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Old Men's Problems

I read a line somewhere recently about how war is just young men fighting for old men's problems. While it's easy to get incensed and argue whether Hitler was an "old men's problem" (or an old man himself), it's not hard to be cynical in light of recent, flimsy-seeming and ultimately erroneous justifications for armed conflict.

Part of me is also cynical enough to believe that as long as one human being reckons he or she deserves something more than the other human being who has that thing, you're going to wind up with wars (which usually happen when you replace "he or she deserves" with "his or her people deserve"), and young people, being on average more physically capable than old people, are going to fight and die in them.

I also read something a while ago which struck me particularly. The rest of the text wasn't particularly thrilling, which is probably why that particular bit leapt out at me, and it was basically thus: The commanders of any fighting force can do only two things with the lives of those who serve under them; spend them or waste them. And I think, ultimately, that's all (beyond reasonable basic conditions) that a soldier can ask of his superiors, be they generals or government.

In my mind, those old men who send the young men off to die have to have served as soldiers themselves, so that they know exactly the hell they're sending their young men into and will have an investment in not wasting their lives.

Of course, there's no such thing as a sure thing, especially when it comes to warfare. Even battle experience and a firm grasp of strategy and military tactics doesn't guarantee you, our hypothetical commander, certainty that you're spending, not wasting, your men's lives until they're executing your orders.

It all comes down to trust, I suppose. And I reckon I'd be more inclined to trust someone who's been right there in the trenches themselves to decide how best to spend my life.

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Comments

Sounds like a plan to me. I'd rather work for peanuts for a guy or gal who's "been there, done that" than get high pay and work for a guy/gal who's been nothing but fed from a silver spoon. Or even a wooden one.

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