"mistakes"?

sol dollinger soldoll at inreach.com
Fri Apr 27 15:17:04 MDT 2001


At 12:12 PM 04/27/2001 -0400, you wrote:
>[ bounced html format from Henry Liu ]
>
>McCain's argument is facetious.  The Vietnam conflict was not a
>declared war.  Furthermore, atrocities against civilians were not only
>widespread, rather than occasional personal "mistakes", such
>atrocities were the result of policy.  McCian did not have only
>military targets in mind with his bombs.  There were not enough
>military targets to justify more than a few sorties a month. It was
>civilians he was ordered to bomb, with napalm and agent orange .  The
>target definition was that in a people's struggle against imperialism,
>the people are logically the targets of the military agents of
>imperialism.  There is impeccable logic in this, just as the
>impeccable logic of Summer's World Bank memo of allocating pollution
>to the poorest economies.  It is the logic of the US embargo against
>China, Cuba and Iraq. It is the Clauswitzean concept of total war.
>Like the hero in the film The Battle of Algier, ordinary civilians
>were turned into anti-imperialist sympathizers, which then qualified
>them as legitimate targets.  In Vietnam, concepts such as kill ratio
>were designed to destroy with terror the will of the population to
>resist imperialism, not to defeat an opposing professional army in
>honorable combat.  It is a policy of genocide.  It is not even war
>crimes, it is crimes against humanity committed by an imperialistic
>government.
>
>Henry C.K. Liu
>
>A VETERAN'S VIEW
>
>Bob Kerrey, War Hero
>If you've never seen combat, don't be quick to judge.
>
>BY JOHN MCCAIN
>Friday, April 27, 2001 12:01 a.m. EDT
>
>For a long time many Americans thought the Vietnam War was a bad war.
>The citizen soldiers who defeated the fascists in Europe and the
>Pacific were ennobled by their service in a good war. Vietnam veterans
>fighting communists were not.
>
>In a good war mistakes are seldom made. No one lies. Breakdowns in
>discipline that lead to atrocities never occur. The righteousness of
>the cause sanctifies the experience of all who fought in it. In a bad
>war everyone lies. Innocents are slaughtered. Villages are destroyed
>to save them. Combatants are corrupted. Casualties in a good war are
>martyrs. In a bad war they are the wages of sin.
>
>But this notion, as a veteran of any war can attest, is simplistic and
>completely wrong.
>
>All wars occasion much heroism and nobility, but they all have their
>corruptions, which is what makes war a thing worth avoiding if
>possible.  I hated my enemies even before they held me captive because
>hate sustained me in my devotion to their complete destruction and
>helped me overcome the virtuous human impulse to recoil in disgust
>from what had to be done by my hand. I dropped many bombs in Vietnam,
>and I wish I could say that they only destroyed military targets. But
>surely noncombatants were among the casualties.
>
>The combatant, who may be a righteous, God-fearing, lovely human
>being, must become inhumane day after day if he is to do what his
>country has asked him to do. The injunction to love all as we would be
>loved is the first casualty of war, any war. Wars are that awful, and
>anyone who tells you otherwise is a fool or a fraud.
>
>That does not mean that we should forget our humanity. Our experience
>does not absolve us of our moral obligations, but they can be very
>hard to keep, given the extraordinarily difficult and conflicting
>expectations imposed on us: to kill and to be good.
>
>Good men, heroes, make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes have the
>most terrible consequences imaginable. We should not be spared
>criticism for them, but it is unlikely that the judgments made by
>others will be as severe as our own regret.
>
>My friend Bob Kerrey made a mistake in Vietnam. He was sent into a
>free-fire zone to kill for his country, and he helped kill the wrong
>people. Those who now judge him must follow the dictates of their
>conscience. But unless you too have been to war, please be careful not
>to form your judgement of him on your understanding of what
>constitutes a war hero. They are not the Hollywood copy you might
>expect.
>
>Bob received a Bronze Star for his action that night. He would be the
>first to agree that his conduct, no matter how unintentional, did not
>merit commendation. But his conduct on another night, one month later,
>won him the decoration our country bestows on only her greatest
>heroes.  And were you to read the citation that accompanied his Medal
>of Honor, you would know beyond a doubt he earned it.
>
>When he came home from Vietnam, like many others, Bob Kerrey tried to
>bury his dead. He did not want to remember, much less talk about, a
>lot of his experiences, especially his mistakes.
>
>But there are ghosts you cannot bury, like our shame over those
>occasions when circumstances conspired with our own weakness to make
>an awful experience worse. If the fact that he recovered his humanity,
>that he felt remorse, that he sacrificed even more for his country,
>does not strike some as adequate compensation for his mistake, it is
>enough for his salvation, and a harder task than most can
>imagine. That's a war hero, folks, a sinner redeemed by his sacrifice
>for a cause greater than his self-interest. That's Bob Kerrey, my
>friend and hero.
>
>Mr. McCain is a U.S. senator from Arizona.




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