Are we a world at war?
Surely for a world to be at war there should be some cohesion behind geographical lines. There should be advancing fronts. There should be a war office and sirens in the streets.
‘Where are the bomb shelters?’ we in Western nations cry. Go away and leave us be! We are at peace, not war!
But that doesn’t account for all of us. Maybe less than 1% is small, too small to care about, but not when it translates into 60 million.
60 million refugees. That’s according to the UNHCR; nearly 60 million people forcibly displaced in 2014.
One person in every 122 on the planet is either a refugee, internally displaced or seeking asylum.
These are the highest levels since 1945.
So is the world at war? I think it is. I think that we are in the midst of a monumental crisis and we are for the most part blind to it.
Saying that world war exists starts the search for causes and solutions.
It could be argued that the main cause lies in history: in peoples lumped together with other peoples whom they may never have much liked or got along with as the globe was carved up under the auspices of Empire. It could be argued that each situation has its own unique history: The Rohingyas of Burma, the Kurds of Turkey, Iraq and Iran, the Darfuri of Sudan, the Hazara of Afghanistan to name some on a long list.
And what of the African migrants in South Africa? That’s a different sort of ethnic cleansing. Workers pitted against workers.
What of the Haitian descendants in the Dominican Republic, who face expulsion back to Haiti? All 250,000 of them. Different again. This time it’s been legislated.
The victimisation of minority ethnicities has a long long history. It could be said that these examples show a world not at war but disunited.
But what of the cleaving in the Middle East between Sunni and Shia? A faith dispute between two versions of Islam? Or a manufactured cleaving feeding off the schism. A cleaving cultivated, funded, sought. To answer that we need to examine America’s interests. And Saudi Arabia’s. And Britain’s. In fact, the entire military complex that seeks war, especially when times are austere.
As they are now.
As they are now thanks to the biggest sting against the 99% the world has ever seen: the GFC.
Is it the case that, done with the casino, war is now sought by the banksters, by elements of big business, by the 1%ers whose ambition is only to acquire more wealth?
Or is it simply the case that the cankers of hatred festering in the body of many nations, cankers that have fed on fear and on poverty for decades, are bursting all at once?
Maybe it’s all these things.
My little blog post seeks only to ask questions. The answers would fill bookshelves.
It is my impression that a world at war is what we have. War invisible to those of us who deem ourselves unaffected by it. What a privilege that is! What a convenience! It gives us the power to thumb our noses at asylum seekers. To regard refugees as the scum of the earth.
This is Refugee Week. It’s about time we told ourselves over and again that those 60 million refugees on the planet are the casualties of various forms of ethnic cleansing in countries involved in some sort of war.
It’s about time we tell ourselves that just because the tanks are not rolling down our streets, doesn’t mean we are a world at peace.
It’s about time we tell ourselves that casualties of war are not collateral, are not so much garbage, are not takers and chancers.
They are people, people who bleed just like us.
Isobel Blackthorn’s first novel, ASYLUM, has been released by Odyssey Books and is available through all major booksellers.
I used to teach Religious Studies at a high school in the UK. Best subject ever, from trawling through world faiths in the lower years, getting hot under the collar following the GCSE curriculum where moral issues such as Wealth and Poverty were explored, all the way to A Level, when it morphed into Philosophy of Religion.
I was teaching in 2001. The day the twin towers fell I’d just come out of a class on Islam. I was teaching Islam to four classes of Year Eights at the time.
In those classes we explored some core beliefs such as the five pillars of Islam. We did a historical cook’s tour and we thought about what we as white non-believers could learn from the faith.
Bang! A light bulb switched off.
It was the day the Dark Age began.
I’m not getting into the whodunnit side of things. All I know is the pudding was already cooked and ready to serve.
Welcome to the era of the terror monger.
Before the dust had settled on the towers, ‘war or terror’ and ‘axis of evil’ were rolled out. War in Afghanistan and then, to the horror of the world at large, the invasion of Iraq. A sorry recent history full of bloodshed and fomenting hatreds.
Our New Dark Age has the stamp of terror all over it. A stamp of indelible ink wielded on soft skin by the anti-terrorists.
The New Dark Age is an age of Security and Surveillance.
The hordes of bloodthirsty nutters with guns are doing nothing but serving this agenda. I wish they could see their own complicity. I wish they could see that they are empowering the very beast they fight.
As for the rest of us, while we sit around hoping we don’t get caught in the crossfire, we’re already ensnared. Our freedoms constricted by a raft of new laws. Our journalists gagged.
Islam is a fine faith and I, as a non-believer, will always defend it. Islam teaches that within each of us is a divine spark, something pure and sacred and connected to God.
My wish is for that spark to flame and light this darkening world, light up the hearts of those consumed by hatred.
And as for the greedy who are behind everything that is wrong with this world, I have yet to figure out what’s to be done about them…
I missed out on modern history at school and confess that for decades I shied away from gaining much knowledge of the rise of fascism as it all seemed too ugly, too horrific, to delve into.
Now I’m finding it hard to put down Anna Funder’s All That I Am, a novel based on real events in the period between WWI and II, when Hitler rose to power and those on the Left, the communists and socialists of all stripes, were purged. The captured were rounded up and put in prisons until there were so many that concentration camps were created to house them. Thousands of journalists, writers, poets, activists and intellectuals fled Germany to live in exile as refugees in bordering states. Denied the right to work, these refugees existed on air. And they were forbidden from political activism of any kind. Breaking this rule meant deportation.
Many were made stateless. Others were hunted down and killed in exile.
They were dangerous revolutionary times, when humanitarianism was pitted against ugly despotic power.
A similar sort of energy hangs over the world right now. An intensification of power and control versus the revolutionary spirit. The rise of neo-Nazi far-right parties throughout Europe with an equally if not more powerful rise of the Left. Not the Left of old. Something new and fresh is emerging, populist in flavour, youthful, visionary, determined to represent the people, not ideology. Anti-austerity movements emerging in Greece, in Spain, in Italy, and even, in its own way, in Queensland, Australia.
The road ahead for these movements will be fraught, but out of goodwill, out of hope, out of respect, I shall not add my voice to analysis and criticism before they’ve had a chance to prove themselves.
Meanwhile, the old-school persists in habits that have long since been discredited. The treatment of refugees a case in point.
Rounding up refugees (asylum seekers) and putting them in off-shore detention centres is somehow worse than what Hitler did. Those seeking asylum, the same sorts of people that were purged by Hitler (with his lists), the journalists, writers, poets, activists and intellectuals, having already fled persecution, are being imprisoned without trial and tortured, not by their own country, but by ours. There’s something so nightmarish about it. For anyone held captive it is a horror on an epic scale. And here we stand, yet more journalists, writers, poets, activists and intellectuals, risking our own freedoms under new anti-terror and surveillance laws, speaking out on behalf of common humanity.
Anna Funder’s All That I Am is well-researched and factually based. Her contribution to our awareness of that era is profound.
Ferdinand moments – The swift and hysterical escalation in Gaza over a crime that may have been perpetrated by any old psycho beggars belief. And now in Ukraine we have a magnificent trigger, one that will justify to all the justness of any act of vengeance or ”punishment.” – Why air Malaysia? – probably no reason, but the number of AIDs conference attendees makes the act all the more an outrage.
The crash is another whodunnit – whether perpetrated by Russian-backed rebels (by accident or design) or the far-right Ukrainian government (by design), we can be sure that we will be told the rebels did it.
The best question to ask in these situations is who benefits? Whether by orchestration or opportunism the warmongers are the primary beneficiaries.
And the warmongers are champing at the bit for war as ever they are. Better a plethora of proxy wars than one fought by own armies or worse, on own soil.
I am so sorry for the human loss. For all the suffering families. But I do think we owe it to all who are gone and to all who suffer not to follow Israel and allow hysteria and intense emotions to cloud our judgement. WAR? – Not in MH17’s name.