In 1914 Germany went to war for its own aggrandisement, thousands died time and again and the overall death toll was in millions. That was a war to end all wars, but it wasn’t, and the next time the death toll was obscenely high, the largest proportion of which were civilians. Yesterday when the Paras returned from Afghanistan to their loved ones and the grieving widows and orphans, we had the Minister speaking on television, trying to justify the war in Afghanistan which the Russians couldn’t win, on a basis I believe to be fraudulent, in that he was suggesting that our troops were there to prevent terrorism in our country. The tragic death of a young aid worker merely because she was alleged to be promoting Christianity, was just as fraudulent, and underlined the fact that terrorism is more to do with excitement, money and criminality, than ideals. In Afghanistan heroin is the problem.
When I make statements I believe in setting out the limits of my experience. I served as a home guard with the Grenadiers in Westminster blockhouses, in 1940, during the Blitz and then at 18 served as a sailor on Atlantic convoys, and I also served as a night-time, part-time policeman in Belfast at the height of the troubles in the 1970s. In retrospect I look upon the whole of those periods as a waste of the lives of the young people who were killed, and the rest of us who were standing guard on nothing, fighting shadows, and having very little to show for it in the long run, because within a short time the status quo is re-established, as Germany was back to being a severe power in Europe. Concerning terrorism in Northern Ireland, we are still having burnings, Molotov cocktails, kneecappings, murder, and all the other miserable aspects of terrorism, still, after 39 years.
Wars and acts of terrorism stem from the egos of a very few. In the case of terrorism there is a sham justification put forward, but there is also a strong underlying element of pure criminality, murder, gang warfare, theft and money laundering. The unfortunate aspect of this is that the young are allowed to be drawn in, not for any altruistic reason, but the relatively safe, exciting adrenalin rush that they will get when they face up the police, while stoning and throwing Molotov cocktails at ambulances and fire tenders, in the certain knowledge that they can’t to be taken to book because of their age. One ruse of the terrorist is to use these children and their parents as a cloak from behind which they can shoot.
If you add up the man-hours of patrolling, guarding, personal searching in offices and shops, the disruption of life from bombing and the use of fake bombs, the emotional and the physical damage to the innocents, and the families of the dead, and add into that the cost of repairing the bomb damage, there is no way you can justify terrorism, because at the end of it all there is little or no change. We, in Northern Ireland, know that if you think you have won through, It is only a mirage..