The 8 o’clock lead on the Today Programme this morning centered around the forthcoming withdrawel of troops from Afghanistan and what would happen to that benighted country once the withdrawel was complete.And I thought ‘What about the US and NATO troops returning home and, indeed, those returning from any global conflict’? My thought process was created by a passage from Paul Auster’s ‘Sunset Park’ – see yesterday’s blog – in reference to US servicemen returning from World War II in Europe and the South Pacific. OK, this is fiction, but Paul Auster writes ‘ The men no longer know how to act with their wives and girlfriends. They have lost their appetite for domesticity, their feel for home. After years of living apart from women, years of grappling to survice the horrors and dangers of war, they have been cut off from their civilian pasts, crippled, trapped in nightmare repetitions of their experiences, and the women they left behind have become strangers to them’.
And these are the servicemen – and, today, servicewomen too – who show no signs of physical injury. Let us hope that the support infrastructure for those returning from Afghanistan and elsewhere is every bit as competent and complete as it can be. Those returning have my very best wishes. I’m by no means a pacifist, but when will we ever learn?