Near Kandahar The Poppies Blow

Near Kandahar the poppies blow,
A US-sanctioned flower show,
That contradicts the war you wage
That ridicules your broadcast rage.
That funds your celebrated foe.

Each poppy marks an Afghan dead,
An Afghan maimed, an Afghan bled.
Where now your pledge of lasting calm?
Where now your soothing western balm?
Where now the warlords once thought fled

The Taliban you once expelled
Have now returned; their ranks have swelled,
And now endorse the poppy fields,
And profit from its record yields.
What of this trade you boasted quelled

The poem above I penned earlier today. It is purely pastiche, and recalls the famous poem by John McCrae, entitled In Flanders Fields, written in May 1915 and which I re-read this morning, and which will be read no doubt at many war memorials and cenotaphs across the country tomorrow - Remembrance Day. It just seems ironic that 89 years after the “war to end all wars” was concluded humanity has learned nothing. Remembrance Day! The idea of remembering something is that you bloodywell learn from it. Yes, you remember the countless millions of workers who were conned into giving up their lives in wars they fought in the interests of their damned exploiters, but if that’s all it is meant to signify the event is a sham.

At the moment 30 conflicts are ongoing; the most covered being those in Afghanistan and Iraq. Another seems on the cards in Iran . So it looks like we’ll continue to have war dead to remember for some time to come. Workers we see joining armies today are the bearers of names we’ll see carved into war memorials of the future.

I saw TV images of NATO troops patrolling Helmand the other night. Helmand Province, where British soldiers are fighting the Taliban, is now the largest single heroin crop-producing area in the world, recording a 48 per cent increase in opium production this year. Afghanistan's poppy production has risen up to 15 percent since 2006 and the country is now the source for 95 percent of the world's heroin. The trade finances the very Taliban forces British troops are fighting, in a country from which President Bush told us the Taliban had been evicted; a country in which, as Bush told us , some time ago, peace had been restored and a country in which we were told poppy production would be quickly eradicated

One of the aforementioned troops was British. He wore a pinned-on poppy, the irony of which was hard to miss and I wondered if we would be called upon to remember him at next year’s Remembrance Day Parade.

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