Monday, November 15, 2004

Why we must only fight a just war

Today comes word of war atrocities perpetrated by Americans in a mosque in Fallujah.

The U.S. military has begun an investigation into possible war crimes after a television pool report by NBC showed a Marine shooting dead a wounded and unarmed Iraqi in a Falluja mosque, officials said on Monday [...]
The pool report by NBC correspondent Kevin Sites said the mosque had been used by insurgents to attack U.S. forces, who stormed it and an adjacent building, killing 10 militants and wounding the five.
Sites said the wounded had been left in the mosque for others to pick up and move to the rear for treatment. No reason was given why that had not happened.
A second group of Marines entered the mosque on Saturday after reports it had been reoccupied. Footage from the embedded television crew showed the five still in the mosque, although several appeared to be already close to death, Sites said.
He said one Marine noticed one of the prisoners was still breathing.
A Marine can be heard saying on the pool footage provided to Reuters Television: "He's fucking faking he's dead. He faking he's fucking dead."
"The Marine then raises his rifle and fires into the man's head. The pictures are too graphic for us to broadcast," Sites said.
The report said the Marine had returned to duty after being shot in the face a day earlier.
Sites said the shot prisoner "did not appear to be armed or threatening in any way."

Atrocities are unfortunately a by product of war. There is absolutely no way in hell that we or any other military can ensure that in the heat of battle, unarmed combatants or civilians are not murdered or worse by soldiers raised to a blood lust. Look at the Vikings and how they would goad themselves into aboslute paroxysms of battle fury when all that mattered was killing. They used to break open a combatant's back and pull out the lungs, making a gruesome parody of wings and call it a 'blood eagle.'

"Einar had his ribs cut from the spine with a sword and the lungs pulled out through the slits in his back. He dedicated the victim to Odin as a victory offering."Orkneyinga Saga

It is next to impossible to escape our violent roots. And as a Poli Sci professor from my undergraduate institution was fond of saying, civilization is a thin veneer holding our society together, which can be broken readily by exigent circumstances. He knew. His family barely made it out of Germany before the Holocaust.

That is why war is not something that can be declared lightly, as was done in the present case by the current US administration. Because when our wars are fought on a pretext, there is no way to absorb and give meaning and ultimately understanding to the atrocities whatsoever. Those who declare war must take the responsibility for acknowledging and atoning for the acts of horror perpetrated in our name. This will not be done by those installed in the White House. Being president means never having to say you're sorry for the current holder of the mantle. And that is a special horror all its own.

In order for a war to be just, three things are necessary. First, the authority of the sovereign.... Secondly, a just cause.... Thirdly ... a rightful intention.
Saint Thomas Aquinas

It is well that war is so terrible--we shouldn't grow too fond of it.
General Robert E. Lee

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