Posts Tagged ‘war’

War and the narrative

November 4, 2007

War, as seen on TV, is largely unsuitable to inspire awe. We see soldiers, not warriors. This is not the war we have an unconscious longing for. The war we long for is the one we’ve always been told of, the war of heroes.

It is the war of the Illiad, the knights and the samurai, the 300 spartans and all those kings we like to call “The Great”. We know,  of course, that this conception of war is inappropriate to modern warfare, and we might regret that fact. What we should know, however, is that this kind of war has never been an adequate characterization of any actual war. The heroic war is what we’ve been told about, in the great narratives of war. The warrior is a creature of fiction.

A narrative can always leave out unpleasant details, and focus on the hero, that is: the individual. But it also cannot but focus on the individual. The narrative is the home of the individual, and a narrative without an individual is close to impossible. That’s why it is so hard to make a convincing anti-war movie.  A movie is a kind of narrative, and as such it needs to focus on the individual. But to convey the true horrors of war, it would have to focus on the masses: the peasants, not the knights. But who cares about peasants?

Women and War

October 26, 2007

How bad an exaggeration would it be to claim that two world wars did more for gender equality than the entire women’s lib movement?

The absence of men forces women into production; war shifts the gender balance toward women, as man are being killed in combat, as a result no all women can expect to marry, which used to put an end to a woman’s career. With share in production and responsibility come political claims, and they are being heard because now the state needs the female workforce – the right to vote is being granted.

An interesting question arises now about the case where women are part of the army: if men and women have both share in combat, does that increase gender equality, or is the movement brought to a halt?

Strategic bombers

October 12, 2007

A strategic bomber, according to some, is somebody who is willing to bomb a factory or some other strategic target, but wouldn’t attempt to harm innocent people.Now, as we all know all to well, in practice, strategic and civilian targets are rarely neatly separated. “Collateral damage” ensues.

But here’s a different thought: at the point where you have decided to attack strategic targets, you’ve decided to wage some form of war against another country/society. Now, once you’ve started to wage a war against a society, distinguishing between guilty and innocent members of that society becomes tricky. This is even more true in cases where the society is in part bound together by a powerful ideology of some sort. You have to assume that any member of that society is a potential enemy.

Hence, if you want to win, you should not distinguish between civilian and strategic targets. Part of your strategy should be to hammer home to your enemies that they cannot win. If you aren’t prepared to kill you enemies’  children, don’t start a war.