The Naturalist sent me a link today to a veteran's thoughts and impressions on the wars he fought in including WW2 and the Korean War. I got to thinking about how I view war and those who go to fight in it. When I was younger I was much more tolerant of war and also much less willing to fight in them - war wasn't such a big deal, I figured, but I sure as hell wasn't going to be involved. My impressions have changed on both fronts, largely based on learning a lot more about the real reasons countries go to war and what it accomplishes. Now my feelings on the issue run a lot like the advice on fighting my father gave me when I was young.
If you have to fight, do anything to win.
I feel like there was absolutely no reason for us to get involved in the great majority of wars that have occurred in the past century. We simply should not be involved in war as even when we go into conflicts with the best possible intentions it is rarely the case that we make things better. There are so many examples of wars that were pitched to the public as necessary and inevitable like Iraq in 2002, Vietnam, and Korea, among others, where the war became an endless morass of death and suffering for both the people living there and the foreign soldiers. We should not be involved in war.
Sometimes though there is no way to avoid it. Hitler's atrocities were not going to stop in Europe - WW2 is by far the clearest example of a war that had to be fought. If a situation so desperate and dire arises that we absolutely must go to war then I should be involved; if it is not worth me risking my life then it is not worth risking the life of anyone, regardless of which side they are on. On Remembrance Day we must remember both the sacrifices that brave people made and also remember that we must only ask for such sacrifices when there is no other way.