THE TEACHINGS OF OUR TIMES
RENATO REDENTOR CONSTANTINO
January 17, 2005
"It was most diverting to watch a group of Galli [Ethiopian tribesmen] bursting out like a rose after I landed a bomb in the middle of them," said the Italian bomber pilot Vittorio Mussolini after his plane swooped down on Ethiopia.
Sounds like a Kodak moment.
War, said the son of Il Duce, is "the most beautiful and complete of sports."
It's all about perspective.
Tom Brokaw bubbled with enthusiasm at "the threatening beauty" of American bombs exploding in Iraq during America's first Gulf War while a CNN correspondent in Saudi Arabia described US bombers taking off on their missions of glory as "the most beautiful sight."
For Brent Sadler of ITN, the nocturnal heavens of Iraq during that deadly time was not a source of things that maimed and killed but a "night sky filled with the star-spangled display of threatening force."
And threatening force it was. Eventually, said the distinguished scholar Edward S. Herman, it was revealed that the smart bombs used in Gulf War I were missing their targets 40 percent of the time, and that only some five percent of the bombs dropped were smart.
Reality, according to Herman's Doublespeak Dictionary: "A nightmare, unbelievable during waking hours."
"I feel sorry for the people that my colleagues and I killed. But we are innocent people and not as cruel as they accuse us," said Suy Vith, a Cambodian who had killed truckloads of men, women and children with a weapon the murderous Khmer Rouge had placed in his hands.
In fairness to Vith, he said the choice given him by Pol Pot's murderous band was to kill or be killed. Fair enough. Curiously, the word remorse does not seem to be part of his regular vocabulary.
"I go to the pagoda sometimes," Vith says. "I give food for my dead mother and father. I pray for good things for them, but I never pray for those I killed or ask for pardon. This is life. I killed people and I feel that I will be killed by people when I am reborn in my next life. This is karma."
If he were reborn in Falluja this very minute, would Suy Vith welcome it?
The Khmer Rouge carried out four years of genocide in Cambodia. Who disputes this? None.
Who wants to know the reasons why? Even fewer.
Trouble-free answer as to why: the wicked Khmer Rouge was headed by madman called Pol Pot, who was a communist fanatic indoctrinated and trained in the evil ways of Paris.
Painful part of the answer: just before Pol Pot came to power, from 1969 to 1975 - the first half of what a Finnish government study called a "decade" of genocide - America dropped over half a million tons of bombs on rural Cambodia and was the genocidist.
In 1973 alone, for 160 consecutive days, the US dropped over 240,000 "short tons of bombs on rice fields, water buffalo and villages," a tonnage that "represents 50 percent more than the conventional explosives dropped on Japan during World War II," against a peasant society with no air force or ground defenses.
How many were killed by the years of US bombing? Perhaps as many Cambodians as were executed by the Khmer Rouge.
"The United States has much to answer for here, not only in terms of human lives and massive material destruction," wrote Jon Swain of the British Sunday Times on May 11, 1975. The wickedness of the Khmer Rouge, wrote the British correspondent on the first year of Pol Pot's bloody reign, "who run this country now, or what is left of it, are as much a product of this wholesale American bombing which has hardened and honed their minds."
"A teacher," said Henry Adams, "affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops."
 Edward S. Herman, Beyond Hypocrisy: Decoding the News in an Age of Propaganda, South End Press, 1992.
 "Former Khmer Rouge recounts dark past," Thet Sambath, The Cambodia Daily, January 7, 2005.
 "Pol Pot's death in the propaganda system, Edward S. Herman, Z Magazine, June 1998.
 Footnotes to Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky, ed. Peter R. Mitchell and John Schoeffel, The New Press, 2002. See http://www.understandingpower.com/ for the notes.