The financial crisis that has had us all running scared for the future, has distracted our attention from more permanent concerns. The environment seems to be a fair economic weather problem, and wars have been regulated to the fourth division of concern. A week does not pass without us learning that one of our brave soldiers, or many of their brave opponents, has lost life in Afghanistan. We seem to have lost the plot in the drama of Afghanistan, rather as we lost in in the tragedy of Iraq. I do not know what we are fighting for. Perhaps there was never a plot in the first place.
In Iraq many lives are lost every week. If we count in lives can we really hold that Iraq is a better place now than it was under Saddam Husain? Would that dictator have ended more lives than have been ended by the war there? Can we undertake a similar calculation in Libya? How does the arithmetic of life add up? What formula controls it?
It is important to fight for freedom. Some would rather die than be slaves. Ελευθερία ή θάνατος – freedom or death – was the rallying cry of the Greek Independence movement, but it was uttered by those who were making the choice between their own lives and death, not for the choice between freedom and the deaths of others.
It is the role of modern politicians and political leaders to choose freedom or death for other people. Our Prime Ministers and Presidents do not lead into battle and do not risk their own lives. Indeed, incredibly detailed procedures are created for their safety and vast amounts of public money are spent on protecting them all, particularly the President of the United States, who signs off death warrants permitting the execution of specific civilians (and those “collatorally” who are not targets) by drones having read a précis of a report instead of holding a trial. His wife writes a letter to President Assad of Syria’s wife saying how reprehensible is slaughter of civilians.
Of course, soldiers do make the choice between freedom or death, as a matter of their profession. The death they deal and the death they risk are real components of their lives and when the fighting is over the mental scars of the choices that they have made often haunt them.
Every person does have free choice to be free or to risk life in an attempt to be free. That is an individual matter, not one which should be manipulated or influenced by the rhetoric and ideas of others. Each person truly knows the value of his or her life. It is a value that cannot be exchanged for money. A life is the most precious thing we own and perhaps the only thing we own absolutely. Everything else we hold until it decays or until we rot first.
And those powerful rulers have the ability, by signing a document or giving an order, to curtail life and end it prematurely. They cannot, however, by warrant extend life, even for one minute.
Filed under: climate change Tagged: | Assad, brave soldiers, death, death warrants, freedom, greek independence, Ελευθερία ή θάνατος, Libya, Mrs Obama, Obama, politics, president assad, prime ministers and presidents, Saddam, war