Armistice Day

by John Q on November 10, 2023

I’ve been posting on Armistice Day ever since I started blogging back in 2002, arguing against war and lamenting the disaster of the Great War which has cast a shadow over all of our subsequent history, including the terrible wars that afflict the world today. This year, I’m too depressed to say anything more, except to express the hope that peace will come one day.



Cora Diamond 11.10.23 at 11:43 pm

Two things that help one’s thinking about that war: one is the remarkable book of photos and captions reminding one of Goya’s use of captions, The First World War: a Photographic History, edited by Laurence Stallings, from 1933, and the other is spending a day in north France with one of the guides who can take one around and help one take in something of what it was like. —- Just the names, the huge number of the names of the regiments on the monument at Thiepval, hit one hard. The people who do this sort of tour will design a tour for you. What (among other things) stays with me is the sense that was conveyed of such things as being helpless in the wood here with big trees being hit by artillery, and the trees and great branches crashing down on one. There are a thousand awful things that that war was, and the guides are very good at helping one take some of it in.


craig fritch 11.11.23 at 1:28 am

I am a etired elementay schoolteacher. Back in the day the standard treatment of Nov 11 was to, basically, glorify it all. Kids drew pictures of tanks & explosions. I started mphasizing Peace, the need to stop the glorification. It seem that my turn is now the norm.


Austin Loomis 11.11.23 at 3:47 am

“I like to believe that people, in the long run, are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.”
— then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Radio and Television Broadcast with then-Prime Minister Harold Macmillan in London, 8/31/59


bad Jim 11.11.23 at 6:52 am

Nicholson Baker’s “Human Smoke” is a chronological collection of brief excerpts of texts from the first half of the twentieth century, foregrounding the hopes, disappointments and despair of the pacifist movement, set alongside the fascist bombast which made it clear that pacifism would not suffice as a response, and reporting which made it clear that the Allied strategies of blockade and bombing were crimes against humanity.

The lesson seems to be that war can’t necessarily be avoided. The problem then is how to win, or at least survive. At least some atrocities, like poison gas, have mostly fallen out of favor, though others just as ineffectual continue in use, like bombing civilians.


engels 11.11.23 at 10:48 am

Nicholas Soames, a former Conservative minister and a grandson of Winston Churchill, said that while he understood some of the concerns around the march, he had confidence in the police. He stressed that those who died in the first world war died for freedoms such as the right to protest… “These people are coming to demonstrate on a cause which, in anyone’s terms, looks to me like a catastrophe,” he said. Stressing that “nothing can ever forgive what Hamas did”, Soames went on to call for a ceasefire. “The British government are quite right to support Israel in its moment of agony but surely there comes a moment when the terror that is being dispensed by the Israelis to the [Palestinian] civilians … children dying in great numbers … that the moment really has come for a far greater effort, involving Britain, to secure a ceasefire,” he said. “I think it is the moment for ceasefire – I think that this has gone on enough.”


Batocchio 11.11.23 at 11:57 am

I hear ya. My post this year mostly linked previous posts, because I don’t feel there’s much to write that I haven’t already. I will say I’ve appreciated your past Armistice Day posts and I know others have, too. Best wishes, and peace to us all.


hix 11.11.23 at 1:14 pm

It really is more depressing than usual, since the conflicts we never hear about in the media are also getting worse. I was hoping for a different outcome, looking it up.
The deadliest one in 2022 was the one in Ethiopia.

Somehow, Ethiopians still got trouble getting asylum in Germany. Ukrainians, in contrast, all get automatic asylum with most of the chicanery for asylum seekers not applied to them. They still get the usual bureaucrat mistreatment for all welfare receipts. Russians that try to dodge the military service hardly ever get asylum granted. There is just no logic to the system, neither a pragmatic one nor one based on justice or need.


Psychoceramicist 11.11.23 at 8:19 pm

Something that I think has gone unremarked upon is that the rise of right-wing populism in the 2010s happened at the same time that World War 2 faded from living memory. I don’t think that’s coincidental. The world is now full of people that see fascism lite as a middle finger to “the Establishment”.


Alan White 11.12.23 at 12:50 am

Yes, thank you John for this reminder that this day should not celebrate war, but hope for peace. I’m depressed too because as bad as things are at least our current President is trying to navigate war semi-reasonably, but I see that Kennedy is polling in double-digits, and with West and Stein running too, it’s all too real that Trump will be back in the Oval Office and things will really disintegrate from there.


nastywoman 11.12.23 at 6:09 am

it used to be –
that each time
as @8 wrote – ‘faded from living memory’ – the next WAR was waged –
and WE really had hoped that
this time!
in this generation!
the cycle got broken…
And that it didn’t is entirely the fault of the Re-Rise of Fascism.


AnthonyB 11.12.23 at 11:44 pm

“non dulce non et decor”


Alan White 11.13.23 at 6:29 am

For those who may not get @11

Dulce et Decorum Est


Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.


bad Jim 11.13.23 at 6:39 am

Once upon a time the business of the nobility was warfare.
They were the few with the means, the training and the hardware.
It was their very reason for being, and when they weren’t defending themselves from their similarly motivated and equally equipped peers, or expanding at the expense of their neighbors, they were occasionally obligated to join their erstwhile foes in expeditions against more distant peers.

That was hundreds of years ago, of course. We’ve come a long way since then.


nastywoman 11.13.23 at 3:28 pm

‘Once upon a time the business of the nobility was warfare’.

Not only
– ‘the business of the nobility’ –
as in nearly every ancient tribe
‘the utmost mighty warriors’
became the Leaders –
and so in the Archaeology of Hate for far too long the Warriors who hate most –
were the heroes.


Seekonk 11.13.23 at 4:56 pm

As we remember the victims of combat, we should promote the arbitration of international disputes. The routine resort to the use of force is barbaric, particularly given the increasing lethality of modern weaponry. The only beneficiaries of warfare are arms dealers and those who rely on force to advance their interests.


engels 11.15.23 at 10:51 am

The Pentagon has quietly ramped up military aid to Israel, delivering on requests that include more laser-guided missiles for its Apache gunship fleet, as well as 155mm shells, night-vision devices, bunker-buster munitions and new army vehicles, according to an internal Defense Department list. The weapons pipeline to Israel is extending beyond the well-publicized provision of Iron Dome interceptors and Boeing Co. smart bombs. It continues even as Biden administration officials increasingly caution Israel about trying to avoid civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip…


Rcriii 11.15.23 at 2:04 pm

“… except to express the hope that peace will come one day.” Thank goodness you still have some hope. You are one of the most optimistic people I read, please don’t lose that hope!


engels 11.22.23 at 9:46 pm

The British government has blocked MPs asking any questions about activity at RAF Akrotiri, its vast air base on Cyprus, Declassified can reveal. Blocking all parliamentary questions from MPs is a highly unusual move. Government departments routinely refuse to answer specific questions about military operations for reasons of “national security”, but blocking all questions by elected parliamentarians goes far beyond the usual level of Whitehall secrecy. It comes after Declassified revealed the RAF has made over 30 military transport flights to Tel Aviv since Israel began bombing Gaza. The Ministry of Defence refused to provide us any detail of the cargo or personnel on the flights. Just this morning an A400M Atlas military transport aircraft operated by the RAF landed in Tel Aviv from Akrotiri. The aircraft can carry 116 soldiers, a Chinook helicopter or a payload of 37 tonnes.

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