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You think war’s a good idea? Fine, go fight it. -Drew

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – Tom M

Carry – Liz

The Eastern Front On The Other Hand… -John

What Happened to the American Dream? -Eric

The Men of Killer Blue – Jordan

Hate… -Aaron

Unseen Injuries -Ryan

Loved ones left home. -Jordan

Is Afghanistant Worth It? -Drew

I am a twenty-three year old college student. I have lived during the times of several wars, some of which have been fought by my country and some that have not. I have learned about war in school and from newspapers and from movies but really, I do not know much about war.

I can pretend I know about what is going on in Iraq or Afghanistan. I can talk about détente and different forms of terrorism and maybe even seem like I have some knowledge of these subjects but really, I don’t.

I cannot even begin to wrap my head around what it would be like to have my hometown bombed by a country that said it was doing so for the purposes of protecting their freedom and promoting democracy. O.k. sure those sound like worthy causes, but how does a bomb or a missile spread the message of freedom?

Sometimes I wish this generation was as adamant about opposing the war as those during the Vietnam War. Sure, they did things their own way but that does not mean we cannot learn a lesson from them and stand up for peace and voice our opinions about what is going on.

I think every person needs to be more proactive about learning about what is going on in Iraq, Afghanistan, and every other corner of the world where America interjects itself and even where it does not. I feel it is our responsibility as U.S. citizens and as citizens of the world. Ignorance is bliss only if nobody is dying because of it.

I will take away from this course a greater need to be informed, a greater need for knowledge of wars past and present. I have shared some of the books we read in class to friends and family and they enjoyed reading and learned from them as much as I did. If anything, I hope I can share my need to know more about war with others.

A lot of people blame George Bush.

A few people blame Saddam.

Some people blame Al Qaeda. (Mostly two elderly women sitting at a nearby table while I ate lunch a couple of weeks ago).

Some people in the Middle-East blame the people in the West.

Others are still trying to figure out whom to dish their blame out to.

Someone has to be responsible for this mess, right?

Tim O’Brien wrote that there was always someone to blame in “The Things They Carried”.

“When a man died, they had to be blame. Jimmy Cross understood this. You could blame the war. You could blame the idiots who made the war. You could blame Kiowa for going to it. You could blame the rain. You could blame the river. You could blame the field, the mud, the climate. You could blame the enemy. You could blame the mortar rounds. You could blame people who were too lazy to read a newspaper, who were bored by the daily body counts, who switched channels at the mention of politics. You could blame whole nations. You could blame God. You could blame the munitions makers or Karl Marx or a trick of fate or an old man in Omaha who forgot to vote” (O’Brien 177).

Does blame change anything? Maybe it makes you feel better, get some closure, but it cannot change the past. When I think about it, blame cannot really change the future either.

Should we turn the blame over to President Obama for requesting a few extra billion for the war? If we do decide to blame him, what good would it do?

Should we blame the media for not telling us the whole truth?

Or, better yet, should we blame the soldiers for volunteering? Because if there were no soldiers then there would be no war.

Maybe I would be less skeptical about the joys of blame if there was one clear choice as to whom I should blame. Maybe not, too.

Maybe I should blame myself, for not knowing more than I do, or caring more than I do, for not protesting like the kids of the Vietnam era did, or for not writing a newsletter telling the real civilian casualty figures or for not volunteering myself. But I don’t blame myself. And I don’t blame you, or your neighbor or his cousin in Florida or his ex-girlfriend in Sacramento–mostly because blame does not solve anything.

What matters is caring at all.

Artist Jeremy Deller is promoting conversation and empathy through a new exhibit “It Is What It Is” at the New Museum and on YouTube. Deller took a car destroyed by a roadside bomb in Iraq around the U.S. and filmed people reacting to it and speaking about the Iraq war and all of the videos are posted on YouTube.

Read about it here: How artist Jeremy Deller is bringing the Iraq war home to Americans

In a land that worships the car, people want to know what happened to this smashed, scorched vehicle. Deller and his cohorts – an Iraqi citizen who worked for the Americans and now must live in exile, and a US soldier who served in Iraq – tell them. “The car was destroyed in a major attack on a book market in the cultural centre of Baghdad in 2007,” says Deller. “The street itself was totally destroyed, 35 people were killed, and hundreds were injured.” Conversations about Iraq, inspired by this information, then ensue, all of which are filmed and posted on YouTube. As Deller says: “It’s the conversation piece from hell.”

The conversations that ensued are not only honest but most of them shy away from placing blame on anyone and everyone all at once.

Here are links to two of the videos:

It Is What It Is: The Mall, Washington, D.C.

It Is What It Is: New Orleans, LA.

Find more videos in the series by searching “It is what it is” on www.youtube.com

I once learned in a communications class that people share fantasy themes, such as those of the American ideal, patriotism, nationalism, and so on, in order to build a vision that ultimately pulls them together and gives them a sense of identification with a shared reality.

War is one of those shared fantasies.

From the Revolutionary War to the war in Iraq, just about every American shares in the fantasy of war.

But, just because almost every American shares in the fantasy of war, doesn’t mean that almost every fantasy is good—bad fantasies are still fantasies.

Soldiers fight for the freedom of their country. Families and loved ones tie yellow ribbons around trees. Patriotic citizens buy “Support Our Troops” bumper stickers and slap them proudly onto the backs of their pick-up trucks and SUVs. Twenty-three year old college students write blogs about war, something they will probably never understand…

We all have a fantasy about war—they are not all the same.

In a scene from Oliver Stone’s movie, Born on the Fourth of July, the boys talk about how fighting in the Vietnam War would make them a part of American history. It did not matter if they made it back alive. After all, their dads had fought in WWII and their grandfathers fought in the WWI, these boys only wanted to do their duty, to be a part of something bigger than themselves, to be a part of the fantasy.

But when, if ever, does the fantasy become replaced by something that tears apart instead of brings together?

In an article titled “America’s Imperial Wars” the author, Dave Lindorff, talks about how Americans need to see the horrors of war before the fantasy of war can be separate from the actual war.

When I was a 17-year-old kid in my senior year of high school, I didn’t think much about Vietnam. It was 1967, the war was raging, but I didn’t personally know anyone who was over there, Tet hadn’t happened yet. If anything, the excitement of jungle warfare attracted my interest more than anything (I had a .22 cal rifle, and liked to go off in the woods and shoot at things, often, I’ll admit, imagining it was an armed enemy.)

But then I had to do a major project in my humanities program and I chose the Vietnam War. As I started researching this paper, which was supposed to be a multi-media presentation, I ran across a series of photos of civilian victims of American napalm bombing. These victims, often, were women and children—even babies.

Henry Dobbins, a character in Tim O’Brien’s novel “The Things They Carried” is definitely one that shares in the fantasy of war.

“In many ways he was like America itself, big and strong, full of good intentions, a roll of fat jiggling at his belly, slow of foot but always plodding along, always there when you needed him, a believer in the virtues of simplicity and directness and hard labor. Like his country, too, Dobbins was drawn towards sentimentality” (O’Brien 117).

I believe more people are turning away from the fantasies of Henry Dobbins and turning towards more negative ones, even if they are finding faults in places less deserving than others are. Costs usually outrank casualties on the evening news. And, if no one you know is over there, then what does it even matter anyway?

Lindorff tries to answer this:

No wonder that even today, most Americans oppose the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan not because of sympathy with the long-suffering peoples of those two lands, but because of the hardships faced by our own forces, and the financial cost of the two wars.

When do lies become unavoidable truths?

When the lie is intended to frighten?

When the lie has the potential to hurt?

When the lie is used to kill?

War, like life, is full of lies, some great, and some small. Each lie has a different consequence, while each of those consequences causes a ripple, a butterfly effect, and goes on to affect more people than the liar* (not necessarily one person or a person at all) intended.

Regardless of my opinion about the administration of George W. Bush, there is no denying the lies they fed us resulted in the loss of many lives. The term WMD has become a part of our vernacular and it is all because of a great lie.

In an article titled “Ten Appalling Lies We Were Told About Iraq”, the writer plainly states ten lies the Bush administration told the American public and the world about the situation in Iraq and then goes on to point out why they are lies and what the actual truth, if any, is behind what was said.

LIE #1: “The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program … Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.”President Bush, Oct. 7, 2002

Full Article

Tim O’Brien addresses lies in “The Things They Carried”, but for a different reason. His lies are used for different purposes, even though the lies are still contained within the body of war. Did he kill that young Vietnamese boy? Does it even matter?

“You can tell a true war story by the questions you ask. Somebody tells you a story, let’s say, and afterward you ask, “Is it true?” and if the answer matters, you’ve got your answer” (O’Brien 83).

Is there a right time to lie and a wrong time to lie? Maybe. Probably, in fact. But only if the ends justify the means. Only if the liar is smart enough to know the difference and only if the interests of others are put before everything else.

I think the end, as of now, shows an America left with a bitter legacy of lies–lies that have killed 4,261 members of the U.S. military and wounded 67,237, according to a recent article on Consortium News.

I think O’Brien was right in saying “…story-truth is sometimes truer than happening-truth” (O’Brien 179) but I think it only applies to certain circumstances. Happening-truth is always truer than story-truth when lives are lost in-between.


Is it possible to be fair and balanced when reporting on such atrocities such as the sights of Buchenwald, or, more recently, the Iraqi orphanage where American and Iraqi soldiers found starving children, tied to cribs or sleeping on cement?

I do not believe it is possible, nor do I believe it is necessary. Horrific things happened—it isn’t irresponsible or unfair to report those horrific things exactly as they were nor is it unfair to report any responses to them.

Here are the opening sentences of both stories: The first is from Edward R. Murrow’s radio broadcast of the liberation of Buchenwald in 1945.

There surged around me an evil-smelling stink, men and boys reached out to touch me. They were in rags and the remnants of uniforms. Death already had marked many of them, but they were smiling with their eyes. I looked out over the mass of men to the green fields beyond, where well-fed Germans were ploughing….

Full transcript

Murrow tells the story, exactly as he sees it and he apologizes for nothing. He feels the public should know what happened in Buchenwald and the determination and disgust in his voice are very apparent. It is at times hard to listen to, it is perhaps more real, seems less fictitious, than reading a memoir and therefore does not allow the listener to become detached in any way.

The second account is a CBS News story from 2007 telling of when American and Iraqi soldiers found the suffering orphans.

It was a scene that shocked battle-hardened soldiers, captured in photographs obtained exclusively by CBS News.

On a daytime patrol in central Baghdad just over than a week ago, a U.S. military advisory team and Iraqi soldiers happened to look over a wall and found something horrific.


Horrific is not necessarily a fair and balanced word in the world of journalism, unless it is a direct quote, but I do not believe another word should have taken its place.

The two passages are very similar even though one is being reported on more than 60 years after the other. The language is very simple, plain, and precise. Although some of what is reported is opinion based, such as Murrow saying, “evil-smelling stink” or the CBS News using the word “horrific” but in such circumstances I think it is ok to voice opinions in order to better communicate the story to the reader or listener.

Elie Wiesel was quite like a reporter, despite the fact he was looking back on the events that had happened, he gave the accounts of what occurred, with little to no commentary. He simply told his story, as biased as he should have been he did not dwell on the evilness of the people or the place he was confined by, nor did he tell his story in a way that made him seem better or more deserving of survival than any other prisoner.

Even though his story is told in first person, it is a story just like the two stories cited above. Each reporter has his or her own perspective and therefore inserts themselves into their stories whether they want to or not.

Murrow ends his broadcast with these words:

I pray you to believe what I have said about Buchenwald. I reported what I saw and heard, but only part of it. For most of it, I have no words.

If I have offended you by this rather mild account of Buchenwald, I’m not in the least sorry….

I believe these words can also describe Elie Wiesel’s work. He makes no apologies for what happened to him nor does he apologize for needing to tell his story.

What makes all three of these stories compelling, heart wrenching and dramatic is their sincerity and no one should make apologies for that.

Each day that moves us into the future removes us even farther from the past. The connections that this world has with the world of WWII become fewer and further between and the real people in memoirs or documentaries become more like characters of fiction.


It is hard to imagine that anyone who lived during or through the Holocaust is still around today. It is even tougher to imagine that anyone who served on the side of the Nazis was able to continue enjoying their lives and their freedoms for more than 60 years after the war ended.

It does happen, however. People slip through the cracks and are allowed to go on, living seemingly normal lives. One of them happened to turn up in Ohio. An Associated Press Article tells of the man, John Demjanjuk, and the charges he is facing.

German prosecutors said Wednesday they have charged retired Ohio auto worker John Demjanjuk with more than 29,000 counts of accessory to murder for his time as a guard at the Nazis’ Sobibor death camp, and will seek his extradition from the U.S.

Demjanjuk is accused of participating in the murders while he was a guard at the Nazi camp in occupied Poland between March and September 1943.

“In this capacity, he participated in the accessory to murder of at least 29,000 people of the Jewish faith,” Munich prosecutors said in a statement.

Read the full article here: Former Nazi camp guard charged 29,000 times

I cannot even fathom one of Elie Wiesel’s or Vladek Spiegelman’s camp guards being around today, unscathed and free, despite the crimes they committed during WWII. These people, as real as they were and are, are about as tangible for me as the monster under the bed.

How could this be? There cannot be living WWII Nazis, not today, not in the 21st century…

Just as Elie Wiesel could not believe the crimes committed by the Nazis were even occurring during the 20th century.

…I could not believe that human beings were being burned in our times; the world would

never tolerate such crimes…(Wiesel 33)

There are those who are proving they will leave no stone unturned in the search for all of those involved in the Holocaust.

Efraim Zuroff, the top Nazi hunter at Israel’s Simon Wiesenthal Center, said he was “very pleased that the German authorities have taken this step.”

“We hope that the process can be expedited to ensure that this Holocaust perpetrator will finally be appropriately punished,” Zuroff told the AP in a telephone interview from Jerusalem. “We’re on our way to a victory for justice today.”

If this man is guilty and did in fact serve as a Nazi prison guard, has he felt any guilt or remorse for the crimes he committed against the Jewish people and against humanity in general? I know human beings will do almost anything to protect themselves from punishment, whether they deserve it or not, but isn’t there a point when the guilt becomes unbearable?

I cannot even imagine being responsible, fully or partially, in ending a person’s life, let alone ending the lives of 29,000 innocent people.

This man is at least well into his seventies and in my opinion, has already gotten away with his crimes. He emigrated to the U.S. in the 50’s and led a normal life, raising a family and working at an auto company. He (as far as I am aware) was not forced to abandon everything he knew and loved because of his race or religion. Even if he were sent to prison for the rest of his life, justice will not have been served.

In the preface to Elie Wiesel’s novel “Night” he talks about the need to invent a new language.

It became clear that it would be necessary to invent a new language. But how was one to rehabilitate and transform words betrayed and perverted by the enemy? Hunger—thirst—fear—transport—selection—fire—chimney; these words all have intrinsic meaning, but in those times, they meant something else (Wiesel ix).

This talk of perverting language immediately made me think of an article I read a few months ago. An article that made me ask the question, what’s in a name?

Well, I guess it depends on the name, right?

Read it here: Happy birthday, Adolf Hitler! Boy with nazi leader’s name denied ShopRite cake

Adolf has two sisters, JoyceLynn Aryan Nation and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie. The latter, just eight months old, was named for Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler.

The article also says the father denies the holocaust even occurred and has his home decorated with swastikas. Really? A man who gave his children Nazi themed names denies the holocaust. Who would’ve thought? I bet he thinks the south won the Civil War, too.

They’re just names, you know, father Heath Campbell told the Easton Express-Times. Yeah, they (the Nazis) were bad people back then. But my kids are little. They’re not going to grow up like that.

If they are just names, as the father says, then why do they conjure images of gas chambers, emaciated faces and one of the worst instances of racism the world has known? (At least in my mind and I am sure in many others as well.)

The parents could have easily picked other names for their three children but it is obvious they intentionally chose these names. The fact that they were denied a cake with “Happy Birthday Adolf Hitler” on it serves them right; they need to know, at least in some way, that naming their son Adolf Hitler was wrong and offensive in so many different ways.

The parents insist they are not racist, although they don’t believe in mingling the races. And Heath Campbell claims he doesn’t understand why people are shocked when they hear his son’s full name. Someone give him a history book.

These parents have not only used these perverted names to idolize monsters of the past, they have also done a great disservice to their children. Any person capable of retaining an ounce of historical information knows what the name Hitler represents. A person with only a slightly greater knowledge of WWII would probably know what the other names symbolize and, surely, these children will have biases against them and against their parents (who are at least more deserving of them than their children) upon the learning of their names.

The names are not funny or ironic; they are living, breathing tributes to a horrific event in humankind’s history.

*On a side note, the three children were removed from their parents custody in February. No details have been released as to why the children have been put into state custody. Read about it here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYVn0hzcSs0

This is a link to the actual broadcast that aired when Buchenwald, the concentration camp Elie Wiesel was in, was liberated by American troops. Watching the video is not necessary, just as Murrow’s words were not originally accompanied by any pictures.

Reading the poems of WWI I couldn’t help but be reminded of a Bob Dylan song I had heard a few times. I thought I’d post it here for anyone who is interested.

Masters of War- Bob Dylan

Come you masters of war
You that build the big guns
You that build the death planes
You that build all the bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks

You that never done nothin’
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it’s your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain

You fasten all the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
While the death count gets higher
Then you hide in your mansion
While the young people’s blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud

You’ve thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain’t worth the blood
That runs in your veins

How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I’m young
You might say I’m unlearned
But there’s one thing I know
Though I’m younger than you
Even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul

And I hope that you die
And your death’ll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I’ll watch while you’re lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I’ll stand o’er your grave
‘Til I’m sure that you’re dead

-Bob Dylan