Editorial – November 2023: War Can Never Be Civilised.

Hello everyone,

It’s very difficult to have a happy philosophical discussion with the world currently going to pot in the background. I try to get my editorial first drafts written somewhere in the middle of the month, changing them if something serious happens where it might not be appropriate or like right now, the upheaval in the Middle East which is likely to escalate, especially with the number of civilian deaths on both sides. I don’t even have to tell you whom I’m referring to other than keeping below the goggle word identification. When the number of civilian deaths, especially children and women, are exceeded, you have to wonder which is the true aggressor? More so when they are causing more damage than the terrorist group they face in a war that has lasted for decades.

As I dealt with the Science Fiction aspect of this when the Russia/Ukraine war broke out, let’s deal with a different subject this time. Namely, the rules of war. You can look them up but as I’m going to comment on them, you can look read here first.

These United Nations laws prohibit murder, torture, hostage-taking, ‘humiliating and degrading treatment’ to prisoners and to treat the captured opposing side’s sick and wounded. Quite how that computes with each side shooting and bombing each others forces hardly makes it even more civilised. I mean, if you shoot them dead, they won’t be any prisoners. Has any war not had any of these aspects since World War 2? Like all rules, they tend to get broken if either side thinks they can get away with it. I’m not picking sides here, just viewing the evidence across the decades.

Thankfully, the ban on poisons, poisonous gases and biological weapons seems to be upheld if only because the user can also be affected by them. That hasn’t stopped either side in a war using landmines or anything that scatters deadly fragments, although these are also banned but still used. Oddly, nuclear weapons aren’t listed although there are enough pacts by those possessing them not to go that extreme without reprisals.

None of which makes war particularly civilised when the objective is to destroy military targets and their personal when non-combatants get in the way. Any military strategist will point out that its important to have some mobility to reduce your big weapons from being attacked and keep an eye out for spies. Concealment is important to avoid satellite detection. Wars are fought on so many fronts that the fantasy depiction of them looks far too simple when sides meet on a battlefield and missing the rest.

Legally, it says nothing about whether one side is bigger than the other or has more arms and how many missiles can be used. Two sides are rarely equal in any war. All the missile strikes in the world will still depend on ground troops and the balance can change different in unfamiliar territory as witnessed by the Russia/Ukraine war but that’s a different story. There is usually the concern from other countries as to whether any country has strategic importance that will cause problems for other nearby countries. As such, we have pacts like NATO where if one country is attacked, then the others will retaliate. It’s a good protection and hardly surprising more countries want to join it. Rogue nations having allies in different parts of the world instead of together can dovetail on blocs though.

There are even rules to surrender although I do find it a bit bizarre that both sides can continue to fight until a particular date and time instead of easing down to a waiting state. Granted battalions might not have heard the orders in progress but with the amount of communications these days, that does seem less than possible now. In the past, it just increased the number of attacks to literally get some last wartime strikes in before ending.

The main objective of any major country outside of the conflict is try to end a war and get people around a negotiating table to find a compromise to their differences. That is often a big problem as wars are generally fought over territory and/or religion and neither side will give way or appear weak. Waring countries don’t necessarily want to go that route.

Lives can be saved on both sides at the negotiating table but its never easy. A lot of the time its to get out of a stalemate where no one is winning. Compromises are where there is room to manoeuvre so both sides get something of what they want or enable a back-off.

Alas, wars tend to be uncivilised and that’s never likely to change. The original ‘Star Trek’ episode ‘A Taste Of Armageddon’ where casualties were decided by computer and each side customarily disintegrated their own people in ‘blast zones’ rather than fight each other. It looks like a civilised solution but then becomes a habit and the reason for the war to be forgotten over the centuries. Being forced to consider fighting each other for real by Starfleet officers forced a peace settlement.

Editorial – November 2023: War Can Never Be Civilised.
Editorial – November 2023: War Can Never Be Civilised.

That’s unlikely to happen on Earth but media coverage is a far different these days when it can be shown almost as soon as it happens. People are governed by what they see on the box or Net which is war isn’t only not pleasant but a lot of innocent lives lost as well, far out of proportion to the first attack. Not showing the bodies because it might hurt some people’s sensibilities neglects the needed impact for people to say it must stop. It can make villains of both countries unless there is a reduced escalation and for the better side to show that they won’t drop their behaviour lower than their opposition. Wars are fought on many levels and the media is now just one of them. Whether there can be a victory that way remains to be seen but it isn’t just normal people watching this but people in different countries’ governments as well. The dividing lines between good and bad is slowly or more rapidly being eroded. That’s not a road that any country should go down.

War is never that civilised. Try to outlaw it and there will be war. One can only wonder whoever is flying those UAPs hasn’t taken an interest and cast their vote to stop it.

Thank you, take care, good night and, for the record, I’m pro-peace.

Geoff Willmetts


A Zen thought: Peace is supposed to be a frame of mind, but look how quickly that can change.

What Qualities Does A Geek Have: Geeks are born not hatched.

The Reveal: The world is getting ever more dangerous.

Observation: I wonder why no one has thought to do a sequel to the 1982 film ‘The Final Countdown’ just to see how Richard Owens survives in 1941 to the present. Maybe as a TV series.

 Observation: Now here’s an odd thing from the ‘Aliens’ film. If the atmosphere processor is fully automated, why have a human village at Hadley’s Hope?

 Observation: I’ve been reading the photo version of the Troughton ‘Doctor Who’ of ‘The Abominable Snowman’ and the writer didn’t know what the real Yeti was doing in the last scene. Having seen it originally, it was scampering.

 Observation: Going back to the 1966 ‘Thunderbirds’, has anyone wondered how they get their daily newspaper and how any departing or arriving Thunderbirds avoid the news-plane? Of course, it could be a first instance of drone delivery but the same thing would also apply when you consider the backdrafts TB1 and TB2 create.

 Observation: Going back to the ‘Aliens’ film again, you do have to wonder why Ripley didn’t become some sort of media sensation considering she was in hypersleep for 57 years. Of course, Weyland-Yutani might own the press but considering Ripley didn’t know about her daughter, she was hardly given access to the media.

 Observation: In the 1966 film ‘Fantastic Voyage’, for a group that specialises in miniaturisation, the CMDF – Combined Miniature Deterrent Force – their base is extremely large.

 Feeling Stressed: At least you’re probably not caught in a war zone.




Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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