Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Without nationalism, our deaths in the countless wars we constantly wage to defend our own nations against others defending their own nations against us would seem arbitrary, almost meaningless. But as long as we have a higher purpose--the love of whatever country we happen to be fighting for--we will always know we did not lose our lives in vain

My first thought is "What a sucker !!" Seriously, as TBG points out, wars are invariably fought for some sort of prestige or monetary gain by those who do not put their lives at risk.

I know I've quoted this often but Herman Goerring's cynicism remains instructive (is Cheney related ?)

Naturally the common people don't want war. But after all, it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag people along whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.

Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.  This is easy.  All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger.  It works the same in every country."

You can see such propaganda in every country as it prepares for war. False flag attacks, hyping up trivial incidents. But finally it is done for the aggrandisment of senior figures. People lower down may profit as well, or get a morale boost that is much the same thing.

But the soldiers, the professional leadership take pride in what they do, in sending men into the meat grinder; although Patton, no shrinking violet when the guns roared at least did say that;-

War is not about dying for your country. That's stupid. War is about making some other poor bugger die for theirs. Never forget that.

I remember feeling very uncomfortable when I read the memoirs of Hans von Gluck, a conscientious and  professional Panzer commander during WWII as I failed to understand why he continued to fight in the last months of the war for a cause he had never believed in and which was obviously and terribly losing. He had plenty of opportunities to surrender to the Americans who he knew whould treat him and his men honourably, but he didn't "because we are Prussians and this is our honour"

I am reminded of a (presumably) fictitious conversation
in the film "The Battle of the Bulge"

Col. Martin Hessler: Our column has made the farthest advance! We have outrun the other Panzers! The eyes of Germany are on us! The Fuhrer himself will decorate me. We have done it Conrad! We have done it!
Cpl. Conrad: Then I was wrong. We have won the war.
Col. Martin Hessler: No.
Cpl. Conrad: You mean we have lost?
Col. Martin Hessler: No.
Cpl. Conrad: I don't understand. If we have not won, and we have not lost, than what is happening?
Col. Martin Hessler: The best thing possible is happening - the war will go on.
Cpl. Conrad: For how long?
Col. Martin Hessler: Indefinitely. On, and on, and on!
Cpl. Conrad: But it must come to an end.
Col. Martin Hessler: You're a fool Conrad. Those of us who understood knew in 1941 that we could never win.
Cpl. Conrad: You mean Colonel for three years we have been fighting without any hope of victory?
Col. Martin Hessler: There are many kinds of victory. For the German Army to survive, for us to remain in uniform - that is our victory. Conrad, the world is not going to get rid of us after all.
Cpl. Conrad: But, when do we go home?
Col. Martin Hessler: This is our home.
Cpl. Conrad: And my sons? When do I see them? What will become of them?
Col. Martin Hessler: They will become German soldiers, and you will be proud of them.

It is the people who think like this who believe soldiers are heroic. It is one thing we maybe should admire in our medieval forebears, those who started the war were invariably in the front ranks fighting it. England lost many promising princes before fighting your own wars became unfahsionable with the creation of professional armies in the 16th century. Indeed the very succession of Henry VII depends (I think) on which person died first at some battle or other.

Wars are rarely fought for honourable reasons, although they are dressed up as such. War itself and the fighting is considered a noble enterprise, worthy in and of itself as some sort of test of manhood. Of course, we all think it would be nice if we had other cultural measures of men other than their willingness to commit mayhem, but in every population there is a large sub-culture that venerates the violent male. And sadly a large number of women willing to breed with them, thus perpetuating that species of psychopathic behaviour.

That wars are now rarely set-piece battles between reasonably matched bruisers, but is instead undertaken only as a mismatch by the heavily weaponed on the effectively defenceless and the civlians who are often nearby, is rarely mentioned in the songs and glorifications of war. It's done far way and from 40,000 feet, recorded only by orbital cameras with propaganda editors seeking the most sanitized images to sell their war. That's why the recent photos in Paris Match were so shocking, they broke the taboo that war is clean and can be made into fun. those few who die have clean deaths and nobody dies screaming in pain, fear and anguish calling for their mothers as their life bleeds away. and those who are injured will be well-cared for by the state, but we'd rather you didn't do any follow-up as too much truth affects morale.

We have become careless about war. The appeasement years in the run-up to WWII came about because a public realised that war was hell. It's wasn't honourable. Yes, they still honoured the soldiers, but I think they came to realise it was futile. WWII was a disaster in that it made war respectable again, it could be done for the "right" reasons. Or at least sold as such. Vietnam was definitely such and it saved several US companies bacon. War was good, war worked. Patriotism was profitable. Now the American economy is a warfare state, it has to make war because peace is not good for business. It is the same in the UK, France, Sweden, Germany and Belgium. All have substantial armnaments industries entirely unjustified by their supposedly peaceful status.

But the money's good and if they didn't do it somebody else would, so they might as well. Of course the pusher's excuse doesn't work well in a Court of Law when trafficking heroin but, really if you wanna be a hypocrite you need to be elected first.

Sing after me;-
"You know that we don't want to fight,
but by jingo if we do,
we've got the guns, we've got the men,
we've got the money too"

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Sep 6th, 2008 at 08:14:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Others have rated this comment as follows:


Top Diaries

Occasional Series