THE WAY I SEE IT #18 : By Darren Murphy

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WAR is the most unfortunate of acts which we simply cannot refrain from engaging in. Conflict is much similar to a disease, it starts in one area and although sometimes it is contained, it can quickly spread and cripple neighbouring areas.

Any youngsters receiving their initial insight into the First Word War will be left scratching their heads in disbelief at the way Europe tore itself apart during the Great War. And you could forgive them for citing the multi-cultural continent it is today, although there are still some disputes. We should have learned our lesson from the huge loss of life during World War One, but we haven’t. Over the last eleven years, more than 430 British troops have lost their lives fighting in Afghanistan. The figure is nowhere near that of either of the world wars, however, it is 2012 and the statistic is way too high, and far exceeds the number of British casualties in the Falklands or Iraq. Not only are there British troops being horrifically injured and killed, though, countless civilians have also become casualties of this unruly war.

A war zone isn’t just a deadly place for the military, as it’s not only soldiers who are injured or killed. Women, the elderly and even children become victims of conflict, embroiled in a war they have no desire to be in. Their only ‘crime’ is living in a particularly war-torn area and being unable to escape. Britain has no interest of being in Afghanistan. We haven’t outstayed our welcome . . . we should never have been there in the first place!

Again we have been too eager in following America into war and I firmly believe that rather than gaining the upper hand in the war on terror, our American counterparts and British forces have escalated things by fanning the flames of insurgency. I understand the need for the military and I have the utmost respect for British troops. And don’t confuse my opposition to the Afghan war as a lack of support for my fellow countrymen. These brave people are simply doing their jobs – what they are trained and paid to do. Surely my opposition to the war in Afghanistan doesn’t instantly make me a traitor?

Sunday marks Remembrance Day, when people all over the country will unite at special services to remember the victims of past wars. Armistice Day as it was originally known (it was renamed Remembrance Day after the Second World War) is a day of great reflection. Wreaths will be laid at war memorials in cities, towns and villages in memory of the many people who have lost their lives during times of conflict. With every passing day the two world wars are pushed further and further into the realms of history, however, the relevance of Remembrance Day is still as strong as ever, with war never far away.

What saddens me about Sunday is the fact that I won’t just be stopping to think about and pay my respects to the fallen victims of historic conflicts, which is upsetting enough. I will also be paying my respects to the 430-plus troops who should still be walking among us today, whose deaths could have been avoided. But the worst part is that the sadness will not be confined to Sunday, as there will be more military deaths in Afghanistan, of that you can be sure.

At 11 am on the 11th of November, 1918, the sound of gunfire ended on the Western Front and after more than four years of conflict the Armistice was signed, signalling the end of World War One. The turmoil in Afghanistan has raged for 11 years now, isn’t it about time it was brought to an end before any more lives are needlessly lost?