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Excuses and Reasons

January 03, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: Jerry Elmer, Politics

Remembering History’s Lessons on War and Peace

by Jerry Elmer

It is 2014, the centenary of the beginning of World War I, and the world is in for four years of hundredth-anniversary observances. In 2016, we’ll hear all about the Battle of Verdun, the longest battle of the war (and one of the longest in the history of warfare, from February through December 1916). On November 11, 2018, we’ll mark the one hundredth anniversary of the armistice that ended the fighting at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

And this year, on June 28, we will all be reminded of the assassination in Sarajevo, Bosnia, of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie at the hands of a Serbian nationalist. The long-forgotten name of Gavrilo Princep, the Archduke’s assassin, will be suddenly remembered and talked about. And it will be glibly repeated that this assassination caused the war. (more…)

Taken to Heart

March 27, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Michael True, Politics

War, More War, and Lessons from Vietnam to Iraq

by Michael True

The title of Nick Turse’s brilliant history, Kill Anything That Moves:  The Real American War in Vietnam (Metropolitan, 2013), was a commanding officer’s response to a soldier’s question, “Are we supposed to kill women and children?”

In contrast, an army criminal investigator’s response to a veteran, who revealed that American soldiers were abusing and killing Vietnamese civilians, was: “The United States has never condoned wanton killing or disregard for human life.”

Turse’s readable, indispensable, and, yes, deeply disturbing book may be the most important among thousands of books about the Vietnam war. A major achievement is its explaining how and why “atrocities perpetrated by US soldiers have essentially vanished from public memory.” In authenticity and power, it compares favorably with earlier  accounts, such as Tim O’Brien’s novel, The Things They Carried,” and Bruce Weigl’s poems, Song of Napalm. (more…)

Celebrating Peace in Hanoi

February 04, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Jerry Elmer, Politics

Marking 40 Years Since the Paris Agreement Ended the War in Vietnam

by Jerry Elmer

HANOI, Vietnam – January 27, 2013 was the fortieth anniversary of the signing of the Paris Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Viet Nam (Paris Agreement). Probably not one American in a thousand is aware of the occasion.

But here in Vietnam this anniversary is hugely important and is being marked with much pomp and festivities. The main event was an official commemoration ceremony in the National Conventional Center. Vietnam’s President, Truong Tan San, important cabinet members, and leading Communist Party officials all attended, as did ambassadors from many countries and delegations from around the world. The program included a multimedia performance that included dance and music; and the President awarded a medal to the now-elderly Madame Nguyen Thi Binh, the lead negotiator in Paris for the Provisional Revolutionary Government, or PRG (referred to in the United States pejoratively, and inaccurately, as the Viet Cong). (more…)

Ordinary Evil

January 25, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Jerry Elmer, Politics

Vietnam’s History Reveals the Banality of Systemic Violence

by Jerry Elmer

MY LAI, Vietnam — My Lai is known to Americans as the site of a massacre of Vietnamese civilians by American troops. On the morning of March 16, 1968, American forces entered the village and gathered up all living things: elderly men and women, infants in mothers’ arms, pigs, chickens, and water buffalo. Then, the Americans proceeded to kill them all, slowly, carefully, methodically. It took four hours (this was no sudden outburst of passion), until all 504 people and all the animals were massacred. Fifty-six of the people killed were under seven years old; some of the infants were bayoneted to death. Women were raped before being shot.

After the killing orgy, two of the American soldiers (one a religious Mormon) sat down to lunch nearby. Unfortunately, their meal was interrupted by the moans of a few villagers shot and left for dead, but not yet fully dead. The two soldiers, disturbed by the interruption, finished off the few villagers still alive, and then went placidly back to their meal. (more…)

Universal Responsibility

December 22, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Current Events, Politics, Winslow Myers

“O that there were some virtue in my tears . . .” – Shakespeare

by Winslow Myers 

One of the Dalai Lama’s first principles is something he calls “universal responsibility.” However quick we are to place His Holiness on a saintly pedestal, it is only because the threshold of our own responsibility sometimes seems so very low — especially at this moment of reflection upon the massacre of the innocents in Newtown.

From a tearful President on down through the powerful talk radio demagogues to ordinary citizens, we all bear a share of responsibility for the climate of violence that is the context for the tragedy in Newton. I’m as responsible as anyone because I haven’t yet written my representative concerning my strong feelings about gun control. Great Britain endured 58 firearm murders in 2011, while America had 8,775. Great Britain banned modern handguns altogether in 1997 and studies show a slow but steady decrease in crimes involving handguns in the UK ever since. (more…)

Christmas Past

December 18, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Jerry Elmer, Politics

After Sorrow Comes Happiness…

by Jerry Elmer 

Today, December 18, 2012, is the fortieth anniversary of the notorious “Christmas bombing” of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV), pejoratively (and inaccurately) referred to at the time by U.S. leaders (and the U.S. media) as “North Vietnam.” This coming January 27, 2013, will be the fortieth anniversary of the signing of the Paris Agreement that ended direct U.S. involvement in the war; I will be in Vietnam observing and participating in the commemoration of that anniversary. But today it is time to remember the Christmas bombing that started on this date in 1972.

First, a word about the context. The 1972 presidential election was a race between peace candidate Sen. George McGovern (D-S.D.) and the incumbent President, Richard Nixon, who had continued and escalated the Vietnam War throughout his first four years in office. (more…)

‘Tis the Season?

December 26, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: David Swanson, Economy, Politics

Exploring the Prospects for Peace on Earth

by David Swanson

This time of year is ideal for reflecting on the miracle of Christmas 1914, that famous temporary truce and friendship between opposing sides in the midst of a war. Here was a new type of slaughter confronted with a new type of humanism, the leading edges of two opposing trends.

An op-ed in the New York Times last week by Steven Pinker and Joshua Goldstein argues that peace, rather than war, was the dominant development, and that over the millennia, centuries, decades, and right up to this moment, “War Really Is Going Out of Style.”

Of course, war can potentially be eliminated, and that is already a very valuable point to be making. War isn’t in our genes. We aren’t doomed to always have it with us. Even more valuable would be a successful argument that all types of violence have been decreasing, including war. (more…)


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