Yesterday evening the BBC screened a programme highlighting the sacrifices made by young men dispatched to wreak terror and death on the civilian populations of Nazi occupied Europe and in particular, Germany. To its credit the programme also highlighted the morality or otherwise of this strategy of area bombing. One of the results was the stark awfulness shown in the picture above, taken in Dresden.
One of the final words spoken in the film was by a Bomber Command veteran insomuch as that "They started it". Hard to argue with, that. Also tough to argue with is the holocaust perpetrated by the German Nation on those they saw as the imperfect aspects of the human race, deemed less than human by those monsters. However there are other considerations still staring us all in our faces, this very day.
Of those aspects relevant today, I would consider this. The Nazis gained power over any reasonable opposition through propaganda, , intimidation, coercion and eventually force. As this juggernaut of evil gained momentum it found itself all powerful. It was able to command atrocity at will and seek brutal domination with overwhelming and violent force.
That violent eventual outcome was inevitable. It spawned likewise the inevitable eventual backlash, as we have seen via Harris's total conviction of his strategy. We now enter the moral maze. Is the one that began this terror more guilty that the one who took it to ever greater heights? I rather suspect there just is no answer to that.
If an answer was available surely we would all turn our backs on every form of bombing and killing. Was 9/11 as terrible an act as My-Lai? Were the 7/7 bombings any worse than this? Yes, we seem incapable as creatures to deal with moral mazes.
There was, post WW2, a vilification of Harris. To some extent justified. That same utter conviction in his own arrogant superiority. For me the memorials and legacy of that campaign belong to the crews and their brave sacrifices. However we tread solidly back into that wretched maze again.
Why? Because those bomber crews' wholesale slaughter of men, women and children was done because they were obeying orders. Guess who else claimed such a defense? We now need to question how such orders ever come to be given.
Now it gets very interesting. Democracy is no longer a fashionable pursuit in today's modern world. Where it is sought, such as in the "Arab Spring", which blazes on with the shelling and bombing of Homs today, again morality is carelessly thrown away for the lusted after retention of power. We seem doomed to conflict for evermore.
This brings me to the EU federal concept of "peace in our time". Is this worthy but flawed ambition just another power grab and an exercise doomed to violence? Since this embarrassing concept is governed by an unelected cabal and one quick to resort to military intervention when offered, it's hard to see where that destiny is likely to be any more successful than those of recent history.
Was not the first world war brought about by a "family disagreement"? If internecine rivalry can bring about such terrible carnage what on earth is possessing the EU political glitterati to believe this project is able to do better. If you look carefully at the economic strife and the threats being bandied around on that score, together with the determined, dogmatic pursuit of merging hundreds of "tribes" into one supra-national creation, the mind just boggles.
It is more than possible I will not live to see the consequences of such hubris and the utter inability to learn from history, our erstwhile lot are so keen not to do. However, when centuries of pundits have always forecast an eventual Armageddon, I find, as I look at history and mankind's determined talent for misery and brutality , it very hard not to put down my own marker for an eventual end of our very existence.
The worst part of all takes me back to that Christmas Day football match on the Western Front. I'm minded to consider all the goodness and kindness which takes second place to the desire for schadenfreuden instincts that seem to sell better than the kinder side of human nature. I guess we come back to that favourite aspect of life. Those who seek to rule and govern the rest do so, if not at first, then subsequently, for their own selfish ends. It is said power corrupts and I know of no figure, past or present to whom that did not apply. Well Jesus Christ, of course. If he was not the son of God he comes very close. Look what we did to him.