Unrealistic portrayal of war
War, and the experience of war, tends to be portrayed through manifold layers of comforting illusion built up like strips of emotional insulation around the plain, nearly unbearable abomination of what actually occurs. War is characterized by many fatal errors, gunners shooting down their own airplanes, planes bombing their own troops. It includes the deliberate shooting of officers by their own troops, sadistic behaviour, dismemberment of bodies, acts of cowardice and betrayal, a smutty cynicism on the part of the fighting men, and the unnecessary slaughter of civilians. The many instances of unreason, accident and contingency tend to be rationalized subsequently as design. Personal acts of confusion, indecency and fear, such as simply shitting one's pants, are embarrassing repressed. Much of the reality of war is obscured behind a retrospective campaign of prettification and glorification. Authorized war correspondents self-censor a good proportion of the unpalatable truths. The ostensible reason is to maintain public innocence and support for the war. The effect of the euphemized and sanitized remains mixed with false data and false assumptions about human nature and behaviour, present either a world without a complicated principle of evil or where all evil is easily displaced onto one simplified recipient. This obscures the tendency of war to descend to a kind of generalized barbarism, to acts of slaughter like the firebombing of Dresden, that have no military value and thus lack any moral meaning. And even without these things war is at its best killing, maiming and wounding - as one writer has called it "insensate savagery".
There has been so much talk of the good war, the justified war, the necessary war, that the young and the innocent could get the impression that it was not really such a bad thing after all. However it is essentially stupid and sadistic. It takes a special honesty, even if that honesty arises from despair, to perceive that some events, being inhuman, have no human meaning.
Without the sacrifice of those who die in such terrible circumstances, the nations would be cowed or crushed by tyranny.