The drums of war are beating once again in the Middle East.

 This time in Syria.

 

- I mean, we’ve already spoken about this. There has to be a war every now and then to maintain the standard of living in countries where social progress depends on exporting death. President Mitterrand once told me in confidence that if the French were not able to sell weapons, the standard of living would plummet in France. “And when we say ‘weapons’,” he added, “we mean big, fat, expensive weapons like aeroplanes, submarines, tanks, missiles and, of course, bullets – millions of bullets.”

 

- “And chemical weapons?” I asked him, as I was well aware of the situation.

He said he couldn’t answer that, giving me one of his famous ironic Gallic smiles. After all, it was Mitterrand who had seen to it that my son was saved by sending him to the unique, state-of-the-art, “space-age” military hospital in Paris - a hospital that was linked to the chemical laboratory that they were using back then to supply Saddam with chemical weapons for the war against Iran. The chemical weapons devastated the Iranians. All those who did not die “as they should have” and instead suffered terrible burns were brought to this hospital to be examined by the scientists who had produced the chemicals in the first place. Their job was to find out what mistakes in their chemical cocktail had enabled these individuals to survive when really they “should” have died. This “humanitarian” approach – so-called because it also allowed doctors to improve treatments for burns – helped chemists working in these laboratories of death to improve their performance! I can just imagine the satisfaction these specialists on death feel at their latest heroic feat – the deaths of thousands of young children in Syria – which has ensured that the standard of living remains intact in another bastion of democracy and that peace and security are defended in a region populated by underdeveloped peoples.

 - Mikis Theodorakis: And why, Mr President, do you not try to sell peace instead of death? Food instead of bullets; fridges instead of missiles; cars, televisions, furniture, schools, books, clothes and perfume instead of guns? Aren’t wars only fought for profit?

- François Mitterrand: They are fought to combat terrorism, nationalism and fanaticism.

- M.Th.: Who are you to intervene in this way? The police?

- F.M.: Who do you mean by ‘you’? The Security Council decides.

- M.Th.: Are you serious? But some countries do not agree.

- F.M.: Then we turn to the UN, to the majority of nations.

- M.Th.: And Korea, Vietnam, Africa, South America? Are only the people in these countries badly behaved? Underdeveloped? Evil? And this coming from you, a Frenchman, who saw at first hand the friendly, civilised and orderly nature of Germany under Hitler… Has any country in the underdeveloped world ever taken barbarity and bestiality to the levels of that European country?

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This conversation took place when the French President was staying with me at my house in Vrachati. As you know, I have never made our private conversations public, as it isn’t right to do so. However, many years have passed since then and I believe that the conversation that I have revealed here will not taint the memory of this great friend.

It provides me, however, with an opportunity to elaborate on my thoughts regarding the background to the wars that are waged here and there almost every year by the same countries: the US, the UK, France, Israel and Germany, which cautiously follows the others. What do these countries have in common? A lot! However, I will only mention the fact that since the end of the Second World War, the war industries in these countries have accounted for an ever greater proportion of the countries’ overall manufacturing relationships and strengths, and thus of their national budgets. This has been the case to such a degree that, as Mitterrand said, the standard of living in these countries is dependent on the profits of exporting death.

But the war industry’s enormous importance in the life of a nation is not limited to purely economic factors. Its influence corrodes the whole of society in many different ways, particularly psychologically, ideologically, politically and, of course, militarily - millions of people work in the war industry; their families are affected, as is the social climate of the small towns where arms factories are located. And then there are those in the military, whose psychological state is elevated by a sense of power, superiority, national pride and violence - a violence that exceeds the limits of all types of control, dominates society, and goes unchecked and unpunished. Of course, this frame of mind is not just confined to the military; it seeps into all areas of society, most particularly into the media and science. Furthermore, the economic benefits are not restricted to the country’s leaders, but are spread throughout society. For the state, these benefits take the form of tax revenue, which is used to pay for welfare, healthcare, education and research. And so, in the end, every single dollar or euro belonging to the average citizen is linked to the hundreds of thousands of victims of the weapons that these “civilised” countries manufacture to annihilate “uncivilised” countries and to make huge profits from this death and destruction so that they can live their comfortable and civilised lives, and continue to preach from on high about respect and human rights and all other kinds of drivel.

In conclusion, what can we expect of this kind of society where civilisation is merely a veneer? The only difference between us Greeks, and the Iranians or Syrians is geographical, as we are situated much closer to the “civilised” nations. If they were to burn us alive, as they are currently planning to do to the Syrians, the smell of scorched flesh might well reach their nostrils and prove rather unpleasant.

They have other methods at their disposal to draw similar profits from any underdeveloped countries that have mistakenly become part of Europe. So far the Germans have made €40 billion from our crisis and the crises in the other underdeveloped countries of the south…

Athens, 29 August 2013

Mikis Theodorakis