Hitch & the New School

Rob Schaap rws at comedu.canberra.edu.au
Thu May 10 01:56:31 PDT 2001

Hi again, Rakesh,

>> And I reckon
>>our state of information is a lot healthier about the 1999 pilot than the
>>1969 Kerrey, too. That we're still arguing exclusively about the Kerrey
>>killings tells me the professional framers of debate have yet again had
>>their wicked way ...
>Why shouldn't we talking about what happened in Vietnam?

Happy to. But I'm moderately sure no-one's gonna arrive at a definitive or edifying point on this one. For a start, it's a long time ago, in a context where murder and standard military practice are distinguished by subtle and generally untestable criteria. I think, on the whole, the issue (not to mention this particular focus) is a safe one for the powers that be.

Only last night I watched a Macedonian tank methodically razing a village in Albanian FYROM from a safe distance. Maybe it was firing at hidden insurgents, maybe it was firing in case some were there, maybe it was firing so they'd have nowhere to go, and maybe it was killing mums at their wells and kiddies at their books. I certainly didn't know, and I'd bet a few bob the tank commander didn't know either. That's what warfare (especially guerilla warfare) is all about, I suggest. If memory serves, Brad Delong told PEN-L of an American acquaintance who did the same thing to a French village in '44. All a matter of orders and convention ...

Anyway, I was just saying there's more to be gained by highlighting clearer-cut cases and/or the White House's logical culpability in either case. That sounds heartless in light of these particular victims and their surviving loved ones, but sometimes you just gotta go where the getting's the best.

Cheers, Rob.

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