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An Example of How the World Sees the U.S.
Here is an article from "The Nation" in Kenya. Some of the facts are incorrect, such as stating that Casey is Cindy Sheehan's only child; perhaps they meant "only son". However, the opinions expressed in the article are valid and poignant.
At Least, Our Leaders Shun War
The Nation (Nairobi)
August 20, 2005
By Ambrose Murunga
Kenyan leaders may routinely line up their pockets at our expense, or occasionally impose a suspect public educational system while their children benefit from first-rate education elsewhere.
But looking at events beyond our borders, I'm grateful that our leaders, in spite of their exceptional insatiability, have at least shunned external aggression.
I find that a remarkable achievement in a region where practically all our neighbours have been to wars.
No Kenyan parent would want to be in the position of a mother called Cindy Sheehan. For the past few weeks, Cindy has been publicly mourning her son, Casey.
Casey, Cindy's only child, is reported to have been an altar boy, and a reserved young man who enjoyed playing video games and watching wrestling on television.
Together with 20 fellow soldiers, Casey went to the rescue of colleagues who had been ambushed in Baghdad. He was among the seven who never made it back.
His mother has been camping outside President Bush's Texas ranch to seek audience and a rational explanation for her son's death.
The president initially met Cindy in a group of other parents at White House and explained that their sons died for a noble cause.
But the mother does not see it that way. Sheehan asks: If the cause is that noble, how come President Bush has not sent his two girls to war?
President Bush has twins in their early twenties, just about Casey's age.
Casey's mother is confronting the age-old question of the moral of war. The difference here is that she is addressing the right person, directly.
The political leadership has, at various times in history, used such phrases as "safeguarding our way of life" to justify wars whose real motive has little to do with the citizens' way of life.
Cindy has probably caught on that war is the greatest con of all time. War is a business whose chief product is death, but a business all the same.
The only guaranteed winners of a war, whether those on the frontline win or lose, are the peddlers of death; those who make modern weapons so devastating and effective at killing masses.
The residents of Tokyo encountered one such weapon at quarter to midnight on March 9, 1945.
Bombs had largely failed to demolish Japanese cities, and one livid US General called Curtis LeMay decided to try out a different weapon.
It was the napalm bomb, and this was its first notable use in war.
Napalm is a flammable gel used in flame-throwers and fire bombs. It sticks to whatever it comes in contact with, until it completely burns out.
Napalm burns at much higher temperatures than the ordinary fire bombs, reaching up to 3,000 degrees Celsius. And it burns very slowly.
A conventional napalm bomb scatters hundreds of smaller napalm bombs over a wide area, burning everything in the way.
On that March night, Gen LeMay was in a particularly foul mood, so he ordered his bombers to offload more than 2,000 tonnes of napalm bombs over Tokyo.
And burn, Tokyo did. Strong winds spread the fire storm, totally wiping out an area five times the size of Nairobi.
Days later, when the flames finally died, more than 80,000 Japanese had been roasted to death, their bodies reduced to half their sizes by the intense heat.
No malice meant, the US military nonchalantly explained as millions back home celebrated the "victory".
The 80,000 dead were listed as "acceptable" collateral damage in achieving a strategic objective.
Napalm was quietly eased out of the arsenals of most countries after the public outrage that followed the publication of an Associated Press photograph in March 1972.
In the photograph, terrified Vietnamese children are seen fleeing down a road after a napalm attack on their village.
In the picture, is a naked nine-year-old-girl, her body still smouldering. She is screaming in visible anguish as she tries not to further distress the raw flesh by walking.
But the weapons industry was not beaten. In the US, they replaced napalm with the even more horrifying fuel air explosive, dubbed the GBU-28 FAE.
When deployed, the FAE exerts up to seven times the pressure a human being can withstand.
Victims at the outer edge of impact suffer crashed internal organs, while those at the centre are reduced to pulp.
So young men like Casey Sheehan cheerfully prance off to war - or get drafted against their will - armed with these deadly toys, while intoxicated on some dubious concept of a "noble cause."
Some, like Casey, make their return in "personnel transfer containers", traditionally called coffins. Their families are told in appropriately sombre tones: "Your son died serving his country."
Military philosophers, like Thomas Aquinas five centuries ago, attempted to design a moral template for a righteous war, arguing that it must have a "just cause" and should be a "last resort."
The party waging the war must also have "legitimate authority" over the opposition, and "use of arms should not lead to more harm and disorder than the ill to be removed."
But even with the benefit of better knowledge, modern human beings have faithfully stuck to the medieval motivation for war: political control, coveting a "neighbour's" territory, plunder of choice wealth ... even revenge.
They have further succeeded in making war a more efficient and impersonal affair where a soldier does not necessarily have to look into the eyes of the victim.
However appealing military aggression may be made to sound, it is still murder on a grand scale; an obscenity that modern people have little excuse in perpetuating.
In Kenya, whatever else our leaders may be guilty of, at least they cannot be accused of being a bellicose, war-mongering bunch. That alone saves us the pain and heartache of Cindy Sheehan.
Does that make us cowards? Nay. I prefer the word "civilized."
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