A Biden Adminstration Makes the Lessons of WWI Newly Relevant

With a warmonger being forced into the White House, there’s never been better time to remember what war can cost us all

Kit Knightly

(Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

It’s November the 11th again. The poppies are all out, worn by TV personalities (as instructed by their PR department), and politicians who have long forgotten what it was supposed to mean.

“Never Again”, that was the intention. But it happened again. And again and again and again and again.

The wars never stopped, not because of religion or racism or humanity’s bloodthirsty nature…but because of money. Money and power for the very few – the driving force behind almost every war, no matter the thin ideological veneer.

“War is a racket”, that’s how Major General Smedley D. Butler, put it:

I spent thirty- three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

This message is more important than ever now, with a Biden administration being crow-barred into power at the cost of even the facade of democracy. Biden is not “progressive”, no matter what they call him or how many rainbow flags they wave. He is not new. He is old, in more ways than one.

The Warhawks in politics and the press are already salivating at the idea. The BBC is putting out a new “documentary” series about Syria. The Guardian is writing about “US leadership on the world stage”. One year on from his death, the press has decided that Russia is to blame for James Le Mesurier’s “suicide”.

Back in September, Josh Rogin writing in the Washington Post was even more flagrant, demanding Biden:

…increase pressure on President Bashar al-Assad to secure some dignity, safety and justice for the Syrian people.”

It’s not to hard to see where this is going. Whatever Trump may be, there’s no denying he’s been the least militarily aggressive president in recent memory. For the first time in nearly 40 years, a President did not start a new war in his term.

That is likely to change. They will begin drip-feeding propaganda on some “enemy” state soon enough – most likely Syria. The war drums will bang softly at first, they always do, but they will build.

That’s when the lessons of World War I need to be foremost in our minds. When the old lies are busy being given new life.

I leave you with this excellent passage from All Quiet on the Western Front. Read, and remember what was true 106 years ago is still true today:

Tjaden reappears. He is still quite excited and again joins the conversation, wondering just how a war gets started.

“Mostly by one country badly offending another,” answers Albert with a slight air of superiority.

Then Tjaden pretends to be obtuse. “A country? I don’t follow. A mountain in Germany cannot offend a mountain in France. Or a river, or a wood, or a field of wheat.”

“Are you really as stupid as that, or are you just pulling my leg?” growls Kropp, “I don’t mean that at all. One people offends the other

“Then I haven’t any business here at all,” replies Tjaden, “I don’t feel myself offended.”

“Well, let me tell you,” says Albert sourly, “it doesn’t apply to tramps like you.”

“Then I can be going home right away,” retorts Tjaden, and we all laugh, “Ach, man! he means the people as a whole, the State” exclaims Müller.

“State, State” Tjaden snaps his fingers contemptuously, “Gendarmes, police, taxes, that’s your State; if that’s what you are talking about, no, thank you.”

“That’s right,” says Kat, “you’ve said something for once, Tjaden. State and home country, there’s a big difference.”

“But they go together,” insists Kropp, “without the State there wouldn’t be any home country.”

“True, but just you consider, almost all of us are simple folk. And in France, too, the majority of men are labourers, workmen, or poor clerks. Now just why would a French blacksmith or a French shoemaker want to attack us? No, it is merely the rulers. I had never seen a Frenchman before I came here, and it will be just the same with the majority of Frenchmen as regards us. They weren’t asked about it any more than we were.”

“Then what exactly is the war for?” asks Tjaden.

Kat shrugs his shoulders. “There must be some people to whom the war is useful.”

“Well, I’m not one of them,” grins Tjaden.

“Not you, nor anybody else here.”

“Who are they then?” persists Tjaden. “It isn’t any use to the Kaiser either. He has everything he can want already.”

“I’m not so sure about that,” contradicts Kat, “he has not had a war up till now. And every full-grown emperor requires at least one war, otherwise he would not become famous. You look in your school books.”

“And generals too,” adds Detering, “they become famous through war.”

Even more famous than emperors,” adds Kat.

“There are other people back behind there who profit by the war, that’s certain,” growls Detering.


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