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Saturday January 22, 2022

Wars and heroes

September 01, 2021

Ezra Pound was one of the most influential poets of the 20th century. His work focused on the insanity of wars. He theorized that wars were destructive for nations with only a clique benefiting from the same. His criticism of the US participation in World War II led to his being branded a traitor and a lunatic. He was incarcerated in a Washington DC mental asylum for thirteen years.

Maj Gen Smedley Butler remains one of the most decorated Marines. He wrote a treatise aptly titled ‘War is a Racket’. An excerpt reads: “War is a racket, it is conducted for the benefit of the very few. I could have given Al Capone a few hints, the best he could do was operate his racket in three districts; I operated on three continents. During World War I, at least 21,000 new US millionaires and billionaires were made. The trouble with America is that when the dollar earns only 6 per cent here, it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag”.

‘What did they die for’ is the question that rages around in the Western world after the bloodless takeover of Kabul, the agony only for the coalition servicemen. It remains eerily silent on the millions that were murdered and maimed through the years in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan and elsewhere. As for the question that haunts the families of the fallen, the answer is simple. Their loved ones died, as did millions of innocents at their hands, so that Washington’s Military Industrial Complex (MIC) could rake in the trillions. It is an all too familiar atrocity, reenacted again and again, with the approval of the free American people and their western brethren.

The Iraqi occupation alone saw 1,033,000 Iraqis die, with 1,556,156 wounded; unofficial figures are far higher. The scale of death and suffering in Syria initiated by Barack Obama, bafflingly a Nobel Peace laureate, is atrocious. Of a population of 21 million, more than 400,000 Syrians have perished; over 12.7 million have been forced to flee their homes. The UN cites six million Syrian children in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. The callous indifference to such genocides mirrors the Stalin quote: “The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions a statistic”.

Colonel Theodore Westhusing was a devoted husband and a doting father of three children. A professor at West Point, Westhusing had a doctorate in philosophy from Emory University. In late 2004, beguiled by Washington’s war propaganda machine, Westhusing chose to volunteer for the Iraq War becoming head of counterterrorism and special operations under General Petraeus’s command. It took him only a few months of witnessing the gory happenings to conclude the truth about the Iraq war. Just a month before going back home, Westhusing committed suicide. It was June 5, 2005 – his mother’s birthday.

The death would have been just another statistic in a criminal war, had not a four-page suicide note, an indictment of Washington’s wanton wars, been found near Westhusing’s body. Addressed to Gen Petraeus, the note read: “I cannot support a mission that leads to corruption, human right abuses and liars. I didn’t volunteer to support corrupt, money-grubbing contractors. Why serve when you no longer believe in the cause? I am sullied, no more; death before being dishonored anymore”. When his body was flown back to Delaware’s Dover Air Force Base, a close friend asked Michelle, Westhusing’s wife, what had happened; her one-word answer was ‘Iraq’.

World War I was celebrated as a victory ensuring a safe democratic world; 112,000 Americans perished in this war. Just two decades later, ensuring Hitler’s rise to power, this ‘victory’ morphed into World War II; 400,000 Americans lost their lives. Still, the opiate that wealth and power is, the MIC persisted with its chokehold on the White House and Capitol Hill igniting wars the world over. American lives were forsaken in these wars as the MIC bloated with the greenbacks albeit dyed red with the blood of the many fallen ones.

Gen Curtis LeMay had napalm bombs dropped on 67 Japanese cities and towns during World War II. The harrowing aftermath saw 60 percent of the civilian population perish. In Operation Meetinghouse, a single three-hour sortie, his bombers dropped 1,665 tons of incendiary bombs on Tokyo, killing more than 90,000; the majority of them civilians. Aircrews reported the stench of burnt human flesh permeating the airborne bombers. Subsequently, LeMay supervised the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

After the war, LeMay ended up with 37 medals and decorations. Hailed as a hero, he was dubbed ‘Father of Strategic Air Command’. However, the stark reality can be summed up with Lemay’s postwar confession. In a moment of truth, he said: “I suppose if I had lost the war, I would have been tried as a war criminal”. This fact, not fabrications and falsities or anything remotely to do with humanity is the essence of Washington’s wars and its heroes.

The writer is a freelance contributor.

Email: miradnanaziz@gmail.com

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