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10/24/2002 Entry: "the price of war"

This entry is totally stolen from Chris Matthew's BLOG over on MSNBC He didn't write it though, it was written by a student named Troy Pickard. I thought it was very interesting...

Any time a country goes to war, the people of that country should have in mind innocent civilian lives - both their own, and those of the people in the enemy country. However, this is especially true when a country's war is ostensibly to save lives, and make the world a safer, better place.

If the U.S. government takes military action, against Iraq or otherwise, it must cease being criminally negligent of civilian lives. Otherwise, our pretenses of a peaceful world without terrorism are destroyed along with the innocents we kill.

Most people growing up in the United States had an education of rewritten history in which the United States of America was always the good guy, the light side of the force. They go about their daily lives relatively content in this “knowledge,” and they are quite shocked to find out that especially for the last 50 years, the United States has often acted with utter disregard for the lives of innocent people abroad.

One of the most egregious examples of this disregard is a no-brainer: the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan of August 1945. Those two cities were specifically selected for the high number of civilian deaths that were predicted, and the bomb killed around 350,000 civilians but eliminated almost no military personnel or other military assets. However, an even more flagrant, but far less well known example had occurred only five months before: the firebombing of Tokyo, Japan, which at the time contained the most densely-packed residential areas in the world. Over 60 percent of all housing in Tokyo was destroyed, and over 500,000 civilians were killed; 100,000 civilian deaths occurred on the night of March 9, 1945.

But, this trend didn't stop after World War II. U.S. forces, largely through the use of napalm and cluster bombs, and chemical weapons like Agent Orange, killed millions of civilians in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos during the Vietnam War.

The 1991 international Commission of Inquiry convened by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, found that U.S. forces had been directly responsible for the deaths of between 125,000 and 300,000 Iraqi civilians, and that water purification facilities, infant formula factories and sewage treatment plants were among the many civilian targets. Ultimately, the Commission of Inquiry found that the U.S. military objective in Desert Storm was the specific targeting and destruction of the Iraqi civilian infrastructure. This conduct was in direct violation of the Nuremberg Charter, the Geneva Convention (specifically Protocol I Additional, Article 56) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and it was all condoned by then-president George Herbert Walker Bush.

His son, President George W. Bush, didn't do any better. Over 4,000 civilians had been killed in Afghanistan in the first two months of U.S. bombing, from early October of 2001 to early December.

These examples are representative of the pattern of conduct that the U.S. government has allowed our military forces to engage in for over 50 years, and it is absolutely unacceptable for U.S. citizens to continue to watch idly. Whether U.S. citizens agree that another war on Iraq is necessary, only an unconscionable person could agree with the way that our government specifically targets civilians.

The defensive arguments made by the government in this regard are ethically unsound, stemming largely from the idea that enemy military forces take cover in civilian areas. But, that does not shift the burden from our shoulders. It is our responsibility, not the enemy's, to make sure that we don't kill civilians. Yet, Americans are told time and again that the military does all it can to prevent civilian casualties, but that they are inevitable in war (even, apparently, in these terrifyingly massive numbers).

Contrary to what the U.S. government would have the American people think, though, war does not have to be fought this way. The United States could indeed make the decision to not wantonly murder innocent civilians, and such a decision may very well mean more U.S. military casualties, because it would mean less bombing and more ground action, among other things. But, do not lapse into the logic that says America is justified in killing civilians if it means less American military casualties. That is the way terrorists think. Isn't America's newest war one against terrorism?

Replies: 6 people with an opinion

This is Troy Pickard, author of the above article. I'm glad to see it republished and garnering comments. Thanks!

Posted by Troy Pickard @ 11/15/2002 12:06 AM PST

Prior to 9/11, if we U.S. citizens were to hear that we had obliterated some middle eastern town, I think relatively few of us would have been very pleased about it. Rather, we would more than likely have been remorseful and downright outraged.

The day of the World Trade Center attack, I was shocked at watching civilians from Asian countries express elation and utter joy at the deaths of our childrens' innocent moms and dads.

Now if some dark justice were to happen to fall from the sky with every American victim's name on it, I still wouldn't be elated about that. But, I wouldn't shed a tear either. How are we to come to respect other countries who show such wanton disregard for our lives?

Call me a warmongerer I guess, but when made to choose between dropping tears or bombs, I think I'll choose the latter.

As far as I'm concerned, a million of those hateful souls aren't worth one good American.

Best wishes,
Len Lindquist

Posted by Len Lindquist @ 11/07/2002 03:01 PM PST

"t's too late you elected him, now were all going to hell. "

I'd like to point out that, NO, we didn't. The American people elected Gore, the Electoral College elected Bush.

Posted by sean @ 10/31/2002 01:02 PM PST

Two words "collateral damage". I, along with the rest of the world found those two words sickening, during the first gulf war, but I never heard anyone complain about the fact that those words devalued civilian lives that were "accidently taken by US bombs". If you drop bombs you know that you will kill men, women and childeren but it don't matter cause you did'nt mean to, it was an accident. If Iraq dropped bombs on your house would it be an accident, I don't think. Before Bush was "elected", I knew he would start WW3, I could just tell. It's too late you elected him, now were all going to hell. Now I hear Americans questioning their place in the world, for the first time since Vietnam. Why does it take the likes of 9/11 or Vietnam to wake you people up. One more thing Micheal Moore is very fat. In otherwords he consumes a hell of a lot. Infact his groceries for a week could probably feed an African Village for a month. Yet people seem to respect him, why. He complains about the American way (over consumption of the worlds resources etc). The words fat hippocrite spring to mind. Please forgive me I didn't use spellcheck.

Posted by FUBAR @ 10/31/2002 12:19 PM PST

what an idiot

Posted by tommy @ 10/29/2002 04:08 PM PST

How about the innocent civilians in the world trade center and pentagon. How about all of the innocent civilians that will undoubtablky be killed and maimed some years down the line when some rougue country hits us with a nucular weapon. It will be the same people then, who are now bemoaning our pre emptive action against Iraq and other rouge states, that will undoubtably call for restraint when we are attacked in the future. Rogue nations who aggressively declare war on America and recklessy kill or condone and applaud the killig of our innocent citizens are responsible for the deaths of their own innocents caused by our retaliation. These nations have all been warned, they have tangled with us in the past and they are aware of our ability to respond against them, yet they still want to fight us. I am tired of left wing cry babies feeling sorry for these people and telling us how we have to somehow understand their hostilities towards us or even worse, disarm ourselves in hopes that despots and dictators would then to the same. A thug is a thug because a thug is a thug. If the thug is running a country or a street gang, their mentality is the same, aggression, violence with no compassion or room for negotiation. But it never ceases to amaze me that when a thug is on the receiving end of a beat down, their battle cry abruptly turns to the cry of injustice and invoking victim status. The only way to respond to a thug is to respond like a thug. If you are willing to take the wait and see approach or go along get attitude towrds Iraq and other despot run nations, then what you will undoubtably see are more innocent american casualties at the hand of these people. The liberals claim concern for the lives of those who serve in the military. Since when? Sounds like another left wing ploy to me. The fact of the matter is, our going to war or taking aggressive action against despots and rouge nations will undoubtably unite the country, which will interfere with the left wing divide and conquor approach to installing their socialist agenda on this country. And that is what this is really about! So if the left is so concerned about the lives of our service men and women (volunteers evry one) then why not let the men and women who are serving in the military decide the issue of should we go to war or not, since it is their lives that will be put on the line! But of course, even if the majority of service men and women are in favor of going to war, of course the liberal knows best! It seems that democracy, freedom of speech, election reform and a host of other constitutional rights are to be applied at the discretion and approval of liberals only, since the rest of us are obviously too stupid to be trusted with such rights. After all, the liberal knows best and that is why their idealology has never worked any place it has ever been tried. The truth of the matter is, there is no room for compassion towards an enemy holding a sword over your head, only time to act, unless of course, you do not value your head!

Posted by wynn Bag @ 10/29/2002 02:39 PM PST

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