ROBERT KOEHLER: Poisoning us with war in every way | Chroniclers
Editor’s Note: Leonard Pitts is on vacation. He will be back on January 4. Today, we are replacing Robert Koehler.
War spits hell out in all directions. Just ask the guys at Talon Anvil, a secret American “strike cell” recently revealed by The New York Times to be a unit notorious for ignoring rules of engagement and killing many civilians with drone strikes as they go. play war with ISIS. .
Part of the problem, a source told The Times, is that “the day-to-day demands of strike-after-strike surveillance seemed to erode the operators’ perspective and unravel their humanity.”
In other words, participating in America’s never-ending war on terrorism has turned them into. . . terrorists, for example: Early one morning, as a Predator drone flew over the Syrian agricultural town of Karama, operators focused on a particular building that they decided, with virtually no evidence, was a “training center.” enemy âand dropped a 500-pound bomb through the roof.
âAs the smoke cleared,â a former officer told The Times, âhis team stared at their screens in dismay. Infrared cameras showed women and children staggering out of the partially collapsed building, some limbs missing, others dragging the dead.
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âIntelligence analysts have started taking screenshots and counting casualties. They sent Talon Anvil an initial combat damage assessment: 23 dead or seriously injured, 30 slightly injured, most likely civilians. Talon Anvil paused just long enough to acknowledge the message, the former officer said, then walked over to the next target.
Oh, frayed humanity! Here’s what didn’t happen: The operators were looking at what they had just done from the perspective of the victims. It would have represented more than a simple “disarray”, it is almost incomprehensible. Imagine a bomb suddenly piercing your roof in the middle of the night. Imagine your children suddenly dying, your arm or leg missing. . .
What I mean here is that war is a collective enterprise. Multiply that incident by the size of the US military budget – practically half of the country’s discretionary spending, about a trillion dollars a year, in total. And the money is still there, ready and waiting for the security state to consume. The endless lie is that he protects us. Imagine, once again, âwomen and children staggering out of the partly collapsed building, some missing limbs, some dragging the dead,â and relish the security you have now.
William Astore, reflecting on the endless growth of the defense budget despite the collapse of our official Cold War enemy, the Soviet Union, three decades ago, asks: drift on the wind and poison our culture with the militarism? Because, to state the obvious, Congress would rather engage in spending on pork barrels than exercise any real oversight over the national security state. “
The key words could well be these: poison our culture with militarism.
When we wage war, we dehumanize – then kill – a specific segment of humanity. In the process, we “unravel” our own humanity. . . we ourselves become less human, and therefore more in tune with the evil we claim to be erasing. This is what is happening to us right now. How is our culture poisoned?
One obvious way is the vet suicide rate: around 60,000 over the past decade. And of course, there’s the alleged militarism of lost souls – and armies – which has made mass murder a recurring feature of the daily news flow. Add hate crimes. Add in the industrial prison complex:
“The prison industry in the United States is massive and growing,” according to the American Friends Service Committee. âSince 1970, the number of people incarcerated in the United States has increased by 700%, to the point that the United States prison population is the largest in the world, both per capita and in total number. In 2019, there were an estimated 2.3 million people behind bars and 4.5 million people on probation or parole. The estimated cost of America’s mass incarceration system is $ 182 billion a year, with hundreds of private companies competing for contracts with the government.
Our enemies are everywhere! They are in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria. They congregate at our southern border. And they are at home here, crammed into ghettos and areas of poverty. By waging war, we dehumanize the world, thus breaking its complex interdependence. It doesn’t make us any more secure.
Even the “good war” has not made us safer, although it is the trophy cup that defenders of militarism still wield today. Consider this observation by Paul Tritschler on just one of our bombing campaigns at the end of WWII:
In March 1945, he writes, âSeemingly endless waves of B-29s roared across Tokyo, dropping a million bombs containing 2,000 tons of incendiary devices. In less than three hours, more than 100,000 people died and a million were left homeless. The firebombing of 67 towns over the next five months resulted in the deaths of at least half a million people – a deliberate policy of eliminating civilians living in the poorest densely populated neighborhoods. Without remorse, US Air Force General Curtis LeMay openly said, âThey were burned, boiled and cooked to death. While that didn’t dampen their excitement, the bomber crews said the stench of burnt flesh rose high in the air, forcing them to use oxygen masks to avoid vomiting. At the end of that five month period came atomic destruction.
It’s not about blaming. It is not about shame. It’s about change. We still have our finger on the nuclear trigger.