Posted by: Martin Scherer | 20/03/2011

The World is a better place today.

When I was sixteen and the Beatles sung ‘I wanna hold your hand love songs’, the BBC showed a documentary series whose music forever reminds me of death.

The documentary series showed us the Great War, the war to end all wars The documentary told of the use of gas to kill. The score by Wilfred Josephs “Ominously ushered the audience into the trenches. (Ian Jack, 2007) I found myself glued tighter and more horrified than any horror film I’ve ever seen or think could emerge the depths of gruesome human imagination.

It was then I understood why my father chose to be a nurse rather than a pilot in WW2. He was a Quaker and a pacifist, and I swore to become like him. Yet forty years later, when a well educated and more experienced adult, I publicly supported the Second Gulf War. I did not do so because I thought Sadam Husain had chemical weapons he could rocket to the UK. I did so because Sadam Husain used gas to murder a million, an entire nation, of innocent defenseless people. What I learnt in those forty years, and I think we all learnt, is that we cannot call ourselves civilized if we stand by whilst the innocent are slaughtered.

The United Nations was born out of the ashes of WW2, in the recognition that wars don’t end wars. Since the birth of the UN there have been too many killing fields, from Korea, to Vietnam, Cambodia, Ruanda and Bosnia. They tell us sometimes war is necessary. The difference between North and South Korea today, tells us why. To be rid of dictators. The Communist dictatorship of the USR and China, tells us when. When we can.

Today I rejoice that I am not alone, I am not in a minority, I am home in a majority of nations that decided to stop the tyrant of Libya. Men will be men, and they will fight, but at least we can set some rules for their fight. We may not stop them from using guns, but we can stop them using tanks and aircraft.

More important than winning a war in Libya, is the message sent to all current and future tyrants: “You must not murder or your own people and we will stop you when we can.”

It is unsurprising that African nations have called for a stop to intervention into Libya. There are too many dictators in Africa. It is disappointing that Russia and China did not support. Nations take time to change. It’s a mark of their advance that they abstained rather than blocking the UN. What is most surprising is that Germany, a nation that suffered more from dictatorship than most, should fail to support.

The UN action in Libya when all governments have to be authorised by the UN before they can take control. Authorisation by adherence to human rights. What form of government they adopt whether democratic, lead by religious law, or even beneficial dictatorship, is up to them, provided their governance embodies human rights. Perhaps it will happen in my lifetime, but I hope it happens before China becomes the greatest military power on earth.

There is an unwritten rule of all war, as shown by the symbolic war on the chessboard. Any piece can be exterminated, taken or sacrificed, except the King. Perhaps that ancient gentlemanly rule should be abandoned when it comes to dictators.



  1. I particulary agree with your last paragraph. China is a force to be reckon with. So many people and so little ethics when it comes to manufacturing, etc. It’s hard to go anywhere and buy completely American. I personally don’t see much difference in king or dictator. Of course, it does matter whether the king is merely a figurehead and the country has Parliment making decisions. Nice, informative post.

  2. David Cameron showed his worth yersterday in that brief statement. I felt proud to be British. Many Amercans I have spoken to today feel let down that their country is again involving itself in military action it cannot afford in a far off land, but all agree that Gadhafi should be removed. Be proud that you have a Prsident who can act for the good of the whole in promoting democracy.

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