Chris Hedges, War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning
NewYork: Perseus Books, 2002
The prospect of war is exciting. Many young men, schooled in the notion that war is the ultimate definition of manhood, that only in war will they be tested and proven, that they can discover their worth as human beings in battle, willingly join the great enterprise. The admiration of the crowd, the high-blown rhetoric, the chance to achieve the glory of the previous generation, the ideal of nobility beckon us forward. And people, ironically, enjoy righteous indignation and an object upon which to unleash their anger.
War usually starts with collective euphoria.
It is all the more startling that such fantasy is believed, given the impersonal slaughter of modern industrial warfare. I saw high explosives fired from huge distances in the Gulf War reduce battalions of Iraqis to scattered corpses. Iraqi soldiers were nothing more on the screens of sophisticated artillery pieces than little dots scurrying around like ants -- that is, until they were blasted away. Bombers dumped tons of iron fragmentation bombs on them.
Our tanks, which could outdistance their Soviet-built counterparts, blew Iraqi armored units to a standstill. Helicopters hovered above units like angels of death in the sky. Here there was no pillage, no warlords, no collapse of unit discipline, but the cold and brutal efficiency of industrial warfare waged by well-trained and highly organized professional soldiers. It was a potent reminder why most European states and American live in such opulence and determine the fate of so many others.
We equip and train the most efficient killers on the planet.