The Horrible Banality of War

I’ve never liked most war movies because I think they glamorize warfare, even if they are ‘realistic.’ That’s why I’ve referred to them as “war porn.” Most deaths are horrifying in their randomness: a few inches to the left or right and someone lives instead of dying. And most of the deaths are not ‘heroic’ in a Mel Gibson-Braveheart sort of way. Dexter Filkins reminds us of this in a NY Times article today:

A soldier was dead, and it was time for him to go home.
The doors to the little morgue swung open, and six soldiers stepped outside carrying a long black bag zippered at the top.
About 60 soldiers were waiting to say goodbye. They had gathered in the sand outside this morgue at Camp Ramadi, an Army base in Anbar Province, now the most lethal of Iraqi places.
Inside the bag was Sgt. Terry Michael Lisk, 26, of Zion, Ill., killed a few hours before.
In the darkness, the bag was barely visible. A line of blue chemical lights marked the way to the landing strip not far away.
Everyone saluted, even the wounded man on a stretcher. No one said a word.
Sergeant Lisk had been standing near an intersection in downtown Ramadi on Monday morning when a 120-millimeter mortar shell, fired by guerrillas, landed about 30 paces away. The exploding shell flung a chunk of steel into the right side of his chest just beneath his arm. He stopped breathing and died a few minutes later.

This is why no civilized person should be ‘pro-war’–the logical converse of ‘anti-war’. This is why we should never send our fellow citizens off to die unless we are damn certain there is no other alternative. This is why national security should not be a political strategy, but a solemn duty.
This is why our president and his lapdogs in Congress should not invade the wrong country based on lies.

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5 Responses to The Horrible Banality of War

  1. I think it depends a lot on the kind of war one gets into. Most wars nowadays are not the “liberate the world” kind, but “there’s a deal to be made, but it requires killing someone” kind. It also depends on whether you’ve actually won or lost. Many American WW II vets liked “Band of Brothers”, a TV series you mentioned in your older post. However, many Polish WW II vets are not keen to watch the cinematic incarnations of their lost battles — because USA won, and Poland lost the WW II.

  2. I think you’re correct that morality demands that we all be essentially “anti-war” (even many military people would agree), but a problem arises when people take an absolutist anti-war position. There *is* such a thing as a necessary war, and a justified war, but some folks will not even accept these as legitimate exceptions to their anti-war dogma.
    That being said, *this* war is, of course, both unnecessary and unjustified, but, unlike Atrios, for instance, I don’t think it’s true that people who believed that from day zero because of their absolutist anti-war ideology are morally superior to those of us who came to that conclusion after close examination of all the available facts.

  3. vaughan says:

    You got it. Our society seems inured to the damage, enthralled by the danger and power, and ignorant of better ways to get on in this world rather than warfare.

  4. 12345789aa
    sexshop says:


  5. sex shop says:

    You got it. Our society seems inured to the damage, enthralled by the danger and power, and ignorant of better ways to get on in this world rather than warfare

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