Thursday, January 31, 2019

#31 / Thoughts Stimulated By A Picture of Mosul

You that never done nothin' 
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it's your little toy. 
                     - Bob Dylan, Masters of War 

Mosul (Before)
Mosul (Now)
That second photograph is from an article in the December 24 & 31, 2018, edition of The New Yorker. The article is titled, "Iraq's Post-ISIS Campaign of Revenge." What that article describes is horrific. It is an article well worth reading. 

It was the photograph above, though - the "after" photograph - that most forcefully arrested my attention. That photograph spoke to me even more powerfully than all the horrors described and documented in the article. The article talked, largely, about horrors that others are perpetrating. But the physical destruction of the places where human beings live, and have lived for hundreds of years, is the work being accomplished by those "Masters of War" (mostly American) who "build the big bombs." 

How can we accept this? This destruction is being paid for with our money. It is being done in our names. We can see what this is. We can't deny what we see. This is what the United States is doing. Can we really accept this?  

Maybe, of course, we already have. It was largely the United States and its military that accomplished all that is shown below:

Munich, After Bombing
Dresden, After Bombing
Warwaw, After Bombing
Berlin, After Bombing
Hiroshima, After Bombing
Nagasaki, After Bombing
In hundreds of different ways, our government, supposedly under our democratic control, has done and is doing horrendous things. Bombing cities into rubble is only one of them. That kind of destruction is damaging us, too. 

Since World War II, our democratic government has become ever less democratic, as many are now noting, given the autocratic propensities of our current president. But our problem is not simply a matter of one "bad apple" at the top, however bad that apple truly is. Our former president, the "apple of the nation's eye," and especially of those who most dislike the current incumbent, sent waves of drone bombers to terrorize women and children in Muslim countries in the Middle East.

Perhaps, we need to confront rather directly the shame of what our government has done and is doing in our names, and admit our own complicity. These "Masters of War?" You know, that's us! We can't really say we are a democracy unless we admit that when the government takes action it is action taken on our behalf.

I tend to think that one reason we do not assert our democratic control over our government more than we do is because we would prefer not to be implicated in any admission that we are in charge of what the government is actually doing. We have wars without end, and not one of them has been declared by the United States Congress. We are letting people do things in our name that are truly horrific, including the destruction pictured above, in Syria and Iraq, but also things much closer to home. Consider the United States prison system, for instance.

And now, of course, our government is kidnapping babies at our border.

If our system is democratic, we must confess that we are in charge, which means that we must accept the responsibility for what is being done. We can neither pretend not to know, or act as if it were someone else who is bombing ancient cities, and taking other actions that are so horrendous that any decent person would be ashamed to admit that these are actions for which he or she is responsible.

I am coming to think that it is precisely our unwillingness to admit that we are in charge that is increasingly leading to a situation in which we really aren't. We are reluctant to admit that we are in charge because we don't, actually, want to associate ourselves with what the government is doing.  If, however, the majority of the country doesn't support what the government does, then any claim that we are a democratic country begins to be quite problematic. 

Thoughts. Stimulated by that photo of what American weapons have done to Mosul. I want our next president to get elected because she or he will talk about this. What has been done; what has not been done. Our need to reassert our democratic control over whatever this nation does. 

What it is doing now is wrong.

Image Credits:
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