CIVILIZED WAR: A POEM
We’ve not become so civilized as to end war:
But we’ve become too civilized to win war.
We decry the necessary brutality that war summons
taking pains to avert another Dresden,
While our enemies lop off heads;
and, laugh at our Geneva Convention vanity,
from urban redoubts behind civilian kryptonite.
They are not hypocrites like us,
who pretend that war has rules,
lest we not feel good about ourselves.
Perhaps it is that the wars we have
chosen to fight of late, are not of survival.
Perhaps they have been mechanisms
of greed to oil the economic wheels.
Perhaps we would recover the strength of will
to see war clearly, if the threat were existential.
Perhaps we would then deploy at war
the fullest, most brutal measure of our power
adhering only to the one honest rule of war,
should we be dragged into its madness –
that immoral slaughterhouse –
“Win by whatever device necessary.”
Knowing that afterwards, it is the victors
who will order rules, the vanquished
will be charged to have violated.
© 2014 by Robert S. Steinberg, Esquire
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