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Afghanistan. The Children's Crusade

There are chilling similarities between the death of Princess Diana and the latest grief campaign by those who support the idea of sending children to die in Afghanistan for the political causes of the old and cynical. In both cases, the mourners abetted the deaths they are celebrating. Diana Spencer was elevated above her capacity to live a normal life by the market for cheap celebrity magazines. Squaddies fresh from the dole queues on their way to squalid roadside deaths in Afghanistan are partly encouraged by the reception their dead colleagues are getting every day. Both sects need the deaths of others for some strange emotional reasons of their own, but the obvious nett effect of all the enforced solemnity and hymn-singing to lowered union jacks is the glorification of war, and more confused, jobless, macho-struck teenagers sent to their graves.
Every day this week, British TV has been draped in the images of dead soldiers, and processions and church services in their memory. The youngest to die, out of the ten who have been sacrificed in the last ten days, was 18 years old. Hardly old enough to vote, yet apparently old enough to have a knowledge of global politics mature enough to make the informed decision to lay down his life for Gordon Brown. No 18 year old can be allowed to make that decision, no matter who is the leader, or how much poverty the potential recruit is escaping from.
If children were prevented, rather than actively encouraged, from making this decision until they were old enough to know what they were doing, wars would be much harder to fight. Whether that would stop them buying the ultimate con of God & Country, only time will tell. But creating a semi-divine Warrior Caste to be worshipped by all in the name of God and Country will only inflame their adolescent glory-seeking, and make war even more like one of the extreme sports teenagers love so much.

Raining Gold.
During the worst bombing of Vietnam, one folk-tale was that a commander of the Vietcong had told a western reporter that if the Americans had bombed with fridges and TVs they would have won the war.
It was obvious from the launch of the first $30 million Cruise missile in Afghanistan that the best way to eradicate the Taliban was to load a single transporter with especially minted gold coins, and parachute them over the entire country. For the cost of one or two cruise attacks, the entire country could have been carpeted in gold like a scene from tale by Scheherazade.
Apart from instantly destroying the currency system of the taliban state, the massive injection of spending power would instantly elevate may labouring peasants to the level of the aspiring middle class, with hopes which did not need the taliban and their goats and Kalashnikovs. It is hard to imagine mothers and fathers in such a fairytale wanting to send their children to die for the benefit of a few rich and powerful men. Just as it is hard to imagine any but a few slaves in the Alabama cottonfields in 1850 believing that their freedom was anything but a fairytale.
Fairytales sometimes come true.

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