Lest we forget what war means

It was a year or so before it became a story, but 40 years ago today US soldiers committed the worst of the known atrocities of the Viet Nam war.  A short article in the Economist gives the briefest of thumbnail sketches,

VICTIMS’ bodies were mutilated; women were gang-raped; a baby was used for target practice.

And here we are 40 years later, in a regime that had the apologist for My Lai, Colin Powell as Secretary of Defense engaged in another war started under another pretext.  When will we get the revelations about this war?  What we know is bad enough, certainly, but we know that worse will come.  Even just the daily destruction, dismemberment, humiliations of the occupation are atrocious, but there will be stories that come out that put the lie to this being a righteous occupation done by pristine warriors firmly on the side of the right.

As in all wars, this is a war fought by the young and the bored and the scared.  A war fought in a land where we are unwanted-even when we act our best.  I never thought that we would let ourselves get into another war without good reason, but once again I was wrong.

It was US troops that carried out this abomination-and who stopped it at some personal risk, but it is ourselves as citizens of the US that still bear the responsibility for these actions.  Our responsibility, our debt to the dead whose blood stains our nation, is to strive to end our aggression, to learn to think other than militarily and to see war and warriors clearly and without aggrandizement and myth.

And to remember and walk with some humility in the world.



  1. Peace.

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