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Chicken Hawks, Carry Home My Seabag, The Heavy One

by BobHiggins Wed Sep 22nd, 2010 at 10:40:42 AM EST

Originally posted at my site Bob Higgins

I read a piece last night by Jason Linkins at Huff Post in which he describes the experience of CNN correspondent Michael Ware and Ware's difficulty in dealing with the memory of the death of a presumably innocent young Iraqi shot execution style by US troops in 2007.

Mr Ware tells of the alleged incident he says he witnessed and filmed in  2007 when working for US news giant CNN, but claims the network decided  the footage was too graphic to go to air.

He alleges that a teenager in a remote Iraqi village run by the militant  Islamist group, al-Qaeda was carrying a weapon to protect himself.

"(The boy) approached the house we were in and the (US) soldiers who  were watching our backs, one of them put a bullet right in the back of  his head. Unfortunately it didn't kill him," he tells Australian Story.

"We all spent the next 20 minutes listening to his tortured breath as he died."

From: Former CNN War Correspondent, Speaks Out On Alleged War Crime CNN Refused To Air

Ware left CNN last spring after being denied extended time off when apparently suffering from PTSD from his experiences. I respected Ware's work as a corespondent and wish him well. I also know that he has an important story to tell when the time is right.

Thousands of our kids, if they come home at all, are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan physically wounded and carrying the enormous weight of the emotional baggage picked up during their experience of war. This is nothing new, we brought back the same cargo from Vietnam, Korea and WW2. All wars provide their participants with a dismal tide of dark memories, the material of a lifetime of tortured nightmares.

Before the war in Vietnam the technology didn't exist to enable the media to share graphically, on a nightly basis, much of the horror of war with a populace that voted for its architects, supported its escalation and cashed in on investments in defense technology. As the anti -war movement grew during the 60's the powers that be, of the time, were slow to recognize that the graphic coverage of the realities of war were tending to make it less popular and further inflaming the protests.

After Vietnam they sought to shield a sensitive public from the potential trauma of witnessing some of the more unsavory sights and sounds of war in the comfort of their rec rooms. Hence the "embedding" of journalists with the troops, where their movements, access, and message could be tightly controlled and the taxpayers could be spared any overly depressing news and the screams could be erased or overdubbed with patriotic music or happy anchor chatter.

It seems to me that the people who pay for all this carnage, whose taxes fund the blood spatter and the limbs flying about, who have deducted from their paychecks the cost of cleaning up the brain matter smeared on those expensive armored Humvees, these folks have the right to see what they're paying for. They have a right to see for themselves what their money and flag waving and blustering and chest thumping patriotic chanting produces.

I'll go farther down that path and say that they have the duty, the solemn responsibility, to bear witness to what they have paid for and voted for and vocally supported. The general public should be required to help the troops they so blithely send into harm's way carry the baggage that they bring home, all of it.

Help carry the sea bag, the big green heavy one, the one containing a large ball of fear and terror, and pain, and guilt and shame and yes, adrenaline and rage and overwhelming sadness. Parade a few blocks with that on your shoulders, wave a flag and whistle a happy tune.

Unfortunately the damages of war are not erased by a parade down Main Street.

A people that can't tolerate the sights and sounds of war, the tortured  screams of the victims, the faces of the dead and dying, of the  orphaned and bereft, should probably stop investing in war industries and voting for chicken hawks who send other people's kids to die and to kill in the racket that is war.

If we can't revel in our murderous and bestial behavior, if we can't wallow in the filth and gore, in the misery and degradation that is war, then it's time to give it up.

Bob Higgins

Sadly, it may come to pass that any withdrawal from pointless combats by US troops will come about more from reasons economic than moral.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Sep 22nd, 2010 at 04:42:29 PM EST
I'm afraid you're right. The American approach to the morality of war has long been a path through John Wayne movies and recruiting posters.

The corporate structure needs a force to ready protect its criminal enterprises anywhere at short notice.  

The pretense of god, country apple pie and sacred honor must be upheld to keep the young cannon fodder out of the unemployment lines and standing in the recruiting lines.


by BobHiggins (rlh974@yahoo.com) on Wed Sep 22nd, 2010 at 07:19:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is there a Smedley Butler in the upper echelons of the US military nowadays?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Sep 23rd, 2010 at 10:31:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Most Americans, to the extent they think at all of Mister Bush's two wars, have no idea. The picture you show would completely freak them out--and I'm pretty sure would not be allowed to sully U.S. airwaves during the evening "news."

Instead, they are treated to a steady diet of Oooooh Lindsay Lohan, Ooooooh Paris Hilton, Oooooooh Daning with the Has-Been Stars.

by Mnemosyne on Sat Sep 25th, 2010 at 08:41:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Were proper care provided to returning veterans it is likely that the total cost of aftercare, physical, including brain trauma and toxic substance exposures as well as other wounds and amputations, and emotional, including PTSD and the trauma of having been involved in what one has, at some point, to accept as having been inhuman acts, that cost would be at least comparable to the cost of deploying the soldiers.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Sep 23rd, 2010 at 12:32:16 PM EST
And, as with most medical care, the real economic cost of not providing it greatly exceeds the cost of providing it. It's just not counted.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Sep 23rd, 2010 at 06:35:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A side effect of this is that the best way to shut down a failed war is to a.) pull out, and then b.) keep your fingers crossed that whoever takes over keeps the journalists out.

After the U.S. left Vietnam, there was effectively a blackout of news--at least in the U.S. Now, Obama faces the problem that if Iraq explodes, and if western journalists are allowed to film it, it will become "his fault." Conversely, if Iraq explodes but it's NOT on TV, then Americans will worry about something else and he will be able to avoid the blame.

The presence of journalists in a situation has a huge effect on how it's perceived.

by asdf on Mon Sep 27th, 2010 at 10:16:59 AM EST
I seem to recall a lot of coverage of the fall of the Embassy in Saigon. But this was under a different U.S. President, so maybe he didn't take the blame for it.

On the other hand, if Nixon had not been impeached, well,  IOKIYAR.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Sep 27th, 2010 at 10:30:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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