random thoughts

learning from our mistakes

Are wars inevitable? Dear reader, I’m afraid that this month’s article is a bit depressing when we usually look ahead to the new year with optimism. But if it helps us to remember, surely some good might come from it?

Go to the ‘green fields of France’ in 2018, and if one wasn’t already aware of it, one wouldn’t even know about the trench warfare that took place there in the First World War. From 1914 to 1918 there was dirt, stench, rats, and millions of dead bodies. Patriotism was innocently and ignorantly celebrated at the beginning of the war. Then patriotism died.

The harsh reparations Britain and its allies imposed on Germany after the war in large part contributed to the rise of Hitler and the outbreak of the Second World War. This World War II began in 1939. Britain and its allies fought against the aggressive Nazi foreign policies implemented by Hitler. Anti-Semitism resulted in the deaths of millions of Jews of both German and other nationalities. An estimated 70 million people or more died in total.

Have we forgotten other wars? There was also the English Civil War in 1642 – the Parliamentarians against the Royalists. The Boer War, the Spanish Civil War, The Korean War, the Vietnam War, The Yugoslavian War, The Iraq War. And so it goes on, and on, and on. Too many to even mention.

We commemorate these past wars and their dead. We continually say after each war, “Lest we forget!” But do we really remember? Surely if we did, there would be no more wars. As Churchill said: “All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes.”

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