Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Lest We Forgot

November 11th is Armistice Day, the anniversary of the end of World War I in 1918.
All across Europe at 11 minutes past 11, all will stop and bow their heads in silent contemplation of the 15 million who died in the 'Great War' and in every war and military conflict since.
'The War to End All Wars' it was labelled at the time, not knowing that far from it being the final war, it was merely a precursor to a century of conflict around the World, the majority of them initiated by the 'victors' of the 1914-18 massacre.
Sunday saw the sickening sight of the past and present leaders of our country laying wreaths and shedding tears for dead soldiers, brave young men and women that they had only been too willing to send into battle.
Lest we forget is the phrase we hear uttered as we pin on our poppies but very little has changed since the days when old men ordered young men to charge nests of German machine guns.
Old men still send other peoples children out to be slaughtered only now the leaders have learnt that the folks back home object to their children dying by the thousands, so they have adopted a new strategy. Now they send our boys and girls out to slaughter other people's children while remaining perfectly safe themselves.
Missiles are sent from hundred of miles away, warriors sit behind television screens and send armed drones to destroy villages and planes drop their payloads from high altitudes. All methods devastatingly unreliable so we have swapped large military deaths for large civilian deaths instead. That is the only lesson that has been learnt over the past 90 years.
If the leaders were faced with the prospect of carrying out their own policies,
we would find that these men, so gung-ho with the lives of others, would quickly find that they have other options than continuously waging war.

7 comments:

Don said...

Do they? For one thing, technology continues to reduce the so-called collateral damage. Look at the numbers of civilians that suffered in the American war to end slavery, as an example. Or the Boer war. Or WWI. We've learned since then to fret about it, and try not to allow it, if not avoid it entirely. As for war itself, what really is the alternative? We can negotiate and talk and cut deals all day long, but it always turns out the other side was just playing along to better position themselves. Idealism aside, because it is dangerously ineffective, the best guarantor of peace is a demonstrable willingness to give the other side a really bad day. And why does there have to be another side? Well, good question and, as has been the case for millennia, the answer is in the fact that resources are not evenly spread, nor always exploited by those who have them, and the concept of property rights and free and open hence non-violent trade is never universally appreciated.

All my ranting aside, seems to me both our GOP wannabes had children in Iraq. It's not unlikely a Bush son, if one existed, would have gone as well. Mine certainly have that as an option -- not forgetting, of course, that no one can "send" their children anywhere once they turn 18. The choice is theirs only.

Rant mode back on: I'd bet the civilian deaths have actually gone way down, while the reporting has gone way up ... not that even one injured child can be dismissed.

Noah "Nog" M. said...

Lucy,

1. War sucks 115%. War is never good. And in WWI, I'm pretty sure that I can't tell you who "the good guys" were. In far too many wars good people go out and kill other good people on the behalf of bad leaders on both sides.

2. We happen to live in one of the most peaceful times in history. Far more we see things more because there are more cameras and far less because they are actually happening more often. It used to be that "war" meant killing everyone and stealing their things. Then things "improved" such that the winners would only kill all of the men, choosing to enslave the women and the children. Look at things now. Even in Darfur, there are still a lot of people.
This doesn't make war just and it surely doesn't mean that we shouldn't be any less worried, but things are better and they're getting better every day.


-Nog

Cheezy said...

"It's not unlikely a Bush son, if one existed, would have gone as well. "

Yeah, sometimes acorns do fall a very long way from the tree don't they?

War is sometimes necessary. This last one, as has been proven, wasn't.

Cheezy said...

"not that even one injured child can be dismissed."

Erm... it's just children we're concerned about here, Don?

Cody Bones said...

"War is sometimes necessary. This last one, as has been proven, wasn't."


Amen

Don said...

Erm... it's just children we're concerned about here, Don?

Not at all, that was just my poor way of making a point more dramatic. I'm opposed to all destruction. The idea that any plan for progress can include destruction sickens me. Unfortunately, the world is full of such types, be they the Japanese in the 1930s or the folks in the Middle East today who think they have to wage some sort of holy war (including the Eretz Israel types as well as Wahhabists etc). This fact (more examples abound) compels us to be capable of even more destruction cause no one wants to see the London Blitz again. (And everyone being human, plenty of Westerners also think someone else needs to be destroyed. Simple minds think alike.)

Lucy said...

Don - It isn't so much the numbers of civilians that die now but the seeming indifference to civilian deaths. Think Hiroshima, the blitz, the Dresden firebombing as examples.
The Iraq war shocjk & Awe, the way a house full of civilains is bombed because we suspect a wanted person is in there or a wedding party is killed because pilots are flying at too high an altitude to positivly identify friend or foe.

We happen to live in one of the most peaceful times in history. I beg to differ nog. Pick up any newspaper and read about the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Congo or the rampant terrorism exploding bombs all over the globe. I would suggest we are living in one of the most turbulent times.