Senseless Criminality of Human Affairs

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A
mere 233 dead doesn't seem very many does it? After all, Iraq was
(is) a war, and we have gotten off so far with a mere 233 dead.
Just a flick of the finger, as it were, as compared with something
like Stalingrad – now, there was a battle. Or Okinawa. Or Antietam.
Or perhaps, overall, World War I, with its crazy commanders hurling
men into the front lines in a grinding action that wiped out a generation.

I
happened to be reading today Arnold Toynbee's preface to his abridged,
one-volume illustrated A
Study of History
. He had this to say about his motivation
as a scholar:

In
1915 and 1916, about half the number of my schoolfellows were
killed, together with proportionate numbers of my contemporaries
in other belligerent countries. The longer I live, the greater
grows my grief and indignation at the wicked cutting short of
those lives. I do not want my grandchildren and great-grandchildren
to have the same fate. The writing of this book has been one of
my responses to the challenge that has been presented to me by
the senseless criminality of human affairs.

[The
book he refers to is his 12-volume A Study of History,
which he notes that he worked on from 1920 to 1972.]

As
a grandfather I share his concern. As a WWII veteran I am ashamed
that I was as stupid as I was 60 years ago. I am even more ashamed
that my fellow citizens are choosing to remain stupid in the present
era. I took to heart shortly after WWII some words of Ezra Pound's
(from "Hugh Selwyn Mauberley") which still seem to me
a fair statement of the continuing case:

Daring
as never before, wastage as never before.
Young blood and high blood,
fair cheeks and fine bodies;
fortitude as never before . . .
There died a myriad,
And of the best among them,
For an old bitch gone in the teeth,
For a botched civilization,
Charm smiling at the good mouth.
Quick eyes gone under earth's lid,
For two gross of broken statues,
For a few thousand battered books.

I
checked out the list that was posted on LRC Blog and scrolled down
the 233 names. It doesn't somehow seem so "mere." Mad
Mad Albright may have thought a half million Iraqi children were
worth it (whatever "it" was). I have to say I do not think
whatever we have got or are going to get out of our "conquest"
of Iraq is worth a single one of the 233. Here are just a few of
the "B's." Note the ages.

  • Corporal
    Henry L. Brown, 22, Natchez, Mississippi; Headquarters Company,
    1st Battalion, 64th Field Artillery Regiment, Fort Stewart, Georgia.
    Died April 8.
  • Private
    First Class John E. Brown, 21, Troy, Alabama; 2nd Battalion, 44th
    Air Defense Artillery Regiment, Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Killed
    April 14.
  • Specialist
    Larry K. Brown, 22, Jackson, Mississippi, 1st Battalion, 41st
    Infantry Regiment, Fort Riley, Kansas. Killed April 5.
  • Lance Corporal
    Cedric E. Bruns, 22, Vancouver, Washington; 6th Engineer Support
    Battalion, 4th Force Service Support Group, U.S. Marines, Eugene,
    Oregon. Killed May 9.
  • Specialist
    Roy Russell Buckley, 24, Portage, Indiana; 685th Transportation
    Company, Hobart, Indiana. Killed April 22.
  • Lance Corporal
    Brian Rory Buesing, 20, Cedar Key, Florida; 1st Battalion, 2nd
    Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Camp Lejeune,
    North Carolina. Killed March 23.

Anyone
who chooses to keep this up and arranges to keep himself out of
the front lines (aka Iraq's streets), as far as I am concerned is
a blackguard, a bully, a blowhard, a barbarian, and a few more b-words
I can't use.

July
28, 2003

Tom
White [send him mail]
writes from Odessa, Texas.

Tom
White Archives


        
        

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