Band of Brothers and warfare

August 30, 2007

I’m not a big fan of series’. It simply take up to much time. I’d rather watch a movie, which ends after 2 hours, and it’s done and over with (except with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which I watch once a year, and take more than 10 hours). But I decided to watch Band of Brothers, by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, a few weeks ago, since it’s only 10 episodes long, and is rated quite well.

It’s the story of Easy Company, a company of paratroopers which were on the front line from D-day till the end of World War 2. As a kid I remember having quite a romantic picture of warfare. It was a place for heroes, a game which you played, and which the hero always survived. It was a game where everyone had integrity, much more than in the other parts of life, and where their was an honest fight. It was the place where great strategists were born, who outwitted their opponents, where the smartest guy always won. And where the smartest guy was also the good guy. War was never a place where wives lost their husbands, parents their kids, and kids their fathers. War was never a place where soldiers rapes woman, since no laws counted for them. War was never something that completely screwed up those who took part. It was never something which sent back soldiers who could no longer no what is moral, since they had to learn to kill for a living. And they didn’t kill those who are evil, but simply others who got paid to fight a fight.

Band of Brothers sketch some of these realities. By the end of every episode you just realize how absolutely crazy the idea is. How wrong it is. How it’s messing people up. Those fighting on the ground. Is forces you to rethink every war going on. Rethink all the nice reasons why people start wars. Rethink all the wars that was started in the name of religion. Rethink the fact that we are still building out our arsenals, and researching new ways of killing people. See for example Stealth, not a brilliant movie, but it raises the question with regards to Artificial Intelligent weapons. At one stage one of the characters mentions the fact that killing becomes impersonal, and the problems regarding that.

Anyhow, getting back to Band of Brothers. After every episode it just gets worse and worse. Their is one turning point however. This is when they find the first Jewish camp, portrayed very graphically. The death, the suffering. The absolute inhumane way in which these people were treated. And then you wonder, does their come a point where war is the only option? Where the ideology of one become so distorted that war becomes correct? Where we understand why Bonhoeffer took part in trying to kill Hitler? But how we would ever know when this is really the case I don’t know. I believe it is something we can only say in hindsight. So maybe we should simply wait till their is really NO other option before going to war. Or maybe never? Maybe we just shouldn’t ever link war to the will of God? But then again, how can we talk about war without talking about the will of God?

I simply don’t know.

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