The war machine rolls on while children beg for blankets



Have you thought about the children of Syria lately? Is it ‘so last season’s war’, a normal state of affairs, background in the news as a change from more current, closer crises? Do the battles of Homs and Mosul, the Kurdish Peshmergers and the ‘Coalition’, sound slightly theoretically and strategically intriguing, like chess, or ‘Risk’, using someone else’s real life army and someone else’s real life country as the playing ground? Are you like me, and feel desperate and helpless in the face of such unjust and overwhelming suffering.

It’s almost winter now in the Middle East and there’s snow on the ground of the refugee camps, ‘home’ to millions of displaced refugees. Unicef warns of floods, disease, cold as low as -5 degrees. And despite tribalist onslaught from the very best weaponry America and Russia have to offer, “local resistance is proving more fierce than expected”. Hundreds of thousands of sorties, bombs, missiles, drone strikes and supported ground force attacks have not stopped ISIS, but must leave the locals wondering who the attackers and who the enemies are.

In some cities, like Aleppo, there are no hospitals left unbombed, there’s no access to food or medicine. Conditions have gone from “terrible, to terrifying, to barely survivable”. Indeed, many civilians and their civilisations do not survive. But still, media images show kids riding their bikes among the dust of passing armoured vehicles, families skirting bombed buildings. Other shots show bloodied and dusty children, stunned with shell shock.

On the one hand, American forces say they’re going to “eliminate” ISIS, whose forces are trapped in Mosul facing a ‘last bloody stand’. But just when you thought no resistance could face the relentless bombardment from Russia and America and their allies, coalition forces say the ongoing battle against ISIS, for territory and for supremacy, won’t be easy. Despite the hyped promises of quick and decisive battles to wipe out IS once and for all, coalition leaders warn defeat of IS in Mosul won’t end the war. There will always be another ISIS enclave, another target, another city, another country, or cell.

Syria in particular looks like the site of just another proxy war, a stand-off between the old arch rivals America and Russia, but in the Middle East, again expediently using other countries’ ground troops and American weaponry ensuring as few coffins as possible, go home draped in the old stars and stripes.

So while the war machine white-washed its prime purpose here in New Zealand last week, by lending some of its significant resources to help in Kaikoura after the earthquakes, we’re right to note, and stand against, the role played by the world’s militaries, in killing innocent civilians, of creating huge unrest, environmental damage, of taking resources away from more worthy causes like education and health. Everyone who stood up for peace in Auckland last week during the arms expo and military celebrations, confronted the hypocrisy of militarised states, the immorality that is nation and international system as war machine.

Unicef is running a campaign with Gareth Morgan as ambassador, to raise funds for Syrian war victims and refugees. The campaign notes that the innocents displaced by the world’s most powerful and militant countries, “have gone through years of fighting, of fighting for survival”, and now they’re “fighting to keep warm” as winter sets in. These are people who have lost everything – their homes, their land, their possessions, their livelihoods, family members and friends. The refugee camps might exist for years. Their urban homelands are often almost completely destroyed.
There are more than 2.5 million vulnerable children, victims of someone else’s war. But for $20 you can buy three thermal blankets for refugees, and Jo and Gareth Morgan will match your donation. Elsewhere on the internet, for those victims of conflict and poverty in other parts of Africa, you can buy a goat, a well, chickens, girls’ schooling, flushing toilets, solar energy and more.

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So good citizens will remember Syrian children, Iraqi families, refugees, the besieged. We might even make a donation of $20 here or $50 there for blankets or wells or seeds. Generally we’ll be occupied with our day to day existence, shocked by Kaikoura, thinking about summer. But the war pigs will continue their savagery. They’ll use improvised bombs, weaponry from conventional industrialists who are also arms manufacturers and who were assembled in Auckland last week, chemical weapons, and bombardment as weapon of mass destruction of homes and antiquities.
Across the world, almost $1,700 billion dollars is spent on war every year, but hey brother can you spare $20 to buy some blankets for refugee children, victims of war, facing sub-zero cold in a tent?


  1. And on a war everyone in the media seem happy to forget, Amnesty is campaigning to get the war in Yemen to stop.

    New Zealand can tell Saudi Arabia to stop committing war crimes. We can tell the Americans and the British to stop supplying the munitions and their delivery systems to Saudi Arabia.

    But are we ballsy enough to do it, to say that this is not okay?

  2. “And despite tribalist onslaught from the very best weaponry America and Russia have to offer, “local resistance is proving more fierce than expected”. Hundreds of thousands of sorties, bombs, missiles, drone strikes and supported ground force attacks have not stopped ISIS, but must leave the locals wondering who the attackers and who the enemies are.”

    Well, if you’d know how the various groups fight on the ground, most do NOT have the “very best weaponry” the mentioned super powers and also China and a few others have to offer. The bulk of battle goes on with old style machine guns, automatic guns and tanks and grenades. Some resort to IEDs (especially IS), or even chemical weapons.

    Only some troops, like the Kurdish Peshmerga, and some elite units in Iraq have the most modern equipment.

    It is shocking though what goes on in Syria, in Aleppo and elsewhere, and virtually all can now be blamed for war crimes there. Civilians are being used as pawns and shields, and suffer as “collateral damage”.

    I also note the increasing abuse or misuse of injured, starving and dying children by various sides, even Al Jazeera exposes some bias there, towards the Sunni fighters fighting the Assad supporting troops.

    The western governments have either despaired or given up, some are complicit, the Russians play their game of chess, so do the Iranians, the Saudis and so forth. The population in NZ is tired of it, rather turns away, and focus on home issues, like addressing the earthquake damage.

    An appeal for blankets is timely, but at present also food supplies and energy seem short, let alone water. People are dying by the hundreds, I fear.

    We have a situation similar to what happened before in history, when there was indifference towards those wars in distant places, where people of different cultures and religions fought each other.

    So I hope some will make donations, as the aid groups are despairing due to lack of support now.

    Then again, blankets may keep some warm, but will hardly stop the bombs, the bullets and the gas.

    We are witnessing how evil humans can be, and how criminal many are by staying silent or turning away, times have not changed. And with hard liners taking over power in various important nations, last not least in Washington, we must mentally prepare for more wars, it is only a question of when, not if. One Turkish President is also now back at blackmailing the EU once again, seeking concessions, or he will open the borders and flood them with refugees again.

    In the Philippines a murderer is ruling with an iron fist, letting criminals be shot, no further questions asked. What next, I wonder, what bloody next?

  3. 1)How many CEO’s does UNICEF have and what is the worth of their combined salaries.
    2) And the combined salaries of the next tier down?
    3) Add the 2 totals together..= How Much?

    4)How much of the total donations$$ actually trickles down to the designated victims?

    5) Have the children of Palestine ever been campaigned for by Unicef?

  4. “for those victims of conflict and poverty in other parts of Africa, you can buy a goat, ”

    It may be better NOT to fund goats.

    I like goats and they have many valuable attributes.

    They are also known as ‘the desert makers’ because they are browsers, not grazers. They eat trees, bark, shrubs. Plants that provide firewood, erosion prevention, long-term shelter, food and medicine sources.

    In addition to wells – support for women creating water reservoirs and tank systems to supply hospitals, schools, and market gardens. Bicycles and carts for freighting. Solar panels for cooking and lighting making it safer for women and children. Alternative sanitation systems such as composting dunnies to keep water supplies clean and make it safe for people to use the loo at night. Cheap and reliable cell phones and computers – solar-recharging. Mechanical radios needing no electricity to run.

    It would also be good to tackle greed, corruption, and exploitation but, as we’ve seen close to home – people are people wherever and the custom of ‘disappearing’ the outspoken, or selling children and surplus people into slavery, are now common world-wide.

    Miracles take a little longer…

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