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The Gantseh Megillah

The Outspeaker

"There is no such thing as getting used to combat. Each moment of combat imposes a strain so great that men will break down in direct relation to the intensity and duration of their exposure…Psychiatric casualties are as inevitable as gunshot and shrapnel wounds in warfare…Most men were ineffective after 180 or 140 days. The general consensus was that a man reached his peak of effectiveness in the first ninety days of combat, and that he became steadily less valuable thereafter until he was completely useless."

John Keegan, "The Face of Battle" (Quoting US Army doctors in an official report)

Haditha, Iraq.

U.S. Marines accused of murdering helpless, unarmed civilians. Women. Children. Babies. The President is “shocked.” Rumsfeld “needs more time to develop the “facts.” We are left to presume that he, too, is “shocked.” Possibly even “awed.” Senators are all but speechless. What is there to say? Civilized countries do not fight wars in such a fashion! Americans take prisoners and hand out chocolate bars. Our precision-guided munitions are designed to eliminate “collateral damage.”

We have, along with other morally sophisticated nations signed agreements that establish rules and regulations designed to make atrocities such as the above a rare, if not all but impossible occurrence. We have done all we can do to assure that our citizens and most important, our children, will not be exposed to the actual sights, sounds, and smells of the battlefield. We comfort ourselves with wholly fictional notions of combat casualties: John Wayne clutching his bloodless breast as he sinks gracefully to the sand on Iwo Jima (the opening scenes of “Saving Private Ryan are more accurate), GIs marching smiling Germans to the rear after having accepted their surrender (more accurate in the first waves at Normandy would have been marching them “behind the rocks” and cutting their throats), Richard Conte lying in a field in Italy after being machine-gunned, a small trickle of stage blood trickling from the corner of his mouth as he takes a few calm last breaths, saying a heartfelt goodbye to his buddies before closing his eyes and passing sweetly away (machine guns have a nasty habit of cutting bodies literally in two, and hysterically frightened screaming is heard far more than calm last testimonials).

Murder? What in hell do we think has been going on in Iraq for close to four years now? What do we think we create when we expose nineteen and twenty year olds to the never ending strain and frustration of combat? Do a Google search for “Lidice” for part one of the answer. Then do another for “The Rape of Nanking.” Lest you think these were but hiccups in an otherwise gentlemanly conflict, do a search for “My Lai.” I know that I, for one, am plenty old enough to recall THAT one.

The “investigation” into the recent events in Iraq has not yet started, but when it is concluded you can bet that no high-ranking officer will bear any blame. Like My Lai, no significant punishments will be handed out at all. Lt. Calley served only 3 1/2 years, and that under house arrest.

I would call for Donald Rumsfeld to step forward and accept the blame for this ongoing tragedy and its yearlong cover-up by the military. Rumsfeld is in charge of that department. I WOULD call for him to step aside, but I am not given to fruitless exercises. This clown has never accepted blame for anything at all in his entire, useless career in government. Nor has his equally inept and arrogant boss.

Perhaps one might make an argument that the Marines who pulled the triggers were to blame, not the idiots who put them there in the first place. You COULD make that case, I suppose, but Marines are by disposition and training amphibious shock troops, not police. They are not all that good at static defense, nor SHOULD they be.

Nah! Forget that argument. In a perfect world these two, Bush and Rumsfeld, would be indicted and hauled before a war crimes tribunal, but that ain’t gonna ever happen. I don’t think that it’s even constitutionally possible. Of course, they might be impeached, but that would require a vote in the (Republican) House, and trial in the (Republican) Senate. Don’t hold your breath. Those two august bodies are engaged at present in far more serious matters; matters CRITICAL to the well-being of average Americans:

A constitutional amendment to prohibit gay marriage.

A bill increasing fines for using “indecent” language in broadcast media.

A bill permanently eliminating the tax on estates.

And on, and on…

Forget Congress.

Oh yeah… What do you think the extended families of the victims of the massacres in Iraq did in the aftermath? I imagine they kissed the hilts of their daggers and vowed eternal possibly even suicidal vendetta against America. Thanks Don! Thanks George! I feel safer by FAR since you took the reins!

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

“If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence.”

Bertrand Russell, Roads to Freedom

It seems the news isn’t ALL bad for Bush! A recent article in the NY Times focused on the positive news out of Provo, Utah. I must warn you, if you choose to read these quotes, do so with a sense of humor and an empty stomach!

“"When I watch him, I see a man with his heart in the right place," said Delia Randall, a 22-year-old mother from Provo, the hub of a county that gave Senator John Kerry just 11 percent of the presidential vote in 2004. "I like George Bush because he is God fearing, and that's how a lot of people in this area feel."

His heart is in the right place? What in hell does that have to do with doing his job correctly? If an employee constantly screws up on the job and negatively affects the company’s bottom line, is the fact that his heart is in the right place going to save his job? God fearing? This dangerous jackass is murdering your children, neglecting both the financial and physical health of your fellow citizens, and setting social and medical progress back by decades. What does his fear of God have to do with ANYTHING? I see you are 22. If you love that jerk so much, get your lard ass to a recruiter and join the Marines. The experience might open your eyes, Della.

(Taking a deep breath…)

"I'm against the war in Iraq — and what happened with Hurricane Katrina, well, it was a failure by everybody," said Ron Craft, a sales manager in Provo who said he was a devout Mormon and a strong conservative who considered himself independent politically. "I tend to judge a person by their character. And President Bush reminds me of President Reagan. He's a man of principle."

So you think he’s a screw up, but you like him so much you’re willing to overlook his failures. By all means judge people by their character. Judge those who work for you by their performance. Katrina was a failure by “everybody”? I, for one, had NOTHING to do with the affair…

(Another breath…)

"He's strong, and he doesn't waver," said Jaren Olsen, 18, a freshman at Brigham Young, the nation's largest religiously affiliated private university, who is from Albany. "I like that he is for the family, that marriage should only be between a man and woman. And the war, we need to finish what we started."

I see you, too, are of draft age, Jaren! See my advice above on enlisting in the military! Then you could personally see to finishing the job “we” started!

He’s strong and doesn’t waver? So’s my DOG, Jaren! This from a college student?

According to the article, the news from Utah isn’t ALL bad, it seems Bush is hovering at around 50% approval, in that reddest of the red states. Bad news for Bush…

Once more, allow me to thank you for your indulgence, and invite your responses.

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