Rod Dreher, the Crunchy Con Man, reads All Quiet on the Western Front and discovers that skepticism toward warmaking and a doubtful mind toward those who agitate for combat doesn't spring universally from absolutist pacifism. That a grown man with a family and career has just chanced upon this realization is indicative of something, but I'm not sure how to say it with derision appropriate to its cosmic stupidity.
And yet it's not so uncommon to hear adults, educated beyond most of their peers, relatively aware of Western history, reasonably well-read, and not prone in their daily lives to bouts of simplemindedness, express the utmost shock at the mendacity underlying the war in Iraq. Somehow, though almost every great work by current or former soldiers exposes the horror, cruelty, absurdity, and barbarism of war--the way it cripples the body and maims the soul if you survive--they have to be reminded again and again that warfare isn't a method of national therapy.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.