A paper for Armistice Day – Derek Gregory’s “The Natures of War”

The conclusion to this powerful essay–which considers nature as “a medium through which military violence is conducted” in the First and Second World Wars and midcentury Vietnam–is particularly apt today:

“I make these points [about the experiences of soldiers in the Western Front’s mud, the deserts of North Africa and rainforests of Vietnam] not to minimise the continued–and often heightened–suffering of civilians in today’s wars…but to disrupt the lazy politics in which the Left supposedly cares about ‘their’ civilians while the Right cares about ‘our’ soldiers. For war diminishes, degrades and damages everybody. While I have been writing this essay, I have heard endless declarations about ‘boots on the ground’ (or the lack of them) in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere. If I have shown nothing else, I hope it is that we must attend to both the bodies that fill those boots and the ground through which they struggle.”

The paper is available to subscribers now and will be freely available in December/January when issue 1 of Antipode 48/2016 is published (online here). See also Derek’s brilliant blog on war, space and security – Geographical Imaginations.