"Ain't Gonna Study War No More"

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Right-To-Life Party, Christian, Anti-War, Pro-Life, Bible Fundamentalist, Egalitarian, Libertarian Left

Friday, October 01, 2004

Global Warming Treaty Moves Forward

Dear Felix,

Breaking News! Global Warming Treaty Moves Forward; Congratulations on Your Work

(October 1, 2004) Congratulations for being part of the team that helped get the Kyoto treaty poised for ratification. Since 1997, Environmental Defense scientists, economists, members and activists have been working in Russia advocating the country to embrace the protocol. On Thursday, our work paid off when Russia announced it would submit the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change to its parliament (the State Duma) for ratification.

Why Is This Critical?
Though ratified by over 100 countries, Kyoto requires ratification by one more major country - like Russia - before it can take affect. Once Russia ratifies it, the Kyoto Protocol will go into force around the world, "creating," in the words of Environmental Defense President Fred Krupp said, the world's first global platform for addressing the dangers of global warming."

Where's the United States?
Unfortunately, while the rest of the world moves toward a cleaner energy future and a more stable climate, the United States has left itself out. The Bush Administration pulled out of the treaty three years ago.

Time to Celebrate and Get to Work:
While Environmental Defense is celebrating Russia's move, the Kyoto treaty still must be ratified by the Russian parliament; this is expected to happen soon. Environmental Defense's Climate and Air program director Peter Goldmark says, "It's not over until the fat lady sings, but it seems she is clearing her throat in anticipation." Annie Petsonk, Environmental Defense's international counsel and a leading climate negotiator, will continue to work for passage. Yesterday she hailed Russia's move indicating that it "sends a signal that the age of carbon limits has arrived."

What America Can Do:
The U.S. can still do its part to undo global warming. How? By passing the Climate Stewardship Act, a bipartisan bill in Congress that sets mandatory greenhouse gas pollution limits in the U.S. Senate sponsors John McCain (R-AZ) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT) are fighting to pass this bill in the Senate with growing momentum--and there are now 82 co-sponsors of the bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Climate Stewardship Act would put the U.S. on track to joining the world in decreasing the threat of global warming.

What You Can Do - Get Your Friends Involved:
You and nearly 350,000 people have signed the Emissions Petition supporting the Climate Stewardship Act. Thank you. With the Kyoto Protocol everywhere in the news this week, now is the time to ask your friends to sign the petition. Tell a friend! Petitions are delivered to President George W. Bush, Senator John Kerry and Congress, sending a clear message that Americans want action to undo global warming.

Thank Russia's President for Action:
Send a short, personal e-mail thanking Russian President Vladimir Putin for supporting the Kyoto treaty and moving the world forward in the fight to undo global warming. Take action!

Find Out More:
Visit undoit.org for more info on Russian ratification of the Kyoto Protocol.

Emissions Petition:
Over 340,000 and counting. Spread the word.

In the News:
See Environmental Defense quoted in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Washington Post.

Global Warming: Undo It! - Visit us online.

Kerry and Bush Are Both Wrong

Iraqi Troops and Police Will Never Be Loyal to Allawi or the U.S.

We have heard a great deal about Iraqi troops taking over for American troops. In fact, with all the American killing in Fallujah, Baghdad, Samarra and Ramadi, don’t expect any Iraqi to be loyal to America or its puppet, Iyad Allawi. Bush and Kerry both don’t understand the Iraqi mind or culture. The men the U.S. trains will never be loyal to the U.S. or to Allawi or other puppets the U.S. may put in Iraq.

Iraqis will not kill their cousins. They will turn their training on the Americans, not use it against other Iraqis. This is why some of the Americans realized this and turned away, as of today, almost 40% of the 100,000 or so Iraqis they were training. It became apparent the Iraqis did not agree with U.S. policy or the brutality that Allawi is fostering during his dictatorial regime.

The talk Bush and Kerry make about Iraqis doing the dirty work of the American troops so the Americans can go home and let the Iraqis kill each other is out and out ignorance on the part of the Americans. Why is it that they can’t take the time to understand the culture of Iraq? The ethnocentrism of our leadership, from both sides of the aisle, is appalling but no clearer than with their plans to use Iraqis to do their dirty work, that is to keep the populace under control while America siphons off the booty from the Bush invasion.

Recently we spoke with a major officer from the marine base at Camp Pendleton. He said the American troops had absolutely no cultural training before going into Iraq. He felt short-changed on understanding what he and his men were getting into in Iraq.

We also know that passing out candy to the kids and playing soccer with them is not going to go that far; this is photo op material, not real diplomacy or friendship development. We condemn the carnage of yesterday, but we would like to know who sent the children out to be with the American troops. Iraqi parents never let their children go by the American troops. Word on the street is that a teacher was ordered to bring the students out to get candy; he was ordered by Allawi’s office. The teacher was told, either bring the children out for photos and candy or lose your job. Thus, the teacher was strong-armed by Allawi’s office; this is what put the children in harm’s way.

Today we hear about “American and Iraqi troops” attacking Samarra. When speaking with people in Samarra, it is clear this is an American operation with F 16s, Apaches and other tank and weapons support, with a few Iraqis close by to make it look like a joint operation. American troops have killed many Iraqis in Samarra; Bush has made more enemies for America. The people of Samarra will not forget this, nor will the rest of Iraq.

Somehow it is odd that the American media don’t understand that you can’t make friends or quell unrest by bombing people, especially civilians; you only create more enemies.

Somehow, there is a disconnect between Bush and reality, but also the major American media has this same disconnect. Of course, the U.S. media may have the same attitude toward the Iraqis that U.S. commanders had when they came into Iraq, that the people were less human than the Americans, they were “ragheads,”, they were “the enemy,” and were categorized negatively in every communiqué. The U.S. media treats Iraqi deaths the same way, not that important—just a note or comment in passing.

That’s not how we or the rest of the Arab and Muslim worlds, Kofi Annan of the UN and many in the EU see the people of Iraq.

Somehow, President Bush is so ignorant that he believes his own lies; he repeats them often enough, as does Wolfowitz, Cheney and Rumsfeld. Iraq is not better off today; Iraq is more unstable than ever, the Americans are hated more than ever and they will continue to be hated in Iraq and in other parts of the Arab and Muslim worlds for their Israeli-type behavior in Iraq. Every Arab and every Muslim in the world sees parallels between the brutality Israel is using in killing innocent Palestinian civilians and the destruction of their homes and the American behavior in Iraq. The anger toward both Israel and the U.S. will not die away; it will be kept in the hearts of Arabs and Muslims for decades and more to come.

Clearly, President Bush has not made America safer through his invasion and behavior in Iraq, nor by his total support of Sharon in Israel. But both Bush and Kerry are in for a terrible surprise when they finally realize the Iraqis will not be their slaves or Vichy warriors for America or any puppet regime America puts into place.

Unfortunately, the peace-loving people of the Middle East and of America will pay the price for this immoral and dangerously brutal behavior by the Bush team.

Ahmed Ali is a correspondent for todaysalternativenews.com in Iraq; Sam Hamod is the editor of www.todaysalternativenews.com. Both are experts in Middle Eastern and Islamic politics and culture. They may be reached through Dr. Hamod at shamod@cox.net .

Betrayed by Bush

There is no conservative party in Washington. Instead there is a Republican party of big business, big government and big war Washington, DC

Not even the British empire at its zenith dominated the world in the way the United States does today. US forces are deployed in lands the soldiers of Victoria never saw. Our warships make port calls on all continents. Our military technology is generations ahead of any other nation’s. Our GDP is 30 per cent of the global economy. Brand names like Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Levi’s are household words from Kathmandu to Kurdistan. The music the young listen to around the world is American or an imitation thereof. Americans annually claim the lion’s share of the Nobel prizes in science, medicine and economics. Hollywood films are the world’s most watched. The dollar is the world’s reserve currency. The International Monetary Fund that keeps scores of nations from bankruptcy has its headquarters in Washington. The American language, English, is the lingua franca of the Internet and the international elite. By almost any measure — military and economic power, technology, standard of living, cultural dominance, social and political freedom — America is the gold standard, the ‘hyperpower’ of the Quai d’Orsay’s resentment.

Yet all republics, all empires, all civilisations pass away. For the United States the invasion of Iraq and the war to impose democracy upon that Arab and Islamic nation may yet prove a textbook example of the imperial overstretch that brought down so many empires of the past. Fallujah, where US marines were withdrawn before completing their mission to eradicate the guerrillas and terrorists who had murdered four Americans and desecrated their bodies, may prove the high tide of an American empire that has begun its long retreat.

If we were to name one cause of the fall of Britain, it would be war. The Boer war was Britain’s Vietnam. With it came a loss of faith in the superiority of British civilisation and the spread of the heretical idea that a British empire that denied self-determination to peoples of colour was no longer morally defensible. Then, for ten years between 1914 and 1918 and 1939 and 1945, Britain was locked in mortal battle with the mightiest land power in Europe. Britain alone fought both world wars from the first day to the last.

In the first world war, 720,000 Britons died, in the second another 400,000. America, however, stayed out of the world wars longer than any other power and thus suffered fewer losses. Not until four years after the British, French, Germans and Russians had started slaughtering one another at a rate of 6,000 a day did the doughboys arrive to turn the tide on the Western Front, only six months before the Armistice. Not until four years after Hitler overran France did the Higgins boats appear off Normandy, just 11 months before VE Day. In both world wars, we played Fortinbras in Hamlet, coming upon the carnage in the final scene in the bloodstained throne-room to take charge of affairs.

During the Cold War, America avoided a war with a Soviet Union that could have wreaked far greater havoc on us than was visited on Britain in two world wars. We are the last superpower because we stayed out of the great wars of the 20th century longer than any of the other powers, and we suffered and lost less than any of them. Since the end of the Cold War, however, all the blunders of Britain’s ruling class in its march to folly have been replicated by our elites, from the arrogance of power to the alienation of allies to the waging of imperial wars where no vital US interests were at risk.

Spurning the counsel of John Quincy Adams, America now goes abroad in search of monsters to destroy. We have treaty guarantees with 50 nations on five continents and troops in 100 countries. Some 150,000 US soldiers are tied down in seemingly endless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Should the United States confront another crisis anywhere on earth, the bankruptcy of our foreign policy would be transparent to the world.

President Bush has declared it to be US policy to launch pre-emptive war on any rogue regime that seeks weapons of mass destruction, a policy today being defied by North Korea and Iran, both of which have programmes to produce nuclear weapons. The President has also declared it to be US policy to go to war to prevent any other nation from acquiring the power to challenge US hegemony in any region of the world. It is called the ‘Bush Doctrine’. It is a prescription for permanent war for permanent peace, though wars are the death of republics.

In 2003, the United States invaded a country that did not threaten us, had not attacked us and did not want war with us, to disarm it of weapons we have since discovered it did not have. His war cabinet assured President Bush that weapons of mass destruction would be found, that US forces would be welcomed with garlands of flowers, that democracy would flourish in Iraq and spread across the Middle East, that our triumph would convince Israelis and Palestinians to sit down and make peace.

None of this happened. Those of us who were called unpatriotic for opposing an invasion of Iraq and who warned we would inherit our own Lebanon of 25 million Iraqis were proved right. Now our nation is tied down and our army is being daily bled in a war to create a democracy in a country where it has never before existed.

With the guerrilla war, US prestige has plummeted. The hatred of President Bush is pandemic from Marrakesh to Mosul. Volunteers to fight the Americans have been trickling into Iraq from Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran. In the spring of this year revelations of the sadistic abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison sent US prestige sinking to its lowest levels ever in the Arab world. We may have ignited the war of civilisations that it was in our vital interest to avoid. Never has America been more resented and reviled in an Islamic world of one billion people.

At home, the budget surpluses of the 1990s have vanished as the cost of the Afghan and Iraq wars has soared beyond the projections of the most pessimistic of the President’s economic advisers. The US budget deficit is above 4 per cent of GDP. With a trade deficit in goods nearing 6 per cent of GDP, the dollar has lost a third of its value against the euro in three years. One in six manufacturing jobs has disappeared since President Bush took the oath. By mid-2004, the President had failed to abolish a single significant agency, programme or department of a Leviathan government that consumes a fifth of our economy. Nor had he vetoed a single Bill.

America’s native-born population has ceased to grow. Its birth rate has fallen below replacement levels. US population growth now comes from immigrants, legal and illegal, from Asia, Africa and Latin America. The religious, ethnic and racial composition of the country, a child of Europe, is changing more rapidly than that of any other great nation in history in an era when race, religion and ethnicity are tearing countries apart. The melting pot no longer works its magic. Newcomers are not assimilating. We are becoming what Theodore Roosevelt warned against our ever becoming — ‘a polyglot boardinghouse for the world’.

US primary and secondary education is a disaster area. Test scores have been falling for decades and are below those of almost every other developed nation. In our universities, ignorance of American history has reached scandalous proportions, and rising percentages of students in the hard sciences come from foreign lands.

The Republican party, which had presided over America’s rise to manufacturing pre-eminence, has acquiesced in the deindustrialisation of the nation to gratify transnational corporations whose oligarchs are the party’s financiers. US corporations are shutting factories here, opening them in China, ‘outsourcing’ back-office work to India, importing Asians to take white-collar jobs from Americans, and hiring illegal aliens for their service jobs. The Republican party has signed off on economic treason.

Then there are the ominous analogies to the Rome we read about in school: the decline of religion and morality, corruption of the commercial class, a debased and decadent culture. Many of America’s oldest churches are emptying. The Catholic Church, the nation’s largest, is riven with heresy, scandal, dissent and disbelief.

Historically, Republicans have been the party of the conservative virtues of balanced budgets, of a healthy scepticism towards foreign wars, of a commitment to traditional values and fierce resistance to the growth of government power and world empire. No more. There is no conservative party left in Washington. The GOP may be Reaganite in its tax policy, but it is Wilsonian in its foreign policy, FDR in its trade policy, and LBJ all the way in its spending policies. Pragmatism is the order of the day. The Republican philosophy might be summarised thus: ‘To hell with principle; what matters is power, and that we have it, and they do not.’

But principles do matter. For history teaches that if we indulge in the vices of republics and surrender to the temptation to buy votes with public money, to distract the populace with bread and circuses, to conduct imperial wars, we will destroy the last best hope of earth. And just as there came a day of reckoning for Lyndon Johnson, who delivered guns and butter in wartime, so, too, are the chickens coming home to roost for George W. Bush.

From the book Where the Right Went Wrong by Patrick J. Buchanan. Copyright © by the author. Reprinted by permission of St Martin’s Press, LLC.

© 2004 The Spectator.co.uk

Is Anyone Ever Truly Prepared to Kill?

One dark night in Iraq in February 1991, a U.S. Army tank unit opened fire on two trucks that barreled unexpectedly into its position along the Euphrates river. One was carrying fuel and burst into flames, and as men scattered from the burning trucks, the American soldiers shot them.
"To this day, I don't know if they were civilians or military - it was over in an instant," says Desert Storm veteran Charles Sheehan-Miles. But it wasn't over for him.

"For the first years after the Gulf War it was tough," says the decorated soldier. He had difficulty sleeping, and when he did, the nightmares came. "I was very angry and got drunk all the time; I considered suicide for awhile."

Like many young Americans sent off to war, he was highly skilled as a soldier but not adequately prepared for the realities of combat, particularly the experience of killing.

Much is rightly made of the dedication and sacrifice of those willing to lay down their lives for their country. But what is rarely spoken of, within the military or American society at large, is what it means to kill - to overcome the ingrained resistance most human beings feel to slaying one of their own kind, and the haunting sense of guilt that may accompany such an action. There is a terrible price to be paid by those who go to war, their families, and their communities, say some experts, by ignoring such realities.

"We never in our military manuals address the fact that they go forward to kill," says Lt. Col. David Grossman, a former Army Ranger. "When the reality hits them, it has a profound effect. We have to put mechanisms in place to help them deal with that.

"Every society has a blind spot, an area into which it has great difficulty looking," Colonel Grossman says. "Today that blind spot is killing."

It may seem strange that a central fact of war for millenniums should become an urgent concern now. But some close to the scene say modified warfare training that makes it easier to kill - and a US cultural response that tends to ignore how killing affects soldiers - have taken an unprecedented emotional and psychological toll. A lengthy conflict in Iraq, they worry, could increase that toll dramatically.

Society has a moral obligation, some argue, to better prepare those sent to war, to provide assistance in combat, and to help in the transition home.

"We have a profound responsibility because we send these people into combat on our behalf, to kill for us," says Shannon French, who teaches ethics at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

Postwar tragedy may have been averted, says Mr. Sheehan-Miles, if help had been available to his tank unit. "Within my own tank company, half of the married soldiers were divorced within a year after the Gulf War; one shot another over a girl," he says. "They didn't know how to get help, and the Army essentially did nothing."

Psychological injuries of war can't be tied solely to killing alone - seeing close comrades die and other horrors of war are also factors. But mental-health professionals and chaplains who've worked closely with veterans see killing as a significant contributor, along with other demoralizing elements of combat that soldiers experience or see as "a betrayal of what's right," says Veterans Affairs psychiatrist Jonathan Shay.

The devastating impact of war on soldiers was visible after World Wars I and II and the Korean War as well. But particularly evident today is the ongoing toll of the Vietnam War, whose vets are overrepresented in the homeless and prison populations. One-third are said to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

In July, the New England Journal of Medicine reported that 16 percent of veterans of the war in Iraq suffer from depression or PTSD, and that fewer than 40 percent have sought help.

Along with several studies, the efforts of two men are stirring thinking within the US military: Grossman, who wrote "On Killing: the Psychological Costs of Learning to Kill in War and Society," and Dr. Shay, who has worked with vets for 20 years at the VA Outpatient Clinic in Boston. Shay has written two books ("Achilles in Vietnam" and "Odysseus in America") that provide in-depth analyses of how combat can affect individual character and the homecoming to civilian society.

The military has hired both to help improve training and recommend changes to military culture.

A natural resistance to killing

The military's responsibility to respond is great, Grossman says, because of the way combat has been transformed since World War II. Interviews by a US Army historian during that war showed that only 15 to 20 percent of infantrymen in the European and Pacific theaters chose to fire at the enemy when they were under fire. Resistance to killing was strong.

Whether because of religious and moral teachings or what he terms "a powerful, innate human resistance toward killing one's own species," soldiers' apparent willingness to die rather than kill stunned military officials.

To overcome that resistance, the military revamped its training to program soldiers, through psychological conditioning, to make shooting reflexive. The techniques were applied with "tremendous success," Grossman says, raising the firing rate to 55 percent in the Korean conflict and 95 percent in Vietnam. But little thought, he adds, went to the aftereffects of overriding the soldiers' natural inclinations.

Shay also flags concerns about combat leadership, citing instances when soldiers have been treated unfairly, lacked necessary equipment, been asked to do things they considered wrong, or seen questionable behavior rewarded. These are all experiences he includes under the heading of "the betrayal of what is right." People don't have to be injured by their wartime experience, he adds, but that requires "assuring them cohesion in their units; expert and ethical leadership; and highly realistic training for what they have to do."

The first responsibility of leadership and the public, many say, is not to put the country's sons and daughters at risk unless going to war is essential.

If it is, then they need help sorting through the issues. Rabbi Arnold Resnicoff, a retired Navy chaplain, calls for "spiritual force protection."

"We have a responsibility to understand the dangers war poses to the humanity of our people and do all we can to protect them, to develop 'moral muscle,' " he says.

In "The Code of the Warrior," his course at the Naval Academy, Dr. French focuses on moral distinctions - the historical legacy of the warrior and rules of war, and how to be alert to crossing the boundaries, as occurred at Abu Ghraib prison.

"It has been very well documented that there is a close connection between severe combat stress and the sense of having crossed moral lines," she says.

While the military academies offer officers some ethical training, the rank and file learn mostly from their commanders. Recent training Grossman has provided to Marine battalions heading to Iraq included distinguishing between killing and murder.

"Many have 'Thou shalt not kill' in the back of their minds, and think they've broken a profoundly moral law," he says. Grossman helps them see that the Judeo-Christian ethos generally accepts the idea that killing can be justified at times, and he emphasizes the importance of close adherence to the rules of engagement.

But there are gray areas, particularly in urban conflict, where it is not always clear whether to shoot, says Paul Rieckhoff of the Army National Guard, who led a platoon through combat patrols, raids, and ambushes in Baghdad until February of this year.

During one operation, "a female truck driver dropped us off and was guarding the truck when a kid about 10 years old came around the corner and started shooting at her," he says. "What does she do - shoot him or get shot?"

Vital to the health of soldiers is what happens after each combat experience. It's essential to have "after-action reviews," many say, in which units sort through experiences that were disturbing to them. These may include killing, or seeing their comrades or innocent civilians killed. "The worst thing is to not think about it. You can't not think about something for a lifetime," Grossman says.

At the end of the 1989 US invasion of Panama, Army chaplain R. Ryder Stevens, now retired, and another chaplain sought out soldiers individually. "One guy talked, but kept his M-16 between us and kept taking it apart, cleaning it, and putting it together again," says Colonel Stevens. "Finally he blurted out, 'I murdered a woman and her baby the other day and I'm going to burn in hell!' " He had followed the rules of engagement and shot at a car that didn't stop fully at a checkpoint. After he was assured that God's love was big enough to forgive him, "he fell into my arms crying," Stevens recounts.

In Iraq, there may be one chaplain for every 1,500 soldiers, Rieckhoff says. Those who need help must be encouraged to seek it. But the system is failing, many insist. Seeking help carries a stigma, and procedures for getting help lack privacy.

Making it easier to ask for help

The case of Sgt. Georg-Andreas Pogany - cited by Sheehan-Miles in his book - is a vivid example of what can go wrong.

Sergeant Pogany experienced panic attacks while serving with the Special Forces in Iraq, and sought medical help. But he was urged to reconsider his request for the sake of his career. Later he was courtmartialed for "cowardice" - the first such case since Vietnam. Only in July 2004, nine months after he was made a public example, was it determined the attacks were probably caused by an antimalarial drug issued to some in combat.

"That kind of thing sends shock waves throughout the military community," says Sheehan-Miles, who didn't seek help himself for fear of ending his career. He got back on track only when he began focusing on helping other veterans. Now executive director of Veterans for Common Sense, he asks, "How do you take away the stigma of asking for help?"

Everyone coming home from a war zone should be required to have two or three counseling sessions, Sheehan-Miles proposes. "A lot of people think they don't need it who really do, and it ends up coming out in their lives later on," he says.

The Marine Corps' Warrior Transition Program - a pilot effort run by the chaplain corps of the Marines - is required for everyone returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. During transit home, marines discuss their most positive and negative experiences, and find succor in sharing with others.

Soldiers who may have killed in the line of duty are included in the program, although there is no specific focus on that particular experience.

Jane Lampman | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

About War

Slogans -- that's war for most folks. War is Hell. Support The Troops. Uncle Sam Wants You. Yellow ribbons and candlelight vigils. War.

Listen friend, war, is electric. It's a jangle of short-wired nerves; raw blue sparks that jump the gaps of politics and twist the ignition key of survival. War is living fast, hard, and furious, life between the teeth. You are never so alive as when you're about to die. War is a five-and-dime store of friction toys and cheap tin thrills. War, is all the power of heaven accessed through the front door of hell.

War is a mad minute, sixty seconds of Godhood: let there be light in the rocket's red glare and the Zippo flame of razed hootches. God is an amateur who took six days to create the earth, but a grunt with a radio and artillery and air support is true holy power in a fiery obliteration of inhabitants and geography - all in less then six minutes.

War is weather. Sometimes so hot, you have to chew a hole in the heat and swallow, just to get a breath of fresh air. And sweat that drips from the leaky faucet of your pores and into your eyes; sweat that scalds and blinds. So hot you could have lunch with the Devil.

And there's the rain, day after day and night after night. Warm rain, muggy rain at first, slick oily droplets skidding across your skin in a muddy film that never refreshes. Then night rain, dark rain with a chilly breeze that crawls inside your fatigues and pools around your ankles and crotch, and quietly peels away the layers of your wrinkled soggy flesh.

War is solitaire. Humping, marching, moving or standing watch, a soldier packs a rucksack, weapon, ammo, and thoughts. Always thoughts. The only retreat allowed in war is the retreat inside your own head. Eyes are on the terrain while radar sensors process the physical world, clicking and categorizing shapes and shadows. But the mind is crowded with another world and a cast of thousands. It's all there, living in the past and living in the future, while praying to survive the present.

War is looking into a child's face, having to instantly decide whether friend or foe. Wondering what's in their smile or in their hand. Constant suspicion. Constant sadness when you see them wounded and you wonder, was it your bullet that made them an orphan or stole their limbs?

War is language of the numb and damned, anesthesia to protect the soul. Call them gooks or hajis or anything but people. You don't kill people--you kill the enemy. Don't care why they are the enemy. If you care too much you will die in pieces day by day.

Sweet Jesus, what the hell? Incoming! Incoming! Hit the dirt!

Voices scream as the show begins. It's rock-and-roll time; psychedelic funk explodes like a bad trip on cheap acid cut with speed. The world goes slow-mo and real-time, all at once. Strangers in a strange land intent on killing one another. Don't want to die in this dirt clod of a hellhole. Dust to dust is not for me.

Blip boom bang.

Light 'em up! Grease the bastards! Zap the mothers, now! Medic! Medic! Exclamation points galore: with bodies strewn across the mud like so much broken furniture in the living room of violence.

Turn up the volume and bring it on. Lock and load is the rhythm of surviving one more minute, one more hour, one more day.

Never look down - never stop shooting - never stop. Not now. Move. Move. Move.

The more you move the closer to home you get. Buddy to buddy lay the fire down and carpet the joint with anything that will kill them and preserve you.

The firefight is a cacophonous rock opera gone insane: smashed guitars, squealing amps that spit fire, and drummers pounding on the audience.

Sulfur smoke curls up inside your nose and passes on the stench of cauterized flesh and amputation. Youth and innocence are crumpled like discarded ticket stubs on stadium cement, but the band riots on and on. And then-

It's over. The plug is pulled. Silence.

Not, silence is golden, silence.

Silence of the dead and doomed: cutting silence that slices tomorrow into shards of guilty relief and hope. One day down - another day to go.

There are no politics in war. Politics is the luxury of the safe-at-home. War is a lottery of survival.

There is no morality in war. Morality is the privilege of those judging from the distance. War is only death and destruction, regardless of which scripture is quoted.

War is the tool of small-minded scoundrels who worship the death of others on the altar of their greed. War is the cemetery of futures promised.

War is eternity jammed into frantic minutes that will fill a lifetime with dreams and nightmares.

John Cory is a Vietnam veteran. He received the Purple Heart and Bronze Star with V device, 1969 - 1970.

Freed Italian Hostage Says Iraq Rebels 'Justified'

Freed Italian Hostage Says Iraq Rebels 'Justified'

ROME (Oct. 1) - An Italian aid worker held hostage last month in Iraq said guerrillas there were right to fight U.S.-led forces and their Iraqi "puppet government."

In comments that were bound to annoy Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's government, Simona Torretta also called on Rome to withdraw the troops it sent to Iraq to support its U.S. ally.

"I said it before the kidnapping and I repeat it today," she told Corriere della Sera newspaper in an interview published Friday.

"You have to distinguish between terrorism and resistance. The guerrilla war is justified, but I am against the kidnapping of civilians."

Torretta and her Italian colleague Simona Pari, both of them 29, were freed Tuesday, three weeks after being snatched from their Baghdad office. Berlusconi has brushed aside widespread reports that his government paid a ransom of up to $1 million.

Describing the administration of Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi as "a puppet government in the hands of the Americans," Torretta said elections planned for January would have no legitimacy: "During my days in detention ... I came to the conclusion it will take decades to put Iraq back on its feet."

Torretta, who lived in Iraq before, during and after the U.S.-led invasion, said she wanted to return despite her ordeal -- but would not do so as long as U.S. troops were there: "I've got to wait until the end of the U.S. occupation," she said.

She said she did know whether Italy bought her freedom from the kidnappers: "If a ransom was paid then I am very sorry. But I know nothing about it ... I believe that (the kidnappers) were a very political, religious group and that in the end they were convinced that we were not enemies."

10-01-04 12:58 EDT