As a young lad I went through a period of reading H G Wells novels.
To be honest, I found them very dry and antiquated, but I was a voracious reader and had read my way through many of the other books on our library shelves.
One of the books I remember trying to read was Well’s ‘The Shape of Things To Come‘- written in 1933 and strangely prophetic-
It sketched out Well’s prediction of a future world war, which he felt was likely to lead to stalemate, and chaos- following which he envisaged the emergence of a benign dictatorship, policed worldwide- using air power to enforce peace.
A dictatorship of the air.
I remember that even to my 12-13 year old perception, this Utopian vision seemed strange and outdated. It was committed to an idea of human progress through scientific advancement- which to anyone growing up in an age of nuclear stalemate seemed rather bizarre.
I was reminded of Wells’ ‘Dictatorship of the air’ again whilst listening to the news of western Jets patrolling the sky over Libya.
Another intervention into an oil rich third world dictatorship- another humanitarian disaster filling our screens.
Another attempt to overcome through technology and science.
Have we learnt nothing from recent wars- in the Balkans and in the Middle East? Or does the illusion of clean, disengaged warfare carried out at distance persist in the minds of our politicians?
Obama was reluctant- he is already fully engaged in bloody interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan. But it seems he has been persuaded by our shiny new PM David Cameron, and his French colleagues.
I hope I am wrong. I hope Gaddafi gives up and pitches his tent elsewhere.
But history is not on his side.
Wells got it badly wrong.