Veterans for Peace Radio Hour

June 26, 2014

An afternoon w/Chris Hedges at UMASS

Filed under: General Discussion — bobfunke @ 2:26

Chris Hedges is one of the last true to life journalists out there, and his work has been lauded for quite some time. A lot of the discussion had to do with the original Gulf War in which we “liberated” Kuwait. The reporting was somewhat bittersweet as he described what happened from what he could see and hear with own senses and talking to lower enlisted ranks. A little note here for those who have never been in the military, but the higher you go in the ranks, the more crap is going to be spoon-fed to you, no Commander wants to look like an idiot, even though the majority of them are, precisely that, idiots. As a Medical Plt Sgt, I made a special point of avoiding officers as much as possible and went straight to the line troops, the privates and junior NCO’s. These are the people on the line and it was my job to ensure that they were getting proper medical and psychological care in the field. My two most valuable possessions were my ears, you find that a lot of problems are overcome if one just listens, a soldier will figure it out if he/she has a chance to let their feelings heard.

But, Back to Mr. Hedges. He did an excellent job describing his various journeys over the years as a war correspondent. At one point, he left the NYT’s because he would not “upgrade” a piece he had written, his dedication to the truth in war is an example everyone should follow. Since Vietnam the media has changed dramatically, hiding as much as it can behind what is essentially BS about what is going on in war zones. It is the responsibility of every soldier to adhere to the UCMJ and Law of Land Warfare; but there are many stories, and Mr. Hedges viewed atrocities on both sides. There is always a psychopath in a unit, go in, guns blazing, killing everything, but normally good soldiers do not report such acts up the chain of command; and far too often, a Captain will not tell the Bn Commander of the trouble for fear of his/her actual career. The question arises and can be answered quite quickly, which is more important, a career based on lies and murder or ensuring the integrity of a unit is maintained by dealing with the perpetrators? I’ll take the second option without reservation.

War is an ugly, nasty business that can be described as hell on earth. For those of you who have been in combat, you know the outcome. We almost always take the objective but at a cost of American and “enemy” lives, (you can add in “collateral damage” as well since far more civilians and non-combatants perish or are maimed than soldiers.) Mr. Hedges did a wonderful job explaining the horrors of the wars he’s covered. In Gulf War 1, he was embedded with the 1st Bn 1st Marines. He left on his own to see Kuwait City while the Iraqi’s were heading out by the thousands, (and he was in a jeep in a USMC uniform), and no one took notice of him. He described the charred bodies on “the Road of Death” blackened and frozen in place where they burned to death trying to get out of vehicles. The Iraqi’s were in “panic retreat” and we just wiped them out, which is outside of the Law of Land Warfare. Cutting them off and capturing them would have been the correct procedure. Retreating troops can still be targeted, but a full rout is something completely different. It is, in my opinion, murder, just as simple as that.

Many who have never served thought what we have done was, “just fine” in the Middle East. Little do they know how many enemies we created when we should have been working on a humanitarian level. Ensuring that desalinization plants came into play, seeds to grow crops and food and medical care until the first crops and medical teams could have been formed in country, (this paragraph consists of my own thoughts).

Mr. Hedges did a wonderful job describing the horrors of war, although he agreed with me that some words to describe some of the horrors simply don’t exist. It was an eye opening experience and I suggest that if you get a chance to hear Mr. Hedges, or read his books, please do. He’s a friend to VFP and takes a message of Peace with him passing it out as he moves through his spheres of influence.

Peace,

Bob

 

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