Wednesday, January 9, 2008

MoD denies recruiting school kids for the state’s killing machine

From the Class Warfare blog

Jimmy, over at Patience and Perseverance, alerts us to a piece that appeared in Monday's Independent and relating to criticism levelled against the Ministry of Defence over the way it 'glamorizes war'.

The Independent tells how a new report by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust reveals that "young people are being recruited into the Army with misleading marketing, and the disillusionment which follows has led to a huge number of them leaving the service."

The report claims that MoD advertising campaigns "glamorise warfare, omit vital information and fail to point out the risks and responsibilities associated with a forces career." It goes on to say that promises made to those enlisting in the forces are often not kept and the recruits are also not told of their legal rights. Moreover, the report claims that army recruitment teams are targeting kids as young as seven, observing that the UK is the only EU state to recruit those aged 16.

The MoD, however, denies recruiting in schools. Lying bastards! Even I know they do! The report claims: "The Ministry of Defence's youth policy contradicts this, describing military curricular activities in educational establishments as a 'powerful tool for facilitating recruitment especially if the skills developed through curricular activities have a direct bearing on military requirements'."

I've been to a few parents/careers evenings at the local comprehensive school over the years – three of my kids have been pupils there and one still is. The first people you meet when you enter the doors of the building where they host such events are bloody soldiers, or rather teenagers in army uniforms, handing out brochures promoting the benefits of enlisting in the state's killing machine; kids in uniform who, by the looks of them, couldn't punch their way out of a paper bag. Brushing aside their outstretched leaflets I'll turn to my child and, quite audibly, inform them that I'll kick their arse if they ever contemplate joining this bunch of hired killers.

So, there they stand, apple pie faces, clearly not even old enough to vote by the looks of them, in their gang colours, trying to lure kids, stressed out with exams and the pressures to hurry up and get exploited by some capitalist, into their ranks. Which figure of authority sends them to the school is beyond me, for they are always totally bamboozled by the questions I ask them; there again, I'd imagine their higher ups would be bamboozled by the same questions. But they'll always hook some kid, aware of their own lack of prospects and who can be conned into believing that an honest living can be had by killing for your country.

Now and again they'll have some display on view, exalting the merits of "joining up" - how you can learn a trade, get a decent salary that you can bank-up for when you come out (coz the army provides you with clothes and shelter and food), and there'll be photos of soldiers playing rugby and paddling about in canoes and abseiling down mountains and having a right old merry time of it. And missing from this display are the photos of death and destruction that armies bring in their wake, the blood and guts and tears and mourning, the homelessness and waste and carnage. Missing too are the true facts about life in the army, the ones about the suicides (since the Falklands War and since the invasion of Iraq, more soldiers have committed suicide coming home from those battles than have been killed by the "enemy") and the mass desertions (i.e. in Vietnam and Iraq) and which the army would rather were kept hush-hush.

And they're standing there happily recruiting, not really knowing why, because a small group of people - known only as the capitalist class - rely on violence to enforce their rule over patches of the Earth's surface and the people living on it. They need muscle to keep their power, and to wrest power from others.

Think about it: whatever gang war in history wasn't started over some competition for turf or property? The Gulf War was fought over oil, the Falklands War over naval access to the south pacific, the Second World War over access to the raw materials required by competing industrials nations. Like any mobster, the capitalists will tell you the war was fought for honour, justice, for family, but ultimately, it's always just business.

So, there's no point blaming the hired killers, they're just latching onto a very profitable business, a business the competition of the world capitalist system promotes. If you don't like the idea of your kids being murderers, or if you don't want to see them end up as collateral damage or the victims of "friendly fire", then the answer is for them not to join in these wars, or start a new one against these gangs, but to struggle to abolish the basis for their wars.

The common and democratic ownership of the wealth of the world by the entire population of the world would eradicate the incentive to fight. Why struggle to control resources which you can co-operatively use to your own and everyone's mutual benefit? It would give kids the hope and prospects for themselves that they would no longer see the murder of their fellows as a valid career move. The hired killers don't have to be about forever.

But don't wait for the people at the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust to use this critique against recruitment, or to offer some class-conscious analysis of war. As the Independent tells us, they have no qualms with the killing machine as such for they recommend "sweeping changes to the MoD's current policy, including a new charter setting out the responsibility of the state; a radical review of recruitment literature; phasing out the recruitment of minors and new rights for recruits to leave the services."

The report entitled Informed Choice can be downloaded here in pdf format.

John Bissett

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