Monday, 6 May 2013

The only good reason for fighting

     A sudden, odd thought struck Mr Franklin, and it seemed doubly odd that it had only just occurred to him.
     ‘D’you think England will win this war?’
     ‘Ask them,’ said the General, and jerked his thumb at the window, grinning. Then he considered, the eyes narrowing in the flushed, ancient face. ‘Probably— yes, on balance, we ought to win. Germany can lick Russia, but not Britain and France together. But they’ll take a lot of beating, if it’s a fight to the finish. Yes, I’d say we were odds on to win — not that it matters all that much.’
     Mr Franklin stared at him in astonishment. ‘You can’t mean that — it doesn’t make sense!’
     Sir Harry turned to look at him, then glanced out the window again.
     ‘It isn’t important whether you win or lose,’ he said, ‘so long as you survive. So long as your people survive. And that’s the only good reason for fighting that anyone ever invented. The survival of your people and race and kind. That’s the only victory that matters.’

Mr American, p.525, Pan Books, paperback edition 1982.

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