An blog by a member of the Catholic peace movement, Pax Christi, to explore the nexus between contemplation and resistance. "The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Precision Bombing



"They have plundered the world, stripping naked the land in their hunger, they loot even the ocean: they are driven by greed, if their enemy be rich; by ambition, if poor; neither the wealth of the east nor the west can satisfy them: they are the only people who behold wealth and indigence with equal passion to dominate. They ravage, they slaughter, they seize by false pretenses, and all of this they hail as the construction of empire. And when in their wake nothing remains but a desert, they call that peace." - Tacitus

Many peoples shall come and say,
"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths."
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.

- Isaiah 2:3-4

The way to justify war is to create technological distance: "Regarding precision bombing they quote Marc Garlasco, a Human Rights Watch military analyst: 'My major concern with what's going on in Iraq is massive population density... you have the potential for very high civilian casualties, so you need really granular intelligence on what you're going to hit. But I don't think they're being careless.'

If you buy this logic, as long as, say, Iraqi insurgent forces weren't being careless, it would be OK on human rights grounds for them to bomb the US White House so long as they had sufficiently 'granular intelligence' on where President Bush was sitting, and used one of those 250-pound bombs that 'make blasts safer for civilians.'

Just hope that at that moment a servant wasn't bringing Bush a cup of coffee, or that he wasn't being visited by nieces, or a Cub Scout troop, or even, say, one of those human rights officials who now consult with General Petraeus or legitimize the idea of bombing countries that have been invaded illegally (according to, say, the British Foreign Office's former deputy legal adviser, who resigned because 'an unlawful use of force on such a scale amounts to a crime of aggression') so long as painted on one side of the bombs is the word 'precision'." "Killing Civilians, Carefully", Allen Nairn, Jan. 18, 2008.

We protect ourselves from the sight of dead innocence through the use of technological symbols such as "precision bombing", which neutralizes our capacity to visualize death. In place of the sight of an armless or legless child who happened to be visiting his grandfather, we see greenish optical displays of a "precision bomb" destroying a house. The truth is simply too ghastly for us to envision, so our empathetic capabilities have to be numbed by verbal anesthetics.

"It is not just that babel incites violence - though it does ... but, more than that, babel is violence ... Essentially, babel targets the facilities of comprehension - sanity and conscience - which distinguish human beings from other creatures." - William Stringfellow "An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land"

The key point here is that the Pentagon is not being imprecise about precision bombing. The intent is make the full visualization and comprehension of the murders we commit through "collateral damage" impossible, to obfuscate the powers of moral perception with verbal fog. This hail of technological verbiage is designed to annihilate the perceptive conscience. This technique can be referred to as "overtalk", "in which the media themselves so accentuate volume, speed, and redundancy that communication is incapacitated (even where the data transmitted may not be false or deceptive). The auditor's mind is so insulated, inundated, or transfixed by verbal and visual technology that it is crippled or immobilized." - William Stringfellow "An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land".

The result: "...the Post cites the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq as estimating 'that more than 200 civilian deaths resulted from U.S. air strikes in Iraq from the beginning of April to the end of last year, when U.S. forces began to significantly increase the strikes to coordinate with the expansion of ground troops.'". "Killing Civilians, Carefully", Allen Nairn, Jan. 18, 2008.

Only the power of the cross can cut through the babel spewed by the principalities and powers: "In inflicting violence on one another, men know not what they do, for they know not the sacredness of their brothers' and their own humanity, which at its innermost core is one with the humanity of Christ. The violence of men at any place or time in history is the violence of Golgotha. And the victim, yet by his infinite love no longer victim but redeemer, is everywhere and always the same: the man of the cross." - James W. Douglass.

Blessed Franz Jagerstatter, Pray for us!

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