Regarding the Sept. 5 commentary by Henry Allen titled “Tragedy of America’s ‘good and virtuous wars’ “: All wars are tragic, perhaps none more so than those fought in the name of civic virtue. The U.S. Navy’s new recruiting slogan boasts that it’s a global force for good! The American writer historian Studs Terkel wrote an oral history of his country’s role in World War II. The title of his book was “The Good War.” Did Terkel feel that World War I and the Vietnam War were not especially good? What of America’s imperial war against Emilio Aguinaldo’s rebel army in the Philippines in 1900? Sen. Albert Beveridge supported America’s conquest of the Philippines and told his fellow senators: “God has marked the American people as His chosen nation to finally lead in the regeneration of the world. This is the divine mission of America, and it holds for us all the profit, all the glory, all the happiness possible to man. We are trustees of the world’s progress, guardians of its righteous peace.”

How little things have changed in the U.S. Senate since 1900! On the eve of America’s ill-considered invasion of Iraq in March 2003, there was a jubilant mood across the land that was akin to that of a pregame cheer rally just before the Super Bowl.

After reading Henry Allen’s essay, I was wondering if Chu Lai is located near My Lai, another Vietnamese village where “Sweetart” candies would definitely have been “numbah ten,” though in My Lai there were no children left alive to sample any of the Pentagon’s “hearts and mind” candy. Certainly My Lai was the most egregious example of “Collateral Damage” in the annals of American warfare. Colin Powell, yes that Colin Powell, was in on the My Lai coverup. It appears that Powell has never had a talent for telling lies. That would be former George W. Bush’s forte, America’s first “Sweetart” president.

During carpet bombing missions over Vietnam, at the very moment that a B-52 pilot was releasing his multi-ton load of deadly ordnance over a Vietnamese village, he might very well have been casually discussing the latest NFL scores with his co-pilot. The B-52 pilot probably never read Mark Twain’s “The War Prayer.” In that bitter essay, Twain wrote: “Oh Lord, help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire”.

Allen has written an essay that Twain might have admired. He wrote that in 1966 the Vietnam War was “still young” for most American soldiers. But not for the Vietnamese! They had been fighting since the 1940s, first against the Japanese Imperial Army and then the French, who arrogantly returned to re-colonize Vietnam. Americans love war partly because they are so ignorant of history.

Certainly the Pentagon loves a good war. In peacetime it feels all dressed up with no place to go. All those Dr. Strangeloves in the Pentagon must somehow justify a hefty $600 billion annual defense budget! Hurling a hundred or so cruise missiles at Syria would impress the U.S. Congress, the rich auntie controlling the purse strings. In Iraq the USAF was swatting at flies with $100,000 missiles. I fear the Pentagon will one day cannibalize the country it claims to defend. When will the world finally realize that America is a war culture?! Oh, and it loves Wall Street, too.

robert mckinney
otaru, hokkaido

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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