Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Unchanging Times

On the day when the news is full of air strikes on Syria and other crises in the Middle East, tucked away in the Obituaries of The Telegraph was a poignant reminder of the past and how little has changed in over half a century of dispute and conflict.

Palestine in the 1940's was where the subject of the article was.  Probably, had not his son been a leading journalist his life story may not have made it to the national press.  But the period in Palestine after World War 2 typifies what many British troops had to endure.

One irony that he was in The Rifles and when the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp was entered in Northern Germany in 1945 it was a battalion of Rifles that were first involved in attempting to rescue those who had been left there.

Between 1939 and 1960 very many men were conscripted into the Armed Forces.  Some had a relatively easy time and fun.  Many did not and regarded the places they served as hell holes.  Palestine was high on the list of these and Middle East postings were the least desirable for the ordinary squaddie.

Why they were there was because of the long established ambitions of at first European and then other governments such as the USA to rule or at least have the major influence over resources and the internal lives of their citizens.

These are states that either have oil or are deeply involved with the states that do.  It is oil that has largely powered their economies and has delivered the air, sea and road transport of today.  It is oil and related gas that is at the root of everything.

One result is to enable the populations of almost all the Middle Eastern states to increase rapidly whereas at the same time technology and such has removed the need for vast numbers of manual labourers.  Similarly, production in many areas and other work has little need for mass labour.  Inevitably, there are now millions of spare men with few, if any prospects.

Together with this has been the urbanisation of many areas of the world into which these surpluses have been drawn.  Urban societies are very different from those rural or pastoral ones of even the recent past.

Notably, the belief systems, social organisation and nature of them is another world.  One which many of the recent and even earlier incomers reject, attempting to continue the old with its myths into the new.  Inevitably, this means conflict and violence.

The cheap and easy posturing of the upper and political classes and their vague and limited notions of what might be done to how to deal with it are inadequate and failing.

If anyone thinks that chucking some advanced weaponry at the current hot spots will end the problem then they are going to have to think again.

1 comment:

  1. I'm cynical enough to think that as well as chucking advanced weaponry at the current hot spots, they are also testing it.