“The bad news is that this ongoing nuclear arms race [between India and Pakistan] receives little real attention in terms of what would happen if both sides actually went to war. The good news, from a ruthlessly “realist” viewpoint, is that such a human tragedy does not necessarily have serious grand strategic consequences for other states, and might well have benefits.”
Anthony H. Cordesman, Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Slaugherhouse Five considers time travel, Tralfamadorians, and the 1945 firebombing of Dresden, Germany, which slaughtered tens of thousands of civilians. Vonnegut was there as a POW. He saw the aftermath of the bombing, an episode that might be said to have altered his comic perspective. Here he reads an excerpt from the book.
The photographer Alexander Gardner recorded the unromantic aftermath of the bloodiest day in American history. In September 1862, he came to the Battle of Antietam after some 4,000 soldiers were killed in a 12-hour period. He may well have been the first photographer to document the battlefield dead.
An article in Slate which tells the story displays a curious title: “The Battlefield Photos That Changed Everything.” Realistic photographs of war have made an impact, but have they really changed “everything” — or indeed, anything?
“What do you think an artist is? An imbecile who has nothing but eyes if he is a painter, or ears if he is a musician, or a lyre at every level of his heart if he is a poet, or nothing but muscles if he is a boxer? Quite the contrary, he is at the same time a political being, constantly aware of what goes on in the world, whether it be harrowing, bitter, or sweet, and he cannot help being shaped by it. How would it be possible not to take an interest in other people, and to withdraw into an ivory tower from participation in their existence? No, painting is not interior decoration. It is an instrument of war for attack and defense against the enemy.”
Pablo Picasso, 1945
Before World War One, German artist Kathe Kollwitz produced artwork showing terrible poverty and boiling social tensions. She had already mastered a mother’s expression of grief over a dead child. During the War, her own son died. Her lithographs and woodcuts afterwards, showing the effects of war, were simpler than past work – more essential. Their intensity is overwhelming.
French artist Edmond Guilliaume’s 1870 portrait of Wilhelm I, proclaimed the first German emperor in the Hall of Versailles during the Franco-Prussian War. Glorious wars were to follow!
In his Disasters of War series, Francisco Goya celebrated man’s majestic ingenuity in the trumpeted Age of Enlightenment. He gave the image below the following description:
“A heroic feat! With dead men”
Our time must also be the age of enlightenment! How comforting that, in our evolved state, we’re still capable of such creative masterworks!
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The impressive Bureau of Investigative Journalism has already determined more than 2,500 people have been killed by drone strikes in Pakistan. But it didn’t know many of their names. Now that’s going to change.
The bombing of Hiroshima as a children’s cartoon? Seriously eerie.
The YouTube comments provoked by the dark cartoon are always worth a look.
From our gallery of ongoing YouTube INFILTRATIONS. This one is based on an article about a Pakistani girl with a deep fear of drones.