Wednesday, October 18, 2006

More Victims of War

"Sometimes when you take a life it is funny. Watching a human body instantly become lifeless and tumble awkwardly in the heat of battle is a stress reliever; knowing that you eliminated the enemy (before he elimiated you) and watch him disgracefully land head over heels. Killing is what we as the US military are trained to do, whether you like it or not - that's just the facts. Why else have a military?" --posted by Killed Anyone Lately?

I read through this exchange and was very disturbed. As I read the comments I was overwhelmed with grief that these soldiers are so stripped of their humanity. I am not at all “glad” that they are wired so. I’m not at all glad that they are able to kill. The American war machine has made killing an easier thing to do, and it says that at least its soldiers are ready when it’s necessary. Well, what happens when it’s not necessary, like when they’ve come home to their families? I’d prefer that they were like anyone else, i.e. reluctant to kill, afraid to kill. Yes, we’d be an ineffective army, but I’d prefer that we weren’t so good at killing. For one, I still don’t believe this country has ever fought a “necessary” war like we’ve been taught to believe. World War II was way too full of contradictions and pretexts to be so easily billed as an “honorable” war. If you haven’t read Howard Zinn’s work on WWII, please take a look.

To me, one of the tragic victims of these wars is the soldier him/herself. Look at what they are capable of feeling, thinking and doing! It’s horrifying! These soldiers are completely blind to the causes of wars, and have very little capacity for doubting the merits of the wars they are fighting. One of the reasons they so quickly and vehemently defend their acts as “necessary” is an automatic defense mechanism against the cosmic guilt they must feel for committing these acts! They have these ready-made, fabricated responses all cued up and ready to spew: “we’re protecting your asses!”, “we’re protecting your rights to free speech!”, “we’re taking the fight to them, so they won’t bring it home to you!”, and on and on… They need to believe these lies so that they can manage the internal psychological war they are fighting. They hate it when people like myself say: “it’s not your war, this is a class war and you’re killing your brothers and sisters!” Or, “you’re not protecting freedom; you’re fighting a rich man’s war over resources!”

These soldiers so deeply identify with these wars because they have to! They have to in order to combat the guilt they feel when they recognize that their sacrifices or their killing was all for the power and wealth of the rich man who continues to control their lives even after the war is over! If my job description was, “protector of freedom…may require killing some innocent people, but that is the price of freedom,” what do you think I’m going to say to people who oppose war? Of course, I’m going to be defensive, even perhaps violent! Unless I’m willing to face massive shame and guilt and admit that I’d been foolishly or unwittingly duped into believing that my nightmare existence was necessary, I think I’d do every thing I could to continue the illusion! Fortunately, it doesn’t have to come down to a soldier’s individual guilt or complicity. That soldier had been indoctrinated, even brainwashed, into believing the nightmare to be true and could do little to resist it. I feel a great deal of compassion for the soldiers of war! They are victims of the worst kind. Not only do they suffer the internal contradictions of knowing something is amiss in what they are doing, they must take the memory of their acts with them for eternity.


troutsky said...

One of the most gut wrenching things I have ever seen is an interview of a VietNam war vet who had finally realized he was "chumped" by the ruling class and their politico lackeys.He sincerely believed in what he was doing at the time and then was enraged when confronted with the truth, that his buddies died and were maimed physically and mentally for a lie.His despair was palpable and would affect the rest of his life.

Anonymous said...

You are very sure of what you are saying in this entry but I am guessing that you have never been a soldier and have never been here in Iraq. If you had been I think you would know what is really going on here. Most soldiers are smart enough to not say dumb stuff like what you posted but there are some young kids over here who just want to look tough. We are saving a lot more people then we are killing. Most of these people just want to kill eachother and we are preventing a huge amount of that sectarian type violence. If we weren't here the murders would skyrocket. And people don't return from this war the way they returned from Vietnam with nightmares and paranoia. You might see CNN do something on someone like that but a huge majority easily adjusts back to normal life. I think the real victim here is the liberals who are going to vote for someone who is going to pull us out of here too soon and eventually we can see another 911. And if you don't think we brought the fight to them then explain why all the incidences in Europe, Russia and in the US have decreased. I don't like it here but I would rather keep the bloodshed here and not back home. You should come out here and tell all these families they are on their own cause we are fighting an illegal war.

LeftyHenry said...

yeah war has that kind of psychological effect on people. however I disagree with your assesment that WWII wasn't necessary. I think it was. The ends justified the means in this case, I think, because we defeated the fascists and Nazis. They were a major threat not just to us, but to the world as a whole. Although, it should be noted that the Russians were really the ones who made the fall of the third reich possible as they were responsible for 75% of German casualties while the US, Britan, Canada, and the resistance movements in Belgium, France and other countries were only responsible for 25%.

To Anon,

I disagree. Iraq under Saddam didn't suffer as many casualties as post-Saddam Iraq has suffered. Have you heard about the recent study which concluded that at least 650,000 people have died in the Iraq war? Have you heard the UN's assesment that 100 civilians die in Iraq because of the war each day?

While yes, Saddam was a evil tyrant blah, blah I'd take him over ethnic cleansing and this slaughterhouse that has no solution in sight.

Ché Bob said...


I do not need to go to war to know that it is wrong. Violence begets violence. Jesus said: "Turn the other cheek." Gandhi said: "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth makes the whole world toothless and blind." The war in Iraq--like all wars--has only made our world a less safe place.

The attacks in Spain and London happened after we invaded Iraq, not before. So the incidences of terrorsim have increased as a result of our war, not decreased. Terrorism globally has increased, not decreased since 2001.

Also, with 650,000 Iraqi civilians dead as a result of this invasion, I cannot understand how one could say we are helping. Unless, of course, one needs to deny reality for shame.

Sectarian violence (Iraqis killing Iraqis) is also attributable to the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Also, we cannot say--after the fact-- that our purpose was to liberate Iraq. We invaded a sovereign nation because of weapons of mass destruction. The whole "Saddam is a monster and needs to be removed" rationale was put into play after we first bombed Iraq. Then, even later in the game, we began to say our purpose was to "bring democracy to the Middle East." That is simply a game of moving the goal posts.

To say that you would rather "keep the bloodshed here and not back home," is putting a price an American life over an Iraqi life. This kind of attitude defeats the fake argument presented that we are helping the Iraqi people. This wasn't their war, it belongs to the American masters of war. There is no such thing as race, only racism.

This war has done nothing if not assure that future generations of Americans will have many more 9/11s to confront. It prevented nothing! It has brought on the wrath of the world. We reap what we sow, and since we sow violence we will reap violence.

Ché Bob said...

Below are some excerpts from Howard Zinn, "Just and Unjust War." Few have dared to take on World War II and call it just another unjust war. This powerful essay demands our consideration. I will offers some of my understanding of his essay, but I'm sure it will not do it justice, so please read it.

"[P]erhaps the worst consequence of World War II is that it kept alive the idea that war could be just."

"Forty million people were dead, and the elements of fascism--militarism, racism, imperialism, dictatorship, ferocious nationalism, and war--were still at large in the postwar world."

Throughout the build up to WWII, nations such as the U.S. did nothing while Hilter invaded Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Austria. They did nothing even though they knew of Hilter's imprisonment of Jews as early as 1934. In fact, Germany declared war on the U.S. first. So such justifications for the war as we commonly recite were offered only in retrospect, similar to the constant expo facto rationale given for our war in Iraq.

Instead, one can see how this war--like all wars--was a war of empires. Surely, fascism--especially Nazism--was greatly disminished as a result of WWII, but it was replaced by two new imperial superpowers: the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Some figures indicate that the ensuing Cold War (World War III) resulted in the deaths of 35 million more people.

World War II did not rid this world of "evil", or racism, or militarism, or dictatorships, or genocide, or accomplish any of its harolded victories. World War II, like all wars, has created an excuse for ruling class wars for control of the world's resources, power and personal glory. World War II did not teach the world how to overcome fascism, racsim, etc. World War II justified American exceptionalism.

Zinn offers viable and rational alternatives to fighting World War II conventionally with all its death and destruction. I will not spoil Zinn's thoughts about what could be done in lieu of annihilating each other.

Please consider this a must read for working class organizers!