As the men continue their conversation about the declaration of war, they determine that the fighting is not necessarily between physical coutries and their common citizens but between the rulers of those countries. Do you agree with this statement?
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I certainly think that Remarque agrees with this statement. Part of the futility of war presented in the work is a condition in which the soldiers are pawns of something larger. They are not fighting for their honor and they are not fighting for any personal animosity between the soldiers. It is not as if there is a blood feud between the individual soldiers on opposing sides that was embraced by past generations.
The harsh reality that the soldiers realize is that the war was thrust upon them by those in the position of power to satisfy political agendas. The soldiers' lives were transformed into a consciousness of hell because of the politicians' desire to pick up a scrap of land. The machinery of war is something that is used to benefit those in the position of power. The soldiers' role is simply to be a cog in this configuration. Their physical and psychological disfigurement and even death feeds this larger element. When Paul speaks of the loss his generation feels, part of this is rooted in the condition of being led astray into the conditions of war. The fact that he sees his generation as "weary, broken, burnt out, rootless, and without hope" is due in part to his realization that the war was not for them, but rather for those in the position of political, economic, and social power. Remarque presents a compelling case through his depiction of soldier life in the war and it is in this where I think that he would agree with the ideas put forth in the soldiers' conversation.
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