Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A High Price for Somme

I just finished reading a book called "The Battle of the Somme" by Gilbert. I confess I have not been a great student of WWI, although I have read several novels about the war in the last year or two.

It is very difficult to get your mind to comprehend the magnitude of the destruction and loss of life that occurred in that war.

In the battle of Verdun which took place just down the road from the Somme, some 650,000 French and German troops were killed in five months. When this total is added to the battle of the Somme, 960,459 Allied and German soldiers were killed. Or,6,600 men each day for the five month period. When you think that in Iraq less than 4,000 American and British soldiers have been killed in five years, you get some perspective.

It is also interesting to note that 22 years after the end of WWI German troops once again swept across the same battle fields and cemeteries in yet another war. World War I was the "war to end all wars." Yeah, right. Don't forget to count the 30 million or so Chinese that died.

On one hand you can sympathize with the anti-war people. It does not seem to accomplish much and it surely causes uncountable misery and suffering. On the other hand, there have always been despots determined to conquer the World and turn everyone into their slaves. Or, war like tribes that want to destroy civilization. (Like the Germanic tribes that destroyed the Roman Empire and gave us several hundred years of the Dark Ages). It seems to me that the radical Muslims are reminiscent of those warlike tribes. They would like to set us back to the 12th century but see no irony in utilizing modern technology to accomplish their task.

My concern is that students in modern societies are not being taught history. As Santayana said, "Those who do not learn from the past are compelled to repeat it." Politicians blow with the wind. If the public does not recognize the threat and insist that the politicians act, we may well find ourselves in the midst of another great war. Exhibit A in this argument is Iran. While the the World's politicians play with their balls, the fanatics that control Iran are busily building nuclear weapons. Does any serious person doubt that these nut bags will hesitate to use them? Then what?

Sorry. A book like the Somme makes you think dark thoughts. Was it Einstein who said the definition of madness " trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result"?

1 comment:

Heide said...

The ironic (or humorous) thing about the radical patchouli wearing, sign waving hippy wannabes at liberal universities chanting about how we just need to accept and embrace the misunderstood muslim radicals is that those same radicals (the muslim types)despise the godless sign wavers most of all. Sorry about the run-on sentence, I'm pre-caffeinated. Do I want this current war? Hell no, my husband is in the military, I have more to lose than those protesters. Do I agree that Hussein, Bin Laden, etc. need to be killed, Hell yes. My biggest regrets with our current situation as a nation are that 1. We didn't keep enough of our forces in Afghanistan long enough to capture Bin Laden. and 2. That so many of our young are being treated abominably by the government upon returning injured. It is true that number wise there are nowhere near as many deaths, partially due to body armor which protects the torso, but many soldiers and airmen maimed in combat are booted out of Walter Reed to fend for themselves. Sadly, I don't think that any future politicians, regardless of party affiliation, will do much to change the latter situation. Aaack! I must get some coffee.