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The Machinery of War







Picasso's GUERNICA (1937)

A copy of Picasso's Guernica hangs in the United Nations, as a grim reminder to the realities of unbridled aggression, to the vagaries of war and wanton destruction.  It lays testament to the spirit of man that can create wonderful things of great imagination; the airplane, pastels, paintings-- or who can also produce the antithesis to such creativity-- war. Picasso painted it during the Spanish Civil War, in the spring of 1937, one month after the Basque highland's village of the same name, was bombed by German NAZI planes. The entire town was decimated in the course of 45 minutes of aerial bombardment. With Guernica, Picasso encapsulated the horror, the desperation of the dismemberment of the human quality of rationality from the spirit of man.  That horror is retained, as a symbolic reminder of a grim warning to future generations, in Picasso's painting.

In February 2003 when the U.S. geared itself up to invade Iraq, Secretary of State, Colin Powell entered the United Nations to address the Security Council, and he passed a draped Guernica, intentionally covered at the request of the U.S., perhaps to mute its message, or hide the horror that was to come.

With the invasion of Iraq, generations of both Americans and Iraqis descended into the abyss of the horror of war, a hole in space and time  where neither words nor reason have any meaning.  There is only brute force, nihilism, destruction.  There cannot exist anything that man can equate as good because war is the production of nothingness, its sole existence is to use up material, people, for the aims that produce nothingness.  There are no champions in war, the vanquished lose their land their possessions, their lives, but the conquerors in their travels of conquest recognize not until it is too late that they themselves wind up losing their souls. As such, the gold and silver is of little compensation for that which is lost.

In March 2003, young men of this nation, boarded planes and ships, and traveled half way across the world, carrying with them the thoughts of the people they loved, thoughts of their homes, of their homeland, buoyed by a 'righteous mission' to fight an evil, to liberate an oppressed people. These young men, many barely out of their teen years were sent to die by a man who never fought in war.  With their bombs, and bullets rapidly slicing across the desert skies of Iraq, are dying the hopes and dreams of generations of people; the thousands of Iraqis who have lost their homes, their families, their country, their futures, and the young men behind the machinery of war, that too have lost their innocence, their dreams, their hopes, and illusions, some to return home to a country they will no longer understand or care for, because their buddies, and parts of themselves, will be left behind on some nameless street or alley.  While those who have returned maimed, or with souless spirits, will forever dread going to sleep because of the nightmares that speak to them of the horrors they saw or committed.

Can there ever be an adequate amount of yellow ribbons or flags, or saluting, or words of glory and honor, that can justify the violence that is being performed in the name of freedom and democracy ?  I do not think Americans of the present generation will understand the senselessness of war until the death and wounded stream home by the thousands.  And by then, the tragedy will be incalculable.  Every life lost is a tragedy beyond estimation, but why is it that it takes so many tragedies before a nation begins to seriously question the leadership ?   

34 years ago, Senator George McGovern vented these same feelings and thoughts, to a government that would not listen to reason. 

"Every senator in this chamber is partly responsible for sending 50,000 young Americans to an early grave.  This chamber reeks of blood.  Every senator here is partly responsible for that human wreckage at Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval and all across our land--young men without legs, or arms, or genitals, or faces or hopes...  There are not very many of these blasted and broken boys who think this war is a glorious adventure.  Do not talk to them about bugging out, or national honor or courage.  It does not take any courage at all for a congressman, or a senator, or a president to wrap himself in the flag and say we are staying in Vietnam, because it is not our blood that is shed.  But we are responsible for those young men and their lives and their hopes."

--Senator George McGovern, Sept. 1, 1970

Time changes little in man, it seems that the only permanence amid the change inherent in the reality we experience, is man's stupidity.  For want of a better explanation, I guess as long as the machinery of war provides profits to the vampires of industry, the leaders of the nation still won't listen.  At the last count, the materiel pricetag for the war is $5 billion per month.  Rivers of money seemingly without end, tainted profits, reeking of blood and horror, and amassed by a handful of men. How can such men, these merchants of death, ever sleep in peace ?

L.M. / Contributing Correspondent

(c) 2004,  All Rights Reserved


Posted  November  20, 2004

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