Thursday 10 November 2005

"War - what is it good for?"

As Remembrance Sunday draws near here in the UK, thoughts inevitably turn to war, past and present. Earlier this week, a two-part BBC series called "The Last Tommy" began, focussing on veterans from the First World War. These centenarians talked with honesty and emotion about their experiences, vividly describing the terror and oblivion of trench warfare, the apparent insanity of "going over the top", as tens of thousands of men were slaughtered in just a few short hours to gain a couple of hundred yards of territory. There aren't too may WW1 veterans left, and I applaud the BBC for documenting their experiences in this way.

Thoughts also turn to more recent conflicts, notably the war in Iraq. Whatever your opinions are on the reasons and supposed justifications for this war (and I certainly have my opinions, as you may have read elsewhere in this weblog), the shock and awe of Bush and bLiar have certainly illustrated how much warfare has changed. Trench warfare has been replaced by long-distance combat, where G.I. Joe can take out the enemy without even getting his boots dirty. I'm not saying this is a good or bad thing - I have no military experience so I wouldn't presume to judge - but somehow it brings the smaller acts of this war, like car-bombs and suicide attacks into sharper, more horrendous focus.

"War! Huh? What is it good for?" asked Edwin Starr. We all know his answer to that...