Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Masters of War

1. (from Lucky Strike by Kim Stanley Robinson)

…A thug. In peacetime, Fitch would be hanging around a pool table, giving cops trouble. He was perfect for war. …Moving past Haddock, January stopped to stare at the group of men in the navigation cabin. They joked, drank coffee. They were all a bit like Fitch: young toughs, capable and thoughtless. They were having a good time, an adventure. That was January’s dominant impression of his companions in the 509th; despite all the bitching and occasional moments of overmastering fear, they were having a good time. His mind spun forward and he saw what these young men would grow up to be like as clearly as if they stood before him in businessmen’s’ suits, prosperous and balding. They’d be tough and capable and thoughtless, and as the years passed and the great war receded in time they’d look back on it with ever-increasing nostalgia, for they would be the survivors and not the dead. Every year of the war would feel like ten in their memories, so that the war would always remain the central experience of their lives- a time when history lay palpable in their hands, when each of their daily acts affected it, when moral issues were simple, and others told them what to do- so that as more years passed and the survivors aged, bodies falling apart, lives in one rut or the other, they’d unconsciously push harder and harder to thrust the world into war again, thinking somewhere inside themselves that if they could only return to world war then they would magically again be as they were in the last one- young and free, and happy. And by that time, they’d hold positions of power, they would be capable of doing it.

So there would be more wars, January saw. He heard it in Matthew’s eyes, saw it in their excited eyes. … He saw more planes, more young crews like this one, flying to Moscow, no doubt, or wherever, fireballs in every capital, why not? And to what end? To what end? So the old men could hope to become magically young again. Nothing more sane than that.

2. (Masters of war by Bob Dylan)

Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build the big bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks

You that never done nothin'
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it's your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain

You fasten the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion
As young people's blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud

You've thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain't worth the blood
That runs in your veins

How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I'm young
You might say I'm unlearned
But there's one thing I know
Though I'm younger than you
Even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul

And I hope that you die
And your death'll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I'll watch while you're lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I'll stand o'er your grave
'Til I'm sure that you're dead.


Usha said...

So so true! Why doesn't the experience of war and the terror of death they have faced every moment of their lives make them swear to get rid of wars for ever. Is it also the euphoria of herohood when one survives a War that makes them perversely nostalgic about it?
And Bob Dylan articulates so well the anger that we all feel toward these war monging megalomaniacs.

Thanks for sharing 2 beautiful pieces of writing.

A.R.Malik said...

Thanks Usha. Yes, Dylan's furious in this 1 with the people who perpetrate war.