Honour British war dead with peace not war

The best way to honour those who died is to build a better world than the one which came before it.

The best way to honour those who died is to build a better world than the one which came before it

With Remembrance Sunday right around the corner, it is important to remember those who have died during times of conflict. For a continent ravaged by the horrors of perpetual warfare, we are fortunate that we can now live within a Europe free from such a curse.

With the centenary of the First World War coming up, we look back on ‘the war to end all wars’ and wonder how it is that we have come so far.

Despite the wars of recent times no longer impacting the everyday lives of British citizens the way World War I or II did, the British people are war weary. A majority of Britain has been against the Afghan war for many years now.

The Ministry of Defence knows this and this sea change in attitudes will be influencing the next two strategic defence reviews. This is part of a longer term trend where once hated enemies can now agree on something: that war is a terrible scourge and that there must be a better way.

We are fortunate to be living in a time, in Europe at least, of relative peace. The number of British troops killed in war is far lower than it was a hundred years ago.

A reduction in British war deaths though, is not good enough and certainly should not be all we can or should expect. The argument is that such barbarity is not befitting of a civilised society and people are correct to feel that way. Such ideas are not bound by party affiliation nor class.

It is right that we should be spending more not on the making of war, but on nation building through effective policing, development and the active promotion of peacebuilding to prevent future flare ups of violence in war torn parts of the world.

In a democratic Britain, there is a shift away from military activity to bring peace to unstable parts of the world and a move towards building communities to allow healthcare, infrastructure, education and all of the other things which allow people to work on building a stable state.

A hundred years on from the end of the Great War, it is important that we continue the legacy of remembering those who died during that time. It is imperative that the best way in which to honour those who died, both civilian and combatant, is to build a better world than the one which came before it.

This can be done by not only further increasing the funding of the Conflict Pool, but by ensuring that any money spent is spent not on war making, but on refocusing development efforts towards addressing the root causes of conflict.

Commemorating the dead should be about remembering the disaster that is war and building a less violent world. In doing so, we can do what is not only a moral imperative, but also that which will yield more results for us in the future.

A peaceful world pays dividends more so than one wracked by instability and war. Countries with low levels of violence can more easily creates jobs, goods and services opening up new markets to Britain and creating wealth via trade on both sides.

It is important that the centenary of the First World War underlines the move away from war towards conflict prevention and conflict management initiatives that build more resilient and long lasting peace.

I hope that the Left can rediscover its peaceful international roots and do everything it can help develop the Conflict Pool. This would ensure that Britain is on the right side of history.

Zaheer Rayasat is an activist and social commentator

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