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Sunday, February 19, 2006

 

Wars Past and Present and Books that Portray the Dark Side


We are now at war. To some of us it is an utterly senseless war in which almost 2300 American soldiers have lost their lives. Many more will die before it ends. The number of injured is close to 8000. And we have killed more than 30,000 Iraqi civilians in this war to bring them "freedom". The lists of casualties make it starkly clear that majority of our soldiers are in their twenties. It makes me sick to read names of 18 and 19-year old dead soldiers. A war based on lies and deceptions perpetrated by people in high positions, among them a president who avoided serving in Vietnam and a vice-president who took five deferments from the draft. George F. Will (not one of my favorites) wrote a great column on February 15th in the Washington Post about the abuse of power: "No Checks, Many Imbalances"

The list of books is far from complete. I have read most, not all of them. In researching anti-war fiction I came across the classics: "All Quiet On The Western Front" by Erich Maria Remarque and "Johnny Got His Gun" by Dalton Trumbo--both about World War I. Other notable titles:

Under Fire - Henri Barbusse
Three Soldiers - John Dos Passos
The Good Soldier Svejk - Jaroslav Hasek

World War II

Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
Slaughterhouse Five (or The Children's Crusade) - Kurt Vonnegut
The Painted Bird - Jerzy Kosinski
Fires on the Plain - Shohei Ooka, translated by Ivan Morris
The Naked Pioneer Girl - Mikhail Kononov

Vietnam

Going After Cacciato - Tim O'Brien
The Things They Carried - Tim O'Brien. More like a memoir than fiction.
A Rumor of War - Philip Caputo
The Sorrow of War - Bao Ninh, translated by Frank Palmost and Phan T. Hao
Gardens of Stone - Nicholas Proffitt
*
A new, non-fiction book about Iraq.

The Uses of Propaganda in Bush's War on Iraq

*****
"Once and for all the idea of glorious victories won by the glorious army must be wiped out. Neither side is glorious. On either side they're just frightened men messing their pants and they all want the same thing - not to lie under the earth, but to walk upon it - without crutches."
---Peter Weiss
*

"NATIONAL DEFENSE, n. In U.S. political discourse: 1) The pauperization of the nation through expenditures for deadly weapons systems; 2) The bombardment and invasion of small countries. The United States is, of course, the only nation entitled to such 'defense.' If the inhabitants of other countries resist the U.S. government's 'defensive' measures, they become guilty of 'internal aggression'; and if governments of other countries practice U.S.-style national defense, they become guilty of 'naked aggression.'"(U.S. government spokesmen repeatedly used the Orwellian term 'internal aggression' during the 1960s when referring to the resistance of the Vietnamese to the U.S. occupation of their country.)
—Chaz Bufe, The Devil's Dictionaries ("American Heretic's Dictionary" section)
*****



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