Sunday, April 15, 2007

Killing Civilians

Just as Buckarooskidoo has long argued that high school students should be required to spend time abroad to learn that the world is larger than their back yard, I would argue that military basic training should include reading books like Catch-22 and Slaughterhouse Five and watching movies like Platoon.

Why? Because war isn't John Wayne striding onto a beach or Teddy Roosevelt charging up a hill. War is unpredictable, contradictory, scary, and far more times than not, makes little to no sense as it is being experienced by those troops. We send our youth into war zones with heads full of feel good war movies and winnable video games. When they come face to face with the reality of it all, most manage to adjust and persevere. Many manage to hold it together during their tours, only to lose their way back home. And sadly, some lose it on the battlefield. Where snap judgments between friend and foe have to be made. Life turns into death swiftly at those times. The wrong choice (too trusting and you're dead; too knee-jerk hostile and you're a murderer) is a fine line that is too easily crossed. And far too easily crossed, I believe, by those who enter into the conflict with delusions of war as simple - black or white; good or evil.

A preliminary military investigation shows that US troops killed and wounded over 40 Afghani citizens near Jalalabad after they were attacked. The troops apparently kept shooting and shooting as they escaped the area, killing civilians who were not near or part of the attack. This is not the first time, nor will it be the last, that such a thing will happen in war. Because, let's face it, this is what war is.

And no American should be sent into combat without understanding what war really is.


Blogger moville said...

I wonder if there is any way to find out whether West Point or Annapolis includes these works in their English and literature curriculum. I would hope that they do--it should be part of every officer's education.

It goes without saying it should be part of every would-be decisionmaker's education, too, just as visits to Verdun, the Somme and Dienbienphu and all other sites associated with discretionary wars should be.

3:11 PM  

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