Monday, September 14, 2009

#155 Strange Fruit, Dead Marine, Body Counts II

... In fact, I feel like I haven't stopped writing about the films of Luis Bunuel (see last several MM's)--so very surreal is the reality of our presence in the Middle East slaughterhouse. Nightmare dream-sequences indeed, but nothing ultimately funny about them.

Certainly not the death of Cpl. Bernard. So don't get me wrong. Living in the state of North Carolina, which tops the nation in number of military installations, I see the killed-in-action faces of Fort Bragg soldiers and Camp Lejeune marines flashed across the TV screen every single day on the local news. I mourn the fallen warriors ... and even more poignantly because--let's face it--THEY DIED UTTERLY IN VAIN. Nonetheless, the obituaries get longer and longer as the war intensifies. Bernie's photo was no doubt in one of those TV segments on or about Aug. 14th, the date he was killed by that missile-grenade, in that most cruel of months.

No smiling TV faces of the enemies he killed, of course. Or of the civilians he and his company--not to mention covering air-strikes-- "collaterally damaged" in their "clearing" of Dahaneh. Look back again at Bernie locked and loaded in front of that darkened doorway. I'm sorry, but I need to drumbeat once again that aforementioned statistic: WE KILL TWICE AS MANY CIVILIANS AS THEY DO. But the main-stream media continues to be swindled by the wrong numbers: villages cleared, militants killed. Or, as in my earlier post, Baitullah Mehsud (and family) murdered long-distance by flying robot bomb. As if it made any difference in the world.

For we've been through all of this before. We couldn't "win the hearts and minds"--that was the phrase--of the Vietnamese with the very same military strategy, and we can't in Afghanistan. (And the Vietnamese were much better people.) Deja vue: Cpl. Bernard's village-clearing operation was called, euphemistically, "pacification" during the Vietnam disaster. The "body-count" mentality was in full-force then too, day after day, year upon year in that longest of America's wars. (Obama may be out to set the record, however.) Today, 842 Americans killed or wounded; 28,000 gazillion Viet Cong and North Vietnamese dead ... "and that's the way it is," Walter Cronkite would tell us, credulously, as if this "good news" could be construed as anything other than downright, blood-drenched ghoulishness. Just like today. Maybe Obama's just too young. To remember.

Here's a footnote that should jog anyone's memory, at least those who bought a ticket for Apocalypse Now or Forrest Gump. Let's go back to to the pomegranate grove. Just before the attack that killed Lance Corporal Joshua "Bernie" Bernard, the Associated Press reporter tells us that the patrol already had a tip that Taliban fighters were lying somewhere in ambush. One Marine had some sort of incendiary weapon trained on the very trees in question, some 70 yards away. The reporter quotes the field commander's orders: "If you see anything move over there ... light it up." Language sound familiar? This guy could easily have been a stand-in for Gump's "Lieutenant Dan," or Robert Duvall's helicopter-cowboy in the Coppola movie, who gives forth with that most memorable line--"Just love the the smell of napalm in the mornin'!" (more)

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