Saturday, November 11, 2006
Today is Remembrance Day, of course.
I was thinking about it, and it struck me how sad this occasion makes me. Not because of thoughts of those who died in the Great War, or WWII or Korea, etc, (that's a given) but because of how that is juxtaposed by the same sacrifice made by soldiers today - without the same noble cause.
War has changed a great deal (not that I'm an expert) over the decades. As I watch some of the great stories being told this week on the History Channel, I am reminded that war, back in the day, was much more savage - face to face, hand to hand at times, and fought in the trenches. This is contrasted greatly by the eye-in-the-sky, surgical missile strikes and stealth bombing raids in Iraq and elsewhere. It used to be that if you fought for what you believed in, it meant getting your hands dirty and bayonetting a man while looking him in the eye - while facing equal odds that you would suffer the same fate.
That was war. And war was hell.
Today, superpowers squash "insurgents" like bugs and the only way for them to fight back is to strap explosives to their chests. Today, armies don't face each other in equal numbers in farmers' fields because no equality exists (note that not marching to slaughter makes you a "terrorist" or "insurgent", though - ain't labels a bitch?). Today, people like George Bush (take your pick) lead the world into "wars" where a button is pushed and dozens of the "enemy" die at a time - soldiers, civilians, whatever. (I wonder: what was the civilian casualty rate during the American Civil War? What is it in Iraq?) And instead of praying that the casualties on "our" side are fewer than those suffered on "their" side, we get news reports on individual soldier deaths. That is to say, when one Allied/American/Coalition soldier dies, it's newsworthy. What does that say about our expectations of war? What does it say when the "general public" is up in arms that the casualty rate has reached double digits and demands that our soldiers return home?
What does it say when the Prime Minister tries to ban coverage of a single soldier's body being returned home for fear it will weaken our resolve?
I've said it before and I will say it forever: if you are not willing to suffer at least as many casualties as the other side in order to win a war, that war is not worth fighting in the first place. It doesn't mean enough to you.
Today, war has become too easy. It's convenient. It's "in the bag". Got a problem with Iraq or Libya? No problem: just bomb'em.
Got a problem with North Korea or Russia? No prob--
But how do you say that to the soldier who is sent overseas? How do you say that to the soldier who is risking their life in Iraq? How do you tell them you don't support what they're doing? (Because, believe it or not Mr. Redneck Warmonger, you CAN support your troops WITHOUT supporting the cause they were sent to fight by the Administration-du-jour)
So, on this Remembrance Day, I remember the wars that were and pity the soldier who makes the greatest sacrifice at the whim of George W. Bush.