by Ed Kinane, Published in the Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin, November 3, 2019
On March 16, 1968, at My Lai, a thatched-hut village in South Vietnam, demented U.S. soldiers slaughtered some 500 peasants. Fortunately — for our awareness of the savagery of war — news of this massacre leaked out.
Later, conscience-stricken veterans publicly testified that My Lai wasn’t an “aberration” or the only GI massacre. Reports of other massacres emerged from other sources (especially the leaked “Pentagon Papers”).
These atrocities underpinned the demolishing of a distant impoverished land — one that had never threatened U.S. people, “interests,” or borders.
Fifty years later, run-amuck militarism remains very much with us. On March 19, 2019 a U.S. drone killed 30 Afghan pine nut harvesters gathered at night around a campfire. A further 40 were reportedly wounded in the attack.
This, too, was no isolated event. But in the 21st century, such increasingly high-tech killing has evolved and normalized. Across the Islamic oil lands — Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia — U.S. robotic drones attack first responders, wedding parties and funeral processions. Hundreds of the innocent and unarmed are being killed, and thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, are being terrorized, spurring waves of refugees.
Given the much-touted “precision” of the Hellfire missiles — a Lockheed Martin product — that these soulless operations deploy, can we call such massacres “mistakes”? Or excuse them as due to some mystical, unaccountable “fog of war”?
Hundreds of the innocent and unarmed are being killed, and thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, are being terrorized, spurring waves of refugees. When do U.S. taxpayers demand: stop the killing? When will we no longer tolerate a demented commander-in-chief and the demented Pentagon that generates such terror?
Ed Kinane, of Syracuse, spent five months in Iraq with the human-rights group Voices in the Wilderness before, during and after “Shock and Awe.” A My Lai Memorial Exhibit will be displayed at the Broome County Public Library from Thursday through Saturday.