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Celebrating Slaughter: War and Collective Amnesia

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Posted on Oct 5, 2009
AP / Caleb Jones

The U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial was based on the iconic Iwo Jima photo that was eventually used to sell war bonds. Correction: An earlier caption claimed the photo was staged. It was not. Much thanks to Greg Lewis for pointing this out.

By Chris Hedges

(Page 2)

There are times—World War II and the Serb assault on Bosnia would be examples—when a population is pushed into a war. There are times when a nation must ingest the poison of violence to survive. But this violence always deforms and maims those who use it. My uncle, who drank himself to death in a trailer in Maine, fought for four years in the South Pacific during World War II. He and the soldiers in his unit never bothered taking Japanese prisoners.

The detritus of war, the old cannons and artillery pieces rolled out to stand near memorials, were curious and alluring objects in my childhood. But these displays angered my father, a Presbyterian minister who was in North Africa as an Army sergeant during World War II. The lifeless, clean and neat displays of weapons and puppets in uniforms were being used, he said, to purge the reality of war. These memorials sanctified violence. They turned the instruments of violence—the tanks, machine guns, rifles and airplanes—into an aesthetic of death.

These memorials, while they pay homage to those who made “the ultimate sacrifice,” dignify slaughter. They perpetuate the old lie of honor and glory. They set the ground for the next inferno. The myth of war manufactures a collective memory that ennobles the next war. The intimate, personal experience of violence turns those who return from war into internal exiles. They cannot compete against the power of the myth. This collective memory saturates the culture, but it is “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

Chris Hedges, whose column is published on Truthdig every Monday, spent two decades as a foreign reporter covering wars in Latin America, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. He has written nine books, including “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle” (2009) and “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning” (2003).

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By glider, October 10, 2009 at 10:54 am Link to this comment

Hello Colin,

I certainly have not experienced religion in a profound way.  I was raised as a Christian and as a youngster never even thought to question it.  It was not until I was around 12 years old, spurred by a friend’s father professing his atheism, that I even started considering that what I had been taught was not true.  For me religion now I guess is a double edged sword in terms of its effect.  It clearly attracts some very good people and it clearly provides an inner strength for the believer and a sense of community.  On the other hand I think all these good bits can be achieved by other means that would not also have the destructive elements of the Abrahamic faiths.  Then apart from religion’s effects on society, I most of all seek to understand our world accurately.  The truth is extremely important in the long run and in any critical analysis I think that one has to that find these multitude of religions are fantasy.  I will admit to you that I have a tendency to over react on issues where I perceive there is deception.  So you will find me getting upset about religion at times and you will find me getting upset about someone like Obama whom I feel has not kept the promises that he made to the electorate.  At any rate good luck to yourself and your life’s journey.

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By colin2626262, October 9, 2009 at 2:46 pm Link to this comment

Glider,

I won’t ignore you.  I think you make some interesting points about the negative side of religion.  However, because you view religion as a “fantasy,” you have no conception of the positive side of religion, having not experienced it.  I don’t blame you for not knowing what believers know, since you’re not a believer. 

Regards,
Colin

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By Pancho Freakin Villa, October 8, 2009 at 8:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chris Hedges is a bodhisattva, not to mention a bona-fide fucking genius. I have seldom seen such apt use of a Hamlet quote. If this were the world it should be, that it could be, Hedges would hold a very top level government position - I’ll put my hand over my heart and take my cap off for the national anthem when he is president. You are an inspiration, Chris - you move me to tears nearly every week!

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By no mans land, October 8, 2009 at 8:05 am Link to this comment

Correction:

“The point of this is that the US has never been isolationist, except in times when it was unable to.”

Should read: “...except when it had to be.”

I should also have pointed out that in ignoring American expansion westward, the author makes the common mistake of not properly labeling the many Native American Nations as foreign entities. We have a tendency to assume that they were not developed civilizations. In doing so, the author is intellectually guilty of the same Euro-centric thinking that continues to plague the United States.

Additionally, the author also assumes that American isolationism would have been sufficient protection against European imperialism in the 20th century. Not a case that is easily made. While our interention has clearly contributed to many of the woes and hardships, it not at all clear that we would have simply been “left alone” either as the ability to place troops anywhere in the world became easier and faster.

What I fear is that we are seeing a resurgance of 19th century philosophy toward business, war and imperialsim. Given the recent wars and their romanticisized justifications, coupled with a 21st century version of laizzez faire capitalism, it seems many have chosen to ignore the lessons of the 20th century to embrace that of the 19th.

The bright side is that the latter half of the 19th century gave rise to the first real progressive era in our nation since the revolution and we seem to be reliving that history as well.

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By no mans land, October 8, 2009 at 7:24 am Link to this comment

Local Hero:

What an intersting essay! The founders had such remarkable insight, although I couldn’t help but notice that the essay brushed aside some glaring realities of the revolutionary period and of broader lessons of history:

“The Revolutionary War was our war. The War of 1812 was our war. The Mexican War was our war. The Spanish-American War was our war. The Philippine-American War was our war. But World War I ws not our War.”

With the British victory in the French and Indian War, the British became rightfully worried about a pan-Indian uprising. Prior to that war, the major emperial powers competing for dominance on the North American continent had effectively kept the native peoples divided amongst themselves. Without the influence of the other powers, European encroachment threatened to unite these naitve peoples against the colonies, and at the time, would have had enough collective force to permanently supplant the colonies.

This led to a declaration from the British crown of a demarcation line along the Appalachians—in effect a treaty with American Indians to limit westward exapansion beyond that line. The ability of American colonists to conduct business as they had become accustomed was cut off. Indeed, many of the founding fathers, it turns out, had holdings in land title companies that were adversely impacted by the line of demarcation. Shortly after, the Declaration of Independence was drafted and signed.

Following the revolution, the colonies were at their most vulnerable point—caught between the ambitious powers of Europe and the simmering frustration of Native Americans. That vulnerability no doubt played into much of the isolationist philosohpy of the time.

As the colonies grew more secure, we can almost trace in a one for one fashion the abondonment of that sentiment. Throughout the 19th century, Manifest Destiny became the “Just Cause” of the time and by the beginning of the 20th century, America was finally ready to play on a world stage. That is precisely the point we start seeing many of the the international entanglements the founders warned against, but that the author deems “our wars.” 

As with Europe, U.S. war and imperialism was the accepted modus opperandi of business. The resonant belief was that war was the natural mechanism of resolving international business disputes and once the business dispute was satisfied, the war would likewise naturally end.

WWI turned that philosophy on its ear. Empire was the calling card of the time, with future imperial potential measured in such things as rising or declining birth/death rates and rates of colonization. Germany, having a late start in the empire game in the late 19th century, was feeling squeezed by the powers surrounding it. One of its great justifications for the war was “room to grow,” which the United States had seemingly plenty of to that point. Each combatant empire, whether due to alliances, birthrates, or increased colonization came to the same conlsuion: “better to go now than go later.” Technology outran battlefield tactics and an inevitable stalemate occurred. The war quickly proved itself to be an autonomous and entity unto itself that outgrew the ability of western civiliation to control. 

The point of this is that the US has never been isolationist, except in times when it was unable to. The world wars marked the beginning of the end of 19th century style empire and the birth of economic imperialism.

While the founders certainly were wise in their conservative approach to world politics, unfortunately they did not include business entanglements in their thinking. Being isolated from the rest of the world by vast oceans, it was quite difficult for them to imagine a day when international trade would take place in mere seconds. Those business entanglements, as has been made clear throughout the history of empire, necessiate an embrace of empire and that was the tragic oversight of our founders.

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By LocalHero, October 8, 2009 at 12:22 am Link to this comment

A better link - Rethinking the Good War

http://www.lewrockwell.com/vance/vance181.html

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By LocalHero, October 8, 2009 at 12:13 am Link to this comment

I’m with you all the way Mr. Hedges until this—

“There are times—World War II and the Serb assault on Bosnia would be examples—when a population is pushed into a war.”

It’s too bad that, even you, have fallen for the Big Lie that there are/were “good wars” or “just” wars.

http://www.vancepublications.com/goodwar.htm

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By LT@NYC, October 7, 2009 at 9:26 pm Link to this comment

Appreciate your writing and intellect.  Unfortunately I missed your reading this
evening in NYC.  Will you be doing any others in NY in the near future?  Would
love to hear you read. 
Thanks,
LT

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By KDelphi, October 7, 2009 at 2:00 pm Link to this comment

dqamn!! my post went—whoosh! Mustve hit a wrong key—damn!

NoMan’s land—that may be ..here’s the gist of what I was trying to say (in the “lost ” post which I am certain wouldve won a nobel prize)—this is a different kind of war, with no draft.

Most of the guys I worked with at the Vet Center were draftees. That was almost cetainly about money.

I recognize all of what you say from Rap Groups, etc. I am female and was always attracted to a “different type” of guy—more rebellious, I guess.

One guy I dated many years later was a volunteer Viet vet—he did mention his stepfather alot (in hatred) and the lack of ability to get nay other job or afford college. it is probably a combination of both.

But, if the elites want to continue this “war” and make money from it, it is only fair to have a draft—and NO deferrments for flat feet, college or being what John Fogerty called “fortunate ones” and “senator’s sons”—lets all sing to Ive Leaguers Country Joe—“Cmon al of you big strong men, Uncle Sam needs you help again…” Way down yonder in Iran. Welcome to the war that never ends.

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By elisalouisa, October 7, 2009 at 1:36 pm Link to this comment

Darkness was a strong word Leefeller, thank you for pointing that out.  I enjoy
reading your posts and appreciate your comments and reply. .

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By SteveL, October 7, 2009 at 12:13 pm Link to this comment

The “war mentality” is a hideous problem for this country.  When Bush’s reasons for war (WMDs and so on) evaporated hardly anyone stud up and said WTF.  We in the U.S. to be all to content to be at war no matter how stupid and at what cost.  As long as certain segments of the economy see profits in war the “war mentality” will be a tough nut to crack, but needs cracking badly.

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By Dave, October 7, 2009 at 12:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Hedges,
  As much as I admire the great bulk of your writing, I have two minor quibbles with your latest piece.
  1) To the best of my knowledge, the Jews have not taken out a trademark on or copyrighted the term “Holocaust.”  For me, the term refers to all those killed and maimed, civilians particularly, during World War II—-from 1936 (the Spanish Civil War) through 1945.  It seems that some Jews have appropriated the concept of genocide and atrocities solely to themselves.  I don’t agree.  I find as much sympathy for the 700,000 Serbs killed by the Roman Catholic Croats, the Roma (gypsies), Russians, Japanese and Germans roasted and suffocated by the Anglo/American fire bomb raids, and Chinese murdered by the Japs as with the victimized Jews.  Perhaps you should read the chapter titled, “The Holocaust: Stoking the Fires,” in Alfred Lilienthal’s THE ZIONIST CONNECTION II: WHAT PRICE PEACE?  Lilienthal was the first prominent American Jew to question the wisdom of having a special relationship towards Israel.
  2) The Serbs were only one of three combatants in Bosnia.  It was the Croats, once again, that started the ethnic cleansing of Serbs from Croatia and from the Krajina region of Bosnia-Herzegovina.  Franjo Tudjman, Croatia’s leader, pointedly said that the Croats would annex predominantly Croatian regions of Bosnia long before the Serbs entered the fratricidal civil conflict. The Croats accomplished with the aid of the American taxpayer.  We funded the mercenaries (MPRI) who provided tactical advice to Croat forces prior to their massive ethnic cleansing of the Krajina.  The Muslims were not sweethearts either.  Over 180 Serb villages in the Srebrenica region were pillaged and burned by the Muslims during the 24 months prior to the Srebrenica atrocity.
  Keep up the good work…but keep in mind that some of your generalizations may be questioned.

  Cheers

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By no mans land, October 7, 2009 at 11:05 am Link to this comment

Fellicity:

I certainly hope that we can move past it someday. Unfortunately, war and violence have been around as long as humans have. Dueeling was nothing more than an attempt to put a mask of civility on violence. The violence hasn’t left us. Only the mask of civility. kids still get into fights, and some still kill each other, when they are affronted.

And, at least in symbolic terms, we still worship human sacrifice as way to appease a vengful deity. Jesus’ crucifiction is still widely taught as the only thing that redeemed humanity from the wrath of god. He “died for our sins” and the only way to cleanse our spirits is realize that.

I guess I see our paths as being individual journies more so than as a people. That means that as individuals we meay learn, but as a people we will always be treading the the same ground. Its agrim view of humanity, but I don’t know how else to explain why the mistakes of history seem stuck in an endless loop.

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By glider, October 7, 2009 at 11:01 am Link to this comment

No_Mans_Land

“I’m thinking of getting some copies and giving them away as Christmas gifts… “

Good one!  And thanks for the tip bro, I will check it out.  I am no theological expert but I am reasonably knowledgeable about the effect the church has at the Joe Sixpack level.  And yeah one of the toughest parts of dealing with the lies and deceit of this institutionalized brainwash when talking with close family that are so indoctrinated.

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By Dave Schwab, October 7, 2009 at 10:52 am Link to this comment

Yesterday, the U.S. Senate approved the largest military budget bill in the history of our nation: $626 billion.

Next, the bill will be sent to a conference committee and then back to the House and Senate for final passage.

There still remains a short window of opportunity to stop this wasteful military madness.

Tell your members of Congress to vote “NO” on the 2010 defense appropriations bill:

http://bit.ly/stopfundingwar

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By no mans land, October 7, 2009 at 10:41 am Link to this comment

glider:

If you haven’t done so already, you should wath the documentary called “Jesus Camp.” With absolutely zero narration, it chronicles the very deliberate, conscious and methodical indoctrination of children you speak of. One of the most distrubing things I’ve seen in my life. Plus it was filmed at a church not too far from where I live!

You can wath it intantly on netflix. I’m thinking of getting some copies and giving them away as Christmas gifts…

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By no mans land, October 7, 2009 at 10:29 am Link to this comment

Rob:

Know that I’m doing my best to rise above your hate filled words and to maintain and level of maturity and intellectual honesty in the discussion here.

Criticism in valid. Taking a stance that’s in line with your principles and adhere to an ideal are noteworthy. Your words, though, betray the very spirit you claim to espouse. You revel in the “body count of those who think they are doing the right thing.”

For me to embrace the schadenfreuda of your remarks would be to embrace the death penalty for a down syndrome youth who was tricked into doing something horrible. When you marvel in such reciprocal destruction, quite honestly, such remarks put you on the same plane as the people whose deaths you bathe in. It is this same type of blood lust that perpetuates the problem. I’m sure those who have committed atrocities felt as passionately as you do about the worthiness of the pain they inflicted.

You should save this page to your favorites and next time you find yourself wondering how things like Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, or Mi Lai can happen, just click refresh.

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By felicity, October 7, 2009 at 10:16 am Link to this comment

I’m getting from a lot of these comments that war is inevitable and/or it is, at times, the only ‘solution’ to a conflict.

For probably millenia, it was believed that human sacrifice was, finally, the only way to combat a natural disaster - such as a drought.  At one time duelling was thought to be the only ‘answer’ to a personal affront or any other personal conflict.  (Of course, duelling saw the advent of the trial lawyer, not long after potential duellers began hiring others to duel for them.)

We look back on these ‘solutions’ as archaic and senseless.  Perhaps the day will come when we can look back on war as archaic and senseless?

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By glider, October 7, 2009 at 9:37 am Link to this comment

Colin, here is my more global perspective on the church irrespective of what good work and directions you may be taking within that institution.


The Role of Christianity in War Making:

Step 1.  Indoctrination.

3-5 year olds are first told there is a God and a good place called Heaven by their parent authority figure. Kind of like a nice bedtime story.  Shortly thereafter the other shoes drops and they are told there is a Devil and a bad place called Hell.  This is not like any bedtime story.  This is the first abuse of Christianity taking place on the innocent minds of beautiful forming children.  People sometimes forget that to believe in “God/Christ” with its Exclusive Heaven Club, is to also believe in “Satan” and his massive Non-exclusive Hell Prison. 

Step 2.  The Shortcut.

Naturally, all the children want to get in the Exclusive Heaven Club but it is very exclusive and only the best will every get in there.  “Fortunately” there is a shortcut to the Heaven Club.  The kind church preacher man informs the children that by simply “accepting” Jesus and paying tribute to him as your “lord and saviour” you will have an inside track to the Heaven Club.  In fact, this simple act will put you ahead of even the most gracious and kind people on the planet, who won’t even be allowed in because they don’t have this special knowledge.  And you will even be able to earn extra brownie points if you can let them in on this wonderful secret.

Step 3.  The Glorification of Pain and Suffering.

Next the older children are presented with an incredibly tortured logic.  It turns out that “Jesus” gave us the greatest gift anyone can give.  He endured the worst torture and pain imaginable by suffering a crucifixion just to save us from our sins.  Now I never have understood how someone else enduring massive pain and torture is helpful to others, but that is the logic presented by the church.

Step 4.  The Abuse of Adults by the State, Military Industrial Complex, and Church.

Now the lessons are ready to pay off for the producers of war.  It is well described in Johnny Got His Gun.  With the adults properly indoctrinated they are easily manipulated even to the extent of being anxious to go to war.  Once they are enlisted there is no backing out when they get smacked by war’s realities.  Politicians, the media, and the church shower the adults with speeches and essays that invoke God and call upon the adults to make their own sacrifice and go to war for God and country (precisely analogous to way they were indoctrinated to believe that the ultimate gift is to suffer).

 

Getting Off the Wagon:

The greatest problem with Christianity apart from it being an untruthful fantasy is that it glorifies pain and suffering in the minds of people.  It is the polar opposite of Buddhism which has a much better track record as far as creating peace in the world and a quasi spiritual outlet.  In Buddhism the central tenant is that “good” and the goal of life is the elimination of pain and suffering, and the acquisition of an enlightened more peaceful state.  It glorifies peace and the elimination of suffering.  All this without by necessity needing to believe in any supernatural fantasy.  Better yet there is no reasonable sustainable avenue for politicians to use the work of the Buddha to get their citizens to go to fight wars and inflict suffering on others.  For those not inclined to a spiritual outlet there is the excitement of scientific thinking and discovery and our own natural sense of community that can be emphasized.

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By Rob, October 7, 2009 at 9:11 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I no longer mourn the loss of those who joined the fight, only those who lie helpless at the outrageous beast the U.S.A. has become.  As a child, I recall the serious warnings about why we “should” hate the U.S.S.R. because they were spreading communism and that was evil. Today, the U.S. has stolen that role and mantle and we have become the worst nation in the world.  We are the master terrorists and we take no prisoners.  I am too old to expect justice, which, in my eyes, puts this and the last few administrations on trial for crimes against humanity.  Instead, the only positive I find, in this world we are destroying, is the body count of those who think they were doing the right thing. Unfortunately, the ones responsible for causing it get off scott free.

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By wyldewill, October 7, 2009 at 9:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Many thanks, Chris Hedges.
Sometimes, when I read your columns, or hear you speak, I think “Chris Hedges is just too angry”. Then, I go back and read again, more carefully, and think about why you are angry. And then I understand better the truth of what you are saying.
When I served in Vietnam, I wasn’t so angry. But now, I get angry every time I read about Robert MacNamara and the others who allowed so many pointless deaths.

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By Leefeller, October 7, 2009 at 8:01 am Link to this comment

elisalouisa,

When opinions become beliefs they leave the realm of truth and reality.  Believing children are born to the bow and arrow just as we have learned children to be gay or not, seems uncomfortably naive?  When opinions are superseded by beliefs, it is my opinion absolutism’s over throw reason. 

Elisolousia, saying children have darkness within, I find most uncomfortable.  Darkness? What dose this mean?

Why do I form a picture in my mind, of persons observing life through filtered eyes or with blinders on, forming placebos about life?

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By no mans land, October 7, 2009 at 6:47 am Link to this comment

KDelphi:

You are absolutely right. Everything you said is spot on. However, I still argue that people make logical decisions for emotional reasons. There are carrots for sure, but they become a way to rationalize what someone is already considering. What I am trying to get at is that initial impulse. What is it that makes someone consider the military at all?

People have often asked why I joined the military. For me, it was such a loaded question that I could not answer it without writing a dissertation. Certainly there was the influence of my father having been a career a military officer and certainly there was the economic situation I was in at the time (I couldn’t get financial aid for school and often found myself fishing just to eat). All of that played into my decision without a doubt.

There was another part though. Call it a male a right of passage or personal insecurity. The truth is that I’d never had much luck with girls at that time. I felt a burning desire to prove something to myself. Daydreams of being revered for my “heroic” service often invaded my thoughts.

What I found most interesting later in life was how un-unique this actually is and the drill seargents knew this all too well. “Calm down, Hero” they would say. The cadences and jodies we ssang as we marched down the street became a form of blues that lamented “the girl I left behind” and played on some of our most basic fears. “Jodi” for those who aren’t aware, is the fictional name of the guy who’s sleeping with your wife or girlfirend while you’re away. “Ain’t no sense in looking back, Jodi’s got your Cadillac…” or “Ain’t no sense in looking down, jodi’s got your girl and gone…” They knew all too well the insecuritites that we were experiencing and manipulated them to turn us into killers.

The young man who returns home from basic training beaming with pride as he displays the two ribbons on his chest is a testament to everything I’m saying. That is the moment that he gets to live out his fantasy of being hero. He returns home to a proud family and the first thing he goes out to do is to parade his uniform in public. He’s in the best shape of his life and in his mind, he’s invincible. He’ll go out to the bars and begin bragging about his basic training stories to any girl who will listen. He’ll get into fights to prove he’s the “badass” that he’s been to trained to be. He is trying to impress. He is trying to shock. He is trying to be revered.

Pretty soon, its not enough, though. He quickly realizes that his limited experience shrinks in comparison to those who have actually seen combat. Call it a dick measuring contest, but there is this sort of one-upsmanship game that goes on within the military. “I’ve been here, here, and here.”

“Oh yeah? Well I’ve been here and here, and I’ve seen this, this and this.”


And so it goes. A sort of masochism sets in where the more he endures, the more he claim his status as “hero.” The quest to become a hero continues until even those who experience horrific things refuse even to admit that they’ve been through any sort of trauma because, “compared the guys in WWII, I haven’t been through much.”

I had once buddy tell me that he was ok with dying because if he died, he would “be remembered for dying for something real.” In short, he wanted to be immortalized as a hero. (He didn’t know how to react when I suggested that he was assuming people actually WOULD remember him in the first place.)

It all started with that initial insecurity though. Something wasn’t right in us. We weren’t “good enough.” We had to prove something to ourselves and to the world. With that, we walked like scared little children into the recruiter’s office who then proceded to tell us about all the great benefits of military service.

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By POWMIA, October 7, 2009 at 5:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Our Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action, You are never forgotten

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By elisalouisa, October 7, 2009 at 4:48 am Link to this comment

Ardee please reread my post Oct 6 9:44 am. I stand by my few sentences as to children. I never used the word “maniacal”. If you do not feel warlike traits are inborn then where pray tell do they
come from. I will be the first to agree that clever rhetoric can stir up the war drums but for that to happen there must be a receiver within to take that message and then react accordingly. Are you saying we have no darkness within, that we have only light? To you Outraged I agree entirely with your post of October 7 1:39 am.

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By gregl, October 7, 2009 at 4:38 am Link to this comment

Unfortunately, the caption information on the photo accompanying this article is incorrect. Joe Rosenthal, who took the iconic photo, did NOT set up this image. The book Flags of our Fathers by James Bradley is about this photo and the men in it. The complete story is well worth reading.

Further, in the 1970s, I interviewed George Watson, who was a photo editor in the Pacific during the war. Watson told me the story of this photo and how the incorrect idea that it was a set-up began. Rosenthal sent his film back for processing and did not remember that he had taken the now famous image. But there were other images taken that day that were set up. When Rosenthal was asked if he set up the now famous shot, he was still in the field and said yes, thinking about the posed images he remembered taking.

Many of these images are reproduced in Bradley’s book.

All this is well documented elsewhere and can be easily verified.

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By ardee, October 7, 2009 at 2:58 am Link to this comment

elisalouisa, October 7 at 5:07 am

Sadly, the outrage of outraged hides the fact that he is correct on this one.

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By elisalouisa, October 7, 2009 at 2:07 am Link to this comment

Outraged: Unfortunately your name suits you. I stand by what I wrote. I am not a
follower of Bill Kristol and go out of my way not to ingest any of his poison.
Having through the years had acquaintance with children from birth this is what I
have observed. Now if someone with a list of degrees wishes to disagree with me
so be it. Many mothers have learned that what the so called “experts” tell you and
what is “politically correct” may not be the way it really is. Of course children must see weapons to want them and toy stores have all sorts of weapons including bows and arrows. Archery is taught in many summer centers. Where have you been not knowing this?If they do not see or have weapons they will tear a stick off a tree. You are a dreamer if you don’t believe that the making of war comes from within as does the power to do good and love one another.  We must cultivate the latter in our children.  Children do
understand the ability to love and being loved from the very beginning and also the concept of sharing at some point.. There are exceptions to what I have written but not as many as I would like to see.Experts often disagree on behavioral habits of children. Your attack was unwarranted,  so go fly a kite.

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By stcfarms, October 6, 2009 at 11:35 pm Link to this comment

Facts get in the way of a good story, the fact that Mithra was born on dec.
25th, of a virgin mother and was the son of god 2,500 years before christ
comes to mind. The god of Abraham is a dangerous ancient meme that has
been handed down through millennia. Parents passed the meme to their
children for 12,000 years, infecting each generation with a more virulent god
each time. The god creature cannot exist outside of their minds so it must
enslave the entire mind to keep out the truth. It is quite sad that so many
billions have wasted their entire lives to keep the disease alive. It is without a
doubt the most successful ponzi scheme ever.

By glider, October 7 at 2:05 am #

  Anyone who does not accept your fantasies “just shows their ignorance”. 
You are either delusional or simply a lying pretentious preacher.

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By jack, October 6, 2009 at 11:18 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

RE: the void...  where many ascetics aim to be

RE: crying for their mothers… reportedly the last cry of most kamikaze
pilots - though how to confirm that, who knows - maybe there were radio
transmissions

agreed - Asian oriented, so what

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By glider, October 6, 2009 at 11:05 pm Link to this comment

Colin666222

“I don’t care if someone ridicules me.  That just shows their own ignorance. As for my solution being too simplistic, isn’t a simple solution that everyone can understand and follow better than endless arguments and explanations that lead to nowhere?  Do you think the child in Afghanistan with her face burned off by a bomb cares about your complexities?”

I have seldom read a more embarrassingly ignorant paragraph.  Anyone who does not accept your fantasies “just shows their ignorance”.  Don’t worry about presenting inconvenient facts and logical arguments.  Your above all that, you after all are one of the chosen ones, with special knowledge?  The one that teaches the ignorant flock the path, the one that in his own way plays “God”?  Why not consider that it is not a matter of whether your solution is simple or complex, but it is rather a matter of whether your correct and effective.  But it is much easier to pontificate on the pulpit than be bothered with the trouble of truthful analysis.  You call Hedges obscene and then you invoke a burned disfigured child as some sort of justification to raise your efforts above his own?  For what?  How are you going to end war by having everyone discover “God”?  Why should that work now after thousands of years of abysmal failure?  Your that special?  You are either delusional or simply a lying pretentious preacher.

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By Outraged, October 6, 2009 at 10:39 pm Link to this comment

Re: Chris Hedges

Quote: “There are no images in these memorials of men or women with their guts hanging out of their bellies, screaming pathetically for their mothers.”

I agree with much of your article, especially in an overriding way.  But I disagree with your use of the phrase “screaming pathetically for their mothers.”  These words are wrong.

How old are these “men or women”.... the ones with their guts hanging out?  Are they the pathetic ones….?  Maybe it is those who endorse these aberrations who are pathetic.  They are the ones who glamourize “the warrior spirit” to these unwary young people and purposefully aggrandize for their own gain the untimely and grisly demise of the youth, of not only America…. but those of many countries.

Youth acts upon what they know, and they do it very sincerely.  Certainly then they would call out for that which they know to be true, especially in a war zone.

I know you know this, I do.  But the words you chose can be every bit as hurtful as they are helpful.  This then, enlarges the void, instead of narrowing it…. the void, as you know is the worst place to be.

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By Outraged, October 6, 2009 at 9:45 pm Link to this comment

Re: elisalouisa

Your comment: “If you study children you will see how eager they are to stake their claim for toys, boundaries of play and establishing rules as to who is leader, this in itself causing minor war. Boys are most eager to have arms such as bow and arrows, guns, rifles,etc. This is inborn. The first word a baby speaks may be Mom but the second or close to it is “mine”. Ask any
mom.
  War is part of who we are and we cleverly hide this fact always putting the blame on someone or something else. Having insight into this trait helps because the darkness is explosed.”

This is the most ignorant premise I have ever heard.  Where did you aquire that supposed “knowledge”, elisalouisa…?  Have you been reading William Kristol?

Your premise that, “The first word a baby speaks may be Mom but the second or close to it is “mine”.”  Sure… “mom” MIGHT be….. but how often is “Mom” TRUTHFULLY first word?  Do you have any valid evidence which would qualify your ignorance?  Additionally, please qualify your comment that the supposedly “second or close to it” word, is supposedly “mine”.

I have children, in the past have worked with children but also have over 50 nieces and nephews and I say you are sadly mistaken or outrightly full of shit.  I can’t remember the last child who (without being abjectly TAUGHT to “want” bows and arrows) actually wanted them.

Your comment: “If you study children you will see how eager they are to stake their claim for toys, boundaries of play and establishing rules as to who is leader, this in itself causing minor war.”

“Minor war”, a RIDICULOUS assertion.  Do you really BELIEVE that children are inherently manical in their actions…?  That they are actually running around supposedly “staking claims” and “establishing rules as to who is leader”?  ARE YOU NUTS!  Your comments prove you, at best… ignorant of children but more glaringly a dangerous and vicious element on the fringe of humanity in the more conceptual or general sense.  Does THIS worldview of yours “tend” to substanciate your inadequacies?  I have a “feeling” it does?
 
How depravenly sad and inexcuseable that an adult feels the need to engage their own psuedoscientific invention and ABUSE the innocence of children in the lame attempt to qualify their PERSONAL indiscretions.  Very sad. Grow up.

As per your conjecture: “Ask any mom.”

This is ONE mom who says your don’t know you ass from a hole in the ground.  But if you need fifty more, hey…. let me know.

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By glider, October 6, 2009 at 9:10 pm Link to this comment

Hello elisalouisa,

Thank you for your considered reply.  I would make the following response.

“behavior and belief cannot be compared”

I think there is a direct link.  We act on our beliefs every day.  Whether that belief is getting a good price at Walmart or your child getting a better education in a new school district.  In every other aspect of your life you gather the available data and make an informed decision based on logic. 

“no one can say for certain that there is or is not an intelligence, energy by whatever name that did or did not create the universe…Just because it may not be within the realm of humans to fully understand the unknown one cannot reach the conclusion that such an energy does not exist.”

Your precisely right!  And this is my belief as well.  Your stated view is that of an Agnostic.  The universe an even greater wonder to behold without an encumbering religion.  Yet people such as Colin deny this truth and profess to “know” precisely what is unknowable, and to do so in the form of an excruciatingly detailed fantasy described in the Bible.  That is quite a different matter than the very reasonable argument you put forth here.

“A simple man plowing a field can be closer to that source than a widely read and highly respected theologian.  Whatever our beliefs as long as they are personal and not of a proselytizing nature we should be tolerant of one another for our goals are similar”

Again I am of the same mind here.  Colin is in fact a good example regarding these points as he himself is a respected theologian who knows little of reality.  Furthermore toleration and silence is not appropriate because he is in fact a priest who is making his living proselytizing these fantasies.  So he does not get a pass from me.

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By elisalouisa, October 6, 2009 at 9:08 pm Link to this comment

If you will reread my post colin2626262 I said that “Chris Hedges points out that dark side in talking about the folly of war.” I was referring to “the dark side” I mentioned in my previous sentence, not the dark side of Mr. Hedges. It is not my intent to demean your words nor do I wish to judge you.  If truth be told I also watched professional wrestling with my father as a child, and, yes, even got to like it. Wrestling is no longer the sport that it once was so reading about it would not interest me therefore I cannot comment on his new book nor the fact that it has a chapter on pornography which I am certain will help sell copies.  As to his interview on C-Span 2, it will be on again this coming Sunday the 11th at 12 noon ET. I enjoyed it very much. Your beliefs are personal matter and I shall leave it at that.

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By KDelphi, October 6, 2009 at 8:28 pm Link to this comment

Military Religious Freedom newsletter, if anyone is interested…http://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org/newsletters/2009-10/index.html

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By KDelphi, October 6, 2009 at 8:04 pm Link to this comment

NoMansLand—you may have a point ( I dont quite see that) but I think it is much more about economics for most of them. Cant afford to go to college (or dont want to) and the economy sucks—maybe intentionally, for the former working classes.

Theyre are introducing Junior ROTC to Junior High Charter Schools in poor and minority areas. They promise to “take care of them” with college and health care and disability that, many times, never materializes. How in the world would a hs graduate from West Virginia get a job anywhere except Wal Mart in this economy? The entire enterprise is about money. Thats why there is Blackwater and DynaCorp.

There are a coupla rich guys upping—but not many around here. If women are changing their minds about violence and military, its not in evidence in the rust belt—everyone if these dead soldiers seems to have a widow and kids. Most joined after being married. The ones that have been there 4-5 times were mostly Guard and reserve, as you must know. They joined for extra money.

The military has also introduced (more so recently) and “christian conversion” element to it—i receive and newsletter from Military Religious Freedom and non-born again christians (also Jews) are being marginizalized.

Surely you have heard some of it…they wanted to pass out Bibles in Arabic.

There is certainly a
“macho” element to it, but, that is just to convince soldiers that they wil receive glory if they get their ass shot for some rich guys Halliburton investments.

All that theyre really wiling to give them is a “thank you for your service” (no, no raise for your widow) and a plastic flag on their monument.
You must have heard recently abou the kid who didnt want to pledge the flag and the Courts decided he meeded a note with permission NOT to say the pledge (!!). His teacher had told him he was unpatrioctic because that ‘flag was fighting for him”. He had replied that it was ‘just a piece of cloth”.

All this symbolism is unfuriating. Whether it is god guns or guts—these young guys are dead for money. Thats what I think.

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By Agnieszka Laska Dancers, October 6, 2009 at 7:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

artists now making more than just toss-off protest sing-along songs -
http://www.lamentatio.info/  +  http://www.TheFall01.info/ - historical artistic
documentation of the empire at the precipice of its fall - epic work for the ages -
an “Iliad” and “Odyssey” for our epoch - relics to be studied by the few survivors -
millennia from now, long after Depleted Uranium Poisoning has ravaged the
planet - http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=2374

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By colin2626262, October 6, 2009 at 7:22 pm Link to this comment

elisalouisa:

Thanks for responding to my comment thoughtfully.  I don’t care if someone ridicules me.  That just shows their own ignorance. As for my solution being too simplistic, isn’t a simple solution that everyone can understand and follow better than endless arguments and explanations that lead to nowhere?  Do you think the child in Afghanistan with her face burned off by a bomb cares about your complexities?

Chris Hedges has seen the reality of war, and he writes about it.  You’re right to point out his “dark side in talking about the folly of war.”  You may not have noticed, but in his writing he mostly just points out the dark side, of everthing.  His latest book is filled with his own form of folly.  He’s writing about professional wrestling now, for God’s sake.  He also has a completely unreadable chapter on pornography, which uses the most graphic and obscene language to describe an evil in our society.  He just wanted to be realistic, I guess, but it’s truly disgusting what he writes about, and he does so without compunction.  Personally, I wouldn’t feel comfortable having that book on my bookshelf because of that chapter.

I’m not saying this to bear false witness against him.  I’m not trying to defame the man.  I watched a TV appearance the other day, though, in which he appeared on C-Span.  It amounted to nothing.  I wouldn’t care about Chris Hedges if he wasn’t making himself into something he’s not.  For example, if he was an outspoken atheist like Sam Harris, I wouldn’t even bother with him.  You just ignore someone like that.  But Hedges makes a point of infusing religious language into his work.  You say you’re a believer.  Well, then you’ll understand me.

First of all, during the C-Span interview, he says, smugly, “I didn’t go to journalism school.  I went to seminary.”  He thinks because he read Thomas Aquinas or Reinhold Niebuhr, he’s all the sudden the standard bearer for morality in this country.  But what did he talk about during the interview?  He talked strictly about political issues.  He never once mentioned God.  He started talking about NGO’s at one point.  NGO’s?  Is this someone who can speak with a moral voice in opposition to war?  Martin Luther King, yes.  Gandhi, yes.  John Dear, yes.  Chris Hedges?  You decide.  Clearly, he’s more interested in Shakespeare than Jesus.

I wrote a somewhat harsh comment last week on this site attacking Hedges, and I later regretted what I wrote and apologized to him by email.  You see, I wanted him to read a book I wrote, and he wasn’t interested in it.  I also wanted to discuss religion with him, but he didn’t think I was a worthy opponent, I guess—not that I wanted to be his opponent.  I actually wanted to be his friend.

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By elisalouisa, October 6, 2009 at 6:53 pm Link to this comment

Right on No_Man’s_Land. Thank you for replying.

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By thecrow, October 6, 2009 at 6:23 pm Link to this comment

“War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.” - General Smedley Butler

Truth fiercely spoken, Mr. Hedges.

Thanks also for your efforts to shut down this monstrosity:

http://michaelfury.wordpress.com/2009/09/25/first-person-shooter/

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By no mans land, October 6, 2009 at 6:12 pm Link to this comment

I have to give to Hedges on this one. Judging by the depth and enlightened converstaion that he (and by delineation, war memorials) has inspired here, I’d have to say that he’s proven himself wrong. The memorials don’t seem to have inspired any glorification of war. Rather, he and the memorials he wrote about have inspired a mosaic of critical thought and philosophy.

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By Tony Whitson, October 6, 2009 at 4:57 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I saw Chris Hedges on BookTV last weekend. I really want to see what Colbert would do with him on his latest book—it’s so “spot on” what Colbert is all about. See
http://wp.me/p1V0H-L3

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By no mans land, October 6, 2009 at 4:51 pm Link to this comment

Elislouisa:

Very interesting points. Too often intellectualism becomes equated to the death of spirituality. From my point of view, there is nothing closer to god, or “the source” as you call it, as when I visit a majestic landscape such as can be found in our national parks. There is very real immediatism that many have tried to verbalize while all have failed (in my opinion).

Your post reminds of a concept from linguistics. As humans, we tend to believe that we have the highest form of language on earth. However, that belief assumes that if there is a higher form of language we would be able to sense it. Does a cricket know that human languange is more complex? Most likely not. Nor does the cricket care.

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By Richard Prins, October 6, 2009 at 3:39 pm Link to this comment
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Fortunately not all war memorials adhere to the idea of (veiled) glorification, as the famous Zadkine bronze (“The Destroyed City”) shows: http://www.zadkine.com/browse/sculpture/bronze/?&limit=1&page=88
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ossip_Zadkine

The statue commemorates the carpet bombing of downtown Rotterdam by the Germans in 1940 (the missing heart in the twisted human figure) as a consequence of not surrendering to “The Blitz”. The city (my birthplace and residence for most of my life) received a second round of bombing in 1943, this time by the Americans.

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By elisalouisa, October 6, 2009 at 3:00 pm Link to this comment

glider - behavior and belief cannot be compared. My point is no one can say
for certain that there is or is not an intelligence, energy by whatever name that
did or did not create the universe. The known and the unknown. Just because it
may not be within the realm of humans to fully understand the unknown one
cannot reach the conclusion that such an energy does not exist. Knowledge
does not make for understanding.  A simple man plowing a field can be closer
to that source than a widely read and highly respected theologian. I really do
not intend to go further into this subject because it takes away from the point
of my post. Whatever our beliefs as long as they are personal and not of a
proselytizing nature we should be tolerant of one another for our goals are
similar.  Having said that I must agree with some that post here concerning
religious fanatics and the danger they pose. We may not be able to reverse the
course our country has taken but I hope we can communicate and work
together in showing our resistance and noncompliance to what is going on.

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By no mans land, October 6, 2009 at 2:20 pm Link to this comment

KDelphi

Allow me to qualify me statements regarding males and military service.

There many reasons people join, but more than anything I am reminded of a lesson taught in sales schools:

people make logical decisions for emotional reasons.

What I was referring to was less a simple matter of getting females into the game, but more about what truly shapes our culture.

More than any other reason (in my experience) is that in today’s all volunteer military, those who join seem to long for the “hero” status I wrote of earlier. In short, if I’m a hero, I will get opportunities, notoriety, and ultimately girls. (Please forgive my non-gender neutral remarks as I served in all male units). Why women join may be very similar or altogether different. Young men, for whatever reason, grow up feeling the need to become that which will get them laid and ultimately married. Its sad that so many of them have this misperception about women, but I do believe that in their minds, they are more endearing to women because they are “one of the few.”

My analysis had less to do with direct female influence in politics and military affairs, and more about their influence over the decision making progress of men. I think we’ve already seen significant amounts of this already. Now, more than any time in our history that I’m aware of, women are wanting something more intrinsicly real and compassionate in men. Fewer and fewr women seem attracted to the brute machismo of yesterday and those that are, learn more quickly and sever those relationships. Today, we have less than 1% of the population in uniform and personally, I think there’s a link.

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By Leefeller, October 6, 2009 at 2:05 pm Link to this comment

Sexism in war may be an observation only, because of those who seems to be in charge now and throughout history, mostly males, seems to me it would depend on the individual, not what sex they happen to be?

Criminal minds seem to be equal between the sexes,  many variables seem to suggest women would be better then men for the world, guess child bearing may be the most important one, it would not matter to me as long as they were compassionate over all, I suspect the differences are only a glimmer of hopeful thinking.

Spartan mothers used to say to their sons as they went off to war, Make me proud,come back with this shield or be on it. May not be accurate quote, but meaning mothers telling their sons to fight until the death if need be, maybe women have changed?

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By Leefeller, October 6, 2009 at 2:05 pm Link to this comment

Sexism in war may be an observation only, because of those who seems to be in charge now and throughout history, mostly males, seems to me it would depend on the individual, not what sex they happen to be?

Criminal minds seem to be equal between the sexes,  many variables seem to suggest women would be better then men for the world, guess child bearing may be the most important one, it would not matter to me as long as they were compassionate over all, I suspect the differences are only a glimmer of hopeful thinking.

Spartan mothers used to say to their sons as they went off to war, Make me proud,come back with this shield or be on it. May not be accurate quote, but meaning mothers telling their sons to fight untill the death if need be, maybe women have changed?

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By KDelphi, October 6, 2009 at 1:05 pm Link to this comment

ardee—yes, I loved Maher for that—I wish he had stayed so bold…

GuyMontag—yes, I found the entire Obama/McChrystal mess amazing…wtf?????

JWVerez—Yes, I hve worked with Viet vets—and now they use mini-nukes in Af-Pak. and the horror show continues.

Folkt—I thought that, but couldnt remember my books/movies sell enough to be sure—I thought “Das Boot” and “All Quiet on the Western Front”??? WTF??!

BTW, god says, ‘i love war! Read my bible, Koran, Torah,etc Go at it! Its all a game to me”.

No_Man’s_Land—I had thought that might be the case, until I saw Lyndie England and others. Women seem to wield the same ugly results when given the same powers. Women seem to be beginning to participate just as enthusisastically as men in murder, torure, etc. I wish that that werent the case. I hoped that women in politics would improve things and I am not at all sure that they have…it is the kind of women that they are, just as it is the kind of men…

The reason why war (death)- trumps all else is that the person with the other point of view is now—DEAD.

Same on a one-to-one basis. Youre wrong, boom, now youre ‘not”.

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By no mans land, October 6, 2009 at 12:02 pm Link to this comment

Part of the problem, also, is that in any society with structured governance, the goverened must have a certain level of trust in its government for the system to work. As such, there will always be a vulnerablity to manipulation among the governed and a propensity to manipulate by the government.

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By glider, October 6, 2009 at 11:45 am Link to this comment

Hello elisalouisa,
Yes, Joseph Campbell certainly did wonderful work and I am a big fan.  What I take away from him is that myths serve functions in society.  I don’t think Campbell himself ever argued that the myths themselves are reality based, but rather they were an important element in all human societies.  Having ELISA in your name I thought you might have a science background but that likely comes from another source.  Can the ilk of Sam Harris (sorry for the earlier misspell) absolutely prove that any given god does not exist?  No one has any more evidence for the Abrahamic “God” than does one for the various Greek God(desses) or the tooth fairy.  You certainly can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that much of the content in the bible is false.  But the beauty of religion is that you can’t absolutely prove the negative “God does not exist”.  Inaccuracies in the bible can be either ignored, justified as simply being metaphors, or amended.  But let me ask you a question back.  Other than religion what other behaviour in your life do you rationalize as being reasonable on the basis that you can’t prove its wrong, rather than looking at the available evidence to form a reasonable hypothesis about what is right?

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By no mans land, October 6, 2009 at 11:35 am Link to this comment

Leefeller:

My thoughts exactly. So if passion trumps reason, we therefore must find out what makes people passionate. Passion, as Bogi666 points, can be and often is manipulated. Such propagandizing of the population can be found in every war and acts as bulwark to perpetuate the effort, though it certainly has a shelf life.

This is not to say that we can “end” war but we can certainly decrease the likelihood and frequency. I think there are times when people know when war is needed and when its not. Its in our DNA. As such, people must also know when war is not needed. I’d say a good litmus test is that if people are questioning the reason for going to war, that in itself should be reason to question the war.

Unfortunately, that sixth sense about a war is often overriden when people have invested themselves emotionally in its execution. As the Iraq war proves, once they’re invested almost nothing will change their minds except maybe the prospect of losing. The question we must answer then is how to get someone to divest their emotions? Perhaps we can’t.

Personally, I think the answer will be found with women. They control the sexual culture. When war and fighting and machismo are no longer considered attractive, when such things act as sexual repellants, only then will males alter their thinking and behavior.

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By bogi666, October 6, 2009 at 10:01 am Link to this comment

Herman Goering, the NAZI, summed it up in one paragraph how easy it is to manipulate a country’s citizenry go to war and commit atrocities just by making up the reason for doing so. Search Hermann Goering.

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By Random Items, October 6, 2009 at 9:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Human sacrifice is a hard sell. A bit of reality would
make it impossible to mount a war.
To be fair the survivors of a war on both sides need to
focus on the honor and glory. We now recognize the
damage war can do to a soldiers sanity if his mind
remains in the horror of war.

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By Virginia777, October 6, 2009 at 8:45 am Link to this comment

We are a war-mongering country who, of course, love our memorials to War.

That said, I don’t see too many memorials around for the Vietnam war. I have yet to see one for Iraq. It gets harder and harder to commission these things,

these relics of WWII are being re-cycled. How tiresome.

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By Leefeller, October 6, 2009 at 8:09 am Link to this comment

So many enlightening posts providing a cornucopia for thought.

Hedges sermon has promoted much worthy discussion, his use of “we” is still most annoying, maybe the inclusiveness of we is the goal? 

Religion seems a useful tool for war, the British and the Germans both were told God was on their side,  from their Clergy during WWII, guess the looser was wrong?

No_Man’s_Land, your comments bring me to Hume’s Treatise on reason and passion, in which reason is always subservient to passion.

A quote I have heard, sorry it may be out of context and author the forgotten by me:

“War only ends, for the dead.”

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By no mans land, October 6, 2009 at 7:23 am Link to this comment

Quotes from one of my favorite writers: Thomas Paine.


-The world i my church and to do good is my religion.

- All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

-Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man.

-Any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be true.

-He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from opposition; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach himself.

-A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right.

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By thebeerdoctor, October 6, 2009 at 6:56 am Link to this comment

re: Big B

After all, he is an AMERICAN, he himself has said it. Even his exceptional is well… exceptional.

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By elisalouisa, October 6, 2009 at 6:44 am Link to this comment

I respect your views stcfarms even if some of them leave me to wonder.
There are wars on every scale. If you study children you will see how eager they
are to stake their claim for toys, boundaries of play and establishing rules as to
who is leader, this in itself causing minor war. Boys are most eager to have
arms such as bow and arrows, guns, rifles,etc. This is inborn. The first word a
baby speaks may be Mom but the second or close to it is “mine”. Ask any
mom.  War is part of who we are and we cleverly hide this fact always putting
the blame on someone or something else. Having insight into this trait helps
because the darkness is explosed. We have gotten to the point where war can
eliminate all life and what civilization we have. How nice it would be if war would
stop should funds dry up. Some have warlike traits big time, such as Cheney
and Bush, with no ability to see the human suffering caused by their folly and further not caring. Their rhetoric awakens the call for blood in the people who idolize them and their primitive nature responds. Our tax dollars are spent on weapons to protect and enrich the already wealthy
and elite who supply the money to our elected officials to be reelected. The CIA
and FBI follow their orders and prevent uprising.  Glider, Harrison may say that
the notion of God is unprovable, I would ask if he can prove there is no God.
Assuming that a myth is unfounded is placing yourself as judge and jury. I
could also quote Joseph Campbell but where would that get us. People from all
walks of life and beliefs must join to fight the military complex and the transfer
of tax dollars from social programs to Wall street and making Weapons of Mass
Destruction. Our personal beliefs as to a higher source or being should not be
the primary concern. Can we unite to fight what is now taking place? We shall
see.

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By no mans land, October 6, 2009 at 6:24 am Link to this comment

We would do better to sutdy our species as though we were watching a wildlife documentary. We are not the only species that wars, but we are the only species that reasons for war. The following link is to a very interesting exerpt from Alexander Moseley’s “The Philosophy of War.”

“Man cannot abolish war by reason alone for the same reason that it cannot invent a language (for it is a social product that evolves beyond the remit and expectations of its inventors.)”

http://books.google.com/books?id=mcX2u9zAY9gC&pg=PA24&lpg=PA24&dq=Which+animals+fight+wars?&source=bl&ots=id71lhl0Mq&sig=NigtKeFGUX2Yv7tsa-BO3NFwxeM&hl=en&ei=XEHLSqmuM57Ktgek5uzvAQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1#v=onepage&q=Which animals fight wars?&f=false

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By surfnow, October 6, 2009 at 5:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

When we allow paranoid Hobbesians like Cheney,Rumsfeld and the other PNAC criminals to decide foreign policy, we will be mired forever in endless war.It is time for the left to get as proactive as these unprincipled psychotics ,and soon, or we are doomed.

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By Ivan Hentschel, October 6, 2009 at 4:42 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Througout the course of history, men have consistently excelled at only one task: they know how to wage war. War memorials and war monuments (excepting perhaps the Viet Nam Wall) seem to have the function of saying, “Look Ma! Look what I did!”.

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By sallow, October 6, 2009 at 4:01 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

After blaming Bush, Obama, the armament industry, the media industry, and the elite, you are targeting war memorials and museums. As long as Americans act like victims of Bush, Cheney, Kissinger, Obama, other statesmen, Hussein, Taliban, memorials, museums etc., they never look at victims of U.S. slaughters from the standpoint of a victimizer.

Though official historical narrative is always political, if Americans are indeed going to get information of U.S. slaughters, they can easily get it. No matter how drastically someone rewrites bloody history, human beings who sympathize with others can imagine dead bodies and screams of victims, anytime they want to. Americans never look at victims of U.S. slaughters from the standpoint of a fellow human being.

Americans only want to turn their back on the U.S. bloody history, because it is painful to face the bloody history. Americans only want to believe illusional flawless glory of the U.S., because they hate to admit that they are too chicken to face the history. Cowardice fosters myths of glory. When they cannot shut their eyes to the history, they regard victims as lesser breeds to let themselves off scot-free.

As a consequence, without shame, Americans make war museums that lacerate survivors of U.S. slaughters. I can never imagine the day when every museum in your country gives up selling “A-bomb earrings” that depict the bombs that the U.S. used to massacre the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is very American culture that such disgusting things are in demand.

Again today, Americans are saying, “Afghan war is good war!” They cannot stop clinging to myths of the U.S. flawless glory and their pseudo courage.

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By miller, October 6, 2009 at 3:04 am Link to this comment

I have long thought that our civilization and social
mores are just a thin -very thin- veneer, covering a
mean and brutish species. My experiential view is
that we are attracted to war and torture and that no
amount of hand-wringing or delusion can change that.
We engage in self-denial and prevarication to
perpetuate the myth that we are noble.

Try a thought experiment.  Imagine that in your town
the electric utility fails, and that after about 24
hours the water stops flowing out of the spigots. 
What do you do?  Let us remember that without
electricity and water local stores and gas stations
will not be open.  Credit card readers and ATM
machines will not function.  How long might it take
until you or your neighbors start to be less
neighborly?  How long until you start ONLY looking
out for number one?

Wars have started over less.

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By glider, October 5, 2009 at 11:06 pm Link to this comment

elisalouisa,

“although I would not go so far as to ridicule you as some have”

I am not sorry about that as I generally agree with Sam Harrison’s point that once one tolerates a man’s wrong ideas as not needing evidence other than it was written in a book purported to be the word of that very unprovable “God”, you must necessarily accept every maniacs own self described “God” justification regardless of how bad the outcome. If you do not confront individuals for myth based wrong ideas you perpetuate the problem and the suffering generated. So in my opinion Colin deserves ridicule for basing his ideas on nonsense. He is part of the problem and should have to answer to his unreasoned mental framework, rather than I just accept we should all go talk to “God” to cure our war problem. And in fact you according to Harris are yourself part of the problem (lots of us fall into that category for sure). This forum can hopefully be restricted to an exchange of ideas that reflect reality.

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By stcfarms, October 5, 2009 at 11:00 pm Link to this comment

Thank you. It was not meant to ridicule but to show one of the major causes
of war. You might say that atheists have more to live for as we have no
afterlife. We have our truth, you have yours.

To stop war you must quit paying for it.

By elisalouisa, October 6 at 12:16 am #

Many anti war people who truly care about all life are atheists and from the
posts I read are in the majority on this website.

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By elisalouisa, October 5, 2009 at 9:16 pm Link to this comment

Thanks for the fatherjohndear website colin2626262. In 2003 all the news media
except   Reuters was for the Iraq War. Time proved Reuters and Chris Hedges
right and I am sure your hometown would listen to his views more intently now.
The war machine grinds on, Iran is next and then Syria if we last that long. As to
your religious viewpoint, although I am a believer, I cannot agree with your
simplistic solution “Ask God.” although I would not go so far as to ridicule you as some have. Many anti war people who truly care about all life
are atheists and from the posts I read are in the majority on this website. This
dilemma of war is for us to solve, very difficult to do now, things have gone too
far. It is my personal view that there is a flaw in humanity which cannot resolved
on this plane. Our dark side is there, period. That being said, we must continually
be conscious of that darker side, the subject watching the object so to speak.
Chris Hedges points out that dark side in talking about the folly of war. This is
unusual and unpopular but for me and for now it is enough.

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By Dar, October 5, 2009 at 8:33 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I liked the articles,except the part about quoting Primo Levi.

The man was the first ti claim the Jewish suffering as worse than non-Jewish suffering, a message that was to be repeated by the Weasel Elie.

I can’t agree with that.

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By glider, October 5, 2009 at 7:24 pm Link to this comment

colin…oscopy,

You mean the all powerful “God” up there overseeing it all! Spreading lies and fiction certainly accomplishes less than Chris Hedges intellectual analysis.

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By stcfarms, October 5, 2009 at 6:17 pm Link to this comment

The god meme is responsible for most wars, god is the problem, not the
solution.

By colin2626262, October 5 at 8:59 pm #

Good article.  We already know war is evil, though.  The question is how to
stop it.   Ask God.  That’s the solution. 

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By colin2626262, October 5, 2009 at 5:59 pm Link to this comment

Good article.  We already know war is evil, though.  The question is how to stop it.  “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”  That’s good verse.  Chris Hedges gave a good speech against the Iraq war in 2003 in my hometown.  Unfortunately, he didn’t provide any solutions, just intellectual analyses and moral condemnations.  That’s probably why the audience didn’t respond to his views.  The point is not to alienate people by trying to englighten them.  You have to actually live a life of peace and kindness and compassion, a life devoted to love.  How do you do that?  Don’t ask Chris Hedges.  He doesn’t know.  Ask God.  That’s the solution. 

http://www.fatherjohndear.org

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By no mans land, October 5, 2009 at 5:12 pm Link to this comment

I think moreso than war memorials, we have to look at the forces that shape our culture. Memorials are the end state, not the beginning. So, I’ll just toss this out there to see if any of it sticks.

Capitalism = competition for sustainance and prosperity

Sports = competition for status and notoriety

Sexuality = competition for a partner, with success often defined in physical terms. For men, those terms are the ability to at appear like a “badass.”

War = ultimate competition that will deliver all of the above.

We are primed from birth to compete for everything in this American life. We are taught that to get that house on the hill, respect in the community, and that trophy wife we need only live by the rules of competition and to persevere. War, and all its faux glory, is presented as a way to earn all of that. Heroes get respect. Heroes get girls. Heroes get opportunities.

We are taught everything but the truth—that heroes are often reminders of uncomfortable truths and are pushed out of sight and out of consciousness. True, heroism can be and often is redefined in more human terms, the truth remains that too many men often believe they must attain such a heroic status in order to remain relevant, viable and wanted.

Memorials don’t communicate any of that. We do. Its in every commercial, in the news and in our sitcoms. Its in the sports and reality shows we watch. Its in our churches, our romantic comedies, and our books. (Action movies do more to glorify war than war films, in my opinion.)

Memorials communicate the cost of all of this garbage that leaves old men endeared to war and younger ones to kill and die.

Hopefully, in the process they teach us something about ourselves.

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By Xntrk, October 5, 2009 at 4:46 pm Link to this comment

Unlike the participants, I had a great time during WW2 [I was 8 when it ended] We saw all the propaganda movies, spied on the local Japanese [who were actually Chinese], and got chocolate bars from the soldiers at the ‘Repo Depot’ on Beacon Hill, in Seattle. We broke into Boeing Air Field, because we could, and set fire to a bunker on the army base.

The adults were gone - either working full time [the Mothers] or drafted [the Fathers]. We even threw rocks at the German POW’s who were caged on the army base in ‘44. We lied without guilt to any cop or MP, and behaved like the savages children really are when left to entertain themselves.

That changed as a teenager, when I discovered what that war had cost my friends. Dead fathers, missing uncles. My gift was an alcoholic step-father, who spent his war in Panama and Alaska [Communications] and lost a brother on Okinawa.

I traveled across the country with some one time internees from the Japanese Community, and started doing some serious studying about WW2, its causes, and our own role in the slaughter. It is not a pretty picture. Probably the only people who had fun were those not in a War Zone, under age 10.

Books: Read the Forgotten Soldier, by Guy Sajer. It is the memoir of a German soldier who was 15 [i think] when he enlisted and fought his way back from the Eastern Front, thru Poland and then Eastern Germany to the American zone. By the time he was thru, any dreams of glory or patriotism had died with all his friends. His view of the German Officer was even worse then his opinion of the Russians and the Allies.

Like Johnny Got His Gun, this book is not for those with weak stomachs, or who still harbor the belief in War as anything but an unmitigated evil that destroys the innocent.

Hedges article is very good, but rather simplistic. Patriotism and Nationalism are the twin causes of war. The Memorials are simply reflections of what we are taught as kids. By the time we learn differently, too many of us have set off on the same path as our fathers.

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By liecatcher, October 5, 2009 at 4:25 pm Link to this comment

Celebrating Slaughter: War and Collective Amnesia

Posted on Oct 5, 2009 By Chris Hedges

Using Pat Tillman’s family & Cindy Sheehan to put a
human face on pain & suffering & the real cost of war
which is too soon forgotten was well done. Naming
Henry Kissinger & the other war criminals fit in
nicely
with your message. And when you said:“The intimate,
personal experience of violence turns those who
return
from war into internal exiles.” , you were of course
referring to the permanent psychological damage that
along with all of the vaccines the troops are given
has
resulted in a record number of suicides both while in
the combat zone & after returning home.
What would give your article more substance is
specifics on the relationships between the whores in
Congress, the MILITARY INDUSTRY COMPLEX &,
most important of all, the BANKSTERS who finance
both sides of every war, and have used the debt
created
to literally take ove the world.Without this
additional
information most of your readers won’t understand
permanent wars & continued base building around the
world, as well as how far in advance the fascists
behind
THE NEW WORLD ORDER:ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT
have planned every detail, including installing Bush
3 in
the WHITE HOUSE to bury America & complete the
cycle.

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By glider, October 5, 2009 at 4:05 pm Link to this comment

Any article reminding us that patriotic jingoism is an institutionalized evil is valuable.  However, Chris is focusing on such a tiny aspect of the forces that indoctrinate fearless ignorant young men to give up their lives, and then become through war their own socially disassociated monsters.

One of the very biggest offenders is institutionalized Christianity, or more broadly the Abrahamic religions.  In Western societies Christianity pretends to provide society’s moral compass without which we would simply succumb to our baser instincts.  On any given Sunday you may hear wise sermons proclaiming the sanctity of loving your neighboor and respecting human life as if this idea was invented by “Jesus” and the church itself.  The next Sunday you may be treated to the doubletalk of the glory of pain and suffering, and the sacrifice of our brave young men overseas.  Our politicians work very well with this duplicitous religion.  Christianity may not own evil but it has served its cause in providing inspiration for the wholesale slaughter of the “American” Indian, the dropping of not one but two nuclear devices on innocent civilians, the justification for the torture and atrocities of the Inquisition on our own people, and the genocide of Jews in Hitlers 3rd Reich, to name just a few.  Where was that moral compass then and where is it now?  I doubt the war memorials were necessary.  They are a symptom of our disease.  One would have a hard time finding any devout Buddhist’s rising to this level of evil.  It is not in their core to sanctify pain and suffering.  I believe that if our young people were given copies of Johnny Got His Gun instead of the Bible we would not be destined to commit such atrocities over and over again.  We have a defective moral compass IMO.

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By Steve Guggenheimer, October 5, 2009 at 3:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Wow. What an inspiring piece of writing. Kudos to Chris Hedges for a wonderful essay.

guggen.wordpress.com

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By stcfarms, October 5, 2009 at 3:24 pm Link to this comment

Instead of calling them war ‘memorials’ they should be called your tax dollars
at work. If you pay for the war then you are no better than the man that hires a
hit man. It is not us veterans that want war memorials, it is the cretins that
want to inspire ‘patriotism’. If you want to stop war, quit paying for it. If you
support war, then get your ass to the front lines with an M16.

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By Mary Anne, October 5, 2009 at 2:37 pm Link to this comment

I always thought that war memorials and museums were a good thing.  They help to keep the memory of the heroes who served, and the war itself active.  As for showing all of the blood and guts, well there are some of us who have seen enough blood and guts and don’t need to see it in a museum!

I’ve never been to the Holocaust Museum in DC, but I understand that the horrors of the Holocaust are very graphic!  That’s why I won’t go there!
http://maryannecarter.com/

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By Spiritgirl, October 5, 2009 at 2:24 pm Link to this comment

“The memorials do not tell us that some always grow rich from large-scale human suffering. They do not explain that politicians play the great games of world power and stoke fear for their own advancement. They forget that young men and women in uniform are pawns in the hands of cynics, something Pat Tillman’s family sadly discovered. They do not expose the ignorance, raw ambition and greed that are the engine of war.”

And the truth that Americans tend to have short memories that fade fast doesn’t help.  The fact that our children (returning Veterans) are being given short shrift as they return home and are being cheated on benefits and services is something else not discussed!  That these last wars of choice were merely cover-ups for Empire is another topic altogether!

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By Gregg M., October 5, 2009 at 2:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Two words Mr. Hedges:  Amen. Amen.
You nailed it.
War=Legalized Insanity.

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By Folktruther, October 5, 2009 at 1:52 pm Link to this comment

Wow, some really great posts, Kay, Goldstar an nomanland.  And Big B, you really have a way with words.

  ‘Our Cuban embargo is in it’s 50th year, our Iranian policy is 30 years old, our central american policy is nearly 60 years now. Jebus, we still hate the Russians! You would think that an enlightened, educated nation would recognize it’s shortcomings and deal with them. But, as we have proven many times in past, we are neither.”

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By diamond, October 5, 2009 at 1:51 pm Link to this comment

America killed between 3 and 5 million people during the Vietnam war. Most of them were civilians. The newly minted CIA also supplied the South Vietnamese with bombs so they could blow up their own people and blame it on the North Vietnamese. You never see the names on these monuments of those who lost their legs, their arms, their eyes, or their minds. Only the ‘glorious dead’ get their names up there. What needs to be put on these monuments are some before and after pictures. The healthy young man or these days -to our shame - woman going off to war and the mentally destroyed, physically disabled wreck that comes back. There should also be a short paragraph underneath describing how this person was treated when they returned and whether or not they are currently homeless or unemployable due to drug addiction or mental illness. The cost of war isn’t only measured in dollars and when the war is based on lies and completely futile in military terms then the war is, in and of itself, a war crime.

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By rhondda, October 5, 2009 at 1:49 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you for this Mr. Hedges. When I was in high school I had two teachers who had fought in ww2.  One claimed he personally won the war from a prisoner of war camp and the other who lost a leg claimed he was a hero and demanded worship from his class.  He never said what he did in the war. I also had a father in law who lost a leg and it was expected not to ask and to regard him as a hero.  I now believe that that was a ruse to ensure no questions were ever asked. I have always felt uncomfortable with war memorials and of course questions were always regarded as impertinent and rude. The mythology must be maintained. While I do agree that freedom was important in the war, I also think that Canada (where I live) was really never threatened by Hitler. When I look back at my teachers, I now suspect that they had doubts too and could not dare admit them and that we their students were subject to a gross propaganda agenda. My personal challenges were met with low marks.
I also had a German teacher who had a PHD and was teaching high school German. He was the kindest teacher I had ever had. My father in law used his war experience to subjugate his sons to his authority which of course I rebelled against, but they could not.  War destroys more than just the men, it is also families who try to cope.

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By Steve E, October 5, 2009 at 1:28 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Then there is the Military Channel, a program dedicated to glorifing all the
latest and greatest killing apparatus. It also represents a sick society which will
eventually self destruct. Viet Nam, Panama, Iraq, Afghanistan, and more than
likely Iran and Pakistan have and will prove that the United States of America
didn’t make mistakes but that it is a vile nation bent on controlling the planet.
Think about it, in Panama 2,500 civilians were killed to get one man. In iraq
hundreds of thousands were killed to get one man and is family. Our political
leaders are puppets and our Generals are warmongers and also puppets for the
Military Industrial Complex which ironically a great General and President
warned the country about years ago as he left office. Everything is relevant,
because which memorials glorify war and which memorials represent a just
cause and the sacrifice, if there is such a thing regarding war. The USA as we
speak is getting it’s just rewards for killing and maiming thousands if not
millions of humans, most of them innocent of any crime. The financial
structure is collapsing, the judicial system is in self destruct mode, the
Constitution is in a shambles and under constant attack, and meanwhile we are
wondering if we should send another surge into Afghanistan and or follow
Israel’s lead and attack Iran. The memorial business looks bright suckers.

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By Jean Gerard, October 5, 2009 at 12:50 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“There are times—World War II and the Serb assault on Bosnia would be examples—when a population is pushed into a war. There are times when a nation must ingest the poison of violence to survive.”
    Oops! “There are times when . . .” is always the operative phrase that permits wars. Every nation justifies its wars by saying “We are pushed into it.” The truth is, particularly now, with weapons of mass destruction, there simply cannot be “times when”. Wars now are both quantitatively and qualitatively so cruel, expensive and counterproductive that the human race has to free itself from the war syndrome in order to survive.
    Further, the psychotic behavior of Germany before World War II might have been prevented if persecution of the Jews had not been tolerated for centuries throughout Europe. The insane fears and hatreds of Israel today can be seen as a direct result of that same persecution.  And my understanding of the Bosnian situation is that economic and racist problems in that region festered for decades without attention and treatment that might have avoided war.
    Prevention is where it’s at. Justice is where it’s at.  Understanding is where it’s at. Can we grow up?

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By JHall, October 5, 2009 at 12:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Our current Love of War is twisted.  However, that is not to confuse all wars as always avoidable.  To quote, “War is less costly than servitude. The choice is always between Verdun and Dachau.” -Jean Dutourd

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By WriterOnTheStorm, October 5, 2009 at 12:24 pm Link to this comment

One of the pitfalls of consistently swinging for the fences, as Chris does, is that when you miss, you
miss it by a mile.

This piece is one such case. To blame war memorials, museums and films for our eagerness to go to
war is akin to blaming family photo albums for the high divorce rate. “I saw how happy my parents
looked at that picnic, and it drove me marry the first schmo to come along. You just can’t tell from
their smiles that they actually hated each other.”—absurd.

It is human nature to remember the good things, the redemptive things, and to forget the bad. We
don’t need any visual aids for that process, and we’ll do it with or without those ugly lumps of
bronze in public squares.

As to books and film, their function in society is to give the chaotic world in which each of us is
thrown a semblance of structure and meaning. As such, no narrative represents the absolute truth.
Only fools claim to strive for it, and only the most gullible (or the most Machiavellian) among us
claim that works of art achieve it. Indeed,  the very belief in the existence of absolute truth is one of
the surest paths to fanaticism and demagoguery.

War is morally reprehensible, but to argue that war is always evil and unnecessary is, I suspect, one
of those fake absolute truths, the b-side of the hit single that praises war as redemptive and noble.

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By no mans land, October 5, 2009 at 12:15 pm Link to this comment

On collective amnesia.

For a long time, I harbored some very strong resentment toward most of the people back home. They were living relative care-free lives while I was witnessing, and at at times enduring, the worst of humankind in Sarajevo. I came home and found that I could no longer relate to either the left or the right. At first, most people asked questions like “Bosnia? Where’s that?” or “Yugolsavia? We have troops there?” After Saving Private Ryan came out, strangers were inviting me over for dinner just because I was a veteran. The rest of the country was so embroiled in Monica Lewinsky, they couldn’t have cared less about what happened there.

What I found was that no one seemed to get it quite right. Those who were inviting me over for dinner had a such a ramanticized view of military service, that I found myself mostly nodding and smiling. They considered me a hero while the failures and dissappointments I had in myself as a person were never far from the surface. Simply put, their love of an expereince they knew nothing of rang hollow for me.

On the opposite end of the spectrum were those who obviously had a problem with the fact that I’d served in the military at all. To them, I was only part of the problem. And again, their perspective rang hollow for me. Yes, I’ve had my failings. Yes bad things happen and if you’re not careful, you can easily fall vicitim to primordial instinct and fear (which is where atrocities come from.) What they did not see though was the upside to what we did. In Sarajevo, every avaialable plot of ground had been turned into makeshift graveyards. Where children’s soccer games and Olympic events once took place were fields of temporary grave markers made of anything they could find. They didn’t see the mass graves and the bloody clothes of children that were no more. What those people fail to understand is that to this day, I can actually say that I STOPPED a war. People are alive today and Europe is stable.

I’ve since come to realize that the isolation when I came home was because no one understood, while my anger came from an unfair expectation that people should understand it on the same level that I did. It’s like expecting a man to know what pregnancy is like. We simply never will.

More importantly, though, I realized that to expect anyone else to understand those experiences with equal depth is essentially to wish misery upon them and that their ignorance of that reality is a testament to the security they enjoy.

Memorials play an important role, though. If for no other reason, they plant a seed. Shortly after I came home, I found myself at a conference in Nashville. I saw a young man mocking the Vietnam statue out in the square, clearly showing off for his friends. As he climbed over it, he pretended to have anal sex with one of the figures. Yes, I was angry and it took a lot for me not to say anything. I’m glad I didn’t though because the next day I saw the same young man in front of the same statue. This time, he actually made the effort to read what was inscribed. He seemed lost in his thoughts and I could tell that something about it had touched him. I’ll never know what he learned that day, but I don’t need to. It’s his journey and that’s just where he was in life at that time.

Personally, I would hope that things like memorials and the holidays that accompany them, would serve as testaments to an ever-present possiblity: war can happen here. Our history is replete with it. Countries destabalize and primordial fears and intincts take over. I hope that memorials would remind us of that. I hope that memorials would teach us not to enter into wars lightly, nor to so easily dismiss those who are vicitimized by them. And, I hope that if only for a brief moment, they make us appreciate the very ignorance of war that we’ve come to enjoy. Memeorials should not revere wars. Rather, they should teach the timeless lessons that we thus far have not.

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By JenniferBedingfield, October 5, 2009 at 11:11 am Link to this comment

The worst thing about “memorials” is Memorial Day itself. Every year, I hear from more pissed off veterans angry and upset that the day is treated as if it’s some celebration day or whatever to go out there and cook and eat barbaque like a slob and forget what the day really is about. To me, it’s just like another joke day similar to Valentine’s Day. One day, pretend to be somber and/or loving and peaceful. The next day it’s back to war and business as usual !

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By Gold Star Father, October 5, 2009 at 11:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Verez and Ms. Johnson speak of the extended families of the war dead. I can not agree more. I served as a Marine, two of my 4 brothers served in Vietnam, my father in North Africa and Italy in WWII. My uncle was torpedoed in WWII and I had 3 great-uncles who died in the trenches in WWI. Greatest tragedy to me was my son killed in Iraq 4 years ago. My wife and I made a shortened trip into the new Marine Corps Museum in Quantico VA. Much of it contains memorials to lost souls in war, but far too much into the glory of actual war fighting. I left the building in tears. A very simple wave overwhelmed me. Even as a Marine myself, one who still loves the institution, I could not fathom why America continues to repeatedly fling our youth, with their heads filled with pseudo-patriotic duty, into meatgrinders that never seem to settle anything. Why do we fight endless wars with bitter enemies that within the same generation become favored trading partners and “allies”?  Why is it so hard for mankind to refrain from killing one another? Yeah, yeah, yeah, the eternal question. Many of you will state its in our nature; others bring up the ‘war is good for business’ angle. I would just like to know why Americans are so short-sighted and so prone to forget. Why are the Red Oaks of America so quickly forgotten?

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By montanawildhack, October 5, 2009 at 10:54 am Link to this comment

Dearest Folktruther,

Forgive my shortcomings….  If I’m a Ideological Psychopath I figure I’m in good company…. In fact, I think that folks like Wolfawitch, Pearle, Frum, Feith, Kristol,Lierberman and Albright are more better Idological Psychopaths than me even…  Heck, these folks orchestrated 3* illegal and immoral wars and I ain’t even got one under my belt…. And they’re trying to get US involved in a war with the Persians as we speak… 

ps They say that Israel is our only ally in the Middle East but before Israel we had no enemies in the Middle East….  *Iraq I,Iraq II and Afghanistan

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By chuckwalla, October 5, 2009 at 10:36 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“These memorials, while they pay homage to those who made “the ultimate sacrifice,” dignify slaughter. They perpetuate the old lie of honor and glory. They set the ground for the next inferno. The myth of war manufactures a collective memory that ennobles the next war. The intimate, personal experience of violence turns those who return from war into internal exiles. They cannot compete against the power of the myth. This collective memory saturates the culture, but it is “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.””
  Beautifully written, Mr. Hedges, from one such “internal exile”—a Veteran for Peace (Vietnam). I have felt like a stranger in a strange land most of my life after returning from Vietnam, a war I publicly denounced, realizing most fellow Americns are either (a) hostile to my conclusions, or (b) vulnerable to the war-myth makers, or (c) uninterested.  Yes, even so-called progressives can be whipped up to support organized industrial murder, now being pursued on Afghanistan under the cloak of “liberal even-handedness” by the Obama administration.  Muslims are demonized to justify the murders-by-drone of entire extended families.  The only difference from Nam is that the aircraft then still had pilots and the murder was less “precise”.

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By Kay Johnson, October 5, 2009 at 10:21 am Link to this comment

For myself, Robert Fisk has stated it best: “WAR IS A TOTAL FAILURE OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT”.—thebeerdoctor

I am reminded of what the great U.S. filmmaker Sam Fuller said about war—“The only glory in war is simply surviving.”

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By Bill Desmond, October 5, 2009 at 10:21 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Hedges:  A couple of Memorial Days ago, while visiting family in a small New England town, (I’m Canadian) I was present at the local parade and service.  A beautiful spring day, the high school marching band playing Sousa, the old vets and their medals, the young handsome marines in their perfect uniforms, with guns, the police, the fire department, the cubs, scouts and girl guides.  The local folk, babies in strollers, family dogs, the green and pleasant town square with the war memorials, the three churches on the nearby corners, the flags-  a Norman Rockwell Day.

The role call of the dead, the sermon, the pledge, the prayer- always the prayers.  The 21 gun salute.  The small boys, looking with awe on the young soldiers and their guns, all too soon to be fodder for someones future war for oil or democracy or fill in the blanc.
And the final tune the school band played, before all went home to Bar B Q, Fox News and family?  Onward Christian Soldiers.
While my blood ran cold.

Bill in Canada

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By felicity, October 5, 2009 at 10:16 am Link to this comment

WWI, the first of ‘modern’ wars was called the War to End All Wars.  The blanket slaughter of millions of innocents and, ironically, the advances in medicine which meant that battlefield injuries caused fewer deaths meaning that the maimed often returned home, not only vivified the true horrors of war, it more importantly turned people against ever repeating it.

But WWII was not called the ‘last’ war, in fact it marked the beginning of war seen as a noble endeavor, an undertaking to advance the glory and power of a nation. And we have become so indoctrinated, so programmed to believe that war is inevitable that anyone who today declared Iraq (or Afghanistan) the war to end all wars would be judged irrational - and probably unpatriotic, to boot.

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By Kay Johnson, October 5, 2009 at 9:57 am Link to this comment

About War and Collective Amnesia:

Years after graduating from high school in Red Oak, Iowa, I was reading a history book that included some facts and information about World War II. Amongst the facts, I read that Red Oak, Iowa in Montgomery County, lost more men per capita in World War II than any other town/city in the United States. This fact may be incorrect—and instead Red Oak may be 3rd.

I had no idea—we Red Oak students didn’t learn anything in the classroom about that fact. To me, this was directly related history. Therefore, I set out to research and to see if I could find anything relating to Red Oak, Iowa and to Kasserine Pass, in Tunisia, in February of 1943.

As it turns out, Life Magazine even published a map of Montgomery County, with Red Oak as the County Seat. On the map, they pinpointed where the men lived, and the depth of the tragic losses for such a small community. I was completely flabberghasted.

In Red Oak, like so many other U.S. communities, there are war memorials dedicated to the dead. But, no one talks about those three or four days when messengers were sent out to Red Oak families to notify them of their losses. About five years ago, one of my friends, who still lives in Red Oak, had the opportunity to talk to one of the messengers, and he told her that they would barely return to the office, and they would be sent out again to notify another family about another death. The messengers were completely worn out, as well as devastated by the deaths. The sheer numbers of dead soldiers took its toll on the community.

According to one source I found, in the one battle, more than 45 Red Oak soldiers were captured or killed.

I also discovered that Doris Kearns Goodwin, in her book, No Ordinary Time, devotes two paragraphs to Red Oak, Iowa and the numbers killed during World War II.

When I was growing up, both the VFW and the American Legion were extremely active in our community. On Memorial Day, important generals sometimes made speeches in Red Oak. As a child, I couldn’t quite figure out what would draw these generals to Red Oak, but years later, I began to understand.

In order to deal with the scale of the loss of so many citizens during the war—who were fathers, brothers, sons, uncles, cousins, friends, etc., the community collectively chose to forget, and to not discuss the ravages and horror of what war really is, and how the deaths effected the singular families that it touched.

In addition, I unearthed the fact that the authorities named a ship after Red Oak—S.S. Red Oak Victory. For many families, though, it was hardly a victory, but instead, a profound loss. And, World War II is supposed to be the good war.

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By JWVerez, October 5, 2009 at 9:27 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If we could write not only the names of soldiers but also their family members and what all they suffered due to serving in wars that the US had no business getting into, I’ll bet half of the nation’s land would be occupied. I dunno if that would still make people think twice before going to war but the chances of avoiding another one of them would improve.

A lot of us who served in Vietnam have a lot more to say about it and what each of us cost our families as a result. If that’s not bad enough, some of us find ourselves vulnerable to sicknesses that we could have been immune from had we not bothered to serve these rat bastard politicians. Of all the doctors I had been through this year, I was lucky that one of them considered the possibility that my long term PTSD had a lot to do with my illness and he was an alternative practitioner ! Before her, all I could get was basic treatment of the symptoms only to find them reoccurring and almost leaving me no hope of living. Most doctors in this country only go after obvious symptoms but very few bother to find the problem. There are already a lot of us vets from Vietnam who weren’t so fortunate to live due to various war syndromes even if we did avoid losing our lives to bombs and bullets. One difference to keep in mind is that today training in the military is poorer despite increased military spending. Another difference is that with an all volunteer army, guess what’s gonna happen when our young soldiers who are lucky enough to survive Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and god knows what other nations to invade return home.

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By thebeerdoctor, October 5, 2009 at 9:17 am Link to this comment

For myself, Robert Fisk has stated it best: “WAR IS A TOTAL FAILURE OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT”.

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By Big B, October 5, 2009 at 9:10 am Link to this comment

A brief word about memorials. We here in the western PA area are witness to the politics of memorials. The 9/11 memorial in shanksville, PA is still not built(much like the one in NY)because of arguments over how big, how bold, and how proud it should be(and of course the accompanying imminant domain land grab. Once again we are witness to politics of patriotism. Our military is the biggest, our memorials are the grandest, therefore we must be the most powerful nation the world has ever known.

Wouldn’t it be nice if, some day, the US tried it the liberal way, the hippy way, instead of continuing down the same warrior way of the past 200 years? But we are, after all, americans. As we have seen all throughout our history, just because a policy has not brought the desired effect does not mean we will change it, or give it up. Our Cuban embargo is in it’s 50th year, our Iranian policy is 30 years old, our central american policy is nearly 60 years now. Jebus, we still hate the Russians! You would think that an enlightened, educated nation would recognize it’s shortcomings and deal with them. But, as we have proven many times in past, we are neither.

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