The hidden scope of war

3 Jan

The horrors of war are easily depicted in photographs of violence and inhumanity. Recently I saw another kind of war photo. In some respects, its relative tranquility was more unsettling than battlefield scenes.

The aerial picture was of trucks, perhaps hundreds of them, all carrying fuel. They were not moving. Rather, they were creating a monumental traffic jam on an expansive thoroughfare through Karachi, Pakistan. They owned the road. Only two or three other cars can be seen.

Their fuel was going to feed our war in Afghanistan. With so many trucks about, it was difficult to believe this part of the city could be concerned with anything else.

I found it startling to see that much fuel assembled in a single moment, in a single day, for a single purpose. It reminded me of Herodotus’ report on the massive Persian army that invaded Greece. In his account, he relates how the camping soldiers would routinely drink three or four rivers dry.

An exaggeration for sure, but, like the truck photo, a telling description of war’s magnitude.

The photo I saw was in the Dec. 19 Bloomberg Businessweek.  It sent three thoughts coursing through my mind:

What incredible resolve, determination and expense it takes to wage war.

  1. Americans can never know or measure the effects, good and bad, that the non-violent side of war has on a primitive economy and its culture, or what happens when it suddenly goes away.
  2. If the U.S. didn’t have to move all those fuel trucks across the world, how many more roads, bridges and schools could be built at home, and would Social Security and Medicare even be a problem?

One photo did this to me. I suggest you take a look and maybe read the accompanying article, “Convoy of Chaos.” Please comment and criticize.

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