Reflections of an Orphaned Mind


World War I (WWI), which was predominantly called the Great War from its occurrence until 1939 (World War II), and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918. It involved all the world's dominating powers (5), which were assembled in two opposing alliances: the Allies (based on the Triple Entente of the United Kingdon, France and Russia and the Central Powers (originally centred around the Triple Entente of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy; but, as Austria–Hungary had taken the offensive against the agreement, Italy did not enter into the war).


These alliances both reorganised (Italy fought for the Allies), and expanded as more nations entered the war. Ultimately more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, were mobilised in one of the largest wars in history. More than 9 million combatants were killed, largely because of enormous increases in lethality of weapons, thanks to new technology, without corresponding improvements in protection or mobility. It was the sixth- in world history, subsequently paving the way for various political changes such as revolutions in the nations involved.


Wars has always included the mass death of civilians. “ The Great War”, however, intensified the tactics of consciously waging indiscriminate and carefully planned attacks on civilians. This is the horrible and sad legacy of a war, named “The Great”. The deaths of civilans may have been way as numerous as the millions of combatants officially counted. The technology allowed the combatants to murder people from a great distance on the ground and from the air. Face to face fights may have been a reality in the killing fields and trenches but technological progress made it perfectly easy to kill from a more secure place and with greater disastrous results. Biological warfare may not be the invention of modern warfare since poisening waters and the distribution of polluted staple foods had been applied for thousands of years.


Today wars principally target civilians to terrorize and to cause havoc, anarchy and chaos. Wars are seldomly between two states resting on an official declaration of war but more common, regimes waging wars on their subjects or nations declaring war on terrorism which formally is not a inter statal war. The immense suffering of people who formally are being protected by the Laws of Warfare (The Geneva Conventions) is what makes modern conventional and unconventional warfare such an abomination.


The current situation in Syria and the Sudan where women and worst of all, children, are slaughtered without mercy leaves me lost for words.


In my early professional life working for the Red Cross I was horrified by the civil war in Lebanon: a list with a scale from one point to ten of how to maime or kill civilians was implemented by all the respective adversaries. Snipers were encouraged to shoot by aiming at children´s knees which was seven pointer. I woke up to a reality of limitless evil and incomprehensible dehumanization. From that point my insights in warfare expanded to the insufferable even as a non-participant and as a relief or protection worker. The interior fighting in Rwanda, the horrors of the civil war in Yugoslavia, The Pol Pot and the almost endless examples of cruelty were almost too hard to take in, little less to understand.


The different allies building of legal and illegal nature, wheather in the name of Peace Promoting Intervention or the War against Terror, creates a confusion of what is right and what is wrong. We are bewildered and distracted from the true agenda of “noble” warfare unless we reveal the true interests of the parties which, more often than not, is not for the reasons we are being told. i.e. a struggle between dictatorship and democracy, but wars in order to secure the dominance over natural resources and to secure a safe and constant flow of commerce and export.


Well, hasn´t that always been the case? The rise and falls of pre-Columbian civilizations and empires in Latin America in perpetual wars between the Highland Powers, The Incas, The Chivas, inter alia and the Coastal Powers such as the Nazca, Valdivia and Chimu, et altri depended on the control of water. The springs in the highlands were essential to the irrigation dependent coastal regions and the barren highlands on the import or stealing of crops of vegetables and other food cultivated and raised in the low lands.


The idea of an assumed biogentical superioirity was by no means invented by Nazi Germany. The Indo- Aryans migration had virtually exterminated other ethnical peoples on their lengthy expansion from the Caucasus. Ethnic cleansing was common in Asia as soon as the density in a biological niche became a fierce struggle for the means of survival. Ancient Chinese sources describe the notion of Übermensch ideology, thus not satisfied by subduing but to exterminate peoples that were regarded a biologically inferior. The “Lebensraum” parameter was not paramount and genocide took place even in scarcely inhabited regions.


The same basic idea can be found in permanent inter tribal wars and competition in ancient Africa and, as previously mentioned in Meso – and South America. To “legalize” the extinction of another ethnic group rested on the same idea and in combination with religious overtones to serve the purpose. India has historically been following the same pattern and racism a constant companion of Man.


If, however, a dominant center became too ethnocentric it resulted in an unconscious collective suicide due to the fact that the incestial biological reproduction resulted in idiocy and deadly maladies. The sudden disappearence of a people, such as the Hittites (actually two totally unrelated etno-cultural groups called themselves Hittites which may be confusing to people interested in history) and other lost tribes, was in fact, not that sudden. In order to survive at all they had to find partners in other etnic and cultural groups and gradually became assimilated by the current dominant power, with no further references to their glorious past for many years to come.


The Dacians, once a power to be counted with, were wiped out as a nation by the Romans and spread over present day Balkans, with a majority of the descendants living in Roumania today. The Illyrians of present day Macedonia (in Greece as well as in ex-Yugoslavia) were once a celebrated people and the mother of Alexander the Great, Queen Olympias, was proud of her Illyrian ancestry. The descendants may be found in Kosovo and Albania and to a smaller extent in present day Greece. For historical and political reasons nobody traced their origins back to the Illyrians until “ The Great War” when finding ancestral roots becoming socially and psychologically vital in a chaotic world.

When it comes to the limitless atrocity of warfare I feel like an orphan. No one to guide me or to explain why the methods applied are so totally void of boundaries and the dehumanization of the adversaries so complete.

The sad conclusion is that, by looking back, we see warfare as a constant companion to Man. But so are times with peace, as well. Otherwise, none of us would not exist...

Douglas Modig