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Rune Engelbreth Larsen
War and Propaganda

At no time in the history of the world has every part of the planet been free of war, and no part of the planet has ever been free of war at all times in the history of the world.

Throughout the whole existence of humanity, people have disagreed, and where these disagreements have given rise to conflict, conflict has given rise to violence.

Like affection leads to passion, and passion to love, conflict has led to killings and killings to war. We are unlikely to have any reason to fear and hope respectively, that this will change in the coming millennium.

However, like love war is many things.

At one time, war being so primitive, that threatening gestures and sarcastic taunts were the only requirements of a bloodless conflict, and even when the plains flowed with blood and resounded with the din of battle, weapons were so simple, that nobody could hope to kill more than a single opponent at any one time, and never without considerable risk to their own life and well-being.

Cultures being so primitive and warfare being so underdeveloped, it is doubtful that any man that ever entered a battlefield, could in the end escape the crushing reality of having confronted an opponent that was human like himself.

Like so many things in our time, war is a rather different and civilised affair.

Weaponry and warfare have been automated to such a degree, that a military alliance can destroy towns and people simply by typing their coordinates, and without risking anything to themselves other than a broken nail.

For the mightiest warlords, with capital, cruise missiles and cluster bombs on their side, war is no longer war, but a clinical, almost aesthetic study in digitised information, a campaign against evil, and an operation against disease. Draw a line, make an incision, move a little with the mouse or discreetly manipulate the joystick, and the stricken country receives a colossal dose of medicine. And everything and everyone will be well again.

So advanced has the propaganda of war become, that its almost total manipulation of news and information, renders superfluous any control over that Press, which compliantly stages this propaganda, as though it were an expression of independent analyses and objective reporting. So confident in its bizarre conceptual devaluation that even the most violent air-bombardment is classified not as a military but, wait for it, a humanitarian operation - and so convincing in its endless absurdity, that it no longer lends itself to exaggeration and thereby effectively delivers its insidious fallacy, that any falsification would be impossible.

Only the mentally challenged could believe, that war, as we have experienced it since the dawn of time, will ever disappear, though only the extremely mentally challenged could deny that rationalisation and civilisation have made wars' practitioners, or its intentions more inhumane.

No person is so thoughtless and effective a killer as he, who happily never has to look his victim in the eye, whether they be soldiers or civilians, and nobody kills as comfortably as he who kills while sitting on a ship or flying a jet, jam-packed with electronic warning systems, that for all intents and purposes make him invisible, invulnerable and untouchable. Nobody has anything to fear, nobody has anything to regret, and nobody looses a nights sleep.

Never before has the supremacy of a dominant power been so absolute, and never before has the destruction been so systematic, that no combatant is forced to take even the remotest responsibility for his or her actions. No longer do individuals, by direct definition, actually kill anybody, merely give or pass on an order, press a button and complete an assignment. Not so different or more exciting than the most ordinary office work, and therefore no limits on how often, how many - or how nonsensically and carelessly - one can kill.

Nobody risks their skull being shattered by a better shot, nobody hears the sound of a blunt bayonet, as it pierces a heart, and nobody is forced to hold the guts of a fallen comrade in their bare hands

This pleasure is the sole reserve of ones opponent. Only ones opponent gets to throw up at the sight of splintered bones in open wounds, and only ones opponent gets to stink of involuntary defecation from shell shock, and only the families of ones opponents get their hands bloody as they place the bones and flesh of their sons, husbands and fathers in humble coffins.

All the while our prime minister, foreign minister and war minister, smile in competition with the arms manufacturers, newspapers hoist the flag and callous cynics display their pride in a fashion usually reserved for victory on the football pitch.

So low have we sunk.

Where is the showdown with this widespread stupidity, which not only passively ignores, but actively applauds this centralisation of power and concentration of weaponry, that is without precedent in the history of the world?

Where is the medias scrupulous exposure of the false negotiations, where the worlds largest, most powerful and wealthiest war machine, forcefully set unnecessary dictates and ultimata, that were so obviously unacceptable, that they knowingly and deliberately provoked a war, which they never had any intention of avoiding?

Where is the revolt against the alliances obvious arrogance, which hypocritically condemns ethnic cleansing and discrimination in its quest for power and influence, while at the same time, giving military support to, and remaining silent about, other regimes oppression and cleansing of their ethnic minorities, when its own power and influence needs preserving?

Where is the onslaught in opposition to the most bomb happy government in the history of Denmark, who with the air and sincerity of a TV evangelist, refuses to publish the agreement, which has sent this nation to war for the first time this century?

Where is the limit to the chronic naivete of public opinion, that from the bomb shelter of their own livingroom, swallow whole the propaganda of the wars' humanitarian objective, just as easily as they swallow the propaganda that tells them of the absence of propaganda?

As long as a thorough revolt against this, unprincipled centralisation and unscrupulous militarism of our time fails to materialise, humanism and genuine concern for human tragedy will remain exactly as minimised and down prioritised in the actual political agenda, as it is prioritised and propagandised in the official.

Published in Faklen (The Torch), 1999
Translated by Anthony Kiely