Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 22 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds   

War Crime or the Crime of War

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   No comments
Message Camillo
Become a Fan
  (3 fans)

One would think that by now America would have made the connection between war and atrocity. Or are we too obsessed with our consumer-driven lifestyles, or too apathetic to even pay attention. Or perhaps we believe the military is a refuge for miscreants and deviates capable of unspeakable acts of cruelty and barbarism.   More likely, I think, confronting the incivility of war, the murders of civilians in Haditha and in Baghdad, the latter documented in the now infamous Wikileaks' "Collateral Murder" video , provides a welcome, though perhaps unpleasant and regrettable opportunity to reassert our commitment to the rule of law and to the dictates of our individual and/or collective consciences.



With an appropriate air of moral ascendancy, the apathetic, the supporters, and the opponents of war find common ground in dutifully judging and appropriately condemning, however reluctantly, those "depraved" individuals who dare tarnish the reputation of this great nation by violating the laws of God and of man.


Perhaps I am being a bit unfair in expecting the average American to grasp the nature, reality, and consequences of war. War cannot be understood, rationally or intellectually, by watching a film or by reading a book. To "know" war, you have to experience it, live it, feel it in your gut - the anxiety, fear, frustration, boredom, hopelessness, despair, anger, rage, etc. In truth, warriors exist in a world totally incomprehensible to those who have never had the misfortune of experiencing the horrors of the battlefield.


To those struggling to survive the next improvised explosive device or suicide bomber, war's negative effects are pervasive and cumulative. Everyday living in a war zone is a netherworld of horror and insanity in which respect for life and for the dignity of humankind loses all meaning. Life amid the violence, death, horror, trauma, anxiety and fatigue of war erodes moral being, undoes character, and reduces decent men and women to savages capable of incredible cruelty that would never have been possible before being victimized and sacrificed to war.


As evidenced by these appalling events and so many others, the most recent of which was several Marines urinating on the lifeless bodies of Taliban fighters , warriors are dehumanized and desensitized to death and destruction. Judgments of right and wrong - morality - quickly become irrelevant and cruelty and brutality a primal response to an overwhelming threat of annihilation. Consequently, atrocities in such an environment are not isolated aberrant occurrences prosecuted by a few deviant individuals. Rather, they are commonplace, intrinsic to the nature and the reality of war, the inevitable consequence of enduring prolonged life-threatening and morally untenable conditions, what Robert Jay Lifton describes as "atrocity-producing situations."


Having been indoctrinated into the mythology of the "good war" and the "noble warrior," the uninitiated and unaffected - most civilians and many non-warrior members of the military - fail to realize this truth: that all war is barbarism in which cruelty and brutality - atrocity - is the norm rather than the exception. During World War II, for example, often cited and celebrated as the "good war," over 50 million civilians were murdered by both the Axis and Allied nations. The Marines who killed the civilians in Haditha, and the soldiers who so nonchalantly "engaged the target" - slaughtering some 12 human beings - in the Wikileaks video are no different from the pilots and bombardiers from the "greatest generation" who, with equal nonchalance, incinerated millions of civilians -- women, children, old people -- during the terror bombings of Hamburg, Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, etc.


Despite the moral depravity of their actions, these individuals were not born killers. Rather they were created to do our bidding, first conscripted or lured into the military with promises of employment, a college education, or US citizenship, then subjected to sophisticated indoctrination techniques of value manipulation, moral desensitization, and psychological conditioning, aimed at destroying/overriding their humanity, their moral aversion to killing. "Born again hard," their warrior behaviors were soon reinforced by the violence and horror of the battlefield environment. Is it any wonder, then, that they became capable of such heinous acts of slaughter as those in Haditha, in Baghdad, at My Lai , at No Gun Ri , and during the terror bombing of European and Japanese cities?


Next Page  1  |  2

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

Rate It | View Ratings

Camillo "Mac" Bica Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Camillo "Mac" Bica, Ph.D., is a professor of philosophy at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, a long-time activist for peace and justice, a member of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and the coordinator of the Long Island Chapter of Veterans for Peace. His books include "Beyond PTSD: The Moral (more...)

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Civil Disobedience: The Only "Weapon" We Have Remaining?

Rethinking the Vietnam War Experience

The Fairness Draft

The Invisible Wounds of War

Addressing Healthcare Worker's Stress and Trauma During the Covid-19 Pandemic

The Nature of War

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend