Rules of engagement

Ron Jacobs rjacobs at
Fri Apr 27 08:52:00 MDT 2001

I like the juxtaposition of these two articles--it brings home the fact
that police serve the same role in America's internal colonies as the
military does in its overseas adventures.  To me, as a military brat whose
dad was in Nam, and as a former antiwarrior on US military bases, Kerrey's
recent comments reveal, once again, how common it was/is for soldiers to
have been involved in these missions where civilians are targets, which in
turn reveals that US war policy considers civilians and civilian
infrastructures legitimate targets.  The press is asking the wrong
questions of course.  Instead of asking why Kerrey took so long to reveal
this episode, it should be asking why it (and the thousands of similar
episodes) ever happened in the first place. There are hundreds of vets who
still can not face what they did--some of them we walk by every day on the
street as they hide their demons in drugs and alcohol, others prefer to
believe their cause (and hence their actions) were noble and just and push
for others to do similar things somewhere else, some became activists
opposed to war and/or imperialism, some found religion, and the rest just
carry their cross to their grave.  Kerrey at least has the right take on
his involvement when he says the question to ask when contemplating war is
does it justify killing?

-ron jacobs

At 09:29 AM 04/27/2001 -0400, you wrote:
>The New York Times, April 26, 2001, Thursday, Late Edition - Final
>Ex-Senator Kerrey Says Raid He Led in '69 Killed Civilians
>Bob Kerrey, a former United States senator who won the Medal of Honor for
>his military service in Vietnam, has acknowledged that a combat mission he
>led there three decades ago caused the deaths of 13 to 20 unarmed
>civilians, most of them women and children. . .
>The incident, he said, illustrated why the military needed to provide
>training not only in how to kill, but also how to cope with killing. "When
>contemplating war we must abandon euphemism and answer the question: does
>the cause justify sending young men out to kill other human beings?" he
>said in the speech.
>When he finished speaking, Mr. Kerrey received a standing ovation. Men his
>age, he said, came up to him to describe similar experiences.
>He also said that while attending a conference last weekend at the United
>States Military Academy at West Point, he had discussed the incident at
>Thanh Phong with Gary Solis, who is a war crimes expert who teaches the
>rules of war at the academy.
>"It's the first time I had read the rules of war," Mr. Kerrey said. "I
>certainly wasn't trained in them."
>NY Times, April 27, 2001
>Police Dept. Rejects Punishment for Officers in Diallo Shooting
>Police Commissioner Bernard B. Kerik has decided not to discipline the four
>officers who killed Amadou Diallo in a hail of gunfire in the Bronx two
>years ago, but will order them to undergo retraining in tactics,
>high-ranking police officials said last night.
>These officials said Mr. Kerik would announce as early as today that he had
>accepted recommendations by two departmental investigating panels that
>found that the officers, despite their barrage at an unarmed man, had not
>violated police guidelines because they believed that Mr. Diallo had a gun
>and that their lives were in imminent danger.
>Louis Proyect
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