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The Pictures of War You Aren’t Supposed to See

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Posted on Jan 4, 2010
AP / Adem Hadei

An Iraqi woman takes her dead son into her arms. The 6-year-old was killed on the way home from enrolling for his first year of school.

By Chris Hedges

(Page 2)

“She had been my girlfriend in the military and we had planned to be married,” he says. “But when she saw me in the hospital—I don’t know exactly what happened, but later they told me when she saw me she began to cry. Afterwards, she ran away and never came back.”

The public manifestations of gratitude are reserved for veterans who dutifully read from the script handed to them by the state. The veterans trotted out for viewing are those who are compliant and palatable, those we can stand to look at without horror, those who are willing to go along with the lie that war is about patriotism and is the highest good. “Thank you for your service,” we are supposed to say. They are used to perpetuate the myth. We are used to honor it.

Gary Zuspann, who lives in a special enclosed environment in his parent’s home in Waco, Texas, suffering from Gulf War syndrome, speaks in Grinker’s book of feeling like “a prisoner of war” even after the war had ended.

“Basically they put me on the curb and said, okay, fend for yourself,” he says in the book. “I was living in a fantasy world where I thought our government cared about us and they take care of their own. I believed it was in my contract, that if you’re maimed or wounded during your service in war, you should be taken care of. Now I’m angry.”

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I went back to Sarajevo after covering the 1990s war for The New York Times and found hundreds of cripples trapped in rooms in apartment blocks with no elevators and no wheelchairs. Most were young men, many without limbs, being cared for by their elderly parents, the glorious war heroes left to rot.

Despair and suicide grip survivors. More Vietnam veterans committed suicide after the war than were killed during it. The inhuman qualities drilled into soldiers and Marines in wartime defeat them in peacetime. This is what Homer taught us in “The Iliad,” the great book on war, and “The Odyssey,” the great book on the long journey to recovery by professional killers. Many never readjust. They cannot connect again with wives, children, parents or friends, retreating into personal hells of self-destructive anguish and rage.

“They program you to have no emotion—like if somebody sitting next to you gets killed you just have to carry on doing your job and shut up,” Steve Annabell, a British veteran of the Falklands War, says to Grinker. “When you leave the service, when you come back from a situation like that, there’s no button they can press to switch your emotions back on. So you walk around like a zombie. They don’t deprogram you. If you become a problem they just sweep you under the carpet.”

“To get you to join up they do all these advertisements—they show people skiing down mountains and doing great things—but they don’t show you getting shot at and people with their legs blown off or burning to death,” he says. “They don’t show you what really happens. It’s just bullshit. And they never prepare you for it. They can give you all the training in the world, but it’s never the same as the real thing.”

Those with whom veterans have most in common when the war is over are often those they fought.

“Nobody comes back from war the same,” says Horacio Javier Benitez, who fought the British in the Falklands and is quoted in Grinker’s book. “The person, Horacio, who was sent to war, doesn’t exist anymore. It’s hard to be enthusiastic about normal life; too much seems inconsequential. You contend with craziness and depression.”

“Many who served in the Malvinas,” he says, using the Argentine name of the islands, “committed suicide, many of my friends.” 

“I miss my family,” reads a wall graffito captured in one of Agtmael’s photographs. “Please God forgive the lives I took and let my family be happy if I don’t go home again.”

Next to the plea someone had drawn an arrow toward the words and written in thick, black marker “Fag!!!”

Look beyond the nationalist cant used to justify war. Look beyond the seduction of the weapons and the pornography of violence. Look beyond Barack Obama’s ridiculous rhetoric about finishing the job or fighting terror. Focus on the evil of war. War begins by calling for the annihilation of the others but ends ultimately in self-annihilation. It corrupts souls and mutilates bodies. It destroys homes and villages and murders children on their way to school. It grinds into the dirt all that is tender and beautiful and sacred. It empowers human deformities—warlords, Shiite death squads, Sunni insurgents, the Taliban, al-Qaida and our own killers—who can speak only in the despicable language of force. War is a scourge. It is a plague. It is industrial murder. And before you support war, especially the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, look into the hollow eyes of the men, women and children who know it. 

Chris Hedges, a Pulitzer Prize-winning correspondent who covered conflicts for two decades in Central America, Africa, the Middle East and the Balkans, writes a column published every Monday on Truthdig. His latest book is “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.”


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BR549's avatar

By BR549, January 4, 2010 at 8:37 pm Link to this comment

It’d be interesting to see how many of Hedge’s detractors had ever worn a
uniform.

Having been there and done that, I can honestly say that the military
experience opened up my eyes to the sheer amount of waste and a near total
disregard for the citizens who had to pay for it all, not to mention the ultimate
price that some poor souls needlessly paid to support the legislative
convolutions of our Constitution.

If these kids had only known that the Pentagon actually sought out those slightly socially inept individuals, who sat for hours in front of a video game instead of playing ball down the street; perhaps if they had known that they were, quite literally, going to become sacrificial pawns for a group of fat, cigar chomping officials in $4,000 suits, they might have had a second thought when viewing those intentionally seductive ads that were knowingly created to take advantage of our children’s naivete.

I had one son, who, after seeing the Navy’s ads showing SEALS stealthily running up the river in some assault craft, thought that the blacked out faces and machine guns at the ready were the next best step in his life; that was until I told him that someone’s father was probably going to be on the receiving end of one of those bullets and while trying to defending his OWN family. THANK GOD, he saw the light of day. He now wants to become a teacher.

Even if we had been putting our entire military budget into efforts like the Peace Corps, there’d still be some set of sick and twisted malcontents calculating how to amass more of someone else’s something. They would still find a way to start a conflict, even if the world was at peace, not unlike a psychologically imbalanced child who can’t stand the thought of not being the center of attention. So, maybe that is the answer, here; that this NWO crap is just the whinings of a group of rich spoiled schoolchildren from dysfunctional families that always have to have their own way and that the only way they can get any friends at all is to bribe them with ice cream or expensive toys. Sounds rather pathetic to me.

Social immaturity on a global scale.

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By jestawkin', January 4, 2010 at 8:36 pm Link to this comment

So we’re going to end war. Then how do we deal with the Bin Ladins and the
Hitlers and [Your Villain Here] who don’t care at all about who’s killed or the
effect of war?

There’s a scene in Manhattan where Woody Allen tells a group at a party about
a neo-Nazi rally scheduled for the next day and suggests the group get some
bats and go there. One of the other guests comments “Oh, there’s a great
satirical piece in the Times about that,” to which Allen replies, “Nazis don’t
under stand satire, they understand bats.”

Lord knows, I’m no hawk; we ought to shrink the military and stop sending
arms around the world. Half the world hates us because we’re the local
Hegemon. But I can’t help thinking that if someone’s shooting at me, I’d rather
be able to shoot back than sing Kumbaya.

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DieDaily's avatar

By DieDaily, January 4, 2010 at 8:10 pm Link to this comment

Ouroborus, the link http://tinyurl.com/yhdb3uf (Hedges lecture) was incredibly well worth the watch. Thanks a ton.

cmarcusparr, your articles are well meant, but the worst type of unconscious buck-passing. Nobody has ever legislated morality successfully. Educating and empowering individuals is the only cure, and is a self-propagating cure. The only sort of interdependence that can save us is an educated, informed and entirely voluntary one.

LemuelG, you aren’t being even remotely fair to the soldiers. They are convinced that they have to do atrocities just to stay alive, and then they suffer terribly for it. Few are spiritually cold, dead, and heartless enough to escape PTSD. You just don’t understand. Watch this year’s Winter Soldier interviews and you will understand. You will feel really bad about what you said about the soldiers if you watch it. They are among the primary victims of the evil which exploits them as tools. They just take longer to die and they die from the inside out. The problem is systemic, as the Milgram, Standford Prison, and numerous other studies have scientifically proved.

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By crystall84, January 4, 2010 at 8:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m 70 years old. I could have told you of all the misery that war brings.  I blame
the politicians who started it and dragged young people into it to be killed and
maimed, physically and psychologically.  Destroying families and lives.  We are
supposed to learn from our mistakes, how come country leaders are not learning
from the past wars.  For war to be glamorized and entice people to it is
inconscionable.  In my 70 years I’ve been through WW ll, the Korean War, the 7-
Day War, the Viet Nam War, the Falklands War, the Mau Mau uprising, etc., etc.,
etc.  Each and every one of them had horrendous photos taken, young people
coming home maimed or dead. Wars have got to stop.  There has to be a better
way to settle things between countries.  Isreal must free the Palistinians and get
out of the West Bank and Gaza and give them their water back.

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By DBM, January 4, 2010 at 7:54 pm Link to this comment

Thank you FRTothus, January 4 at 2:53 pm
for the wonderful war quotes ... I have copied them into a separate file to keep for future reference.

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By DBM, January 4, 2010 at 7:51 pm Link to this comment

Another excellent piece of writing from the incredibly important Chris Hedges.

It seems that there is almost universal agreement and support in this thread with the exception of DaveZx3’s well thought out critique.  Zx3 also perceptively critiqued the “Declaration of Interdependence” submitted in the thread.

However, Zx3, as much as I enjoy your updates I think your writing here is internally correct and makes some good points but is shot through with important assumptions that you need to support:

*  The world is naturally split into “us and them” (or multiple “us’s” implacably opposed to the rest of “them”).

*  Although “ideologies” are “bodies of ideas reflecting the social needs and aspirations of an individual, group, class, or culture” according to the dictionary, you assume that the only way for a body of ideas to prevail is through force.  Really??

*  “They” are out to get us.  They want to dictate to us their ideology and to take our stuff.

The world you paint is full of nearly equally powerful competing tribes who seek to dominate all others. It would seem to me that the current wars in question (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen ... so far), are not about any “them” threatening to dictate their ideology and take our stuff.  These wars are a total mismatch between the powerful and the weak.  There is no threat there except the threat to withhold oil or more specifically oil profits.  There is no threat there except to expose the irrationality and futility of the American reaction to 9/11 by changing course.

What this leads to are the policies of the very afraid.  The U.S. is so afraid that it spends more than any countriy in history on the military.  It is so afraid that despite committing more of its wealth to the military than most of the rest of the world combined (and way way more than its perceived enemies) it skimps on healthcare, education and economic stimulus through R&D or maintenance of infrastructure.  The reason why Americans are kept so afraid became very clear when the continued growth of the wealth of the super-rich was challenged by the Financial Crisis ... THEN something more important than war spending became apparent:  Social Welfare for the obscenely rich.

I don’t want to preach but my understanding of the teachings of the Prince of Peace was that he wanted HIS ideology to reach all peoples and all nations ... and not by defeating them militarily.  If you don’t believe that is possible then how can you claim to follow him?

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By bfearn, January 4, 2010 at 7:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you Mr. Hedges for your powerful anti-war writing.  Remarkably many Americans are PRO-war and so it will continue.

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Ouroborus's avatar

By Ouroborus, January 4, 2010 at 6:48 pm Link to this comment

Here’s a link to a talk by Hedges:
“Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the
Triumph of Spectacle”

http://tinyurl.com/yhdb3uf

A very important video, IMO.

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By Officer Krupke, January 4, 2010 at 6:28 pm Link to this comment

First, I want to express my gratitude for Chris to have written great articles and moves us to act and protest for what is right.

Next, I want to address some things that a user by the name of LemuelG, said,

He talks about Hedges last paragraph and says “The last paragraph is crap though, mawkish and verbose, anyone who mentions such nonsense as ‘evil’ instantly qualifies their writings for the garbage.”

Is that so? So if we were to talk about Hitler our articles about him would instantly be qualified as ‘garbage’ if we were to describe him as evil. If you want to judge people’s articles solely on what adjectives they use to describe certain events like war, it says a lot of how narrow-minded you are.

It is also funny how you say you agree with Hedges yet criticize him throughout the rest of your post.

If you want to criticize the article or Chris, I suggest you think about it a little bit more, as these so-called criticisms are quite pathetic.

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By Old Geezer Pilot, January 4, 2010 at 6:13 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Howard Zinn says that all wars are against children. I
think he is correct.

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By LemuelG, January 4, 2010 at 6:06 pm Link to this comment

I’ve been critical of Mr. Hedges’ articles previously, but this is much better - he is fundamentally righteous here.

The last paragraph is crap though, mawkish and verbose, anyone who mentions such nonsense as ‘evil’ instantly qualifies their writings for the garbage (put your hands up if you mocked Bush for similair transgressions).

I don’t know why CH included comments from the soldier who mentioned joining the army after seeing skiing adverts, then goes on to whine that he wasn’t ready for the consequences of combat… really?

Conscript soldiers deserve pity and mercy, proffesionals have no excuses - unless you count idiocy.

That’s your job grunt, you may very well die or be maimed, you will probably lose friends and experience endless months of extreme discomfort, while the outside world will move on without you - it is not a job for fathers and husbands.

Next prez who gives a speech to make the case for a war should have to do so in front of a backdrop of civilians shredded by high-explosive; a soldier who had half his face ripped-off by mortar-shrapnel; a small child who doesn’t understand why their daddy ain’t coming back… only then will appropriate context for decision-making be achieved.

That said, war was/is/will be the most natural ‘human’ activity there is… it is entwined through every facet of our being, distilled in every drop of blood - only the hopelessly naive think it can be done-away with altogether.

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By DaveZx3, January 4, 2010 at 5:31 pm Link to this comment

By cmarcusparr, January 4 at 8:36 pm #

“Article Five: Language must no longer be manipulated to propagandize, persuade, or influence people to kill others, consume conspicuously, waste resources, or act TO DOMINATE OTHER HUMAN BEINGS”.

This may come as a complete shock to you, but the end of your article 5 is in violation to almost everything else you wrote.

I call it domination when “YOU” are suddenly empowered to tell “ME”:

1. How many kids to have.
2. Whether I can use force to defend myself.
3. What type of government I must live under
4. How much money I can save
5. What type of economic system I get to live under
6. What types of religions are o.k.
7. What I am allowed to consume
8. What my central focus must be
9. How much intellect I should have
10.How much money I am allowed to earn.

You did not read my post of:

By DaveZx3, January 4 at 3:56 pm

Where I basically stated that someone would have to give up their ideology for peace to prevail.  But instead of giving up yours, you dictate to me to give up mine, and expect that to end war.

All I hear from you is how you are going to tell me what i “MUST” do.  And I emphasize the word “must” because it is contained in every one of your articles. 

You are basically pushing your ideology onto the whole world, and although some of your words sound pretty, they are still tyrannical and dictaorial in their meaning. 

A full 50% of the world would fight you to the death before allowing you to implement this power over them.  Because that is what war is all about, not allowing another to dictate to you. 

Very, very naive ideas consistent with the ideas of those wishing to bing the global government, which would do more to generate warfare than prevent it.

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BR549's avatar

By BR549, January 4, 2010 at 5:30 pm Link to this comment

montanawildhack, January 4 at 8:28 pm

Yes, Obama is a sociopath, for having lied so much to so many, who had hoped for so much, only to sell them all down the river to the bloody elitists. But do not think for one minute that Israel is our ally. I have nothing at all against the Jews, but Israel, it’s government and that hard core bunch of socially dysfunctional Zionist misfits are that small festering boil that is infecting this country. Try connecting the dots between WTC, AIG and Goldman Sachs, just for starters, or better yet, just start with the USS Liberty and it all goes downhill from there.

Obamawitz is probably the real name on his birth certificate.

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By Xntrk, January 4, 2010 at 4:42 pm Link to this comment

With his words, Chris Hedges invokes the images from the book “Johnny Got His Gun” and the song ‘John Brown’ by Bob Dylan. It’s not just the Big Muddy and other protest music and marches - It’s the harsh reality of Hiroshima and Auschwitz and Gaza and El Salvador.

If they spoke the truth in our schools and churches, people would be to busy crying and mourning to enlist in yet another War for the Corporate Gods.

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By cmarcusparr, January 4, 2010 at 4:36 pm Link to this comment

Declaration of Interdependence

As a species, to insure our survival and well being, for the protection and restoration of our environment, for the benefit of all the people of the world, we must commit ourselves to the following:

Article One [THE GOLDEN RULE]: We must devote ourselves to nonviolence against fellow living beings.

Article Two: The making of war must end. Resources that nation-states devote to the manufacture and deployment of war-making materiel must be redirected to peaceful means for an investment in and eye toward improving the well-being, education, happiness, and health of all people.

Article Three: [TRUE DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISM]: Wealth must be deemed an unacceptable condition in the presence of human suffering, poverty, and/or disease. In order to eliminate inequities between the rich and poor, to the end of eliminating extreme poverty we must create an economic system in which no one is “too rich” and no one is “too poor.”

Article Four: All organized religions and cults that preach a gospel of favoring one group over another must be banned. References to war, discrimination, and violence must be stricken from all “holy” scripts, and the religious practice of violence in word, practice or deed against another human being or group must be strictly prohibited and enforced against.

Article Five: Language must no longer be manipulated to propagandize, persuade, or influence people to kill others, consume conspicuously, waste resources, or act to dominate other human beings.

Article Six: Education, including self-improvement ultimately toward self-realization, must become the central focus of human endeavor for the enrichment of human intellect. What is spent on the practice of war and violence must be redirected toward cultivating the intellects and creative talents of all people.

Article Seven: We must limit the runaway growth of world population.

Article Eight: We must eliminate all poverty, human suffering and disease.

Article Nine: We must become more self-reliant and considerate to the preservation of natural resources.

Article Ten: Although admittedly all of these proposed articles cannot be implemented at once, immediately, we must dedicate ourselves, our resources, to work toward a world in which peace prevails everywhere, where human beings have dignity, where intelligence and talent are highly valued, where the arts are universally supported, and where people may live non-violently and in harmony with the natural order of the world environment.

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By montanawildhack, January 4, 2010 at 4:28 pm Link to this comment

heyusmomanddad,,,,,


Well thought out and lucid comments!!!

Don’t forget that Israel is our only ally in the MidEast though….

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By doublestandards/glasshouses, January 4, 2010 at 4:01 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

All our country stands for now is the slaughter of
innocent people, but that’s ok because it’s a
democrat ordering the slaughter these days.  There’s a
difference between republican war crimes and democratic
war crimes.  Ask Obama, he’ll tell you.

Report this

By DaveZx3, January 4, 2010 at 3:49 pm Link to this comment

By faith, January 4 at 7:30 pm #

“It is incredulous to me that those war mongers beating their chests and shouting patriotism loudest are those who whined or weasled their way out of the draft during Viet Nam”

The ones who whined and weasled their way out of the draft mostly were the war protesters. 

I always wondered why the 60’s war protesters were never able to make any impact on poliitics as they grew older.  Now I know.  They all turned into war mongers. 

So, do you think that today’s war protesters will eventually turn into war mongers also?

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By faith, January 4, 2010 at 3:30 pm Link to this comment

...“They are war’s refuse”.  Wow, right on point Mr. Hedges.  Great article.  It is
incredulous to me that those war mongers beating their chests and shouting
patriotism loudest are those who whined or weasled their way out of the draft
during Viet Nam, and would never consider allowing their own children to serve
in Mr. Bush’s ghastly debacle in the middle east:  Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mr. Bush’s policy which excluded news media from filming or documenting
those killed in this current war has truly sheltered our society from just what is
really happening to a large part of America’s younger generation.  Many of
whom entered the war theatre to get a college education or some form of
income - only to come home in litters, missing body parts.  Only to go to
military hospitals ill equipped to handle and manage the trauma and complex
injuries. Only to see their loved ones attempting to shuffle through the
paperwork to get some assistance with the costs associated therewith.  All the
while, the defense contractors, wall street, corporatists and lobbyists raking in
billions of unearned, wrongfully paid profits.  This, on the backs of these poor
souls sent to fight an unjust war without cause.  God help us.  We are truly lost
and we lack the moral compass to throw out all our Congress who lack the
same moral compass to stop this.

Report this

By faith, January 4, 2010 at 3:24 pm Link to this comment

...“They are war’s refuse”.  Wow, right on point Mr. Hedges.  Great article.  It is
incredulous to me that those war mongers beating their chests and shouting
patriotism loudest are those who whined or weasled their way out of the draft
during Viet Nam, and would never consider allowing their own children to serve
in Mr. Bush’s ghastly debacle in the middle east:  Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mr. Bush’s policy which excluded news media from filming or documenting
those killed in this current war has truly sheltered our society from just what is
really happening to a large part of America’s younger generation.  Many of
whom entered the war theatre to get a college education or some form of
income - only to come home in litters, missing body parts.  Only to go to
military hospitals ill equipped to handle and manage the trauma and complex
injuries. Only to see their loved ones handed attempting to shuffle through the
paperwork to get some assistance with the costs associated therewith.  All the
while, the defense contractors, wall street, corporatists and lobbyists raking in
billions of unearned, wrongfully paid profits.  This, on the backs of these poor
souls sent to fight an unjust war without cause.  God help us.  We are truly lost
and we lack the moral compass to throw out all our Congress who lack the
same moral compass to stop this.

Report this

By DaveZx3, January 4, 2010 at 3:09 pm Link to this comment

By afouts, January 4 at 5:36 pm #
(Unregistered commenter)

“Is there any documentation on the Vietnam suicides available?  Greater than the number killed in combat make that a very high number.  I actually want the information”
====================================================

Quoted from a CDC study: 

“The CDC Vietnam Experience Study Mortality Assessment showed that during the first 5 years after discharge, deaths from suicide were 1.7 times more likely among Vietnam veterans than non-Vietnam veterans. After that initial post-service period, Vietnam veterans were no more likely to die from suicide than non-Vietnam veterans. In fact, after the 5-year post-service period, the rate of suicides is less in the Vietnam veterans’ group.” [Houk] 

Michael Kelley, a Vietnam veteran who lives in Sacramento, has spent years tracking the wildly varying suicide estimates. “In the final analysis,” Kelley wrote in a 1999 Washington Post story, “Vietnam veterans likely die from suicide at about the same rate and for the same reasons that everyone else in America does.”

Hard to track an exact number, but most serious scholars put the total number of Vietnam veterans suicides to date at about 10,000 total or less.  That is actually a fairly high figure, as CDC stated about 6500 Viet vet suicides as of 1999. 

Most of the myths regarding Vietnam veterans have been put to rest, and there is plenty of evidence to this fact online everywhere.  Though there are also the old myths hanging around that they were all a bunch of psycho baby-killers. 

Teen suicide is a much, much bigger problem and growing every day.  More teens attempt suicide each year than Vets have throughout the years.  If teens were as competent as vets were at killing themselves, the teen suicide rate would be 10 times more outrageous than it is.

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By Jack, January 4, 2010 at 1:42 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Someone just did, he’s called Chris Edges.

Stop praying God for the end of war.
END IT YOURSELF.

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By afouts, January 4, 2010 at 1:36 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Is there any documentation on the Vietnam suicides available?  Greater than the number killed in combat make that a very high number.  I actually want the information.

Report this

By Greetings, January 4, 2010 at 12:38 pm Link to this comment

When will God, Tao or someone help stop this horror brought on by greed, fear and religion????

Report this

By jack, January 4, 2010 at 12:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is important work. Most artists avoid the horror of war. Most critics and
funding sources can handle it only in abstract diversion, quaking in fearful
realization of the undeniable human condition, and leaving audience barely
touched by the horror.

We put it on stage http://www.lamentatio.info/ + http://www.thefall01.info/
and on disc, using the horror as real as the stage can bear, with the real reports
and words of the cannon fodder in the trenches, the imprisoned and their
survivors. And same as everywhere,  it’s too deathly serious for the media in our
local, typically preferring the silly, the fun, the comfortable, the usual.

Why do you make “political” art, I’m often asked. I say, “It’s not political. Calling
it “political” is insulting. Politics is what people do to get or change something
for oneself or friends. Not at all the goal of this work. I took Woody’s advice:
gave up hope and am feeling better. This body of work is artistic documentation
of the empire in collapse, more for scholars millennia from now. Like an Iliad or
Odyssey for our epoch.”

Report this

By jack, January 4, 2010 at 12:11 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is important work. Most artists avoid the horror of war. Most critics and funding
sources can handle it only in abstract diversion, quaking in fearful realization of the
undeniable human condition, and leaving audience barely touched by the horror.

We put it on stage http://www.lamentatio.info/ + http://www.thefall01.info/ and on
disc, using the horror as real as the stage can bear, with the real reports and words
of the cannon fodder in the trenches, the imprisoned and their survivors. And same
as everywhere,  it’s too deathly serious for the media in our local, typically preferring
the silly, the fun, the comfortable, the usual.

Why do you make “political” art, I’m often asked. I say, “It’s not political. Calling it
“political” is insulting. Politics is what people do to get or change something for
oneself or friends. Not at all the goal of this work. I took Woody’s advice: gave up
hope and am feeling better. This body of work is artistic documentation of the
empire in collapse, more for scholars millennia from now. Like an Iliad or Odyssey
for our epoch.”

Report this

By DaveZx3, January 4, 2010 at 11:56 am Link to this comment

Everyone posting is exactly right about war.  It is despicable, without any excuse.  But it is pervasive in all of society, everyone reveres it at one level or another. 

As Beer Doc correctly states, even sporting events are a type of pitting one city against another and living out this need to compete and conquer.  Humans are all about competing and conquering.  Look at the games kids play.  Look at every facet of humanity, and evolution itself.  It is all about survival of the fittest.  And if I am not the biggest guy on the block, then I go buy a 12G shotgun.  As I have said on many threads, “war is the perpetual state of mankind”.  Everyone is guilty of it at one level or another.

Of course there is a solution to war.  A way to do away with it forever.  And that is to follow the teaching of Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace.  He taught, “love your enemy”.  He taught, by example, that being a man of peace might mean not defending yourself when you are the hated one.  To die willingly in defense of peace. 

The ones who hate Christ will never do this, and the ones who pretend to love Christ will never do this.  There are extremely few, if any, people living, who are willing to lay down their lives unilaterally or live anothers ideology for the cause of world peace.

But that is the only way to have peace.  One side or the other has to put away their arms and refuse to fight.  If they are lucky, the other side will do the same, but don’t count on it.  It is more likely that they declare themselves the victor and claim the spoils, but peace can still reign by not resisting.

Peace is only manifested through great sacrifice.  You give up your life, or you give up your freedom, or you give up your possessions, or you give up everything, including your ideology. 

The alternative is to win the war and dictate your ideology. 

As long as there are competing ideologies, war will continue.  But peace can break out between wars when one side fully obliterates the other side, rendering them without power to resist.  The illusiion of peace reigns for a short period.

I am not impressed with the anti-war crowd because in general:

1.  They have not embraced the “Prince of Peace”
2.  They show an unwillingness to risk their life.
3.  They show an unwillingness to give up their ideology.
4.  They continue to seek a relatively high standard of living for themselves.

If you are truly convinced that the US is the evil aggressor, responsible for all of the atrocities that are alleged, then you are obliged to go join the resistance, not continue to reap the benefits of US citizenship. 

If you are truly convinced that the US is just attempting to reasonably, but imperfectly, police the world in an effort to minimize war and violence, then you are obliged to get involved to bring about a better US with better policies. 

Historical examples have shown that no one side will willingly and unilaterally lay down their arms, their ideologies or their possessions and definitely not their lives. 

So is the only answer for everyone to pick their side and duke it out until the opposition has been obliterated and then the victor would enforce the “peace”?  I ask you if that is reasonable?

But to summarize my point, for peace to reign immediately, one side needs to win and police the loser, or one side needs to unilaterally surrender and willlingly abide by the ideology of the other. 

I know that many will try to add a third possibility, “negotiate a middle ground”.  I would agree to that if it could be done in a very short period, like a week.  To drag it on as is seen in many examples is to prolong the killing and suffering.  Closely held ideologies do not negotiate.

But the ideology of the “Prince of Peace” (not the false ideology of his man-made religious followers) is absolute and it is the true way to end war.  After the lions have devoured you, you are free from war forever.

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By drbhelthi, January 4, 2010 at 11:37 am Link to this comment

Profitting from war.  In spite of the “multiple bankruptcy”
of today´s USA and the western world generally, leaders of
the USA spearhead wars in multiple areas that multiply the
bankruptcy.  For me, reading up on the derivation of the
Rothschild (red schield) empire provides some useful
background for current-day affairs.  Why the major candidates
for the 2008 US presidency begged AIPAC leadership for
support, is answered by reading a few articles on the
Bilderberg Group.  NAZI-occultists love to sacrifice innocent
people, especially children.  Also, for folk who can add 2+2
without getting “5”, the why and by whom the USA is being
destroyed, tends to be somewhat revealed.  The Wall came down
in Germany, but went up in Israel?  Historian, professor
Schlomo Zand, teacher at Tel Aviv University wrote a book,
“When and How Was the Jewish People Invented?” 

And who is responsible for the nonsense ideas that NW 253 was
almost destroyed ?  This planted ideation comes from the same
source that planted >ALL< the dupes on NW 253 who staged the
entire event, from the zapped-brained African youth in the
airport in Holland, to the agents who interrupted the alleged
bombing, to the agents who gave the interviews much later,
devaluing the observations of the Haskells.
Smoke and mirrors, unmatched PR, wholesale fraud by EMPLOYEES
of the USA who are supposed to prevent the events that they
have been creating for more than a few years. 
Do any of you USA EMPLOYEES have a thread of honesty and a
hint of conscience in your being ? 
If Yes, it is time to exercise it, and stop pimping for the
NAZI-types that want to rule the globe.

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By Been Down So Long.., January 4, 2010 at 11:25 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

More pictures please…Put them everywhere.

The reality of war has been hidden from us too long..

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By FRTothus, January 4, 2010 at 10:53 am Link to this comment

“You can always hear the people who are willing to sacrifice somebody else’s life. They’re plenty loud and they talk all the time. You can find them in churches and schools and newspapers and legislatures and congress. That’s their business. They sound wonderful. Death before dishonor. This ground sanctified by blood. These men who died so gloriously. They shall not have died in vain. Our noble dead.”
(Dalton Trumbo, Johnny Got His Gun)

“They wrote in the old days that it is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country. But in modern war there is nothing sweet or fitting in your dying. You will die like a dog for no good reason.”
(Ernest Hemingway)

“To initiate a war of aggression ... is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”
(International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, Germany - 1946)

“The men and women who enlist in this country’s military [should] be told the truth that they are not protecting the United States, they are and always have been protecting corporate interests.”
(Chante Wolf)

“Somebody’s paying the corporations that destroyed Iraq and the corporations that are rebuilding it. They’re getting paid by the American taxpayer in both cases. So we pay them to destroy the country, and then we pay them to rebuild it. Those are gifts from U.S. taxpayer to U.S. corporations…”
(Noam Chomsky)

“[American leaders] are perhaps not so much immoral as they are amoral. It’s not that they take pleasure in causing so much death and suffering. It’s that they just don’t care ... the same that could be said about a sociopath. As long as the death and suffering advance the agenda of the empire, as long as the right people and the right corporations gain wealth and power and privilege and prestige, as long as the death and suffering aren’t happening to them or people close to them ... then they just don’t care about it happening to other people, including the American soldiers whom they throw into wars and who come home - the ones who make it back alive - with Agent Orange or Gulf War Syndrome eating away at their bodies. American leaders would not be in the positions they hold if they were bothered by such things.”
(William Blum)

“The loud little handful will shout for war. The pulpit will warily and cautiously protest at first…. The great mass of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes, and will try to make out why there should be a war, and they will say earnestly and indignantly: “It is unjust and dishonorable and there is no need for war.”
Then the few will shout even louder…. Before long you will see a curious thing: anti-war speakers will be stoned from the platform, and free speech will be strangled by hordes of furious men who still agree with the speakers but dare not admit it…
Next, the statesmen will invent cheap lies…and each man will be glad of these lies and will study them because they soothe his conscience; and thus he will bye and bye convince himself that the war is just and he will thank God for a better sleep he enjoys by his self-deception.”
(Mark Twain)

“Arms manufacturers need war like umbrella makers need rain.”
(Eduardo Galeano)

“American capitalism, based as it is on exploitation of the poor, with its fundamental motivation in personal greed, simply cannot survive without force.”
(Philip Agee, CIA Diary)

“Tis the time’s plague when madmen lead the blind.”
(William Shakespeare’s King Lear, Act 4)

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By Smudge Martens, January 4, 2010 at 10:36 am Link to this comment

To Southern Gal:

It doesn’t matter whether Bush sent his two daughters to Iraq to fight or Obama periodically visits the troops. Those actions can’t justify the heinous and ugly reality of war nor would it change their change their minds. Their public rationalizations are this small price to pay for the greater good and that a dead Marine has had the honor to make the ultimate sacrifice.

But the real reason, as with all things American, lies in the Vietnam War protest slogan, “War is good business invest your sons.” The actions of a capitalistic crazed father willing to slaughter his children at the altar of Nationalism don’t make it moral.

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By Beer Doc, January 4, 2010 at 10:19 am Link to this comment

It is suffice to say that what Mr.Hedges writes about what war really is. just happens to be the truth. The indoctrination of the populace to embrace this hideous action is performed in a myriad of ways; from jingoistic ceremonies at sporting events, to video games and movies, to the downright obscene direct advertising from the service branches.
President Obama’s war mongering is an obscenity on the face of humanity. Anyone who tries to rationalize these insane actions is either a fool or an absolutely cynical tool.

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By montanawildhack, January 4, 2010 at 10:05 am Link to this comment

Arabian Sinbad,,,

I agree with your post….. 

But,,, (there’s always a but)  the days of mass protests by the people of this country are OVER and OUT…... First you need to get a permit to protest and do you think the gov’t is gonna give you a permit for a mass protest against the war machine????

Second… Assume, just for fun, that you get thousands of people together (like in Iran) to protest without a permit…..What do you think the gov’t would do with those people????  They would be arrested in mass and if they resisted they would be machine gunned…. That is the sad reality my friend…

I’d feel more better about protesting in Iran than here—that’s for damn sure…..

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By bozhidar balkas, vancouver, January 4, 2010 at 9:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Yes, i agree, war is by far greatest crime and atrocity even in a balanced war. In afpak, palestine, and iraq crime appears even worse than in a war where two sides are in an econo-military-diplomatic equilibrium.

And, yet, warlords in US and elsewhere, who appear largely or solely to be waging wars, are getting richer and more violent! tnx

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By Arabian Sinbad, January 4, 2010 at 9:12 am Link to this comment

Though sad and disturbing, this article, as most of Chris Hedges’writings, is intended to speak to the conscientiousness of free and decent men and women and move them, en masses,to do something to challenge the merchants of death in Washington D.C., Israel and London.

But where are those conscientious people in a nation of 300 million people like America?! Why can’t we muster 2-3 million courageous people to walk on Washington D.C. and raise hell for the warmongers and merchants of death running this country?! Can’t we be as courageous and activists as the Iranians who have been raising hell against their government for over six months over a disputed election?!

It’s my personal believe that if we don’t wake up and rise up massively in a corrective movement against the people in power, we all deserve to be continuously terrorized by the so-called terrorists of the world for our failure to confront the terrorists from within our own political and military establishments!

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By Southern Gal, January 4, 2010 at 9:10 am Link to this comment

I believe that members of Congress who vote for war and the President and his military advisors should be required to have their children serve in combat on the battle fronts of whatever war we are waging. They should also be required to regularly visit war zones and see the bodies and the destruction their decisions have wrought.

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By grumpynyker, January 4, 2010 at 8:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Oh the hand wringing of you soft racists!!  Where’s the
autopsy photos of unarmed black people shot dead by the
cowardly police(falsely believing their lives were
threatened) right here in this country?!  The victims
of white phosphorus in Gaza/West Bank/Lebanon? 
Yemen/Iraq/Afghanistan? These slightly bloody photos
aren’t enough-get to a VA hospital and shoot live film
to wake the sheep up.

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By Leefeller, January 4, 2010 at 7:59 am Link to this comment

Ugliness of war is like Groundhog day for those who experienced it. Of course those who are promoting war never experience it, unless they are sick or deluded with visions of glory. 

El plutocracy seems to be those with the Power, they make sure to provide a deep buffer for themselves, an insulation which keeps them from the direct ugliness of war. In the long list of war hawks, how many have been in the bowls of war? How many have been directly affected by war?  Sure McCain the alleged war hero and several others, but really how many?

Looking at Bush and Chaney and many others who dodged the draft during Vietnam, one may ask. What of the 57000 Americans lost in Vietnam, the Vietnam Civilians lost to a mindless war, the injured from both sides what would they say of the worship of war in all it’s Ugliness?

Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan all wars serve their purpose, a purpose conjured up by the same people in the case of Iraq and Afghanistan, who dodged the draft during Vietnam, so it seems those who build their houses insulated with cannon fodder supplied by the ignorant masses become those with power.

War does not seem so ugly if one has not experienced it. This has always been,for the deluded vision in the glory of war. 

On TD, Hedges is singing to the chore for it seems most people are waving their tea bags, going to KKK meetings,  fretting about gay rights and illegal aliens, then of course their is always thoes Zionists to worry about,  so the ugliness of war seems really a madness of sick agendas composed of nonsense.

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By RAE, January 4, 2010 at 7:25 am Link to this comment

Thank you, Chris Hedges.

I’m with kerryrose and others - I’ve just had the thermostat turned to maximum on my anger furnace.

To even think about this society and those in charge of it, for the most part, makes me feel unwell. It’s all such a con.

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By Carl Spackler, January 4, 2010 at 7:09 am Link to this comment

Thank you again, Mr. Hedges, for describing in brutal detail the reality of war. At the risk of offending atheists I would submit that war perpetrators are committing spiritual suicide in a most horrific manner.

The physical damage to those at the point of attack is ghastly enough but the psychological impact beyond the battlefield makes certain that this cycle will be repeated.

Unfortunately it seems that there will always be a sufficiently large contingent of mankind that will pursue this evil path and that those of conscience are left with no alternative but to scream themselves hoarse.

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By montanawildhack, January 4, 2010 at 7:07 am Link to this comment

johannes,,,

The answer to your question is simple my French brother…..

Obama is a Sociopath and an Uncle Tom…. He sold his soul a LONG time ago to the white Devil for personal gain….  (if he ever had a soul)

Oh, and thanks a lot for de Grasse and his fleet coming to the aid of the American Terrorists during the Revolution…..  If it wasn’t for the French butting into the War we would have lost and Never had the Civil War and we’d have Universal Health care in this sorry ass excuse for a country… Yeah, thanks a lot!!!!!

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By DieDaily, January 4, 2010 at 7:04 am Link to this comment

I don’t know about TruthDig, but I’ll tell you I just torrented down the Winter Soldier videos (Amy Goodman) and holy crap, they are GREAT! montanawildhack you gotta see these. TruthDig samples a lot of MSM stories, but Amy and some others ARE doing a good job on the peace front. It’s just phony-global warming and left-gate-keeping that they have a problem with, and that is ever improving. I almost ****ed my pants when I read the Goodman article blaming the COP15 fiasco on Obama! In another five years we oughta even get some 9-11 obviousness! Especially now that almost half of the people think it was an inside job. One step at a time, brothers and sisters! We’re getting there!

Say, is “torrented” a word? Meh, it is now.

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By heyusmomanddad, January 4, 2010 at 6:59 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hey U.S. mom and dad, send your kids to become baby killers for Israel.

These wars are not in U.S. interest but in Israel’s paranoid, psychotic, delusional interest.

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By Gerry Lykins, January 4, 2010 at 6:55 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I agree with all who thank Chris Hedges for speaking out .. helping those of us who already feel the outrage that we have such a strong voice reminding us of the urgency… and helping those who have avoided the ‘outrage’ so far…that they do so at their own peril.
Most important of all:  we must become ‘activists’ in whatever way can…please.

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By C.Curtis.Dillon, January 4, 2010 at 6:42 am Link to this comment

In order to maintain war as a policy option, governments must sanitize reality so people do not revolt against it.  Can you imagine the revulsion many would have felt had they seen the carnage of Afghanistan during the great patriotic buildup before Iraq?  And even now we are not allowed to see the lives ruined in either country because we might just force Obama and others to withdraw.  In all countries, the common people are the fodder used by their governments to do the dirty work that leaders and the elite are unwilling to undertake.  We now have a “professional” army composed overwhelmingly of minorities and the poor who can be shredded with little political consequence.  How different it would be if those who benefit most from war were actually required to fight?  I have often thought that disputes between countries should be settled by locking the respective leaders in a room and letting the one who emerges be declared the winner.  How often would they resort to this type of war I’m wondering?  Not very often would be my guess.

As for Hedges, I hope he continues beating this drum very loudly so those in Washington get the message that we aren’t going to support these continuous wars anymore.  We need to start telling our representatives that they must stop this carnage.  We did not form this union so the elite could wage war at their pleasure and benefit.

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By wilfro, January 4, 2010 at 6:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Our scum military officers couldn’t care less.  Baby and woman killing probably just makes them laugh.  What are they - aliens, psychopaths, what?

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By Bill Stieger, January 4, 2010 at 6:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hedges is a treasure. He’s covered war in the Middle East, and he knows first hand
the emotional maladies even uninjured soldiers and civilians carry. He’s among
the bravest journalists, telling truth to power; which is why he is no longer with
the New York Times. We need a hundred more journalists with the knowledge,
experience, and moral compass of Hedges.

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By johannes, January 4, 2010 at 6:05 am Link to this comment

To Montanawildhack,

Good question, but

My Question is if a men as Obama looks at his two girls, will he not see al the children he has killed and still every day is killing, with his Drowns.

How can it be, if you have the power to stop this wars.


Salutations

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By thecrow, January 4, 2010 at 6:02 am Link to this comment

Stop feeding your children to the Beast and it will die.

http://michaelfury.wordpress.com/2009/09/25/first-person-sho0ter/

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By Ouroborus, January 4, 2010 at 5:54 am Link to this comment

montanawildhack, January 4 at 9:23 am

Now that’s a damn good question! I don’t know the
answer to it either.

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By johannes, January 4, 2010 at 5:53 am Link to this comment

TO Hedges,

dear sir I am an older Europeên men, I have seen with my own eyes, the most unhumen things you can think of.

This child who maby will die in the arms probable of his mother, is just as a grain of sand in the blood desert of humanity.

Why we do not learn or why do we not want to learn from our history, of killing and extermination of humans, or the people who order this, have other feelings or no feelings at all, if so I think they have no right to live in this human living together.

I thank you for your writing, but will it help us.

Solutation Johannes

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By Bubba, January 4, 2010 at 5:52 am Link to this comment

Thank you, Chris, for surviving what you’ve experienced, what you’ve seen.  Thank you for refusing to ignore evil and the insanity it spawns or springs from.  Thank you for encouraging others to do the same.  Thank you for encouraging the clueless to get a clue, and a grip.

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By montanawildhack, January 4, 2010 at 5:23 am Link to this comment

Hey,,,, I’ve got a question for y’all…..

Hows come I ain’t seen no pictures of WAR on Truthdig?????????

There ain’t no law agin them showen’ em is there????

Or is it that the folks at Truthdig are afraid of retaliation by the same folks that the Major Media is afraid of????

Or is it that Truthdig is pretty much the same as the MSM?????

Just axeing…...

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By Ouroborus, January 4, 2010 at 4:54 am Link to this comment

kerryrose, January 4 at 8:23 am

Careful; didn’t you know anger is no longer allowed in
America? It’s not PC.
But just between you and me; I’m one pissed off mofo!

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By Ouroborus, January 4, 2010 at 4:24 am Link to this comment

The elite have destroyed the economy which has created
an underclass of serfs; welcome to Neo-Feudalism where
the uneducated, the disadvantaged, the poor, the disenfranchised, and the desperate fight in our new
permanent state of war.
Pictures of the gore of war in Viet Nam taught the
government one thing; never again allow Photographers
unfettered access to war. Keep it sanitary and one
won’t upset the serfs too much.

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By kerryrose, January 4, 2010 at 4:23 am Link to this comment

Oh… that picture is hard to look at, imagine losing a boy in that way… in any way. 

I just read Chris Hedges book ‘Literacy…’, and I have never felt such anger compacted and compressed in words, paragraphs, on a page.

Anger is the right beginning… why doesn’t anyone feel it?

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By DieDaily, January 4, 2010 at 4:22 am Link to this comment

Chris Hedges is just incredible. This is a long article with no sound-byte style factoids or smarmy moralisms; but, it’s deep and thoughtful. I think that I actually TRUST Chris Hedges. That’s such a weird feeling, as it’s been ages since a MSM reporter has fostered this feeling in me! It’s not the articles like this one that have made me trust him, this one just makes me like him. It’s his willingness to speak truth to power come what may. We need more of his style of reporting here. I’ve never caught him covering for Obama or anyone else just because it’s left-hip to do so. Truth-based reporting. What a concept! I like it! Want more!

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By montanawildhack, January 4, 2010 at 4:21 am Link to this comment

You can’t possibly get any more Right On than this…

  We are not shown the humans in the bowels of Walter Reed hospital for the same reason we are never shown the animals in a slaughter house….If we were shown what really goes down we would start to Think and Question and Man that’s not part of the Program….

Great article Mr. Hedges!!!!

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