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Monday, October 3, 2011

War for profit or prophet?

So the question has come up as to the right way to fight a war and what is the noble thing to do. Ethics and war sounds almost as bad as an ethics course for lawyers. You see people get wrapped up in concepts they get from novels about war. They get wrapped up in the warm fuzzy blanket of glory, and rest their heads on the soft pillow of honor. They complain about things that make me shake my head. I think the trouble behind it is that those that drive wars rarely fight in them. The people setting the tempo do so from their laptops and are fueled by CNN.

I love hearing people tell me what is right and wrong about war. I love hearing people say what can and should be done in war. I can only smile when people talk to me about their feelings about war, and the concepts of how we come to get where we are in a conflict. The truth is that there is nothing right about war. It is when strangers come together under the bonds of other strangers that no longer take the field.

At least in the old days kings rode out with their men. They drew blood with them. They died with their men. The did this for greater concepts then what we fight for now. Even then there was nothing right about war. People fight when they are wronged. They fight when they are threatened. They fight when their bellies rumble. They fight for the survival of their children. They fight for all the things wrong with the world, so in that there is nothing right about war.

War is not the noble king riding out on the back of giant white stallion, armor gleaming in the sun, sword raised over his head, and pushed forward by the cheering masses of adoring people behind a righteous cause. It is about that lower class factory worker cringing in a muddy shit filled ditch, afraid to put his head up, because across the street another guy on the other side of the road in the other shit filled ditch is thinking the same thing. It is not about the causes and repercussions that are pitched to us like sales slogans. It is not about what is right or wrong. It has evolved into something deeper, and simpler. It about cultural rights. It is not about the cultures right to eat, or provide for their children. It is so much sweeter and simpler then that. Its about survival. Its about the right of one culture to live. Trouble is for one to live, the other one feels the other one has to die.

This is what war as evolved into. It is not the noble looting of the bronze age. Its not the glorious pillaging of the dark ages. Its not the wealth and abundance of the corporate expansion the Roman empire. Soldiers are now paid a more noble wage that makes them eligible for food stamps and state subsidy. They are not mercenaries allowed to loot their enemies anymore. They are not allowed to take profit in war. That is reserved for the man who's armor is rusting in the closet and his horse now grows fat and lazy in the stable.

This is the reality of war now. It is not about glory. Its not about honor. Its about war. War is ugly, and some would call it failed diplomacy. I call it the extensiveness of will. It is the will of one nation, exerted on or through another nation. It is violence brought to bare when all else failed. It is not a pretty thing that should be talked about in poetry and flowery words. I think it can help you find your poetry and flowery words though. It is a final solution. There is no taking it back. It is rarely fought by those that call for it. It is rarely used by those that understand it. Those that sleep with death rarely take her as a wife. Those that call her mistress have not tasted her flesh, and willfully send the young to her arms. Presidents do not fight wars anymore. They send others to die for their ideas, because they are to valuable. to face their own foes.

Either way it is what a rare few are willing to do, so that the masses and their leaders can sleep safely. This is done so others do not have to see the face of war. It is done so others can just guess the horrors of war, and wrap it in tales of glory and honor. There is no honor in war, save what the individual soldier brings to the field. I hope that you never have to understand what I am talking about. I wish that you only know war as a sound bite. It is what it is though, and as long as we have human nature you will have a twisted understanding of the nature of war. 


  1. Profound! Bravo! Your words are spoken with wisdom and experience. Few things in this world bring tears to my eyes. This cut to my very soul.

  2. I thought I had posted a comment on this a while ago. I guess I'm just not going through all the steps (I think the security settings at work aren't helping). Anyway, very nice essay. Excellent, in fact. I think most Soldiers, if asked to put their thoughts in writing, would come up with something very similar. I had written on this too, but I think your essay has more clarity throughout. I tend to get deeper in philospophy than most people have patience or tolerance for.