What price would you pay not to kill another human being? At what point would you commit the offences allegedly perpetrated by Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was charged Wednesday with desertion and "misbehavior before an enemy?"
With overlapping crises and new extremes, it's time to shift course.
About ten years back a series of reports and studies indicated a very encouraging decline in war and armed conflict world-wide, with lower fatalities, as well as lower military spending. Now, few are confident that these promising trends will hold.
The Global Peace Index reported that the past year was the fifth consecutive slide backwards in peacefulness, with the costs of war reaching $9.8 trillion just last year. To paraphrase from a good book by Steven Pinker -- 2014 has not reflected the better angels of our nature. War and armed conflicts are now coupled to extremes, as well as to pressures from climate change and global divisions.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, capitalism became the, well, exploitative monopoly of choice. And now we see public assests being privatized for the financial elite.
So where does this leave us? With the 1% grooming the 99% for more war.
Remembrance Days grow clearer in retrospect. They remember past wars after all, not wars happening now or about to happen. Those are contentious; they involve arguments and disagreements about whether they should proceed. Past wars are simply past. The remembrance focuses on those who suffered or died in them and didn't deserve to, which is the vast majority in all wars.
"All murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets." -- Voltaire
War has always been destructive and tragic, ripping apart families, devastating communities, ruining farmers' fields, killing, and maiming. But between 1914 and 1918 it got much worse -- with industrial warfare.
During the First World War, the power and efficiency of steel, mass production, the railway and airplanes created horrific battlegrounds characterized by heavy artillery, machine-gun nests, toxic gases and bombing. More than 16 million died.
This piece and its updates were first published at The Intercept, and is reprinted here with permission.
TORONTO – In Quebec on Monday, two Canadian soldiers were hit by a car driven by Martin Couture-Rouleau, a 25-year-old Canadian who, as The Globe and Mail reported, "converted to Islam recently and called himself Ahmad Rouleau."