January 6th, 2005
|12:05 pm - Groundwater poisoning. That's what it is.|
It's part of a scorched earth policy. You retreat slowly, backing away from the perceived opponent. At this point, you have nothing left to lose, and you know you have nothing to gain.
Because you know that you will never advance again, you begin to attempt to make it impossible for your enemy to use what you are giving up. You burn all fields, destroy all bridges, and dismantle railroad lines and roads. Finally, you poison the water so that nothing can survive in the place you have left to the enemy.
In the end, you have destroyed the earth. Nothing will grow there. Nothing will graze there. The barren earth is the only result of your actions.
And you huddle with what's left of your allies in the dark and wait for the end.
I've often wondered if, in their last desperate stand, the people who have done this realize that they've effectively destroyed themselves, taken away all their hope, and finally ended with absolutely nothing to show for it except empty stomachs and vile hatred. Do they realize it? Or does the hatred feed them, give them strength? Do they believe that they are the only ones who are right? Do they believe they have saved themselves?
I don't know. All I know is that it must be dark and cold to huddle alone, wondering if it's going to work, and whether you've destroyed yourself in the process. The nagging feeling that you did must be a terrible thing to bear on your conscience.
See, that military history degree of mine makes for interesting thoughts. :)
Current Mood: curious
Current Music: "Just an Old Truth Teller", -JB
anger is that last fig leaf.....when you've lost everything, if you can hold on to anger and hate to sustain you, to get you through, to make you fight back, even if you are fighting the undeserving, then you can make it.
once you lose the anger and hate, then their is despair and acceptance. if one accepts that they've lost, then the battle is well over.
Yes. That is a think I know much more about than is comfortable sometimes. Three cheers for military history and tactical training.
Its interesting. I spend quite a bit of time wondering what it would be like to be right at the end of things. Is it better to go out fighting, or to allow your people to pass on in a more peaceful way. Maybe, at times its just a better option to destroy everything than to allow your enemy to use it, and advance further into other areas.
Leave it to me to distill this all into (yet another) chaos vs. order thang. It's childish and incredibly selfish, but some folks still think that when they're unsuccessful at imposing their idea of order upon the world (i.e., they don't get their way) the thing to do is to make such a mess of things that no one else can either. There are (at least) two problems with this approach: (a) it doesn't work, and (b) it invariably hurts the wounder far more than the intended woundee.
When I was a kid, my sister (who is a year older) and I used to take turns setting the dinner table. We used paper cups for our milk, and they came in four colors -- red, yellow, green and blue. My brother's favorite color was green, and since he was eight years older and a bully, we ALWAYS gave him the green cup. However, my sister and I both liked blue, and I can't tell you how many fights this caused between us. Usually, the way to get the cup you wanted was to lick the rim, "marking" it, as your own -- the idea being that once you had imposed your germs on that cup, no one else would want to use it.
I admit, I was a brat back then, and there were times when I just HAD to have my way -- by whatever means possible. So one evening when my sister was setting the table, I grabbed a whole stack of cups from the dispenser, took out all the blue ones and licked the rims of each and every one. I knew I wouldn't actually get
all the blue cups, but I figured if I
couldn't have my blue cup, then no one
else would, either. It was selfish, childish... and it got me grounded for a week when my sister told my mom what I'd done.
I was such a brat as a kid, I learned some hard lessons about being a selfish brat. Apparently, there are scads of people in this universe that never did figure it out. Maybe their moms just rolled their eyes and gave them what they wanted instead of grounding them for a week like mine did -- who knows?
As much as I'd like to think that as adults, we all learned to behave ourselves with a certain degree of maturity, it still
stuns me to incredulity when I witness or hear about folks who pull that "scorched-earth" thing (or "licked-cup" thing, if you prefer). Even if they don't believe in karma, they must
have learned by now that when they pull that crap, it comes back to bite their asses far worse than any damage they could possibly cause to anyone else.
I don't get it -- how come they don't get it?
Well, because it *doesn't* always bite people on the ass. Look at what Rome did to Carthage. Didn't really seem to hurt Rome at all- just utterly desroyed Carthage.
And Sherman destroyed Georgia, but look at the South today.
When Rome took the walls at Carthage, though, the Carthaginians burned the streets as they retreated. The last defenders died in a fire of their own setting.
After the Senate ordered the destruction of the city, Polybius said that he feared the same would happen to Rome. Rome did eventually get sacked.
Having heard my sister justify various things the government does in wartime (& being aware that scorched earth involves destruction of all forms of fertility, including women), I'm not sure that many of are particularly troubled by their consciences. Maybe I'm cynical, but I'm pretty well convinced that people who employ such tactics have no conscience.