Archive for November, 2015

Peace Memorials Around the World

There is little doubt that the most moving monuments to peace around the world are those that are linked to moments of great destruction. The Genbaku Dome in Hiroshima is one of those special places, it’s skeleton was preserved by the survivors of one of the greatest single acts of violence that human beings have perpetrated in their history.

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That act took place on the 6th August, 1945 when an Atom bomb was dropped on the bustling town of Hiroshima.   The explosion destroyed almost completely the commercial and political centre of the city, the Genbaku dome was one of the very few buildings which survived the blast.

The building has not been restored although it has been made safe, and a plaque on the side of the building reads :

Let all the souls here rest in peace. For (we) shall not repeat the evil.

The simple fact is that over 140,000 people lost their lives in that single explosion and people still gather there to commemorate the day. It is a day that changed the world and one that should be remembered particularly as Japan rethinks it’s pacifist ideology which it has adhered to for the past few decades. The issue was examined in depth by a wonderful report on Newsnight from the BBC a few weeks ago, you can watch BBC TV online using this method if you’re outside the Uk and want to catch it.

If you’re ever near Hiroshima, it is a place worth visiting it’s large enough to spend a couple of hours in and the surrounding parks and exhibits are unique. The story of that day are told in words and through surviving remnants. It is a heartbreaking lesson in history, yet perhaps something we should all see.

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Don’t Cheer the Russian Bombs

Some times it gets confusing distinguishing the genuine peace activists, especially when they start applauding violence. Yet there is a growing view that the Russians bombing the hell out of Syria is going to make things better.

The arguments are just as confusing, things like Western intervention makes things worse (ergo Russians will do better, ermm), we’re just letting ISIS win and stuff like that. The idea that dropping bombs on the utter chaos that is Syria will make things better or defeat ISIS seems to me completely misguided.

After all, ISIS thrives in the sort of war torn chaos that wide spread bombing causes. They receive a ready supply of martyrs to be every time some innocent civilian is killed from their family, friends and bystanders. Not to mention the damage that is caused to infrastructure, dragging back Syria to the stone age is only going to suit one side of this battle and that’s ISIS who are happiest living there.

The problem too, is that there’s no such thing as a good bomb, you know the sort that lands neatly on the baddies head whilst not damaging anything else. We’ve seen the damage that super accurate, laser guided missiles can do when they go astray (which they do frequently). The idea that the heavy duty, carpet bombing style tactics favored by the Russians is going to minimize collateral damage is simply insane.

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The bombs will inspire the fanatics and bring misery to the innocent. the bombs will ensure a steady supply of jihadists with yet another enemy to rally against. You only have to watch the BBC news and documentaries, try this method if you can’t access, to see that violence only fuels the religious hatred of such zealots.

What is required in Syria is a peace process, something for ordinary civilians to rally around and give them hope. Syrians need a de-escalation in conflict, negotiations, arms embargo – it’s not an easy solution but it’s the only route to true peace. Bombs never solve anything in chaotic situations like Syria, they simply give the warmongers and excuse to carry on killing.

John Hallows
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