Sincerity Agency article (www.sincerityagency.com):
KOS blog version above and article on P.25:
Unedited version with some info on Ramsgate Town for Heroes below:
A forced Forces Day?
Tim Garbutt asks if today’s Armed Forces Day looks to the past or the future.
Are you out celebrating Armed Forces Day today? It’s still somewhat of a strange day created by Gordon Brown in 2006 to shore up support for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – yet now downgraded from a public holiday to a celebration of the Forces albeit similar to Remembrance Sunday in November.
Across the County there seems little sign of bunting or bands. Perhaps our heritage of Frontline Kent or Unconquered Invicta extends to Spitfires and Romans but not today’s Forces.
The anniversary the Dunkirk Little Ships – is the history of our armed forces often one of the public coming to the aid of the regular military? – was remembered down here in Ramsgate yet our role in Waterloo passed uneventfully across Kent this week in the town that provided many of the troops that defeated Napoleon.
And even last month the VE Day celebrations for the end of WW2 were celebrated in Moscow with the first-ever parade of British troops in Red Square. Rather nice of the Russians given we invaded them in 1920 and they had to plenty to do in defeating both Hitler and the Japanese out of Eastern Europe and China.
And if Iraq has been fought to a standstill and retreat, and Afghanistan this week reaching the grim milestone of 300 British soldiers dead should this Forces Day seem so forgotten?
Certainly in East Kent there are discussions around the Town For Heroes to better support our troops on return home with British Legion support for free council tax and community benefits. It’s something the French and US military and public take for granted but each war we seem to face the same problems of disastrous equipment and worse homecoming support.
Perhaps our forgotten celebrations should go further and remember the “Forgotten War” of Korea in 1950-53 – probably the future the template of UK military action as the First United Nations War. Or a thought for the “Forgotten Army” in WW2 Burma is perhaps never more timely.
I wrote this time last year of the danger of rogue nations of North Korea and Burma following the North Korean missile over Japan and reopening of nuclear reactor test sites.
And now, two months ago, we face the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan with 46 sailors killed by North Korea.
While Kent’s twin state of Virginia’s Senator Jim Webb is facing renewed calls to free British citizen Aung San Suu Kyi from our former colony of Burma and its embargoed “war crimes” regime.
And the UN confirms reports of Burma’s military – celebrating their Armed Forces Day in 3 months ago- plan to develop nuclear weapons with North Korean technology and export it to other rogue nations such as the Congo. And all the while buying 50 fighter jets from China to continue its ethnic civil war.
With British war graves stretching from Mandalay to Seoul perhaps today is a day to reflect on the cost of appeasement with dictatorships such as Burma and Korea.
The recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with the Taliban and Saddam show that the threat to Kent comes from failing to develop aid and democracy in such nations. The roll call of immigration seekers is the failed nations of the world: Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Congo and Colombia.
What we do there rebounds here, yet some 9 years into the war in Afghanistan we’ve failed to create basic schools, roads and hospitals to reverse what is described as a “broken 13th century society” – even with full support from all the major powers unlike the previous Cold War conflicts in Afghanistan.
We seem to have concentrated on killing fewer Al-Qaida and more civilians and exacerbating a civil war rather than swiftly supporting military action with an “Af-Pak Marshall Plan” of massive development aid.
While in Asia Cyclone Nargis was a missed opportunity to establish what the UN now refers to as the “R2P: Right to Protect” and intervene in a nation against a failed government.
And presumably now the more democratic and no-nuke Chinese and Russians also regret their support of North Korea - and its new nuclear missiles within reach of Tokyo, Taiwan, Beijing and the entire Russian Pacific nuclear submarine fleet in Vladivostock. And 50,000 US troops in South Korea and Okinawa.
If the price of democracy is eternal vigilance then there may be a few things worth considering closer to home in Kent: not just better equipment and support of our returning troops.
Why weren’t Kent’s farmers consulted on providing alternative crops and farm techniques for Afghanistan to stem the heroin trade?
While KCC could implement the UN ethical guidelines on investments: is investing in booze, tobacco and guns really the best use of teachers and nurses pensions?
An ethical dimension to planning policy for supporters of anti-democratic and rogue nations such as Total petrol with over 60 petrol stations in Kent and the last main oil company in Burma facing a full EU embargo seems only economic with common sense.
And the 21st century surely requires adopting and adapting the UN Millennium Goals with Climate Change and new society - and even leading the way in establishing the “House of Commons” democratic assembly within the UN – as already voted by the EU and UN itself.
This Armed Forces Day might be a damp squib in Kent but we should be grateful there have been only two mushroom clouds in Asia to establish the armistice and rogue nations of the last 60 years. And for the future there’s more we can do to ensure most of our troops are here not there.
Tim Garbutt is Managing Director of Sincerity Agency the leading green and ethical advertising agency in East Kent: www.sincerityagency.com