It's All Quite Atrocious

Saturday, June 03, 2006 at 07:56 AM

One of my young buds asked me the other day: "Is this how it went back in your day?"....

"What, dude? How what went?"
"Vietnam. You know, what was that massacre?"
"My Lai."
"Yeah, it's like, well, this stuff in Iraq..."
"It's the same and at the same time, different. But there is one thing to keep in mind."
"Pierce's First Law."

Pierce's First Law, courtesy Larry Gelbart and Alan Alda: "War is worse than hell."

"How so, Hawk?"
"Well, Father, those who commit sins, the evil and wicked, they go to hell. In war, it's the innocents who end up getting hurt. So, it's far worse than Hell."

And it is.

Already, in under a week, it's almost like the days when my hair was a lot longer...and I had more, of course. Libs on the left dumping on the Haditha Massacre as being "an atrocity", and of course, the fabled 29 Percenters, and the same crap I heard 30 years ago: "They deserved it! They were aiding and abetting! Kill them all!"

Yet, I stick out somewhat, again, waving Pierce's Law: All war, period, is a collage of atrocities, from the opening opus to the last round fired.

To that, it concerned me then, concerns me now: What part of war, pray tell this mystic, is that glamourous? Noble? Pretty? Sexy? Majestic? Is war that cool? Fun? Or what?

I saw a distinct change in my dear father. Papa was of those raised during World War II, who was spoon-fed the propaganda spat out by Hollywood, films with John Wayne, all about how war is just so "noble". Papa came back from 364 days "in country", changed. When he finally got around to talking about it, it was the sound of a young man who turned painfully old and in record time.

Madness. All the stuff we saw on MASH. Stuff from the movies, like Brando, like Deer Hunter, except: "It was worse, son, much, much worse."

War, he concludes, is an atrocity. He's not alone, over the years, I've met many vets, some from The Battling Bastards, those who rode with Patton, who flew over Korea, who dealt with Charlie, and to the most of them, they say it all the same: War is a dirty, grimy, bloody thing, which, if one were more sane, could well be avoided.

"But, Haditha is an atrocity! So was My Lai!"

So was Hiroshima. So was Nagasaki. Auschwitz. The Alamo. Pearl Harbor. Inchon. The Blitz. The Battle Of Britain. In any of these, we ask ourselves, were any innocents spared? No, and the sad truth haunts us: From the days of learning to stand erect to 20 seconds ago, war, like it or not, offers death, and not just to the combatants, but to those who do not wish to play such a sickening game, those who wish to be left alone, and not to be disturbed by such madness.

My Lai, I recall, was one of those things that turned heads around back then, that, and another massacre: Kent State. Four college kids shot because they had the balls to protest. Both sent a shot right up the chocolate factory into the public: "What the fuck are we doing?"

Waddarewefattin for?
Don't ask me I don't give a damn-
Next stop is Vietnam!
And it's five-six-seven
Open up the pearly gates!
Why, there ain't no time to wonder why-

What are we doing?

Haditha may well enter the books, I'm betting on it, along with My Lai, Dresden, Auschwitz, the like. But, I just wish and so hard, some clever author would just put two and two together and realize: No war, then no atrocities.

Yeah. That's too simple.