News that General William Westmoreland, who oversaw the escalation of the catastrophic Indochina War from 1964 through ’68-a pointless and criminal war that cost 58,000 American lives and millions of Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laotian lives-died at the age of 91 with “no regrets” about the conflict had me fantasizing about some special circle of hell reserved for military leaders.
Aren’t these medal-bedecked generals, who spend their days being pampered in sumptuous offices in the Pentagon, and squired around in limos and helicopters, incredible? They aren’t bothered at all by the chewing up of human beings on their orders-as stupid or venal as those orders might be.
There are plenty like Westy in today’s Pentagon-men who are thinking plenty about their careers, but not much about the men and women who are being destroyed on their orders in Iraq.
” We don’t do body counts,” say both Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Gen. Tommy Franks, of the 25-125,000 Iraqis who have been killed as a result of America’s invasion, to name just two of the Westmoreland clones in today’s Pentagon.
Or take depleted uranium weapons. Like the toxic Agent Orange that Westmoreland dumped all over the Southeast Asian countryside in a criminal attempt to destroy the livelihood of the peasants of South Vietnam who were helping the Viet Cong-a tactic which led to the death and maiming of countless Vietnamese, living and yet unborn, and of thousands of his own men and their offspring, DU weapons are now favorite weapon in the arsenal of the current generals and admirals. They care not a whit that the resulting dust is poisoning a nation, as well as their own army, and that it promises nightmarish birth defects in the families of returning veterans.
They too will likely pass on having “no regrets” about the horrific slaughter they are now wreaking in Iraq.
The least we can do when a conscience-challenged war criminal like Gen. Westmoreland passes on is memorialize his atrocities for him.
DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled “This Can’t be Happening!” is published by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net.
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org