This Means War!

Going to war is no joke and must not be rushed into. Yet what if the World War II Allies had acted early and bombed the Nazi concentration camps? How many lives would have been saved? Or, for that matter, how many more would have died? These are strategic questions that often undermine humanitarian concerns. Toward the end of the war, even knowing about the many death camps, the Allies refused to divert its war machine to aid in humanitarian rescue.

The Allies are again faced with a strategic versus humanitarian decision. Should a war-weary nation — the United States — make a punitive strike (war by any other name) against Syria for using outlawed chemical weapons against its own citizens? Should the President, without backing from the UN, NATO and the US congress be the punisher? Charles Blow, writing in Saturday’s New York Times, asks the questions that confound all people of conscience. His column reminded me of one of the most astute antiwar songs of the Vietnam era, Phil Ochs’ (1940–1976) “I Ain’t Marching Anymore.” I thought it might be sobering to read and hear the lyrics during this critical moment of when strategy, conscience and humanity are in conflict.

i-aint

Oh I marched to the battle of New Orleans
At the end of the early British war
The young land started growing
The young blood started flowing
But I ain’t marchin’ anymore

For I’ve killed my share of Indians
In a thousand different fights
I was there at the Little Big Horn
I heard many men lying I saw many more dying
But I ain’t marchin’ anymore

(chorus)

It’s always the old to lead us to the war
It’s always the young to fall
Now look at all we’ve won with the saber and the gun
Tell me is it worth it all

For I stole California from the Mexican land
Fought in the bloody Civil War
Yes I even killed my brothers
And so many others But I ain’t marchin’ anymore

For I marched to the battles of the German trench
In a war that was bound to end all wars
Oh I must have killed a million men
And now they want me back again
But I ain’t marchin’ anymore

(chorus)

For I flew the final mission in the Japanese sky
Set off the mighty mushroom roar
When I saw the cities burning I knew that I was learning
That I ain’t marchin’ anymore

Now the labor leader’s screamin’
when they close the missile plants,
United Fruit screams at the Cuban shore,
Call it “Peace” or call it “Treason,”
Call it “Love” or call it “Reason,”
But I ain’t marchin’ any more,
No I ain’t marchin’ any more

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2 thoughts on “This Means War!

  1. Kim Kaufman

    ” Should a war-weary nation — the United States — make a punitive strike (war by any other name) against Syria for using outlawed chemical weapons against its own citizens?” Except there’s no real evidence Assad used the chemical weapons and a lot of reasons he wouldn’t have done it. Obama & Kerry seem very eager to make these ginned up false statements and not wait for UN inspectors report. Sounds like an Iraq replay of US misinformation to us. I am against this ridiculous military intervention that only the Pentagon and those they give our tax dollar to support themselves want.

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