With a muffled-yet-resounding crump, the four-story building about half a mile upriver on the opposite bank crumbled under a barrage from unseen artillery. Cordite and concrete filled the air, an intoxicating and inhuman mix. After a minute or so, the smoke cleared enough for the ruins to be made out. Nothing moved. Nothing living remained. A brief cheer went up from the embattled bastion, and their commander gave a quiet sigh of relief before speaking into the radio.
“Good hit, good hit on One. I repeat, good hit on Fortification One. I can confirm that no further enfilade is being received from upriver, we are secure. Cease bombardment. Repeat, cease bombardment.”
How significant was this victory? It certainly brought about a cessation of combat which, however temporary, was desperately welcome. In such circumstances, the passage of time becomes impossible to gauge, so that the men and women who had been struggling to weather the assault felt as if they had been fighting for days, weeks, months…
Their enemies seemed incessant. Drawing from an eternity of enmity. Every bullet, missile and rifle a tool eminently necessary to extricate them from their circumstances. What else could they use? All they had left was a desire to eliminate the chains which had held them for so long, and the methods of violence which could assist them in doing so. The decision to fight for one’s survival is no decision at all when no alternative remains.
The military denizens of the riverside barracks were unaware of this. The soldiers viewed their opposition as an exterminator might view vermin; unpleasant, nasty, disgusting nuisances…which necessitate their existence. As one grizzled, surprisingly vegetarian NCO liked to put it, “We’re only good for crackin’ heads…so let’s give thanks to ‘em for givin’ us some heads to crack, at least!”
Infantry and commander were as one in their reading of the situation: The state must be protected. The government must be the rulers of the state. The rulers are always legitimate. Rebels are always illegitimate. Establishment good, challenges bad. Status quo ante bellum.
A spade is never a shovel.
Solidarity, brothers & sisters…☮