By the end, 16million people had been killed and 20million wounded in a war that had devastated and destroyed whole cities. Civilians and soldiers, often from poor backgrounds, paid the terrible price for a battle that was brought on by the rich and powerful rulers of competing imperialist powers...Very few benefited from the killing. It did, however, line the pockets of arms companies and their shareholders.
It's 00:30 on December 4th 2014. Russia has invaded Chechnya again. Maybe. Reports say that Chechnyan rebels have killed some police officers. Six rebels, or maybe fifty, or maybe three hundred. Others are speculating that with the number of reported military vehicles it must be more, but the number of military vehicles is unconfirmed. Putin's motorcade has been spotted rushing to the Kremlin. Nobody is quite sure what is going on.
Precisely because it is such a frequently used criticism of religious faith, the argument that war is a product of religion is worth considering. After all, we have recently had some horrific imagery from the Middle East that seems to suggest that religion is a bad thing. Nevertheless a number of points strike me.
Of course, there is no military solution to climate change. You can't resolve it with bombs and bullets. You can only solve it by ending our usage of fossil fuels, and protecting the public from the climate change impacts already in the pipeline. That is a rather different security challenge to the one usually faced by the military. But it also makes fossil fuels and the firms lobbying for them Public Enemy Number One.
Sexual violence is a specifically reprehensible form of violence, and includes rape and any other attack of a sexual nature perpetuated against both males and females. Its repercussions can be iniquitous, and may include acute and physical repercussions for survivors and witnesses. Human trafficking can also lead to sexual violence, and I will be discussing the issue of 'modern slavery' in this article. I will also highlight the brutal effects of sexual violence in conflict.
Take a look at the media coverage of the recent uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa region. News of the sexual harassment of women in the "Arab uprising", brutal attacks, imprisonments and virginity tests of female protestors dominated the screens. Yet women played a significant role in these events. For them, the uprising was part of a long history of resistance to suppression and a lack of freedom in their countries. The fact is that women were fighting and have proved their existence despite the counter revolutionary and anti-women treatment that they were receiving.
We can, with our technology, our material and our enviable financial position, intervene on the right side. We can fight the aggressors, the fascists, and rescue Iraq from the scourge of Islamist violence. But this is only possible in coalition, in alliance. Leaving the Kurds to fight the Islamic State alone is immoral; abandoning Iraq is equally bad; and letting the United States shoulder the burdens of internationalism alone fails the very definition of the term.
It's a bicycle. The only thing I see under the stairs of one small home in the Gaza strip. A girl's small blue bicycle. A bit battered, had seen better days, but just a bicycle. Ahmad*, whose home it is, continues to point at it. I'm thoroughly bewildered. He stares at the bicycle. Then sits down heavily and starts speaking in slow, measured tones...
If we continue to feed this monster it will become much more problematic to defeat. Our leaders and the public who oppose military intervention now will only be repeating the mistakes we made in the 1930's by not stopping the Nazis before they became too powerful to stop quickly and effectively causing catastrophic loss of life totaling 60 million civilians and soldiers.
With the polls tightening and the bookmakers shortening their odds, there is now a very real chance that Scottish people will vote for independence in two weeks time... However, one of the most positive contributions has been the Scottish Government's commitment to a 'do no harm' arms exports policy in the event of a Yes vote.