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Wednesday, 29 January 2014

WWI - Milne Takes Apart Gove

First world war: an imperial bloodbath that's a warning, not a noble cause
The Guardian's Seumas Milne published the column below a few weeks ago. It's excellent, interesting and well worth reading - I only just came across it.

Tory claims that 1914 was a fight for freedom are absurd – but then history wars are about the future as much as the past as the present

They were never going to be able to contain themselves. For all the promises of a dignified commemoration, the Tory right's standard bearers held back for less than 48 hours into the new year before launching a full-throated defence of the "war to end all wars". The killing fields of Gallipoli and the Somme had been drenched in blood for a "noble cause", declared Michael Gove. The slaughter unleashed in 1914 had been a "just war" for freedom.
Hostility to the war, the education secretary complained, had been fostered by leftwingers and comedians who denigrated patriotism and painted the conflict as a "misbegotten shambles". Gove was backed by the prime minister, as talk of international reconciliation was left to junior ministerial ranks.
Boris Johnson went further. The war was the fault of German expansionism and aggression, London's mayor pronounced, and called for Labour's shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt to be sacked forthwith if he doubted it. The Conservative grandees were backed up by a retinue of more-or-less loyal historians. Max Hastings reckoned it had been fought in defence of "international law" and small nations, while Antony Beevor took aim at "anti-militarists".
This is all preposterous nonsense. Unlike the second world war, the bloodbath of 1914-18 was not a just war. It was a savage industrial slaughter perpetrated by a gang of predatory imperial powers, locked in a deadly struggle to capture and carve up territories, markets and resources.
Germany was the rising industrial power and colonial Johnny-come-lately of the time, seeking its place in the sun from the British and French empires. The war erupted directly from the fight for imperial dominance in the Balkans, as Austria-Hungary and Russia scrapped for the pickings from the crumbling Ottoman empire. All the ruling elites of Europe, tied together in a deathly quadrille of unstable alliances, shared the blame for the murderous barbarism they oversaw. The idea that Britain and its allies were defending liberal democracy, let alone international law or the rights of small nations, is simply absurd.
It's not just that 40% of men and all women in Britain were denied the vote in 1914 – unlike Germany, which already had full male suffrage – or that the British empire was allied with the brutal autocracy of tsarist Russia.
Every single one of the main warring states was involved in the violent suppression of the rights of nations throughout the racist tyrannies that were their colonial empires. In the decades before 1914, about 30 million people died from famine as colonial officials enforced the export of food in British-ruled India, slaughtered resisters in their tens of thousands and set up concentration camps in South Africa.
Britain was supposed to have gone to war to defend the neutrality of "plucky little Belgium" – which had itself presided over the death of 10 million Congolese from forced labour and mass murder in the previous couple of decades. German colonialists had carried out systematic genocide in what is now Namibia in the same period.
As to international law, Britain's disdain for it was demonstrated when Germany had asked by what right it claimed territory in Africa a few years before. London refused to reply. The answer was obvious: brute force. This was the "liberal" global order for which, in the words of the war poet Wilfred Owen, the ruling classes "slew half the seed of Europe, one by one".
In reality, it wasn't just the seed of Europe they sacrificed, but hundreds of thousands of troops from their colonies as well. And in case there were any doubt that all the main combatants were in the land-grabbing expansion game, Britain and France then divvied up the defeated German and Ottoman empires between them, from Palestine to Cameroon, without a thought for small nations' rights, laying the ground for future disasters in the process.
Gove and his fellow war apologists worry that satirical shows such as Blackadder have sapped patriotism by portraying the war as "a series of catastrophic mistakes perpetrated by an out-of-touch elite". The incompetence and cynicism of generals and politicians certainly had horrific results. But it was the nature of the war itself that was most depraved.
Fortunately, the revisionists lost the argument among the public long ago – just as Gove has largely lost his battle to impose a tub-thumping imperial agenda on the school history curriculum. They will keep trying though, because history wars are about the future as much as the past – and so long as imperial conflict is discredited, future foreign military interventions and occupations will be difficult to sell.
For the rest of us, this year's anniversary should be a reminder that empire in all its forms, militarism and national chauvinism lead to bloodshed and disaster. It also contains a warning about the threat from the rise and fall of great powers. China is no imperial Germany, but the US – allied with Japan – is a declining global power in a region in which it is tightening its military grip. It's not 1914, but the dangers are clear.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

WWI - Lenin's theory of imperial war

Lenin's theory of imperial war went deeper than the division of the world's territory among the colonial powers - it pointed to the most profound developments in the western capitalist system itself, including the transformation of the capitalist econony into finance capitalism, and the more or less complete 'colonisation' of the state - or, rather, fusion of class and state - by big business.

Significantly, Lenin also was vexed by the more or less complete capitualtion to 'war fever' among the parties of the international socialist movement - including Germany's socialists and Britain's Labout party (apart from a handful of leaders such as Ramsay MacDonald and Philip Snowden) - and the trade union organisations. He noted the political and economic significance of a 'labour aristocracy' based on the superprofits of colonial rule and the superexploitation of the poorest in the colonising states.

Below is a basic analysis of Lenin's approach to imperialism and war, and the 'betrayal' by working class parties of their class.


Lenin undertook his detailed study of Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism in 1916, basing it on the research of an English economist named JA Hobson.
Lenin saw capitalism evolving into a higher stage. The key to understanding it was an economic analysis of the transition from free competititon to monopoly.

Lenin provides a careful, 5-point definition of imperialism: "(1) the concentration of production and capital has developed to such a high stage that it has created monopolies which play a decisive role in economic life; (2) the merging of bank capital with industrial capital, and the creation, on the basis of this "finance capital", of a financial oligarchy; (3) the export of capital as distinguished from the export of commodities acquires exceptional importance; (4) the formation of international monopolist capitalist associations which share the world among themselves, and (5) the territorial division of the whole world among the biggest capitalist powers is completed. Imperialism is capitalism at that stage of development at which the dominance of monopolies and finance capital is established; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun, in which the division of all territories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers has been completed."

Imperialism is enormously profitable. Hobson estimated that in 1899 it had provide Great Britain an income of 90 million to 100 million pounds on the basis of its foreign capital, "the income of the rentiers." As Lenin emphasized, "The income of the rentiers is five times greater than the income obtained from the foreign trade of the biggest "trading" country in the world! This is the essence of imperialism and imperialist parasitism... The world has become divided into a handful of usurer states and a vast majority of debtor states. 'At the top of the list of foreign investments,' says SchuIze-Gaevernitz, 'are those placed in politically dependent or allied countries: Great Britain grants loans to Egypt, Japan, China and South America. Her navy plays here the part of bailiff in case of necessity.'"

In another article around the same time, War and Revolution, Lenin was more specific about the fact that imperialism uses its military as the "bailiff": "Peace reigned in Europe, but this was because domination over hundreds of millions of people in the colonies by the European nations was sustained only through constant, incessant, interminable wars, which we Europeans do not regard as wars at all, since all too often they resembled, not wars, but brutal massacres, the wholesale slaughter of unarmed peoples."
Writing in "Who Stands to Gain?"on the eve of World War I, Lenin saw the arms race as a source of super-profit for capitalist investors: In Europe, "the states that call themselves 'civilised', is now engaged in a mad armaments hurdle-race. In thousands of ways, in thousands of newspapers, from thousands of pulpits, they shout and clamour about patriotism, culture, native land, peace, and progress - and all in order to justify new expenditures of tens and hundreds of millions of rubles for all manner of weapons of destruction - for guns, dreadnoughts, etc. ... the renowned British firm Armstrong, Whitworth & Co ... engaged mainly in the manufacture of 'armaments' declared a dividend of 12. percent. Dividends of 12.5 per cent mean that capital is doubled in 8 years. and this is in addition to all kinds of fees to directors, etc."

In a second article, "Armaments and Capitalism", Lenin elaborates on this theme: "we find that admirals and prominent statesmen of both parties, Conservative and Liberal, are shareholders and directors of shipyards, and of gunpowder, dynamite, ordnance and other factories. A shower of gold is pouring straight into the pockets of bourgeois politicians, who have got together in an exclusive international gang engaged in instigating an armaments race among the peoples and fleecing these trustful, stupid, dull and submissive peoples like sheep."

War, for imperialism, is not only used to conquer and control the colonies and to prevent the development of socialism, but also to compete with other imperialist powers. Periods of peace, says Lenin, are "nothing more than a 'truce' in periods between wars." World War I, to Lenin, could only be understood as an inter-imperialist war. And a few years later, in a speech on December 6, 1920, Lenin would foresee that a second inter-imperialist war was brewing that would pit Japan against the United States and Germany against the rest of Europe.

The superprofits of imperialism enable the capitalists to buy off the workers in the home country. Lenin points out that this had been foreseen by Engels in a letter to Marx as early as 1858, "The English proletariat is actually becoming more and more bourgeois ... For a nation which exploits the whole world, this is of course to a certain extent justifiable." Lenin confirms that this trend had continued to develop and was accompanied by opportunism on the part of many working class leaders and socialist writers.

According to Lenin, companies in the developed world exploit workers in the developing world where wages are much lower. The increased profits enable these companies to pay higher wages to their employees "at home" (that is, in the developed world), thus creating a working class satisfied with their standard of living and more inclined towards imperialism and war.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

WWI - Lenin Called it Right 100 years ago

Below I reprint an analysis by VI Lenin on WWI a mere two months after the war's outbreak in which he got the colonial-imperial character of the war just right.  He was vilified at the time by the entire range of socialists and leftists in Russia and beyond but it was the Bolsheviks' determination to stick to that line - against a bloody murderous inter-imperial war that was of no benefit to the majority of the peoples of Britain, France, Germany, Russia, etc - that eventually explains why Lenin's party was able to both remove the Tsar and take Russia out of the war in 1917-18.

"The German bourgeoisie heads one group of belligerent nations. It is deluding the working class and the laboring masses by asserting that it is waging war in defense of the fatherland, freedom, and civilization, for the liberation of the peoples oppressed by tsardom, for the destruction of reactionary tsardom…. In reality, whatever the outcome of the war may be, this bourgeoisie will, together with the Junkers, exert every effort to support the tsarist monarchy against a revolution in Russia.
The other group of belligerent nations is headed by the British and French bourgeoisie, which is deluding the working class and the laboring masses by asserting that it is waging war for the defense of their native lands, freedom, and civilization, against the militarism and despotism of Germany. But as a matter of fact, this bourgeoisie has long been using its billions to hire the armies of the Russian tsardom, the most reactionary and barbarous monarchy in Europe, and to prepare them for an attack on Germany.
In reality, the object of the struggle of the British and French bourgeoisie is to seize the German colonies and to ruin a competing nation which has displayed a more rapid rate of economic development. And, in pursuit of this noble aim, the “advanced” democratic nations are helping the savage tsarist regime to strangle Poland, the Ukraine, and so on, and to throttle revolution in Russia more thoroughly.
For us, the Russian social democrats, there can be no doubt that from the standpoint of the working class and of the laboring masses of all the nations of Russia, the lesser evil would be the defeat of the tsarist monarchy, the most reactionary and barbarous of governments, which is oppressing the greatest number of nations and the largest mass of the population of Europe and Asia.
The immediate political slogan of the social democrats of Europe must be the formation of a republican United States of Europe. But in contrast with the bourgeoisie, which is ready to “promise” anything in order to draw the proletariat into the general current of chauvinism, the social democrats will reveal that this slogan is utterly false and senseless without the revolutionary overthrow of the German, Austrian, and Russian monarchies. The war has placed the slogan of socialist revolution on the agenda of all the advanced countries… The only correct proletarian slogan is the transformation of the present imperialist war into a civil war."
(From “The War and Russian Social Democracy”, November 1914)

Thursday, 23 January 2014

WWI - Secret Treaty Indicates Imperial Character of the War

 A couple of days ago, USBlog noted UK education secretary, Michael Gove's, desire to "to give all children a proper rounded understanding of our country’s past and its place in the world." 

To that end he defended an interpretation of Britain's role in World War 1 as motivated by the promotion of freedom.

Please see below for the text of a secret treaty between Britain, France, Russia and Italy which was aimed at bringing Italy into hostilities with Austria-Hungary and Germany, with promised rich territorial rewards in Europe and Africa, and an immediate loan of 50 million pounds. 

So much for the self-determination of peoples, the defence of small nations, and an alliance freely entered into....

After the Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917, the Leninist state published the Treaty of London, among numerous other secret treaties and agreements they found in the Tsarist foreign affairs ministry, that demonstrated with utmost clarity the territorial-imperial character of the War. 

The Treaty of London (1915)

Great Britain, Parliamentary Papers, London, 1920, LI Cmd. 671, Miscellaneous No. 7, 2-7.
The Treaty of London was signed on April 26, 1915. Its provisions were to cause some difficulty during the Versailles Peace Conference in 1919 [and, I should say, to Mr Gove's interpretation of Britain's story in WWI].

ARTICLE 1. A military convention shall be immediately concluded between the General Staffs of France, Great Britain, Italy, and Russia. This convention shall settle the minimum number of military forces to be employed by Russia against Austria-Hungary in order to prevent that Power from concentrating all its strength against Italy, in the event of Russia deciding to direct her principal effort against Germany....
ARTICLE 2. On her part, Italy undertakes to use her entire resources for the purpose of waging war jointly with France, Great Britain, and Russia against all their enemies.
ARTICLE 3. The French and British fleets shall render active and permanent assistance to Italy....
ARTICLE 4. Under the Treaty of Peace, Italy shall obtain the Trentino, Cisalpine Tyrol with its geographical and natural frontier, as well as Trieste, the counties of Gorizia and Gradisca, all Istria as far as the Quarnero and including Volosca and the Istrian islands of Cherso and Lussin, as well as the small islands of Plavnik, Unie, Canidole, Palazzuoli, San Pietro di Nembi, Asinello, Gruica, and the neighbouring islets....
ARTICLE 5. Italy shall also be given the province of Dalmatia within its present administrative boundaries....
ARTICLE 6. Italy shall receive full sovereignty over Valona, the island of Saseno and surrounding territory....
ARTICLE 7. Should Italy obtain the Trentino and Istria in accordance with the provisions of Article 4, together with Dalmatia and the Adriatic islands within the limits specified in Article 5, and the Bay of Valona (Article 6), and if the central portion of Albania is reserved for the establishment of a small autonomous neutralised State, Italy shall not oppose the division of Northern and Southern Albania between Montenegro, Serbia, and Greece....
ARTICLE 8. Italy shall receive entire sovereignty over the Dodecanese Islands which she is at present occupying.
ARTICLE 9. Generally speaking, France, Great Britain, and Russia recognise that,... in the event of total or partial partition of Turkey in Asia, she ought to obtain a just share of the Mediterranean region adjacent to the province of Adalia....
ARTICLE 11. Italy shall receive a share of any eventual war indemnity corresponding to their efforts and her sacrifices.
ARTICLE 13. In the event of France and Great Britain increasing their colonial territories in Africa at the expense of Germany, those two Powers agree in principle that Italy may claim some equitable compensation....
ARTICLE 14. Great Britain undertakes to facilitate the immediate conclusion, under equitable conditions, of a loan of at least 50,000,000 pounds....
ARTICLE 16. The present arrangement shall be held secret.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Syria WMD - Another American Falsehood Exposed

Unsurprising for anyone whose been watching the US for the past decade or so but hardly meriting mass media attention, in contrast with the wall to wall coverage of unfounded allegations by President Obama, secretary of state, John Kerry, PM David Cameron and others with a 'military definition of reality'.

And it should be even less surprising therefore that 'new' revelations of mass killings should emerge just ahead of peace negotiations in Geneva.
MIT study of Ghouta chemical attack challenges US intelligence
Published time: January 16, 2014 04:39
Edited time: January 19, 2014 13:49

A new MIT report is challenging the US claim that Assad forces used chemical weapons in an attack last August, highlighting that the range of the improvised rocket was way too short to have been launched from govt controlled areas.

In the report titled “Possible Implications of Faulty US Technical Intelligence,” Richard Lloyd, a former UN weapons inspector, and Theodore Postol, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), examined the delivery rocket’s design and calculated possible trajectories based on the payload of the cargo.

The authors concluded that sarin gas “could not possibly have been fired at East Ghouta from the ‘heart’, or from the Eastern edge, of the Syrian government controlled area shown in the intelligence map published by the White House on August 30, 2013.”

Based on mathematical calculations, Lloyd and Postol estimate the rocket with such aerodynamics could not travel more than 2 kilometers. To illustrate their conclusion, the authors included the original White House map that depicted areas under Assad control and those held by the opposition. Based on the firing range and troop locations on August 21, the authors conclude that all possible launching points within the 2 km radius were in rebel-held areas.

“This mistaken intelligence could have led to an unjustified US military action based on false intelligence. A proper vetting of the fact that the munition was of such short range would have led to a completely different assessment of the situation from the gathered data,”
the report states.

The authors emphasize that the UN independent assessment of the range of the chemical munition is in “exact agreement” with their findings.

The report goes on to challenge the US Secretary of State’s key assessments of the chemical attack that he presented to the American people on August 30th and to the Foreign Relations Committee on September 3rd in an effort to muster a military attack on Syria.

“My view when I started this process was that it couldn’t be anything but the Syrian government behind the attack. But now I’m not sure of anything. The administration narrative was not even close to reality. Our intelligence cannot possibly be correct,” Postol told McClatchy publication.

“The Syrian rebels most definitely have the ability to make these weapons,” he said. “I think they might have more ability than the Syrian government.”

It also remains a mystery why the particular type of rocket that was used in the attack was not declared by the Syrian government as part of its chemical weapons arsenal when it agreed to destroy its chemical weapons and their delivery methods. OPCW inspectors charged with implementing the agreement also did not discover such a rocket in possession of government forces.

Syria agreed to the destruction of its chemical weapons through a deal brokered by Russia and the US after a sarin gas attack on August 21. Western nations blamed the deadly attack on President Bashar Assad’s forces, while Damascus accused the rebels for the incident. The UN fact-finding mission had no mandate to find out who carried out the attack.

Under the UN-backed plan, all of the country’s declared 1,290 tons of toxic agents should be destroyed by June 30. Initially, the first batch of the most dangerous materials was to be moved out of Syria on December 31.

However, the deadline was missed because of the ongoing war in Syria and technical issues. It was only on January 7 that “priority chemical materials” left the Syrian port of Latakia on a Danish ship for international waters.

Monday, 20 January 2014

WWI - Tories Try to Turn an Imperial Bloodbath into A Just War

It's the opening month of the centenary year of the outbreak of World War I and the Conservative government, via Education Secretary, Michael Gove, has already launched its ideological offensive on how we should remember that war. This is unsurprising in itself, of course, given this government's desire to promote a school history curriculum that tells a narrow heroic 'island story' that sanitises the past and is designed, in PM Cameron's view, to make Britain 'feel good' about the War.

I reprint below Michael Gove's article in the Daily Mail newspaper in which the just war case is made, as is the claim that Germany's elite was alone to blame for the war, and that Britain was right to resist aggression against the 'international order'. Despite my belief that this argument is fundamentally problematic, it is as well to keep it in mind as this year, and the next several, unfolds because it will be repeated ad nauseum.

And to take such dominant viewpoints on, it's important first to understand them. I have highlighted sections and phrases that appear especially critical to Gove's argument. But immediately below I've tried to put it in a nutshell:

The war is relevant for the world order and British foreign policy today
The war was patriotic and therefore just
Those who fought in it were consciously fighting for King and Country
Anyone who dares challenge this is wrong and usually left wing (and therefore always wrong) and challenges our nation's story
The Germans were ruthlessly bent on global domination due to their social Darwinism
We were protecting a civilised world order based on freedom to which we owe our current freedoms

So please 'enjoy'!

Why does the Left insist on belittling true British heroes?

By MICHAEL GOVE, Education Secretary
The past has never had a better future. Because history is enjoying a renaissance in Britain. After years in which the study of history was declining in our schools, the numbers of young people showing an appetite for learning about the past, and a curiosity about our nation’s story, is growing once more.

As a Government, we’ve done everything we can to support this restoration. We’ve changed how schools are judged, and our new measure of academic success for schools and pupils, the English  baccalaureate, rewards those who study history at GCSE.

And the changes we’ve made to the history curriculum have been welcomed by top academics as a way to give all children a proper rounded understanding of our country’s past and its place in the world.
Captain Coward: Tony Robinson as Private Baldrick, left, and Rowan Atkinson as Blackadder in the titular sit-com, which Education Secretary Michael Gove blames for distorting attitudes about the First World War
Captain Coward: Tony Robinson as Private Baldrick, left, and Rowan Atkinson as Blackadder in the titular sit-com, which Education Secretary Michael Gove blames for distorting attitudes about the First World War

That understanding has never been needed more. Because the challenges  we face today – great power rivalry, migrant populations on the move, rapid social upheaval, growing global  economic interdependence, massive technological change and fragile confidence in political elites – are all  challenges our forebears faced.

Indeed, these particular forces were especially powerful one hundred years ago – on the eve of the First World War. Which is why it is so important that  we commemorate, and learn from, that conflict in the right way in the next  four years.

The Government wants to give young people from every community the chance to learn about the heroism, and sacrifice, of our great-grandparents, which is why we are organising visits to the battlefields of the Western Front.

The war was, of course, an unspeakable tragedy, which robbed this nation of our bravest and best.  But even as we recall that loss and commemorate the bravery of those who fought, it’s important that we don’t succumb to some of the myths which have grown up about the conflict.

Our understanding of the war has been overlaid by misunderstandings, and misrepresentations which reflect an, at best, ambiguous attitude to this country  and, at worst, an unhappy compulsion on the part of some to denigrate virtues such as patriotism, honour and courage.

The conflict has, for many, been seen through the fictional prism of dramas such as Oh! What a Lovely War, The Monocled Mutineer and Blackadder, as a misbegotten shambles – a series of catastrophic mistakes perpetrated by an out-of-touch elite. Even to this day there are Left-wing academics all too happy to feed those myths.
Professor Sir Richard Evans, the Cambridge historian and Guardian writer, has criticised those who fought, arguing, ‘the men who enlisted in 1914 may have thought they were fighting for civilisation, for a better world, a war to end all wars, a war to defend freedom: they were wrong’.

And he has attacked the very idea of honouring their sacrifice as an exercise in ‘narrow tub-thumping jingoism’. These arguments are more reflective of the attitude of an undergraduate cynic playing to the gallery in a Cambridge Footlights revue rather than a sober academic contributing to a proper historical debate.
The First World War may have been a uniquely horrific war, but it was also plainly a just war. Nigel Biggar, regius professor of moral and pastoral theology at the University of Oxford, laid out the ethical case for our involvement in a superb essay in September’s Standpoint magazine.

The ruthless social Darwinism of the German elites, the pitiless approach they took to occupation, their aggressively expansionist war aims and their scorn for the international order all made resistance more than justified.
And the war was also seen by participants as a noble cause. Historians have skilfully demonstrated how those who fought were not dupes but conscious believers in king and country, committed to defending the western liberal order.
Other historians have gone even further in challenging some prevailing myths.

Generals who were excoriated for their bloody folly have now, after proper study, been re-assessed.

Douglas Haig, held up as a crude butcher, has been seen in a new light thanks to Professor Gary Sheffield, of Wolverhampton University, who depicts him as a patriotic leader grappling honestly with the new complexities of industrial warfare.
Even the battle of the Somme, once considered the epitome of military futility, has now been analysed in depth by the military historian William Philpott and recast as a precursor of allied victory.
Rehabilitated: Even Field Marshal Douglas Haig, popularly known as 'the butcher of the Somme', has been seen in a new light thanks to Professor Gary Sheffield, of Wolverhampton University, writes Gove
Rehabilitated: Even Field Marshal Douglas Haig, popularly known as 'the butcher of the Somme', has been seen in a new light thanks to Professor Gary Sheffield, of Wolverhampton University, writes Gove

There is, of course, no unchallenged consensus. That is why it matters that we encourage an open debate on the war and  its significance.

But it is important to recognise that many of the new analyses emerging challenge existing Left-wing versions of the past designed to belittle Britain and its leaders.
Instead, they help us to understand that, for all our mistakes as a nation, Britain’s role in the world has also been marked by nobility and courage.

Indeed, the more we reflect on every aspect of the war, the more cause there is for us to appreciate what we owe to our forebears and their traditions.

But whatever each of us takes from these acts of remembrance and hours of debate it is always worth remembering that the freedom to draw our own conclusions about this conflict is a direct consequence of the bravery of men and women who fought for, and believed in, Britain’s special tradition of liberty.