If you’ve ever seen a war movie, it’s simple: Because THEY’RE the bad guys. If we don’t kill them, they’ll us. We’re defending our way of life from godless, communist, rebellious, and/or child-killing hordes. Etc, etc, etc.
Hollywood continually glamourizes the herosim and spectacle of the World Wars. Unfortunately for you, if you grew up on those movies and wanted to become a soldier because of them, war hasn’t been fought like that since, well, the World Wars.
Beginning with the Korean War, and brought to the forefront by the Vietnam War, guerilla warfare is the modern reality of conflict. No longer do two opposing armies meet on a battlefield with clearly delineated front lines, fields of fire, and artillery barrages. Today’s battles are fought, more often than not, in cityscapes ruined by mortars, rockets, and missiles, that kill many more civilians than they do combatants.
Caught up in the midst of this senseless and random death are the political ideologies that prompt and promote armed conflict. Whether they come from a warlord in Africa, a strongman in the Balkans, or a politician in the Middle East, the reasons for fighting are almost never the reasons that the general public sees and hears in the media.
Of course, this has been true of all conflicts. Governments have always had their own reasons for fighting wars, reasons that they often feel the public will not approve of. But now, with the popularization of the Internet, opposing ideas are presented and discussed with such ease and rapidity that even the average person is left doubting a government’s reasons for fighting. The Internet has also made it easier to research and point out the double-talk and deception perpetrated by governments in the pursuit of their hidden agendas.
Unfortunately, the media, the vast majority of which is controlled by just a few corporations, is content to spew the party line, whatever it may be. Journalistic integrity went out the window with the consolidation of newspapers, radio stations, and, eventually, TV stations that all began after World War II.
War is no longer clear-cut. The reasons are not the reasons we’ve been told. In some conflicts, like the ongoing one in Iraq, it’s clear that there were economic motivations for America’s (along with the ‘Coalition of the Willing’) invasion, not supposed WMDs. In others, such as any of the numerous, nameless wars in Africa, we don’t even know the reasons because the media doesn’t care to report about them.
When there isn’t a clear reason to fight (and there may never be one), why do we, as human beings, continue to pull the trigger on other human beings?