Category Archives: War

Armistice Day

Today, we celebrate the anniversary of the end of “The War to End All Wars.”

It was called that because or the sheer amount of death and carnage that resulted when 19th century military tactics met 20th century weaponry. It was hoped by idealists, I suppose, that looking at the large amount of bloodied, broken bodies would cause humanity and her leaders to think back to this time period and resolve to never put young men and women and families through such horrors again.

The casualties of the First World War were to stand as a constant reminder that “war is hell.”

Of course, it only took humanity twenty years to forget that lesson and start the whole bloody conflict all over again in the name of national greatness. Since then, it’s been claimed that there have only been 26 days of peace in the world.

Seems like no amount of the dead, no amount of the tears of family and loved ones, no amount of wounded and psychologically wounded young men will ever be enough to disabuse humanity of war.

Memorial Day

I’m sitting here at dusk in my comfortable home… with my two children enjoying the luxury of television… having eaten a hot meal, though goodness knows I could stand to skip a few of them…

I see the pictures on social media: the flags, the pristine graveyards, the obligatory ‘support the troops’ posts, some from people who would object to giving the troops the health and mental health care they need when they come back.

And I think of war. How pointless and wasteful it almost always is. How glorified society makes it. Brave and noble heroes out fighting evil. Played by handsome and beautiful actors in the movies and TV shows. Their deaths noble and sometimes beautiful. Never pointless. Never wasted.

It’s all so very sanitized and glamorized for our convenience so we never feel regret at the horrors we choose to inflict on others and on our own young people.

From World War I, an interview with Stefan Westmann, NCO with the 29th Infantry Division of the German Army 1914-1915.

“In front of our trenches near La Bassée was a brickworks. The French used to put their bricks together as high as houses and on top of these houses there were machine guns which prevented us from going near them.

One day we got the order to attack these brickworks and to take them. The only possible means to take them was by a surprise attack in full daylight and we got orders to do so. We cut zigzag lines through our barbed wire entanglements and at noon we went over the top.

We ran approximately a hundred yards when we came under machine gunfire which was so terrific that the losses were so staggering that we got orders to lie down and to seek shelter. Nobody dared to lift his head because the very moment the machine gunners saw any movement they let fly.

And then the British artillery opened up. And the corpses and the hats and the arms and the legs flew about and we were cut to pieces…

One day we got orders to storm a French position. We got in and my comrades fell right and left of me, but then I was confronted by a French Corporal. He with his bayonet at the ready and I with my bayonet at the ready.

For a moment I felt the fear of death and in a fraction of a second I realised that he was after my life exactly as I was after his. I was quicker than he was. I tossed his rifle away and I ran my bayonet through his chest He fell, put his hand on the place were I had hit him and then I thrust again. Blood came out of his mouth and he died.

I felt physically ill. I nearly vomited. My knees were shaking and I was quite frankly ashamed of myself. My comrades, I was a corporal there then, were absolutely undisturbed by what had happened. One of them boasted that he had killed a poilu with the butt of his rifle, another one had strangled a captain, a French captain.

A third one had hit somebody over the head with his spade and they were ordinary men like me. One of them was a tram conductor, another one a commercial traveller, two were students, the rest were farm workers, ordinary people who never would have thought to do any harm to anyone.

How did it come about that they were so cruel? I remembered then that we were told that the good soldier kills without thinking of his adversary as a human being. The very moment he sees in him a fellow man, he is not a good soldier anymore. But I had in front of me the dead man, the dead French soldier and how would I liked him to have raised his hand.

I would have shaken his hand and we would have been the best of friends. Because he was nothing like me but a poor boy who had to fight, who had to go in with the most cruel weapons against a man who had nothing against him personally, who only wore the uniform of another nation, who spoke another language, but a man who had a father and mother and a family perhaps and so I felt.

I woke up at night sometimes drenched in sweat because I saw the eyes of my fallen adversary, of the enemy, and I tried to convince myself what would have happened to me if I wouldn’t have been quicker than he, what would have happened to me if I wouldn’t have thrust my bayonet first into his belly.

What was it that we soldiers stabbed each other, strangled each other, went for each other like mad dogs? What was it that we, who had nothing against them personally, fought with them to the very end and death?

We were civilised people after all. But I felt that the culture we boasted so much about is only a very thin lacquer which chipped off the very moment we come in contact with cruel things like real war. To fire at each other from a distance, to drop bombs is something impersonal.

But to see each other’s white in the eyes and then to run with a bayonet against a man it was against my conception and against my inner feeling.”


Air America

I’m on a plane.

Looking out the window, a gremlin is busy tearing up shit on the wing.

I look across the aisle to the other window. Birds have flown into the engine and it’s on fire.

Behind me, a flight attendant is holding off a pack of hungry zombies with the drink cart and bags of peanuts.

The intercom comes on. Finally, the pilot will tell us what to do.

“This is Captain Trump, everything is fine. This is the best flight that ever was. Also, there’s a Korean airliner in our way, but I’m not moving. He has to move out of our way. Out of my way.”

No one else seems to pay attention. They’re all busy watching the in-flight movie: “Dumb and Dumber.”

I put my head between my knees and scream.

Quote of the Day

“I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell.”

– William Tecumseh Sherman

Mission accomplished, part the infinity

Thanks again to our former president and the warmongers he surrounded himself with for continuing news like this.

LONDON (AFP) – An Iraqi archbishop called for military action in his homeland in a speech to British lawmakers on Tuesday, and warned the Church of England’s general synod that Christianity in Iraq could become extinct.

“As a Catholic, I find it hard to say, but I want military action. There is no other way now,” Bashar Warda, the Archbishop of Erbil, was quoted by the BBC as telling parliamentarians on a visit to London.

Speaking to religious leaders later Tuesday, he said there was now a threat of the “extinction of Christianity as a religion and as a culture” in Iraq.

We did this. We unleashed hell without considering the consequences of doing so, and we did it for no damned good reason. This is something we should remember whenever the hawks beat the tribal drums of war for the next Hitler of the Week, as they are trying to do with Iran, Syria, and Russia.

There is no good answer to this problem. But we should start by opening our doors freely to these people and offer to pay to relocate them.

Who would Jesus torture…

Well, according to American Christians, my Lord and Savior (who, mind you, was arrested on false charges, beaten, whipped, stripped naked and nailed to a cross and left to die by the State and church of his day) would heartily approve of torturing anyone that Uncle Sam deemed worthy of being arrested, stripped naked, beaten, waterboarded, and in some cases killed in the process.

Remarkably, the gap between torture supporters and opponents widens between voters who are Christian and those who are not religious. Just 39% of white evangelicals believe the CIA’s treatment of detainees amounted to torture, with 53% of white non-evangelical Protestants and 45% of white Catholics agreeing with that statement. Among the non-religious, though, 72% said the treatment amounted to torture. (The poll did not break down non-Christian religions in the results.)

Sixty nine percent of white evangelicals believe the CIA treatment was justified, compared to just 20% who said it was not. (Those numbers, incidentally, roughly mirror the breakdown of Republican versus Democratic voters among white evangelicals.) A full three-quarters (75%) of white non-evangelical Protestants outnumber the 22% of their brethren in saying CIA treatment was justified. White Catholics believe the treatment was justified by a 66-23% margin.


A ‘Christian’ nation that tortures…

I haven’t gone over the Senate Torture Report personally, but I’ve read various summaries and I’ve seen almost all of the conservative commentators defend the use of torture by the United States  and I’ve come to the conclusion that Jesus should sue anyone that calls the United States a Christian nation for libel.


Let me ask you, what do you say to Gul Rahman, what do you say to Sulaiman Abdula, what do you say to Khalid al-Masri? All three of these folks were detained, they had these interrogation techniques used on them. They eventually were found to be innocent. They were released, no apologies, nothing.

What do we owe them?




I mean, let me go to Gul Rahman. He was chained to the wall of his cell, doused with water, froze to death in C.I.A. custody. And it turned out it was a case of mistaken identity.


–right. But the problem I had is with the folks that we did release that end up back on the battlefield. Of the 600 and some people who were released out of Guantanamo, 30% roughly ended up back on the battlefield. Today we’re very concerned about ISIS. Terrible new terrorist organization.

It is headed by a man named Baghdadi. Baghdadi was in the custody of the U.S. military in Iraq in Camp Bucca. He was let go and now he’s out leading the terror attack against the United States. I’m more concerned with bad guys who got out and released than I am with a few that, in fact, were innocent.


25% of the detainees though, 25% turned out to be innocent. They were released.


Where are you going to draw the line, Chuck? How are–


Well, I’m asking you.


–you going to know?


Is that too high? You’re okay with that margin for error?


I have no problem as long as we achieve our objective. And our objective is to get the guys who did 9/11 and it is to avoid another attack against the United States.

Hmm… yeah, can’t see how Jesus, being one of those innocents who was arrested by the authorities, tortured, stripped naked, and executed by a state that was also paranoid about any possible challenges to its authority and order, would feel about being associated with another government that also arrested innocents, stripped them naked, tortured them and killed them in the name of preserving order and tranquility.

We cannot refer to ourselves as a Christian nation or a nation that trusts in God when we allow men like this to lead us and commit obscene acts against their fellow man and still walk free and be politely invited onto television shows to tell us why torture really isn’t torture when it’s done by Americans.

Once 9/11 happened, Dick Cheney ceased to believe that the CIA should be subject to the U.S. Constitution, statutes passed by Congress, international treaties, or moral prohibitions against torture. Those standards would be cast aside. In their place, moral relativism would reign. Any action undertaken by the United States would be subject to this test: Is it morally equivalent to what al-Qaeda did on 9/11? Is it as bad as murdering roughly 3,000 innocent people? If not, then no one should criticize it, let alone investigate, charge and prosecute the CIA. Did a prisoner freeze to death? Were others anally raped? Well, what if they were?

If it cannot be compared with 9/11, if it is not morally equivalent, then it should not be verboten.

That is the moral standard Cheney is unabashedly invoking on national television. He doesn’t want the United States to honor norms against torture. He doesn’t want us to abide by the Ten Commandments, or to live up to the values in the Declaration of Independence, or to be restrained by the text of the Constitution. Instead, Cheney would have us take al-Qaeda as our moral and legal measuring stick. Did America torture dozens of innocents? So what. 9/11 was worse.

It is truly laughable that we claim to trust in God to protect our country, and then turn around in cowardice and commit morally indefensible acts because we’re scared  that evil might triumph if we don’t.

Frankenstein’s monster

The ill-conceived war the previous administration launched in Iraq bore rotten fruit.

The jihadist, who uses the nom de guerre Abu Ahmed, entered Camp Bucca as a young man a decade ago, and is now a senior official within Islamic State (Isis) – having risen through its ranks with many of the men who served time alongside him in prison. Like him, the other detainees had been snatched by US soldiers from Iraq’s towns and cities and flown to a place that had already become infamous: a foreboding desert fortress that would shape the legacy of the US presence in Iraq.

The other prisoners did not take long to warm to him, Abu Ahmed recalled. They had also been terrified of Bucca, but quickly realised that far from their worst fears, the US-run prison provided an extraordinary opportunity. “We could never have all got together like this in Baghdad, or anywhere else,” he told me. “It would have been impossibly dangerous. Here, we were not only safe, but we were only a few hundred metres away from the entire al-Qaida leadership.”

…It was at Camp Bucca that Abu Ahmed first met Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the emir of Isis who is now frequently described as the world’s most dangerous terrorist leader. From the beginning, Abu Ahmed said, others in the camp seemed to defer to him. “Even then, he was Abu Bakr. But none of us knew he would ever end up as leader.”“We had so much time to sit and plan,” he continued. “It was the perfect environment. We all agreed to get together when we got out. The way to reconnect was easy. We wrote each other’s details on the elastic of our boxer shorts. When we got out, we called. Everyone who was important to me was written on white elastic. I had their phone numbers, their villages. By 2009, many of us were back doing what we did before we were caught. But this time we were doing it better.”

We funded Sadaam in the 80’s who became the next Hitler of the week in 2002, and in crushing that Hitler of the Week, we spawned the next Hitler of the Week which we now have to fight, which means bombing the bejeezus out of people in populated urban centers which will likely spawn the next Hitlers of the Week.

I really wish the American people would keep this in mind the next time some hawkish yahoo who has never been within a thousand miles of actual combat declares that we must commit immediately to war against some country that is not attacking us or is not an immediate clear and present danger to the United States.

The road to war… er… punative, limited, very small, really tiny military stuff that goes boom

Hmm… the phrase, “With friends like these…” comes to mind.

JERUSALEM — The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the powerful pro-Israel lobby in Washington, plans to dispatch 300 of its members to Capitol Hill on Tuesday as part of a broad campaign to press Congress to back President Obama’s proposed strike on Syria, the group said Monday.

The push by the group, known as Aipac, which included asking its supporters to call members of Congress, came as Israeli newspapers reported Monday that President Obama urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to get personally involved in lobbying Congress. The reports said that Mr. Netanyahu had called several members himself.

But while those reports could not be confirmed, the intense push by Aipac and other Jewish and pro-Israel groups put Israel in a bind, after a week of trying to stay on the sidelines of the debate. Mr. Netanyahu’s government strongly supports an American strike to punish President Bashar al-Assad of Syria for his apparent use of chemical weapons, and as a warning to his Iranian patrons. But Israelis are deeply worried about being blamed by a wary American public for another military gambit in the Middle East, or of losing their broad bipartisan support if they land on the wrong side of the vote.

So the Israeli government would like the United States to go to war against their enemies on their behalf. And the President called on the Israeli Prime Minister to get personally involved in trying to convince Congress.

No. Just no. Today’s a good day to call your Representative and Senator and let them know that you are against military action in Syria. That we don’t need to get involved in another war in the Middle East. And certainly not for the weak reasons that the administration has been giving us.

To put it more simply, here’s something I’ve seen floating around social media that sums it up nicely:


I can’t fathom how the Israelis will think that talking the Representatives of the American people into an unpopular war will not damage America’s long term support for their nation. It seems foolishly short-sighted. Americans do not want this war. Getting pushed into by Israel will only make them even less likely to want to take future military action in that region.

Quote of the day

As Congress debates whether or not we want to go to war with yet another Middle Eastern state for reasons that are shaky at best, we should check in from time to time and see how our Congresspeople are doing with such a weighty question. Senator Lindsay Graham weighed in a town hall meeting about why we need to fight against a regime that can’t even hold its own against a ragtag group of militias.

If the United States doesn’t deal with Syria, Graham promised Iran would acquire a nuclear weapon by 2014, the King of Jordan would be deposed and Israel would start preparing to protect itself.

“I believe that if we get Syria wrong, within six months — and you can quote me on this,” Graham said, pausing for dramatic effect. “There will be a war between Iran and Israel over their nuclear program.”

But it wouldn’t even end there, Graham surmised. Undoubtedly, he said ominously, the Iranians would share its nuclear technology with U.S. enemies.

“My fear is that it won’t come to America on top of a missile, it’ll come in the belly of a ship in the Charleston or New York harbor,” he said.

Yes, kids, either we bomb Syria now or nukes! New York! Mushroom Clouds! Dog and cats, living together!

It’s a wonder the old coot didn’t throw in a paragraph or three about Fluoride and how we need to keep our bodily fluids pure.

World’s Greatest Deliberative Body, everyone… God help us all.