Sunday, May 02, 2004

The Cost of War

From The Fellowship of Reconciliation:

The Cost of War Beyond Dollars

by Richard Earl Cross

In the glare of bright uniforms, waving flags, and martial music one can easily forget the brutality and dehumanization that accompanies warfare. Alongside physical war wounds there are suicides, domestic violence, and addiction. Many veterans languish for years, forgotten in VA hospitals, scarred in mind and body. One Green Beret was recently charged with “cowardly conduct as a result of fear,” later downgraded to dereliction of duty, because he had a panic attack upon seeing an Iraqi cut in half by a machine gun. While some soldiers were laughing as the corpse of the dead Iraqi was dragged past, this man threw up and shook for hours, with a pounding head and chest pains. “From his waistline to his head,” he said, “everything was missing.”

I would suggest that his only crime was that of being too human.

Erasmus (1517) said it well: “War is like a vast ocean of all the evils combined: under its influence sprouting buds wither, plants shrivel up, the frail collapse, the strong perish, and sweet things turn sour. It wipes out all traces of piety and religion. You cannot conceivably address a credible prayer to the father of all men when you have just driven a sword into your brother’s bowels.”

In war young men are called upon to kill other young men whom they don’t know. They are ordered to do so by old men sitting in their war room who know, but do not fight, the old men on the opposing side. It brings to mind the photo of Donald Rumsfeld shaking Saddam Hussein’s hand when he was our ally. Erasmus put it succinctly: “Nowadays princes declare war in perfect safety, and the generals get fat on it; but the heaviest burden falls on the peasants and poor artisans who stand to gain nothing from it and had nothing whatever to do with declaring it.” The leaders are not the bleeders.

Today more and more of our youth, born weaponless and now in their early twenties, trained to be soldiers and not policemen, are being served up as cannon fodder. They perish every day. I submit that the moral guilt of those who sanctioned this senseless war is mounting. The powers behind this tragedy make sure we never see any body bags; nor the returning coffins; nor the funerals that the president never attends. So our dead heroes are buried in obscurity and the general public is shielded from a wake-up call.

I do not know how many of these dead heroes were poor Southern white kids, Blacks, and Hispanics. But I suspect quite a number. I wonder how popular this wasteful war would be with local residents if Charlie Rangel’s proposal to reinstate the draft became law. Perhaps the hawkish mood of some armchair warriors would quickly evaporate.
"The leaders are not the bleeders." Therein lies the problem. Let's stop this insanity now.


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