Wednesday, July 2, 2008


I read an incredible book last night by a guy named Mark Danner. It was his account of The Massacre at El Mozote. I highly recommend the book as it gives some key insights into the brutal nature of the situations in Latin America during the Cold War and how the U.S. seemingly did very little to stop them. Anyway, one of the passage stuck out to me (pg. 82 of the book) when Captain Salazar of the Atlacatl (Salvadoran army trained by U.S.) talks to his men after they had pillaged, raped, and then brutally murdered men, women, and children civilians because they could weakly link them to the guerilla-leftist movement in the country. His speech went like this: "What we did yesterday, and the day before, this is called war. This is what war is. War is hell. And, goddammit, if I order you to kill your mother, that is just what you're going to do. Now, I don't want to hear that, afterward, while you're out drinking and bullshitting among yourselves, you're whining and complaining about this, about how terrible it was. I don't want to hear that. Because what we did yesterday, what we've been doing on this operation - this is war, gentlemen. This is what war is." Sorry for the language - straight quote from the book. I hate war. I hate that wars exist, have existed, and will continue to exist into the future. This is what war is. It is brutal. It involves the killing of innocent people. Children die. Women die. Men die. And in the end, even if one side brutally slaughters the other into submission, the opinions, hurt, anger, and mistrust continue long after the last bullet has been fired. I guess I just never really thought of war being so savage and ugly. Protected in my nice little suburban home and neighborhood it is easy to distance myself from the atrocities and pretend everything is okay and for the US military to "go get the bad guys." I'm not saying the US military does things or condones things of the brutal nature of El Mozote. I have nothing but the upmost respect for US soldiers - they have far bigger cojones than I do. I don't want to be Jane Fonda criticizing our troops and making it seem like they are wrong for being in the military. Its just that war is so terrible. I struggle as I read in Scripture in the Old Testament of God telling Israel to wipe out entire people groups - including the women, children and livestock. I see Solomon talking about a "time to kill" and it just sits uneasy with me. I trust God and know that He is wise in what He asks of us to do. But still. Can war in general be equated to that brutal massacre in El Salvador @ El Mozote? I don't know if that is a fair comparison. But I do know that in the end war is difficult and ugly and many people suffer as a result. If only we could solve our problems peacefully and not resort to putting a bullet through someone's brain to prove our being "right" in an argument/situation.


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