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Sunday, May 6th, 2007

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Re: Blaming the Victim; Firebombing of Hamburg
If you're really lucky, you have a friend like my friend Mark who sends me some of the most interesting e-mail articles. He is an architect and we go back to high school in Chicago. His latest link was to a review in Haaretz: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/855565.html

Blaming the victim

By Eli Shaltiel

"The Fire: The Bombing of Germany, 1940-1945" by Jorg Friedrich (translated from the German by Allison Brown), Columbia University Press, 532 pages, $34.95

"Inferno: The Fiery Destruction of Hamburg, 1943" by Keith Lowe, Simon & Schuster, 489 pages, $30

I wrote to him, after reading the review, and certainly under the influence of Emmanuel Todd and Geoffrey Gorer, who are reawakening my enjoyment of history and anthropology. My comments follow:

I enjoyed the book review.

That waging war involves consequences that are unintended has been demonstrated again and again, and Iraq is just the latest example. To make the act of killing acceptable to a human being, it is necessary to desensitize and depersonalize the victim and to rationalize the process. War on the cheap is a fiction. It is never on the “moral cheap.” Sometimes, kill or be killed, makes survival a motivation for killing one’s enemies, but the shades of gray and the blurred outlines make the decisions extremely difficult in the time frame, and very subject to the second guesses.

Bombing the Nazis, in the strategic bombing campaign, with the tools available (bomb sights) meant casualties amongst the civilian population, and this was known, and deemed acceptable. It was as much a war crime as torpedoing passenger ships by u-boats.

I believe that the bombing campaigns, at least initially, were aimed at appropriate military targets. Collateral damage, a word that didn’t seem to be applied at the time, was regretted but accepted. Terror bombing and deliberate creations of fire storms were areas of warfare that can be interpreted as “war crimes.” Strategic bombing, today, is certainly a war crime, if the targets involve risk of civilian damage, and they always do. The use of the atomic bomb was not defined as a war crime, but it was.

There is always a risk of judging the consequences of war from the victor’s perspective, as from the perspective of the defeated. War injures both, and war can’t be truly rationalized as a “good war.”
There are wars that have to be fought for the preservation of the nation, in the immediate threat, as when attacked, and there are wars, by design, crafted for reasons known best to the manipulators of opinion, in which the wars are fought for imagined wrongs, or imagined threats. It is a wonderful testament to a certain level of rationality that the Soviet Union and the United States never fought a direct war.
Planes of Fame, the Thunderbolt and Diversity
Yesterday, I drove myself to Chino for the topic above, initially planning to meet my son-in-law, Chris, and some grandchildren. Chris was ill, so I went alone, after squeezing in 3 dialysis unit rounds (9 patients.) Incidentally, if you love airplanes, in 2 weeks, Chino has its airshow: http://www.planesoffame.org/ Don't miss it! 3 P-38's in the air, above your head. Of course, a Spitfire.

I'd post pictures of the P-47 but last week, 2 computers went down, the most recent this morning, after I had downloaded my pictures. The P-47 was the early variety, modified to hold a second jump seat, and some lucky museum member got to take a ride. It reminded me of my very own Spitfire experience, and, at 71, much as I would like to, even in the more spacious '47, I don't have the dexterity to crawl in, let alone climb out. This was demonstrated, last year, when I sat in a Lotus Exige, and practically needed the fire department to extract me.
I do intend to post the pictures, or some pictures when the computers can be resuscitated.

Diversity, as a theme, was interesting to a largely male, and mostly white male at that, in that a Jamaican born helicopter pilot-entrepreneur-actor-comedian, Robin Petgrave, delivered the message. Spectacular! Uplifting! Inspirational! I couldn't believe the energy and the intention. I do believe that this is one of the most worthwhile activities that I have ever heard of, and, I intend to get involved. I will be joining the support group @ $50, and I will make myself available to anyone with an interest in finding out what doctors actually do, at least what this one does. This man makes sense in a way that others, however well meaning, only lend lip-service. Talk about charisma.... take 15 minutes, watch the link, and be inspired. http://www.tamuseum.org/

Current Mood: Inspired

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