Inevitably todays post must reflect the decision by our mother of all parliaments yesterday to send eight ageing RAF aircraft to a piece of sovereign soil in Cyprus retained from empire, from where they will bomb targets in Syria determined by our erstwhile ally the US. As the Churchillian dusts settles once more over Whitehall and the Cenotaph, and we relax back into our comfortable role in the special relationship familiar news breaks of another mass shooting in the US, of 10 citizens gunned down in cold blood. Indeed since 9/11 over 200,000 US citizens have been murdered, though only 50 of these by terrorists. Americans are killing Americans faster than IS and Al Qaeda put together. But does this matter?
The phrase 'he who lives by the sword dies by the sword' is attributed to Jesus, Mathew 26:52, though he didn't utter these words, it was more put back your sword after one of team had hacked off someones ear, and then he went to his death, crucified, without further bloodshed. This echoes the Old Testament versions, though they tended to end more violently, if you use a sword, you get executed by it and therefore more in line with the Jewish teaching on the subject.
The right for US citizens to use violence is enshrined in the US second amendment, one of ten to the bill which give US citizens the right to bears arms. I like the comedian Jim Jeffries here, his argument 1. It's an amendment so it can be amended. 2. When they removed it in Australia gun crime disappeared, sum up the solution perfectly.
As a former soldier I also like the technical argument that the second amendment applied to muskets, hard to load, aim and fire, whereas modern automatic weapon can be lethally effective even in untrained hands as the Columbine massacre demonstrated. In my own experience in Cambodia in the early Nineties the Khmer Rouge still deliberately recruited children as they lack the frontal cortex development that may have inhibited them as killers while have the physical ability to do so, a fact exploited throughout history, most recently in Seirra Leone. You could argue that even a US restriction on the type of weapon could limit the damage.
So my point? As we stand with the US over Syria I want to stress they have a different approach to violence to us, from a different cultural standpoint. I have much time for the US military, I worked with them many times in my eight years in the Army, they are brave, focused, and well equipped. I've stood shoulder to shoulder with them in the jungles of Northern Cambodia, in Bosnia, where without them we would never have stopped the genocide, nor the war. But in the war on terror since 9/11 their attitude to, and use of violence has been counterproductive. The anachronistic 'Kill them all and let God sort it out' from the Crusades is a joke in the US military, but where we are now, 14 years into what future historians will call the Third World War I think it's time to reflect on who we are killing, and the phrase those who live by the sword, die by the sword.