Friday, September 04, 2009

Bodies laid out by the side of the road again...


Amid the tributes to Senator Kennedy last week, I don't think I saw anything about this speech he delivered April 6, 1972 in response to President Richard Nixon's escalation of bombing of North Vietnam for the purpose of propping up a feeble South Vietnamese government while "training" its army -- at least until Nixon could get re-elected. Kennedy was outraged.

... the simple truth is that the test of this Vietnamization, with or without American support, is a wholly immoral and unjustifiable test, because it is a test that is being carried out with the lives of men, women and children. Those dead and dying bodies stretched out beside the road across our television screens last night are the bodies of human beings. We do not have the right -- no one has the right -- to demand a test like that.

quoted in Rick Perlstein's Nixonland

Today this was the Afghanistan news, according to the Associated Press.

NATO jets bomb hijacked fuel tankers; 70 killed including civilians, Afghans say

Sep 04, 2009 15:02 EST A U.S. jet dropped 500-pound bombs on two tanker trucks hijacked by the Taliban before dawn Friday, triggering a huge explosion that Afghan officials said killed more than 70 people, including insurgents and some civilians who had swarmed around the vehicles to siphon off fuel. ...

Germany said about 50 fighters were killed and no civilians were believed in the area at the time. NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen, however, acknowledged some civilians may have died, and the U.S.-led coalition and the Afghan government announced a joint investigation.

Local government spokesman Mohammad Yawar said police found pieces of dozens of weapons scattered around the site. He estimated that more than 70 people were killed, at least 45 of them militants. Investigators were trying to account for the others, he said.

Bodies laid out by the side of the road again. Should civilians have drawn a death sentence for scrounging in a war zone -- a 30 year war zone?

We get less of this on TV these days. Our military does its best to ensure that what we see and hear about our wars is as sanitized as they can make it.

Today AP broke the implicit rules of imperial adventuring and sent out a photo of a U.S. Marine receiving the wound that killed him in Afghanistan's Helmand Province on August 14. Secretary of Defense (War) Gates is outraged by their distributing the image. (You can see it here. It is not gory, just real.)

The Wheeling, West Virginia News-Register thinks the war in Afghanistan is necessary. But they published the photo. According to an editorial:

Part of our role as a newspaper is to present the truth of events such as war, not to sugar-coat the news. We believe we owe it to our readers to report the full truth about the war, even if that means publishing unpleasant photographs such as the one of Lance Cpl. Bernard.

War is about killing. Killing for no attainable purpose except to win time to think of a purpose, or to avoid being thought weak, or to shore up one's political position, was immoral in 1972 and it is immoral now. As Kennedy knew but this country seems to have forgotten, we do not have the right, any of us ...


Darlene said...

Mark Shields has an excellent commentary on the Powell Doctrine and how Colin betrayed his own doctrine in the run-up to the war in Iraq.

If only the leaders of the country that declare war had to send their children off to fight; or better yet, if they had to lead the troops in battle, there would be no more wars of choice.

naomi dagen bloom said...

Picking up from Darlene's comment, I imagine the power possible if all the negative energy elders opposed to health care reform would be channeled into anti-war activity...

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