Monday, May 31, 2004

Reflections on the 60th Anniversary of D-Day

June 6th 2004 sees the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings - I doubt I'm the first one to point this out to you as most of the media has pretty extensive coverage of this event- in my opinion rightly so - as this was a huge event that has touched the lives of many people. My Grandad was one of those soldiers who made that short crossing over the channel to help end a long and brutal war. He married my Gran before embarking to war as he feared he may never come back; fortunately for our family he did - and they were together from then until when they both died.

The legacy of this event is also still with us in Bristol - Clifton College still has General Omar Bradley's three star general's banner. This banner was presented to the college as a mark of thanks for the use of the buildings as the HQ for the US 1st Army. General Bradley moved in to the college on 16th October 1943 and used it right though till June 1944. The school kids who would have been there had long since been evacuated out of the city.

World War II is seen as the 'good war' (indeed the BBC have dubbed it 'The People's War') and throughout the intervening period, politicians have sought to associate themselves and their actions with this most moral of wars. Most recently Tony Blair and George Bush has sought to swathe themselves in the cloth cut by so much suffering to hide the fact that their war is not only not a good one, but is totally stark naked. These two leaders, neither of whom has seen active service in any war, will be standing tall at a ceremony in Normandy to mark the event. With so many important leaders in one place, and with an ongoing War on Terror (TM) to worry about, the town hosting the event, Arromanches, has been totally sealed off. The Major of Arromanches obviously sees how ill fitting their cloth is, as he told reporters; "The sad thing for us here is that June 6 is almost more important than Bastille Day. Every year our British veterans come and every year we celebrate with them in a wonderful, intimate reunion. This year will be different. There'll be no party, no cocktails on the square. They've stolen our party."

In the run-up to the war there was much discussion of 'appeasement' and how it had failed with Hitler, and so it would fail with Saddam: Rupert Murdoch's New York Post shrieked: "Where are the French now, as Americans prepare to put their soldiers on the line to fight today's Hitler, Saddam Hussein?" I myself, as an opponent of the Iraq war, have been hit with the charge: what would you have done in WWII? Let Hitler take the whole world? My answer then is the same as now - I'd have tried to stop him obtaining power in the first place. The war against fascism did not begin when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939. It did not begin when the anarchists, communists and socialists were battling Franco, Hitler and Mussolini in Spain 1936. It began when corporate interests, fearful of the rise of social movements, sought a vanguard against the loss of profit. This battle has roots that go back beyond the 20th century. Without financial backing and sponsors in the corridors of power - men such as Hitler, Saddam and Osama would still be fanatics, but lacking the power to act would be snakes without venom.

When GW Bush stands before the world to mark the sacrifice of allied soldiers in D-Day I wonder if he'll spare a thought for Prescott Bush, his granddaddy who spent the 1930 and 40s helping Hitler to acquire this venom. Through various trading companies and banks Prescott Bush was part of the 48.5% rise in US corporate investment in German once Hitler came to power. He wasn't alone; Henry Ford was awarded Great Cross of the German Order of the Eagle by Hitler for services to German industry. In the words of John Loftus, a prosecutor with the US Justice Department’s Nazi-hunting unit, "..they [Prescott Bush and his cronies] should have been tried for treason, because they continued to support Hitler after the US entered the war...I could have made that case."

Instead of standing in a court accused of complicity in war crimes, the corporate villains of the 'good war' will have their figureheads presiding over the service to honor those who cleaned up their mess. Instead of being dismantled, the corporations who cashed-in from fascism, such as Ford, IBM and Nestle - now take pride of place in our consumer driven lifestyles. Instead of being run out of the country, the media who applauded Hitler are given free reign to continue his hateful ideology. In the words of Jose Arevalo, a member of the left-leaning cabinet of President Arbenz of Guatemala prior to its overthrown by a CIA orchestrated coup, who remarked; "The allies may have won the Second World War, but unfortunately the ideology that won was not that of Roosevelt, but that of Hitler."

While Nestle has a cafe in the heart of Bristol selling salve-labour coffee, while the BNP tread the streets of our city peddling the ideology that my grandfather fought against, while the warmongers are lauded and the peace makers slandered as appeasers or terrorists - while all this happens - the war against fascism is not over and it would be an insult to the freedoms that people like my grandfather fought for to do anything else than continue that struggle.

No comments: