The real dynamic in war and conflict comes from ambitious politicians, big business, the arms manufacturers, newspaper proprietors, and national leaders all seeking their own personal self-advancement and aggrandisement; they are all involved. And if you don’t' believe me then perhaps we ought to remember that apart from the millions of ordinary people in Britain and America who got out on the anti-war demonstrations eleven years ago where was there at any significant level, a responsible leadership opposition to the illegal war that was waged on Iraq by Britain and America in 2003? This was a war that exposed the naked opportunism of our leaders, as well as their incompetence. This was a war that has set in train misery on an unimaginable scale, a war in which today remains unresolved and has to date taken 193,000 lives as an absolute minimum whilst Isis militants now look poised to conquer the region and now call on Iraqi Christians to convert to Islam or be executed. The combined cost to Britain of the wars waged in Iraq and Afghanistan is reckoned to be around £20 billion.
After the First World War, in 1919 a wood-and-plaster cenotaph was erected in London for the Allied Victory Parade. A more permanent structure now stands there. But very year since 1919, there has been a parade and a ceremony in remembrance. It’s been said that if in 1919 all Britain’ first world war dead, were to march past that cenotaph four abreast, the parade would last for seven days. The size of this march past would number 994,138 rising to 1,225,914 if we included service personnel from other parts of the British Empire. Not included in this calculation are the British military wounded who would have numbered another 1,663,435. The total number of deaths in World War 1 is estimated at around 16 million, but this would be more than doubled in the Second World War when around 37 million adults and children would lose their lives.
And so we reflect on the cost of human life in war situations and when we are brought close to the reality of it all we must surely be overwhelmed by the insanity of what we has human beings are putting ourselves through and what the inestimable price in terms of sheer pain and misery must be. Through war we are really creating a hell on earth.
And so we recall that in the Garden of Gethsemane a time of great danger and at the cost to his own life, Jesus told his protector to put away the sword for as he said, "those who live by the sword shall die by the sword". This as ever is the choice facing the world today.