On the war path

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I note your photo coverage (10 December) of an event hosted by Museums Galleries Scotland to begin to organise the Scottish dimension of the decision of the UK government to “celebrate” the opening shots of the First World War.

As Prime Minister Cameron said when he launched the £50 million initiative (no doubt Scotland’s share will be around £5m) at the Imperial War Museum, it is to be like the Diamond Jubilee celebrations that will “capture” the national spirit.

The date of the commemoration, 2014 for 1914, is a curious one, the actual commencement of hostilities, not the cessation. However strange the choice is, though, the date does present intriguing possibilities.

As well as providing funds for conventional museum activities and interactive events, I do hope serious consideration will be given to funding mock re-enactments of demonstrations of the mass pro-war hysteria that swept the streets of many European cities and towns.

The media could do its bit by commemorating its part in whipping up the hysteria by producing special editions explaining why the sacrifice is necessary; what with Iraq and Afghanistan melding into our current constant expeditionary war mode, they have had plenty of recent practice.

Maybe the military analytical community, quick to provide comment on our current dangerous and uncertain world without actually identifying any significant potential state enemies, might organise some conferences to study how the decision to go to war was not so much a decision made by the leaders of the day rather the result of military institutional momentum.

Military institutional momentum is something that they are quite familiar with, given their familiarity with the ways of the 21st-century arms industry.

Bill Ramsay

Albert Avenue