Prior to enrolling in the course, I thought of war as an experience that aims to bring about peace and order by ensuring that the most amicable decisions for a country are made through force in cases where other means of resolving conflicts have failed. My prior interpretation of war was that it was an act of bravery in which men risked their life for the sake of humanity as a whole. I considered war as an act of courage because despite the risks involved, and with nations having the choice of sitting back and letting the status quo thrive while protecting the lives of their soldiers, they still consider going to war as one way of saving societies, where other systems have failed.
On the other hand, I considered war as a justified event, particularly in cases where people fail to reach an agreement without using violent ways. War is meant to fight the enemy; therefore, I considered it justified and important to the society. However, after reading Phantom Noise by Brian Turner and interacting with my classmates, my perception of war has changed significantly. One of the ways that my perception has changed is that my view of war as an act of courage has been reinforced. Turner (8) states that, ‘There is this ringing hum this bullet-borne language ringing shell-fall and static’, which indicates the horrors of the warzone, where soldiers are always worried if they will leave to see the next day, following the presence of their well prepared enemies. Soldiers are exposed to an environment of constant fear and uncertainty, which deprives them of their wellbeing. For instance, in a war zone, they cannot get sufficient sleep, since they have to stay alert as the enemy can strike any time.
Moreover, soldiers live in almost total disconnect with their families and loved ones since most of their time is spent engaging enemies or planning attacks, which leaves them with little time for their communication with family. Additionally, soldiers are exposed to the threat of death and injury in their line of duty, whereby in most cases, whenever the enemy strikes a soldier or several soldiers are likely to be injured or even lose their lives. Such circumstances do not only affect the injured or the dead soldiers but his or her entire team, who tend to blame themselves, who often blame themselves for failing in their duty to protect their colleague. In such cases, soldiers often suffer mental problems, such as stress, depression and post trauma stress disorder, which may affect their quality of life for a lifetime after leaving the battlefield. The events as described by Brian have reinforced my understanding of war as an act of courage, at it requires courage to go into a warzone, yet the soldiers understand clearly the dangers that they face.
Further, my understanding of war has shifted pertaining to its justification. Initially I considered war to be justified as the only alternative to resolving disputes in cases where other approaches have failed. However, after reading Brian’s work I have understood that the negative impacts of war exceed the positive ones, which indicates that war is not a justifiable way of resolving conflict. The impacts of war are felt across by both the participants and the non-participants of war. For the soldiers, they have to deal with the traumatic experiences that they undergo in warzones, particularly, where they lose their colleagues under their watch yet they cannot do anything to save them, as well as having to deal with the scary memories of the warzone, which is characterized by bloodshed and fear. Soldiers cannot help having flashbacks pertaining to the warzone, a factor that leads to a declined quality of life after war, with some soldiers contemplating suicide.
In addition, apart from the traumatic experiences of the soldiers, innocent citizens who play no part in the war, including children suffer extensively during war. Turner states that, ‘Babylon rifles in Sumer ringing these children their gravestones and candy their limbs gone missing’, indicating the sorrow that citizen in warring nations undergo particularly due to the loss of innocent children, or in cases where children and other non combatants are left physically disabled (Turner 10). Moreover, in times of war, societies are extensively affected in that they cannot settle in doing their ordinary economic activities, as they are more concerned about their safety, and often fleeing into other nations as refugees in search of safety.
Furthermore, nations have to use a notable amount or resources in times of war, especially pertaining to the purchase of fighting equipment and maintaining soldiers in the warzone. As a result, most nations that are engulfed in war are left to deal with the far reaching consequences of war, which include poverty, loss of infrastructure as it is destroyed during war; hence nations have to consider rebuilding the infrastructure, which is an expensive investment, the loss of an nation’s people, as well as the burden of taking of the soldiers, who suffer trauma and other forms of mental disorders as following the traumatic events of war among others.
Based on the highlighted consequences of way, my understanding of war has shifted in that I presently consider war as unjustifiable, given that its costs outweigh its benefits. The fact that war affects both the people that are directly engaged in war and those that are not makes war undesirable and unjustifiable. For instance, while soldiers face the risk of death and losing their limbs among other physical disabilities during war, innocent children suffer the same fate, which is not fair since children are in no way involved in provoking war or planning for war. On the other hand, the cost of rebuilding destroyed infrastructure is way too high, given that they were constructed over a period of many years, yet after war, nations are expected to rebuild them as fast as possible, which further exerts unnecessary pressure on the taxpayer.
Further, people are exposed to poverty as they can no longer engage in economic activities since they live in constant fear for their lives, a factor that plays a big role in moving the nation backward rather than ensuring its progression. Hence, although war is considered as an act of courage that helps in solving problems that cannot be resolved through consensus, it is more harmful to nations than utilizing other measures to resolve conflict. Therefore, nations should focus on establishing alternative ways of resolving conflicts to protect themselves from the economic, social, health, and environmental impacts of war.
Turner, Brian. Phantom noise. Farmington, Me: Alice James Books, 2010. Print.