If you have you ever seen a monkey hanging from a tree by its tail and showing its red ass to onlookers, then you have seen the animal kingdom’s representation of war. According to French playwright Jean Giraudoux, the pacifist and Légion d’onore holder in WWI, war looks just like that monkey’s ass. In 1933, on the eve of WWII, Giraudoux in his famous anti-war play, The Trojan War Will Not Take Place, the imminent author penned his memorable words: “When he shows us his red bottom, all scaly and glazed, encircled by a filthy wig, that’s exactly what war looks like. That’s its real face.” (Included in my novel, The Trojan Spy). Giraudoux’s play was first published in English in 1956 as Tiger At the Gates.
We keep in mind that words themselves are always under attack. There comes a time when words no longer have significance. Wars, for example, have been going on for so long that for many persons the word war has lost its meaning. An isolated tribe in distant South Sea islands without even a word for it, might call it blood. Reflects the reality of war, no?
But for many contemporary leaders war seems outdated … and besides just too ugly to be pronounced… as ugly as Giraudoux’s monkey’s bottom. The hideous word, war—the true meaning of which is easily forgotten—has given way to euphemistic circumlocutions such as “humanitarian intervention”. Unelected hardline rightist European Union leaders love to vaunt the seventy years of peace reigning in Europe since WWII, conveniently forgetting the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s when peaceful NATO bombers took off from Italy to pour their explosives on Belgrade and surroundings; when as ordered by their U.S. masters NATO-EU they stole Kosovo from Serbia, handmade a country led by criminals, and broke up the European nation of Yugoslavia that happened to be Communist, bringing the Pax Europea to the “warlike Balkans”.
Yet whatever you call it, the essence of war remains … even if you call it peace. War is blood! The monkey’s red bottom is nothing in comparison. Mutilated bodies, parts of bodies of children and old people, naked children running blindly in the glow of toxic white phosphorous or palmitic acid clouds—napalm. War pillages all men. Both the defeated and the victors.
In their original meanings, there IS a difference between war and peace. Each has a meaning. Peace does not remove the stain of guilt for war. War is not fought with clean hands. War is addictive. Once shot into your veins you can’t live without it. Veterans of war return home, sometimes strung out with only war to rely on.
Our war criminals elected leaders are today more than ever insane for war. War Crimes Unlimited, Inc. must truly exist. Busily exporting democracy and freedom while limiting the significance of the word war (for some it is just too hard to give up the word!) Forever their minions are out there somewhere on missions of war, mercenaries doing the dirty work.
Back to war! Again. Holy war. At war with the world. At war with the universe. Never ending war. Support our troops over there … or down there. Charlie Chaplin: “Wars are all business.” Wars are made for profit, not for victory. War is a banker. For-profit wars.. Even planning for war means big money. Wars for the benefit of a few, while nations of people commit horrible acts to justify war.
The myth of war … a myth that people worship. Since war is so popular, people think, it must be also good and proper. That false reality of war is the monkey’s red ass in us. Mothers’ pride in sending their sons to war. Vietnam veteran father embracing his departing son: “Now it’s your turn.”
War is blood. Bloodthirsty presidents in tightly guarded offices, arms and drugs dealers across Europe and the USA, European Ministries of Defense and the Generals at the Pentagon, the plotters at CIA, the managers at Bechtel and Boeing and the mercenary Blackwater descendants rubbing their hands in shared glee celebrate a new war. Morto un Papa, se ne fa un’altro. (A Pope is dead, another is made). Le roi est mort, vive le roi. Syria is over. Iran is ripe.
Senator Brien MC Mahon (D-Conn), the chairman of Joint Committee on Atomic Energy declared in 1949 that preventive nuclear attack on the Soviet Union was the only way to avoid an ultimate, planetary destruction. President Truman’s Secretary of Navy, Francis P. Matthews (who also happened to be papal chamberlain and the Head of the Knights of Columbus) declared that he “would be willing to pay any price to achieve a world at peace, even the price of instituting the war.” “Opposing forces would brand our program as imperialist aggression. We could accept that slander with complacency, for in the implementation of a strong affirmative peace seeking policy.. .we would be the first aggressors for peace.” Luckily, Truman decided to dismiss the madman and sent him as an Ambassador to … Ireland. (my thanks to Vladmir Goldstein)
Bertold Brecht wrote:
“When the leaders speak of peace
The common folk know
That war is coming
When the leaders curse war
The mobilization order is already written out.”
Again Brecht: (more on Brecht in another piece!)
“What they could do with ‘round here is a good war. What else can you expect with peace running wild all over the place? You know what the trouble with peace is? No organization.”
Any veteran of battle will tell you what war is: War is hate, torture, cruelty and death. War is children and women and old people wailing in pain and quaking in fear and trying to bury dead fathers and mothers. War today is not the Aztecs’ Flower Wars, artificial wars to collect victims for their religious-power inspired human sacrifices on the killing stones atop their pyramids where no one understood the brutal reality underneath. Brutal reality, a reality really happening to them the victims.
Like Cambodians for whom that napalm reality was so immense that, as my friend who has returned to Italy after many years there relates, they have pushed the war reality so deep into their subconscious that they cannot respond, cannot even relate to the word war. When asked about the war, they do not answer. They simply leave the space. War is a vacuum in the survivors’ minds.
Gaither Stewart is a Writer on Dandelion Salad and Senior Editor and Rome-based European correspondent of The Greanville Post. A veteran journalist and essayist on a broad palette of topics from culture to history and politics, he is also the author of the Europe Trilogy, celebrated spy thrillers whose latest volume, Time of Exile, was recently published by Punto Press.
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