Sunday, February 15, 2009


The old saw says death and taxes are inevitable. It's just a saying . . . death may be inevitable, but taxes? You can easily avoid those if you have enough money to fence your riches against taxation with offshore and numbered bank accounts and a legion of high-priced accountants whose sole job is to keep you from paying taxes. There's not much I consider inevitable. Not much at all.

But there is one thing that is as predictable as the sun rising the east. During wars, soldiers will commit war crimes. Any military force of whatever nation you want to name, present or past. And that includes the United States. Put lethal weapons into the hands of young men, train them to dehumanize the enemy, put them in danger of their lives on battlefields, and expect that they will follow the Marquis of Queensbury rules? Get serious. Has there been a war, ever, anywhere, without war crimes? Where innocent civilians, women and children, the old and sick, have not been wantonly slaughtered? Where women and girls have not been raped? I know of none. What does the photograph above tell you? Those are America's finest on that deck.

There have been numerous instances of war crimes committed by US soldiers in Iraq. Why would it not be so? Just lately I came across this chilling article in The Nation whose title will tell you the story: "A Mai Lai a Month." Apparently, wholesale slaughter of innocent Vietnamese was routine during that war. I once knew an ex-Marine who could do nothing whenever Vietnam was discussed except weep uncontrollably for the crimes he and his buddies had committed there. Do you think it's all that much different in Iraq? I wish I could say I didn't.

Just as inevitable and murder as the rapine done in our name by the hierlings we send off to die for us in foreign wars are the denials from all sides: the country at large, the military establishment, and the guilty themselves, except for the few whose consciences will not let them rest.
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