While many things have happened in the last couple of days, two are of particular interest. First, four young Palestinian boys were accidently killed by Israeli naval gunfire. The Israelis have indicated that the incident was a regrettable accident and have apologized for it, in their way. Second, a Malaysian Airlines 777 was shot down by a surface to air missile over Eastern Ukraine by Russian separatists. This was apparently a regrettable mistake which I believe, once the dust settles, they will also apologize for. The airwaves, newspapers, social media, and cable news will be filled with arguments and explanations related to who actually pushed the button, who owned the BUK launcher, why the airline was in such dangerous space, and a dozen other completely irrelevant issues. The world has expressed horror and outrage over both of these events.
It is always a tragedy when civilians become caught in the jaws of war. And the world is always shocked and outraged when it happens. My question is why? Not why do these things happen, but why are we astonished. What other result can we expect? Once we loose the wolf, should we really be surprised when the sheep begin to go missing? What do we really think war is? And who do we think can escape its ferocious appetite?
Soldiers call it the fog of war. But it is more than that. War is a beast which once unleashed will always kill indiscriminately. It will obey no command to stop. It will recognize no friend or master. It will devour everything in its path until it runs out of food or fuel. As long as we choose to use war as a tool, the beast will be among us and innocents will die.
We need to get over our squeamishness, or find another way to solve our problems. Meanwhile, we should grieve, not for the dead, but for the living. As Plato said so many years ago, “Only the dead have seen the end of war.”