Monday, September 22, 2008

War games

Yesterday, my dad told me about a son of his friend's, who has apparently decided to join the Armed Forces, and has done pretty well finding himself a nice spot where he would work and study. And then he asked: "Have you ever thought of joining the Army?"

Well, as a matter of fact, yes. Except for the fact that I would be a tiny bit too visually impaired to be allowed to join without laser surgery. AND the fact that I react very badly to any kind of physical exercise.

But that is beside the point. It's not the first time one of my parents have suggested (albeit jokingly) that I join the Army. This time, though, I actually shuddered. Join the army? NO WAY. IN HELL. I'm too happy being a civilian.

For the last couple of weeks, I've been doing research for an essay on the laws of war. Got a nice little book, and started reading. The book explained the international law governing such and such kind of military actions. What was allowed, and what wasn't. Not that it makes any difference in practice, since when all hell breaks loose, you're pretty much in the shit, law or no law.

Very early on, there is a distinction between civilians and non-civilians. Civilians are supposed to be protected. When war is a-knocking at the door, civilians should be evacuated, and you're not supposed to be shooting at them. Civilian installations shouldn't be destroyed either. Not so much for the military. Military personnel is what they call "valid military target". Military equipment is "valid military target". Roads and bridges are "valid military target".

Bit chilling, that. It almost felt like I was reading the manual to a video game. Almost like it was a game. Bridges: 10 points. Destroy a bunker: 50 points. Tanks: 20 points. Hospital: -100. When you're a soldier, you're a valid military target. Like a tank. Like a rocket launcher. You're not a human anymore. Just little things at which they shoot.

War is just a game. Do the generals think in terms of human life? Or are they just in front of their computer screens, counting points?


Join the military? No thanks. I'd rather not be running around the battlefield with a bullseye on my ass.

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