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April 10, 2005

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One of my irrational fears when I was a child - I've always been a writer - was losing my right hand. Since I learned to type, that fear has gone away - I can type using only my left hand, though I'm slower. One of the ways I made it go away when I was a child was by practicing writing with my left hand, though I'm pretty much definitely a right-hander. To this day, I can write slowly, clumsily - very much as I used to write back when I was learning how - with my left hand. (I am told that if I ever did lose my right hand, a few weeks of really committed practice would probably let me write as fluently with my left as I do now with my right.)

Today I learned my uncle, who is diabetic, has had to have his foot amputated, and I was trying to comfort my mother with "they have very good artificial feet these days".

It is such a permanent, awful thing, to lose a limb - especially a right hand and arm. Worse to lose your life, to lose your sight, to lose your face. Worst yet to know that the war for which you lost part of yourself was pointless: at least the dead don't know it.

I think Neil Young was wrong...anger can break your heart as well.

I think so too.

Today I learned my uncle, who is diabetic, has had to have his foot amputated, and I was trying to comfort my mother with "they have very good artificial feet these days".

Shit Jes, I'm sorry. Lousy timing, this post.

The technology is amazing, it's true, but as you note, if the loss affects something you're truly good at or truly love, like writing or basketball, the technology can't make up for it.

Lousy timing, this post.

Ah, no. I mean, I don't think there's ever a good time for this, but that means there's never really a bad time. My uncle neglected a blood infection for a week or two (he thought he had the flu) and by the time he went to hospital, it was too late to save his foot. And part of me wants to yell "You should have known better!" but of course I'm not going to. He was an energetic walker, and I'm hoping that an artificial foot will let him get back to that, without too much discomfort.

That picture is very, very compelling. It's the expression on her face - she defies you to pity her.

What bothers me more than anything else is the youth of those who have permanent injuries and will have to spend the majority of their lives dealing with this.

It makes me even angrier when I see the likes of Chalabi and Perle with their bodies intact . . .

"Anger can break your heart too" Yes.
My cousin came back from Viet Nam and for nearly twenty years refused to speak to his father.
One evening, I suppose about this time last year, I was at a Clark for President meetup and a man about my age stood up to speak. He got as far as saying he was a Viet Nam vet when he couldn't speak any more and he had to leave the room.
When I think about that horrible sneering immature fake we have for a President and the liars who slandered real vets like Kerry and the men and women dying for...what's the latest reason for this war? Well I just can't go there. Rage isn't a strong enough word.
My dad was a WW2 vet. He enlisted at seventeen in the lst year of the war and served in the Philipines. I had always thought his war experience was pretty lightweight, even humerous because that's the way he spoke of it until recently. Last week, after reading about the the abuse of Iraqis and Afgans by American soldiers, my dad starting talking about his experiences with Japanese and Filipino prisoners of war. He saw prisoners get bullied to death for no reason at all by officers. He and his platoon or whatever marched a group of prisoners from one place to another and didn't think of giving them water. It wasn't deliberate meanness. It was unthinking prejudice, lack of empathy. The soldiers just didn't think about the prisoners being thristy until they started to drop from heat stroke. My dad was a medic which he says meant he dug the holes when people died. He dug a lot of holes for half-starved, sick, exhausted Filipinos who probably didn't care who won or lost the war.
I'm not sure what my point is with this. My dad says that looking back he wishes he had stuck up more for the prisoners but it was inconceivable at the time. He was young and fresh off the boat. Now he feels guilt and sadness.
I think we need to get ready for the eomtionally as well as physically wounded to come back form tis war.

A simple few questions,

For every American who has been crippled how many Iraqis have been crippled?

How many of those are without access to the fine prostetic that the Americans will have?

And for those who thought this war was a good idea or voted for the lying sack of Sh*t residing in the WH, when are you enlisting?

If you were a more thoughtful person, you'd realize that those who made the decision are human beings as well and that they feel the same way about these tragedies.

Yet it is they who, when confronted with the need to balance the certainty of some suffering against the possibility of greater suffering had to make a decision in the presence of conflicting advice and incomplete information.

If you were a more thoughtful person, you'd feel some pity for those people too.

Actually I don't think there is much regard for the dead and wounded by the Bush Administration. Of course I can't read anyoe's mind, but I can view their actions. Those actions include slandering Kerry, mocking all vets with pink bandaids at their convention, cutting funding for vet med centers and attempting to surpress photos of flag-draped coffins.

And of course, failing to present to the citizens, the military, or Congress an honset stement of the goals and purposes of the war.

The overgrown child who said we had to go to war pumped his fists in joy at the prospect, mocked the search for WMDs, and told the insurgents to "Bring it on!"

Pity him?

When Hell holds Mass.

"Anger can break your heart too" Yes.

There is something about anger not breaking your heart but rather making it cold and hard and impenetrable. John Wesley has a sermon where he talks about the adamantine heart being softened, melted, pierced and broken only by Love. I'm sure we've all seen that anger that fails to allow any tolerance for the idea that somehow, the other party might have a reason for acting the way they do, or for doing the things they do, which I guess ties into the explaining/demonizing thread.

lily's mention of her father is quite interesting to me. I've met some people who were mad at me for being an American, but many of the Japanese veterans that I've met (not a lot, I'd say around 40 or 50) may have been treated the way that lily related, but weren't bitter, which always surprised me. However, they went into the war with no expectations of being treated well by Americans, and I think that this prevented a great deal of resentment (I recommend Dower's _A war without mercy_ to see how ferocious the fighting was) On the other hand, in Iraq, I feel that they must see the distance between are protestations of good will and our actual behavior, which really frightens me.

I never understood those who get all choked up about something like this. Go to your nearest factory, see what you see. Somehow those deformities seem to have a lesser value on the tearjerker scale. It's all bad.

If you were a more thoughtful person, you'd realize that those who made the decision are human beings as well and that they feel the same way about these tragedies.

I categorically reject this. If they felt the same way, they would not have trumped up the evidence to get the war they wanted.

Sorry, but that's the essence of the difference.

I never understood those who get all choked up about something like this. Go to your nearest factory, see what you see. Somehow those deformities seem to have a lesser value on the tearjerker scale. It's all bad.

There's a difference of scale and personal responsibility.

By sending OUR troops into battle, WE as a nation say the goal is worth the risk.

A factory, on the other hand is nowhere near the same. I can argue to individuals that they shouldn't risk their health by taking X or Y job, but that's a decision that transcends my personal responbitiliy. A stunt man or window washer or liontamer or firefighter may decide for themselves that the risk is acceptable.

Our armed forces, on the other hand, are our collective responsibility.

I think the difference between a war wound and a factory accident is that the war wound happens under circumstances which are supposed to be noble but often arent't, whereas the factory accident is tragic but part of ordinary life.
There is a whole mystic about military sevice, perhaps dating back to WW2 or WW1, about noble glorious service to country etc. I'm sorry if I sound sarcstic. I actually do feel the sacrifices made in WW2 were worthy of every ounce of respect and gratitude that I can give. However, since then the service people themselves have been betrayed by politicians who sent them into wars that did not need to be fought. The sacrifices then aren't so much noble as wasteful and tragic. It's the painful difference between truth and lie that makes a war injury diffent than a factory injury.

I never understood those who get all choked up about something like this. Go to your nearest factory, see what you see. Somehow those deformities seem to have a lesser value on the tearjerker scale. It's all bad.

And if those factories were unionized, the workers would probably have a say about their working conditions and many of those wounds would not occur.

But on the other hand Business probably would not be quite as profitable and the contributions to the Republican Party would not be quite as large!

By sending OUR troops into battle, WE as a nation say the goal is worth the risk.

Don't see the difference. We send our kids to work in the factories. Saw it. Saw the fingers cut off, that wasn't worth the risk?

Why did it happen?

Wonderful post about your father, Lily. It's actually quite enlightening.

And I really like your sensibilities, Edward. I'll come back more often.

That poor lady with the missing arm *volunteered* for the US armed forces - a force that has killed tens of thousands of Iraqis who decidedly did *not* volunteer. And if a maimed volunteer soldier is a tragedy, which it is, what do we call the death of an Iraqi child?

But we don't see pictures of mutilated children - the mainstream media won't run them as "they're in bad taste" (you have to go to al Jazeera). Whereas it's the *existence* of those bodies, not the pictures, that's in bad taste.

"Must some Christ die in every generation to save those that have no imagination?" - Saint Joan

And if a maimed volunteer soldier is a tragedy, which it is, what do we call the death of an Iraqi child?

Depends. If you're pro-war, you call the hundred thousand and more Iraqi deaths, and however many maimings, "collateral damage", and that makes it okay: that's the price Iraqis have to pay, and it's acceptable to pro-war Americans.

If you're not pro-war, you call it a horror.

However, acknowledging the tragedy of young healthy people who lose a limb or die in Iraq because they chose the US army does not take away from the horrors of the Iraqi dead and maimed. We can acknowledge both as tragedy and horror.

Unlike the pro-war crowd, we can blame the Bush administration, who do not wish to publicly acknowledge the US war dead; who do not wish even to count the Iraqi war dead. Who mock wounded veterans, and cut their benefits: who failed to prevent Iraqi hospitals being looted in the first days of the occupation: who have failed in the reconstruction because they saw it as a means for profit.

"Perhaps there, in human form, is the evidence of our collective failure." Yes.

As a side note, the idea of saying someone should be more or less affected by one tragedy over another always to me smacks faintly of women sitting around comparing the length, duration, and relative pain involved in giving birth. It loses something in the translation and usually deteriorates into an absurd competition.

Blake's "On Another's Sorrow" comes to mind here, but as it is not a poetry thread I'll spare everyone the quote.


Don't see the difference. We send our kids to work in the factories. Saw it. Saw the fingers cut off, that wasn't worth the risk?

Why did it happen?

I don't think it was designed to happen, the way weapons are designed to kill and maim.

Edward: I don't think it was designed to happen, the way weapons are designed to kill and maim.

Depends on the factory. Some employers literally and simply factor into the costs a certain number of employees who will be maimed, and decide that's acceptable "collateral damage".

even if that's the case, Jes, there's a difference in intent, no?

Edward: even if that's the case, Jes, there's a difference in intent, no?

The factory owners intend to make a profit, and do not care about the maimed or killed factory workers, so long as they don't interfere with the profit on their business venture.

No, I can see no resemblance at all to that and the Bush administration's take on the Iraq war.

to be more specific...a grenade is designed to blow arms and legs off, no part of a factory is designed to do that. Choosing to work in a factory that's potentially dangerous (something my father did for 35 years, so I know something about it), is not the same as choosing to send our troops into battle against an enemy armed with items that are designed to kill or maim them.

I think this parallel is too much of a stretch.

I think that this woman is a hero, as are so many of those who serve and have served in the armed forces. They have served our country, and also they have served those in the middle east who want freedom. Read Alaa (The Messopotmian). I don't see Iraq the Model on the blogroll, but you can find it if you look around. Read "The Eid of Liberty" by Mohammed.

This is from Husayn of democracyiniraq.blogspot.com :

democracyiniraq.blogspot.com

2 Years

It has been now two years since the United States, UK and other countries invaded our nation. It has been two years since Iraqis have had to live with daily violent attacks and rampant terrorism. It has been two years since our nation began being turned upside down. It has been two years since the road to democracy began.

It has been a very hard two years. So many people have died, so much has been destroyed, so many drops of tears and blood have been shed, so many have been robbed of loved ones, and so many words have been spoken about Iraq, it's future, and this war.

Two years...seems like yesterday that I was awoken by bombs going off in Baghdad, and the realisation that my life and that of my country was going to change. That very day I remember being scared that my house might be destroyed by a bomb, or that my relatives who were forcibly put into the Iraqi army might be killed.

Two years since Saddam came on TV, and pledged that Iraq would never fall. Little did he know, he surrendered like a rat in a whole only months later. Two years since my father had a heart.

Two years is about 730 days. In those days what have I seen. My eyes have seen more than I had ever hoped, more blood, more death and more pain, then I ever imagined or hoped I would have seen.

In those days I have seen the worst of humanity, the animal that lives in all humanity, the ability of humanity to destroy at will others, and rob the life given to others by God almight himself.

So you ask me, Husayn, was it worth it. What have you gotten? What has Iraq acheived? These are questions I get a lot.

To may outsiders, like those who protested last year, who will protest today. This was a fools errand, it brought nothing but death and destruction. I am sheltered in Iraq, but I know how the world feels, how people have come to either love or hate Bush, as though heis the emobdiement of this war. As though this war is part of Bush, they forget the over twenty million Iraqis, they forget the Middle Easterners, they forget the average person on the street, the average man with the average dream.

Ask him if it was worth it. Ask him what is different. Ask him if he would go through it again, go ahead ask him, ask me, many of you have.

Now I answer you, I answer you on behalf of myself, and my countrymen. I dont care what your news tells you, what your television and newspapers say, this is how we feel. Despite all that has happened. Despite all the hurt, the pain, blood, sweat and tears. These two years have given us hope we never had.

Before March 20, 2003, we were in a dungeon. We did not see the light. Saddam Hussain was crushing Iraq's spirit slowly, we longed for his end, but knew we could not challenge him, or his diabolical seed who would no doubt follow him and continue his generation of hell on Earth.

Since then, we now have hope. Hope is not a tangible thing, but it is something, it is more than being blinded by darkness, by being stuck in a mental pit without any future.

Hope has been the greatest product of the last two years. No doubt, many have died, many have died by accident or due to crimes. But their sacrifices are not, and will not be for nothing. I refuse to let it be, and my countrymen stand with me.

Our cities are smoking, our graveyards full, and terrorists in our midst. But we are not defeated. We are not down, we are not regretful. We are not going to surrender. For all that the two years have brought, the greatest thign they have given us is a future, and a view of the finish line.

Iraqis see the finish line, the finish line of freedom and democracy and a functioning nation. We can smell it, taste it, and like a sprinter, one who has broken his legs, but who has a heart full of passion, we will crawl there no matter what the cost. No matter what we must endure, we have realized what we can become, and that is the biggest result of the last two years.

Noone can take that from us. Not the terrorists, not those who want to question the good of the removal of Saddam, not those who want to reduce our glory for politics, none.

We have been brought from darkness to light. And not only has the future been made better for Iraq, but the martyrs of our nation, their blood is watering the roots of democracy across the world. We are watching our neighbors come closer to the light, and this only pushes us more, and makes us stronger in our burning desire to reach the finish line, to realize the dream that our people have had for so long.

No, we will not give up, and we will not say that the last two years were a waste. They for all their trouble have been momentus. They for us, have been a turning point in history. Whether or not you agree, this is how it looks from Iraq.

Edward: a grenade is designed to blow arms and legs off, no part of a factory is designed to do that.

Supporters of the "collateral damage" escape route will argue that even when the US military drops cluster bombs on urban areas, they're not doing so to kill civilians, so even though the cluster bombs inevitably kill and main civilians, the US military isn't targetting them, because the intent is different. And I don't think you can allow that escape route. The US military knows that cluster bombs are civilian-killing weapons - they weren't used in the Balkans for exactly that reason. They were used in Afghanistan and in Iraq, with the predictable effect of civilians, especially children, maimed and killed.

A factory owner who knows that the workings of the factory are such that (inevitably) a certain number of workers will be killed or maimed each year, and who does not then take steps to avoid or minimise the damage or even support the workers maimed/the worker's families bereft, is intending to kill/maim for profit.

How much choice do people really have about where they work? Sometimes a dangerous workplace is literally "the only game in town" - the choice is between risking death/injury or unemployment - or, if you're young enough, joining the military.

I'm partly arguing devil's advocate. I do see a difference, but I don't think there's that much of a difference.

DaveC, I appreciate the point of view you are offering. I read Iraqi blogs regularly and I know there are Iraqis out there who are grateful for the war.
However i also believe that any politician who prposes a war must bve totally honest with the citixens and soldiers about the purpose of the war. Bush was not. I cannot respect a politician who advocte a war based on misinformation while keeping his real agenda to himself.
Als, while there are Iraqis that are glad to be rid of Saddam, that doesn't justify the war. After all there are Burmese who would be glad to be rid of their dictator and I see zero interest in invading Myanmar. Sudan is a hell hole but Bush isn't planning an intervention there. We didn't invade because Saddam was evil. His evilness made the invasion easier to justify but was not the reason. Our government has frequently supported eveil governments when convenient and destroyed good ones, too. It is very naive to see us as Spiderman saving the innocents. We invaded Iraq for reasons not at all related to Saddam's eveil nature.
I don't think the "all's well that ends well' point of view applies here. I am glad that the Iraqis seem to be getting a government together, but that isn't why we invaded and it doesn't jsutify the suffering. I don't think it is moral to fight optional wars.

It would in many ways be a more productive as well as a kinder world if people would spend less time on "no, you are wrong to care about this sorrow because of that one" and more on "yes, you are right to care about this sorrow; at another time we'll also speak of that one". The former smacks of a moral oneupmanship that doesn't have to be alienating, affected, or condescending, but too often is; the latter doesn't actually have to be inclusive or engaging, but it has a lot more room to be. In the world as I live in it, there's so much neglected sorrow that attention to any genuine need is welcome, and a bridge.

ITA with Bruce Baugh.

The quality of mercy is not strained
It droppeth as the gentle dew from heaven ...

...so even though the cluster bombs inevitably kill and main civilians, the US military isn't targetting them, because the intent is different

Culture Of Life! Err on the side of Life! Life!

err... sorry. got carried away.

I must say, Lily is to be congratulated on producing a spectacular number of falsehoods.

1: No, the administration did not slander Kerry.

The swiftvets acted independently and were motivated by animus towards Kerry's post-service actions and not by orders from the administration.

It was not "slander". None of their claims have been disproven, many have been substantiated. Kerry's continuing refusal to release his military records and memoirs tells us what?

2: Those purple heart bandaids were not "mocking all vets". They were mocking Kerry specifically. You know this, so don't play games.

3: The administration has not "cutting funding for vet med centers". They have increased VA funding at a higher rate than the Clinton admin did. See http://www.factcheck.org/article144.html

4: The administration did not "attempt to supress photos of flag-draped coffins". They simply refused to revert the Clinton policy of barring cameramen from Dover. That policy was put in place at the request of servicemen's families.

5: "failing to present to the citizens, the military, or Congress an honset stement of the goals and purposes of the war."

Well, that's your interpretation. Multiple commissions and enquiries and press articles have proven you wrong.

am
Interesting beliefs (I hesitate to call them 'falsehoods' as that seems to be class to a violation of posting rules), but giving only one url as a cite is rather weak. Plus the fact that your factcheck cite is about something Kerry said. I believe that the cutting of vet med centers that lily refers to are the cuts made in the 2004 White House budget. This link is relatively non-partisan (I think), and details some of the numbers.

am:
The swiftvets acted independently and were motivated by animus towards Kerry's post-service actions and not by orders from the administration.

So it's claimed. The "animus towards Kerry's post-service actions" may well be true: we've seen in more recent days how much people like Joseph Derby are hated for speaking up against their comrades. The net of connections between the remarkably well-funded Swift Boat Veterans campaign and the Bush-Cheney campaign, however, suggests strongly that whoever first got the idea of slandering Kerry, the Bush-Cheney campaign saw the SBV as a highly-useful resource.

It was not "slander". None of their claims have been disproven, many have been substantiated.

I guess it shows what the power of faith - or the power of the Big Lie - wil do that you still believe,

even after all the substantiated evidence otherwise, that the "Swift Boat Veterans" weren't lying.

Kerry's continuing refusal to release his military records and memoirs tells us what?

He's released considerably more than George W. Bush ever did. But then, Kerry has nothing like going AWOL for two years on his record.

I was unsure whether to reply to this or not, but in fact, looking at the horrors of torture by the US military from Bagram Airbase to Guantanamo Bay, I do still feel considerable anger at those who claimed they were against torture, yet failed to vote for a Presidential candidate who had an actual track record of standing up and speaking out against atrocities committed by the US military. Granted this is never a single issue - but the fact that Kerry's track record speaking out against US military atrocities was used against him by the Bush-Cheney campaign, and that to many Bush supporters, this was an effective tactic, makes me shudder.

With rage, mostly.

Some employers literally and simply factor into the costs a certain number of employees who will be maimed, and decide that's acceptable "collateral damage".

The factory owners intend to make a profit, and do not care about the maimed or killed factory workers, so long as they don't interfere with the profit on their business venture.

A factory owner who knows that the workings of the factory are such that (inevitably) a certain number of workers will be killed or maimed each year, and who does not then take steps to avoid or minimise the damage or even support the workers maimed/the worker's families bereft, is intending to kill/maim for profit.

Boy, Jes, you sure seem to know a lot about greedy and callous factory owners - sounds like the worst forms of Manchester capitalism are happy and alive in the US today. Have you got any data, cites or whatever to support your claims?

"When I think about that horrible sneering immature fake we have for a President and the liars who slandered real vets"

When I think about my fellow Americans who hate their president so much and slander him relentlessly rage and embarrassment at their behavior flows through me.

Somedays I'm just ashamed of Americans like that.

smlook,

"When I think about my fellow Americans who hate their president so much and slander him relentlessly rage and embarrassment at their behavior flows through me.

Somedays I'm just ashamed of Americans like that."

Really? The Wall Street Journal's editorial page, The Washington Times, Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh shamed you throughout the Nineties? I'm glad to hear it.

they forget the Middle Easterners, they forget the average person on the street, the average man with the average dream.

Ask him if it was worth it. Ask him what is different. Ask him if he would go through it again, go ahead ask him, ask me, many of you have.

I can't read that without thinking what the average Iraqi woman would say, but I've been told you cannot find a lot of them on the streets these days so asking might be difficult.

Dan,

Let's see... correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Clinton admit that he lied directly to the American people.

smlook,

Correct me if I'm wrong, but how many millions were spent on investigating the Whitewater land transaction, Vincent Foster's suicide, Travelgate, Ron Brown's death, etc. at the behest of the people I cited, with no wrongdoing found.

or at least no wrongdoing found on the part of President Clinton with respect to Whitewater.

isn't the difference only that eventually Clinton admitted to his mistakes, whereas with Bush we're still waiting?

{ducking}

"isn't the difference only that eventually Clinton admitted to his mistakes, whereas with Bush we're still waiting?"

I know you're not serious, but to me the difference is that Clinton accepted that politics is a dirty game and groused fairly little about everything up to and including allegations he had two longstanding friends murdered. Bush's supporters seem to think setting forth well-documented facts makes one an irrational Bush-hater.

Sure smlook, all of the hatred and slandering of Clinton postdated the Lewinsky incident. Before that, conservatives were nothing but respectful and deferential towards the president. That's certainly the way I remember it, at least.

Smlook: correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Clinton admit that he lied directly to the American people.

...whereas when Bush lies directly to the American people, he doesn't own up to it, but tells further lies to cover himself.

And at least Clinton only lied about a blowjob. You could wish Bush's lies had been that harmless. (Actually, to be fair, I suppose Bush's lies about going AWOL from TANG were that harmless. Pity he didn't stop there.)

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