Tuesday, January 30, 2007

What Part of War Do We Not Understand?

OK, dear reader, probably not you. You may well understand. But it sure seems like a lot of us are still not getting it. War's been around for millennia. It's time we got it.

I think our leaders understand war very well, but their mouths are suave riots of Peace Speak. War, to them, means four things: power, money, history and (get this) Peace. How perverse is that!

The only definite thing there, for warriors, is money. Billions. Billions. Such an understanding doesn't keep them from being criminals, worthy of whatever justice war criminals receive. And get this, as well: we call it a "volunteer" army, but every one of those people is making a lot more money than I am. I am poor for them, refusing to raise the stakes in their barbarous game of roulette.

War is not diplomacy. War is stark. Here's what war means to me: you show an "enemy" that you intend to change them by killing them.

And ey, there's the rub: that same "enemy" turns around and shows you the same thing. They get it. They've learned your lesson, easily. It is not an ambiguous lesson. It's easy to get, and it doesn't take them long to kill as many as they can. You don't get to fight a polite or just war, even if that's what you say you're doing.

War shows that even savagery can be played out according to the golden rule. It is a dark and dreary dead end alley, and it goes both ways. So what lesson is the United States exporting?

The blood can be washed away, and the money can be carefully laundered as well.

The bombings in markets and along the paths of religious pilgrimages are getting worse. We're not hearing many of the cries and screams on television. Again, as in the 1960s, the mainstream media have reduced the war to numbers and footage of fires, smoking ruins. To show mostly wrecked vehicles and buildings after the bodies have been covered or carried away is an injustice and I would say a form of complicity.

How much will each of us pay for war? And what will each of us risk to be against it?

4 Comments:

At 2/03/2007 1:15 PM, Blogger John Curry copyright 2005 said...

Written on the back of Marine Corporal Edward Broderick's flak jacket:

'When youth was a soldier
And we fought across the sea,
We were young and cold hearts,
Of bloody savegery.

Born of indignation
Children of out time
We were orphans of creation
And dying in our prime.'

Vietnam, Sept. 7, 1967
from "The Cat from Hue" by John Laurence

 
At 2/03/2007 1:24 PM, Blogger Lawrence said...

Excellent addendum, John! And by chance, I was just walking to do an errand and saw two big vehicles parked in front of a house with a couple of closely shaved men standing around, chatting like jocks.

The yellow sticker on the big pickup said: "I've got ONE of the FEW GOOD MEN."

And the yellow sticker on the back of the big black Suburban said:

"Some people just need KILLING.
That's why we have the MARINES."

 
At 2/03/2007 2:25 PM, Blogger John Curry copyright 2005 said...

Another interesting story he tells. Is of a shelling near the DMZ North of Hue. He mentions that when it was over he heard sobbing. He got out of his fox hole and noticed a Marine that was wounded. He couldn't find the wound, but told the Marine that 'he would be alright and he could stop crying.' When another Marine came up and located the wound on his leg, Laurence said, "your a Marine you can stop crying you will be fine." The wounded Marine gave Laurence a unusual look. The other Marine said, "Oh, he isn't crying because he is wounded. He is crying because it is his third wound. And they won't let him come back to the front. Now he is going to miss all his friends."

Vietnam, April 1966, John Laurence. from "A Cat from Hue"

It is also interesting that his final assignment. One that he came up without CBS's help. Was to embed himself with a platton or brigade that would come in contact and battle on a regular basis. He wanted the audience to get to know the soldiers, see film of them when they were not fighting, see film of them during a fight, and see film of them dying. His hope was that he might be able to finally 'shock' a sleeping country to the insanity of the war in Vietnam. He felt he had to bring the 'horror' home to America so that the government would put an end to it.

The intersting thing is that he was embeded with the 1st Cavs, Charlie Company for close to three months. He was blackballed by the military after his documentary. However he was one again embeded with the 1st Cav, Charlie company in the Iraq War at 63. He didn't stay long. He had finally outlived the nightmares of Vietnam and wasn't going to live like that for another 20 years.

 
At 2/04/2007 6:44 PM, Blogger Lawrence said...

AND THIS JUST IN: SATURDAY, Feb. 4, ABCnews.com: How about a TRILLION dollars spent on the war thus far? And that's the conservative figure given. A Nobel Prize winning economist does the math, and we all come up short.

 

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