There is a little Irish nursery rhyme that almost sums up everything there is to know about war. It is called The Two Cats of Kilkenny >>
There are wars though that do need to be fought.
May the Tales, Stories, Poems, Wise Words and Forgotten Facts below give you an insight into which war is good, desperately needed and will bring good things to you and those around you and which war is never good, never needed and never, ever justified.
More than a hundred years ago the Great War (World War I) raged over Europe. At the time it was described as 'the war to end all war'. Its brutality and horrors were on a scale never seen before. Men got a daily ration of rum to help them cope and still many couldn't. Many were left shell shocked and traumatised, only to be branded as cowards and deserters.
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge
till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
and towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
but limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
drunk with fatigue, deaf even to the hoots
of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! - An ecstasy of fumbling,
fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
but someone still was yelling out and stumbling
and flound'ring like a man in fire or lime...
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
as under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
he plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
behind the wagon that we flung him in,
and watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
his hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
if you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
obscene as cancer, bitter as cud
of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, -
my friend, you would not tell with such high zest
to children ardent for some desperate glory,
the old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
pro patria mori.
Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)
PS Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori means it is sweet and honourable to die for one's country.
More Falkland veterans have committed suicide since the Falkland war than were killed during it.
Finally, in November 1918 a truce was reached and "the war to end all wars" ended.
After the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 the Duke of Wellington persuaded the vindictive Prussians to show generosity over French war reparations in order to procure future European harmony. The reverse happened in 1918. This had catastrophic consequences. The hash reparations demanded from Germany in 1918 lay the foundations for another great war only 20 years later that would last from 1937 to 1945.
The undersigned writers, amongst them men and women of the most divergent political and social views, some having been for years ardent champions of good will towards Germany, and many of them extreme advocates of peace, are nevertheless agreed that Great Britain could not without dishonour have refused to take part in the present war. No one can read the full diplomatic correspondence published in the White Paper without seeing that the British representatives were throughout labouring wholeheartedly to preserve the peace of Europe.
When these efforts failed, Great Britain had still no direct quarrel with any Power. She was eventually compelled to take up arms because, together with France, Germany, and Austria, she had pledged to maintain the neutrality of Belgium. As soon as danger to that neutrality arose she questioned both France and Germany as to their intentions. France immediately renewed her pledge not to violate Belgian neutrality; Germany refused to answer, and soon made all answer needless by her actions. Without even the pretence of a grievance against Belgium, she made war on the weak and unoffending country she had undertaken to protect, and has since carried out her invasions with a calculated and ingenious ferocity which has raised questions other and no less grave than that of the willful disregard of treaties.
When Belgium in her dire need appealed to Great Britain to carry out her pledge this country's course was clear. She did not hesitate, and we trust she will not lay down arms till Belgium's integrity is restored and her wrongs redressed....
Arnold Bennett, John Galsworthy, RUDYARD KIPLING, E.V. Lucas, Mary A. Ward and many other English authors...
RUDYARD KIPLING, one of the English authors who signed the above letter, was a powerful advocate of the war against Germany. He personally intervened to get his eighteen-year old son John into the army.
John, who was literally terribly short-sighted, was reported wounded and missing on his first day in action.
Despite his father's crusade to recover his son's body, the body was never identified.
Three years later Rudyard Kipling wrote the following epitaph:
Epitaph by Rudyard Kipling, 1917
In the year 2014, a crisis in the Ukraine leads some Western politicians to accuse Russia of building up to World War III as they would have no other choice than to protect the weak and righteous. It sounds familiar, a lot like the letter above, signed by Rudyard Kipling three years before writing the epitaph; it's all a lie.
As history repeats itself over and over again it seems that the lessons which came at such dear cost are not remembered, all too soon forgotten or simply never learnt.
The general rule for use of the military is that it is
better to keep a nation intact than to destroy it.
It is better to keep an army intact than to destroy it,
better to keep a division intact than to destroy it,
better to keep a battalion intact than to destroy it,
better to keep a unit intact than to destroy it.
Therefore, those who win every battle are not really skilful.
Those who render others' armies helpless without fighting are the best of all.
Sun Tu, The Art of War
The Art of War is a Classic Chinese Work, compiled well over 2000 years ago. It identifies several reasons that can lead up to war. In a play on words it goes on to portrays these reasons as grounds i.e. possible fields of battle.
For example, it speaks of the situation where land would be advantageous to you if you got it and to your opponents if they got it. This is called: 'ground of contention'.
What is interesting is that is goes on to say, "Let there be no attack on the ground of contention". This makes sense for if there is no attack on this land, there will also be no grounds for contention, only land beneficial to all.
Land where local interest fight among themselves on their own territory is very appropriately called 'ground of dissolution'. It then says, "Let there be no battle on the ground of dissolution".
On no ground does 'The Art of War' advocate battle or war, except for one: the ground of death. This is when you will survive if you fight quickly and perish if you do not. "On this ground of death", it says, "fight!"
The wars and battles mentioned in the history books are obviously not on this ground of death. Many die and perish on those battlefields while they all would have still lived if they hadn't entered into battle. So, where is this ground, the only ground based on which you should fight?
"Let us not be blind to our differences,
but let us also direct attention to our common interests and
the means by which those differences can be resolved.
And if we cannot end now our differences,
at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.
For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is
that we all inhabit this small planet.
We all breathe the same air.
We all cherish our children's futures.
And we are all mortal."
President John F. Kennedy in a speech on June 10, 1963 at the height of the Cold War.
The speech titled 'A Strategy of Peace' was written by Theodore Sorensens.