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I was reminded today of a visit, many years ago now, of a young man, lately grown into a venerable senior State Senator in a prominent mid-west state.  We went, as most tourists do even yet, to Edinburgh Castle and visited the Chapel of Remembrance there.  Here, all the dead of Scotland’s two World Wars are listed.

But where”, the Senator in waiting asked, gazing round at the bare stonework, ” where are all the names?” I had to draw his attention to the books lining the walls at chest level.  Each filled with page after page after page of names. There had not been space to cut their names into the walls.

America with her population of 203 million in 1970 lost around 58,000 in the entire Vietnam War.  Britain by contrast, in the first hour, of the first day, of the first battle of the Somme lost 60,000.

Russia, whose eastern front won the Second World War for the allies, lost perhaps 20,000,000 people overall.

The scale of the devastation to families of a century of war in Europe colours her attitude to getting involved in today’s American Wars.  The scale of loss is what marks the differences in Europe’s attitude to Wars.  It’s certainly not one of fearing conflict, rather an appreciation of the true cost and futility of war.

Copyright David Macadam 2012

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