Labyrinth Busker Journal - Brian Robert Pearce
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British paratrooper on the horror of war
A British paratrooper wrote a book about his experiences during the Falklands war.
 The ceasefire had been declared an hour or two earlier. As he patrolled, he spotted
an Argentinian "probably unaware of the ceasefire". The Argentinian "moved" to train
his rifle on the Paratrooper. The Paratrooper "emptied his magazine" into the Argentinian.

With or without a ceasefire this is a common occurrence in war or conflict. When you are
a soldier in a front line you have the knowledge that only one slip, or moment's hesitation,
can mean death. Your decisions need to be based on split second reasoning.... but they
can also be based on split second fear, foolishness, or any other number of instinctive reactions.

The Para responded more to his training as a Para, and his effective utilisation of that training
 in the course of the war.

Back in England at a fayre on a village green I met an ex-Falklands veteran who spoke, in a state
of deranged grief and tears, about his comrades dying around him while attacking an
enemy position. The Argentinian conscripts were probably even more horrified by it all, because
professional soldiers do have some sort of notion about the risks of their profession. But conscripts
just fulfill their 'duty in time', and then move on to their real lives.
Paratroopers are trained killers, but even they are affected by death.

War tests the frontiers of accepted behavioural patterns and can often, in critical situations,
reveal the true unbridled psyche of people who could have spent their lives appearing
entirely normal and unobtrusive. In a situation where a soldier kills a defenceless victim,
 that soldier crashes through an instictive prohibitive boundary of moral behaviour.
If he does it again, it may have less effect on his mind until he can stumble into becoming
one of those fully fledged serial killers who rear their genocidal heads in conflicts such as Bosnia.

The distortion of the soul of such a person can only be left to the imagination. Most people
would recoil in horror at their deeds, but some may succumb to the hysteria of the person,
or people, who actively enjoy a path of unbridled murder.

It is a natural thing to view the genocidal actions of Bosnia with horror. But, one wonders, what
would be the result here in Belgium if such an internecine conflict erupted into open war?
Everyone here in Antwerp would choose sides or interests, or choose to flee it all. It would be
the same as Bosnia, with monsters being formed. On an international level the Belgians are
near the top in terms of civilised, non aggressive behaviour.

But at what level was Yugoslavia on this list before the conflict?

War relies on the assumption that group A is good; group B is bad. Nationalism, racism rely
on the same criteria.

People who use any of this as a crucial point of self esteem are seriously deluding themselves,
because they had no control over either event.

A British paratrooper writes a book and goes to Argentina for an interview, only to be threatened
and shouted at because he chose to write a book that states what everyone knows: War is never just,
nor fair.

Not only war, but usually politics.
Did the Argentines have secret police murdering and torturing their own countrymen at the
same time as the Falklands war?

Life is not necessarily just.... but honesty should be respected. For someone to document war
or strife is important, just to remind us of what people living ordinary day to day lives can turn into....
 when open conflict comes their way.
The British paratrooper has at least tried to reconcile his experiences and face them.

Two prisoners. Two captors. Who is on trial?
In the Guardian (two days ago) there was a picture of a scene in Liberia.
Two rival groups (militia). Four men. Two prisoners. Two captors.

One prisoner, with his arms tied behind his back, stared helplessly at his fellow prisoner....
who stood naked facing his captors.

The captors knew they had power and the prisoner, being naked, was truly exposed as at
their mercy. The action of one captor seemed to be an intimidatory threat of assault (aiming his rifle)
on the naked prisoner's penis. The prisoner's face, even at a side angle, reflected the unbridled fear
of being without power and at the mercy of whatever these two captors would take a whim to do.

This is the extreme test of the beauty, or gangrene, of the soul for the captors.

Despite the physical outview, inwardly this is a test for the souls of the captors.

The prisoners are merely there as victims, or beneficiaries, of the outcome.

This is a situation that, in obvious milder form, appears day to day in our interactions with each other.
We find ourselves in positions of power (emotionally or physically) or at the mercy of someone who
has power over us (emotionally or physically).

To place myself, emotionally, at the mercy of Char meant she could have experience of having power.
Time and again she seemed to mis-use that power, but she learnt eventually how to use her power in
a better intentioned way. Ruana was equally given power over me, as was Gerhard (in a material way).
I guess it's a facet of the 'family'. It's a facet of human life.

In those times when I have the power, then the test is on me.

The prisoner can only hope he is treated with respect and fairness; or fear (like the naked Liberian)
the abuse he suspects will come. The Liberian captors have, no doubt, already acted out their whim.

Armed conflict corrupts.
Even a peace loving philosopher may be tested to the full, as he holds a loaded gun and stares at a
member of a rival faction that has murdered his family and loved ones.
The gun is loaded.
The rival faction member is a naked prisoner.
No one is going to stop you from doing what you please with him.

What would be your choice?

What would be mine?
Fate is strange!

One day after your choice you may find yourself a naked prisoner before the father or son of this
same rival faction member. This father/son could be standing there with a loaded gun, with the
same unrestricted choices, and with full knowledge of the outcome of your choice.

What would be his choice? Where does it end?

Only with the right choices.
Wrong choices over the centuries have led to the Bosnian conflict.