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The Assault Hard Upon Ethical Principles

This essay is dedicated to Bertrand Russell who has been an unfailing infuence in the creation of it...

Reams of pretentious nonsense have been scribed attempting to explain

away the First World War and the Second World War. That they were
conficts to save democracy from authoritarianism, that they were battles to
salvage capitalism from communism, and above all for very, very simple
minds, that they were a struggle between “the good guys” and “the bad
guys.” The two world wars were—up to their times—the two most hideous
stains that had marked the collective common sense of Humanity, and
today we are still suffering their consequences. It is inconceivable that the
deaths of an estimated 200,000,000 combatants and non-combatants could
be white-washed away, that their realities might become a chapter in
history books whose pages could be fipped on and on to where they speak
today of the “relative peace” (peace of mind?) Western Civilization has
enjoyed since the end of World War II. A hedonistic somersault from
“bombs away!” to FERAGAMMO shoes and GUCCI bags! That the rapes of
1,000,000 European women (computation formulated by a German
sociologist who has made this study her life's work) by Russian, German,
American, and English soldiers, especially at the end of the war during
“'war's over' celebration parties,” could be dumped into some never-never
land to balm even the consciousnesses of 90-year-old veterans who proudly
march each year, their medals jingling, looking for some phony adulation to
justify their murderous military actions, and worse, stimulating other
soldiers who would participate in the Korean War, the Vietnam “War,” Iraq
I, Iraq II, and Afghanistan. What could be more disgusting? Most veterans
liked going to war or, at least, feigned that they did; most veterans did not
like returning from war. The shame of it all!

If one were to cross paths with a Jesuit-trained Pentagon general—not

vomiting, listening to his nauseating self-righteousness, not throwing up
overwhelmed by his self-assuredness, he succored in the bosom of military
authoritarianism—it might come to pass that he could defne, in ethical
terms, his justifcation for actualizing war. St Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274),
a member of the Order of Priors, the “Stagirite” who synthesized
Aristotelianism with Roman Catholic religious doctrine, would be the
general's ethical fulcrum for any justifcation for war the offcer might be
seeking or recommending to others. Aquinas offers three circumstances
where, he thinks, war can be declared: There must be the authority of
some person in charge by whose command the war is to be waged; there
must be a just cause; and, the right intention promoting good or avoiding
evil must exist. (Is the President of the DisUnited States [DUS] the
authoritative “war-starter,” or are American wars the wishes of a cabal of
military men hiding in the next room?) Would it not have been more
saintly, more virtuous if St Thomas Aquinas had penned three justifcations
for peace and not war?

One is reminded of Stendhal's “The crowning achievement of a Jesuit

education is the ability to ignore that which is perfectly obvious.” Sure, a
high-ranking military authority has the power to declare/recommend war—
if his president or king tells him to do so. An Army private or court jester
cannot declare war. If there is a just cause for war, surely the enemy, too,
believes he or she has just cause. A contradiction of terms. What does it
mean to have the right intention of promoting good or avoiding evil? One's
enemy also has his or her right intention! All is fair in love and war? Even
the atom bomb?

But what about that ffth commandment? “Thou shalt not kill.” Why and
how should there be an exemption for war especially concocted by religious
authoritarian fgures themselves? Why can theologians see ft to disobey
their gods who forbid them to kill? The Jesuits say that God works in
strange ways! And Pentagon generals click their heels on that one!

During the Vietnam “War,” at in-country orientations, in-coming troops

were ordered to read the stipulations recorded at the Geneva Convention,
that series of international diplomatic meetings that produced a number of
agreements, in particular the Humanitarian Law of Armed Conficts, a
group of international laws for the humane treatment of wounded or
captured military personnel, medical personnel, and non-military civilians
during war. In addition, troops in Vietnam were ordered to read directives
that indicated to them the ways they should treat Vietnamese civilians with
particular attention given to their customs and living styles. For example,
in the Central Highlands (area of operation for the Fourth Infantry
Division) there existed Montagnard villagers—an indigenous people in the
area. Also referred to as the Degar; the word “montagnard” is of French
origin, “people of the mountains.” The French had once occupied Vietnam
in the 1700s and even as late as the 1950s. American soldiers were
instructed to pay attention to rock formations that were put on paths
leading to the entrances of a Montagnard village. Different rock formations
might signal that people were sick in the village, or that a baby boy or girl
had recently been born, or that one of the community's elderly had died.
All United States Army personnel had to sign and date a document
attesting to the fact that they had read the written materials.

There is often a notable confusion when atrocities perpetrated by American

soldiers in Vietnam are discussed. Not all Infantry “grunts” went on a free-
for-all of killing and raping combatants and non-combatants in Vietnam.
Many did. But their barbarities, and even their “battle successes,” pale with
the numbers of innocent Vietnamese people slaughtered in Vietnam by Air
Force carpet-bombings. (The Americans are a wonderful people—if they
are not bombing you.) In fact, only 15% of the troops in Vietnam ever
served on the battlefeld. Eighty-fve percent of American troops serving in
Vietnam labored in the rear where they performed logistical lines of work
in well-protected base camps, not even carrying a weapon.

The fact that the Department of Defence's bending over backwards to keep
American troops savvy to the rules of engagement and the Geneva
Convention itself in Vietnam, and other conficts thereafter, should not
offer us hope that the Pentagon possesses some benevolent ethical streak.
No, it is a deliberate attempt to CYA (Cover Your A*s) frequently used as a
way to legitimize the “means to an end” cliché. Yes, the United States
government feels free to bomb millions of people to death from B-52s, yet it
is holier-than-thou when it instructs 19-year-old infantrymen to watch out
for rock formations upon entering native villages where inhabitants are
frozen in fear, where bare-breasted, terrifed mothers are cradling their
babies, and where most, even the majority of the invading American
soldiers, are hoping some crazy will not off his M-16's safety and start
massacring innocent people he had decided are the enemy.

The bombings of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Korea, including damage to Korean

dams that induced a national famine killing untold numbers of Koreans,
and Vietnam established the “ethical” tone of the American military-
industrial complex, and helped promote the American sanctimonious quest
to be the Policeman of the World—at the expense of millions and millions
of combatants and non-combatants. The DUS remains feared, yet not
respected. And the military evildoings of the DUS sustain and fortify the
nation's wealth and its business predominance throughout the world.

If the DUS is not a military dictatorship, it certainly is militaristic. The

budget of the Department of Defence obviates the fact that the military-
industrial complex is fed upon by not only military pirañas, even religious
and law enforcement agencies encroach upon its functioning. American
soft power and hard power, all over the world, are comfortably protected by
the umbrella of the DUS's military-industrial complex. The moral proclivity
of the military-industrial complex might be summed up so: MIGHT IS
AND MINDS WILL FOLLOW. They are the boss, and they work hard at
convincing you that they are. Whether they are right or wrong.

Authored by Anthony St. John

23 October MMXVIII
Calenzano, Italy

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