Hitch & the New School

Rakesh Narpat Bhandari rakeshb at Stanford.EDU
Thu May 10 09:25:05 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.

This implies that it is unreasonable to assume that war should be conducted in respect of some conventions for those conventions can only be too subtle and untestable. I don't agree with this. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki clearly violated the restraints on war. Kerrey ordering that people whom he knew to be civilians be lined up and shot is also a violation of the conventions by which war, if it is to be fought at all, should be fought. After all, the American unit being fired upon shouldn't even be an extenuating circumstance. And I should say that Kerrey's qualified memory does not inspire confidence, especially when the other two are themselves confident that the American unit had not been fired upon.

> I think, on the whole, the issue
>(not to mention this particular focus) is a safe one for the powers that

It has never been in the American interest to let it be known that it breaks international conventions in the conduct of war as a matter of conscious policy and then elevates those commanders who prove themselves capable of doing so.

>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.

By this logic it would have been impossible to hold Ariel Sharon responsible for the destruction of Lebanon.

> 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.

Yes you sound heartless to me indeed.


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