Britain is still a world power, don’t we. Why exactly, I’m not quite sure; but we have to nonetheless. It seems it is also necessary to continue our role as America’s junior partner in world affairs. Why again, I’m not sure. But we must. I attended the anti-war march of 2003, with more than a million people on the streets of London. A young man next to me carried a sign with the slogan: ‘Bush - Off with his Willy!’ It’s not quite ‘make love, not war’ and not exactly subtle, but it is catchy and to the point; short and sweet. We did not need to be at war. This point requires no embellishment, no rhetoric, and no clarification. The most gaoling thing about this is that a million people said No and were completely ignored, viewed as a minor annoyance at worst.

When I say ‘war’, I make no distinction between Iraq and Afghanistan, I refer to both. We have demonised desperate men and risked reprisals on our own streets. Were the London tube bombings justified? No, of course not. We could however, attempt to understand what could motivate people to commit such acts in the first place. Religion and politics combine to produce ‘fundamentalism’. The media continues to fuel our Islamophobia. Over time, this may socially reproduce itself again and again, in a never-ending cycle of hate.

The underlying theme of this mess is political, not religious. We must stop purely focusing only on the religious element of it. Religion and politics combined produce ‘fundamentalism’. This kind of extremism is a reaction against the ‘new world order’, namely America’s neoliberal expansion, clothed in the rhetoric of globalisation. We should question our own foreign policy more. Democratisation? No. Let’s not delude ourselves on this point. It’s about oil; it’s about money. On a similar note, there is an increase in the international aid budget. Is this egalitarianism in action? Or is this also another front for neoliberal ambitions?

So, we are facing cuts on an unprecedented scale. Cameron and his cronies are attempting to finish the job that Thatcher started. It is an attack on the Britain’s very soul. The defence budget should be slashed to pieces, not our welfare services. Don’t fire our public sector workers; fire Trident. What would my grandfather say about it all? He fought for Britain against Nazi aggression. It is has recently been Britain fighting as the invading force. Is this the Britain my grandfather fought for? Let us not follow the Americans on any more half-baked crusades. The ‘special relationship’ simply isn’t worth it. This plea will, of course, fall on deaf ears. Tories don’t usually have an aversion to war. Tony Blair certainly didn’t. It would appear that we have opened a Pandora’s Box.

We went to war to defend our nation’s security, but paradoxically, the nation’s security is threatened by going to war. There is no way to be sure that pulling out of these countries will shield us from further terrorist attacks. It probably won’t. I would, therefore, instead propose that we look at this more pragmatically. Shall we continue to fight a ‘war on terror’ (an abstract concept if ever there was one), whilst simultaneously terrorising our own hard-working people? Or shall we do neither? The West must change its ways. Britain must change its ways. The defence budget is being cut but not by anywhere near enough. Spend money on war or spend it on peace? People are losing their jobs whilst vast amounts of money are spent on our troops abroad. Let’s pull out and leave the Americans to it. The US is the most powerful country in the world; they don’t need our help, so let them spend all their own money. Sometimes the most obvious solution is the best one, and perhaps we can kill two birds with one stone.

Wear your poppy with pride, but remember which wars are worth fighting for, and remember how history will judge us in the decades to come.
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