Way off topic, but war’s been on everyone’s mind of late, and the horribly devastating oil spill in Lebanon is but one example of the crazy devastation caused by war. An event that would be an international emergency by itself is only a footnote in the death of many innocent people, destruction of the happiness of entire communities and populations, not to mention all those blown up bridges, power plants and homes.
The citizen-soldiers sent into the field by the United States or any other Western popular government are expected, by virtue of not so long ago having been free civilians themselves, to be more empathetic with the plight of the noncombatants with whom they come into contact. Certainly, brutal incidents like the My Lai massacre or the Abu Ghraib scandal occur from time to time, but they are widely viewed as cultural aberrations. This interpretation, however, is as simplistic as it is misleading. All too often the armies of modern democracies have tolerated and even initiated outrages against civilians, in manners uneasily close to those of their totalitarian and terrorist enemies. Israeli troops are currently demonstrating this fact in their response to the Hezbollah rocket offensive — a response most of the world community, according to recent polls, believes is taking an unacceptably disproportionate toll on Lebanese civilians. And there have been times when democratic leaders have been even more open about their brutal intentions: Speaking of the Allied bombing campaign during World War II that culminated in that consummate act of state terrorism, the firebombing of Dresden, Germany, Winston Churchill flatly stated that the objective was “to make the enemy burn and bleed in every way.”
Excellent article, there really is no moral war, no just war, no holy war, no noble war, no happy war, no easy war, and there really should be no war other than a reluctantly fought, and limited war. There are no noble warriors, no heros, only real people doing things to their fellow human beings that are for the most part, unspeakable horrors. Anyone who tries to argue with me that their war is somehow different because of a host of reasons is not going to convince me.
While history books can be cleansed to blind future generations to the actual costs of war on the people fighting it, and the damage that ensues, fighting affects everyone who fights significantly, and rarely for the better. Eventually, it dehumanizes you, how can you kill someone (except in close combat where there’s a clear survival motivation) except by dehumanizing them? You’d have to think that a whole neighborhood is somehow inhuman to drop a bomb on them that kills maybe one terrorist and 15 innocent humans.
The history we learn has a lot to do with our willingness to tolerate this much war. The science lessons we get in school are a culmination of centuries of accumulated knowledge, the mathematics we learn goes back 10-15 centuries, we are taught to be self-critical, to learn from our mistakes, to think, yet the history we learn is pure propaganda, none of these edicts seem to apply. Being a “pacifist” has gone from normal to “loony coward fringe element” in a few years. Oh well…