Monday, May 30, 2016

The Horrors of War

Today is an American holiday called 'Memorial Day.'  It is a day to remember American soldiers who were injured or died in wars of the past.  I take some time to think about and grieve for all the the men and women lost in the horrors of war, both good soldiers and civilians.  Yes, sometimes fighting in wars is necessary in self-defense; but, still an evil and not to be glorified.  

Really, a "holiday?" Something is amiss here; something is disrespectful.  Most Americans party, celebrate, treat it as a three day weekend to kick off summertime fun.  

"In my opinion, there never was a good war, or a bad peace.  What vast additions to the conveniences and comforts of living might mankind had acquired, if the money spent in wars had been employed in works of public utility."
- Benjamin Franklin, 1783

Even the god Krishna tried to convince Arjuna (a professional soldier) in the Bhavagad Gita that fighting and killing, even his relatives, was a duty and a necessity.  The Bible and Koran tell of how "God" slaughters people, and how murder is acceptable to punish "sinners" and non-believers.  Fervent religious people are often quite pleased with killing other people.  Ruthless dictators and misguided politicians manipulate and force people into killing and dying for the Fatherland by inflaming patriotic, xenophobic, ethnic and racist emotions.  The carnage that results is horrific - revolting and beyond comprehension.  

Scores of millions of people have died in the many useless, stupid, tragic, horrible, cruel, and crushing wars of the past. Most of the men that started or fought in these destructive rampages were merely conscripts and pawns in the hands of nations or dogmas or greed or dictators or petty warlords.  There were a few heroes, and many evil macho men, and mostly just extremely scared people crying and screaming as the bombs exploded and bullets whizzed by and their loved ones and friends were torn apart and murdered.  

So, let us instead remember on this Memorial Day to celebrate the real joy that everyone felt when we heard "The War Has Ended" and people could live again in peace.  Let us remember the millions of civilians slaughtered by soldiers marching under ten different flags.

I recommend that we adopt an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to Limit the War Making Powers of the U.S. Government. 

I served in the United States Air Force from 1969-1973.  I served because the United States of America forced men of my age, through "The Draft," to serve in the Vietnam War.  Penalties, social ostracism, employment restrictions, and imprisonment were imposed on young men if they did not "serve their country" in the military.  I had been indoctrinated in my youth in Catholic Schools to hate communists, and have few moral reservations about killing atheistic communists.  Again, sadly, we were merely pawns in the hands of nations or dogmas or ideology or religions or greed or dictators or petty warlords.  Was killing our "enemies" in Vietnam justifiable on the grounds that doing so was crucial and vital to our national self-defense? - hardly!    

When I hear women and men talking these days about how we need to fight and kill those cruel Islamist ISIL brutes in the Middle East, and that President Obama is not "tough" enough, and these same warmongering people never gave one single hour of their life in being a soldier and/or seeing and smelling the carnage of battle, it makes me want to vomit.  

In the Iraq-Iran war in the 1980's over one million soldiers and civilians lost their lives, and countless more were injured or maimed, towns were destroyed ... Shites and Sunnis and Jihadhis fighting each other.  They are still fighting today in 2016 in the Middle East.  Likewise, we have our own real threat from "terror" from all the bozo angry Americans with boxes of guns in their homes - over 11,000 Americans are murdered every year in the USA.   

Peace and Memorials to Peace, Less Thinking about War "Heroes"  

Beware of worshiping flags, signs, emblems, and symbols.  We, and every other  nation, including our "enemies," indoctrinates its ruled population to stand up and show worshipful reverence to their own nation's flags and favored religious symbols and fallen soldiers and heroes.  On Memorial Day the graves of dead soldiers in America are decorated with U.S. flags, and the Christian cross, and gunfire salutes to them for loyally following orders.  But, remember, the map is not the territory.   

Be very wary of demagogues that want to 'Make America Great.'  I am quite satisfied with making America decent, making steady improvements, being respectful of one another, and enjoying peace.  

I recommend that we adopt an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to Limit the War Making Powers of the U.S. Government.  

"I confess I am a little cynical on some topics, and when a whole nation is roaring Patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleanness of
its hands and the purity of its heart."
-  Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1847

I am sure the Germans cried over their brave Nazi soldiers who died in battle, and so too did the Japanese honor their brave soldiers of World War II. And, along the way of glory, these brave warriors, from many nations, including America, just laid waste to scores of cities and over 60 million people died.  

Before you get too nostalgic and weepy this Memorial Day about our military "heroes," our brave fighting men, our courageous American soldiers ... please recall just a few of the cruel acts they did to earn such glorious distinctions, to wit:

"On March 9, 1945, United States military warplanes launched a bombing offensive against Japan, dropping 2,000 tons of incendiary bombs on Tokyo over the course of the next 48 hours. Almost 16 square miles in and around the Japanese capital were incinerated, and between 80,000 and 130,000 Japanese civilians were killed in the worst single firestorm in recorded history."  


The United States military, during Operation Rolling Thunder, killed over 90,000 civilians in North Vietnam from 1965-1968.  Listen to a "heroic" professional U.S. soldier tell of "silencing" the Hanoi defenses to rescue one downed pilot, and the "business" of war.  

On February 14, 1945, the United States and Royal Air Force military planes dropped 3,900 tons of bombs on the city of Dresden in Germany, and killed over 25,000 civilians.

The United States military dropped atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 and killed over 129,000 civilians.  

The United States military killed over 550,000 civilians in North and South Vietnam from bombing, artillery attacks, machine guns, napham, and heavy weapons attacks.

 And, recently, we made a "mistake" about Iraq having any weapons
of mass destruction and for having anything to do with 9/11 in New York.
American military soldiers killed over 120,000 Iraqi noncombatant civilians.  

Heroes?  Artillery men, air bombers and gunners, snipers, infantry men, tank gunners ...

Only crying on Memorial Day.

Yes, the horrors of war and the intense survival necessities of battle for the conscripted soldiers is nearly unfathomable.  

"The worst barbarity of war is that if forces men collectively to commit acts against which individually they would revolt with their whole being."
-  Ellen Key, War, Peace, and the Future, 1916

Only crying on Memorial Day.

Memorial Day:
Sorrow, Guilt, Shame, Revulsion, Loss
Mixed Feelings, Regrets, Sadness
Paradoxes, Dilemmas, Ambiguity

Nevertheless, I, like others, do mourn our dead soldiers.
I cry along with their grieving families.

In Memory of Staff Sgt. Daniel A. Quintana
Semper Fidelis

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