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Symbols of War

by on February 17, 2010

War is supposed to be the last resort; after all diplomacy and negotiations have failed future course of action is decided by war.  And symbols come with war.  Ah, what sybols! – how great they are!  To the victor go the spoils.  And what use are the symbols?  Why, they stand  for all eternity.  Glorious, but passing in a single moment; though they may last forever.  How much use is there of  that shiny diamond now that you possess it?  Is it more beautiful to look at now that it is yours?

Once, men did trample great and mighty fields by the tens of thousands, in search of glory, everlasting fame, and symbols of war.  They would mount their steeds and charge in great fury, anxious for a piece of land, for a name ever-writ in stone.  And what force would win?  The one that gained – that gained land, that gained a city.  Hoist your flag o’er the conquer-ed territory and it is yours.  What grandness!

How simple these wars were.  No less terrible for their own time than war is now terrible for us.  But look – see the Hundred Years War, the Thirty Years War, the War of the Roses, The Napoleonic Wars – yea, see them all through Europe and all Asia, and that is war.  Your city is mine; now I profit from it.

Now observe these wars two.  We call it Revolutionary.  Indeed, it was.  It changed the modus operandi of war – now, the army that  can take cities, that has land – they do not win.  And the Civil War, the war of a great misnomer.  How did that war begin?  With a fight for symbols – capitols, land, they mattered very much.  How did that war end?  Grant, Sherman, Sheridan; they ended it with fights a-twixt fights, battles that led to battles, with no interest in immediate holding of land.  Oh, how that has changed war.

And now?  We have war now, too.  And still, we fight for symbols.  Now the symbols may be captured soldiers; now they may be men ten thousand miles yonder.  We fight for symbols.

And what great permanent gain shall come of this?

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From → On the Dole

One Comment
  1. Angela Schoch permalink

    I don’t always know quite how to respond to your blogs(as usually, you’ve said all that is needed!), but I must say that of all the things I read during the day they are often the most useful and I feel all the more informed for having read them.

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