Respect their memories

We owe those who fought and died on D-Day and during WW2 our utmost respect. But as world leaders gather in France, the greatest disrespect to those who gave their lives comes from George W. Bush and Tony Blair.

As the world's attention is focussed on northern France and the commemorations marking the 60th anniversary of D-Day, I am reflecting more than I have ever done before on the events of sixty years ago. Maybe it's because I have just come back from a trip to Amsterdam (which included a visit to the Anne Frank house)? Maybe it's because parts of Amsterdam make it very easy to picture war-time soldiers on the streets? Maybe it's because recent events in Iraq have brought thoughts more clearly into focus.

D-Day gave the Allied forces a foothold on Hitler's Europe and thousands of American, British and Canadian lives were lost on the beaches of Normandy. Had it not been for the success of the Normandy landings, the Allies would not have been able to enter mainland Europe for perhaps another year. Historians now suggest that with the Soviet Red Army winning the war on the Eastern Front, the objectives were both to fight Nazi tyranny AND a race to stop Soviet occupation of the bulk of mainland Europe. For both these reasons, we owe the soldiers and airmen who fought and died our utmost respect. But as world leaders gather in France, the greatest disrespect to those who gave their lives in WW2 comes from George W. Bush and Tony Blair who link the events of WW2 with their current 'adventure' in Iraq.

Whilst WW2 comes closest to the notion of a 'just war', Bush and Blair's illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq is a clear example of a war motivated by political gain and economic greed. Surely few (except Bush and Blair) still accept that the war against Iraq was about weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or the removal of Saddam Hussein for humanitarian reasons. Indeed successive American and British governments funded Saddam and sold him arms, including the nerve agents (from Britain's Porton Down facility) used to gas Kurdish civilians.

Blair and Bush's 'War On Terror' (sic) has little to do with freeing a population from tyranny as in WW2 and any attempts to justify their recent aggressions by associating themselves with the brave sacrifices made in WW2 are nothing more than desperate opportunism.

There is coverage and detailed D-Day information at the BBC, including animated maps of Operation Overlord.

Further reading


  1. #1 On June 6, 2004 08:48 PM Gordon Mackay said:

    BRAVO Andy, I have been thinking a lot about this stuff myself.

    War should be an extension of politics, but not ameans of extending the depth and contents of the western worlds pockets.

    So many poor countries have fallen victim to tyrants like Saddam Hussein, but where were Blair and Bush then? Sigh.

  2. #2 On June 6, 2004 09:40 PM James said:

    I find it incredible to think that at dawn exactly 60 years ago young men barely out of their teens were prepared, in fact did make the ultimate sacrifice and gave their lives so that Europe and the rest of the world would be free of Hitler and the evil Nazis.

    I cannot help but think that in this day and age, especially coming after the senseless murder of a young man in Colwyn Bay over a dispute about skateboarding too close to a car, there would be far fewer willing to make this sacrifice should the need ever arise.

    No man or woman should ever have to give a life so that another may live, but unfortunately the need has arisen in the past, and will probably arise again.

    D-Day should never be forgotten, and the contribution of all those involved in bringing WWll to an end should continue to be honoured.

    Isn't the world a sad place!

  3. #3 On June 6, 2004 10:09 PM Tommy said:

    "Successive American and British governments funded Saddam and sold him arms" - yes, but those were different governments to the ones now in place. Governments change, and with them so do international commitments. The current picture that's emerging is that intelligence failed, badly, but that people honestly believed there were WMDs. The fact that's it an oil-rich region does, obviously, make a difference, because it means it's of greater strategic importance, but that doesn't mean it was a 'war for oil'.

    Political gain? Even though both went into the war with strong opposition in their home nations? The moment he decided to go to war was the moment I started to respect Tony Blair - up till then I thought he was a populist.

    It's not quite like WW2, but it's not as far away as some claim. If Hitler had never invaded Poland, but had continued killing millions of Jews in Germany and Austria, would an invasion still have been just? That's a fairly similar situation.

  4. #4 On June 7, 2004 03:36 AM Mike Pepper said:

    Change comes from within. All the while we live our lives in fear and lust, envy and greed we shall forever permit our respective governments to commit acts of atrocity in the name of 'freedom'.

    Be generous in life. Be generous with your time, your tolerance and your compassion. Be generous with those feelings you treasure and share them with others. And be generous with love.

    Be generous and walk the path to spiritual fulfilment.

  5. #5 On June 7, 2004 11:11 AM Andy Budd said:

    Hi Tommy. You're right that is was a different government, but many of the same people were involved. Rumsfeld famously met Saddam at the behest of the Regan administration around about the time he was gassing al the Kurds, in order to regain diplomatic relations with the west.,2763,866942,00.html

  6. #6 On June 8, 2004 10:39 AM Fishmonster said:

    I find it extremely difficult to form valid judgments when most of the detial of these and other events are served up through a 'media filter'. Around the world there are some 70 or so active conflicts, many with atrocities as bad if not worse than Iraq's record.

    Last year I sepnt time in Uganda working with a centre set up to help orpahns that were 'created' after Idi Amin's civil war. The stories of personal loss are awful. At the time of my brief visit rebels in north of the country were continuing to wage war on their own countrymen. Shortly after I left the war really blew up as the rebels moved south, mutilating, raping, murdering and abducting as they went. There was NO press coverage of this and only recently has there been any.

    I have deep misgivings about the way we rely on the media for 'intelligence' and ultimately how that affects what political decisions are made or interpreted. But then at the same time I am grateful when the same media highlight tragedies that would otherwise be ignored.

    I don't know what the truth about Iraq is, or the real motivations behind the actions, how can I tell?

  7. #7 On June 10, 2004 02:46 PM Lee Hickman said:

    110,000 men died on those shores. Click here to see my attempt at a well thought out post that quickly became a ill thought out rant!

  8. #8 On June 10, 2004 02:46 PM Lee Hickman said:

    The click here was

    Should have read the instructions first!