Category Archives: War

It’s Dangerous to Believe your own Lies

 

The 2021 remake of the film Nightmare Alley was worth seeing for many reasons. I have blogged about it earlier  (Under the category of Movies), but did not comment on an important theme in the film. The movie is about the carnies in a carnival, and in particular about a conman who has impressive abilities to convince people of lies. He is what used to be called a magician but now we call an illusionist.  Bradley Cooper plays the part of Stanton Carlisle the illusionist.

 

One of the carnies, Molly, tells Stan about her father. She says, “he could charm his way out of anything.”  Stan replies, “A man after my own heart.” That is exactly what Stan is. Until he isn’t. Molly too deceives people into thinking she is being electrocuted. Naturally, they fall in love and Stan promises her, “I’ll give you the world and everything in it.” She should know better, but she falls for that illusion.  The most effective illusions of course are those which you want to be true.  Those illusions are almost impossible to resist. And illusionists take advantage of such desires. Like the illusion that after you die you will go to paradise in heaven. Let’s face it there is not much evidence to support it, but many people want it to be true, so they believe it.

 

In the film, the rich man Ezra badly wants Stan to materialize his dead wife.  He wants it so bad he will believe it. Stan asks Ezra if he thinks he can buy his wife back. Ezra’s answer was this: “Not to be crude. I know I can.” This is the deadly illusion of the rich man who believes he can buy anything.  When Stan says he wants Molly to help him to convince Ezra that his wife has materialized he says to Molly he is just helping Ezra to unburden his guilt: “Far as I can tell, that is what preachers do every Sunday.”

 

At one time Stan rescues the geek who was lying in a puddle dying in the rain. He knocks on a door hoping they will answer and save the geek. But Clem, who “owns” the geeks tells Stan to get out of the rain and join him, telling Stan to quit pretending that he cares about the geek. That is an illusion he suggests.

 

Pete who teaches Stan the art of becoming an effective illusionist warns him that the book he has prepared on those arts is dangerous. That’s why he quit. Pete says, “When a man starts believing his own lies—that he’s got the power—He’s got shut-eye. Because now he believes it’s all true.”

Despite this good advice, Stan eventually starts to believe his own lies.  That is hard to avoid when you are worshipped by adoring fans and your reasoning powers are numbed by the applause. When the illusionist believes he actually has the power to see the future  he is done. Eventually, Stan learns the truth that he has been deceived. Then he is in nightmare alley. He has become the pitiful “poor soul”—i.e. he is the geek.  Stan says, begging to be the geek, “I was born for it.”

Believing one’s own lies is particularly dangerous in times of war or pandemic.

That is exactly what may have happened to Vladimir Putin. Recently U.S. intelligence has reported that Putin has been misinformed by his military advisors about the poor performance of the military.  Would those advisors dare to lie to Putin? Or rather, would they dare not to lie to him? In any event, Putin seems to believe the lies of the Russian propaganda machine. He wants his own lies to be true.  He apparently, doesn’t even realize Russia is suffering grievous economic harms by his war. Does he also believe that Ukrainians are welcoming Russian soldiers as liberators? Does he believe his own lies?  Has he gone down Nightmare Alley? What a poor soul indeed.

 

Truth: The First Casualty of War

 

It is not clear who first said truth is the first casualty of war. What is clear is that whoever said it was a very smart person.  It might have been Samuel Johnson for he was a very wise man and he said, “’Among the calamities of war may be jointly numbered the diminution of the love of truth, by the falsehoods which interest dictates and credulity encourages.‘ (from The Idler, 1758). The second part of that statement is also important—the insidious effect of credulity is very important. Many of us have been conditioned to believe without evidence or reasoning. Critical thinking matters and the abandonment of critical reasoning is vitally important. We learned it in the pandemic and we are learning it again in the war.

Apparently in Russia about 2/3rds of the country support the war against Ukraine. Of course, they do that based on false information. Most of them don’t know the truth. They believe what they are told.

Many people in Canada and the US ask how is it possible that so many Russians believe the propaganda?

Are we any better?  It is estimated that in the US about 1/3rd of the people believe that last presidential election was “stolen” by Joe Biden, despite the fact that there is almost no evidence to support this claim and it flies in the face of any critical thinking. As Ioffe said, “it turns out it is not that difficult to fool people.

I heard a fascinating interview with Russian born American journalist Julia Ioffe who is an acknowledged expert on Russia. She has spent a lot of time there and has friends she can trust and call to find out what is going on now. Her articles have appeared in many respected journals including some of my favourites.

In Russia people have learned that people who ask questions or protest the government actions are often severely punished. Added to that, Russians have suffered a lot of trauma. Over 50 million Russians including Ukrainians, lost their lives in wars, terror campaigns, and pogroms between 1914 and 1945. In the 4 years the Russians fought World War II they lost 15% of their population. This was after waves of political arrests. As a result Russians are among the most cynical and distrusting of all people. This includes Russians who have moved to Canada. I have talked to some of those Russians hers in Manitoba and I understand this.  They have good reason to distrust their governments. That distrust spills over to our governments too.

Ioffe pointed out that we should remember as Ioffe said, “Russians have been living under an ever tightening noose of censorship for 22 years. So, they have been conditioned not to question what they are told.” What excuse do Americans and their Canadian fellow travellers have?

Distrust is dangerous for democracies and standard fare for autocracies.

Near Enough to Catastrophe

 

I was stunned by the video of fighting around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in the Ukraine.  I believe this was near to the home of my mother when she was a very young girl emigrating to Canada. Now Russians and Ukrainians were madly fighting to control this site as it housed the largest nuclear reactor in Europe. It was under threat by Russian gunfire and missiles. The first report came from an employee at the plant, who posted on Telegram that Russian forces had fired on the facility and there was “a real threat of nuclear danger at the largest nuclear power plant in Europe.”  We were told that the chances of explosion, nuclear meltdown or radioactive release are “low” by Tony Irwin, an honorary associate professor at the Australian National University. I don’t know about you, but when I think of nuclear meltdown, I would want the chances to be non-existent, not low.

 

 

 

International nuclear officials were biting their nails worrying about what would happen but assuring us that the fire was on the perimeter of the site.  The Ukrainian President Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on the other hand said all of Europe was at risk. Was he amplifying the danger to put pressure on Europe political leaders to offer more help to Ukraine? Perhaps. Was the Russian attack a case of monstrous recklessness? Absolutely! Did it matter that the prevailing winds from the site are primarily to the east, putting Russians in the greatest danger? Not to Putin. Does Putin care about risks to Russian people? The answer seems obvious.

 

CBC commentator Andrew Coyne opined that the war would amount to a “slaughter” of the Ukrainians. Yet Ukrainians all say–at least those left behind–that Ukraine will never surrender. Meanwhile, Putin says the war is going according to plan. Is this what he planned? He said he wants a new government for Ukraine. This reminded me of statements by the American Vice-President Dick Cheney and his loyal henchman Donald Rumsfeld they wanted regime change in Iraq. Are Russians filled with as much hubris as Americans?

 

Fighting is always reckless. Around a nuclear plant it seems mad.

Everyday life in a War

 

I have learned many things about war since Russia invaded Ukraine. Some sad, some funny, some strange. One of the things that has amazed me is how life in war goes on. It gets twisted, some might say perverted, but life does go on. Not always happily, but people try to make the best of things until they can’t.

 

I saw a photograph of a young Ukrainian couple both wearing army style fatigues.  They made a lovely couple.  They were surrounded by soldiers. They were both members of the Ukrainian Territorial Defense forces. They were getting married. In the middle of war! Can you imagine?

 

During television coverage of the Russian War on Ukraine I learned that disease does not stop for war. That certainly applies to infectious diseases, including Covid-19 and others. That can cause a lot of problems in a country in which only 1/3rd of the people are vaccinated. Ukrainians, like people of many countries, but particularly like people in the former Soviet states, don’t trust the state. They have good reason not to trust the those governments that were very economical with the truth. Would you trust such a government that tried to persuade you to inject a foreign substance into your body? That lack of trust has profound consequences for a country like Ukraine, just as it did on a lesser scale for Canada and the United States.

 

During the war hospitals were unsafe places to be found.  We had been assured by the Russians that their missiles and artillery would only target military structures, but soon we noticed they also destroyed hospitals or at least made them dangerous places.  As a result in one hospital in the Ukraine all the expectant mothers were moved to the basement where beds were established with mattresses on the floor. Many were lying in one big room with social distancing impossible. What kind of care do they get there?  Is this worse than Manitoba ICU patients being sent to Ontario? Where are Ukrainian ICU patients? I guess when your city is being bombed who worries about Covid-19, but what about those in hospital that need urgent care?

 

We were all touched by stories of people fleeing the country. They seemed scary. I remember an image of a young mother with her very young child with large bewildered eyes. The child seemed to want to know what was going on. The mother clutched a pet dog to her chest and a small cage for 2 budgies as her child hung on for dear life.  Could you abandon pets during a war?  The husband was left behind to fight. He had no choice. The group was in a massive line-up outside a railway car. They were hoping to get on I, but there were many more people than there were spaces available.

 

Then there were refugees in Poland.  Early on 1,000,000 Ukrainian refugees were struggling with their families in Poland to find places to stay. Thousands crammed in refugee centres with many more outside. The eyes of young women often glazed over with fear, and above all fatigue, from lining up for hours with young children who just don’t know what is happening.  Young men were left behind to fight.  There was a young man who had accompanied his wife and children to the train station helping them leave. You could infer that the family  was in grave doubt about whether or not they would ever see him again.

 

I saw images of an old Ukrainian woman being trained to use a rifle to fend off Russian attackers. How effective will that be?  Yet is it better to do nothing?

 

I saw an interview with a young Canadian man who decided to leave his wife behind in Canada with their 11-month old child so he could go to Ukraine to fight the invaders. Why did he feel compelled to leave his family to go so far to help others? Was he heroic? Or foolish? What makes sense?

 

In one of the already iconic images of this war, we saw an elderly Ukrainian Baba confronting a rifle-toting Russian soldier offering him sunflower seeds for his pockets, so that when he dies on the streets of Ukraine, sunflowers can grow and bloom out of his corpse.  Later in scenes from the Legislature in Winnipeg I saw a poster of a Ukrainian Canadian offering more sunflower seeds for Russia.

 

I saw images of Ukrainian teenagers preparing Molotov Cocktails and camouflage sheets for soldiers. Is that course now added to the school curriculum?

 

There are horrendous images of schools, hospitals, and apartment complexes blasted by Russian shelling. Are these military targets?

 

More than 1 million Ukrainians are now refugees outside the country.  More than 50% of these are children. None of those children asked for this.

 

I saw a video of a young Ukrainian man l playing a John Lennon tune on the piano at the border of Poland and Ukraine.  What a welcome for fleeing refugees.

 

We were told a story about Canadians, and others, booking rooms at Ukrainian B & B’s without hope of ever using them, just to support real life Ukrainians.

 

A Ukrainian man  was seen driving a truck on a highway stopping at a Russian tank that has run out of gasoline when the driver asked him the tank driver if he could tow him back to Russia.

 

But I also saw a photograph of two young Ukrainian children who died on the street, and were covered with a tarp that reminded of my tenting tarp.

 

There was a video of a Ukrainian financial securities expert taking training to operate a rifle. He said,  “It’s my duty.”

 

We were shown old World War I trenches are being resurrected. Who ever thought we would see the return of trench warfare to Europe?

 

One weeping woman in a car with her children cried that her hometown no longer exists. It is just “gone,” she says. The children look perplexed. No, they look dumbfounded.

 

We saw long lines of people on streets fleeing some undescribed danger. Some were carrying weary children. Others carrying pets. How can they do it?

 

Another young woman was trying to reduce the trauma of war for her young children by convincing them that the air raid sirens they heard were a part of a children’s game. There is nothing to fear, she assured them. She was lying of course.  She lied to her children for their own good.

 

 

Old Men should not fan the flames of War

 

First, we should all realize in the democratic west that Ukraine deserves to be supported as it suffers the onslaught of a villainous bully. If the Ukraine wants to fight for freedom, we should support that.

We should remember what Putin has done so far: The Russians under Putin in 2008 invaded Georgia and the Bush Administration did nothing but complain. He invaded Crimea in 2014 and the west under Obama’s leadership again did nothing. Then Putin started a war in the eastern Ukraine that killed 13,000 people again we did nothing. Now he has invaded all of the Ukraine. Is it time to do something? All of this reminds us, as many have already mentioned , of Hitler. Do we want to go there again?

I am not a warmonger. I think the history of warfare does not fill me with confidence that it ever makes sense, though I don’t rule it out absolutely either.  I think we have an awful capacity to screw up wars so that people die. Especially young people and poor people.  Old men, like me, in particular should not fan the flames of war. Yet we must do something effective to stand up to fascist bullies. Trying to appease the bullies  has never worked well.

 

I think we should be smart enough to marshal our allies and right thinking peoples together to effectively lock out the Russian leadership from their ill got gains. Countries are incredibly tied together in modern economies. We must do all that we can to cut the thugs off from their corruptly accumulated wealth and starve the leaders into submission.

We must also deal with the war on truth. In many ways it is as terrible as the  war on the ground. We need to collectively stem the tide of Russian lies.

I just think we are smart enough to do this. I am not so sure that we are smart enough to go to war without causing more harm than we prevent.

Remembrance Day

 

On Remembrance Day we are asked to think about war and those who gave their lives for our freedoms. That’s not a bad idea. Yet, I can’t help thinking about a very current war. One that is far from over even though it was “declared” more than 2 decades ago—the war on terror. This in turn led directly to the war in Afghanistan that took 20 years until the Americans who initiated it, packed their tents and went home, leaving behind hundreds of millions of dollars in equipment and carrying with them memories of thousands of injured and lost lives and more than a trillion dollars paid by American taxpayers for not much of value in return.

I am not a pacifist. At least technically. Like Obama said, “we should avoid dumb wars.” And I agree. I just think they are pretty well all dumb wars.

So why can’t we celebrate those who helped us avoid wars or at least did their best to save us from the dumb wars?  I think of Bertrand Russell who went to jail in World War I because he refused to serve in what he thought (rightly so) was a dumb war. I think World War I was one of the dumbest. As the song goes, “War—what is it good for? Absolutely nothing.” In his autobiography Russell wrote about the people in London at Trafalgar Square who turned out in delirious celebratory joy when England declared war on Germany in 1914. Soon after that the dead soldiers began to pile up and again without much accomplished.  Let’s remember Bertrand Russell.

Congress woman Barbara Lee was the only member of Congress to vote against going to war in Afghanistan. Some called her a traitor. She was a hero.

She said she thought long and hard about that war, and it took a while for her to come to a decision. She said when she spoke in Congress about whether to go to war she thought about what she had heard Reverend Nathan Baxter say in his opening invocation at the memorial service at Washington Cathedral 3 days after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Baxter prayed this: “Let us also pray for divine wisdom as our leaders consider the necessary actions for national security, wisdom of the grace of God, that as we act, we not become the evil we deplore.”

That was wisdom unlike the loud clamorous demands for revenge and war. Let’s remember Barbara Lee today.

I do not object to remembering the men and women who fell in battle trying to defend our liberties. They made the supreme sacrifice after all. If the wars were dumb that was not their fault. Their country asked for their service and they gave it wholeheartedly.

I just want to think about those as well who tried to keep us out of wars. No one is going around selling poppies to remember them.

Statistics of the War in Afghanistan

 

Mark Twain once said, “There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.” But there are also some statistics that are pretty darn telling.

Here are some interesting statistics about the war as of mid-April 2021.

The American war in Afghanistan cost a lot of treasure. At least a trillion and maybe more, but when it gets to figures like that my eyes glaze over anyway. Whether it was one trillion or two or three who really cares. But importantly, lives.  The war lasted 20 years. The longest war in US history.  And we must remember the US has been in a lot of wars.

2,442 US troops died in the war.  3,800 American private security forces died. I found it interesting that more private American soldiers died than regular military.  It “paid off” for Americans to outsource the war as much as possible. After all who feels sorry for private security forces?

20,666 Americans were injured in the war. Much of the suffering of war is caused by injury. People came back from the war with all kinds of injuries including, of course, post-traumatic stress disorder.

Even though no one in the west really pays attention to this, but 47,245 Afghans died in the war. This is really the most important number though people in the west pay so little attention to it. This of course followed the 10-year war with Russia.  The people have Afghanistan have suffered enormously. That much is clear from the numbers.

 

That is a lot of suffering.

Now for the question:  What was worth so much suffering?

 

Afghanistan: One of the Dumb Wars

 

I know some people can’t stand Bill Maher.  He is a comedian and often doesn’t allow his guests to speak. He likes to hear himself speak. Too much. But he does have some fascinating guests and interesting conversations. Recently, he had one with Craig Whitlock about the war in Afghanistan—a genuine debacle.

The war in Afghanistan originally had some semblance of a rationale. Not much but some. George W. Bush launched that war in response to the attack on the US on September 11, 2001. He like so many others thought Afghanistan was harbouring the terrorists who launched the attack on America at the Twin Towers on 9/11 and other American targets.

The US spent over $2 trillion on this war? What did it get out of it? Osama bin Laden was found in Pakistan not Afghanistan.

Craig Whitlock was interviewed by Bill Maher on his TV show. He was the author of a book called The Afghanistan Papers.  He pointed out how the Taliban within about a week of taking over are banning music again. Women have been told to go home. As Maher said, “The Taliban have said the women will have all their rights within the limits of Islam–which is a great way of saying none.”  Maher says he is always surprised at how little liberals in America don’t care how women are treated in so many countries around the world. “We got into the mindset that Bin Laden is in Afghanistan so we gotta go there and stay there until we can say it will never happen again and which of course means we will be there forever.”

70% of the people in the country were not alive during the reign of the Taliban.  Do they know what they are getting in for?

One of the surprising and sad things about the war in Afghanistan is how similar it was to the War in Vietnam. As Maher said,  “It’s like we just did this shit and then we did it again,” One generation forgets what the last one did. In America they should start teaching history in school, that might help.

Whitlock’s book has a theory of the war that is like what happened in Vietnam. The leaders were optimistic in public and pessimistic (realistic) in private. They didn’t tell the truth to the American public–again. That is exactly what the American military and political leaders did throughout the War in Vietnam and then repeated it in the War in Afghanistan.

According to Whitlock this is what they did right from the start of the war. Donald Rumsfeld the Secretary of Defense  mocked journalists who asked if this would be another Vietnam. 6 months into the war he sent a memo to his military chiefs saying if we don’t get a plan to stabilize Afghanistan our troops will get stuck there forever. He ends the memo like this with one word: “Help!” Sounds a lot like Vietnam doesn’t it.

Should he not have considered this before he committed the troops to the invasion? According to Whitlock this went on for years. In public the leaders said things are getting better, we’re making progress, we’re turning the corner. In private diplomatic cables and memos they admitted things are a mess in Afghanistan–which is exactly what they were. The same thing happened in Vietnam. “They knew that gradually things are slipping out of their grasp and it’s becoming unwinnable.”

Maher was very upset with President Barack Obama.  Obama said he was not against all wars. Some are justified. I would add–not many. Obama said, but I am against dumb wars. That was smart! We all should be. Too many are not. After Maher heard Obama say that  he said, ‘that’s my guy.’ Yet Maher also asked, “How could a guy that was that bright do what we were trying to do? Surge? Take over the country? Flood it with money and that would change things around, when really it was doing just the opposite?”

When Obama ran for office he said Iraq was the dumb war. That was true. It was dumb. Even dumber than the ear in Afghanistan, but that does not diminish the fact that the Afghan war also stupid. The Americans soon forgot their goal which was to get bin Laden and somehow switched to nation building. Obama said Afghanistan was the just cause. And that made some sense, because bin Laden launched his attack or at least trained soldiers in Afghanistan. It was originally a war of self defense. That was why Canada and other NATO countries joined in as they felt they had to do under the NATO Treaty. Canada under Chretien wisely declined to participate in the second Iraq war. The first Iraq war, again, made some sense.

Why did the war not end when bin Laden was killed?  Instead the Americans allowed the war to morph into this idea that they would build the democratic nation of Afghanistan. As Maher said, “It morphed into nation building. It morphed into this ridiculous idea, as in Vietnam, that we could change hearts and minds when by the things we were doing there, you only lose hearts and minds.”

As Whitlock said,

“Each president–Bush, Obama, and Trump–said we are not nation building in Afghanistan., even though at that very moment that is exactly what we were doing. The United States spent more than $100 billion nation building in Afghanistan. That’s more than we spent in Europe on the Marshall Plan after World War II and now it’s all gone up in smoke.”

That was dumb and many lives were lost on its account.

Hans averts World War III

 

Many people don’t know about this but for decades Canada and Denmark have been “fighting” over a tiny island off the coast of Greenland. Denmark owns Greenland. Donald Trump tried to purchase Greenland but Denmark refused to sell. He should have made an offer for Hans Island instead, but probably did not want to tangle with Canada.

Hans Island is a tiny uninhabited island—no more than a big rock really—in the center of Kennedy Channel of Nares Strait off the coast of Greenland.  Like Hans Neufeld the writer of this blog, Hans Island has no apparent natural resources and is essentially worthless. Yet astonishingly there has been a decades long dispute between Canada and Norway over ownership of this tiny island that no one with any sense would want. It has no oil and is located precisely on the agreed border between Canada and Greenland, but sort of by accident this little island was left out of the boundary agreement. The island has  no apparent natural resources of mineral, oil or natural gas, but still, there is an ongoing territorial dispute between Denmark and Canada over who owns the half-squared mile of the rock.

This “war” between Denmark and Canada has been one of the most unusual in the history of warfare. For the past 3 decades each country has repeatedly placed a flag on the island claiming ownership and yet welcomes the other country to the island with a bottle of hootch. I kid you not. Canada leaves whiskey and Denmark schnapps. This is exactly how two friendly countries should fight a war and Hans Neufeld is enormously proud of the fact that this is how the battle has been fought over his namesake island.

In 2006 a student got into the act. He was a Carleton University student who announced he had set up the Government of Tartupaluk and declared himself “The Reigning Prince of Tartupaluk.” Since no one inhabits the island there was no one to challenge his claim or oppose it, but his claims sadly seem to have been forgotten.   As well recently there were some self-declared “Indigenous” Hans Islanders, called Hans who claimed ownership.  These people said they wanted other  to come to live on the unpopulated island. I wish I had been consulted by these two Hans as I would like to have a chance to put forward my case for this island. I could be “President for life of Hans Island.” Or perhaps I could be Emperor of Hans Island.

Recently I heard the two countries have agreed to share jurisdiction over the island. I don’t know what it means, but I guess this means war has been averted. It could easily have led to World War III so that is a very good thing. History would have been very different if world wars had been fought like this. I say, let ‘Let Hans show the way.’

 

This is particularly important on September 11 20 years after 9/11 which led to the longest war in American history for no apparent purpose. There is a better way. Hans Island proves it.

 

1917

 

This film tells the story of 2 fictionalBritish lance corporals in World War I on the western front, assigned to stop a battalion of 1,600 men from walking into a German ambush.  One of the men has extra incentive. His brother is part of the forces about to walk into that trap. The general warns the young corporal, “If you fail, it will be a massacre.” Apparently the film is based on true events told by the director’s father.

 

The film astonishes with its brilliant cinematography and unusual points of view. This is a war movie like I have never seen before. I am not sure this is what I wanted, but I really got the feeling that this is what war is like. And it doesn’t feel good. It an outstanding film. While not for the squeamish, I recommend it highly.

 

The scenes of war are unparalleled in their grizzly realism. The landscape is strewn with mud, dead horses, dead humans stuck inside mud, often with only parts revealed. Rats and birds consume the corpses. There are cows in the country-side doing their best to ignore the carnage. Buildings are horribly ravished. Violence is sudden, shocking, and explosive. All of this makes for a great film created by artists at the height of their powers. If this film does not win the Best Picture award, the film that does will have to be outstanding.

 

When the message to stand down is delivered, the officers who receive it safely ensconced in their bunkers, don’t want to believe. They are ready for war. The last thing they want to do is stand down. That idea is entirely contrary to their aggressive training. You’ll have to see the film to see what happens.

But I want to comment on a side bar. The film does not glorify the “heroes.” It does not glorify war. And that is good.

But why do so many war movies focus on the soldiers? For example, I would love to see a war movie that concentrates on a real life hero–like Bertrand Russell for example. I read his autobiography about 50 years ago after my first year of university. Russell was one of my intellectual heroes, but he was more than that.

I will never forget his description of going to Trafalgar Square in London when England declared war on the Germans in 1914. What surprised Russell, and me, was the immense joy experienced by the people. They were excited to go to war. The young men and women, aided and abetted by the old warmongers, were absolutely joyous at the prospects of the war. Of course it helped that most of them thought the war would be over soon. They fully expected to be, as they said, “home or homo by Christmas.”

Bertrand Russell could not believe it. It was his first experience of people braying for war. They screamed for war. They demanded war. And only a few voices dissented from this madness. People like Russell who were conscientious objectors to the war urged caution. They were the only ones who were sceptical about the objects of the war. They were the only ones who thought the war might not end soon. They were the only ones who exercised any humility or modesty. They were not consumed by the lust for war.

Of course, the people in England scorned Russell and his kind as cowards, traitors, Communists, and Huns. Many of them, like Russell were imprisoned for refusing to serve in the war. That took real courage.

Yet that war served absolutely no good purpose. It was fought mainly by young men and women from the working classes, to defend the dubious colonial businesses of the ruling classes. Why would they do that? Those hapless young people were pushed into a meat grinder for the sake of the higher classes. Millions lost their lives for no good reason at all. The war, like so many,  was a monstrous disaster. Old men called; young men and women died fro it.

When will we see a movie that glorifies the dissidents who told the truth about war, urging caution and humility while renouncing aggressive violence? That is a movie that I would like to see.