NEAR-DEATH ON THE THIRD RAIL: Home from the War

by Mike Bond

Anyone who thinks the pen is mightier than the sword has never seen war.

It can kill you even when you’re far away. When you don’t want to die.

I had come back from one of those ghastly, unending Middle East wars, this one in Lebanon. Beirut had been my favorite place on earth – the Paris of the Middle East – a lovely mix of cultures, races, architecture, foods and languages. A beautiful country where you could swim in the warm Mediterranean in the morning, ski the mountain forests in the afternoon, eat superb cuisine for dinner and hang out with your friends in the seaside cafés till dawn.

Then the Palestinians moved in. When the locals resisted it soon evolved into a terrorist bloodbath between Iran-backed Hezbollah and more moderate factions. Mile after mile of beautiful architecture was blown to rubble, 150,000 people killed and a million displaced. Hezbollah suicide bombers killed 241 U.S. Marines and 58 French paratroopers in minutes one morning; for two decades Beirut became a horrifying deathtrap, where a journalist faced daily risks of kidnap or murder.

So I’d landed back in London, away from Beirut for a while, staying with friends in Kent. Wandering the countryside one day I came to a railway and decided it would be easier to walk on, so squirmed under the cyclone fence and hiked along the rails, my head so locked in Beirut I didn’t realize I was inches from the electrified third rail.

So when you leave a war you take it with you, and sometimes it never goes away. It takes over your head and makes you prey to other dangers.

Another reason why we have to find an end to war. Before it puts an end to us.

Bestselling novelist and war and human rights correspondent, Mike Bond has worked in many dangerous, remote and war-torn regions of the world. Check out more of his Lebanon and other war writings at http://www.MikeBondBooks.com.

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