[lit-ideas] Re: Willie Pete's Role Reversal

  • From: Eternitytime1@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 13 Nov 2005 12:37:54 EST

In a message dated 11/12/2005 1:44:52 P.M. Central Standard Time,  
andreas@xxxxxxxxxxx writes:

When the  German soldiers returned from their war, they all said that they 
had seen  nothing. 
None of those atrocities or abuses.

When the US soldiers  returned from Vietnam, they all said that they had seen 
nothing. None 
of  those atrocities or abuses.

When the US soldiers return from  Afghanistan and Iraq, they all say that 
they had seen 
nothing. None of  those atrocities or abuses.

Of course not. These are good boys,  returning to their homes, their moms, 
their communities. 
What else would  they say?

This thread seems to be moving away from the Iraqi War to an  
anti-war-in-general (or, at least, to an anti-military thread)
Before it completely goes there, I will also again wonder how you say that  
these soldiers have not talked about their experiences?
The Library of Congress & the Smithsonian Folk Life Center started a  few 
years ago a project called The Veterans History Project. It was actually  begun 
because so many of our WWI and WWII veterans (and those who had helped on  the 
Homefront) were dying so fast and there were not really any satisfactory  oral 
history projects done to save their memories/thoughts/experiences.  
Veterans from other wars also participate in this project and there is  
training being done all around the country by local historical societies in  
to train volunteers on how to conduct an oral history, provide the  equipment, 
etc. and they are doing this and saving the tapes in the Smithsonian  (and 
usually the local library or historical society is also saving  copies).
If you have not ever gotten trained and conducted one of these, I would  
imagine that in your own areas there is a need and you would learn a lot about  
what is said/not said.
In addition, I imagine that in many places it does not occur to the people  
who state 'all the military' is wearing speedos and running around like maniacs 
 (that is my term from what was said) to go sit at some of the VFW places and 
 chat with some of our military who have served in wars or elsewhere.
I imagine that there are few that are not in the military that go to the  
places which actually have military tributes and the such--for often there is  
little publicity done to bring in those who are not in the military.
At least, that was what I discovered here in the Midwest some 12 years ago  
when we first began our Military Tributes.  We do them occasionally now  (they 
are a lot of work to put together -- esp since our librarian who helps the  
most with this has a hard time focusing on the different wars one by  
one....which is what we have tried to do in order to make these more manageable 
terms of planning)
But, if you did attend, you would know that we have roundtable discussions  
for our veterans of various wars.  They are, actually, very candid about  what 
It's hardest for the women from the Vietnam War era because of the  
stereotype that they were only there to follow the men and do  whatever...   SO 
true!  But, we have had women who deny  serviing--one had not told her husband 
kids--because of the stereotype. Yet,  she had High Need to talk about it 
(thus the phone call to us) --and finally  some of our women vets here were 
to reach into her world.  
The ethical aspects of when to shoot and when not to shoot is a very hard  
one. But, remember that the military that is in Iraq has NOT had years of  
training on how to deal with some of those situations.  The dad that I  talked 
last week was telling about one of the  choices his son had to  make in Iraq. 
He had befriended a 14-year old boy--or had been befriended by  one. He was 
constantly around, chatting, and seemingly genuinely curious. At one  point, he 
asked to go in and look around the area that this soldier was  guarding. He 
(the soldier) got permission but the boy would have to have his  pack searched 
leave it outside just as any others were searched before  entering. He 
refused and got angry--and the soldier felt awful at not being able  to 'trust' 
young one ... but, the boy ran into a Mosque carrying his pack  (which 
sometimes he carried and sometimes he didn't). He didn't return after  that. 
Was the 
kid carrying a bomb or was he genuinely upset because he felt not  trusted?  
Hard to say. Obviously bothered him enough to talk about it to  friends and 
family, though.
I wonder about the decision to bomb only if less than 29 civilians were  hit. 
What else goes into that decision (surely other aspects? Perhaps the  thought 
that on insurgent attack will kill or maim more than that if not  stopped?  
Or was it pulled from the air? I don't know--not enough  information. Wonder if 
that was talked about in the interview at all or if the  sensationalist info 
was taken and run without digging deeper to find out how and  why that choice 
was made.)  In addition, ,was it the military who made  it--or more of these 
civilian analysts who seem to be running this war Just  because it came from 
'The Pentagon" does not necessarily mean any longer that it  was from the 
military. We tend to outsource so much (even torture) any  more...and the 
has been marginalized (probably for the same reasons  that Andreas cited--who 
can trust them? So the civilians have taken over in  running this war...)
I think the focus, if people really care about getting the US out of Iraq,  
though, needs to be on other aspects than that of the entire US Miltiary 
running  around in speedos and killing anything that moves.
Still, the argument that the military is over there having a good time,  
enjoying prostitutes, etc. is nothing new. It is one I hear a lot in regards to 
the US getting out of the UN or the UN being totally corrupt--and often is  
mentioned how they do nothing about the UN Peacekeeping forces who are having  
sex with little 12 and 13 year old girls in exchange for pieces of food (not  
even money...).  I'm sure that UN Peacekeepers  are also running  around in 
Speedos and shooting anything that moves.  
But, if war is simply an extension of politics (who said that?), then is  the 
root problem more of a political one?
Marlena in Missouri

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