How are wars still a thing?

I’ve spent far too long today reading articles about this whole Syria business. (I also fleetingly thought about how close I am to Syria in distance. When you drive to Karpaz, the edge of the island, you can pick up Syrian radio stations.) And most of the things we’re doing as part of our “wars” are technically illegal. So how are wars still a thing?

When I first started reading, I was genuinely confused about why exactly it was so terrible that it was chemical weapons. I mean, the death toll is still under a hundred. (Which sounds callous, but way more Syrians died trying to cross the Mediterranean last year, so why does the world care about this?) So Google told me that apparently the big fuss is because after WWI, everyone got really turned off by the horrible after-effects of gas warfare and considered them the most taboo. And then around the Cold War, people decided it was time for everyone to destroy the chemical weapons they were all secretly making. Which is of course an absurd idea; why would a country willingly give up all its weapons on faith that everyone else is doing it? Syria claimed to have destroyed all of their weapons, but gasp shock, that was a lie. (Nobody’s shocked by that.)

And then I started reading about how Trump did zero of the things necessary to make his retaliation legal in America. Although presidents do that all the time and people barely even register it. But the domestic legality is actually moot since the attack is internationally illegal. The UN did not approve it and it wasn’t self-defense, which seems to be necessary. And yet nobody seems to be talking about how insanely illegal it was. Instead, countries are praising him. Praise for an illegal attack.

Although we’re constantly bombing in other countries. So why is that legal? Well, apparently we justify those by saying we’re fighting ISIS or Al Queda or whatever. And this was clearly a Syrian airbase, not anything we can pretend was related to terrorism. But then if you shift your focus to the “War on Terror” it becomes clear that tons of civilians are being killed. Around 1,400 civilian deaths in March in Syria and Iraq. And it’s not entirely clear if we’re actually doing anything to reduce terrorism.

I just don’t understand war. And I tried really hard today to wrap my head around it, but I can’t. The numbers don’t make sense, the justifications are bullshit, everybody knows they’re bullshit and they don’t care, and in the end, a ton of people die. People who have nothing to do with what everyone else claims they’re fighting for. The distinction between civilian and soldier makes me feel so sad too. Because soldiers agree to fight someone else’s fight with their suddenly expendable lives. If I ever had a child who wanted to join an army, I would be so absolutely furious with them…

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