Why the innocent have the least to win and the most to lose in war
No one wins in war, but the innocent are amongst those who lose the most
The Russian invasion of Ukraine this week has shocked Europe and plunged thousands across eastern Europe into the horrors of war.
Vladimir Putin’s attack has led to airstrikes being carried out on towns and cities across Ukraine and fighting in streets across the nation’s border with Russia.
The line from Russia has been one of patriotism, led by a man who yearns to see the return of a Soviet Union which last had its grip on the continent over three decades ago.
This conflict, although in its early stages, has become an all out visual fight. Modern technology such as drones, high tech cameras and smartphones has brought this war not just into our homes, but into our hands.
Footage of injured civilians and fighter jets carrying out airstrikes look as though they were lifted from an action film, yet this is the grim reality for many people in Ukraine.
They are the collateral damage of Putin’s war to reclaim Ukraine, and this is nothing new in warfare.
For as long as there has been war, the innocent and working class have suffered the most.
In the First World War, tens of thousands of enthusiastic young men answered the call to arms. For many, it was seen as an adventure, a chance to see the world which, in 1914, was not commonplace.
After four years of slaughter, the leaders of the nations involved gathered round a table to discuss peace and surrender terms.
In the years of fighting, millions had died or suffered life altering physical/ psychological injuries.
A whole generation of men were wiped out of existence in the name of nationalism and those who sent them there negotiated the end of the war around a table in a French palace.
For those leaders, nothing would have changed. For the families of the ordinary people who died at the front, their lives would never be the same.
Twenty years later, when the world was plunged into war once again, the horrors of war were brought to streets across Europe for the first time.
In Germany, France, England, Russia and countless other nations, civilians were being killed in their own homes through bombs dropped from the sky.
The skies of Europe were filled with the rumble of bomber planes and the whistling of explosives, and thousands of innocent people died in the pursuit of victory.
The killing of the innocent in war is often executed as a way of demoralising the opponent without considering that it is literally the murder of people who have no say in their nation’s actions.
Throughout the 20th and now the 21st century, from Vietnam to Syria and so many other countries throughout the years, the regular, working class have been the ones ordered to fight and die for their leaders or the people who are killed in their own homes by ruthless airstrikes and artillery attacks.
The leaders who send their own people off to die or issue these attacks on civilian populations rarely do the fighting themselves, yet it is those who have the most blood on their hands.
This view was perhaps best summed up by Harry Patch, the last surviving fighting soldier of the trenches of the First World War.
Mr Patch, who passed away in 2009, said: “I felt then, as I feel now, that the politicians who took us to war should have been given the guns and told to settle their differences themselves, instead of organising nothing better than legalised mass murder.”
War is a poison which has inhabited the human race for centuries and no matter how advanced we become, whether this be technologically or ideologically, the inhumane urge to try and wipe each other off the face of the planet will seemingly remain.
If there is an anecdote for this poison, now would be an excellent time to take some.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has rightly horrified the world, but it is what the wider world does in reaction which will be most important in preventing the aggressors from any further acts of war.