Milan Vodicka: On the brink of war |

Milan Vodicka: On the brink of war

Other Voices
Milan Vodicka

War is one of the most difficult subjects to write about for me. The very thinking about it is horrifying.

Fortunately, I did not have to participate in any war directly. Yet, none of us can avoid the consequences of past wars – such as the existence of nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons. Or cyber warfare. Indirectly, here and now, the war is knocking on my door.

“The war will be, you can bet on it. They killed our uncle, I say to you, the war will be!” I am paraphrasing words of the good soldier Schweik, from the famous Jaroslav Hasek’s novel “The Good Soldier Švejk”. The “uncle” was Archduke Franz Ferdinand Carl Ludwig Joseph Maria of Austria (Dec. 18, 1863-June 28,1914), whose assassination in Sarajevo was the preamble and “the cause” of World War I.

This is just one of many events precipitating wars. If there is to be a war, it needs to be justified. It needs to have a cause. A believable cause. It does not matter whether this cause is real, or just concocted, or artificially created. It just has to appear believable.

There are other examples of “causes” for wars. Hitler, as a pretext to invade Poland (the start of World War II), staged attacks by “Poles” on “Germans” . They were actually carried out by Nazis dressed in polish uniforms. The “evidence” were “German” dead bodies left behind. In fact, those dead bodies were of concentration camp prisoners, placated in uniforms of the German army. You can read more about this incident and another eight wars started under false pretexts at The Nazis World War II struggle was ostensibly for “the New Europe.”

As far as America goes, some of us are old enough to remember the pretext of “weapons of mass destructions” for the war against Iraq. They never materialized.

In 1968, I was a war victim, by deed of a foreign power. The Soviet Union, under the unjustified pretext of necessity “to crush the counter-revolution,” occupied Czechoslovakia. I know how it felt then. It was the leadership of the Soviet Union, six or so old men of the Kremlin Politburo that decided to invade. I and many of my countrymen wrestled with the question “how to respond?” Put all Russians — people, mind you — on the “enemies list?”

Now, imagine that some foreign power assassinated, say by a drone, a U.S. general visiting Germany. How would you feel? This is fundamental — the event would not be just about the general. It would be about you and your thoughts and feelings. As an aftermath of Mr. Trump’s order to kill the Iranian general, I can easily imagine an Iranian anti-aircraft battery commander, suffering by “they killed my uncle” syndrome, pressing the button to revenge his death. One hundred seventy three people in the commercial airliner paid with their lives.

The events forming war related consequences act as a chain. If someone yanks a link on one end of it, it shows at a link at the other end. I wish world leaders would be keenly aware of this. Are they aware what they are responsible for?

Let me tell you a revealing story about responsibility. I used it when teaching engineering: the discipline that might involve safety of bridges not collapsing or someone not being electrocuted by a shoddy electrical design.

Ahead of the first U.S. test of the hydrogen bomb (remember, 1,000 times more powerful than the atomic bomb) somebody raised the question: “Wait a minute, what if the hydrogen in the Earth atmosphere entered the reaction and the whole planet would be destroyed?” One of the inventor physicists (so the story goes) pulled up his yellow note pad, perhaps a slide rule (who knows today what that is?), made some calculations, and said, “ … go ahead, it will be OK.”

Would you like to have that responsibility? Take that kind of risk “perhaps I made an error?”

Well, our current president, Mr. Trump, has the power and responsibility for war decisions. Did he respect this power and responsibility for the possible consequences when ordering to kill the general of Iran?

Are you OK with anyone yanking the chain of war? Ask yourself.

Milan Vodicka has been a Nevada County resident since 1978.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.