Such a prescient, beautiful sentiment.

Monday, 6 February 2012


Morality Fail.

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.


  1. I watched the same programme. Apart from the bravery of these bomber crews (I noticed the ground-staff didn't get a mention, which must be wrong) the one thing that leapt out at me was the statement by the ex-RAF bomber pilot that he'd not long taken off on a bombing mission and was confronted by a flight of incoming Luftwaffe bombers heading for Goole. They acknowledged each other by dipping of wings, and flew on with their missions. What an amazingly clear demonstration of the futility of it all!
    I'm proud that this nation stood-up against the evil of Nazism. But questions about why The Allies didn't bomb the death-camps to put them out of action do perplex me.
    It seems to me that politicos let expediency rule over any true moral compass. Perhaps it has to be that way, in an imperfect world? We just have to hope that morality does exert some influence on those we entrust to make the big decisions. However, every day, it seems to me, there's less and less evidence that our lords-and-masters have any moral dimension at all. The only thing that matters to them is power. That's where the trouble starts.

  2. I wonder if Jesus had a bit of an ego though. I mean, all those people following him. We don't know if it went to his head or not.

  3. Bullo, thank you for the support, as ever. Michael likewise. I'm unsure if you are tongue in cheek,though, Michael. Few egos would have endured crucifixion and the premonition that that was his destiny.

  4. He was telling people he was the son of God!

  5. Jury out on that one, Michael. He referred to God the Father of all mankind! "Our father which art in Heaven"!

  6. It was a very interesting programme. Sadly it was total war, and those who experienced the London blitz would not have thought the allied answer was excezssive.
    Two points. Firstly, as was pointed out, carpet bombing was starting to give way to more accurate bombing as technology developed. Secondly, late in the war new threats such as the V1 and the V2 would not have encouraged relaxing our efforts. The real message was that bomber crews gave more than anyone had a right to expect.

  7. Anon, also in the programme and referred to in the comments, was the dipping of wings by two combatants as they crossed their deadly tracks.
    The tit for tat approach to carnage is a terrible indictment of the human condition. Were those brave crews to witness the Europe and UK of today I suspect they would weep that such carnage achieved so little.
    I fully accept your stance and arguments, Anon and thank you for them.

  8. I also watched it, along with my 82 year old mother. Rather surprisingly she had not heard of some of the goings on mentioned, despite growing up during the war. The power of propaganda...

    I am likewise full of admiration for the young crews who flew those missions. I've been to Coningsby and was fortunate to get the opportunity to clamber inside PA474. As Ewan McGregor found, it is incredibly cramped, just in the main fuselage. I never got as far as the rear turret...

    Every time a war is over we hope that "lessons have been learnt" but, sadly, it seems they never are. One of the veterans said words to the effect "Of course we had to fight them, can you imagine what things would have been like if they had won?" Sadly I don't think the eventual outcome would have been that much different.

  9. Hi, MD. Propaganda, their bombs bad, ours good.

  10. My but it is so easy to be an armchair warrior armed with hindsight.

    At the time Britain had few weapons. The bombers were not all that good. Often the bombs didn't go off, the navigation systems were poor.
    But the penalty for failure was defeat and destruction of Britain.
    The V1s showed that the enemy was rather ruthless but mustn't say that.

  11. Anon, I guess you didn't follow the post that well.
    As for armchair hindsight it's supposed to be a debate on how we learn from the past, or rather why we never do.
    What was fought so bravely for was thrown away since the 1960s and those lives were almost in vain. Not hindsight but the reality and betrayal of the past.