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Posts Tagged ‘Robert Scheer’

Robert Scheer, SF Gate, September 3, 2009

True, he doesn’t seem a bit like Lyndon Johnson, but the way he’s headed on Afghanistan, Barack Obama is threatened with a quagmire that could bog down his presidency. LBJ also had a progressive agenda in mind, beginning with his war on poverty, but it was soon overwhelmed by the cost and divisiveness engendered by a meaningless, and seemingly endless, war in Vietnam.

Meaningless is the right term for the Afghanistan war, too, because our bloody attempt to conquer this foreign land has nothing to do with its stated purpose of enhancing our national security. Just as the government of Vietnam was never a puppet of communist China or the Soviet Union, the Taliban is not a surrogate for al Qaeda. Involved in both instances was an American intrusion into a civil war whose passions and parameters we never fully have grasped and will always fail to control militarily.

Continues >>

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controlsframestoryAmerican photographer Julien Bryan arrived in Warsaw by train on September 7, 1939, two days after the Polish government and the Yank press corps had exited the capital and just two days before the city was cut off by advancing German forces. Bryan spent his nights huddled with others in the American embassy basement; by day, shooting for the next two weeks, “I had the siege of Warsaw all to myself,” he later wrote, “but I wasn’t too happy about it.”

The photo was taken after a strafing by Stukas on September 14. In it, a 10-year-old girl mourns her younger sister, who was killed in the attack. Recalled Bryan, the elder sibling “leaned down and touched the dead girl’s face and drew back in horror. ‘Oh my beautiful sister,’ she wailed, ‘What have they done to you?'”

Bryan exited Warsaw on September 21. The German army entered the city on September 30. World War II was one month old.

Error: The dead girl is in fact 10-year-old Kazimiera Mika’s older sister.

Perhaps not as well known as that other picture of children caught up in the horrors of a murderous and cowardly attack from the air, but every bit as telling.

For more photos by Julien Bryan of this incident and a commentary in Spanish (don’t worry if you don’t read Spanish, the pictures tell the whole story), click here.

Warning: Some readers may find these pictures distressing.

World War II: 70 Years and We’re Still Fighting

Truthdig, September 1, 2009

The Germans invaded Poland on this day 70 years ago, and so began what many consider the greatest conflict in human history. An estimated 60 million people would die, including 27 million Soviets and 12 million Jews, Gypsies, gays and other victims of the Nazi holocaust. Most of the dead were civilians.

The war radically altered the cultures of its participants and the map of the world. It created two superpowers that would fight over the ashes of Europe and the kingdoms of Asia for a generation.

World War II continues to captivate, though it has become a tragic pop culture caricature (with a few notable exceptions). The nightmares of combat are now fodder for dozens of video games while Hollywood has made an art—and business—of flag-waving. Heroism and glory survive in our cultural memory better than fire bombings and ovens and the countless horrors of war. Perhaps that’s why we have had so many since. —PS

Related: The BBC reports on Poland’s commemoration of the anniversary. Truthdig contributor and WWII veteran Gore Vidal on empire and history. Daniel Ellsberg reflects on the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Chris Hedges writes on the horrors of war. Robert Scheer on the permanent war economy.

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