The truth about war is not that the Ukrainian army shelled this school today or the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) shelled it; that the Ukrainian army shelled it because the DNR shelled Ukrainian positions from the school first, or that the DNR shelled it because the Ukrainians shelled the DNR because the DNR shelled the Ukrainians first and the school was stuck in the middle–
The truth is that it doesn’t matter.
The photographs and videos and analyses of missile damage angles and sun shadows and nearby artillery positions and types of artillery with their stupid innocent names like ‘hail’ and ‘beech’ and ‘tulip’ don’t matter. The interviews with soldiers and militants and military experts and injured and bystanders don’t matter. All that matters is that the supporters of the DNR will believe one thing about what happened, and the supporters of Ukraine will believe another. ‘Both sides blamed the other’, that is the truth of war.
I always understood war, at its most basic level, if you take away all the stuff about religion or property or governance or liberation, to be a matter of A killing B before B kills A. Surely that is what war is. That is what weapons of war, the ‘hail’ and ‘beech’ and ‘tulip’, are made for.
Now I see that war is something quite different. War is about A (or B) killing C in order to made D believe that B (or A) is more of a bloodthirsty vicious world-threatening [insert insult of choice] than A (or B).
The truth about war is that the truth doesn’t matter. The truth is that everyone has their own version they want to believe and are made to believe.
And the people who died – they’ve been made into weapons of war; they could be ‘blossom’ perhaps. Or ‘mayflies’. Something helpless and short-lived, in the stupid euphemisms of military hardware.
The truth about those people who died today is that they had parents and children and lovers and friends; hopes and beliefs and prejudices and regrets. They had lives, and now they don’t. Does that matter, to anyone, anymore?