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The Next Great War




Guernica, Pablo Picasso, 1937

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sfia, Madrid


It creeps up, almost silently
Until it is suddenly upon you, its high boots trampling everything within reach
So it has been in the past
So it will now be again.

How could a world with so much beauty
how could a world with so much creativity
how could a world with so many riches
– be readying once more to make sacrifice to false Gods?

Too many borders drawn on the back of envelopes
too many crises left to fester
too many idle youngsters with easy access to guns
too few politicians of conviction.

Democratic values cannot prevail abroad, if pummeled at home
solidarity cannot work, when inequality pervades within and across borders
wars of necessity lack support, if treasure is wasted on wars of choice
without effective leadership, there can be no effective following.

Such are the lethal hallmarks of our age

The world is a fragile construct
a facile target for those who wish to recapture sister communities
and make what borders encapsulate pure
a tempting lever for those who seek self-aggrandisement
– the fallen painters, psychiatrists, spies …
they stumble but they plow on, leaving a limping civilisation in their wake
their folly is grand
– but so is ours.

History never repeats itself exactly
but it repeats itself
it is repeating itself again
Its contours are still vague but its shadows are already clear.

The next great war will be unspeakably greater than those that have gone before.

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