Does Anyone Ever Win a War?

In the book I am currently reading, two of the characters are talking about wars generally as well as World War II specifically. About the latter, one fellow says with great satisfaction, “We won that one.” The other responded, “So they say.”

Which makes me wonder: does anyone ever win a war? I know what we are supposed to believe, that yes, wars are won, but when you count up all the losses, can even a significant victory be considered a victory?

Which then led me to remember those times when soldiers killed innocent people. In a war, is anyone innocent? Is anyone guilty? Aren’t the soldiers innocent, too, at least those who were drafted? You force a kid to fight, you arm him or her, send her into battle when perhaps all the kid wants to do is sit and read or play football or watch movies, and then the leaders of the countries — the only ones who should bear the guilt of war — sit back and play a war game with real people. So, from that stand point, aren’t the draftees innocent, too?

It always irritates me when people say humans are a war-loving lot, because the truth is, most of us abhor violence and wars and being forced to do what we don’t want to do. When the draft was instigated in WWI, many of the draftees simply ignored the notices. The war had nothing to do with them or with protecting their families, their counties, their states, and they had more important things to do, such as raising crops or raising a family or perhaps even raising Cain in a localized manner. To force these kids to do their duty, the government took action and went after the slackers. Even those who registered as conscientious objectors were thrown into prison, where some died of the privations and harsh discipline

Sometimes, those who didn’t want to go to war were coerced to register by the women who, of course, didn’t have to go to war and who believed the romantic ideal of war that was being propagated.

I never considered those who enlisted as innocent, especially in recent years, because they should have known what they were getting into, but considering the ongoing propaganda, the lies that were told to get folks to enlist (that they can choose their assignments, they can learn the trade they want, that it’s simply a job opportunity, that that it’s primarily a way to earn their way into an educational system), and even the court involvement (being given a choice of jail or the military) I don’t even know any more about the innocence or guilt of the enlistees.

As for our natural human propensity for killing: In WWII, the kill rate was low, with many of the soldiers firing wildly on purpose, or not firing at all, so the war-mongering leaders set out to fix that. The simplest and least intrusive way was simply to switch the classic round target with the silhouette of a person, but some people were also subjected to various war games (the origin of video games) and by the time Vietnam came around, the kill rate was high, and the number of people refusing to shoot was low.

So who here is innocent? Who is guilty? Who won?

I don’t know the answer. I don’t imagine anyone does.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

If Everyone Wants Peace, Why are there Wars?

Yesterday, along with thousands of other people, I blogged for peace. If you saw my peace post, you will know that my message focused on being at peace with the world rather than world peace. I don’t believe in “world peace” as a cause, though of course, I do wish for a world at peace.

I can feel your hackles rise and can hear your outraged “What sort of insensitive clod are you? How can you not believe in ‘world peace’ as a cause?” For the record, let me state that I, personally, have never started a war. I don’t think I’ve ever even bloodied another person accidentally or otherwise, and even if I were prone to violence, I still would not be creating world havoc. The truth is, wars don’t just happen. Wars are something politicians and other reprehensible characters create, and never on my behalf and always for their own ends. To say I believe in “world peace” would be like saying I believe in politicians telling the truth. It’s a nice sentiment, but isn’t going to happen until those creating the problem decide to stop creating it.

Traditionally, the United States is a peaceful country. Or at least its citizenry is. We have never wanted war. Politicians, military advisors, tycoons, and other greedy characters are the hawks among us, and they not only have created wars, they have inveigled us into accepting their dictates, sometimes on pain of death. During WWI, so many young men ignored the draft that the only way the warmongers could force them to fight in a war that 90% of USA citizens did not want was to make draft avoidance punishable by death.

A few years later, when world hostilities were fomented anew, the citizens of the USA again did not want to go to war. It took Roosevelt’s manipulations to get people irate enough to want to go. Some of you might have heard but do not believe that Roosevelt knew about the attack on Pearl Harbor and allowed it to occur anyway, but it is the truth. The USA and Britain had broken the purple codes (so-called because that was the color of the folder the codes were kept in) in time to warn those at Pearl Harbor, but Roosevelt and his hawkish advisors chose not to give the warning in order to coerce the USA into the war. (They did manage to move their newest and best warships and submarines out of the line of fire, though.)

Killing is not a basic instinct. Many of today’s — and yesterday’s — video games were developed by the military because studies had shown that repeated images of violence and death inured people to killing. During World War Two, as many as 85% of soldiers fired over enemies’ heads or did not fire at all. After World War Two, there was a concerted effort by the military to overcome this natural reluctance to kill, and apparently they succeeded because during close combat in Vietnam, only about 5% of soldiers failed to aim to kill. (These same desensitizing “games” were later released as toys for children. Is it any wonder that teens today seem desensitized to violence?)

Author Lee Child says that we don’t write what we know, we write what we fear, and that certainly is true in my case. I fear the machinations of the powerful, deadly, and calculating men and women who control our lives behind the scenes. This theme is most prevalent in More Deaths Than One (in fact, I came across the information about desensitization while researching the military, soldiers, and killing for that particular novel) though it shows up in milder forms in all of my novels.

So see? We are naturally a peaceful people who do not want war. It is others who force it on us whether we wish it or not.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the conspiracy novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+

I Fear, You Fear, We All Fear

Sheri Parks, an assistant professor at the University of Maryland, says that many teens today have had years of exposure to violent video games and media images, which studies show desensitizes them to violence.

How odd to think that there are now studies showing this desensitization. Many of today’s — and yesterday’s — video games were developed by the military because studies had shown that repeated images of violence and death inured people to killing. In World War II, as many as 85% of soldiers fired over enemies’ heads or did not fire at all. After World War II, there was a concerted effort by the military to overcome this natural reluctance to kill, and apparently they succeeded, because during close combat in Vietnam, only about 5% of soldiers failed to aim to kill.

These same desensitizing “games” were later released as toys for children. Is it any wonder that teens today stand by and take pictures while a young girl is gang raped?

Today I am a guest at A.F. Stewart’s blog talking about fears. I kept my post light in honor of Halloween, but findings such as these about desensitization scare the heck out of me. Author Lee Child says that we don’t write what we know, we write what we fear, and that certainly is true in my case. I fear the machinations of the powerful, deadly, and calculating men and women who control our lives behind the scenes.

This theme is most prevalent in More Deaths Than One (in fact, I came across the information about desensitization while researching the military, soldiers, and killing for that particular novel) though it shows up in milder forms in all of my novels. Conspiracy? Perhaps. Truth? Probably. Fear? Definitely.

Now that I have scared you, go check out a lighter side of fear and tell me: What Are You Afraid Of?

More Deaths Than OneMore Deaths Than One is available from AmazonSecond Wind Publishing, and Smashwords. (You can download 30% free at Smashwords as well as buy in all ebook formats.)

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