Wartime during Life/3

Gloria Emerson and colleagues

We Expect the Germans

To know their own history
To tell the truth about their war
To refuse rationalizations and excuses
To act responsibly here and now
However many decades
Ago that was

The world expects the Americans
To know their own history
To tell the truth about their wars
To refuse rationalizations and excuses
To act responsibly here and now
However many decades and seconds
Ago that was

McNamara and Co.

“I’d chain all of the politicians to that haunting Vietnam memorial
and have them read—slowly—every name aloud.
Then the war would end for me.

Take all of them, all of them who gave us the war —
all of them who, like McNamara, began to doubt that the war could be won
and still kept it going.

Chain them to the memorial for several days,
if need be, and have them read each name aloud.
Wouldn’t that be something? Justice at last.”

—Adapted from Gloria Emerson, author of Winners and Losers: Battles, Retreats, Gains, Losses, and Ruins from the Vietnam War

Western Reverence for Life

General William Westmoreland once said
“The Oriental doesn’t place
The same high value on life
As does a Westerner
In the Orient life is cheap
It doesn’t matter”

The general said this in 1972
27 years after a war
When one group of Westerners
German Westerners
Eliminated millions of people
Deemed subhuman

It was also 27 years before
That another group of Westerners
Westmoreland’s own U.S. Westerners
Decimated city (fire bombing)
After city after city (atomic bombing)
Filled with Japanese civilians

It was also a few years before
Under Westmoreland’s guidance
That U.S. troops sought vindication
Of their presence in southern Vietnam
By means of body counts
The more Vietnamese corpses, the more proof we must be winning

Twenty years after Westmoreland spoke thus
After the demise of the Soviet Union
A new enemy needed to be identified
And so the U.S. and its allies faced a clash of civilizations
With those who evidently did not have the same values
As the West manifested decade after decade

How the Powerful Talk amongst Themselves

President Richard Nixon: “We’ve got to be thinking in terms of an all-out bombing attack [on North Vietnam}…Now, by all-out bombing attack, I am thinking about things that go far beyond…I’m thinking of the dikes, I’m thinking of the railroad, I’m thinking, of course, of the docks.”

National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger: “I agree with you.”

Nixon: “And I still think we ought to take the dikes out now. Will that drown people?”

Kissinger: “About two hundred thousand people.”

Nixon: “No, no, no…I’d rather use the nuclear bomb. Have you got that, Henry?”

Kissinger: “That, I think, would just be too much.”

Nixon: “The nuclear bomb, does that bother you?…I just want to think big, Henry, for Christsakes.”

A Brief History of Conscience against Empire

Bartolomé de las Casas was asleep
And then he woke up

Sophie Scholl was asleep
And then she woke up

Daniel Ellsberg was asleep
And then he woke up

Waking up
Can cause you trouble

Waking up
Can lead to criminal charges, even death

Waking up
Can inspire future generations



This page is part of my book, Dear Love of Comrades, which you can read here.

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