The Next Military Target Till the End of Time
Lessons from Dresden
No one, myself included, wants to shower Nazi Germany with tears of sorrow and pity. It is just that the Dresden bombing serves as a jumping off point. I am not a military historian. My interests are varied. But it is a genuine concern in today's world that things do not get overheated. If they do, the actions that might take place will not target weapons, transportation, or communications alone. They will likely hunt people down against all the rules and developed concepts of the Western World. It is already happening, only on a limited scale.
In March 1943, Dresden's final Jewish population, supposedly, were sent away. In retrospect, the city might have thought twice about becoming "Jew-free". Two years later, in February 1945, Dresden became a legitimate military target. I can only wonder if demographics mattered to the RAF. What they knew will likely never be fully revealed. If Dresden had preserved its Jewish workers, would foreign intelligence have known about it? If so, would the bombings have been aborted? This hypothetical reminds me of how, in the bible, Almighty God agreed to save Sodom were a handful of righteous men to be found within. My personal quest is to find redemption in terms of a lesson from this other catastrophic event.
As it turns out, there were Jews in Dresden, however paltry in number, as well as half-Jews, which introduces a subject few wish to pursue. For those so inclined, we now have a politically correct term: ethnic cleansing. Dresdeners were, it appears, a prideful lot. Refugees were routinely fed, then sent packing. It also seems as though the sheer elegance and historical significance of Dresden acted as a mental shield. Its "it can't happen here" attitude helped turn the population into sitting ducks. In short order, they would burn, suffocate, and in other gruesome ways, meet untimely deaths.
This much anyone can see. Still, to answer atrocities with atrocities is to validate them -- all of them. This being the case, how does one distinguish between an approved atrocity and a disapproved one? Historically, it is difficult to argue with the RAF, in collusion with Russia, and whoever else. The Germans had it coming. But the aftereffect bears some reflection. There is now no way to return to a world in which battlefields, promising glory consonant with the decisive will of heaven, can determine the outcome of politics by other means. All this drubbing of Hitler today is very popular and probably serves some deep-rooted psychological need. But the fact is, his methods also changed how war would be waged from the conclusion of WWII on. In other words, It can only get worse unless (a) people come to their senses, or (b) evolution turns out to be true. Dresden points out the additional fact that despite the city's industrial character, as well as providing a place where German soldiers on-the-run might have re-grouped, the 800 planes that flew over Dresden (unopposed) in the first wave of the attack, were meant to kill and injure people in the worst ways possible. Read eye-witness accounts. Citizens of Dresden were truly terrorized. Survivors describe the horror in grisly detail. Again, no one can say for certain that these civilians, having brought Hitler into power, then having voluntarily participated in Kristallnacht, did not deserve comeuppance. But my concern is that to normalize a particularly vile kind of warfare, based on atrocities, an incremental step forward which has already taken place, is to place the world we live in in day-to-day jeopardy.
What's in Your Chest?
In February, 1945, the Allies hungered for payback, opening the door that swings both ways to anti-German atrocities. It would have been nice, I suppose, in a more perfect world, not having been there, knowing basically nothing except the contents of a handful of books, if those who were finally defeating Germany had exercised grace and decorum. The Germans were bad; but their conquerors, too, were, in the final hour, not exactly Christian. I will not be so naive as to postulate that German atrocities had by then altogether ceased. They were, in fact, getting in their last thrills, still stomping about Europe and elsewhere as if they owned the world. The more major point is that Germany's enemies ultimately sank to low-minded temptations. They really did these things, of which Dresden is, possibly, an example. As it turned out, deep down, the Allies, too, were not only capable of performing atrocities, but willing executioners, too. In this regard, the Germans took the trophy. No one would dispute it. But they had not misjudged at least the psychological composition of their enemies. They knew the stuff of which they were made. Despite leading the world in terms of culture, Europe knew how to party with the devil. A rather depressing topic, to be sure, to "learn more" about Eurocentricity and of all that it consists is hardly a heartwarming endeavor. That the Eurocentric today scoff at Middle Eastern primitivism is understandable, if hypocritical. The main problem is that human beings, wherever, are not the haloed Sunday crowd. Not at all. They have to be monitored, like the deranged in asylums. None of this would be worth commenting on, actually, except there is a feeling in the air that America could be next.
Or, is it immune? People get on people's nerves. At present, any number of issues exist for which there are no solutions. Abortion, immigration, entitlements, executive salaries, medical marijuana, contraceptives -- none of these topics ever attain a consensus. Actually, as I wrote in a previous hub, the American people can handle ever-present controversy and contradictions. But our leaders lead on shaky ground. Most of what is wrong is not their fault. It is a changed world we live in, unfamiliar to us all. If they must make educated guesses in order to forge the guidelines for our futures, should we just relax, not worry, be happy? Who wants this? Thus, how long do we have before a charismatic leader states with the full weight of every kind of force available that from now on we are all abortionists or the opposite, all in favor of amnesty or not? There are avenues we might traverse to descend to the subterranean levels of existence that give rise to inhumanity. The Europeans descended into madness. What makes us think that we will not find a way to the same cellar?
Everyone is in Danger
It used to be that problems were solved by throwing money at them. Now it is guns. It took some doing to destroy Dresden. But the secret weapon, then as now, was indifference to suffering, not anything having to do with materiel. I would not pretend to understand why WWII was fought with a terrible cruelty fully out of sync with the inhabitants of highly developed, sophisticated societies. But how about today? Why is so much armament being carted about in a time of peace? Without getting into the controversy between the NRA and Gun Control, it is right to ask, who carries concealed weaponry for flimsy reasons that have nothing to do with either hunting or being in a state of personal danger? There is a sense that because of our grievances Whites bear arms simply because they are White. It is the same with those who are Black, Gay, Straight, female, famous, or you-name-it. In sum, something is baking or brewing that could come to a head in the near future. Whether speaking militarily, semi-militarily, or non-militarily, the main targets are in almost all circumstances human beings. Has anyone to-date gone after our nuclear warhead stockpiles? Have we ever successfully gone after the nuclear warhead stockpiles of other countries? No. These horrible things, wherever they are, however they are kept, are safe and sound. So-called military targets in general seem beyond the reach of terrorists. Bridges, power-stations, hangars, runways, uranium mines, oilfields -- all the very images of peaceful serenity. But people are not. They wake up, get dressed, go to school, go to work, or stay at home, as the case might be, all the while risking life and limb.