Never Forget. Never Again.

I missed a grim anniversary: the bombing of Hiroshima, but 65 years ago today we dropped Fat Man on Nagasaki, and that shouldn’t be forgotten, either. 

Opinions differ as to the severity of the war crime and whether or not it was necessary for America to drop nuclear weapons on two cities filled with civilians.  I used to be in the “horrifying but necessary” camp before The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb moved me into the “horrifying and unnecessary” camp.  Then I found out about about the firebombings that came before it, and all of the other brutalities that get swept under various rugs, and learned just how brutal humans, even my own exalted countrymen, could be.  It doesn’t matter to me that other nations perpetrated horrors.  Tit-for-tat is never an excuse.  Preventing a worse horror is, but only just.

From what I’ve learned, my country could have avoided becoming the first (and, so far, thankfully, the only) country to drop atomic weapons on cities full of civilians.  We didn’t have to set that precedent.  There was this word, “unconditional,” we stuck in front of “surrender,” though, and somehow our leaders at the time didn’t think it worth enemy lives to negotiate something that would have ended the war just as effectively.  Maybe it’s because I’m young and wasn’t there, but I can’t see how allowing Japan to retain some dignity could be such a sticking point that we decided it was better to drop nukes instead.

And maybe something good came of it, because the horror of those images has certainly given others pause.  It has made quite a lot of people, powerful and common alike, pull back from the abyss, recoil in horror, swear these terrible weapons will not be used.  Not today.  Not for this.  (Of course, MAD helped.)

War, of course, is brutal, and brutal decisions are made in the fog of it.  That doesn’t mean we get to excuse what we have done.  Explain it, perhaps, certainly swear, “Never again.”  There will never be a perfect war, a perfectly just war, a perfect application of the minimum necessary force, but that reality doesn’t excuse and cannot be used to condone atrocity.  It should never allow us to blithely apply the maximum force we’re capable of.  It should not allow us to forgive and forget our own sins.

When I think of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I feel sadness, horror and outrage.  But I also remember an experience Joseph Campbell related in Transformations of Myth Through Time:

I was in Japan and was taken to Nagasaki, where the second atom bomb was dropped.  I was with a group of Japanese, and I must say I felt mortified, being an American, and responsible – remotely – for this horrific act.  The extent of the devastation was still evident.  They have an enormous image just pointing up, exactly to the place from which the bomb came.  My Japanese friends felt no malice, no sense of my being to blame.  We had been enemies, pairs of opposites, two aspects of the same thing – beautiful.

So forgiveness is possible, on both sides.  But never forget.

Never again.

(This post is timed to appear at 11:01am, August 9th, Nagasaki time.)

So You Say Your Friends Got Blown To Bits…

…half your face got blown off, and now you have inescapable nightmares, flashbacks, and all the other symptoms of PTSD?  No sweat!  Just think positive, man!

I mentioned before that they were looking at this “positive thinking” program for vets with PTSD – something that seems like a way to cut costs rather than treat vets’ trauma.
Now psychologist Bryant Welch says the program has no scientific validity:

Johnny had been with his platoon when they were attacked by enemy fire and pinned down for the better part of two days. Much of his face was blown off. His two closest buddies died gruesome and agonizing deaths while lying on top of him.

As a psychologist, my work with him was not medical. It was to address the psychological trauma, then newly labeled as Posttraumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD], that haunted him and to help him “grieve” that much of his life had been blown away along with his face.

The pain of his surgeries was nothing compared to the night terrors that undercut his every attempt at sleep. The flashbacks that occurred daily put him back in the jungles of Viet Nam and the noises in the hallways became the sounds of advancing Viet Cong. Nurses and doctors could suddenly become menacing figures who he believed had captured him and were about to torture him. He was terrified to take his medications and unexpected noises could leave him shaken for hours.

Emotionally, on the best of days Johnny fluctuated between agitated depression and complete numbness in which he was unable to feel at all. He felt cut off from his family and felt enraged and misunderstood when they tried to “cheer him up.” Johnny was not actively homicidal, like some of the PTSD vets on his psychiatry ward, but he was consumed with thoughts of suicide.


As a psychologist who has treated many serious cases of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, it was a jaw dropping experience to learn that under a new $119 million military program these young men and women who have sacrificed so much will have their PTSD addressed with a superficial, psychological treatment based loosely on Norman Vincent Peale’s Power of Positive Thinking, known in this generation’s iteration as “positive psychology” or the “psychology of optimism.

There is no evidence that the techniques of positive psychology can prevent or ameliorate the effects of PTSD. When its adherents’ attempt to extrapolate simplistic studies done on normal junior high students to military combat troops struggling with military traumas they are misleading the military, the public, and, most importantly, the troops.

You have got to be fucking kidding me.  As someone who suffered a mild case of PTSD many years ago, I can assure you that the power of positive thinking isn’t what got me through.  You can’t use optimism and positive thinking to haul you up from those depths.  Oh, I’m sure there are very rare exceptions – there’s a freak in every bunch – but for fuck’s sake, telling someone who goes through a horrific trauma to be optimistic and have a positive outlook is the most ridiculous fucking thing I’ve ever heard.

If our government pulls this shit on the troops, they deserve to be prosecuted for intentional infliction of extreme emotional distress.

Neocons Desperate for Yet Another War

So, Obama has a chat with Iran and comes away with all sorts of goodies.  It looks like diplomacy will do quite well dealing with any nuclear threat on that front.

This is the neocons’ worst nightmare, and they are now busily trying to drum up another war.  Here’s Lindsey Graham and his good buddy Saxby, working themselves to orgasm over the idea of total war:

Sen. Lindsey Graham believes the US should shoulder the responsibility of attacking Iran if an attack is necessary. An attack by the US is preferable to an an attack by Israel, according to Graham.
“I think an Israeli attack on Iran is a nightmare for the world, because it will rally the Arab world around Iran and they’re not aligned now. It’s too much pressure to put on Israel,” Graham told Fox News’ Chris Wallace Sunday.
He continued, “Military action should be the last resort anyone looks at, and I would rather our allies and us take military action if it’s necessary.”
But Graham doesn’t think an attack should be limited to airstrikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities. “If we use military action against Iran, we should not only go after their nuclear facilities. We should destroy their ability to make conventional war. They should have no planes that can fly and no ships that can float,” said Graham.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss agrees. “The problem with military action also is that you’re probably not going to be able to stop the production of uranium by just a simple airstrike. Lindsey’s right. It’s an all or nothing deal. And is it worth that at this point in time when we know they have the capability. We can slow them down, but a full-out military strike is what it would take,” said Chambliss.

I’m surprised they didn’t just suggest dropping enough nuclear weapons on the place to wipe everybody out.  Maybe they’re afraid that wouldn’t be enough fun.

Well, the neocons can’t allow us to have peace through that icky touchy-feely diplomacy stuff, so nothing for it but to try to replay the run-up to the Iraq war:

Helene Cooper typed up the fears of anonymous officials wondering if the agreements in the first round of talks, including a deal where Iran would ship its enriched uranium to Russia to ensure that it would be used for peaceful purposes, were just a tactic by the Iranians to “buy time.” Practically the same article popped up in the LA Times, as “experts and government officials” questioned whether the timeline for IAEA inspectors to visit the recently revealed facility at Qom represented another stall tactic. Amid this suspicion, neocon emeritus Elliott Abrams surmised that Iranians would not oppose a military attack on their own country, because there’s nothing dissidents enjoy more than bombs raining on their heads (the reformers don’t want sanctions either, it will hurt ordinary Iranians rather than the ruling regime). And today, this bombshell is splashed across the New York Times:

Senior staff members of the United Nations nuclear agency have concluded in a confidential analysis that Iran has acquired “sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable” atom bomb.

They even had to go to Canada to drop one rumor:

Iran has tried to acquire materials for a nuclear weapon in Canada, according to a top official in Canada’s Border Services Agency.

George Webb, head of the agency’s Counter Proliferation Section, says customs officers have seized centrifuge parts (centrifuges are used to enrich uranium) and electronic components for bombs and guidance systems.

Webb made the claims in a story published Thursday in Canada’s National Post […]

The article, however, offers nothing to corroborate Webb’s claims and reports them without even a hint of skepticism, except to say that “The devices can be used in peaceful nuclear plants but are also required to produce nuclear weapons” and to note that there have been few arrests and no convictions in connection with Webb’s far-reaching claims.

But skepticism is merited. The government claims and breathless media reporting – without adequate evidence – that Iran is a grave and looming threat is reminiscent of the same claims and media coverage in the lead-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, as several commentators have pointed out. Remember Saddam Hussein’s horde of yellowcake uranium?


Don’t forget, America: we’ve heard this bullshit before. Fool us once…

Let’s not let it happen again.

Sick, Twisted Fucktards

Since the right likes to bash liberals as freedom-hating fascists, since they love to moan about how cruel and mean and what a blight on the national discourse we are, I’d like to know how they explain this:

Here is some rightwing loon named Ralph Peters:

Pretending to be impartial, the self-segregating personalities drawn to media careers overwhelmingly take a side, and that side is rarely ours. Although it seems unthinkable now, future wars may require censorship, news blackouts and, ultimately, military attacks on the partisan media.

Sounds crazy, right? Beyond the pale, right? Deliberately killing journalists? That’s something we would never do, that’s NoKo/Saddam-level totalitarianism, plain and simple.

Well, Mr. and Ms. America, I got some news for you. It’s already happened.

No one will be surprised to learn it’s the Bush regime that killed journalists. And no one will be surprised that Ralph Peters is the kind of whackaloon, murderous fuckhead that Faux News loves to parade around as an august figure of authority:

Update: from digby

This wasn’t the only wacko thing the sick piece of work Ralph Peters said today on Fox. Get this:

“We’re dealing with people who aren’t human anymore. They’re monsters. And monsters deserve to die.”

So, advocating wholesale murder of journalists and the dehumanization and murder of Gitmo detainees isn’t beyond the pale in the right’s opinion. Something we should keep in mind come election season. If America puts the right back in charge of the country, what little moral authority we have left is dead.

They have no moral authority. None.

Memorial Day Roundup

A lot of bloggers had good Memorial Day posts up today. Just in case you missed them, here they are.

Think Progress has stats showing that America’s failing her vets.

Susie Madrak at Crooks and Liars reminds us: For Every Death, A Hole in the World

DarkSyde at Daily Kos takes us Beyond Memorial Day, and reminds us that there are all too many veterans we’re forgetting.

And Digby celebrates the moral Heroes, who deserve just as much praise as the physical variety.

We may not always support the war these men and women are sent to fight. But we will always support them.

Holy War

So, I’m assuming most of you have seen that delicious GQ article that takes Rummy apart from tip to toe. If not, go read. It’s definitely an education.

One of Rummy’s favorite tricks was putting Bible verses on fancy war pictures to whet Monkey Boy George’s appetite for playing Holy War President. Here’s one of those cover sheets, which disgraced the President’s daily intelligence briefing:

Tristero puts this together with a few choice Bush quotes and comes to the logical conclusion:

Genuinely sickening. It makes you realize that this remark from September ’01 was no idle slip of the tongue:

On Sunday, Bush warned Americans that “this crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take awhile.”

And also:

In the programmeElusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs, which starts on Monday, the former Palestinian foreign minister Nabil Shaath says Mr Bush told him and Mahmoud Abbas, former prime minister and now Palestinian President: “I’m driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, ‘George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan.’ And I did, and then God would tell me, ‘George go and end the tyranny in Iraq,’ and I did.”

We must never, ever forget: for eight long years, this country was run by delusional, paranoid idiots. Whenever they took a break from the hard work of lining the plush coffers of their already-wealthy pals, they thought they were on a mission from God.

He’s right. We must remember. And we must remind our fellow voters that this is the kind of shit that happens when you let a hyper-religious fucktard with an entitlement complex and delusions of world domination take the reins of the world’s biggest spender on military toys.

Let’s not make that mistake again.