Same Old War

Reading Terry Pratchett’s The Fifth Elephant, yesterday, it struck me that I’m old. I remember when we thought, when we believed, in a different reality.

Pratchett uses his Discworld to show up the thinking and behaviour of our world. In The Fifth Elephant one of his characters muses that in future wars will be fought with brains. The echo of that thinking jolted me, and I checked the copyright date–1999. Ah, yes. The years before Sept 11 2001. The Clinton era when technology was emperor. When optimism, bravado, was fashionable. There was talk swirling that in future wars would be a matter of pitting intelligence against intelligence. No longer blood and guts, but attacking communications infrastruce and taking down an enemy neatly.

Now that thinking seems offensively naive. War is blood. It is death, grief, agony and destruction. It is not neat, not bloodless. It doesn’t end. The scars remain.

I remember when we believed war would never touch us.

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