The Pity of War

poppy

Today we cross the threshold of the 90th anniversary of the end of a now largely forgotten war. With Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam looming large on our psyche (and TV screens), World War I seems like an antiquated conflict, fought by clumsy weapons and old-fashioned tactics, far removed from the fast-paced, technology-jazzed-up wars that we are used to seeing these days. Yet in many ways, the First World War and its aftermath still resonate in the world we live in today.

It was the famous war poet Wilfred Owen who penned these immortal words: “My subject is War and the Pity of War.” World War I taught us that war is more than just an extension of foreign policy as Clausewitz suggested, that war is not merely hell as General Sherman remarked, but ultimately that war is pity. A deeply wrenching sense of futility, loss and waste. As the nations of Europe convulsed themselves in a drawn-out conflict marked by poison gas, damp trenches and mass starvation, the conflagration tore not only nations apart, but also the common sense of humanity, which would sow the hidden seeds for more destruction to come in the shapes of Hitler, Pol Pot and Milosevic. In 1918, an old world was destroyed. In 2008, we have yet to replace it with a better one.

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~ by irwin on November 11, 2008.

One Response to “The Pity of War”

  1. Yarh man, wars are never nice. I guess human beings fundamentally are warry at times, fighting to stay alive or feel alive. We war out of fear, we war out of pain and hurt even.

    The act of war destroys so many people. Yet in the end, we can’t say for sure which country is wrong. We only regret. Hahahz.

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