Pat Gaffney of Pax Christi and Bruce Kent of the Movement for the Abolition of War were among signatories to a letter published in the Independent last weekend challenging the impact of military culture on young people.
The letter noted that many councils across the UK were holding events to mark Armed Forces Day (27 June) as signatories to the Armed Forces Community Covenant. “Almost every local authority has pledged support to the armed forces in perpetuity,” said the letter, “and hundreds of businesses, charities and schools have signed the Armed Forces Corporate Covenant.”
The letter notes that many of the events were “packaged as ‘family fun’, with military vehicles and weaponry to entice young people, and cadet and armed forces careers marketing to recruit them. War is not family entertainment.
“The school assembly packs on offer from the Ministry of Defence display a breath-taking economy with the truth about the purpose and consequences of military action.
“Rather than institutionalising public support for the armed forces we should stop selling war to children through sanitised celebration of the military and the promotion of “military ethos” in schools. It is unacceptable for the UK to be the only country in the EU to still recruit 16-year-olds into the armed forces, defying the growing international consensus against child recruitment.
“As one of the thousands of signatories of our petition to change the law said: ‘Children should be protected from conflict, not incorporated in it.'”
Other signatories were from ForcesWatch, Veterans for Peace UK, Peace Education Network, Network for Peace, Northern Friends Peace Board and Edinburgh Peace & Justice Centre.