As we are involved in a heated debate about Obama’s kill list and controversial drone attacks in Pakistan, it is timely to ask whether American public sufficiently comprehends seriousness of the issue of civilian deaths, which poses a great danger in fighting against terrorist networks and radical movements. In his new book, The Deaths of Others: The Fate of Civilians in America’s Wars (Oxford University Press, 2011), John Tirman presents a compelling argument to explain why a culture of public “indifference” still dominates.
According to Tirman, there are three major reasons behind this lack of public attention: racism (i.e. Americans’ lives are more important than some other people’s lives), frontier myth (i.e. a strong belief in USA’s mission in world politics), and psychological aversion (i.e. just too much burden for someone to think about these disturbing issues). Examining Korean War, Vietnam War, and recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Tirman also indicates how American public were made in dark, and thus, were deceived about number of civilian deaths. At the outset of the Iraqi war, only 73 of 18000 news stories on the major networks mentioned Iraqi casualties. By 2008, during the time American public supported to pull out of the country, any coverage of the Iraq war went down to 3 per cent Continue reading
This weekend U.S. veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan intend to return their military medals in a tactic that is reminiscent of the 1971 Operation Dewey Canyon III protest, where over 800 Vietnam War veterans threw their medals and service ribbons onto the Capitol steps (see video below). These younger veterans, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War, intend that their “return” of the medals not only protest NATO for its leadership in the global war on terror but also provide them with some emotional and psychological healing from the traumatic events they took part in during their service.For more on the protest see the news coverage of the upcoming march and action here and here OR you could go watch it yourself on Sunday if you are in the Chicago area (If you do that- please send me pictures!).
Although, the tactic is similar to the anti-Vietnam War action in its protest of the now-unpopular but decade+ war in Afghanistan that continues, but this latest cadre of military veterans are using this as an opportunity to draw attention to the need for increased and more efficient services for veterans. By linking this tactic to healing, the veterans are calling attention to the “invisible wounds of war” and the gaping holes in the VA system. Additionally, IVAW is drawing attention to one of the biggest differences between the Vietnam-era draft and the “all volunteer” military of today where servicemembers regularly deploy for multiple tours to war zones, even when they are already traumatized or injured. Their organizing against the return of “traumatized vets” can be seen here.
Seen any other protests that demonstrate Peter Allen‘s quote “”Everything old is new again”?