Fools going to war?

Apart from the haircut, perhaps the most remarkable feature of Mr. Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, is that he is quite a young man (only 33 years old) and an angry young man to boot! After old Mr. Don Trum-up threatened to destroy his country in a speech to the United Nations (sic), the North Korean response was to heap abuse on a doddering old man who has his finger on the biggest trigger in the world (and also has an absurd hairstyle). The Korean expression used was translated as ”mentally deranged dotard.” Many members of the American psychological profession apparently back up this assessment.

No doubt next year there will be lots of events to commemorate the end of the First World War (1914-18), a conflict that resulted in the deaths of millions of men, mostly in the ”flower of their youth.” Since then and particularly during the 20th Century – the age of extremes – millions more young men have been persuaded to bomb, strafe and snipe at their enemies in an endless blood-rush of fury and destruction. Surveying the ruins, it is hard to conclude that the species homo sapiens represents the apex of natural selection on Earth, rather the opposite: that people have had considerable difficulties dragging themselves beyond the entrances to their caves despite 70,000 years of technological progress.

Indeed, we seem powerless in the face of grunting stand-offs between off-balance dictators and their militarised minions. Disarmament negotiations are discarded in favour of chest beating from the decks of aircraft carriers and wild screams from submarines as groups of alpha males groom themselves in ridiculous uniforms while preparing for the great showdown. In a world cluttered to overflowing with guns and ammunition, nuclear missiles and poison gas, barbed wire and improvised explosive devices, I fear that many fools in powerful places don’t need much encouragement to resort to using weapons in pursuit of an illusion of security.

Or do they? Perhaps modern youth will be able to distinguish between war games on their video modules and smartphones and the crazed ranting of bitter politicians trying to convince one group of citizens to hate another. For the time being I rest my case and keep my one eye on the Korean peninsula.

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