I'm an amateur military historian, not so much of guns and bombs, but of political imperative, of the influence of nationalism and domestic politics, indeed why so many supposedly smart people sent so many young men to their death.
The 'In Flanders Fields' museum, in the reconstructed Lakenhalle (Cloth Hall), in the heart of Ypres, itself a focal point for much slaughter on both sides between 1914 and 1918, offers a fascinating insight into the personal tragedies of trench warfare, of citizens fleeing a war zone, and of the industrialisation of warfare. Equally powerfully, it provokes thought in those so minded to dwell on such things.
It is, I suppose, traditional that we remember the sacrifices of those that died to preserve our freedoms. So, once a year, we solemnly respect the minute's silence, even though we have no living relative who served, and only family folk memory of those that did.
And I find myself wondering, from time to time, why we remain, in some quarters, so keen to send our young men to some far away place, to die for, what was it exactly? Don't get me wrong, I'm not a pacifist, and I fully accept that military intervention is necessary, if unwanted.
It is, however, the case that we do spend an awful lot of defence, which very few people complain about, and Conservatives like, and relatively little on International Development, which has rather fewer friends. In fairness, the Coalition has continued our progress towards the 0.7% of GDP target for spending in this area, protecting it from cuts, something that we, as Liberal Democrats, should take some pride from.
Making friends does not come cheaply, whilst making enemies is rather more expensive, so we should be making the case in support of our aid program, as an investment in our future, as a means of promoting trade and goodwill, and we need to be smart about how we spend our available funds.
Bilateral programmes of education, or scientific research, infrastructure projects in developing countries, these are means of helping poorer nations to get on, thus creating markets for our exports and trading opportunities for those countries with their neighbours.
In this way, mutual interests develop, likely to make leaders hesitate before initiating conflict, or sponsoring terror elsewhere.
And best of all, there will be less young men and women dying in foreign fields for a political imperative...