combat writing badge C O M B A T
the Literary Expression of Battlefield Touchstones
ISSN 1542-1546 Volume 02 Number 04 Fall ©Oct 2004

War Crimes

"Our cause was so just that it was worth dying for, so important that it was worth killing for, and so sacred that it was worth living for."

When the Counter-Culture began to hold hearings and accept testimony on alleged war crimes in Southeast Asia, no one bothered to question their authority, and no one recognized the parallel to the kangaroo courts from other revolutionary eras, with their re-interpretation of legal rights and evidentiary processes. When the factionalized tribunal proclaimed something, anything, then the challenged authority automatically defended itself ... thus legitimizing the mock trial, and reinforcing the travesty. The principal crime, of course, was the allegedly illegitimate act of aggressive alliance against the so-called peace-loving repressors of that civil war, but that was much too overt an issue to debate. The conscientious objectors resented the fact that the government which regulated and protected them might also involve itself externally. They would not concede the right of sovereignty to their republic, and they did not believe that other citizens would willingly restrict their own civil rights by conforming to special codes; since these ideologues reserved their individual independence unto themselves alone. When the Allied war crimes trials sought to redress the blatant inhumanities of fascism, many exceptions had to be made for similarities, and the legality of the wrongs had to be warranted by some power greater than mere victory. It was noted at the time that someday this precedent may haunt the present judges ... and so it did, with the New Moral Inquisition instituted by ungrateful benefactors. The true crimes were not the violent acts which have existed in every war throughout history, and which cannot be prevented or prohibited when men are slaughtering each other; but rather the real crime is the condemnation of men who were sent to do exactly what was later determined to be cruel and evil. Such condemnation, based upon plastic redefinitions of morality, instills mistrust, ensures isolation, and invites conquest by anyone who is immune to the blandishments of jurisprudence.

Because I've seen many men die better than most people live, I wonder why young men, like automated paladins, are sent forth to fight old men's wars? ... why youthful minions are extorted into defending foolish fictions or addled pride? As every game player must be prepared to lose, so the warrior must be willing to die. Unfortunately, the combatants are usually mere tokens in the geopolitical game, and the bureaucrats are unwilling to forfeit their privilege, and governments are unwilling to concede authority, even to make new rules or to declare different goals. To conclude a war so that everyone wins something is either high comedy or great tragedy; and mocks its alleged necessity. However, if war is truly a crime against humanity, and man is the victim, then who is actually the cruel perpetrator? ... and who can possibly sit in abstractedly objective judgment upon a holocaust or apocalypse? ... and what possible punishment could fit such a perfidious crime, without compounding the travesty? Who will absolve the naive and innocent, the scourged and demonic patriots, the ghoulish architects, the sinister devisers, and all the other despicable fiends? Perhaps, for we denizens of a perpetual Hell, the crime is the punishment!

by Pan Perdu
... who is a former soldier and VA counselor; this work has been excerpted from Fragmentations, a book in progress.