Monday, June 9, 2014


Scouts Train to Fight Terrorists, and More - NYT - 5-13-09 * {click on for story}

Explorers ready to enter a building taken by terrorists, in an exercise--photo by Todd Drainin NYT

We take many of them right out of high school, train them to fight to the point of death—kill or be killed. Later they'll lethally guard our borders [now belatedly recognized as overkill], or we'll ship them off to combat.  Then they’re supposed to return home to normal family life.

he real soldier training it takes to make a warrior is intense and desensitizing.  Then society trivializes the bloodshed of war, while celebrating war, in video games, war training tourism, and arms bazaars.  Examples of these last two and others appear below.  Start with the 20 minute video on SOFEX, one of many incredibly elaborate extravagant forums dedicated to the business of war.

There is current controversy over the exchange for a soldier held captive by the Taliban--a deal with terrorists for their own captives we’ve held at Guantanamo.  {Does anyone remember the deal made by Ronald Reagan with Iranian terrorists, right before he was first elected President?}

“Sometime after midnight on June 30, 2009, Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl left behind a note in his tent saying he had become disillusioned with the Army, did not support the American mission in Afghanistan and was leaving to start a new life. He slipped off the remote military outpost in Paktika Province on the border with Pakistan and took with him a soft backpack, water, knives, a notebook and writing materials, but left behind his body armor and weapons — startling, given the hostile environment around his outpost.”  This was the comment given by an army commander to the New York Times.   Reading this and another article, one gets the idea Bergdahl was an introspective individual, willing to risk his life, and was asking no one to come looking for him.

Whether now Pfc. Bergdahl was "worth it" is a hard question.  In God’s economy all lives are precious, making all war transactions absurd, a contradiction to the message of God’s Son, the eternal peacemaker.

ar is not a place where people act rationally.  War is hell.  And which takes more spiritual courage—to march diligently into this hell, or to walk resolutely away from it?  The conservative Pope Benedict XVI has readily admitted to deserting from the German army in 1943.  Untold numbers of conscientious objectors to war down through history, liberal and conservative, have done the same, quite often paying with their lives.  Who are we, the consumers of the lifestyle fruits of modern warfare, to judge?

The ones who also dearly pay the price are the soldiers who return, scared inside and out by what they’ve seen and done, and those citizens and fighters who are maimed or no longer alive in the theaters of war, where our soldiers had to play their violent part.    Those who did their job well still face PTSD, suicide, alcohol, an inadequate VA medical system, scarce work opportunities—and families sometimes frightened or threatened by what the returned have been through, unable to understand.

The only hope is to not go to war in the first place, to outlaw the business of war.   The prayer we sing this Pentecost, “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, enkindle in us the fire of your love.”  The ongoing petition for our Offertory at mass, “Lord, may we end our reliance on war, and trust in you.”

References --

The bizarreness of the war industry.

 The real scout's honor view of war from the page of a Boy Scout's Handbook of an earlier era.

 Illuminations by Kathy Brahney

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