When will we end the human war?

1 12 2009

When will it ever stop? After reading Slaughter House-Five by Kurt Vonnegut I am left asking this simple question, when will it ever stop? When will innocent blood stop spilling? When will put down our guns? Vonnegut’s classic novel speaks strongly of the destructive nature of war. One of the greatest used in Slaughter House-Five is through the life of Billy Pilgrim, although Billy seems to be very successful after the war with a steady job and family there is much more going on under the surface. Billy’s life is a mess he only has a job because of his father in law and he is barely connected to his sons life at all. War isolates the human soul. When one has seen so many horrific things how can they relate or connect with people who have never seen nearly anything so traumatic in their life? Vonnegut has alot to say about America and its involvement in Vietnam, how the US needs to end its war machine and go home. I found this live recording of Allen Ginsberg reading his famous poem America and I feel like it relates in alot of ways to what Vonnegut was trying to say. The opening lines of the poem in many ways deal with the absurdity of war that Slaughter House-Five portrays

America I’ve given you all and now I’m nothing.
America two dollars and twenty-seven cents January 17, 1956.
I can’t stand my own mind.
America when will we end the human war?
Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb

Yet we still prepare to send 40,000 troops to Afghanistan.



1 12 2009

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@SnailMail times are changing

28 11 2009

Besides the occasional romantic letter from a budding youth trying to impress a girl, the days of snail mail are over.  Technology is changing the way that we communicate and connect with those around us. The advancement of online social networking sites such as facebook and myspace has made reconnecting with old friends easy as a click of the button. In this ever changing day and age the most valued thing to a consumer is ease of access and instant connection. Gone are the days of girls romantically waiting at the mail box for his correspondence. Most people see this as a advantage being able to see their loved one who is serving over seas via video chat or instantly through other sources like blogs, twitter, and facebook.

But at what cost comes all these innovations in communication? The dangers of leaking information has caused quite the controversy within the United States Defense Department.  However amongst all the controversy involved with the use of twitter Gen. Craig McKinley

These tools are too important to lock away. Some of the brightest minds in the country are focused on securing our networks and lowering this risk. I am confident they have the skills to both empower users and protect critical systems and data.The National Guard is committed to making these powerful Internet capabilities work.

I agree completely with Gen. McKinley’s assesment of the advancements in technology. The United States must utilize all these emerging technologies to help secure the future of the United States.

Survival in Iraq

15 11 2009

Is the utter destruction of life brought about by groups such as blackwater in Iraq very drastically different from what happened within the walls of the Nazi death camps? From the surface one may can say that in no way shape or form is anything that goes on today near the gruesome atrocities carried out by the Nazis. Diving into Primo Levi’s autobiography about his ten months in a German death camp, we see through his eyes the horrors and dehumanization of the Jewish race. One of the clearest examples from Levi’s book is when Levi is reaching through some bars to grab some snow to eat because he is starving, in the next moment a guard comes and smashes his hand telling him no, which prompts Levi’s response, “WHY?”, to which the guard replies, “There is no why here.”  This is just the kind of dehumanizing attitude that I feel is possessed by most stanch supporters of blackwater and other such militant protection agencies. I am not saying in any way that I am completely against any of these organizations, but merely against some of the tactics and actions that they perform. A year and a half ago my dad who works for the government had to go on business to Kuwait for a week. While there he had a personal bodyguard for much of the week hired from an organization similar top Blackwater. I am very thankful for the services that they performed which could not have been possible for the government to provide any other way. After reading this quote by a former employee of Blackwater I feel  that some of  Black waters tactics  need to be addressed in a major way.

that the company’s owner, Erik Prince, may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. The former employee also alleges that Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe,” and that Prince’s companies “encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life.”

However you look at it, we must learn from our pasts and from those who have experienced first hand the terrors of war to be fully aware of what is going on in our ever-changing world.

Lessons learned

26 10 2009

Over the past couples weeks Ive been looking at different pieces of World War II literature and documentaries that focus primarily on Nazi concentration camps. Throughout my life I have been brought up learning about the Nazi’s from school to my grandfather telling stories of what it was like to live during that time period. I have also had the chance to visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. as well as the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills Michigan, both of these museum lay a lasting imprint in my mind of the horrific indescribable concentration camps.  Even so after watching Alfred Hitchcock’s compelling documentary which was banned directly after World War II by the British Government as too graphic for the publics view but was released a number of years later I still feel that initial shock of the images to disturbing for even my darkest nightmares. Even the great American General Dwight D. Eisenhower was lost for words when he came to face the atrocities of the conentration camps.

I have never felt able to describe my emotional reactions when I first came face to face with indisputable evidence of Nazi brutality and ruthless disregard of every shred of decency. Up to that time I had known about it only generally or through secondary sources. I am certain, however that I have never at any other time experienced an equal sense of shock .”Crusade in Europe,” Dwight Eisenhower, pp. 408-9″

We ask how can such things take place? We feel sadness, then anger, then sorrow as we try to comprehend what could compel a human being to such cruelties? We say nothing like this could ever happen again, nothing like this will happen again, but still we see genocide in Rwanda during the 1990’s and in  Sudan in 2004. Even more recent and close to home is the issues of torture and abuse during the Bush administrations “War on Terror”. We shake our heads at the civilians living in germany during WWII who claimed they knew nothing about the concentration camps yet the majority of Americans dont have a clue as to what is going on within our own government and the “War on terror”   This brings me to my main question, what are “we” as a society doing to prevent these types of travesties?

The Lies Used to Get By

7 10 2009

Over the past few weeks I have been thinking about how soldiers and their loved one’s deal or cope with the ever pressing presence of death on their daily lives. What brought me to thinking about this is Stuart D. Lee’s play “The Ghosts May Laugh” which I have been reading over the last week. The play focuses on four World War I soldiers; Jones Jenkins Lewis and Saunders, who begin a story telling contest as a way to pass time in their trench. Through these stories we see a glimpse of how each character deals with death in their own unique ways. What struck me the most in the play was Jones outlook on life and living for he simply believed that he would never make it out of the war alive.

No really, I’ve seen it so many times in my dreams, that I’m convinced. I’ll be in an attack, and I’ll end up in a trench, one of their trenches. And I’ll find myself standing face to face with this German, and he is armed with a rifle and a bayonet. Only I haven’t got anything you see. So I know he is going to kill me. I know that in a few seconds he is going to stick the bayonet into me, and twist it. (49)

I feel almost sympathetic for Jones and his ultimate fear, having to wake up every morning and face death in the eye can easily drive a man insane. Today these kind of fears can be no different for soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. The ever looming question of is this war ever going to end? On Thursday the war in Afghanistan passes the 8-year mark. 8-years… that is longer than any other conflict the US has been involved in besides the Vietnam War and the American Revolution.  With all the other related issues going on in the middle east such as Iran’s nuclear testing and the debates on capitol hill over if more troops should be sent to Afghanistan to fulfill General McCrystals requests what hope can our soldiers really hold onto that they will ever make it home alive?

“The Ghosts May Laugh”  Stuart D. Lee

Isolation in times of war

24 09 2009

We hear the same story all the time boy meets girl, they are young and fall madly in love next thing you know he is getting ready to be deployed.

They start off e-mailing every day. But after a while the sound of her voice starts to fade. The talk, but only once a week. He notices something different in her tone. She stops sending e-mails every day(Atwar)

This leaves one to wonder what is it that truly brings lovers apart? I feel that one the key reasons for this is the isolation of these soldiers deployed overseas. If you look throughout history isolation and longing in times of war is one of the most commonly written about topics in any kind of war story whether novel, movie,  or short story.  I have been reading Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth and we find the same occurence as in many other stories as the two lovers; Vera and Roland slowly start to change and grow distant from each other.

“I can scarcely realise that you are there, ” he wrote, after telling me with obvious pride that he had been made acting adjutant to his battalion (216)

I was not to discover for another year how completely the War possessed one’s personality(217)

Love is security, love is comfort, love is physical when not all of these aspects are met any relationship can fall apart. Now throw in the isolation of war and it easy to see why so many enlisted couples end up growing apart.

Nytimes.com, Longing and Love Lost in War- At War Blogs, by Marc Santora

Testament of Youth, by Vera Brittain