Brian Victoria …… Send not to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee. John Donne
Introduction: Is religion a force for peace or war? Or to borrow a phrase from the title of Christopher Hitchen’s book, God Is Not Great,does religion really poison everything, including the possibility of living in a peaceful world?
The answer is much like posing the question of whether the glass is half full or half empty.That is to say, for every example cited to prove that religion has supported warfare and violence, other examples can be presented to show ways in which religion has contributed to peace and the avoidance of war, reconciliation between bitter enemies and the general betterment of humanity and the world. When the question is posed in this way, the debate is as endless as it is futile unless the “winner” is the side that amasses the greatest number of examples.
Tissa Jayatilaka, courtesy of Groundviews,14 August 2015, anniversary marking Japan’ surrender in World War Two … and thus its end. See Editorial Note at end. In GV the title reads “Sights of violence, sites of memory: Reframing the past.”
The subject of war, memory, memorials, memorialization and the violence of the state has been rekindled both domestically and internationally in recent weeks. Sri Lanka’s ongoing general election campaign has focused on our long and brutal internecine war and the need for reconciliation. Internationally the 70th anniversary of the awful events in Hiroshima and Nagasaki has been observed. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial commonly called the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima is part of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. It serves as a memorial to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on 6 August, 1945. Over 70, 000 is reported killed instantly and a similar number is said to have suffered fatal injuries from radiation. Bombs were dropped on Nagasaki on 9 August, 1945. Nagasaki’s Atomic Bomb Museum was built in 2003 around the only structure left standing near the bomb’s hypocenter. Some locals opposed the building of the Atomic Bomb Museum while some others were for it. It is now 70 years since the dropping of atomic bombs by the United States. Postwar Japan limited its military to self defence. Now Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’ plans to loosen the restrictions on what Japan’s military can do. Opinion is divided as most in Nagasaki and Hiroshima continue to be supportive of peace and disarmament. According to the Mayor of Nagasaki Tomihisha Taue , there is ‘widespread unease’ about Mr. Abe’ s legislation that will alter the constitutional requirement limiting Japan’s military to self defence.
“It was an adventure,” said an old Australian soldier to the camera during a TV sequence retailing the tales of enlistment for war during the 20th century in the course of the massive media coverage leading up to Anzac day on 25th April 2015 one hundred years after the disastrous Australian participation in Allied operations against Turkey at Gallipoli.
“Are you a terrorist?” asked the film-maker in the course of a relaxed interview with an Algerian migrant from Britain netted by the police in Frankfurt before he and his colleagues embarked on a bomb-planting operation at the Christkindelsmärik beside Strasbourg Cathedral in 2000. “No, I am a mujahid” said the young man quietly in firm denial.
Enlistment for War: Australian Visions
One of the vignettes above highlights one thread in the mix of motives that prompted Australian males to enlist in the Australian forces committed to support Britain and its Allies in the First World War in 1914. In surmise one could say that some young teenagers who bumped up their age in order to join the brigades were particularly inspired by a spirit of reckless adventure in embarking on this deadly pursuit. Continue reading →
Air Commodore Leonard Joseph Birchall, Member of the Order of Canada, Member of the Order of Ontario, Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Distinguished Flying Cross, Canadian Forces Decoration, Officer of the United States Legion of Merit, passed away in September 2004 at the age of 89. His passing was reported in most Canadian newspapers, and all of them noted that he had been nicknamed ‘the Saviour of Ceylon’ for having spotted a Japanese fleet approaching Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) on 4 April 1942 while on patrol in a 413 (RCAF) Squadron Consolidated Catalina flying boat. Unfortunately, few accounts of Birchall’s actions that day paint a full picture of the combat operations in which his sighting report played an important factor. The aim of this article is to put Birchall’s discovery of the Japanese fleet into the full context of the operations conducted off and over Ceylon between 26 March and 9 April 1942. Leonard Joseph Birchall in the cockpit of his Catalina– CMJ Collection
ON FUTURE WAR, London: Brassey’s, 1991 ISBN 0 08 041796 5
An examination of the nature of war and its radical transformation in our own time. The author argues that the Clausewitzian assumption that war is rational is outdated, and that strategic, logical planning is unrelated to the current realities of guerrilla armies, terrorists and bandits. He sets out to demonstrate that our most basic ideas of who fights wars, and why, are inadequate – because man has a need to “play” at war. Van Creveld also wrote “Technology and War”, “Command and War” and “Supply and War”
Extract from Flap Abstract of the Book, 1991
Michael Howard: “Famous Last Screams,” a review of On Future War
Richard A. Koenigsberg, reviewing Walter A. Skya: Japan’s Holy War: The Ideology of Radical Shinto Ultranationalism, Duke University Press, 2009, 400pp, ISBN-10:0822344238
What is totalitarianism? Why did the Axis powers stick together? What did Japan have in common with Germany? This essential book articulates the ideology and psychology underlying Japanese ultra-nationalism.
Skya explicates the thinking of Japanese social theorist, Hozumi Yatsuka (1860-1912). According to Hozumi, the individual exists in society—and society within the individual. The clash between individualism and socialism is resolved through the concept of godo seizon (literally, fused or amalgamated existence), meaning the merging of the individual into society. Human beings fuse together to create “society.” Continue reading →
Thuppahi's Blog · This web site presents the interventions of MICHAEL ROBERTS in the public realm with reference to Sri Lankan political affairs. It will embrace the politics of cricket as well. ROBERTS was educated at St. Aloysius College in Galle and the universities of Peradeniya and Oxford. He taught History at Peradeniya University and Anthropology at Adelaide university. He is now retired and lives in Adelaide.