Friday, April 16, 2010

The Horror We Salute

We live our lives. We go to the store, do our shopping, go to our job (if we're lucky enough to have one), and we do all the mundane things we do every day, all those things that make up our lives. We worry about bills, the kids, and maybe even the state of the country. But odds are for most of us we never give a thought to the almost $1 trillion dollars of our money that our country uses to finance a rapacious military machine every year.

Armies and navies do not exist to put on parades and pretty sail-byes. They exist for one purpose and one purpose only: to wage war. And our country has been in a state of war now for 60 years. It's been 20 years since the end of the Cold War, the justification for horrendous expenditures ever since end of WWII. But so-called defense spending has not diminished. We are currently engaged in two wars, which are costing billions of dollars for purposes that I, and presumably a lot of other people, do not understand. Not in the face of the many, many human needs in this country that go unmet. And, worse, since the victims of war, and of the wars we wage, are mostly civilians. The old, women, children. Children. We kill children and call it "collateral damage." At least now the military goes through the motions of apologies and explanations, but the killing doesn't end. Even if the military tries to respect civilian populations, as they say they do, the killing of civilians does not end. And it will not end until we realize that war is killing us, too.

I think it's good to remember every now and again exactly what war is. War is about killing. It's about one set of armed officially sanctioned killers being set upon another set of armed officially sanctioned killers to wreak as much violence, death, and destruction on them as possible. It's also good to remember while we're waving our American flags and pledging allegiance and saluting our heroes in uniform that this our country is the only one on the history of the world to use nuclear weapons on another country. And it's good to remember too that the targets of the bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were chosen because they had not already been devastated by bombs. And that those bombs were loosed in full knowledge that the slaughter and destruction they would cause would be completely indiscriminate. I've never forgotten this fact about our country. To me it stands as a pretty clear warning of what we're capable of.

The following images of the aftermath of the atomic bomb blast over Hiroshima are horrifying. But this is what war is. It's horror. If more people saw it, maybe they would not love it so much.

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