Wednesday, February 07, 2007
The 'friendly fire' incident in which an American A10 killed Corporal Matty Hull underlines my point about the contemporary quandary of knowing too much. The pilot was deluged with information and took, in the event, a wrong decision. Technology seems to made such incidents less likely - in previous wars 15 per cent of casualties were caused by friendly fire. But, though cases may be fewer, technology makes them more vivid and, therefore, more politically sensitive The publication of the A10's cockpit video dramatises the horror of the incident and reminds everybody of the cost of war. In such a climate, it becomes harder to accept the reality of the soldier's lot. As Tennyson put it, 'Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do and die...' The effect of technology in this case is to make us all know too much, too much at least comfortably to accept Tennyson's martial stoicism. Some will argue this is a good thing. But the reality is that it has not yet shown any signs of curing our species of its thirst for blood.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 8:20 am