It’s never going to stop. We might hope it’s going to stop, but it’s never going to stop. One war after another, until the end of time, or mutually assured destruction, whichever comes first. That’s just the way it is and always will be. Every November, we shall remember them; a couple of weeks later, we forget all the lessons, and it’s bombs away again.
Some Belgian people killed some French people, so Britain must bomb Syria. Because otherwise it would look awfully embarrassing at dinner parties. Or because we need to step up on the world stage and “show confidence” to stand alongside countries that bomb hospitals on purpose and then shoot people evacuating from them. Or because we want to really do a nice bit of advertising for some lovely branded missiles that we’ve got round the back of the shop. Or because people who behead people and hate women are bad, unless they’re buying the missiles we’ve got round the back of the shop, in which case meet the Queen, have a cup of tea, sit down in a comfy chair. Or because we need to do our bit against fascism, by voting with a government that monitors “extremism” in five year old children. Whatever. It just must happen.
Such a comfortable, remote controlled destruction. No bayonets or hand grenades, it’s all precision bombing from high altitude with magic bombs that ask you survey questions – with 5 being “strongly agree” and 1 being “strongly disagree”, how do you feel about setting fire to people in orange jumpsuits in cages? – before deciding whether to kill you or not. We want to minimise civilian casualties as much as possible, except by not dropping bombs on people, because omelette/eggs and all that grown-up stuff. No civilian casualties, because we don’t count them. So none must have happened.
If you’re not with us, you’re a terrorist sympathiser. If you don’t show requisite politeness to people deciding to drop bombs on other people, killing them, or you dare confront those people with the inevitable end result of their decision to kill people – that people will die – you’re the lowest of the low. Sure, some children may need to be counted in piles of smouldering rubble by the number of spines visible among the viscera, but I think you’re forgetting the real victims in all this: some Labour MPs who struggled long and hard deciding whether to kill other people or not received some pretty beastly emails. Puts it all into perspective, doesn’t it? I think we know who the real monsters are now.
It’s a strange little existence we have in this country, given our history. Once we thought nothing of brutalising the world, feasting on slavery, committing genocide (and putting in railway lines)… Now each little adventure has to be justified by imminent risk to us and our “way of life”. It’s like we’re the poor innocent victims, the lion being attacked by a mouse, and we must do everything we can to kill, kill and kill again. Not because we like it or we want to – of course not – but because tough decisions need to be made, and if you can’t see that, you’re very naive indeed. It just so happens that time after time after time, our islands are threatened by people thousands of miles away, and we must bomb them. It keeps on happening – getting worse, even – and the bombs don’t seem to help, so the only answer is more bombs. Because that’s all we’ve got. Bombs. It’s all we’ve got left.
It’s an odd time to be alive, when our leaders must be prepared to obliterate other countries in order to prove their toughness, or else we run the risk of losing out on a place on the “world stage”. Tough decisions, every couple of years, the same tough decision, exactly the same decision, just a slightly different lot of families under the ordnance, wondering why they had ever been born in their final moments.
Ah but you mustn’t be so emotive. War isn’t about emotion. Killing people isn’t about emotion. Tough decisions. Strong leadership. No time for those silly hysterical qualities now. War is good, it brings peace and saves lives. And we all nod along. Another bogeyman who’s just like Hitler, that one Good War we can all reflect on as being the one time in history it wasn’t our fault. Another Hitler, every few years. Another danger. Another time to kill.
I’m not sorry if this sounds pessimistic, because it is. This is the pattern and this is how it goes. We get what we vote for – unless we happen to be foolish enough to be a member of a political party – and we vote for tough decisions. We vote for minimising civilian casualties. We vote for death from the sky, because it’s not our sky, and the people who flee this bloody mess are nicely kept out of sight by our borders, though we’ll take a handful or two in because there was that one boy who washed up on a beach onto the newspaper front pages and people actually cared for a couple of weeks. Vote for death. Again and again and again.