Aletho News


A superpower and “the world’s sickest warrior state”

By Paul J. Balles | March 8, 2010

Living through five or six major wars has hardened me to what I thought were the extremes of inhuman cruelty and brutality.

Two things made those extremes almost bearable: the brutality always revealed – at least according to the media coverage – the viciousness of the enemy. It was therefore quite understandable when our “brave men and women” pulverized the enemy.

Films of Japanese torturing captive Americans somehow justified holding over 7,000 Japanese Americans in internment camps during World War II; and only a small percentage of Americans found the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki unreasonably vengeful at best, at worst, depraved.

The media giants in America portrayed the North Koreans as barbaric beasts with their captives, quite unlike their southern counterpoints – our allies during the Korean War. No one ever felt the need to explain how the South Koreans were a civilized breed while the North Koreans were absolute savages, at least according to the official line.

In Vietnam, our warriors justifiably (or so the media made us believe) dropped napalm on the North Vietnamese who had the gall to hide in villages and tunnels to ravage our invaders. At least it was accepted practice until some rogue photojournalist filmed a young girl screaming down a Vietnamese road in flames.

One of our lieutenants also got caught commanding his troops to open fire on an entire village of civilians – women and children. We had obviously – to some – gone too far. If those few torturous incidents hadn’t been filmed, we might have carried on and won the war in Vietnam (or so the thinking goes) with our napalm and wanton village massacres.

Then, when the Iraqi troops ran (literally) fleeing Kuwait in 1991, our bloodthirsty aviators annihilated them on the road north, bombing their retreat to “melted glass” (as one Lockheed acquaintance put it). That feast for hungry slaughterers received little attention. The bombers and strafers felt no guilt after Saddam’s troops had blown up Kuwait’s oil wells.

The nagging memory of non-avenged defeat in Vietnam somehow allowed members of the clergy to ignore the devastating inhuman cost to children in Iraq during 10 years of sanctions. Only a few humanitarians among academics spoke out. Congress completely ignored it. The public didn’t care. Why should they? Our leaders spoke of everything but the brutality of our enforcers.

We have now reached a stage where our extreme horrors of brutality and cruelty have exceeded our past records. We no longer have the rationale of moral righteousness of the earlier wars.

There were no excuses for Abu-Ghraib, but our interest in that inhuman travesty dried up and blew away. We have little concern about our violations of human rights in Guantanamo. We care less about ill-treatment of Arabs and Arab Americans in the USA.

But the most extremes – the real horrors – of this war come with the primitive killer mentality developed in our youth. I’ve now seen a half dozen documentary films and read eyewitness accounts that reveal troops or pilots gloating over the massacres of civilians who just happened to be available targets.

Without doubt, the US has not only become the world’s major power, it has become the world’s sickest warrior state. Neither conscience nor empathy for others defines the qualities of the sociopath.

It’s past time for humanitarians to reject the double standards set by warmongers and supported by arms-makers and the mainstream media. The clergy needs to stop preaching sanctimonious sermons. Finally, educators should adopt and teach a zero tolerance policy for self-righteous warriors.

And yes, those who would dismiss my criticism as vitriolic should join a chorus with a conscience.

Paul J. Balles is a retired American university professor and freelance writer who has lived in the Middle East for many years.

March 7, 2010 - Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , , ,

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.