This morning, the departure lounge in Shannon Airport is a sea of greying white coffee-ish camouflage uniforms. Young American men, toting healthy fresh-faced eagerness, No. 1 haircuts and coca-cola bottles. One or two pony tails bob in and out amongst the boys. Where are they going, is the first question I ask myself? The second is why? I buy a coffee and ask the cashier, where the soldiers are bound. He tells me Kuwait. That makes sense ... the colours of the uniforms... desert etc.
This doesn't answer my second question though. Why? They are not compelled to fight ... no conscription like the Vietnam War. Do they possess a real conviction of belief in American foreign policy; do they simply love the discipline of an ordered and ultra-physically challenging training regime, or do they just want A JOB ... ANY JOB!
I find myself thinking of Tony Blair, who I believe was at least the youngest British Prime Minister, and even at that he was around 45 years old, which isn't old, but is still at least twice the age of these young soldiers. Bernard-Henri Levy (French philosopher) believes Mr Blair to be one of the greatest European statesman of this era, even though he didn't agree with his illegal war in Iraq.
Most leaders, decision-making statesmen, flung worldwide, are over 45, veering towards their 70's, 80's and 90's in some cases. In other words, 'An Old Man's Club' with a sub-committee of 'Aging Warmongers'. These guys toss a coin or throw the dice for the game of war to start, and young men and fewer women find themselves in the killing fields, tackling, fouling, being off-side, defending, attacking... risking their lives in a war that has nothing whatsoever to do with them. Many do not even vote! Some have become so disillusioned, they don't bother to exercise their plebescite. In some jurisdictions, others are not of an age to vote, yet are considered old enough to die for their country by the so-called wise (wizened!) elders of society. The sheer hypocrisy and madness of it all!
Sometimes, I think some men ( not being sexist here ... just my honest opinion) are born strategists and quite possibly in the detachment of themselves for the 'cause', they forget that the blood of human life is coursing through the veins of their soldiers. These are not the lead soldiers of their childhood, painted and lovingly set up on a board in the library or dining room table, reliving the battles of Waterloo, Crimea, Trafalgar, and more recently World War I & II, Gulf Wars ... etc.
Sitting in Stansted railway station, I am concerned about the bodies and minds of the morning's youth.