Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A Massacre and Another Shame

I’m not as shocked as I wish I could be, over the suspected massacre in Haditha. Since the years of the Vietnam war we have all learned that human beings can do some damned awful things. They can do things like put their children in a car and drive it into a lake. They can drown their kids in the bathtub, one at a time. They can blow up large government buildings and kill hundreds. Human being can go nuts and you hear of it often.

Whether the deaths are caused by bombs dropped from overhead or from a gun pointed at one’s head, death is death. When death is delivered to innocent civilians from above it’s referred to by the military as “collateral damage”. When death arrives by way of a gun placed against a human’ s head we call it a massacre. It’s not if they died, but how they died.

What kind of person could shoot a little child? How deranged would one have to be to commit such an act? Most of us can’t fathom doing such a horrendous deed. We can’t imagine ourselves even attempting such a thing. The mental picture just won’t play out in our head.

Apparently from what we hear, someone did do such a thing. Someone or some people in the Marines murdered 24 innocent human beings. Had they dropped bombs on those same houses, I don’t believe anyone would be talking about these people or their deaths today. That’s another shame.


Blogger spadoman said...

This act of murder by these Marines bothers me. It bothers me more than the war itself which is certainly bothersome enough. This stuff does happen everywhere. Murder in our streets here in the USA. Murder on TV, constantly. All of war is murder. Both "sides", murdering daily.

At one time, I thought America was great because we had freedom and I believed we served the people in a humane manner. We were the ones who stood back and when some country was suffering at the hand of another, we'd step in and help them, then withdraw after getting rid if the bad guys.

Now, we start the wars. And history tells us we've been doing this all along. We never were any good at benevolence.

It just saddens me so that ANY soldier, on ANY side, would shoot another human in cold blood. And it saddens me more that those invoved in this latest murder will have to live with this stain forever.

I wish it never happened. I wish there was no war. It's so hard to face it. May peace prevail on Earth.

May 31, 2006 4:47 AM  
Blogger Tata said...

Thing is: when Congress wrote Bush that blank check to go into Afghanistan we should have known this, not victory or loss, would be a foreseeable outcome, because it is. Before Viet Nam, atrocities most certainly happened. We just didn't see or hear about them.

This is what war is. This is what it means. There aren't any surprises here, and that is the worst part of the story.

May 31, 2006 5:01 AM  
Blogger SB Gypsy said...

Before Viet Nam, atrocities most certainly happened. We just didn't see or hear about them.

The victor writes the history books. We only heard about the ones directed against us, and since there were few wars fought in post revolutionary north america, we would not have heard much.

Remember the Alamo
Remember the Maine...

May 31, 2006 7:18 AM  
Blogger The Future Was Yesterday said...

I have held my breath for a long time, fearful of this happening, now sadly, it has. My Lai happened in Vietnam largely because the place was utterly out of control, more specifically, our control. In Iraq, the very same symptoms are showing, except this time,it's much worse. This time, three old fools that were never even in our military are trying to run a war based on poll numbers. Iraq is roughly the size of California. Had sufficient troops been sent at the outset to do the job, I feel confident we wouldn't be reading about this. An out of control war makes for an out of control soldier which makes for some bad things happening. What they did, IF they in fact did it, can not be excused under any terms.....but it can be readily explained I believe.

May 31, 2006 7:31 AM  
Blogger Callooh said...

What saddens me the most is what had to have happened to those soldier's minds and souls to enable them to do the things they did. If they ever come back to some mental normalacy the horror they will deal with will likely be unbearable for them. I am as horrified about the act as I am about what conditioning lead those men to be able to act in such a way. Yes, they are the perpretators of this crime, but also they are the victoms of an even more enormous and more horrible one. All involved deserve our compassion. All are victoms. It is a stain on the heart and soul of our world.

May 31, 2006 7:41 AM  
Blogger Frederick said...

I understand what happened, I don't condone it. These are the circumstances that we are in because of the rush to judgement and the rush to war. We have to let our Representatives know this must come to an end.

May 31, 2006 7:44 AM  
Blogger Callooh said...

okay still on a wee rant....
but run out of my own words

"Don't talk to me about atrocities in war; all war is an atrocity"
~ Lord Kitchener

"In war, there are no unwounded soldiers." ~ Jose Narosky

"The world is full enough of hurts and mischance without wars to multiply them." ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

"I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, "Mother, what was war?""
~ Eve Merriam

"I am prepared to die, but there is no cause for which I am prepared to kill." ~ Mahatma Gandhi

damn I love Gandhi!

May 31, 2006 7:51 AM  
Blogger Sothis said...

My father was a Marine in the Korean War. He always said the first thing you lose is your humanity (and the enemy becomes something less than human). He told me stories when I was a child that gave me nightmares--I can't stop thinking about his stories since the Haditha story broke. This insanity happens in every war.

"Collateral damage." A nice military euphemism for murdering people.

May 31, 2006 7:58 AM  
Blogger Walt said...

This is way off topic, sorry - but I have to:

May 31, 2006 7:59 AM  
Blogger coldH2O said...

Spadoman: You're certainly right. I, too, wish it would just end. But we're going to continue to get the b.s., the killing, the justifications, for a long time. & like POP, we need to keep acknowledging the crimes. I need to ride the old Road Glide to town today, we'll see each other. Later.

May 31, 2006 8:44 AM  
Anonymous abi said...

That's a chilling ending. Once we get used to a massacre of two dozen innocent people, what's next?

In World War II, the public accepted the deliberate bombing of population centers and tens of thousands of civilian deaths. If there had been outrage over that, Hiroshima and Nagasaki couldn't have happened.

May 31, 2006 9:08 AM  
Blogger Granny said...

My former brother-in-law came home from Viet Nam talking about slopes and gooks. I put an immediate stop to it in my presence but that couldn't stop his thinking.

Semper Fi.

Now it's the ragheads. We're teaching our kids to dehumanize people. If we think of them as just another raghead instead of someone's innocent mom, dad, or child, it's easier to pull a trigger or toss a grenade.

What in the name of whatever's holy have we created?

May 31, 2006 9:49 AM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

You brought up a point I've been thinking about a lot. It's always so strange to me, hearing about those accused of "murder" during a war.

And the example I think of is what you said exactly - we drop bombs and murder people who are totally innocent. Tanks blow up buildings that have people in them.

What is the difference between that and pointing a gun at someone and pulling a trigger?

It can't be intent, or indiscrimination, because when you drop bombs or fire mortars, you're intending to kill or destroy.

Isn't war the "acceptable" yet intentional killing of your enemy??

I think the other point that needs to be said here is that this is what happens when you have war. People snap. People kill indiscriminately. It's an unfortunate side to war, and you can list that as one of the many reasons to avoid war in the first place.

May 31, 2006 9:56 AM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

Granny that's a good point - in order to get otherwise rational human beings to kill other human beings, they must be desensitized to it in an "us vs them," good guys vs bad guys, humans versus inhumans type of way.

It amazes me that the "what about the children" crowd on the Republican side would stand for this know, the pro-lifers?

May 31, 2006 9:58 AM  
Anonymous rebellious renee said...

I think there's a big difference from dropping a bomb on a house and going into it and pulling the trigger on people. In the first instance, you don't actually see the people you're killing. In the second, you do. I can't imagine what must go through the mind of a soldier that can actually pull the trigger while looking into the eyes of a frightened child.

May 31, 2006 10:06 AM  
Blogger Frederick said...

Well rebellious renee, that brings me a memory. I used to like to sit on the British side of the chow hall during the war because they had SKY News and CNN playing. It was always Fox on the American side. I'll never forget the look on their faces when Sky showed the results of a bombing run--that I can only guess--they'd just been involved with recently.

I rather like the quote above:

"In war, there are no unwounded soldiers." ~ Jose Narosky

My wounds are slight in comparison to what any of these troops have gone through, but I'm always reminded of them everytime I see what has become of my country.

May 31, 2006 10:16 AM  
Blogger Kathleen Callon said...

I cry whenever I think about it.

May 31, 2006 10:51 AM  
Blogger Trial.Lawyer.Richard said...

POP: Murdering innocent civilians is a War Crime. It should be treated as such.

Many years ago, when I took Army ROTC classes (I didn't sign up, though, because of Viet Nam) we learned about a book written by a French General about Insurgent Campaigns. He had just been through the long French Campaign in Algeria. The French Army faced Islamic insurgents there and was ultimately forced to pull out. The General felt that when troops are placed into a War of Insurgency and (even worse) placed between warring factions, bad things result. It was his thesis that the extreme pressure placed on troops makes the troops act much harsher than they would normally act. He specifically said "atrocities are inevitable" in such situations. He gave examples of harsh treatment (including killings) of Algerian civilians by French Troops.

We studied the book in the context of Viet Nam and, specifically, My Lai, where several hundred Vietnamese Civilians were massacred by a U.S. Army Platoon lead by Lt. William Calley.

I am not sure whether I agree with the French General. I can point to many extreme pressure situations where American Troops performed admirably. However, it does point up the fact that in a War of Choice like Iraq, the unintended consequences can be worse than one ever imagined.

That is the reason why our nation should go to war only when the reasons are honest and the goals are clear.


May 31, 2006 11:12 AM  
Blogger Kathy said...

The unhappy American makes a good point: An out of control war makes for an out of control soldier which makes for some bad things happening.

I'm not making excuses for the soldiers who may have done this, but I hold the Bush administration most responsible for this massacre. They failed our troops from day one and this is the result - people can and do snap under extreme duress.

May 31, 2006 11:35 AM  
Blogger BrotherCurmudgeon said...

In ALL wars since the beginning of war, there has been dastardly deeds committed.

My Lai was not the ONLY atrosity in Vietnam. It was the MOST reported. I am absoutly certain of which I speak. Just to mention one that I personally witnessed.

A truck full of men and supplies was returning to their compound, when the driver suddenly (AND PURPOSELY) swerved into a group of students waiting to cross the road. He never stpped. In fact he didn't even slow down. A few of the men riding in the rear even took a few "pot shots" at them as we passed.

Neither I nor anyone else who I am aware of ever reported this incident. Believe me when I say that numerous other INCIDENTS such as this happened throughout the country.


May 31, 2006 12:30 PM  
Blogger Trial.Lawyer.Richard said...

brothercurmudgeon: You are right. That is why you need to make sure that when you go into a war, it is for the right reasons and that your population will support it.


May 31, 2006 12:51 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

I have said this before on but I will say it again...
They sold t-shirts at my sons boot camp graduation with a poem? on it that said things like "burn the village to the ground killing all who flee" and "kill and hate" and "blood lusting war machines". It gave me a stomach ache then and it still has the same result. What do you expect if this is the kind of shit you are drilling in to these kids? It really makes me profoundly sad. When will the "leaders" be held responsible?

May 31, 2006 1:49 PM  
Blogger thepoetryman said...

Your ending line was the mother of all shames... They parade this around and call it isolated or what have you but as a whole the entire "occupation" is a war crime and the perpatrators are the highest level not the robots they sent to battle! Damn! This is getting sadder from an already deep human unquenchable sadness...

May 31, 2006 4:57 PM  
Blogger Time said...

Along with what Mary said, I remember the Alice RestaurantMassacree-when Arlo Guthrie talks about being a soldier cause he wants to learn how to kill, kill, kill.

We teach our soldiers very well, on how to kill.

I'm not surprised, just very, very, sad.

We should demand a stop to this madness.

May 31, 2006 5:35 PM  
Blogger an average patriot said...

I thank you for your comment and I share your sentiment. i am having mixed emotions, didn't know how to sort out my feelings this memorial day having done my own time along with every male member of my family since ww1. Now having 2 sons serving and both having differing opinions of Bush. I am torn, especially knowing Bush is abusing and misusing our military as he doe everything he touches and this is just starting and will get a lot worse. you looked at my post. I did one on Haditha and My Lai the day it happened. I don't know if I am shocked or not .This stuff will happpen and it will happen again. It's funny, I commented on the fact thet I was going to post on what one of the marines supposedly said. "kill them all and let God sort them out" However, when I googled that statemeent I got all kinds of songs. Pretty interesting,very apropriate words but not what I wanted but like you i am not surprised or shocked over Haditha and like I said, it will happen again because this is all just getting started.

May 31, 2006 6:28 PM  
Blogger eProf2 said...

The military wants young men and women, mostly teenagers, to brainwash them into believing that they are super humans with super natural powers with super weapons. Where else can one of these super beings exercise their power than in an impossible situation where preemptive strike is the order of the day from the president on down.

It was pathetic today to hear the president mealy mouth his way around an answer to the question of how did Haditha happen. Most pathetic was that he didn't even acknowledge the people who were murdered nor their families. Even the president has demonized the enemy, wherever and whomever it might be.

PS, I much prefer your blog these days as the comments tend to stay on thread. There is much too much static over at our other place to even get a word in edge wise.

May 31, 2006 6:41 PM  
Blogger Lily said...

I can't even imagine what runs through their minds, but I can only assume it is some form of deranged detachment from being human? I just don't know.

May 31, 2006 9:59 PM  
Blogger a rose is a rose said...

and today i just read about a pregnant iraqi woman being shot to death because the car she was riding in didn't slow down near a checkpoint.

i cannot imagine being given a gun at 18 or so and trained for six weeks then sent to a foreign land and told to kill. i'm NOT excusing anything by any means. i have said this all along, crimes of war (above and beyond the war itself) should indeed be punished. i don't think it's JUST the soldiers (marines in this case) though that should be brought to justice. their commanders AND OUR king george himself should be brought to trial for WAR CRIMES

June 01, 2006 3:35 AM  
Anonymous Betty Cracker said...

Another sad thing -- I heard a report (on NPR, I think) about how this story is being covered in Iraq. Apparently, it's not such big news there. They are used to this kind of stuff happening.

June 01, 2006 3:40 AM  
Blogger isabelita said...

So exactly what would have been accomplished in Iraq with more troops at the outset? It was a specious occupation of choice perpetrated by The Bush bunch. There was nothing there but loony old Saddam, whom we formerly supported. No WMD, no terrorist training camps. The terrorists who planned 9/11 could have been sought by international police efforts. The British found their bombers in good time, we never bothered. This whole thing has been nothing but a botched incompetent nightmare, based on Cheney and George W. Bush's vanity, greed and stupidity.
There has never been any real intent to spread "freedom" and "democracy." They came up with all that crap to attempt to whitewash it.
And war atrocities have been depicted since ancient times.

June 01, 2006 8:32 PM  
Blogger windspike said...

Good point about the anonymous bomb doing the same all rests with the primary responsiblity placed at the top of the pyramid - W. For starting this whole fucking thing, no?

June 01, 2006 8:50 PM  
Blogger spadoman said...

I have attempted to tell you about the Warrior in my blog, today, Friday June 2. The piece would have been a comment on this post, but was written in 2002. If you read it, consider it so.

June 02, 2006 4:20 AM  
Blogger Gary said...

The bombs are bad enough. They are usually dropped in some strategic endeavour that acknowledges there could be unplanned casualties (including US troops often). I'm not condoning the war, but cold-blooded murder, in some sort of revenge frenzy is a different thing. These soldiers need to be investigated, arrested, charged and sentenced.

Anyone who was a witness or somehow party to this will need a lot of psychological help - can you imagine?

June 04, 2006 8:55 PM  
Blogger Zee said...

Well what do you expect.
First we train them to be the best and bravest killers in the world.
Then we let them loose on whatever momentary topic the politicians fancy.
Are those trained men and women to turn into philosophically inclined thinkers on the battlefield?

June 05, 2006 5:19 PM  

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