Tag Archives: All Quiet on the Western Front

No Quiet on the Eastern Front, by Anthony J. Constantini

Looking at the Ukraine War through the lens of Erich Maria Remarque’s classic novel, from Anthony J. Constantini at theamericanconservative.com:

As war wages in central Europe, remember why the Western world needed Armistice Day.

The Russo-Ukrainian war has been a humanitarian disaster. Though accurate casualty counts are difficult to ascertain, analysts have found that at least tens of thousands of soldiers have died in combat since the full-scale Russian invasion began in February 2022. As for civilians, the U.N. records the minimum confirmed dead at just over 6,000, though the actual number is likely higher. Millions have been displaced.

And daily—nay, hourly—the entire conflict plays out for all to see on their smartphones. While other conflicts have occurred as social media was widespread, the role social media is increasingly playing in this conflict is unique. On Twitter, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his diplomats have sparred with billionaires, who in turn joked with and simultaneously trolled former Russian presidents. Russia has turned its network of embassy accounts into meme factories. Random trees in the background of TikTok videos have been used to geolocate coordinates.

And from the digital sidelines, spectators cheer their chosen side and wear the colors of their chosen team. Unfortunately, the sporting metaphor ends there. Every time a Russian nationalist posts after a missile attack on a Ukrainian position, every time a D.C.-based consultant with a Ukraine profile flag celebrates a video of a Bayraktar drone striking a Russian convoy, they aren’t cheering points on the board—they’re cheering lives lost. While such celebrations of death are not unique to this war, when so much of the violence can be seen almost in real time it has become particularly nauseating. Such cheering is especially grotesque to those like this author who personally know men on both sides of the conflict called up to fight.

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November 11: Remembering the Tragedy and Legacy of World War I, by H. Patricia Hynes

World War I is probably America’s least remembered and least understood wars. From H. Patricia Hynes at antiwar.com:

Watching Londoners reveling in the streets on Armistice Day*, November 11, 1918, the war critic and pacifist Bertrand Russell commented that people had cheered for war, then cheered for peace – ” the crowd was frivolous still, and had learned nothing during the period of horror.”
~ Adam Hochschild. 2011. To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion

World War I was the first industrial war: poison gases, flamethrowers, aerial bombing, submarines, and machine guns intensified the scale of war wreckage and war dead, setting the norm for 20th and 21st century wars. By government policy, British war dead were not sent home lest the public turn against the war. Instead they were buried in vast graveyards near battle sites in France and Belgium. Even today Belgian and French farmers plowing fields in places of intense, interminable fighting and mass death on the Western Front unearth an estimated ½ million pounds of war debris and soldiers’ bones each year. (During the Afghanistan and Iraq wars Pentagon policy prohibited media coverage of US war dead arriving at Dover Air Base in Delaware until the ban was lifted, with conditions, in 2015. Many regarded the ban, like the Word War 1 British policy, as hiding the human cost of war that could turn the public against the war.)

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