Is the United Nations fit for purpose?

Over the last decade I’ve watched a world that hasn’t been at peace. When I first signed up (the first time, but that’s a story for the future) it was August 2001 when I was attested into the Royal Signals. At a time, in my life, where peace was starting to come around. Then September 2001 occurred and the world changed. Since then, nothing has been the same, but I want to look at an organisation that was funded a massive £4,412 billion ($7.54 billion) by the governments of the world. Is this organisation fit for purpose?

UN Charter, Article 1

The Purposes of the United Nations are:

1. To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace;

2. To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace;

3. To achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion; and

4. To be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends.

The United Nations is not fit for purpose.  For the last decade is has failed globally to commit, follow through with and accomplish any part of Article 1.  Since Bosnia the United Nations has struggled to make itself impact on the global scene.  Civil Wars, threats to peace within smaller nations from “Big” nations or humanitarian crimes/war crimes, the UN hasn’t been there.

Obviously the worlds media will not want to show this, they won’t want such a global, money making organisation out to be nothing more than what it is; a waste of time.  The massacre of Bosnians during the Bosnian War and the slow reaction of the UN was the precursor to what has become the standard format of UN reaction.  The fact that the actual military force that led the war was NATO organised, it was sadly trapped beneath the blue helmet of peace keeping.  Still the slow reaction caused more deaths than it prevented and we can see the same for any conflict that has occurred since, where the UN COULD have prevented loss of life by being more vocal and aggressive regarding the stance of the world.  Instead they hid behind paperwork, walls of policies and debates, within fortresses of absence.

The next major, media covered conflict, where the United Nations flashed its kitten claws was Ukraine and Russia.  Since the end of the Cold War, Russia has expanded and fought to regain lost territory after the fall of the Soviet Union.  It has often failed to defeat such small nations, or sat down and agreed to certain “Requirements”.  Where was the United Nations?  How did they stop this hyper-aggressive attempt to retake territory that is no longer theirs?  How would the world react if England invaded India again?  After Russia annexed Crimea and the Ukraine asked for support where was that support?  When did the UN actively step in and say “Wait a minute, get your troops out now.”?  It didn’t, instead relying on the combination of the EU and NATO to put a clear and simple warning shot across the bow of the Russian War Machine.  It sort of worked, I imagine that the Crimea was the test bed for the rest of the Ukraine, so it worked per se.  Also look at MH17, a clear breach of human rights, a direct breach of Article 1, yet nothing has been done.  It took the Dutch and Malaysians to sort it out themselves, without the help of the United Nations.  When the evidence is presented I can, within a certain realm of assurance, put money that the United Nations won’t attempt to find those guilty, it will let the EU take care of that.

Finally we cover Gaza.  The Gaza strip is currently the hot bed of one of the worst conflicts of the modern age.  Without going into political/propaganda details, civilians are caught in the crossfire, dying in droves.  Neither side will step down, neither side will sit at a table and talk.  Despite United Nations workers and buildings being caught in the shelling and gunfire, they have done absolutely nought.  Nothing.  Nada.  People are dying and the United Nations sits on its hands.

Now with nearly £4 billion pounds in your budget, which is probably the same yearly budget most small/average nations get, you would think the United Nations could/would do something.  Instead they host meetings about actions, actions that create more meetings, that eventually fall into a final meeting where one of two things happen: “Nothing” or “Veto”.  The United Nations isn’t fit for purpose, in anyway shape or form.  It hasn’t managed to stop or hinder a serious civilian loss of life since its creation, instead it creates rules and regulations that bind it further into a web of inaction and lack of purpose.  What my question is, to any member of the UN, is where is that money going?

Now the easy answer is: Foreign Aid.  If that IS the case, then why do most nations pay extra for foreign aid?  Surely we can just give it to the UN, let them spend it on food/water for those who need it.  The second is: Education.  Okay, that’s a fair comment, but what else?  The WHO is struggling to find help with the recent outbreak of Ebola within Africa, where’s the UN?  The Palestinians need a knight in shining armour, where’s the UN?  The Ukrainians need to stop the Russians giving Rebels weapons and arms, where’s the UN?  No-where.  Its too busy tied up in meetings, discussions and debates.  I would even go as far to say that their inaction has caused more deaths.

Maybe it is time for the United Nations to go through a serious shake up, change its policies and how it operates.  Palestinians are dying, NATO is gearing up for another Cold War with Russia and Africa is about to become the birth place of the worst modern epidemic.  Where is our UN to save us?  No-where, and no-where it shall remain.

As we enter this darker period of humanity, I pray we all survive long enough to remember: We’re all humans.

The Rain (Afghan Ruin) – Poem

Sometimes when I write poetry, its usually charged by an emotional response to something that is affecting myself.  For example, during the early days of June it was regarding the loss of Mike Forge, which impacts me because of how it impacted my father.  Tomorrow is Fathers day, and as I browsed the shop earlier today for a Fathers day Card (not for my Dad) a thought came to my mind.  One of the things that impacted us as a family, and still does in a differing form, was PTSD.  PTSD is something that people struggle with, in and out of conflicts involving war, but its something that a lot of soldiers hide.  They hide it through fear of being weak, being seen to be inferior, which is often a soldiers worst enemy (other times its himself).  My Dad, although he never admitted it, suffered from PTSD and, surprisingly, so does my Mother (for a different, private reason).  Its a tough thing to live around, the constant mood swings, random moments of darkness; but its totally acceptable in my book.  Many don’t understand it, deal with it or come to terms with it, and their families often ostracize them.  Many are left alone, and sadly when that happens, death’s knock isn’t too far behind.  Its tragic, and absolutely avoidable, but unseen by too many. 

Thinking of that I wrote a poem, I am not the best scribe, although I am trying to change that through practice.  Its titled “The Rain (Afghan Ruin)” as when I starting writing it a couple of days ago, my mind went towards those coming back from Afghanistan, with little or not welcome home.  Yet reading it back now, its appropriate to most veterans.  My Dad said when he arrived back on the boat from the Falklands, the main task force had received a heroes welcome, yet he’d been stuck on a boat for months.  Not the best environment for PTSD; packed into a boat, nothing to take your mind away from the thoughts that ran through your mind.  Add to that no flag waving when he arrived, not a heroes welcome, just business as usual. 


The Rain (Afghan Ruin)

The rain swept hard against his face,
As he looked around this alien place,
All his friends they looked around too,
Brothers in arms on this foreign ground,
Unknown to them what would come,
That no matter what their bond,
Would never be undone.

The rain swept hard against his face,
From down the line a voice was raised,
“MAN DOWN!” and all their faces drained,
The run to the chopper whilst his life ebbed away,
Feeling helpless as there was nothing to say,
As no one knew what truly happened that day.

The rain swept hard against his face,
Kicked out the army what a disgrace,
When he came home with what he’d faced,
No crowds cheered or waved,
To them they were monsters best left for the grave,
Fighting was his crime and his CO said no,
Nothing was left now and he had to go.

The rain swept hard against his face,
As he remembers friends faces,
That light no longer graces,
Alone he stands as he opens his eyes,
He looks up and see the black skies,
As he pleads with God to let him die,
He takes that step and as he looks down,
He places a wreath onto the ground,
Attached a plaque for comrades down,
Buried beneath on political grounds.

The rain swept hard against his face,
To people around him the skies were clear,
Clouds around him though were black with fear,
The lightning of guilt that no one could hear,
That’s when his eyes glass over and he drifts off into space,
He remembers that day when the rain swept hard against his face.

© Leonard Smith

Shattered

Image

June 5/6 is a day I never forget.  Not because I am a world war 2 buff, obviously D-Day was an important day in history, but I remember it for another more personal reason.  The Falklands Conflict, as you may gather, as a special place in my heart.  For years my idol, Ron Smith, spoke with such emotion about his time in the army, and most specifically, the Falklands.  He told me his tales of Buff Cove and how he helped during the San Carlos tragedy.  However for him, June 5/6 sticks out most in his mind. 

My Dad, during his time in the army, was a man who loved to learn (I guess that’s where I get it from).  He couldn’t just be a ReBro in the Signals, so he learnt another language.  Then he studied photography, then he got his Wings with the A.A.C. (Army Air Corp for you civilians) and did some time flying.  Then he studied bomb disposal, the army back then LOVED a multi-tasking man, these days you do one trade or another, rarely getting more experience than what you need to do for the job you do; Budget sense.  He was a master of all of his trades and he fascinated me with some of his tales from his exploits, also some of the pictures he took where outstanding.

On June 5/6 my father had a perforated eardrum, a painful thing to suffer from, but in war you carry on.  On June 5 a rebro on Mount Pleasant went down, wasn’t communicated properly and it was required that a team fly up to the top and find out what was going wrong.  My father, knowing the AAC crew of the Gazelle, decided that he would fly up, with Joe Baker and find out what was wrong.  That’s when a long time father figure, personal friend and mentor to my Dad, Mike Forge stepped in and told him to sit out, as his eardrum won’t do him any favours.  Mike, ever the leader from the front, decided he’d go up to the top instead and do my Dads job for him, so he didn’t have to go through any unnecessary pain.  Brothers in arms.  Sadly the helicopter was shot down in a Blue-on-Blue incident and all four crew died.

Now Mike taught my father how to parachute, making my Dad (one of his famous “Pointless Dad Trivia” moments that he loved to declare at parties) the youngest parachutest, at the time, in England making his first jump with Mike.  Mike, and I am sure anyone who had the honour of knowing the man will agree, was a leader who lead from the front.  Part of the famous 216 Para-Sigs, he was a cut above the rest.  Mike left behind no family, wife or children and he was an only child.

So for me I remember this day for Mike, and my Dad, who constantly blamed himself for the loss of Mike.  But, as I have stated before, without that man I wouldn’t have had a father to make me the man I am today.  So, raise a glass to the fallen heroes, who lie on Mount Pleasant:  Major Michael Lancaster Forge, S/Sgt John Baker, S/Sgt Christopher Griffin and L/Corporal Simon Cockton.  We shall never forget.


Shattered

Those four boys,
Lying still,
Shattered wings,
Amongst morning dew,
There wings of flight,
Far had flown,
But a boy,
Stood alone,
His wings intact,
His soul in tatters,
It should have been him,
Was all that mattered.

25 years later,
He stood where they lay,
On June 6th that day,
His head was down,
His soul laid bare,
He couldn’t see them,
Standing there,
Smiles on all four,
A pilgrimage he’d made,
To visit their grave,
United at last,
Five blokes together,
Just like the past.

Now he’s not here,
It’s down to me,
Mount Pleasant they lay,
My fathers here with me,
They walk together,
Five heroes I see,
Three wearing Jimmy’s,
Two from the AAC,
Smiles all round,
Beers for Victory,
Someone remembers,
I guess that’s me,
Five heroes gone,
No pleasure is found,
As I pray for the heroes,
Buried in the ground.

© Leonard Smith

Poem

I usually write on the bus, I am unsure why.  I try to recall what motivates me to write whilst I’m moving, maybe its something of a side step of when you drive babies around to make them sleep.  With me I think it is that I get more creative as things pass me by, or maybe its because I have a more random mash of humanity sitting and moving around me.  I love writing, but it frustrates me that I get 95% of my writing done on buses.  Maybe I should get a chauffer to just drive me around all day, but then I’d need to earn a damn sight more than I already am to be-able to do that.  Or a better working environment, which is something I am working towards at the moment.  Anyhow, here is the poem I wrote today, it strikes a cord with my current memories in regards of my father and the Falklands.  I think it captures how anyone who has any working moral compass what so ever should also feel like.


Suffer the Memory

As I stand here,
A tear in my eye,
I fully appreciate,
That it isn’t a lie,
That war is hell,
No soldier can deny,
As we try to forget,
Those years gone by,
But if we forget,
We leave those behind,
So we suffer the memory,
So that theirs never dies.

© Len Smith

Sharing a memory for Stan

Wow.  So much wow, obviously I never realised that what I wrote could reach so many people, but here I am, still writing.  Obviously what I wrote touched a lot of hearts, or at least sensibilities regarding the subject of the Falklands.  My father did three tours of Northern Ireland as well, but Stan Collymore hasn’t managed to duck out of my sights just yet.  I want to increase the weight of the case against the man whose moral obligation is way below his own personal intelligence, and that isn’t as high as he first thought.  In ten days I mourn (or celebrate depending on how you do it yourselves) the loss of four men that went to the Falklands and never returned.  Like most people, especially between May and June, those feelings rise to the surface as memories are brought back to the fore.  Having had the absolute honour of meeting some of those men I want to touch on the survivors; those who live the daily horrors of war.

I remember, at some point during 2007, during the Falklands 25 celebrations I was invited to come to a presentation on the Falklands at the Imperial War Museum North.  It was a perfect chance for me to meet some of these blokes who my Dad always went on about, those heroes who fought at Goose Green, Tumbledown, Harriet, Two Sisters, Wireless Ridge & Longdon.  My father rarely spoke about anything that happened at the Falklands, he always left the room on Remembrance Sunday, always spoke about the fun times.  He often preferred to tell me the stories of his time in NI, which wasn’t a nice place to serve at all by anyone’s standard.  So I came a long a felt like a bit of an outsider, but as I have come to expect, Falklands Veterans are a hugely welcoming bunch and soon I was talking Soldier to Soldier with most of them.  At the time I had just left the Signals (V) myself, same trade as my old man, Radio Relay.  After a couple of presentations, it was spread across a week, it came to Rick Jolly’s presentation.  It was a moving presentation & speech that left every person in that room with wet eyes.  Afterwards, as I have come to recognise as the drinking of the sorrows, I went for a few beers with my old man, some gents from 2 & 3 Para, 42 Commando (Sorry if that’s wrong) and Julian Thompson (just thought I’d name drop).  Later once the beers had flowed I was told a moving story from a paratrooper (I don’t want to cause offence; so I won’t divulge) and it broke my heart.  Listening to this man tell me what he saw, went through and had to deal with on a daily basis must be torture.  Suddenly it dawned on me, War creates humanity on a level unseen.  You realise how weak the body is and how easy the soul is broken and these men saw the worse of it and look at them!  Classic, perfect examples of men that you have ever seen.  They would do anything for each other.  Again, just after Rick Jolly delivered his tear jerking speech, a Marine stood walked over, shook his hand, thanking him and left.  He was there just to thank this man who, twenty five years earlier, had saved his life.

Now I want to look at those people, those boys (many between 18-22 years old) turned into men.  Who afterwards, through a destruction of their internal methods of thinking and dealing with problems, turned into fine examples of humanity.  Yet behind closed doors, many struggle and fight a daily loosing battle.  PTSD is rife amongst those men, my father was a proud man, but he had his own inner demons that he fought on a daily basis.  Look at what they have as well, they either still work, dealing with the problems that arise as and when they can, or they struggle on a small military pension (or huge depending how long you served and suffered for).  The British army made these men what they are; a perfect example.  Where are you going with this Len, I hear you cry, well bare with me and you’ll understand.  In 2007 my father, struggling with cancer was granted a gift by the SAMA82 organisation to return to the Falklands and it meant so much to him.  He managed to visit the final resting place where his four friends passed away, he always wanted to say a proper goodbye and despite suffering from Cancer at the time, he climbed up Mount Pleasant and said his goodbyes.  Pride, I cannot begin to describe what I felt.  In 2009 when he passed away from the cancer he suffered from, he was given a military send off from his SAMA82 colleges and I was so happy they helped me say goodbye. 

Now, considering what my father went through to battle his own demons, his were small, few, but troublesome.  The boys that fought through those jagged rocks, across barren green expanses, through terrorising night attacks, they still live with that to this day.  They get nothing in return, apart from the brotherhood with whom they served.  They have a war pension to look forward too, but in today’s financial climate, it isn’t much.  Yet as long as TalkSport, MOTD and any other sports shows offer to finance and pay Stan Collymore to work for them and share his offensive views, you are spitting in the face of all those Veterans that fought in the Falklands War.  Your also accepting the mockery that Stan Collymore makes of the peace process, and the losses caused through the actions in Northern Ireland.  Not only Soldiers perished in the Northern Irish conflict, civilians died as well, and I call on TalkSport & the BBC to ensure that Stan Collymore is fired from his roles, so he cannot and will not continue to make offensive, irrespective and degrading remarks for those who have thought for the flag he wears on his shirt.

Many will think this as an over-reaction, something to which he doesn’t deserve to lose his job.  Remember that when Stan is being offensive about the British army in one conflict, he’s making a mockery of the British army.  Many of these soldiers who served in Northern Ireland, and the Falklands, some served through Korea, the Cold War, Iraq and Afghanistan.  He’s using his ability, presence and popularity to make it acceptable for him to say such things, hoping that money and prestige will protect him.  If anyone above him, next to him or in control of him has any morality or intelligence about himself, they will cut him loose.  I call upon the BBC & TalkSport to cut him loose of his contract and allow him to wallow in his own pit of despair.  Let him walk a mile in the daily shoes of those soldiers who suffer, let him see what he feels to be made a mockery of for entertainment.  He will not be laughing anymore.

Opinions that don’t matter

So as many of you know, but some don’t, my father served with a large group of heroes to go down south in 1982 and liberate the Falkland Isles from an invading force of Argentines.  We went to an island eight thousand miles south of us, that was inhabited by nationals of the United Kingdom and liberated them against foreign invasion.  It was something that no one in the world at that time thought we could accomplish, especially considering the cuts and pressure from the Soviet Bloc during the cold war.  Outnumbered, outgunned and logistically stretched the British Navy, Air Force and Army managed to wrest control of the Island’s from a nation whose ports and airfields where a stones throw away.  It was a miracle forged through blood, sweat and tears.  It changed how the world worked in a political sense, people didn’t want to mess with a nation that would do such a thing and it also proved that the United Kingdom would, and still will to this day, protect its sovereign territory.  Hundreds died and thousands still bare the scar’s of war to this day, some physical, some mental and some both.  I was lucky to have my father back after the conflict, many wives, sons, daughters and families didn’t see their son’s return home.  It was a short, brutal war that united a people under one flag.

Enter an eleven year old boy, who has hopes of becoming a football star one day.  I have no idea who his father was, but judging by his comments regarding Sir Alex Ferguson about being a father figure, he obviously didn’t have a father like I had.  Stan Collymore has opened his hole once again and started talking about issues he has no connection too or full understanding of.  So I have here to give Stan Collymore a brief history lesson of the Falkland Isle’s so rather than offend the group of people who had suffered because of the conflict, he can educate himself and learn that his scything statements mean nothing, just like his punting.

The Falkland Islands was first, according to written record, founded by a English Captain named John Strong.  Upon finding said UNINHABITED (This means no one lived their Stan) island he left it.  So firstly, de facto, the island was founded by the British in 1690, however the French, ever to annoy us, decided to settle it in 1764 and it changed hands, a lot, until finally, we settled it proper and it became a colony of the United Kingdom in 1840.  Not a single, solitary, individual Argentine set foot, as an attempted native inhabitant (against Crown will), until 1982.  Yes Argentine fishermen often frequented the ports of the Falklands, but it has, since 1840 (Which, just in case your maths isn’t up to fact; One Hundred and seventy four [174]) been a British Colony.  Recently, in order to prove that its inhabitants wanted to be British, the Falklands had a referendum poll where out of a total of 1,650 people, 1,513 voted to REMAIN British, 3 voted to NOT BE British and the rest didn’t vote.  That’s a 99.8% to remain as part of the Commonwealth, and if that isn’t your smoking gun I have no idea what is.

Now, before I digress into the history of a disputed part of land eight thousand miles away, I need to point something out.  When you played for England, you did nothing, lets be honest.  You failed to not only score, but at most you played 270 minutes of unimpressive football, pretty much sums up your entire career within the footballing realm.  Every single person that sailed to the South Atlantic to fight against the Argentines, to protect the civilians that had chosen to make a life their from an aggressor that has an appalling civil human rights record, worked (at least) for a total of 116,496 minutes.  That means, in comparison, that each soldier played a total of 431 games for England and did a damn sight more than you ever could.  Your 428 caps short of being close to anyone who sailed down South that year and fought for the flag that you so proudly stand behind.  I’d love to see you do a day in the shoes of any of them men and call it easy.  You are nothing but a bad footballer, that punched his girlfriend in France and then threatened his ex-wife and her parents.  You are a pathetic excuse for a human being, and you stir up the feelings of every single person who has not only been touched by the Falklands Conflict, but also by the Conflict in Northern Ireland.  People want to forget the past, but they want to respect the fallen as well.  You do neither, attempting to make yourself more popular by offending anyone and everyone in the process.

What I would advise, Stan, is that you stick to what your good at: Being a bad football pundit and beating up women.  Considering you need a job I would advise steering clear of offending veterans as, often, they are in positions of power higher than you could ever dream.  You might have kicked a ball around a pitch before, but you weren’t good at that either, so why not climb back into the pundit hole you came from, keep silent and let the world carry on without your venomous presence.  If my father was here to write this himself, I would assure you, it would reach places that would embarrass you.  Sadly he isn’t here anymore, so as his son I will stand up and say it instead.

Air Red (Poem)

I wanted to touch on the opposite side of the Falklands War, the Argentines. Granted they started the whole thing, but I feel that often human nature isn’t human at all, but more animalistic. Many people who went down south fought tooth and nail for the bloke next to him, not for the flag, or pride, but for the right of a human to make a decision. Most times the Argentines flew them missions knowing it would be a one way job, and that takes balls of steel. Sadly they aren‘t remembered like our boys are, our boys have a network of grateful individuals, friends, colleges and brothers in arms that remember them. So remember in war, no one wins, especially those who have no one to remember them.
————————————————————————
Air Red

They came from the sea those bastards in blue, they wanted to sink us just like Pompeii, to the bottom of Bomb Alley at San Carlos Bay.

They flew like the clappers no fear in their eyes, and as it appeared the devil on their side, low and fast hard as nails, those Argies could fly and it looked like we’d fail.

The Navy stood fast and our Flyboys could kill, but young boys were dying, the sea was stained red and history wouldn’t forget them, how oft we do to those Argies wearing blue.

Outnumberd outgunned they flew and flew, against the RAF and Navy too, they had no choice nor any fear, they dropped their bombs and would disappear.

Our Forces did suffer but fought till the end, “Six better fuses and we would have lost” was said, but war has no winner when young boys die, especially those Argies, boy could they fly.