Firearms and the faceless enemy
There is something to be said about the addition of unmanned crafts and robot combatants into the warzone. In a video game I’d say that thing is “This is awesome”, but unfortunately in the real world there is a very real danger with this kind of change. The US, especially, has already become dangerously disconnected from the complications of war. So much so that I used the word “complication” rather than “horror”.
I’ll admit that my brush with death was rather fast and unexpected, but it was one of the most horrifying moments in my entire life. I can’t recall ever feeling that utterly helpless and terrible before, or after, again. I can’t truly fathom what it would be like to see your death coming at you head on, being wounded on the field and watching your soon-to-be killer aim a gun at your face, to stare at the very shell that is about to scramble your brains.
The evidence isn’t necessarily strong that you’d literally die instantly either, the little fragments of your conscious that are left staring up at the sky as you quickly bleed out and cease to be. Worse still if you find yourself on the delivering end of a melee weapon, sliced up and discarded. Feeling searing pain and sudden numbness, perhaps even seeing a part of you fall to the ground, no longer your own.
War is a nightmarish thing, if ever there was evil this would be it, front and center. There has been almost no war, in the history of ever, that was necessary. Each one that could be argued as such was caused by an unnecessary conflict that preceded it. It would be a grand error to assume that it is a heavy burden to send off soldiers to die, if it was it would not be done so quickly and with such fervor. If this was such a great burden there would be more children of leaders standing at the front lines, but they don’t, because these people know what horrors await those who trust them and they would never subject their own offspring to such living nightmares.
It began with the advent of the long range weapon, slings, bows, cannons, guns, missiles, and bombs. With each advancement in the technology the distance between the killer and the killed has expanded and with it you see an inverse square relationship with their emotional baggage to the situation. For every foot of space you put between the killer and the killed you deaden the impact of the event on them by an every greatening factor until people are unleashing drones upon civilians and potential combatants without so much as a second thought.
Recall that Apache video from a few years back where they gunned down anyone within sight and could even be heard laughing on the tape? The distance between the killer and their target was so great that the emotional connection with the event was all but obliterated. These were not acts of murder but merely acts, like toasting bread or changing a car tire.
The further from the face of our foe the further our chances of seeing humanity in them. Where it used to be a necessity to work hard dehumanizing your enemy in the eyes of your soldiers, now the effort need barely be applied at all. Just remind the population that these efforts keep the horrors from showing up on their doorstep and let the blood flow.
I cannot in any way believe that a single person who voted for either the Afghanistan or Iraq war cares about human life, I cannot believe they value life in nearly any fashion. My reasoning is fairly simple, and likely flawed, but their actions just don’t support such a thing. I value peace, so I do not cause conflict, I value knowledge and words so I respect them and explore them, I value at the basest level my Magic Cards and so I put them in sleeves to protect them from the elements. At every level from the important to the trivial I create a halo of protection and respect around those things that I value and I ignore or abuse those things I do not value.
For instance if you see me with a plastic bottle or Aluminum can I’m probably crushing the heck out of them because they are trivial to me, little empty husks that serve no purpose soon after they are emptied. They are discarded and forgotten.
I’ve lost sleep over books I like getting water damage, I don’t lose sleep over crushing a soda can. So check in with the very people who vote for war, find how many of them cannot sleep every night. How many of them are constantly churning in their beds because somewhere thousands of miles away people are being murdered, not only from another nation they’ve never been, but people considerably closer. Some perhaps even related to people they know, the degrees of separation are so freakishly small yet I don’t see these men and women losing any vigor over the matter.
They shout with passion in town halls, rant on the floor of congress, or smile joyfully at press meetings.
If I sent someone to fight someone who had wronged me and they were murdered, I would be a broken man. Knowing that I’ve taken someone not only to the precipice that I once teetered upon, and further still pushed them to a beyond that cannot be returned from.
I don’t know if I’d be able to think of myself as anything but trash after that.