In War, no one wins

January 13, 2015 OPINION/NEWS




Hira Azhar

The horrible menace and terror of war, 
Shakes my being at its very core.
Destruction, agony, and so much fire,
Death follows all, as lives expire.

WAR (World at Rebellion), as the name indicates, is the most horrible calamity which, when befell on a country or nation, leaves every single man and commodity in grave agony as it results in the loss of everyone involved; as Neville Chamberlain said:

“In war, whichever side may call itself the victor, there are no winners, but all are losers.”


Generally, by war we mean an armed combat between two or more countries; however, war does not only mean an armed battle between two countries or nations but it also refers to any physical or moral conflict of ideas between two societies or even a furious argument between family members. Regardless of the nature of war and its extent, all sorts of wars and battles result in deadly outcomes leaving all shattered and wounded with physical or moral loss of millions. As Bertrand Russell said:


“War does not determine who is right — only who is left.”


This world has been an eye-witness to numerous ruthless and fatal wars since its creation, such as World War 1 (1914-1918), World War 2 (1939-1945), Vietnam War (1954-1975), American Civil War (1861-1865), Gulf War (1990-1991) between Iraq and Kuwait, Wars of 1965 and 1971 between Pakistan and India, Afghanistan War (2001) between America and Afghanistan and the War on Iraq (2003) between America and Iraq which brought about widespread famine, misery, destruction and death of millions along with loss of property and essential commodities. All these wars not only caused the destruction and death of millions of soldiers fighting but they also rendered billions of innocent devastated and shattered by the horrible outcomes of these deadly battles. The horrors of these brutal wars can clearly be understood from an essay “Nagasaki-August 9, 1945” by Michaito Ichimaru in which he has narrated the personal tragic scene of Nagasaki after it was hit by an atomic bomb. He described:


“I cannot get rid of the sounds of crying women in destroyed fields. As I got near the school, there were black charred bodies with white edges showing in the arms and legs.”


This dreadful description of a war stricken city is evident proof of the calamities and grave tragedies suffered by innocent victims of war. It is enough to prove that war is only a disastrous entity which makes everyone a loser in the end because both enemies engaging in war undergo a great deal of devastation and destruction.

It is an irrefutable fact that every country or nation indulged in war ultimately loses it because no matter how many weapons or forces one might have, one has to suffer heavy losses and immense pain in a battle.

In a war, not only human lives are lost but it also damages properties and inflicts the lives of animals and plants. The spilling of innocent blood and loss of millions of precious human lives is inevitable in war due to its violent and brutal nature. The death count in a war that embroils the entire globe may reach up to millions as was evident in World War II, where in Russia more than twenty million out of a total population of just over a hundred million died. These statistics by renowned scholars and researchers showed that countless precious and innocent human lives were forced to become the victims by the simple declaration of war; thus showing the immense brutality and cruelty of a war.

With the invention and development of deadly and destructive weapons during the past few centuries, the loss of innocent lives has broken out of the traditional confinement among soldiers on the battlefield. Due to the use of fatal and advanced weaponry including missile launching planes, jet fighters, rockets and nuclear bombs, several innocent citizens have been killed in their sleep, or on the streets. Nowadays there is no place which is safe for the poor and helpless people from the onslaught of the enemy. They have no choice except to become victims of these deadly weapons and wars.

War does not reap any benefits for mankind; no matter how just is its purpose. It is in fact one step backwards to the barbarianism that was the prime characteristic of early civilizations which only results in the loss of humanity, society and the whole mankind.


“In board games, chess especially, it is not hard to determine if someone has won or lost; either someone has declared checkmate and won, or there is a stalemate, tantamount to a “draw”, where nobody has won. Interestingly in chess, stalemate can occur even when you have a superior “material” advantage over your opponent; still nobody wins. Clearly, if your perspective is humanity’s, in war there is no victor; nobody has won, because war inflicts damage, physical, psychological, and mortal, on humans, by humans, and that violates the objective of humanity to do no harm.” (Turner Para 7, O’Brien Para 2, Weigl Para 6) 


The destructive war fought to wipe out the enemy in order to ensure success, to confiscate land or property or to claim territory not only causes the loss of millions of innocent lives but also ultimately results in a general loss of personal property, whether in the simple destruction of homes and lands by advancing troops, or the forceful seizure of property by one’s own authority to further the cause of the war. This heinous act leaves many unfortunate helpless civilians homeless, miserable and destitute; desperate in their continuous struggle for survival against the deadly plague of starvation and disease that afflicts everyone in its path after a deadly war. The fatal plague of war leaves in its wake a bleak and unproductive wasteland which becomes infertile and useless.

The purpose of wars causing immense physical, social and psychological damage is difficult to comprehend by common logic. War is often a “lose-lose” situation which, while one party might have gained some benefits out of it before, serves no purpose to anyone anymore; thus resulting in ultimate loss and destruction. As the German Proverb says:


“A great war leaves the country with three armies — an army of cripples, an army of mourners, and an army of thieves.”


Not only fatal wars between countries or nations result in loss of every innocent life and destruction of every single commodity, but the same tragedy occurs in all kinds of wars, be they moral or social conflicts of ideas between two societies or a trivial argument between spouses, siblings or family members. When two societies are in conflict because of difference in opinion and ideas, it results in physical and moral loss of lives and notions. The conflicts between different races and sects in different parts of the world are evident examples of the battle of opinions and beliefs.

The trivial arguments between family members and spouses also cause immense psychological and mental pain to all members involved. These trivial fights not only destroy the peace of a home but can also cause extreme mental torture. As a result, these apparently trivial arguments lead ultimately to both the moral and mental loss for each family member in the house. It therefore proves the fact that all kinds of war, be they fatal or trivial, have one aspect in common: all losers and no victors.


“All wars are follies, very expensive and very mischievous ones. In my opinion, there never was a good war or a bad peace. When will mankind be convinced and agree to settle their difficulties by arbitration?” (Benjamin Franklin)


The thought provoking question arises from these horrible facts that if wars are such heinous and gruesome entities causing the loss of millions of  innocent lives, then why are people so fond of these fatal battles.

One of the solid reasons behind this is that man by nature is greedy and selfish. He wants to conquer the world and take everything in his possession, be it an innocent life, a precious commodity or a vast fertile land. Our history shows that all battles fought by men were due to lust of power, fame and for confiscation of land and property. The World Wars were fought to erase the opposing enemies having different beliefs and ideas about the world; War in Afghanistan was fought to eliminate terrorism from the world which ultimately leads to more widespread terrorism,  while the Iraq War was fought for gaining control over petroleum and oil. Racism and religion are some other factors that result in deadly wars and battles. However, every single war regardless of its purpose ultimately causes the loss of all.


Borders are scratched across the hearts of men
By strangers with a calm, judicial pen,
And when the borders bleed we watch with dread
The lines of ink across the map turn red.
(Marya Mannes, Subverse: Rhymes for Our Times, 1959)


Most people are of the view that science is to blame for all fatal wars because it invented numerous cruel and deadly weapons that can cause previously unheard of devastation to any land. Over the past few decades, science has emerged as an even uglier monster with the invention of weapons of mass destruction, intended to wipe out entire populations with the touch of a button. But who can blame science if men themselves become cruel and selfish because, after all ,these terrible arms have also been made by humans.

Science can do nothing without man’s commands as it is helpless before man. If men do not use these deadly weapons, the world can get rid of this cruel invention of science forever.

The act of war not only arouses hatred and breaks human bonds, takes innocent lives and destroys peaceful homes, but also takes away all that we have cherished in replacement of a darker and bleaker world, making everyone an equal in their failure to stop a war.  It is very shameful of mankind that even after thousands of years of civilization, the human kind has time after time failed in its quest for equality and a civilized society.

War makes every single one of us losers, sharing in the humiliation of defeat. The time has come when all human beings everywhere in the world should take immediate and effective steps to curb the menace of war from this world. We must educate our young generation against the atrocities of war by developing more tolerance among them for their fellow human beings. We should also launch massive campaigns and raise slogans worldwide against wars. While voting, we must consider voting for the anti-war candidates. We should also try to bring harmony and peace between different parts of the world both on national and international platforms.

It is the duty of each and every one of us to do incessant and constant struggle and efforts at all forums to stop war at any cost if we want peace and prosperity in this world and make this world a better and safe place to live in because:


 In Flanders fields the poppies grow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place, and in the sky,
The larks, still bravely singing, fly,
Scarce heard amid the guns below.







Hira Azhar

Hira is a freelance Writer and Poet from Rawalpindi, Pakistan.


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