THE WAR POETRY WEBSITE
The following is a poem from ,
Kosovo War Poetry, which was published in 2000.
I don’t know what thoughts this poem might inspire, but there are many ideas that were in my mind at the time that I wrote it. I have often thought about the topic of how most people strive to add to the well-
December 1999, New Year's Eve was approaching and I thought of the dawning of a new century and a new millenium. This poem was in part inspired by the first pictures of the earth taken from space. For the first time we could see the whole earth in one picture, one planet for one race, the human race. In the simplest possible terms Making or Breaking sets out the choice before each of us. Further comments follow the poem.
MAKING OR BREAKING
We inherit the world,
the whole of history,
our place on earth,
our place in time,
our fortune, good or bad,
in one picture,
we see our entire planet:
for the first time.
for the breaking
12 December 1999
The promoters of narrow patriotism, nationalism and racism suffer from a moral short-
All races are in a minority. All need the support and co-
The fate of the people of the world is linked. We prosper or die together. We have a choice.
The dawning of a new century
As a new century approached, one hundred years before my poem was written, Thomas Hardy had taken another view, a far more poetic response. See his poem, The Darkling Thrush.
Kosovo War Poetry by David Roberts is published in paperback by Saxon Books .
An oft studied poem from Kosovo War Poetry. About the book -
I seek no glory.
I bear no anger.
I hate no man.
I do the unspeakable
on behalf of the ungrateful.
I bomb targets chosen by others.
I have surrendered my will
to a higher authority.
I trust the cause to be right
and the methods appropriate.
There is no place for questioning.
There can be no other way.
I do my duty.
You can rely on me.
I will not let you down.
Though my task may be dangerous,
neither fear nor doubt
will prevent me.
Physically and mentally
my ability is exceptional.
My judgement and reflexes
are trained to perfection.
I am chosen from the elite,
the very best.
Many accord me
I possess power beyond imagination.
Like a god I roar through the heavens,
the earth beneath me,
the whole of creation
available to me,
awaiting my quick shot
of death and destruction.
My victims are unaware of me.
I am unaware of my victims.
They go about their lives
not knowing only a few seconds remain.
We are arriving
at the appointed time and place.
At a touch I fix their fate.
in mid conversation,
and they are gone.
I cannot pretend it was difficult.
Their will was done,
and I, merely an instrument of death.
I did my duty,
but I accept no guilt.
I come down to earth
as a man among men,
I easily blend.
I am not available for comment.
I am not an item of news. The story is elsewhere.
I return to my family
as if nothing has happened.
Aleksinac, Serbia, 1999, where three civilians were killed when a NATO pilot aimed to bomb the Deligrad barracks some distance away. See below for more information on what the bombing did to Serbia.
Sources of ideas behind The Pilot’s Testament
An influence in this poem was a conversation I had about 1981 when I chatted to a British bomber pilot in a squash club in Haywards Heath [UK]. I asked him if he he would hesitate to obey orders if he were told to drop a nuclear bomb. He said he wouldn't hesitate for a moment. It was not his job to choose the targets. It was not his responsibility. The system could not work if he could pick and chose the orders he would obey.
I asked, "What if thousands or tens of thousands were to die as a result?" He said he knew that he would only be asked to drop a nuclear bomb if it was necessary for the protection of Britain and he would never regret doing his duty.
It seems to be necessary to point out that when NATO bombers bombed Yugoslavia no NATO country had been attacked or even threatened by Yugoslavia. Self defence is the only acceptable reason for waging war under the |UN Charter which 188 nations have signed up to. The NATO Treaty which governs the military actions of NATO countries also only permitted war in self defence. However, this was changed without it being brought to the attention of the public or even members of the British parliament on 24 April 1999 when a new NATO agreement was signed in Washington. NATO ministers agreed to act illegally under the UN Charter and wage war for a variety of non-
The first victim of war is morality. Wars are always failures -
The fighter in any war faces difficult moral questions. Anyone who believes that organised aggression by states may sometimes be wrong has some serious thinking and explaining to do about this military action.
Sadly, some people have unswerving faith in their leaders, believe that they can do no wrong, and therefore have no need to question any of their actions.
People who pay taxes that fund wars and live in countries that declare war on others cannot evade their moral responsibility. Do they condone aggression by pretending that nothing has happened or do they take steps to make their opposition to violence abundantly clear to their government and other people.
Are some kinds of warfare more moral than others?
Some readers will have noted the influence of Ted Hughes on this poem. See his Hawk Roosting.
Kosovo War poetry by David Roberts is published in paperback by Saxon Books
It includes the two poems above and 29 others. There is a nine page introduction.
ISBN 0 952 8969 2 3
See the page about the Kosovo War Poetry book for a link to Amazon and, through the Amazon link, associated book suppliers.
(Extracts from the introduction to Kosovo War Poetry)
The most powerful military alliance the world has ever known, conducted the most intensive bombing campaign in the history of warfare against Serbia, the poorest and most miserable country in Europe.
For eleven weeks the war dominated the media. Since then the immense tragedy and crime of the war have faded from public view. Yet the desperate human consequences, and the long-
Starting on 24 March 1999 the war was a 78 day concerted action by the air forces of 13 of NATO’s 19 member nations. It was the first time in the fifty years’ existence of NATO that its forces had been used aggressively -
. . .
The effects of the bombing of Serbia
In eleven weeks the NATO air forces flew over 36,000 sorties and dropped over 23,000 bombs and missiles on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia, Vojvodina, Kosovo, and Montenegro). These included 400 cruise missiles, cluster bombs, and highly toxic depleted uranium bombs.
Targets included the military forces, bases and equipment of the Serbian army. In addition the bombing damaged or destroyed 144 major industrial plants including all Yugoslavia’s oil refineries, fuel storage facilities, car and motorcycle factories, pharmaceutical and fertiliser factories, rubber factories. The bombing of some of these released large quantities of dangerous chemicals into the environment, created an oil slick on the Danube 20 kilometres long, and put 600, 000 people out of work.
Damaged or destroyed were several thousand homes (mainly in Belgrade, Nis, Cuprija, Aleksinac and Pristina), 33 clinics and hospitals, 340 schools, 55 road and rail bridges. The River Danube was blocked; some of the bridges were hundreds of miles from the scenes of the racial expulsions and were vital trade links to the rest of Europe. Also attacked were 12 railway lines, 5 civilian airports, 6 trunk roads, 10 TV and radio stations and 24 transmitters; power stations were put out of action; sewage treatment plants were damaged; water supplies were cut off.
Five thousand civilians were injured; 1400 adult civilians were killed, 600 children were killed, 600 military and police personnel were killed. As a result of the murder, harassment, violence, and destruction of homes carried out by the returning Kosovo Albanians there are now about 150,000 further refugees (mainly Serbs and Roma) in Serbia who have fled from Kosovo. "Ethnic cleansing" has not been halted. There are now [year 2000]10,000 unexploded bombs scattered throughout the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Serbia is now the most polluted, damaged, distressed, politically unsettled, and poverty-
From the introduction to Kosovo War Poetry.
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