Being a student of warfare in a major western capital, I’m pretty insulated from what that term really means to someone who is actually living it. London of course has its fair share of war episodes from Boadicea to Blitz to Bus Bombings, but currently it’s very safe here for me, a well ensconced white male from a country with a “special relationship” to my residence country.
Both of course are currently at war.
But looking out my window, walking through the streets, and sitting in pubs on the high street, I don’t look out for gunmen, bomb vests, or incoming rockets. Rather I sit in classes where I read about people who do. But war, fighting, and conflict is still far beyond what can be transmitted by footnoting, and what is bound up in the term “security”.
It’s not that there aren’t people who talk about it, write about it, or record it as it happens in our world. They are often the ones teaching me. One of my Professors, who has embedded with fighters from Pakistan to the Caucuses, is on his way to Afghanistan as I write these words, and two weeks ago at a seminar I sat across an aisle from a former mujaheddin from Kashmir. I’ve had the great pleasure to know many people who have served in the world’s militaries. These are people for whom war is more than a discipline or a subject, more than something to read about, that others do. For me, who has never been in as much as a fistfight, war and its inherent characteristics is still something I struggle with to understand, as much as it fascinates me.
So my project, starting this Monday, will be to bring one episode of war a day from the past and/or the present (perhaps even the future) to this blog. It will be in the form of image, word, song, video, etc. It will be a way for me to remind myself that I live in the luxury of freedom from fear, and it will allow me to explore and share a variety of conflicts, combatants, and experiences. I hope it proves interesting for both writer and reader. We’ll see on Monday.
This week the US government has commemorated the 30th anniversary Grenada invasion and the bombing of the Marine base in Beirut. The former, a controversial assault on a tiny island nation in the throes of government transition with potentially anti-American consequences, was celebrated by the DOD press release as one ” that rescued Grenada from chaos and restored the security and democratic institutions it enjoys today.”
An article yesterday from the Huffington Post offers a dissenting opinion: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-bigelow/grenada-a-lovely-little-war_b_4137365.html.
19 Americans lost their lives, and many additional were wounded. Grenadine and their Cuban allies’ casualties were 70 killed and several hundred wounded. 24 civilians are believed to have been killed.
This full fledged military operation came just days after the suicide bombing of the Marine Corps Barracks in Beirut, in which over 300 were killed, mostly American servicemen. The attack came in the midst of several years of sustained conflict in the region that had seen Israeli occupation and an amplification of intense and violent struggles within that country that have continued in various forms until today.
Incidentally, earlier that October of 1983, Genesis released their self-titled album Genesis.
“It’s always the same, it’s just a shame, and that’s all”.