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Jack London: War

March 31, 2011 1 comment

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

American writers on peace and against war

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Jack London
War (1911)

He was a young man, not more than twenty-four or five, and he might have sat his horse with the careless grace of his youth had he not been so catlike and tense. His black eyes roved everywhere, catching the movements of twigs and branches where small birds hopped, questing ever onward through the changing vistas of trees and brush, and returning always to the clumps of undergrowth on either side. And as he watched, so did he listen, though he rode on in silence, save for the boom of heavy guns from far to the west. This had been sounding monotonously in his ears for hours, and only its cessation could have aroused his notice. For he had business closer to hand. Across his saddle-bow was balanced a carbine.

So tensely was he strung, that a bunch of quail, exploding into flight from under his horse’s nose, startled him to such an extent that automatically, instantly, he had reined in and fetched the carbine halfway to his shoulder. He grinned sheepishly, recovered himself, and rode on. So tense was he, so bent upon the work he had to do, that the sweat stung his eyes unwiped, and unheeded rolled down his nose and spattered his saddle pommel. The band of his cavalryman’s hat was fresh-stained with sweat. The roan horse under him was likewise wet. It was high noon of a breathless day of heat. Even the birds and squirrels did not dare the sun, but sheltered in shady hiding places among the trees.

Man and horse were littered with leaves and dusted with yellow pollen, for the open was ventured no more than was compulsory. They kept to the brush and trees, and invariably the man halted and peered out before crossing a dry glade or naked stretch of upland pasturage. He worked always to the north, though his way was devious, and it was from the north that he seemed most to apprehend that for which he was looking. He was no coward, but his courage was only that of the average civilized man, and he was looking to live, not die.

Up a small hillside he followed a cowpath through such dense scrub that he was forced to dismount and lead his horse. But when the path swung around to the west, he abandoned it and headed to the north again along the oak-covered top of the ridge.

The ridge ended in a steep descent-so steep that he zigzagged back and forth across the face of the slope, sliding and stumbling among the dead leaves and matted vines and keeping a watchful eye on the horse above that threatened to fall down upon him. The sweat ran from him, and the pollen-dust, settling pungently in mouth and nostrils, increased his thirst. Try as he would, nevertheless the descent was noisy, and frequently he stopped, panting in the dry heat an d listening for any warning from beneath.

At the bottom he came out on a flat, so densely forested that he could not make out its extent. Here the character of the woods changed, and he was able to remount. Instead of the twisted hillside oaks, tall straight trees, big-trunked and prosperous, rose from the damp fat soil. Only here and there were thickets, easily avoided, while he encountered winding, park-like glades where the cattle had pastured in the days before war had run them off.

His progress was more rapid now, as he came down into the valley, and at the end of half an hour he halted at an ancient rail fence on the edge of a clearing. He did not like the openness of it, yet his path lay across to the fringe of trees that marked the banks of the stream. It was a mere quarter of a mile across that open, but the thought of venturing out in it was repugnant. A rifle, a score of them, a thousand, might lurk in that fringe by the stream.

Twice he essayed to start, and twice he paused. He was appalled by his own loneliness. The pulse of war that beat from the West suggested the companionship of battling thousands; here was naught but silence, and himself, and possible death-dealing bullets from a myriad ambushes. And yet his task was to find what he feared to find. He must on, and on, till somewhere, some time, he encountered another man, or other men, from the other side, scouting, as he was scouting, to make report, as he must make report, of having come in touch.

Changing his mind, he skirted inside the woods for a distance, and again peeped forth. This time, in the middle of the clearing, he saw a small farmhouse. There were no signs of life. No smoke curled from the chimney, not a barnyard fowl clucked and strutted. The kitchen door stood open, and he gazed so long and hard into the black aperture that it seemed almost that a farmer’s wife must emerge at any moment.

He licked the pollen and dust from his dry lips, stiffened himself, mind and body, and rode out into the blazing sunshine. Nothing stirred. He went on past the house, and approached the wall of trees and bushes by the river’s bank. One thought persisted maddeningly. It was of the crash into his body of a high-velocity bullet. It made him feel very fragile and defenseless, and he crouched lower in the saddle.

Tethering his horse in the edge of the wood, he continued a hundred yards on foot till he came to the stream. Twenty feet wide it was, without perceptible current, cool and inviting, and he was very thirsty. But he waited inside his screen of leafage, his eyes fixed on the screen on the opposite side. To make the wait endurable, he sat down, his carbine resting on his knees. The minutes passed, and slowly his tenseness relaxed. At last he decided there was no danger; but just as he prepared to part the bushes and bend down to the water, a movement among the opposite bushes caught his eye.

It might be a bird. But he waited. Again there was an agitation of the bushes, and then, so suddenly that it almost startled a cry from him, the bushes parted and a face peered out. It was a face covered with several weeks’ growth of ginger-colored beard. The eyes were blue and wide apart, with laughter-wrinkles in the comers that showed despite the tired and anxious expression of the whole face.

All this he could see with microscopic clearness, for the distance was no more than twenty feet. And all this he saw in such brief time, that he saw it as he lifted his carbine to his shoulder. He glanced along the sights, and knew that he was gazing upon a man who was as good as dead. It was impossible to miss at such point blank range.

But he did not shoot. Slowly he lowered the carbine and watched. A hand, clutching a water-bottle, became visible and the ginger beard bent downward to fill the bottle. He could hear the gurgle of the water. Then arm and bottle and ginger beard disappeared behind the closing bushes. A long time he waited, when, with thirst unslaked, he crept back to his horse, rode slowly across the sun-washed clearing, and passed into the shelter of the woods beyond.

II

Another day, hot and breathless. A deserted farmhouse, large, with many outbuildings and an orchard, standing in a clearing. From the Woods, on a roan horse, carbine across pommel, rode the young man with the quick black eyes. He breathed with relief as he gained the house. That a fight had taken place here earlier in the season was evident. Clips and empty cartridges, tarnished with verdigris, lay on the ground, which, while wet, had been torn up by the hoofs of horses. Hard by the kitchen garden were graves, tagged and numbered. From the oak tree by the kitchen door, in tattered, weatherbeaten garments, hung the bodies of two men. The faces, shriveled and defaced, bore no likeness to the faces of men. The roan horse snorted beneath them, and the rider caressed and soothed it and tied it farther away.

Entering the house, he found the interior a wreck. He trod on empty cartridges as he walked from room to room to reconnoiter from the windows. Men had camped and slept everywhere, and on the floor of one room he came upon stains unmistakable where the wounded had been laid down.

Again outside, he led the horse around behind the barn and invaded the orchard. A dozen trees were burdened with ripe apples. He filled his pockets, eating while he picked. Then a thought came to him, and he glanced at the sun, calculating the time of his return to camp. He pulled off his shirt, tying the sleeves and making a bag. This he proceeded to fill with apples.

As he was about to mount his horse, the animal suddenly pricked up its ears. The man, too, listened, and heard, faintly, the thud of hoofs on soft earth. He crept to the corner of the barn and peered out. A dozen mounted men, strung out loosely, approaching from the opposite side of the clearing, were only a matter of a hundred yards or so away. They rode on to the house. Some dismounted, while others remained in the saddle as an earnest that their stay would be short. They seemed to be holding a council, for he could hear them talking excitedly in the detested tongue of the alien invader. The time passed, but they seemed unable to reach a decision. He put the carbine away in its boot, mounted, and waited impatiently, balancing the shirt of apples on the pommel.

He heard footsteps approaching, and drove his spurs so fiercely into the roan as to force a surprised groan from the animal as it leaped forward. At the comer of the barn he saw the intruder, a mere boy of nineteen or twenty for all of his uniform jump back to escape being run down. At the same moment the roan swerved and its rider caught a glimpse of the aroused men by the house. Some were springing from their horses, and he could see the rifles going to their shoulders. He passed the kitchen door and the dried corpses swinging in the shade, compelling his foes to run around the front of the house. A rifle cracked, and a second, but he was going fast, leaning forward, low in the saddle, one hand clutching the shirt of apples, the other guiding the horse.

The top bar of the fence was four feet high, but he knew his roan and leaped it at full career to the accompaniment of several scattered shots. Eight hundred yards straight away were the woods, and the roan was covering the distance with mighty strides. Every man was now firing. pumping their guns so rapidly that he no longer heard individual shots. A bullet went through his hat, but he was unaware, though he did know when another tore through the apples on the pommel. And he winced and ducked even lower when a third bullet, fired low, struck a stone between his horse’s legs and ricochetted off through the air, buzzing and humming like some incredible insect.

The shots died down as the magazines were emptied, until, quickly, there was no more shooting. The young man was elated. Through that astonishing fusillade he had come unscathed. He glanced back. Yes, they had emptied their magazines. He could see several reloading. Others were running back behind the house for their horses. As he looked, two already mounted, came back into view around the comer, riding hard. And at the same moment, he saw the man with the unmistakable ginger beard kneel down on the ground, level his gun, and coolly take his time for the long shot.

The young man threw his spurs into the horse, crouched very low, and swerved in his flight in order to distract the other’s aim. And still the shot did not come. With each jump of the horse, the woods sprang nearer. They were only two hundred yards away and still the shot was delayed.

And then he heard it, the last thing he was to hear, for he was dead ere he hit the ground in the long crashing fall from the saddle. And they, watching at the house, saw him fall, saw his body bounce when it struck the earth, and saw the burst of red-cheeked apples that rolled about him. They laughed at the unexpected eruption of apples, and clapped their hands in applause of the long shot by the man with the ginger beard.

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NATO Wages War On Third Continent

Stop NATO
March 30, 2011

NATO Wages War On Third Continent
Rick Rozoff

At its summit in Lisbon, Portugal last November the North Atlantic Treaty Organization adopted its first strategic concept for the 21st century, one in keeping with its expansion into not only a pan-European but a self-styled international military force.

In addition to subordinating all of Europe to a U.S.-dominated interceptor missile system, complementing the new U.S. Cyber Command in waging cyberwarfare defensive and offensive, and erasing whatever distinction remained between NATO and European Union military functions on the continent and globally, the world’s only military bloc endorsed the nearly ten-year-old war in Afghanistan as its prime mission and affirmed its commitment to ongoing operations in the Balkans.

Almost all of the approximately 150,000 foreign soldiers in Afghanistan are currently under the command of the NATO-run International Security Assistance Force, which is also conducting deadly helicopter gunship raids and artillery attacks inside neighboring Pakistan.

The war in South Asia is NATO’s first armed conflict outside Europe and its first ground war. Its bombing campaign in Bosnia in 1995 and 78-day air war against Yugoslavia four years later were its first hostile military actions.

NATO is now waging a war in a third continent, Africa.

The Alliance’s summit last year placed particular emphasis on consolidating partnerships with nations outside Europe and North America; military relations and agreements with, counting NATO members and partners alike, over a third of the 192 members of the United Nations.

Mechanisms employed to extend NATO’s influence and operations worldwide include the Partnership for Peace, Mediterranean Dialogue, Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, the Contact Countries format, the NATO-Afghanistan-Pakistan Tripartite Commission and the NATO-Russia Council.

Five of the seven members of the Mediterranean Dialogue – Algeria, Egypt, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia – are African states.

With U.S. Africa Command achieving full operational capability on October 1, 2008, the whole continent has been placed under an American overseas military command (Egypt remains in U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility), with plans underway to replicate that arrangement with NATO. [1]

U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) assumed control of what is now a 12-day war against Libya, the only North African nation not subordinated to AFRICOM or CENTCOM and to binding NATO obligations, through its Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn.

With NATO assuming direct command of the war – air and cruise missile strikes, a naval blockade of the country, on-the-ground operations in conjunction with anti-government insurgents and afterward independently – AFRICOM and NATO are being merged into one warfighting force.

In addition to that unprecedented integration, two members of NATO’s Istanbul Cooperation Initiative – Qatar and the United Arab Emirates – are providing warplanes for Operation Odyssey Dawn and in the process engaging in a joint campaign with both NATO and AFRICOM for the first time. (The United Arab Emirates is one of 48 Troop Contributing Nations for NATO’s Afghan war and Bahrain, another Istanbul Cooperation Initiative partner, is supplying security forces for the International Security Assistance Force. Mediterranean Dialogue member Egypt is also an unofficial force contributor for NATO in Afghanistan.)

When on March 28 President Barack Obama repeatedly mentioned the international community and “international partners” and the “broad coalition” conducting the war against Libya along with the Pentagon, he could only cite eleven allies so involved: “[N]ations like the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Spain, Greece, and Turkey…all of whom have fought by our side for decades [and] Arab partners like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.”

Nevertheless, Washington has brought together North American and European NATO allies with Persian Gulf partners for a war in Africa, the latest step in solidifying an international military alliance under U.S. control, complementing the building of an Asia-Pacific NATO, consolidating military partnerships in the Persian Gulf and throughout the Middle East and integrating former Soviet republics in Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus and Central Asia into the Pentagon-NATO network.

Military operations currently under AFRICOM’s Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn and within hours to be transferred to NATO have included over 1,800 sorties and 214 Tomahawk cruise missile attacks since the beginning of the war on March 19.

NATO’s Lisbon summit declaration of last November highlighted an expanding role for the bloc in Africa, including supporting the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), for which it has airlifted thousands of Ugandan troops for combat in the nation’s capital, the Operation Ocean Shield naval operation off the Horn of Africa and the operationalization of the African Standby Force, modeled after the NATO Response Force.

In twelve years the U.S. has used NATO for the war against Yugoslavia – the first unprovoked attack against a sovereign European nation since World War Two – a nearly decade-long air and ground war in Asia, and now the opening stages of a war in Africa. None of those wars were launched either to defend a member of NATO or in the so-called Euro-Atlantic area the military bloc arrogates to itself the right to protect.

21st century NATO is a global military strike force to be employed wherever its leading member states, the U.S. in the first case, choose to use it. Other nations in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, the Caucasus and even what is left of unsubjugated Europe had best take note of the fact.

1) Africa: Global NATO Seeks To Recruit 50 New Military Partners
Stop NATO, February 20, 2011

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Rimbaud: Evil

March 30, 2011 4 comments

Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Arthur Rimbaud
Evil (1870)
Translated by Paul Schmidt

While the red-stained mouths of machine guns ring
Across the infinite expanse of day;
While red or green, before their posturing King,
The massed battalions break and melt away;

And while a monstrous frenzy runs a course
That makes of a thousand men a smoking pile –
Poor fools! – dead, in summer, in the grass,
On Nature’s breast, who meant these men to smile;

There is a God, who smiles upon us through
The gleam of gold, the incense-laden air,
Who drowses in a cloud of murmured prayer,

And only wakes when weeping mothers bow
Themselves in anguish, wrapped in old black shawls –
And their last small coin into his coffer falls.

Le Mal

Tandis que les crachats rouges de la mitraille
Sifflent tout le jour par l’infini du ciel bleu;
Qu’écarlates ou verts, près du Roi qui les raille,
Croulent les bataillons en masse dans le feu;

Tandis qu’une folie épouvantable, broie
Et fait de cent milliers d’hommes un tas fumant;
– Pauvres morts dans l’été, dans l’herbe, dans ta joie,
Nature, ô toi qui fis ces hommes saintement !… –

– Il est un Dieu qui rit aux nappes damassées
Des autels, à l’encens, aux grands calices d’or;
Qui dans le bercement des hosanna s’endort,

Et se réveille quand des mères, ramassées
Dans l’angoisse et pleurant sous leur vieux bonnet noir,
Lui donnent un gros sou lié dans leur mouchoir!

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Barack Hussein Reagan And Ronald Wilson Obama On Libya

March 29, 2011 4 comments

Stop NATO
March 29, 2011

Barack Hussein Reagan And Ronald Wilson Obama On Libya
Compiled by Rick Rozoff

Ronald Reagan (RR) April 14, 1986
Barack Obama (BO) March 28, 2011

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RR:
At 7 o’clock this evening eastern time air and naval forces of the United States launched a series of strikes against the headquarters, terrorist facilities, and military assets that support Mu`ammar Qadhafi’s subversive activities.

BO:
Confronted by…brutal repression and a looming humanitarian crisis, I ordered warships into the Mediterranean…It was not in our national interest to let that happen. I refused to let that happen. And so nine days ago…I authorized military action….

RR:
Several weeks ago in New Orleans, I warned Colonel Qadhafi we would hold his regime accountable….

BO:
Ten days ago, having tried to end the violence without using force, the international community offered Gaddafi a final chance to stop his campaign of killing, or face the consequences.

RR:
Colonel Qadhafi is not only an enemy of the United States. His record of subversion and aggression against the neighboring States in Africa is well documented and well known. He has ordered the murder of fellow Libyans in countless countries.

BO:
For more than four decades, the Libyan people have been ruled by a tyrant – Moammar Gaddafi. He has denied his people freedom, exploited their wealth, murdered opponents at home and abroad, and terrorized innocent people around the world – including Americans who were killed by Libyan agents.

RR:
Today we have done what we had to do. If necessary, we shall do it again.

BO:
So for those who doubted our capacity to carry out this operation, I want to be clear: the United States of America has done what we said we would do.

RR:
To our friends and allies in Europe who cooperated in today’s mission, I would only say you have the permanent gratitude of the American people.

BO:
In this effort, the United States has not acted alone….Our most effective alliance, NATO, has taken command of the enforcement of the arms embargo and No Fly Zone.

RR:
Self-defense is not only our right, it is our duty. It is the purpose behind the mission undertaken tonight.

BO:
[W]hen our interests and values are at stake, we have a responsibility to act. That is what happened in Libya over the course of these last six weeks….I have made it clear that I will never hesitate to use our military swiftly, decisively, and unilaterally when necessary to defend our people, our homeland, our allies, and our core interests.

RR:

I have no illusion that tonight’s action will ring down the curtain on Qadhafi’s reign of terror. But this mission, violent though it was, can bring closer a safer and more secure world for decent men and women. We will persevere.

BO:
That is not to say that our work is complete….Gaddafi has not yet stepped down from power, and until he does, Libya will remain dangerous.

RR:
Tonight I salute the skill and professionalism of the men and women of our Armed Forces who carried out this mission. It’s an honor to be your Commander in Chief.

BO:
I want to begin by paying tribute to our men and women in uniform who, once again, have acted with courage, professionalism and patriotism. They have moved with incredible speed and strength.

RR:
We Americans are slow to anger. We always seek peaceful avenues before resorting to the use of force – and we did. We tried quiet diplomacy, public condemnation, economic sanctions, and demonstrations of military force. None succeeded. Despite our repeated warnings, Qadhafi continued his reckless policy of intimidation….

BO:
For generations, the United States of America has played a unique role as an anchor of global security and advocate for human freedom. Mindful of the risks and costs of military action, we are naturally reluctant to use force to solve the world’s many challenges. But when our interests and values are at stake, we have a responsibility to act.

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Libyan War And Control Of The Mediterranean

March 25, 2011 1 comment

https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2011/03/25/3973/

Stop NATO
March 25, 2011

Libyan War And Control Of The Mediterranean
Rick Rozoff

A year after assuming the post of president of the French Republic in 2007, and while his nation held the rotating European Union presidency, Nicolas Sarkozy invited the heads of state of the EU’s 27 members and those of 17 non-EU Mediterranean countries to attend a conference in Paris to launch a Mediterranean Union.

In the words of Britain’s Daily Telegraph regarding the subsequent summit held for the purpose on July 13, 2008, “Sarkozy’s big idea is to use imperial Rome’s centre of the world as a unifying factor linking 44 countries that are home to 800 million people.”

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, however, announced that his nation would boycott the gathering, denouncing the initiative as one aimed at dividing both Africa and the Arab world, and stating:

“We shall have another Roman empire and imperialist design. There are imperialist maps and designs that we have already rolled up. We should not have them again.” [1]

The unprecedented summit was held with the intention of “shift[ing] Europe’s strategic focus towards the Middle East, North Africa and the Balkans.” [2]

The Mediterranean Union was renamed the less controversial Union for the Mediterranean and its members include all 44 nations originally invited to join except for Libya.

Less than three years later Sarkozy’s Mirage and Rafale warplanes were bombing Libyan government targets, initiating an ongoing war being waged by France, the United States, Britain and what the world news media refer to as an international coalition – 12 members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the emirate of Qatar – to overthrow the Gaddafi government and implant a more pliant replacement.

The Mediterranean Sea is the main battle front in the world currently, superseding the Afghanistan-Pakistan war theater, and the empire of the new third millennium – that of the U.S., the world’s sole military superpower in the words of President Barack Obama in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, and its NATO partners – is completing the transformation of the Mediterranean into its mare nostrum.

The attack on Libya followed by slightly more than three weeks a move in the parliament of the Eastern Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus to drag that state into NATO’s Partnership for Peace program [3], which if ultimately successful would leave only three of twenty nations (excluding microstate Monaco) on or in the Mediterranean Sea not full members of NATO or beholden to it through partnership entanglements, including those of the Mediterranean Dialogue (Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia): Libya, Lebanon and Syria.

NATO membership and partnerships obligate the affected governments to open their countries to the U.S. military. For example, less than a year after becoming independent Montenegro had already joined the Partnership for Peace and was visited by then-commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe Admiral Harry Ulrich and the submarine tender Emory S. Land in an effort “to provide training and assistance for the Montenegrin Navy and to strengthen the relationship between the two navies.” [4]. The next month four NATO warships, including the USS Roosevelt guided missile destroyer, docked in Montenegro’s Tivat harbor.

If the current Libyan model is duplicated in Syria as increasingly seems to be the case, and with Lebanon already blockaded by warships from NATO nations since 2006 in what is the prototype for what NATO will soon replicate off the coast of Libya, the Mediterranean Sea will be entirely under the control of NATO and its leading member, the U.S.

Cyprus in the only European Union member and indeed the only European nation (except for microstates) that is – for the time being – not a NATO member or partner, and Libya is the only African nation bordering the Mediterranean not a member of NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue partnership program.

Libya is also one of only five of Africa’s 54 countries that have not been integrated into, which is to say subordinated to, the new U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM).

The others are:

Sudan, which is being balkanized as Libya may also soon be.

Ivory Coast, now embroiled in what is for all intents a civil war with the West backing the armed groups of Alassane Ouattara against standing president Laurent Gbagbo and under the threat of foreign military intervention, likely by the AFRICOM- and NATO-supported West African Standby Force and possibly with direct Western involvement. [5]

Eritrea, which borders Djibouti where some 5,000 U.S. and French troops are based and which was involved in an armed border conflict with its neighbor three years ago in which French military forces intervened on behalf of Djibouti.

Zimbabwe, which is among likely candidates for the next U.S.-NATO Operation Odyssey Dawn-type military intervention.

The Mediterranean has been history’s most strategically important sea and is the only one whose waves lap the shores of three continents.

Control of the sea has been fought over by the Persian, Alexandrian, Carthaginian, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, Spanish, British and Napoleonic empires, in part or in whole, and by Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany.

Since the end of World War Two the major military power in the sea has been the U.S. In 1946 Washington established Naval Forces Mediterranean, which in 1950 became the U.S. Sixth Fleet and has its headquarters in the Mediterranean port city of Naples.

In fact the genesis of the U.S. Navy was the Naval Act of 1794, passed in response to the capture of American merchant vessels off the coast of North Africa. The Mediterranean Squadron (also Station) was created in reaction to the first Barbary War of 1801-1805, also known as the Tripolitan War after what is now northwestern Libya. The U.S. fought its first naval battle outside the Western Hemisphere against Tripolitania in 1801.

U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, also based in Naples, is assigned to the Sixth Fleet and provides forces for both U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command. Its commander is Admiral Samuel Locklear III, who is also commander of NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command Naples.

He has been coordinating U.S. and NATO air and missile strikes against Libya from USS Mount Whitney, the flagship of the Sixth Fleet, as commander of Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn, the U.S. Africa Command operation in charge of U.S. guided missile destroyers, submarines and stealth bombers conducting attacks inside Libya.

Admiral Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations (the highest-ranking officer in the U.S. Navy), recently stated that the permanent U.S. military presence in the Mediterranean allowed the Pentagon, which “already was positioned for operations over Libya,” to launch Odyssey Dawn on March 19. “The need, for example in the opening rounds, for the Tomahawk strikes, the shooters were already in place. They were already loaded, and that went off as we expected it would.”

“That’s what you get when you have a global Navy that’s forward all the time….We’re there, and when the guns go off, we’re ready to conduct combat operations….” [6]

On March 22 General Carter Ham, the new chief of U.S. Africa Command, visited the U.S. air base in Ramstein, Germany and met with British, French and Italian air force leaders to evaluate the bombing campaign in Libya. He praised cooperation with NATO partners before the war began, stating, “You can’t bring 14 different nations together without ever having prepared for this before.” [7]

As the AFRICOM commander was in Germany, Defense Secretary Robert Gates was in Egypt to meet with Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, commander in chief of the Egyptian armed forces and chairman of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, to coordinate the campaign against Libya.

The Pentagon’s website reported on March 23 that forces attached to AFRICOM’s Task Force Odyssey Dawn had flown 336 air sorties, 108 of them launching strikes and 212 conducted by the U.S. The operations included 162 Tomahawk cruise missile attacks.

Admiral Roughead stated that he envisioned “no problem in keeping operations going,” as the Tomahawks will be replaced from the existing inventory of 3,200. Enough to level Libya and still have plenty left over for the next war. [8]

The defeat and conquest, directly or by proxy, of Libya would secure a key outpost for the Pentagon and NATO on the Mediterranean Sea.

The consolidation of U.S. control over North Africa would have more than just regional repercussions, important as they are.

Shortly after the inauguration of U.S. Africa Command, Lin Zhiyuan, deputy director of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Academy of Military Sciences, wrote the following:

“By building a dozen forward bases or establishments in Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and other African nations, the U.S. will gradually establish a network of military bases to cover the entire continent and make essential preparations for docking an aircraft carrier fleet in the region.”

“The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) with the U.S. at the head had [in 2006] carried out a large-scale military exercise in Cape Verde, a western African island nation, with the sole purpose of controlling the sea and air corridors of crude oil extracting zones and monitoring how the situation is with oil pipelines operating there.”

“[A]frica Command represents a vital, crucial link for the US adjustment of its global military deployment. At present, it is moving the gravity of its forces in Europe eastward and opening new bases in Eastern Europe.”

“The present US global military redeployment centers mainly on an ‘arc of instability’ from the Caucasus, Central and Southern Asia down to the Korean Peninsula, and so the African continent is taken as a strong point to prop up the US global strategy.

“Therefore, AFRICOM facilitates the United States advancing on the African continent, taking control of the Eurasian continent and proceeding to take the helm of the entire globe.” [9]

Far more is at stake in the war with Libya than control of Africa’s largest proven oil reserves and subjugating the last North African nation not yet under the thumb of the U.S. and NATO. Even more than domination of the Mediterranean Sea region.

1) Daily Telegraph, July 10, 2008
2) Daily Telegraph, July 14, 2008
3) Cyprus: U.S. To Dominate All Europe, Mediterranean Through NATO
Stop NATO, March 3, 2011
https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2011/03/03/cyprus-u-s-to-dominate-all-europe-mediterranean-through-nato
4) United States European Command, May 24, 2007
5) Ivory Coast: Testing Ground For U.S.-Backed African Standby Force
Stop NATO, January 23, 2011
https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2011/01/23/ivory-coast-testing-ground-for-u-s-backed-african-standby-force
6) U.S. Department of Defense, March 23, 2011
7) U.S. Air Forces in Europe, March 23, 2011
8) U.S. Department of Defense, March 23, 2011
9) People’s Daily, February 26, 2007
http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200702/26/eng20070226_352530.html

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Libya: Obama’s Latest, AFRICOM’s First, NATO’s African War

March 21, 2011 5 comments

Stop NATO
March 20, 2011

Libya: Obama’s Latest, AFRICOM’s First, NATO’s African War
Rick Rozoff

Following similar developments in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt, anti-government protests began in Libya on February 15. On March 19 the U.S., France and Britain delivered air and cruise missile attacks against targets in Libya: 112 Tomahawk missile strikes from U.S. and British submarines and warships in the Mediterranean Sea and attacks by French warplanes on what were identified as government military vehicles on the ground.

Twenty French Rafale and Mirage jet fighters took to the country’s skies and U.S. stealth bombers delivered 40 payloads to its main airfield.

A Russian parliamentarian pointed out that the attack on Libya represented the fourth country targeted for armed assault – the fourth war launched – by the U.S. and its allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 12 years: The current one, codenamed Operation Odyssey Dawn, and Operation Allied Force in Yugoslavia in 1999, Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in 2001 and Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq in 2003. The beginning of the war against Libya occurred on the eighth anniversary of the attack on Iraq and five days before the twelfth anniversary of that against Yugoslavia.

However, whereas it took several months for the U.S. and its NATO allies to selectively identify developments in Yugoslavia (Kosovo) and Iraq as crises requiring international attention before proclaiming them grounds for war, with Libya the process has been reduced to a month’s duration. The slaying of unarmed civilian protesters in Yemen and Bahrain has not evoked a comparable outcry and has not produced analogous military actions from Western military powers.

This time equipped with a United Nations Resolution, 1973, passed in the Security Council with the BRIC nations – Brazil, Russia, India and China – and Germany abstaining, the U.S. and its NATO partners are prepared for an indefinite conflict more closely resembling that in Afghanistan, which will be ten years old in less than seven months, than the wars against Yugoslavia and Iraq.

Despite opposition to Western military operations voiced by the BRIC nations, since yesterday echoed by the 53-nation African Union, the 22-member Arab League and several Latin American nations like Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, Washington and its allies are portraying their attack against Libya as an international effort – because the West has recruited the kings of Morocco and Jordan and the emirs of Qatar and Abu Dhabi as allies in what is presented as a humanitarian campaign to bring democracy to an Arab nation.

In the current reincarnation of the “humanitarian war” model of the 1990s, an estimated 65 Libyan civilians were killed and 150 wounded on the first day of the bombing onslaught. Oil depots and a medical facility were among the targets of bombing and missile attacks.

President Barack Obama was in Brazil at the start of the attacks, and by rights should have been declared persona non grata and expelled for his role in ordering U.S. Tomahawk strikes and bombing runs.

If anyone had doubted that it was possible to out-Herod Herod in surpassing his predecessor George W. Bush’s record of waging military aggression internationally, that illusion should be finally laid to rest. The Obama administration has increased American troop strength in Afghanistan (which has become the longest war in U.S. history on Obama’s watch) to 100,000, with another 50,000 foreign forces serving under NATO’s International Security Assistance Force.

Approximately 50,000 combat-ready troops remain in Iraq and at least 500 U.S. troops are based in Mindanao in the Philippines where they are involved in counterinsurgency combat operations.

The White House and the Central Intelligence Agency have also massively escalated unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) strikes in Pakistan, killing nearly 2,000 people in the last 26 months, including over 80 civilians slain in 12 missile strikes – the deadliest on a tribal meeting – in North Waziristan only two days before the attack on Libya was launched. The U.S. is a far better candidate for an international no-fly zone than any other nation in the world.

The Obama government has launched cruise missile strikes and run special forces operations in Yemen and conducted a deadly helicopter raid in Somalia.

It has also acquired the use of seven military bases in Colombia to assist the decades-long counterinsurgency war in the country and to threaten neighboring Venezuela and Ecuador.

The rapidity with which the U.S. and its NATO cohorts built the case for the attack on Libya should be cause for serious concern to the last two South American nations, as it should for Bolivia, Nicaragua and Syria and for former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice’s “outposts of tyranny”: Belarus, Cuba, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea and Zimbabwe.

Last year NATO airlifted thousands of Ugandan troops to and from Somalia for the war in that country (its civilian counterpart, the European Union, is training Somali government troops in Uganda) and is currently conducting a naval operation off the Horn of Africa, Ocean Shield, but the ongoing attack on Libya is the Atlantic Alliance’s first direct war in Africa.

It is also the first war for the newest Pentagon overseas military command, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM).

AFRICOM spokesman Lieutenant Commander James Stockman boasted that American and British missiles hit at least 20 of 22 intended targets in Libya on March 19, and newly appointed AFRICOM chief General Carter Ham pledged to “degrade the Qadhafi regime’s capability” under his command’s Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn the same day.

Taking part in the attacks were the U.S. submarines USS Florida, USS Providence and USS Scranton, guided missile destroyers USS Barry and USS Stout, amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge, amphibious transport dock USS Ponce, flagship of the Mediterranean-based Sixth Fleet USS Mount Whitney, B-2 Spirit stealth bombers, AV-8B Harrier II ground-attack aircraft and EA-18G Growler electronic warfare planes.

The USS Bataan helicopter-carrying amphibious assault ship and USS Whidbey Island dock landing ship are on their way to the coast of Libya.

The U.S. maintains 42 F-16 Fighting Falcon jet fighters at the Aviano Air Base in Italy and has the use of two air bases in Bulgaria and one in Romania.

The USS Enterprise carrier strike group, with 80 planes, is in the Arabian Sea and can cross back through the Suez Canal for action against Libya.

The above is to be recalled as the White House continues to disavow a direct, much less a leading, role in the war.

Although to date not formally a NATO operation, the air and sea campaign against Libya began with the Alliance subjecting the targeted country to around-the-clock surveillance by Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft assigned to the nearly ten-year-old Operation Active Endeavor naval surveillance and interdiction mission. NATO’s E-3A AWACS planes fly at a height of 30,000 feet and cover a range of 120,000 square miles.

The military buildup in the Mediterranean Sea by other NATO nations matches that of the U.S.

In addition to 20 warplanes flying over Libya, on March 20 France deployed the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, the only non-American nuclear-powered carrier, from its base in Toulon for air strikes against Libya.

Britain has warships and a submarine off the coast of Libya which participated in the first round of missile strikes. The BBC reported that London has also deployed Eurofighter Typhoon and Tornado warplanes and Nimrod surveillance aircraft to the region.

Canada, whose prime minister Stephen Harper has identified the attacks on Libya as “acts of war” while acknowledging that Libyan civilians will be killed by them, has sent the HMCS Charlottetown frigate to the area and has deployed six CF-18 Hornet multirole jet fighters to Italy for air patrols over Libya. Defence Minister Peter MacKay has stated that the Charlottetown is available to assist in enforcing a naval blockade of the North African country.

Norway has committed six F-16 jet fighters and Belgium eight F-16s, a frigate and 200 military personnel in an effort to, in the words of Defense Minister Pieter De Crem, “topple the Gaddafi regime.”

The Belgian F-16s are currently in Greece and the warship in the Mediterranean, with European Affairs Minister Olivier Chastel stating his government has decided to “tell NATO that we are available, offer what we have and wait for a common command.”

Spain has provided four F-18 jet fighters, a maritime surveillance plane, a submarine and a frigate in addition to turning over to NATO its military bases at Rota and Moron de la Frontera in the south of the country.

Italy has offered eight combat aircraft and the use of seven bases on its mainland and in Sardinia and Sicily for the war effort. It has also activated five ships, including the Andrea Doria destroyer, for action against Libya.

Denmark has six F-16s in Italy prepared for deployment to Libya.

According to the Sabah newspaper, Turkey will also supply F-16s for NATO’s Libyan campaign.

Greece has provided the U.S. and NATO the use of bases at Aktio and Souda Bay in Crete.

More military assets are being added by NATO nations almost hourly, which indicates that a no-fly zone is the least of Western plans for Libya and that the campaign is not expected to end in the foreseeable future.

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Randolph Bourne: The War and the Intellectuals

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

American writers on peace and against war

Randolph Bourne: Selections on war

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Randolph Bourne
The War and the Intellectuals (1917)


1886-1918

[Emphasis added]

To those of us who still retain an irreconcilable animus against war, it has been a bitter experience to see the unanimity with which the American intellectuals have thrown their support to the use of war-technique in the crisis in which America found herself. Socialists, college professors, publicists, new-republicans, practitioners of literature, have vied with each other in confirming with their intellectual faith the collapse of neutrality and the riveting of the war-mind on a hundred million more of the world’s people.

And the intellectuals are not content with confirming our belligerent gesture. They are now complacently asserting that it was they who effectively willed it, against the hesitation and dim perceptions of the American democratic masses. A war made deliberately by the intellectuals! A calm moral verdict, arrived at after a penetrating study of inexorable facts! Sluggish masses, too remote from the world-conflict to be stirred, too lacking in intellect to perceive their danger!

An alert intellectual class, saving the people in spite of themselves, biding their time with Fabian strategy until the nation could be moved into war without serious resistance! An intellectual class, gently guiding a nation through sheer force of ideas into what the other nations entered only through predatory craft or popular hysteria or militarist madness! A war free from any taint of self-seeking, a war that will secure the triumph of democracy and internationalize the world! This is the picture which the more self-conscious intellectuals have formed of themselves, and which they are slowly impressing upon a population which is being led no man knows whither by an indubitably intellectualized President. And they are right, in that the war certainly did not spring from hysteria, of the American people, however acquiescent the masses prove to be, and however clearly the intellectuals prove their putative intuition.

Those intellectuals who have felt themselves totally out of sympathy with this drag toward war will seek some explanation for this joyful leadership. They will want to understand this willingness of the American intellect to open the sluices and flood us with the sewage of the war spirit. We cannot forget the virtuous horror and stupefaction which filled our college professors when they read the famous manifesto the their ninety-three German colleagues in defense of their war. To the American academic mind of 1914 defense of war was inconceivable. From Bernhardi it recoiled as from blasphemy, little dreaming that two years later would find it creating its own cleanly reasons for imposing military service on the country and for talking of the rough rude currents of health and regeneration that war would send through the American body politic.

They would have thought anyone mad who talked of shipping American men by the hundreds of thousands – conscripts – to die on the fields of France. Such a spiritual change seems catastrophic when we shoot our minds back to those days when neutrality was a proud thing. But the intellectual progress has been so gradual that the country retains little sense of the irony. The war sentiment, begun so gradually but so perseveringly by the preparedness advocates who come from the ranks of big business, caught hold of one after another of the intellectual groups. With the aid of Roosevelt, the murmurs became a monotonous chant, and finally a chorus so mighty that to be out of it was at first to be disreputable and finally almost obscene. And slowly a strident rant was worked up against Germany which compared very creditably with the German fulminations against the greedy power of England. The nerve of the war-feeling centered, of course, in the richer and older classes of the Atlantic seaboard, and was keenest where there were French or English business and particularly social connections. The sentiment then spread over the country as a class-phenomenon, touching everywhere those upper-class elements in each section who identified themselves with this Eastern ruling group.

It must never be forgotten that in every community it was the least liberal and least democratic elements among whom the preparedness and later the war sentiment was found. The farmers were apathetic, the small business men and workingmen are still apathetic towards the war. The election was a vote of confidence of these latter classes in a President who would keep the faith of neutrality. The intellectuals, in other words, have identified themselves with the least democratic forces in American life.

They have assumed the leadership for war of those very classes whom the American democracy has been immemorially fighting. Only in a world where irony was dead could an intellectual class enter war at the head of such illiberal cohorts in the avowed cause of world-liberalism and world-democracy. No one is left to point out the undemocratic nature of this war-liberalism. In a time of faith, skepticism is the most intolerable of all insults.

Our intellectual class might have been occupied, during the last two years of war, in studying and clarifying the ideals and aspirations of the American democracy, in discovering a true Americanism which would not have been merely nebulous but might have federated the different ethnic groups and traditions. They might have spent the time in endeavoring to clear the public mind of the cant of war, to get rid of old mystical notions that clog our thinking. We might have used the time for a great wave of education, for setting our house in spiritual order. We could at least have set the problem before ourselves.

If our intellectuals were going to lead the administration, they might conceivably have tried to find some way of securing peace by making neutrality effective. They might have turned their intellectual energy not to the problem of jockeying the nation into war, but to the problem of using our vast neutral power to attain democratic ends for the rest of the world and ourselves without the use of the malevolent technique of war. They might have failed. The point is that they scarcely tried.

The time was spent not in clarification and education, but in mulling over nebulous ideals of democracy and liberalism and civilization which had never meant anything fruitful to those ruling classes who now so glibly used them, and in giving free rein to the elementary instinct of self-defense. The whole era has been spiritually wasted. The outstanding feature has been not its Americanism but its intense colonialism. The offence of our intellectuals was not so much that they were colonial – for what could we expect of a nation composed of so many national elements? – but that it was so one-sidedly and partisanly colonial. The official, reputable expression of the intellectual class has been that of the English colonial. Certain portions of it have been even more loyalist than the King, more British even than Australia. Other colonial attitudes have been vulgar.

The colonialism of the other American stocks was denied a hearing from the start. America might have been made a meeting-ground for the different national attitudes. An intellectual class, cultural colonists of the different European nations, might have threshed out the issues here as they could not be threshed out in Europe. Instead of this, the English colonials in university and press took command at the start, and we became an intellectual Hungary where thought was subject to an effective process of Magyarization. The reputable opinion of the American intellectuals became more and more either what could be read pleasantly in London, or what was written in an earnest effort to put Englishmen straight on their war-aims and war-technique. This Magyarization of thought produced as a counter-reaction a peculiarly offensive and inept German apologetic, and the two partisans divided the field between them. The great masses, the other ethnic groups, were inarticulate. American public opinion was almost as little prepared for war in 1917 as it was in 1914.

The sterile results of such an intellectual policy are inevitable. During the war the American intellectual class has produced almost nothing in the way of original and illuminating interpretation. Veblen’s “Imperial Germany;” Patten’s “Culture and War,” and addresses; Dewey’s “German Philosophy and Politics;” a chapter or two in Weyl’s “American Foreign Policies;” – is there much else of creative value in the intellectual repercussion of the war? It is true that the shock of war put the American intellectual to an unusual strain. He had to sit idle and think as spectator not as actor. There was no government to which he could docily and loyally tender his mind as did the Oxford professors to justify England in her own eyes. The American’s training was such as to make the fact of war almost incredible. Both in his reading of history and in his lack of economic perspective he was badly prepared for it. He had to explain to himself something which was too colossal for the modern mind, which outran any language or terms which we had to interpret it in. He had to explain his sympathies to the breaking-point, while pulling the past and present into some sort of interpretative order. The intellectuals in the fighting countries had only to rationalize and justify what their country was already doing. Their task was easy. A neutral, however, had really to search out the truth. Perhaps perspective was too much to ask of any mind. Certainly the older colonials among our college professors let their prejudices at once dictate their thought. They have been comfortable ever since. The war has taught them nothing and will teach them nothing. And they have had the satisfaction, under the rigor of events, of seeing prejudice submerge the intellects of their younger colleagues. And they have lived to see almost their entire class, pacifists and democrats too, join them as apologists for the “gigantic irrelevance” of war.

We had had to watch, therefore, in this country the same process which so shocked us abroad – the coalescence of the intellectual classes in support of the military programme. In this country, indeed, the socialist intellectuals did not even have the grace of their German brothers and wait for the declaration of war before they broke for cover. And when they declared for war they showed how thin was the intellectual veneer of their socialism. For they called us in terms that might have emanated from any bourgeois journal to defend democracy and civilization, just as if it was not exactly against those very bourgeois democracies and capitalist civilizations that socialists had been fighting for decades. But so subtle is the spiritual chemistry of the “inside” that all this intellectual cohesion – herd-instinct – which seemed abroad so hysterical and so servile, comes to us here in highly rational terms. We go to war to save the world from subjugation! But the German intellectuals went to war to save their culture from barbarization! And the French to save international honor! And Russia, most altruistic and self-sacrificing of all, to save a small State from destruction! Whence is our miraculous intuition of our moral spotlessness? Whence our confidence that history will not unravel huge economic and imperialist forces upon which our rationalizations float like bubbles? The Jew often marvels that his race alone should have been chosen as the true people of the cosmic God. Are not our intellectuals equally fatuous when they tell us that our war of all wars is stainless and thrillingly achieving for good?

An intellectual class that was wholly rational would have called insistently for peace and not for war. For months the crying need has been for a negotiated peace, in order to avoid the ruin of a deadlock. Would not the same amount of resolute statesmanship thrown into intervention have secured a peace that would have been a subjugation for neither side? Was the terrific bargaining power of a great neutral ever really used? Our war followed, as all wars follow, a monstrous failure of diplomacy. Shamefacedness should now be our intellectuals’ attitude, because the American play for peace was made so little more than a polite play. The intellectuals have still to explain why, willing as they now are to use force to continue the war to absolute exhaustion, they were not willing to use force to coerce the world to a speedy peace.

Their forward vision is no more convincing than their past rationality. We go to war now to internationalize the world! But surely their league to Enforce Peace is only a palpable apocalyptic myth, like the syndicalists’ myth of the “general strike.” It is not a rational programme so much as a glowing symbol for the purpose of focusing belief, of setting enthusiasm on fire for international order. As far as it does this it has pragmatic value, but as far as it provides a certain radiant mirage of idealism for this war and for a world-order founded on mutual fear, it is dangerous and obnoxious. Idealism should be kept for what is ideal. It is depressing to think that the prospect of a world so strong that none dare challenge it should be the immediate prospect of the American intellectual. If the League is only a makeshift, a coalition into which we enter to restore order, then it is only a description of an existing fact, and the idea should be treated as such. But if it is an actually prospective outcome of the settlement, the keystone of American policy, it is neither realizable nor desirable. For the programme of such a League contains no provision for dynamic national growth or for international economic justice. In a world which requires recognition of economic internationalism far more than of political internationalism, an idea is reactionary which proposes to petrify and federate the nations as political and economic units. Such a scheme for international order is a dubious justification for American policy. And if American policy had been sincere in its belief that our participation would achieve international beatitude, would we not have made our entrance into the war conditional upon a solemn general agreement to respect in the final settlement these principles of international order? Could we have afforded, if our war was to end war by the establishment of a league of honor, to risk the defeat of our vision and our betrayal in the settlement? Yet we are in the war, and no such solemn agreement was made, nor has it even been suggested.

The case of the intellectuals seems, therefore, only very speciously rational. They could have used their energy to force a just peace or at least to devise other means than war for carrying through American policy. They could have used their intellectual energy to ensure that our participation in the war meant the international order which they wish. Intellect was not so used. It was used to lead an apathetic nation into an irresponsible war, without guarantees from those belligerents whose cause we were saving. The American intellectual, therefore has been rational neither in his hindsight, nor his foresight. To explain him we must look beneath the intellectual reasons to the emotional disposition. It is not so much what they thought as how they felt that explains our intellectual class. Allowing for colonial sympathy, there was still the personal shock in a world-war which outraged all our preconceived notions of the way the world was tending. It reduced to rubbish most of the humanitarian internationalism and democratic nationalism which had been the emotional thread of our intellectuals’ life. We had suddenly to make a new orientation. There were mental conflicts. Our latent colonialism strove with our longing for American unity. Our desire for peace strove with our desire for national responsibility in the world. That first lofty and remote and not altogether unsound feeling of our spiritual isolation from the conflict could not last. There was the itch to be in the great experience which the rest of the world was having. Numbers of intelligent people who had never been stirred by the horrors of capitalistic peace at home were shaken out of their slumber by the horrors of war in Belgium. Never having felt responsibility for labor wars and oppressed masses and excluded races at home, they had a large fund of idle emotional capital to invest in the oppressed nationalities and ravaged villages of Europe. Hearts that had felt only the ugly contempt for democratic strivings at home beat in tune with the struggle for freedom abroad. All this was natural, but it tended to over-emphasize our responsibility. And it threw our thinking out of gear. The task of making our own country detailedly fit for peace was abandoned in favor of a feverish concern for the management of war, advice to the fighting governments on all matters, military, social and political, and a gradual working up of the conviction that we were ordained as a nation to lead all erring brothers towards the light of liberty and democracy. The failure of the American intellectual class to erect a creative attitude toward the war can be explained by these sterile mental conflicts which the shock to our ideals sent raging through us.

Mental conflicts end either in a new and higher synthesis or adjustment, or else in a reversion to more primitive ideas which have been outgrown but to which we drop when jolted out of our attained position. The war caused in America a recrudescence of nebulous ideals which a younger generation was fast outgrowing because it had passed the wistful stage and was discovering concrete ways of getting them incarnated in actual institutions. The shock of war threw us back from this pragmatic work into an emotional bath of these old ideals. there was even a somewhat rarefied revival of our primitive Yankee boastfulness, the reversion of senility to that republican childhood when we expected the whole world to copy our republican institutions. We amusingly ignored the fact that it was just that Imperial German regime, to whom we are to teach the art of self-government, which our own Federal structure, with its executive irresponsible in foreign policy and with its absence of parliamentary control, most resembles. And we are missing the exquisite irony of the unaffected homage paid by the American democratic intellectuals to the last and most detested of Britain’s tory premiers as the representative of a “liberal” ally, as well as the irony of the selection of the best hated of America’s bourbon “old guard” as the missionary of American democracy to Russia.

The intellectual state that could produce such things is one where reversion has taken place to more primitive ways of thinking. Simple syllogisms are substituted for analysis, things are known by their labels, our heart’s desire dictates what we shall see. The American intellectual class, having failed to make the higher synthesis, regresses to ideas that can issue in quick, simplified action. Thought becomes any easy rationalization of what is actually going on or what is to happen inevitably tomorrow. It is true that certain groups did rationalize their colonialism and attach the doctrine of the inevitability of British seapower to the doctrine of a League of Peace. But this agile resolution of the mental conflict did not become a higher synthesis, to be creatively developed. It gradually merged into a justification for our going to war. It petrified into a dogma to be propagated. Criticism flagged and emotional propaganda began. Most of the socialists, the college professors and the practitioners of literature, however, have not even reached this high-water mark of synthesis. Their mental conflicts have been resolved much more simply. War in the interests of democracy! This was almost the sum of their philosophy. The primitive idea to which they regressed became almost insensibly translated into a craving for action. War was seen as the crowning relief of their indecision. At last action, irresponsibility, the end of anxious and torturing attempts to reconcile peace-ideals with the drag of the world towards Hell. An end to the pain of trying to adjust the facts to what they ought to be! Let us consecrate the facts as ideal! Let us join the greased slide towards war! The momentum increased. Hesitations, ironies, consciences, considerations, – all were drowned in the elemental blare of doing something aggressive, colossal. The new-found Sabbath “peacefulness of being at war”! The thankfulness with which so many intellectuals lay down and floated with the current betrays the hesitation and suspense through which they had been. The American university is a brisk and happy place these days. Simple, unquestioning action has superseded the knots of thought. The thinker dances with reality.

With how many of the acceptors of war has it been mostly a dread of intellectual suspense? It is a mistake to suppose that intellectuality necessarily makes for suspended judgments. The intellect craves certitude. It takes effort to keep it supple and pliable. In a time of danger and disaster we jump desperately for some dogma to cling to. The time comes, if we try to hold out, when our nerves are sick with fatigue, and we seize in a great healing wave of release some doctrine that can immediately be translated into action. Neutrality meant suspense, and so it became the object of loathing to frayed nerves. The vital myth of the League of Peace provides a dogma to jump to. With war the world becomes motor again and speculation is brushed aside like cobwebs. The blessed emotion of self-defense intervenes too, which focused millions in Europe. A few keep up a critical pose after war is begun, but since they usually advise action which is in one-to-one correspondence with what the mass is already doing, their criticism is little more than a rationalization of the common emotional drive.

The results of war on the intellectual class are already apparent. Their thought becomes little more than a description and justification of what is going on. They turn upon any rash one who continues idly to speculate. Once the war is on, the conviction spreads that individual thought is helpless, that the only way one can count is as a cog in the great wheel. There is no good holding back. We are told to dry our unnoticed and ineffective tears and plunge into the great work. Not only is everyone forced into line, but the new certitude becomes idealized. It is a noble realism which opposes itself to futile obstruction and the cowardly refusal to face facts. This realistic boast is so loud and sonorous that one wonders whether realism is always a stern and intelligent grappling with realities. May it not be sometimes a mere surrender to the actual, an abdication of the ideal through a sheer fatigue from intellectual suspense? The pacifist is roundly scolded for refusing to face the facts, and for retiring into his own world of sentimental desire. But is the realist, who refuses to challenge or criticise facts, entitled to any more credit than that which comes from following the line of least resistance? The realist thinks he at least can control events by linking himself to the forces that are moving. Perhaps he can. But if it is a question of controlling war, it is difficult to see how the child on the back of a mad elephant is to be any more effective in stopping the beast than is the child who tries to stop him from the ground. The ex-humanitarian, turned realist, sneers at the snobbish neutrality, colossal conceit, crooked thinking, dazed sensibilities, of those who are still unable to find any balm of consolation for this war. We manufacture consolations here in America while there are probably not a dozen men fighting in Europe who did not long ago give up every reason for their being there except that nobody knew how to get them away.

But the intellectuals whom the crisis has crystalized into an acceptance of war have put themselves into a terrifying strategic position. It is only on the craft, in the stream, they say, that one has any chance of controlling the current forces for liberal purposes. If we obstruct, we surrender all power for influence. If we responsibly approve, we then retain our power for guiding. We will be listened to as responsible thinkers, while those who obstructed the coming of war have committed intellectual suicide and shall be cast into outer darkness. Criticism by the ruling powers will only be accepted from those intellectuals who are in sympathy with the general tendency of the war. Well, it is true that they may guide, but if their stream leads to disaster and the frustration of national life, is their guiding any more than a preference whether they shall go over the right-hand or the left-hand side of the precipice? Meanwhile, however, there is comfort on board. Be with us, they call, or be negligible, irrelevant. Dissenters are already excommunicated. Irreconcilable radicals, wringing their hands among the debris, become the most despicable and impotent of men. There seems no choice for the intellectual but to join the mass of acceptance. But again the terrible dilemma arises, – either support what is going on, in which case you count for nothing because you are swallowed in the mass and great incalculable forces bear you on; or remain aloof, passively resistant, in which case you count for nothing because you are outside the machinery of reality.

Is there no place left then, for the intellectual who cannot yet crystallize, who does not dread suspense, and is not yet drugged with fatigue? The American intellectuals, in their preoccupation with reality, seem to have forgotten that the real enemy is War rather than imperial Germany. There is work to be done to prevent this war of ours from passing into popular mythology as a holy crusade. What shall we do with leaders who tell us that we go to war in moral spotlessness, or who make “democracy” synonymous with a republican form of government? There is work to be done in still shouting that all the revolutionary by-products will not justify the war, or make war anything else than the most noxious complex of all the evils that afflict men. There must be some to find no consolation whatever, and some to sneer at those who buy the cheap emotion of sacrifice. There must be some irreconcilables left who will not even accept the war with walrus tears. There must be some to call unceasingly for peace, and some to insist that the terms of settlement shall be not only liberal but democratic. There must be some intellectuals who are not willing to use the old discredited counters again and to support a peace which would leave all the old inflammable materials of armament lying about the world. There must still be opposition to any contemplated “liberal” world-order founded on military coalitions. The “irreconcilable” need not be disloyal. He need not even be “impossibilist.” His apathy towards war should take the form of a heightened energy and enthusiasm for the education, the art, the interpretation that make for life in the midst of the world of death. The intellectual who retains his animus against war will push out more boldly than ever to make his case solid against it. The old ideals crumble; new ideals must be forged. His mind will continue to roam widely and ceaselessly. The thing he will fear most is premature crystallization. If the American intellectual class rivets itself to a “liberal” philosophy that perpetuates the old errors, there will then be need for “democrats” whose task will be to divide, confuse, disturb, keep the intellectual waters constantly in motion to prevent any such ice from ever forming.

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Leonid Andreyev: The Red Laugh

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Russian writers on war

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Leonid Andreyev
The Red Laugh (1904)
Translator not identified

10173037_135387038580

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I recognized it — that red laugh. I had been searching for it, and I had found it — that red laugh. Now I understood what there was in all those mutilated, torn, strange bodies. It was a red laugh. It was in the sky, it was in the sun, and soon it was going to overspread the entire earth — that red laugh!

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FRAGMENT I

….Horror and madness.

I felt it for the first time as we were marching along the road – marching incessantly for ten hours without stopping, never diminishing our step, never waiting to pick up those that had fallen, but leaving them to the enemy, that was moving behind us in a compact mass only three or four hours later effacing the marks of our feet by their own.

It was very sultry. I do not know how many degrees there were – 120°, 140°, or more – I only know that the heat was incessant, hopelessly even and profound. The sun was so enormous, so fiery and terrible, that it seemed as if the earth had drawn nearer to it and would soon be burnt up altogether in its merciless rays. Our eyes had ceased to look. The small shrunk pupil, as small as a poppy-seed, sought in vain for darkness under the closed eyelid; the sun pierced the thin covering and penetrated into the tortured brain in a blood-red glow. But, nevertheless, it was better so: with closed eyelids, and for a long time, perhaps for several hours, I walked along with my eyes shut, hearing the multitude moving around me: the heavy, uneven tread of many feet, men’s and horses, the grinding of iron wheels, crushing the small stones, somebody’s deep strained breathing and the dry smacking of parched lips. But I heard no word. All were silent, as if an army of dumb people were moving, and when anyone fell down, he fell in silence; others stumbled against his body, fell down and rose mutely, and, without turning their heads, marched on, as though these dumb men were also blind and deaf. I stumbled and fell several times and then involuntarily opened my eyes, and all that I saw seemed a wild fiction, the terrible raving of a mad world. The air vibrated at a white-hot temperature, the stones seemed to be trembling silently, ready to flow, and in the distance, at a curve of the road, the files of men, guns and horses seemed detached from the earth, and trembled like a mass of jelly in their onward progress, and it seemed to me that they were not living people that I saw before me, but an army of incorporate shadows.

The enormous, near, terrible sun lit up thousands of tiny blinding suns on every gun-barrel and metal plate, and these suns, as fiery-white and sharp as the white-hot points of the bayonets, crept into your eyes from every side. And the consuming, burning heat penetrated into your body – into your very bones and brain – and at times it seemed to me that it was not a head that swayed upon my shoulders, but a strange and extraordinary globe, heavy and light, belonging to somebody else, and horrible.

And then – then I suddenly remembered my home: a comer of my room, a scrap of light-blue wall-paper, and a dusty untouched water-bottle on my table – on my table, which has one leg shorter than the others, and had a small piece of paper folded under it. While in the next room – and I cannot see them – are my wife and little son. If I had had the power to cry out, I would have done so – so wonderful was this simple and peaceful picture – the scrap of light­-blue wall-paper and dusty untouched water-bottle. I know that I stood still and lifted up my arms, but somebody gave me a push from behind, and I quickly moved on, thrusting the crowd aside, and hastening whither I knew not, but feeling now neither heat nor fatigue. And I marched on thus for a long time through the endless mute files, past red sunburnt necks, almost touching the helplessly lowered hot bayonets, when suddenly the thought of what I was doing, whither I was hastening, stopped me. I turned aside in the same hasty way, forced my way to the open, clambered across a gulley and sat down on a stone in a preoccupied manner, as if that rough hot stone was the aim of all my strivings.

And then I felt it for the first time. I clearly perceived that all these people, marching silently on in the glaring sun, torpid from fatigue and heat, swaying and falling­ – that they were all mad. They did not know whither they were going, they did not know what that sun was for, they did not know anything. It was not heads that they had on their shoulders, but strange and terrible globes. There ­- I saw a man in the same plight as I, pushing his way hurriedly through the rows and falling down; there – another, and a third. Suddenly a horse’s head appeared above the throng with bloodshot and senseless eyes and a wide-open grinning mouth, that only hinted at a terrible unearthly cry; this head appeared, fell down, and for an instant the crowd stopped, growing denser in that spot; I could hear hoarse, hollow voices, then a shot, and again the silent endless march continued.

An hour passed as I sat on that stone, but the multitude still moved on past me, and the air and earth and the distant phantom-like ranks trembled as before. And again the burning heat pierced my body and I forgot what for an instant I had pictured to myself; and the multitudes moved on past me, but I did not know who they were. An hour ago I was alone on the stone, but now I was surrounded by a group of grey people; some lying motionless, perhaps dead; others were sitting up and staring vacantly at those passing by. Some had guns and resembled soldiers; others were stripped almost naked, and the skin on their bodies was so livid, that one did not care to look at it. Not far from me someone was lying with his bared back upturned.

One could see by the unconcerned manner in which he had buried his face in the sharp burning sand, by the whiteness of the palm of his upturned hand, that he was dead, but his back was as red as if he were alive, and only a slight yellowish tinge, such as one sees on smoked meat, spoke of death. I wanted to move away from him, but I had not the strength, and, tottering from weakness, I continued looking at the endless phantom-like swaying files of men. By the condition of my head I knew that I should soon have a sunstroke too, but I awaited it calmly, as in a dream, where death seems only a stage on the path of wonderful and confused visions.

And I saw a soldier part from the crowd and direct his steps in a decided manner towards us. For an instant I lost sight of him in a ditch, but when he reappeared and moved on towards us, his gait was unsteady, and in his endeavors to control his restlessly tossing body, one felt he was using his last strength. He was coming so straight upon me that I grew frightened and, breaking through the heavy torpor that enveloped my brain, I asked: “What do you want?”

He stopped short, as if it was only a word that he was waiting for, and stood before me, enormous, bearded, in a torn shirt. He had no gun, his trousers hung only by one button, and through a slit in them one could see his white body. He flung his arms and legs about and he was visibly trying to control them, but could not; the instant he brought his arms together, they fell apart again.

“What is the matter? You had better sit down,” I said.

But he continued standing, vainly trying to gather himself together, and stared at me in silence. Involuntarily I got up from the stone and, tottering, looked into his eyes – and saw an abyss of horror and insanity in them. Everybody’s pupils were shrunk – but his had dilated and covered his whole eye: what a sea of fire he must have seen through those enormous black windows! Maybe I had only imagined it, maybe in his look there was only death – but, no, I was not mistaken – in those black, bottomless pupils, surrounded by a narrow orange-colored rim, like a bird’s eye, there was more than death, more than the horror of death. “Go away!” I cried falling back. “Go away!” And as if he was only waiting for a word, enormous, disorderly and mute as before, he suddenly fell down upon me, knocking me over. With a shudder I freed my legs from under him, jumped up and longed to run – somewhere away from men into the sunlit, unpeopled and quivering distance, when suddenly, on the left-hand side, a cannon boomed forth from a hilltop, and directly after it two others, like an echo. And somewhere above our heads a shell flew past with a gladsome, many-voiced scr-e-e-ch and howl.

We were outflanked.

The murderous heat, fear and fatigue disappeared instantly. My thoughts cleared, my mind grew clear and sharp, and when I ran up, out of breath, to the files of men drawing up, I saw serene, almost joyous faces, heard hoarse, but loud voices, orders, jokes. The sun seemed to have drawn itself up higher so as not to be in the way, and had grown dim and still – and again a shell, like a witch, cut the air with a gladsome scr-e-e-ch.

I came up.

FRAGMENT II

Nearly all the horses and men. The same in the eighth battery. In our twelfth battery, towards the end of the third day, there remained only three guns – all the others being disabled – six men and one officer, myself. We had neither slept nor eaten for twenty hours; for three days and nights a Satanic roar and howl enveloped us in a cloud of insanity, isolated us from the earth, the sky and ourselves – and we, the living, wandered about like lunatics. The dead – they lay still, while we moved about doing our duty, talking and laughing, and we were – like lunatics. All our movements were quick and certain, our orders clear, the execution of them precise, but if you had suddenly asked one of us who we were, undoubtedly we should not have been able to find an answer in our troubled brain. As in a dream all faces seemed familiar, and all that was going on seemed quite familiar and natural–as if it had happen before; but when I looked closely at any face or gun, or began listening to the din, I was struck by the novelty and endless mystery of everything. Night approached imperceptibly, and before we had time to notice it and wonder where it had come from, the sun was again burning our heads. And only from those who came to our battery we learnt that it was the third day of the battle that was dawning, and instantly forgot it again: to us it appeared as one endless day without any beginning, sometimes dark, sometimes bright, but always incomprehensible, and blind. And nobody was afraid of death, for nobody understood what death was.

On the third or fourth night – I do not remember which – I lay down for a minute behind the breastwork, and, as soon as I shut my eyes, the same familiar and extraordinary picture stood before them: the scrap of light-blue wall-paper and the dusty untouched water-bottle on my table. While in the next room – and I could not see them – were my wife and little son. But this time a lamp with a green shade was burning on the table, so it must have been evening or night. The picture stood motionless, and I contemplated it very calmly and attentively for a long time, letting my eyes rest on the light reflected in the crystal of the water-bottle, and on the wall-paper, and wondered why my son was not asleep: for it was night and time for him to go to bed. Then I again began examining the wall-paper: every spiral, silvery flower, square and line – and never imagined that I knew my room so well. Now and then I opened my eyes and saw the black sky with beautiful fiery stripes upon it, then shut them again and saw once more the wall-paper, the bright water-bottle, and wondered why my son was not asleep, for it was night and time for him to go to bed. Once a shell burst not far from me, making my legs give a jerk, and somebody cried out loudly, louder than the bursting of the shell, and I said to myself: “Somebody is killed,” but I did not get up and did not tear my eyes away from the light-blue wall-paper and the water-bottle.

Afterwards I got up, moved about, gave orders, looked at the men’s faces, trained the guns, and kept on wondering why my son was not asleep. Once I asked the sergeant, and he explained it to me at length with great detail, and we kept nodding our heads. And he laughed, and his left eye­brow kept twitching, while his eye winked cunningly at somebody behind us. Behind us were somebody’s feet – and nothing more.

By this time it was quite light, when suddenly there fell a drop of rain. Rain–just the same as at home, the most ordinary little drops of rain. But it was so sudden and out of place, and we were so afraid of getting wet, that we left our guns, stopped firing, and tried to find shelter anywhere we could.

The sergeant with whom I had only just been speaking got under the gun-carriage and dozed off, although he might have been crushed any minute; the stout artilleryman, for some reason or other, began undressing a corpse, while I began running about the battery in search of something­-a cloak or an umbrella. And the same instant over the whole enormous area, where the rain-cloud had burst, a wonderful stillness fell. A belated shrapnel shot shrieked and burst, and everything grew still – so still that one could hear the stout artilleryman panting, and the drops of rain splashing upon the stones and guns. And this soft and continuous sound, that reminded one of autumn – the smell of the moist earth and the stillness – seemed to tear the bloody, savage nightmare asunder for an instant; and when I glanced at the wet, glistening gun it unexpectedly reminded me of something dear and peaceful – my childhood, or perhaps my first love. But in the distance a gun boomed forth particularly loud, and the spell of the momentary lull disappeared; the men began coming out of their hiding places as suddenly as they had hid themselves; a gun roared, then another, and once again the weary brain was enveloped by bloody, indissoluble gloom. And nobody noticed when the rain stopped. I only remember seeing the water rolling off the fat, sunken yellow face of the killed artilleryman; so I supposed it rained for rather a long time….

…Before me stood a young volunteer holding his hand to his cap and reporting to me that the general wanted us to retain our position for only two hours more, when we should be relieved. I was wondering why my son was not in bed, and answered that I could hold on as much as he wished. But suddenly I became interested in the young man’s face, probably because of its unusual and striking pallor. I never saw anything whiter than that face: even the dead have more colour than that young, beardless face had. I suppose he became terrified on his way to us, and could not recover himself; and in holding his hands to his cap he was only making an effort to drive away his mad fear by a simple and habitual gesture.

“Are you afraid?” I asked, touching his elbow. But his elbow seemed as if made of wood, and he only smiled and remained silent. Better to say, his lips alone were twitching into a smile, while his eyes were full of youth and terror only – nothing more.

“Are you afraid!” I repeated kindly. His lips twitched, trying to frame a word, and the same instant there happened something incomprehensible, monstrous and supernatural. I felt a draught of warm air upon my right cheek that made me sway — that is all — while before my eyes, in place of the white face, there was something short, blunt, and red, and out of it the blood was gushing as out of an uncorked bottle, such as is drawn on badly executed signboards. And that red and flowing “something” still seemed to be smiling a sort of smile, a toothless laugh — a red laugh.

I recognized it — that red laugh. I had been searching for it, and I had found it — that red laugh. Now I understood what there was in all those mutilated, torn, strange bodies. It was a red laugh. It was in the sky, it was in the sun, and soon it was going to overspread the entire earth — that red laugh!

While they, with precision and calmness, like lunatics….

FRAGMENT III

They say there are a great number of madmen in our army as well as in the enemy’s. Four lunatic wards have been opened. When I was on the staff our adjutant showed me….

FRAGMENT IV

. . . Coiled round like snakes. He saw the wire, chopped through at one end, cut the air and coil itself round three soldiers. The barbs tore their uniforms and stuck into their bodies, and, shrieking, the soldiers spun round in frenzy, two of them dragging the third, who was already dead, after them. Then only one remained alive, and he tried to push the two that were dead away from him; but they trailed after him, whirling and rolling over each other and over him; and suddenly all three became motionless.

He told me that no less than two thousand men were lost at that one wire entanglement. While they were hacking at the wire and getting entangled in its serpentine coils, they were pelted by an incessant rain of balls and grape­shot. He assured me it was very terrifying, and if only they had known in which direction to run, that attack would have ended in a panic flight. But ten or twelve continuous lines of wire and the struggle with it, a whole labyrinth of pitfalls with stakes driven in at the bottom, had muddled them so, that they were quite incapable of defining the direction of escape.

Some, like men blind, fell into the funnel-shaped pits, and hung upon the sharp stakes, pierced through the stomach, twitching convulsively and dancing like toy clowns; they were crushed down by fresh bodies, and soon the whole pit filled to the edges, and presented a writhing mass of bleeding bodies, dead and living. Hands thrust themselves out of it in all directions, the fingers working convulsively, catching at everything; and those who once got caught in that trap could not get back again: hundreds of fingers, strong and blind, like the claws of a lobster, gripped them firmly by the legs, caught at their clothes, threw them down upon themselves, gouged out their eyes and throttled them. Many seemed as if they were intoxicated, and ran straight at the wire, got caught in it, and remained shrieking, until a bullet finished them.

Generally speaking, they all seemed like people intoxicated: some swore dreadfully, others laughed when the wire caught them by the arm or leg and died there and then. He himself, although he had had nothing to eat or drink since the morning, felt very queer. His head swam, and there were moments when the feeling of terror in him changed to wild rapture, and from rapture again to terror. When somebody struck up a song at his side, he caught up the tune, and soon a whole unanimous chorus broke forth. He did not remember what they sang, only that it was lively in a dancing strain. Yes, they sang, while all around them was red with blood. The very sky seemed to be red, and one could have thought that a catastrophe had overwhelmed the universe- a strange disappearance of colors: the light-blue and green and other habitual peaceful colors had disappeared, while the sun blazed forth in a red flare-light.

“The red laugh,” said I.

But he did not understand.

“Yes, and they laughed, as I told you before, like people intoxicated. Perhaps they even danced. There was something of the sort. At least the movements of those three resembled dancing.”

He remembers distinctly, when he was shot through the chest and fell, his legs twitched for some time until he lost consciousness, as if he were dancing to music. And at the present moment, when he thinks of that attack, a strange feeling comes over him: partly fear and partly the desire to experience it all over again.

“And get another ball in your chest?” asked I. “There now, why should I get a ball each time? But it would not be half so bad, old boy, to get a medal for bravery.”

He was lying on his back with a waxen face, sharp nose, prominent cheek-bones and sunken eyes. He was lying looking like a corpse and dreaming of a medal! Mortification had already set in; he had a high temperature, and in three days’ time he was to be thrown into the grave to join the dead; nevertheless he lay smiling dreamingly and talking about a medal.

“Have you telegraphed to your mother?” I asked.

He glanced at me with terror, animosity and anger, and did not answer. I was silent, and then the groans and ravings of the wounded became audible. But when I rose to go, he caught my hand in his hot, but still strong one, and fixed his sunken burning eyes upon me in a lost and distressed way.

“What does it all mean, ay? What does it all mean?” asked he in a frightened and persistent manner, pulling at my hand.

“What?”

“Everything. . .in general. Now, she is waiting for me. But I cannot. My country – is it possible to make her understand, what my country means?”

“The red laugh,” answered I. “Ah! you are always joking, but I am serious. It is indispensable to explain it; but is it possible to make her understand? If you only knew what she says in her letters! – what she writes. And you know her words – are grey-haired. And you – “he looked curiously at my head, pointed his finger and suddenly breaking into a laugh said: “Why, you have grown bald. Have you noticed it?”

“There are no looking-glasses here.”

“Many have grown bald and grey. Look here, give me a looking-glass. Give me one! I feel white hair growing out of my head. Give me a looking-glass!” He became delirious, crying and shouting out, and I left the hospital.

That same evening we got up an entertainment – a sad and strange entertainment, at which, amongst the guests, the shadows of the dead assisted. We decided to gather in the evening and have tea, as if we were at home, at a picnic. We got a samovar, we even got a lemon and glasses, and established ourselves under a tree, as if we were at home, at a picnic. Our companions arrived noisily in twos and threes, talking, joking and full of gleeful expectation -but soon grew silent, and avoided looking at each other, for there was something fearful in this meeting of spared men. In tatters, dirty, itching, as if we were covered by a dreadful ringworm, with hair neglected, thin and worn, having lost all familiar and habitual aspect, we seemed to see each other for the first time as we gathered round the samovar, and seeing each other, we grew terrified. In vain I looked for a familiar face in this group of disconcerted men – I could not find one. These men, restless, hasty and jerky in their movements, starting at every sound, constantly looking for something behind their backs, trying to fill up that mysterious void into which they were too terrified to look, by superfluous gesticulations – were new, strange men, whom I did not know. And their voices sounded different, articulating the words with difficulty in jerks, easily passing into angry shouts or senseless irrepressible laughter at the slightest provocation. And everything around us was strange to us. The tree was strange, and the sunset strange, and the water strange, with a peculiar taste and smell, as if we had left the earth and entered into a new world to­gether with the dead – a world of mysterious phenomena and ominous sombre shadows. The sunset was yellow and cold; black, unillumined, motionless clouds hung heavily over it, while the earth under it was black, and our faces in that ill-omened light seemed yellow, like the faces of the dead. We all sat watching the samovar, but it went out, its sides reflecting the yellowishness and menace of the sun set, and it seemed also an unfamiliar, dead and incomprehensible object.

“Where are we?” asked somebody, and uneasiness and fear sounded in his voice. Somebody sighed; somebody convulsively cracked his fingers; somebody laughed; somebody jumped up and began walking quickly round the table. These last days one could often meet with such men, who were always walking hastily, almost running, at times strangely silent, at times mumbling something in an uncanny way.

“At the war,” answered he who had laughed, and again burst into a hollow, lingering laugh, as if something was choking him.

“What is he laughing at?” asked somebody indignantly. “Look here, stop it!”

The other choked once more, gave a titter and stopped indignantly.

It was growing dark, the cloud seemed to be settling down on the earth, and we could with difficulty distinguish each other’s yellow phantom-like faces. Somebody asked, –

“And where is Fatty-legs?”

“Fatty legs” we called a fellow-officer, who, being short, wore enormous water-tight boots.

“He was here just now. Fatty-legs, where are you?”

“Fatty-legs, don’t hide. We can smell your boots.”

Everybody laughed, but their laugh was interrupted by an indignant voice that sounded out of the darkness:

“Stop that! Are you not ashamed? Fatty-legs was killed in morning reconnoitring.”

“He was here just now. It must be a mistake.”

“You imagined it. Heigh-ho! you there, behind the samovar, cut me a slice of lemon.”

“And me!”

“And me!”

“The lemon is finished.”

“How is that, boys?” sounded a gentle, hurt voice, full of distress and almost crying; “why, I only came for the sake of the lemon.”

The other again burst into a hollow and lingering laugh, and nobody checked him. But he soon stopped. He gave a snigger, and was silent. Somebody said:

“To-morrow we begin the advance on the enemy.”

But several voices cried out angrily:

“Nonsense, advance on the enemy, indeed!”

“But you know yourself – ”

“Shut up. As if we cannot talk of something else.”

The sunset faded. The cloud lifted, and it seemed to grow lighter; the faces became more familiar, and he, who kept circling round us, grew calmer and sat down.

“I wonder what it’s like at home now?” asked he vaguely, and in his voice there sounded a guilty smile.

And once again all became terrible, incomprehensible and strange – so intensely so that we were filled with horror, almost to the verge of losing consciousness. And we all began talking and shouting at the same time, bustling about, moving our glasses, touching each other’s shoulders, hands, knees – and all at once became silent, giving way before the incomprehensible.

“At home?” cried somebody out of the darkness. His voice was hoarse and quivering with emotion, fear and hatred. And some of the words would not come out, as if he had forgotten how to say them.

“At home? What home? Why, is there home anywhere! Don’t interrupt me or else I shall fire. At home I used to take a bath every day – can you understand? – a bath with water – water up to the very edges. While now – I do not even wash my face every day. My head is covered with scurf, and my whole body itches and over it crawl, crawl. . . I am going mad from dirt, while you talk of – home! I am like an animal, I despise myself, I cannot recognise myself and death is not at all terrifying. You tear my brain with your shrapnel-shots. Aim at what you will, all hit my brain- and you can speak of – home. What home? Streets, windows, people, but I would not go into the street now for anything. I should be ashamed to. You brought a samovar here, but I was ashamed to look at it.”

The other laughed again. Somebody called out: “D–n it all! I shall go home.”

“Home?”

“You don’t understand what duty is!”

“Home? Listen! he wants to go home!”

There was a burst of laughter and of painful shouts – and again all became silent – giving way before the incomprehensible. And then not only I, but every one of us felt that. It was coming towards us out of those dark, mysterious and strange fields; it was rising from out of those obscure dark ravines, where, maybe, the forgotten and lost among the stones were still dying; it was flowing from the strange, unfamiliar sky. We stood around the dying-out samovar in silence, losing consciousness from horror, while an enormous, shapeless shadow that had risen above the world, looked down upon us from the sky with a steady and silent gaze. Suddenly, quite close to us, probably at the Commanders’ house, music burst forth, and the frenzied, joyous, loud sounds seemed to flash out into the night and stillness. The band played with frenzied mirth and defiance, hurriedly, discordantly, too loudly, and too joyously, and one could feel that those who were playing, and those who were listening, saw as we did, that same enormous, shapeless shadow, risen above the world. And it was clear the player on the trumpet carried in himself, in his very brain and ears, that same enormous dumb shadow. The abrupt and broken sound tossed about, jumping and running away from the others, quivering with horror and insanity in its lonesomeness. And the other sounds seemed to be looking round at it, so clumsily they ran, stumbling, falling, and again rising in a disorderly crowd – too loud, too joyous, too close to the black ravines, where most probably the forgotten and lost among the boulders were still dying.

And we stood for a long time around the cold samovar and were silent.

FRAGMENT V

.. . I was already asleep when the doctor roused me by pushing me cautiously. I woke, and jumping up, cried out, as we all did when anybody wakened us, and rushed to the entrance of our tent. But the doctor held me firmly by the arm, excusing himself:

“I frightened you, forgive me. I know you want to sleep…”

“Five days and nights…” I muttered, dozing off. I fell asleep and slept, as it seemed to me for a long time, when the doctor again began speaking, poking me cautiously in the ribs and legs.

“But it is very urgent. Dear fellow, please – it is so pressing. I keep thinking…I cannot…I keep thinking, that some of the wounded were left…”

“What wounded? Why, you were bringing them in the whole day long. Leave me in peace. It is not fair – I have not slept for five days!”

“Dear boy, don’t be angry,” muttered the doctor, awkwardly putting my cap on my head; “everybody is asleep, it’s impossible to rouse anybody. I’ve got hold of an engine and seven carriages, but we’re in want of men. I understand….Dear fellow, I implore you. Everybody is asleep and everybody refuses. I’m afraid of falling asleep myself. I don’t remember when I slept last. I believe I’m beginning to have hallucinations. There’s a dear fellow, put down your feet, just one–there – there….”

The doctor was pale and tottering, and one could see that if he were only to lie down for an instant he would fall asleep and remain so without waking for several days running. My legs sank under me, and I am certain I fell asleep as I walked – so suddenly and unexpectedly appeared before us a row of black outlines – the engine and carriages. Near them, scarcely distinguishable in the darkness, some men were wandering about slowly and silently.

There was not a single light either on the engine or carriages, and only the shut ash-box threw a dim reddish light on to the rails.

“What is this?” asked I, stepping back.

“Why, we are going in the train. Have you forgotten? We are going in the train,” muttered the doctor.

The night was chilly and he was trembling from cold, and as I looked at him I felt the same rapid tickling shiver all over my body.

“D–n you!” I cried loudly. “Just as if you couldn’t have taken somebody else.”

“Hush! please, hush!” and the doctor caught me by the arm.

Somebody out of the darkness said:

“If you were to fire a volley from all the guns, nobody would stir. They are all asleep. One could go up and bind them all. Just now I passed quite close to the sentry. He looked at me and did not say a word, never stirred. I suppose he was asleep too. It’s a wonder he does not fall down.”

He who spoke yawned and his clothes rustled, evidently he was stretching himself. I leaned against the side of the carriage, intending to climb up–and was instantly overcome by sleep. Somebody lifted me up from behind and laid me down, while I began pushing him away with my feet, without knowing why, and again I fell asleep, hearing as in a dream fragments of a conversation:

“At the seventh verst.”

“Have you forgotten the lanterns?”

“No, he won’t go.”

“Give them here. Back a little. That’s it.”

The carriages were jerking backwards and forwards, something was rattling. And gradually, because of all these sounds and because I was lying comfortably and quietly, sleep deserted me. But the doctor was sound asleep, and when I took him by the hand it was like the hand of a corpse, heavy and limp. The train was now moving slowly and cautiously, shaking slightly, as if groping its way. The student acting as hospital orderly lighted the candle in the lantern, lighting up the walls and the black aperture of the entrance, and said angrily:

“D–n it! Much they need us by this time. But you had better wake him, before he falls into a sound sleep, for then you won’t be able to do anything with him. I know by myself.”

We roused the doctor and he sat up, rolling his eyes vacantly. He tried to lie down again, but we did not let him. “It would be good to have a drop of vodka now,” said the student.

We drank a mouthful of brandy, and all sleepiness disappeared entirely. The big black square of the door began to grow pink, then red – somewhere from behind the hills appeared an enormous mute flare of a conflagration as if the sun was rising in the middle of the night.

“It’s far away. About twenty versts.”

“I feel cold,” said the doctor, snapping his teeth.

The student looked out of the door and beckoned me to come up to him. I looked out: at different points of the horizon motionless flares of similar conflagration stood out in a mute row: as if dozens of suns were rising simultaneously. And now the darkness was not so great. The distant hills were growing more densely black, sharply outlined against the sky in a broken and wavy contour, while in the foreground all was flooded with a red soft glow, silent and motionless. I glanced at the student; his face was tinged by the same red fantastic color of blood, that had changed itself into air and light.

“Are there many wounded?” asked I.

He waved his hand.

“A great many madmen. More so than wounded.”

“Real madmen?”

“What others can there be?”

He was looking at me, and his eyes wore the same fixed, wild expression, full of cold horror, that the soldier’s had, who died of sunstroke.

“Stop that,” said I, turning away.

“The doctor is mad also. Just look at him.”

The doctor had not heard. He was sitting cross-legged, like a Turk, swaying to and fro, soundlessly moving his lips and finger-tips. And in his gaze there was the same fixed, stupefied, blunt, stricken expression.

“I feel cold,” said he, and smiled.

“Hang you all!” cried I, moving away into a corner of the carriage. “What did you call me up for?”

Nobody answered. The student stood gazing out at the mute spreading glow, and the back of his head with its curly hair was youthful; and when I looked at him, I do not know why, but I kept picturing to myself a delicate woman’s hand passing through that hair. And this image was so unpleasant, that a feeling of hatred sprang up in my breast, and I could not not look at him without a feeling of loathing.

“How old are you?” I asked, but he did not turn his head and did not answer.

The doctor kept on rocking himself.

“I feel cold.”

‘When I think,” said the student, without turning round, “when I think that there are streets, houses, a University…”

He broke off, as if he had said all and was silent. Suddenly the train stopped almost instantaneously, making me knock myself against the wall, and voices were to be heard, We jumped out. In front of the very engine upon the rails lay something, a not very large lump, out of which a leg was projecting.

“Wounded ?”

“No, dead. The head is torn off. Say what you will, but I will light the head-light. Otherwise we shall be crushing somebody.”

The lump with the protruding leg was thrown aside; for an instant the leg lifted itself up, as if it wanted to run through the air, and all disappeared in a black ditch. The head-light was lit and the engine instantly grew black.

“Listen!” whispered somebody, full of silent terror. How was it that we had not heard it before? From everywhere – the exact place could not be defined – a groan, unbroken and scraping, wonderfully calm in its breadth, and even indifferent, as it seemed, was borne upon us. We had heard many cries and groans, but this resembled none of those heard before. On the dim reddish surface our eyes could perceive nothing, and therefore the very earth and sky, lit up by a never-rising sun, seemed to be groaning.

“The fifth verst,” said the engine-driver.

“That is where it comes from,” and the doctor pointed forwards. The student shuddered, and slowly turned towards us.

“What is it? It’s terrible to listen to!”

“Let’s move on.”

We walked along in front of the engine, throwing a dense shadow upon the rails, but it was not black but of a dim red color, lit up by the soft motionless flares, that stood out mutely at the different points of the black sky. And with each step we made, that wild unearthly groan, that had no visible source, grew ominously, as if it was the red air, the very earth and sky, that were groaning. In its ceaselessness and strange indifference it recalled at times the noise of grasshoppers in a meadow – the ceaseless noise of grasshoppers in a meadow on a warm summer day. And we came upon dead bodies oftener and oftener. We examined them rapidly, and threw them off the rails – those indifferent, calm, limp bodies, that left dark oily stains where the blood had soaked into the earth where they had lain. At first we counted them, but soon got muddled, and ceased. They were many – too many for that ominous night, that breathed cold and groans from each fibre of its being.

“What does it mean?” cried the doctor, and threatened somebody with his fist. “Just listen…”

We were nearing the sixth verst, and the groans were growing distinct and sharp, and we could almost feel the distorted mouths, from which those terrible sounds were issuing.

We looked anxiously into the rosy gloom, so deceitful in is fantastic light, when suddenly, almost at our feet, be­side the rails, somebody gave a loud, calling, crying groan. We found him instantly, that wounded man, whose face seemed to consist only of two eyes, so big they appeared, when the light of the lantern fell on his face. He stopped moaning, and rested his eyes on each of us and our lanterns in turn, and in his glance there was a mad joy at seeing men and lights – and a mad fear that all would disappear like a vision. Perhaps he had seen men with lanterns bending over him many times, but they had always disappeared in a bloody confused nightmare.

We moved on, and almost instantly stumbled against two more wounded, one lying on the rails, the other groaning in a ditch. As we were picking them up, the doctor, trembling with anger, said to me: “Well?” and turned away. Several steps farther on we met a man wounded slightly, who was walking alone, supporting one arm with the other. He was walking with his head thrown back, straight towards us, but seemed not to notice us, when we drew aside to it him pass. I believe he did not see us. He stopped for an instant near the engine, turned aside, and went past the train.

“You had better get in!” cried the doctor, but he did not answer.

These were the first that we found, and they horrified us. But later on we came upon them oftener and oftener along the rails or near them, and the whole field, lit up by the motionless red flare of the conflagrations, began stirring as if it were alive, breaking out into loud cries, wails, curses and groans. All those dark mounds stirred and crawled about like half-dead lobsters let out of a basket, with outspread legs, scarcely resembling men in their broken, unconscious movements and ponderous immobility. Some were mute and obedient, others groaned, wailed, swore and showed such a passionate hate towards us who were saving them, as if we had brought about that bloody, indifferent night, and been the cause of all those terrible wounds and their loneliness amidst the night and dead bodies.

The train was full, and our clothes were saturated with blood, as if we had stood for a long time under a rain of blood, while the wounded were still being brought in, and the field, come to life, was stirring wildly as before.

Some of the wounded crawled up themselves, some walked up tottering and falling. One soldier almost ran up to us. His face was smashed, and only one eye remained, burning wildly and terribly, and he was almost naked, as if he had come from the bath-room. Pushing me aside, he caught sight of the ddctor, and rapidly seized him by the chest with his left hand.

“I’ll smash your snout!” he cried, shaking the doctor, and added slowly and mordantly a coarse oath. “I’ll smash your snouts, you rabble!”

The doctor broke away from the soldier, and advancing towards him, cried chokingly:

“I will have you court-martialled, you scoundrel! To prison with you! You’re hindering my work! Scoundrel! Brute!”

We pulled them apart, but the soldier kept on crying out for a long time: “Rabble! I’ll smash your snout!”

I was beginning to get exhausted, and went a little way off to have a smoke and rest a bit. The blood, dried to my hands, covered them like a pair of black gloves, making it difficult for me to bend my fingers, so that I kept dropping my cigarettes and matches. And when I succeeded in lighting my cigarette, the tobacco smoke struck me as novel and strange, with quite a peculiar taste, the like of which I never experienced before or after. Just then the ambulance student with whom I had travelled came up to me, and it seemed to me as if I had met with him several years back, but where I could not remember. His tread was firm as if he were marching, and he was staring through me at something farther on and higher up.

“And they are sleeping,” said he, as it seemed, quite calmly.

I flew in a rage, as if the reproach was addressed to me.

“You forget, that they fought like lions for ten days.”

“And they are sleeping,” he repeated, looking through me and higher up. Then he stooped down to me and shaking his finger, continued in the same dry and calm way: “I will tell you – I will tell you…”

“What?”

He stooped still lower towards me, shaking his finger meaningly, and kept repeating the words as if they expressed a completed idea:

“I will tell you – I will tell you. Tell them…” And still looking at me in the same severe way, he shook his finger once more, then took out his revolver and shot himself in the temple. And this did not surprise or terrify me in the least. Putting my cigarette in the left hand, I felt his wound with my fingers, and went back to the train.

“The student has shot himself. I believe he is still alive,” said I to the doctor. The latter caught hold of his head and groaned.

“D–n him! …There is no room. There, that one will go and shoot himself, too, soon. And I give you my word of honor,” cried he, angrily and menacingly, “I will do the same! Yes! And let me beg you – just walk back. There is no room. You can lodge a complaint against me if you like.”

And he turned away, still shouting, while I went up to the other who was about to commit suicide. He was an ambulance man, and also, I believe, a student. He stood, pressing his forehead against the wall of the carriage, and his shoulders shook with sobs.

“Stop!” said I, touching his quivering shoulder. But be did not turn round or answer, and continued crying. And the back of his head was youthful, like the other student’s, and as terrifying, and he stood in an absurd manner with his legs spread out like a person drunk, who is sick; and his neck was covered with blood; probably he had clutched it with his own hands.

“Well?” said I, impatiently.

He pushed himself away from the carriage and, stooping like an old man, with his head bent down, he went away into the darkness away from all of us. I do not know why, but I followed him, and we walked along for a long time away from the carriages. I believe he was crying, and a feeling of distress stole over me, and I wanted to cry too.

“Stop!” I cried, standing still.

But he walked on, moving his feet ponderously, bent down, looking like an old man with his narrow shoulders and shuffling gait. And soon he disappeared in the reddish haze, that resembled light and yet lit nothing. And I remained alone. To the left of me a row of dim lights bled past – it was the train. I was alone – amidst the dead and dying. How many more remained? Near me all was still and dead, but farther on the field was stirring, as if it were alive – or so it seemed to me in my loneliness. But the moan did not grow less. It spread along the earth – high-pitched, hopeless, like the cry of a child or the yelping of thousands of cast-away puppies, starving and cold. Like a sharp, endless, icy needle it pierced your brain and slowly moved backwards and forwards – backwards and forwards….

FRAGMENT VI

…They were our own men. During the strange confusion of all movements that reigned in both armies, our own and the enemy’s, during the last month, frustrating all orders and plans, we were sure it was the enemy that was approaching us, namely, the 4th corps. And everything was ready for an attack, when somebody clearly discerned our uniforms, and ten minutes later our guess had become a calm and happy certainty: they were our own men. They apparently had recognized us too: they advanced quite calmly, and that calm motion seemed to express the same happy smile of an unexpected meeting.

And when they began firing, we did not understand for some time what it meant, and still continued smiling – nder a hail of shrapnel and bullets, that poured down upon us, snatching away at one stroke hundreds of men. Somebody cried out by mistake and – I clearly remember – we all saw that it was the enemy, that it was his uniform and not ours, and instantly answered the fire. About fifteen minutes after the beginning of that strange engagement both my legs were torn off, and I recovered consciousness in the hospital after the amputation.

I asked how the battle had ended, and received an evasive, reassuring answer, by which I could understand that we had been beaten; and afterwards, legless as I was, I was overcome by joy at the thought that now I would be sent home, that I was alive – alive for a long time to come, alive for ever. And only a week later I learnt some particulars, that once more filled me with doubts and a new, unexperienced feeling of terror. Yes, I believe they were our own men after all – and it was with one of our shells, fired out of one of our guns by one of our men, that my legs had been torn off. And nobody could explain how it had happened. Something occurred, something darkened our vision, and two regiments, belonging to the same army, facing each other at a distance of one verst, had been destroying each other for a whole hour in the full conviction that it was the enemy they had before them. Later on the incident was remembered and spoken of reluctantly in half-words and – what is most surprising of all – one could feel that many of the speakers did not admit the mistake even then. That is to say, they admitted it, but thought that it had occurred later on, that in the beginning they really had the enemy before them, but that he disappeared somewhere during the general fray, leaving us in the range of our own shells. Some spoke of it openly, giving precise explanations, which seemed to them plausible and clear. Up to this very minute I cannot say for certain how the strange blunder began, as I saw with equal clearness first our red uniforms and then their orange-colored ones. And somehow very soon everybody forgot about the incident, forgot about it to such an extent that it was spoken of as a real battle and in that sense many accounts were written and sent to the papers in all good faith; I read them when I was back home. At first the public’s attitude towards us, the wounded in that engagement, was rather strange – we seemed to be less pitied than those wounded in other battles, but soon even that disappeared too. And only new facts, similar to the one just described, and a case in the enemy’s army, when two detachments actually destroyed each other almost entirely, having come to a hand-to-hand fight during the night – gives me the right to think that a mistake did occur.

Our doctor, the one that did the amputation, a lean, bony old man, tainted with tobacco smoke and carbolic acid, everlastingly smiling at something through his yellowish-grey thin mustache, said to me, winking his eye:

“You’re in luck to be going home. There’s something wrong here.”

“What is it?”

“Something’s going wrong. In our time it was simpler.”

He had taken part in the last European war almost a quarter of a century back and often referred to it with pleasure. But this war he did not understand, and, as I noticed, feared it.

“Yes, there’s something wrong,” sighed he, and frowned, disappearing in a cloud of tobacco smoke. “I would leave too, if I could.”

And bending over me he whispered through his yellow smoked mustache:

“A time will come when nobody will be able to go away from here. Yes, neither I nor anybody,” and in his old eyes, so close to me, I saw the same fixed, dull, stricken expression. And something terrible, unbearable, resembling the fall of thousands of buildings, darted through my head, and growing cold from terror, I whispered:

“The red laugh.”

And he was the first to understand me. He hastily nodded his head and repeated:

“Yes. The red laugh.”

He sat down quite close to me and looking round began whispering rapidly, in a senile way, wagging his sharp, grey little beard.

“You are leaving soon, and I will tell you. Did you ever see a fight in an asylum? No? Well, I saw one. And they fought like sane people. You understand – like sane people.” He significantly repeated the last phrase several times.

“Well, and what of that?” asked I, also in a whisper, full of terror.

“Nothing. Like sane people.”

“The red laugh,” said I.

“They were separated by water being poured over them.”

I remembered the rain that had frightened us so, and got angry.

“You are mad, doctor!”

“Not more than you. Not more than you in any case.” He hugged his sharp old knees and chuckled; and, looking at me over his shoulder and still with the echo of that unexpected painful laugh on his parched lips, he winked at me slyly several times, as if we two knew something very funny, that nobody else knew. Then with the solemnity of a professor of black magic giving a conjuring performance, he lifted his arm and, lowering it slowly, carefully touched with two fingers that part of the blanket under which my legs would have been, if they had not been cut off.

“And do you understand this?” he asked mysteriously.

Then, in the same solemn and significant manner, he waved his hand towards the row of beds on which the wounded were lying, and repeated:

“And can you explain this?”

“The wounded?” said I. “The wounded?”

“The wounded,” repeated he, like an echo. “The wounded. Legless and armless, with pierced sides, smashed-in chests and torn-out eyes. You understand it? I am very glad. So I suppose you will understand this also?”

With an agility, quite unexpected for his age, he flung himself down and stood on his hands, balancing his legs in the air. His white working clothes turned down, his face grew purple and, looking at me fixedly with a strange upturned gaze, he threw at me with difficulty a few broken words:

“And this…do you…also…understand?”

“Stop!” whispered I in terror, “or else I will cry out.”

He turned over into a natural position, sat down again near my bed, and, taking breath, remarked instinctively:

“And nobody can understand it.”

“Yesterday they were firing again.”

“Yes, they were firing yesterday and the day before,” said he, nodding his head affirmatively.

“I want to go home!” said I in distress. “Doctor, dear fellow, I want to go home. I cannot remain here any longer. At times I cannot bring myself to believe that I have a home, where it is so good.”

He was thinking of something and did not answer, and I began to cry.

“My God, I have no legs. I used to love my bicycle so, to walk and run, and now I have no legs. I used to dance my boy on the right foot and he laughed, and now…Curse you all! What shall I go home for? I am only thirty….Curse you all!”

And I sobbed and sobbed, as I thought of my dear legs, my fleet, strong legs. Who took them away from me, who dared to take them away!

“Listen,” said the doctor, looking aside. “Yesterday I saw a mad soldier that came to us. An enemy’s soldier. He was stripped almost naked, beaten and scratched and hungry as an animal, his hair was unkempt, as ours is, and he resembled a savage, primitive man or monkey. He waved his arms about, made grimaces, sang and shouted and wanted to fight. He was fed and driven out again­ into the open country. Where could we have kept him? Days and nights they wander about the hills, backwards and forwards in all directions, keeping to no path, having no aim or resting-place, all in tatters like ominous phan­toms. They wave their arms, laugh, shout and sing, and when they come across anybody they begin to fight, or maybe, without noticing each other, pass by. What do they eat? Probably nothing, or, maybe, they feed on the dead bodies together with the beasts, together with those fat wild dogs, that fight in the hills and yelp the whole night long. At night they gather about the fires like monstrous moths or birds awakened by a storm, and you need only light a fire to have in less than half-an-hour a dozen noisy, tattered wild shapes, resembling chilled monkeys, gathering around it. Sometimes they are fired at by mistake, sometimes on purpose, for they make you lose all patience with their unintelligible, terrifying cries.…”

“I want to go home!” cried I, shutting my ears.

But new terrible words, sounding hollow and phantom-like, as if they were passing through a layer of wadding, kept hammering at my brain.

“They are many. They die by hundreds in the precipices and pitfalls, that are made for sound and clever men, in the remnants of the barbed wire and on the stakes they take part in the regular battles and fight like heroes – always in the foremost ranks, always undaunted, but often turn against their own men. I like them. At present I am only beginning to go mad, and that is why I am sitting and talking to you, but when my senses leave me entirely, I will go out into the open country – I will go out into the open country, and I will give a call – I will give a call, I will gather those brave ones, those knights-errant, around me, and declare war to the whole world. We will enter the towns and villages in a joyous crowd, with music and songs, leaving in our wake a trail of red, in which everything will whirl and dance like fire. Those that remain alive will join us, and our brave army will grow like an avalanche, and will cleanse the whole world. Who said that one must not kill, burn or rob?…”

He was shouting now, that mad doctor, and seemed to have awakened by his cries the slumbering pain of all those around him with their ripped-open chests and sides, torn­out eyes and cut-off legs. The ward filled with a broad, rasping, crying groan, and from all sides pale, yellow, exhausted faces, some eyeless, some so monstrously mutilated that it seemed as if they had returned from hell turned toward us. And they groaned and listened, and a black shapeless shadow, risen up from the earth, peeped in cautiously through the open door, while the mad doctor went on shouting, stretching out his arms.

“Who said one must not kill, burn, or rob? We will kill and burn and rob. We, a joyous careless band of braves, we will destroy all; their buildings, universities and museums, and merry as children, full of fiery laughter, we will dance on the ruins. I will proclaim the madhouse our fatherland; all those that have not gone mad – our enemies and madmen; and when I, great, unconquerable and joyous, will begin to reign over the whole world, its sole lord and master, what a glad laugh will ring over the whole universe.”

“The red laugh!” cried I, interrupting him. “Help! Again I hear the red laugh!”

“Friends!” continued the doctor, addressing himself to the groaning, mutilated shadows. “Friends! we shall have a red moon and a red sun, and the animals will have a merry red coat, and we will skin all those that are too white – that are too white….You have not tasted blood? It is slightly sticky and slightly warm, but it is red, and has such a merry red laugh!…”

FRAGMENT VII

…It was godless and unlawful. The Red Cross is respected by the whole world, as a thing sacred, and they saw that it was a train full of harmless wounded and not soldiers, and they ought to have warned us of the mine. The poor fellows, they were dreaming of home. …

FRAGMENT VIII

…Around a samovar, around a real samovar, out of which the steam was rising as out of an engine – the glass on the lamp had even grown dim, there was so much steam. And the cups were the same, blue outside and white inside, very pretty little cups, a wedding present. My wife’s sister gave them – she is a very kind and good woman.

“Is it possible they are all whole?” asked I, incredulously, mixing the sugar in my glass with a clean silver spoon.

“One was broken,” said my wife, absently; she was holding the tap open just then and the water was running out easily and prettily.

I laughed.

“What’s it about?” asked my brother.

“Oh, nothing. Wheel me into the study just once more. You may as well trouble yourself for the sake of a hero. You idled away your time while I was away, but now that is over, I’ll bring you to order,” and I began singing, as a joke of course – “My friends, we’re bravely hurrying towards the foe…”

They understood the joke and smiled, only my wife did not lift up her face, she was wiping the cups with a clean embroidered cloth. And in the study I saw once again the light-blue wall-paper, a lamp with a green shade and a table with a water-bottle upon it. And it was a little dusty.

“Pour me some water out of this,” ordered I, merrily.

“But you’ve just had tea.”

“That doesn’t matter, pour me out some. And you,” said I to my wife, “take our son, and go into the next room for a minute. Please.”

And I drank the water with delight in small sips, while my wife and son were in the next room, and I could not see them.

“That’s all right. Now come here. But why is he not in bed by this time?”

“He is so glad you have come home. Darling, go to your father.”

But the child began to cry and hid himself at his mother’s feet.

“Why is he crying?” asked I, in perplexity, and looked around, “why are you all so pale and silent, following me like shadows?”

My brother burst into a loud laugh and said, “We are not silent.”

And my sister said, “We are talking the whole time.”

“I will go and see about the supper,” said my mother, and hurriedly left the room.

“Yes, you are silent,” I repeated, with sudden convic­tion. “Since morning I have not heard a word from you; I am the only one who chats, laughs, and makes merry. Are you not glad to see me then? And why do you all avoid looking at me? Have I changed so? Yes, I am changed. But I do not see any looking-glasses about. Have you put them all away? Give me a looking-glass.”

“I will bring you one directly,” answered my wife, and did not come back for a long time, and the looking-glass was brought by the maid. I looked into it, and – I had seen myself before in the train, at the station – it was the same face, grown older a little, but the most ordinary face. While they, I believe, expected me to cry out and faint – so glad were they when I asked calmly –

“What is there so unusual in me?”

Laughing louder and louder, my sister left the room hurriedly, and my brother said with calm assurance: “Yes, you have not changed much, only grown slightly bald.”

“You can be thankful that my head is not broken,” answered I, unconcernedly. “But where do they all disappear? – first one, then another. Wheel me about the rooms, please. What a comfortable armchair, it does not make the slightest sound. How much did it cost? You bet I won’t spare the money; I will buy myself such a pair of legs, better… My bicycle!”

It was hanging on the wall, quite new, only the tires were limp for want of pumping. A tiny bit of mud had dried to the tire of the back wheel – the last time I had ridden it. My brother was silent and did not move my chair, and I understood his silence and irresoluteness.

“Only four officers remained alive in our regiment,” said I, surlily. “I am very lucky….You can take it for yourself – take it away tomorrow.”

“All right, I will take it,” agreed my brother submissively.

“Yes, you are lucky. Half of the town is in mourning. While legs – that is really…”

“Of course I am not a postman.”

My brother stopped suddenly and asked – “But why does your head shake?”

“That’s nothing. The doctor said it will pass.”

“And your hands too?”

“Yes, yes. And my hands too. It will all pass. Wheel me on, please. I am tired of remaining still.”

They upset me, those discontented people, but my gladness returned to me when they began making my bed; a real bed, a handsome bed, that I had bought just before our wedding four years ago. They spread a clean sheet, then they shook the pillows and turned down the blanket; while I watched the solemn proceedings, my eyes were fun of tears with laughing.

“And now undress me and put me to bed,” said I to my wife. “How good it is!”

“This minute, dear.”

“Quicker!”

“This minute, dear.”

“Why; what are you doing?”

“This minute, dear.”

She was standing behind my back, near the toilet table, and I vainly tried to turn my head so as to see her. And suddenly she gave a cry, such a cry as one hears only at the war –

“What does it all mean?”

She rushed towards me, put her arms round me, and fell down, hiding her head near the stumps of my cut-off legs, from which she turned away with horror, and again pressed herself against them, kissing them, and crying­-

“What have you become? Why, you are only thirty years old. You were young and handsome. What does it all mean? How cruel men are. What is it for? For whom is it necessary? You, my gentle, poor darling, darling….”

At her cry they all ran up – my mother, sister, nurse – and they all began crying and saying something or other, and fell at my feet wailing. While on the threshold stood my brother, pale, terribly pale, with a trembling jaw, and cried out in a high-pitched voice­-

“I shall go mad with you all. I shall go mad!”

While my mother grovelled at my chair and had not the strength to cry, but only gasped, beating her head against the wheels. And there stood the clean bed with the well-shaken pillows and turned-down blanket, the same bed that I bought just before our wedding four years ago….

FRAGMENT IX

…I was sitting in a warm bath, while my brother was pacing up and down the small room in a troubled manner, sitting down, getting up again, catching hold of the soap and the towel, bringing them close up to his short-sighted eyes and again putting them back in their places. At last he stood up with his face to the wall and picking at the plaster with his finger, continued hotly:

“Judge for yourself: one cannot teach people mercy, sense, logic – teach them to act consciously for tens and hundreds of years running with impunity. And, in particular, to act consciously. One can become merciless, lose all sensitiveness, get accustomed to blood and tears and pain – for instance butchers, and some doctors and officers do, but how can one renounce truth, after one has learnt to know it? In my opinion it is impossible. I was taught from infancy not to torture animals and be compassionate; all the books that I have read told me the same, and I am painfully sorry for all those that suffer at your cursed war. But time passes, and I am beginning to get accustomed to all those deaths, sufferings and all this blood; I feel that I am getting less sensitive, less responsive in my everyday life and respond only to great stimulants, but I cannot get accustomed to war; my brain refuses to understand and explain a thing that is senseless in its basis. Millions of people gather at one place and, giving their actions order and regularity, kill each other, and it hurts everybody equally, and all are unhappy – what is it if not madness?” My brother turned round and looked at me inquiringly with his shortsighted, artless eyes.

“The red laugh,” said I merrily, splashing about.

“I will tell you the truth,” and my brother put his cold hand trustingly on my shoulder, but quickly pulled it back, as if he was frightened at its being naked and wet. “I will tell you the truth; I am very much afraid of going mad. I cannot understand what is happening. I cannot understand it, and it is dreadful. If only anybody could explain it to me, but nobody can. You were at the front, you saw it all – explain it to me.”

“Deuce take you,” answered I jokingly, splashing about.

“There, and you too,” said my brother sadly. “Nobody is capable of helping me. It’s dreadful. And I am beginning to lose all understanding of what is permissible and what is not, what has sense and what is senseless. If I were to seize you suddenly by the throat, at first gently, as if caressing you, and then firmly, and strangle you, what would that be?”

“You are talking nonsense. Nobody does such things.”

My brother rubbed his cold hands, smiled softly, and continued:

“When you were away there were nights when I did not sleep, could not sleep, and strange ideas entered my head – to take a hatchet, for instance, and go and kill everybody – mother, sister, the servants, our dog. Of course they were only fancies, and I would never do so.”

“I should hope not,” smiled I, splashing about.

“Then again, I am afraid of knives, of all that is sharp and shining; it seems to me that if I were to take up a knife I should certainly kill somebody with it. Now, is it not true – why should I not plunge it into somebody; if it were sharp enough?”

“The argument is sufficient. What a queer fellow you are, brother! Just open the hot-water tap.”

My brother opened the tap, let in some hot water, and continued:

“Then, again, I am afraid of crowds – of men, when many of them gather together. When of an evening I hear a noise in the street – a loud shout, for instance – I start and believe that…a massacre has begun. When several men stand together, and I cannot hear what they are talking about, it seems to me that they will suddenly cry out, fall upon each other, and blood will flow. And you know” – he bent mysteriously towards my ear – “the papers are full of murders – strange murders. It is all nonsense that there are as many brains as there are men; mankind has only one intellect, and it is beginning to get muddled. Just feel my head, how hot it is. It is on fire. And sometimes it gets cold, and everything freezes in it, grows benumbed, and changes into a terrible deadlike piece of ice. I must go mad; don’t laugh, brother, I must go mad. A quarter of an hour has passed, it’s time for you to get out of your bath.”

“A little bit more. Just a minute.”

It was so good to be sitting again in that bath and listening to the well-known voice, without reflecting upon the words, and to see all the familiar, simple and ordinary things around me: the brass, slightly-green tap, the walls, with the familiar pattern, and all the photographic outfit laid out in order upon the shelves. I would take up photography again, take simple, peaceful landscapes and portraits of my son walking, laughing and playing. One could do that without legs. And I would take up my writing again – about clever books, the progress of human thought, beauty, and peace.

“Ho, ho, ho!” roared I, splashing about.

“What is the matter with you?” asked my brother, growing pale and full of fear.

“Nothing. I am glad to be home.”

He smiled at me as one smiles at a child or on one younger than oneself, although I was three years older than he, and grew thoughtful, like a grown-up person or an old man who has great, burdensome old thoughts.

“Where can one fly to?” he asked, shrugging his shoul­ders. “Every day, at about the same hour, the papers close the circuit, and all mankind gets a shock. This simultaneousness of feelings, tears, thoughts, sufferings and horror deprives me of all stay, and I am like a chip of wood tossing about on the waves, or a bit of dust in a whirlwind. I am forcibly torn away from all that is habitual, and there is one terrible moment every morning, when I seem to hang in the air over the black abyss of insanity: And I shall fall into it, I must fall into it. You don’t know all, brother. You don’t read the papers, and much is held back from you – you don’t know all, brother.”

I took all his words for rather a gloomy joke – the usual attitude towards all those who, being touched by insanity, have an inkling of the insanity of war, and gave us a warning. I considered it as a joke, as if I had forgotten for the moment, while I was splashing about in the hot water, all that I had seen over there. “Well, let them hold things back from me, but I must get out of the bath, anyway,” said I lightly, and my brother smiled and called my man, and together they lifted me out of my bath and dressed me. Afterwards I had some fragrant tea, which I drank out of my cut-glass tumbler, and said to myself that life was worth living even without a pair of legs; and then they wheeled me into the study up to my table and I prepared for work.

Before the war I was on the staff of a journal reviewing foreign literature, and now, disposed within my reach, lay a heap of those dear, sweet books in yellow, blue and brown covers. My joy was so great, my delight so profound, that I could not make up my mind to begin reading them, and I merely fingered the books, passing my hand caressingly over them. I felt a smile spread over my face, most probably a very silly smile, but I could not keep it back, as I contemplated admiringly the type, the vignettes, the severe beautiful simplicity of the drawings. How much thought and sense of beauty there was in them all! How many people had to work and search, how much talent and taste were needed to bring forth that letter, for instance, so simple and elegant, so clever, harmonious and eloquent in its interlaced lines.

“And now I must set to work,” said I, seriously, full of respect for work.

And I took up my pen to write the heading and, like a frog tied to a string, my hand began plunging about the paper. The pen stuck into the paper, scratched it, jerked about, slipped irresistibly aside, and brought forth hideous lines, broken, crooked, devoid of all sense. And I did not cry out or move, I grew cold and still as the approaching terrible truth dawned upon me; while my hand danced over the brightly illuminated paper, and each finger shook in such hopeless, living, insane horror, as if they, those fingers, were still at the front and saw the conflagrations and blood, and heard the groans and cries of undescribable pain. They had detached themselves from me, those madly quivering fingers, they were alive, they had become ears and eyes; and, growing cold from horror, without the strength to move or cry out, I watched their wild dance over the clean, bright white page.

And all was quiet. They thought I was working, and had shut all the doors, so as not to interrupt me by any sound – and I was alone in the room, deprived of the power of moving, obediently watching my shaking hands.

“It’s nothing,” said I aloud, and in the stillness and lone­liness of the study my voice sounded hollow and nasty like the voice of a madman. “It is nothing. I will dictate. Why, Milton was blind when he wrote his Paradise Regained. I can think, and that is the chief thing, in fact it is all.”

And I began inventing a long clever phrase about the blind Milton, but the words got confused, fell away as out of a rotten printing frame, and when I came to the end of the phrase I had forgotten the beginning. Then I tried to remember what made me begin, and why I was inventing that strange senseless phrase about Milton, and could not.

“Paradise Regained, Paradise Regained,” I repeated, and could not understand what it meant.

And then I saw that I often forgot very many things, that I had become strangely absent-minded, and confused familiar faces; that I forgot words even in a simple conversation, and sometimes, remembering a word, I could not understand its meaning. And I clearly pictured to myself my daily existence. A strange short day, cut off like my legs, with empty mysterious spaces, long hours of unconsciousness or apathy, about which I could remember nothing.

I wanted to call my wife, but could not remember her name – and this did not surprise or frighten me. Softly I whispered:

“Wife!”

The incoherent, unusual word sounded softly and died away without bringing any response. And all was quiet. They were afraid of disturbing me at my work by any careless sound, and all was quiet – a perfect study for a savant – cosy, quiet, disposing one to meditation and creative energy. “Dear ones, how solicitous they are of me!” I thought tenderly.

…And inspiration, sacred inspiration, came to me. The sun burst forth in my head, and its burning creative rays darted over the whole world, dropping flowers and songs – -flowers and songs. And I wrote on through the whole night, feeling no exhaustion, but soaring freely on the wings of mighty, sacred inspiration. I was writing something great – something immortal – flowers and songs – lowers and songs….

Happily he died last week on Friday. I say “happily,” and repeat that my brother’s death was a great blessing to him. A cripple with no legs, palsied, with a smitten soul, he was terrible and piteous in his senseless creative ecstasy. Ever since that night he wrote for two months, without leaving his chair, refusing all food, weeping and scolding whenever we wheeled him away from his table even for a short time. He moved his dry pen over the paper with wonderful rapidity, throwing aside page after page, and kept on writing and writing. Sleep deserted him, and only twice did we succeed in putting him to bed for a few hours, thanks to a strong narcotic; but, later, even a narcotic was powerless to conquer his senseless creative ecstasy. At his order the curtains were kept drawn over all the windows the whole day long and the lamp was allowed to burn, giving the illusion of night, while he wrote on, smoking one cigarette after another. Apparently he was happy, and I never happened to meet any healthy person with such an inspired face – the face of a prophet or of a great poet. He became extremely emaciated, with the waxen transparency of a corpse or of an ascetic, and his hair grew quite grey; he began his senseless work a comparatively young man, but finished it an old one. Sometimes he hurried on his work, writing more than usual, and his pen would stick into the pages and break, but he never noticed it; at such times one durst not touch him, for at the slightest contact he was overtaken by fits of tears and laughter; but sometimes, very rarely, he rested blissfully from his work and talked to me affably, each time asking the same questions: Who was I, what was my name, and since when had I taken up literature.

And then he would condescendingly tell, always using the same words, what an absurd fright he had had at the thought that he had lost his memory and was incapable of work, and how splendidly he had refuted the insane supposition there and then by beginning his great immortal work about the flowers and songs.

“Of course I do not count upon being recognized by my contemporaries,” he would say proudly and unassumingly at the same time, putting his trembling hand on the heap of empty sheets, “but the future – the future – will under­stand my idea.”

He never once remembered the war or his wife and son; the mirage of his endless work engrossed his atten­tion so undividedly that it is doubtful whether he was conscious of anything else. One could walk and talk in his presence – he noticed nothing, and not for an instant did his face lose its expression of terrible tension and inspiration. In the stillness of the night, when everybody was asleep and he alone wove untiringly the endless thread of insanity, he seemed terrible, and only his mother and I ventured to approach him. Once I tried to give him a pencil instead of his dry pen, thinking that perhaps he really wrote something, but on the paper there remained only hideous lines, broken, crooked, devoid of any sense. And he died in the night at his work. I knew my brother well, and his insanity did not come as a surprise to me; the passionate dream of work that filled all his letters from the war and was the stay of his life after his return, had to come into inevitable collision with the impotence of his exhausted, tortured brain, and bring about the catastrophe. And I believe that I have succeeded in reconstructing with sufficient accuracy the successive feelings that brought him to the end during that fatal night. Generally speaking, all that I have written down concerning the war is founded upon the words of my dead brother, often so confused and incoherent; only a few separate episodes were burnt into his brain so deeply and indelibly that I could cite the very words that he used in telling me them. I loved him, and his death weighs upon me like a stone, oppressing my brain by its senselessness. It has added one more loop to the in­comprehensible that envelops my head like a web, and has drawn it tight. The whole family has left for the country on a visit to some relatives, and I am alone in the house – the house that my brother loved so. The servants have been paid off, and only the porter from the next door comes every morning to light the fires, while the rest of the time I am alone, and resemble a fly caught between two window­frames, plunging about and knocking myself against a transparent but insurmountable obstacle. And I feel, I know, that I shall never leave the house. Now, when I am alone, the war possesses me wholly and stands before me like an inscrutable mystery, like a terrible spirit, to which I can give no form. I give it all sorts of shapes: of a headless skeleton on horseback, of a shapeless shadow, born in a black thundercloud mutely enveloping the earth, but not one of them can give me an answer and extinguish the cold, constant, blunt horror that possesses me.

I do not understand war, and I must go mad, like my brother, like the hundreds of men that are sent back from there. And this does not terrify me. The loss of reason seems to me honorable, like the death of a sentry at his post. But the expectancy, the slow and infallible approach of madness, the instantaneous feeling of something enormous falling into an abyss, the unbearable pain of tortured thought….My heart has grown benumbed, it is dead, and there is no new life for it, but thought is still alive, still struggling, once mighty as Samson, but now helpless and weak as a child – and, I am sorry for my poor thought. There are moments when I cannot endure the torture of those iron clasps that are compressing my brain; I feel an irrepressible longing to run out into the street, into the market-place, where there are people and cry out:

“Stop the war this instant – or else…”

But what “else” is there? Are there any words that can make them come to their senses? Words, in answer to which one cannot find just such other loud and lying words? Or must I fall upon my knees before them and burst into tears? But then, hundreds of thousands are making the earth resound with their weeping, but does that change anything? Or, perhaps, kill myself before them all? Kill myself! Thousands are dying every day, but does that change anything?

And when I feel my impotence, I am seized with rage – ­the rage of war, which I hate. Like the doctor, I long to burn down their houses with all their treasures, their wives and children; to poison the water which they drink; to raise all the killed from their graves and throw the corpses into their unclean houses on to their beds. Let them sleep with them as with their wives or mistresses!

Oh, if only I were the Devil! I would transplant all the horrors that hell exhales on to their earth. I would become the lord of all their dreams, and, when they cross their children with a smile before falling asleep, I would rise up before them a black vision….Yes, I must go mad – only let it come quicker – let it come quicker….

FRAGMENT XI

…Prisoners, a group of trembling, terrified men. When they were led out of the train the crowd gave a roar ­- the roar of an enormous savage dog, whose chain is too short and not strong enough. The crowd gave a roar and was silent, breathing deeply, while they advanced in a compact group with their hands in their pockets, smiling with their white lips as if currying favour, and stepping out in such a manner as if somebody was just going to strike them with a long stick under their knees from behind. But one of them walked at a short distance from the others, calm, serious, without a smile, and when my eyes met his black ones I saw bare open hatred in them. I saw clearly that he despised me and thought me capable of anything; if I were to begin killing him, unarmed as he was, he would not have cried out or tried to defend or right himself – he considered me capable of anything.

I ran along together with the crowd, to meet his gaze once more, and only succeeded as they were entering a house. He went in the last, letting his companions pass before him, and glanced at me once more. And then I saw such pain, such an abyss of horror and insanity in his big black eyes, as if I had looked into the most wretched soul on earth.

“Who is that with the eyes?” I asked of a soldier of the escort.

“An officer – a madman. There are many such.”

“What is his name?”

“He does not say. And his countrymen don’t know him. A stranger they picked up. He has been saved from hanging himself once already, but what is there to be done!”…and the soldier made a vague gesture and disappeared in the door.

And now, this evening I am thinking of him. He alone amidst the enemy, who, in his opinion, are capable of doing anything with him, and his own people do not know him. He keeps silence and waits patiently for the moment when he will be able to go out of this world altogether. I do not believe that he is mad, and he is no coward; he was the only one who held himself with dignity in that group of trembling, terrified men, whom apparently he does not regard as his own people. What is he thinking about? What a depth of despair must be in the soul of that man, who, dying, does not wish to name himself. Why give his name? He has done with life and men, he has grasped their real value and notices none around him, either his own people or strangers, shout, rage and threaten as they will. I made inquiries about him. He was taken in the last terrible battle during which several tens of thousands of men lost their lives and he showed no resistance when he was being taken prisoner: he was unarmed for some reason or other, and, when the soldier, not having noticed it, struck him with his sword he did not get up or try to act in self-defence. But the wound, unhappily for him, was a slight one.

But, maybe, he is really mad? The soldier said there were many such….

FRAGMENT XII

…It is beginning. When I entered my brother’s study yesterday evening he was sitting in his armchair at his table heaped with books. The hallucination disappeared the moment I lighted a candle, but for a long time I could not bring myself to sit down in the armchair that he had occupied. At first it was terrifying – the empty rooms in which one was constantly hearing rustlings and crackings were the cause of this dread, but afterwards I even liked it – better he than somebody else. Nevertheless, I did not leave the armchair the whole evening; it seemed to me that if I were to get up he would instantly sit down in my place. And I left the room very quickly without looking round. The lamps ought to have been lit in all the rooms, but was it worth while? It would have been perhaps worse if I had seen anything by lamp-light – as it was, there was still room for doubt.

Today I entered with a candle and there was nobody in the armchair. Evidently it must have been only a shadow. Again I went to the station – I go there every morning now – and saw a whole carriage full of our mad soldiers. It was not opened, but shunted on to another line, and I had time to see several faces through the windows. They were terrible, especially one. Fearfully drawn, the colour of a lemon, with an open black mouth and fixed eyes, it was so like a mask of horror that I could not tear my eyes away from it. And it stared at me, the whole of it, and was motionless, and glided past together with the moving carriage, just as motionless, without the slightest change, never transferring its gaze for an instant. If it were to appear before me this minute in that dark door, I do not believe I should be able to hold out. I made inquiries: there were twenty-two men. The infection is spreading. The papers are hushing up something and, I believe, there is something wrong in our town too. Black, closely-shut carriages have made their appearance – I counted six during one day in different parts of the town. I suppose I shall also go off in one of them one of these days.

And the papers clamour for fresh troops and more blood every day, and I am beginning to understand less and less what it all means. Yesterday I read an article full of suspicion, stating that there were many spies and traitors amongst the people, warning us to be cautious and mindful, and that the wrath of the people would not fail to find out the guilty. What guilty, and guilty of what? As I was returning from the station in the tram, I heard a strange conversation, I suppose in reference to the same article.

“They ought to be all hung without any trial,” said one, looking scrutinisingly at me and all the passengers. “Traitors ought to be hung, yes.”

“Without any mercy,” confirmed the other. “They’ve been shown mercy enough!”

I jumped out of the tram. The war was making everybody shed tears, and they were crying too – why, what did it mean? A bloody mist seemed to have enveloped the earth, hiding it from our gaze, and I was beginning to think that the moment of the universal catastrophe was approaching. The red laugh that my brother saw. The madness was coming from over there, from those bloody burnt-out fields, and I felt its cold breath in the air. I am a strong man and have none of those illnesses that corrupt the body, bringing in their train the corruption of the brain also, but I see the infection catching me, and half of my thoughts belong to me no longer. It is worse than the plague and its horrors. One can hide from the plague, take measures, but how can one hide from all-penetrating thought, that knows neither distances nor obstacles?

In the daytime I can still fight against it, but during the night I become, as everybody else does, the slave of my dreams – and my dreams are terrible and full of madness….

FRAGMENT XIII

…Universal mob-fights, senseless and sanguinary. The slightest provocation gives rise to the most savage club­law, knives, stones, logs of wood coming into action, and it is all the same who is being killed – red blood asks to be let loose, and flows willingly and plentifully.

There were six of them, all peasants, and they were being led by three soldiers with loaded guns. In their quaint peasant’s dress, simple and primitive like a savage’s, with their quaint countenances, that seemed as if made of clay and adorned with felted wool instead of hair, in the streets of a rich town, under the escort of disciplined soldiers – they resembled slaves of the antique world. They were being led off to the war, and they moved along in obedience to the bayonets as innocent and dull as cattle led to the slaughter-house. In front walked a youth, tall, beardless, with a long goose neck, at the end of which was a motionless little head. His whole body was bent forward like a switch, and he stared at the ground under his feet as fixedly as if his gaze penetrated into the very depths of the earth. The last in the group was a man of small stature, bearded and middle-aged; he had no desire of resistance, and there was no thought in his eyes, but the earth attracted his feet, gripped them tightly, not let­ting them loose, and he advanced with his body thrown back, as if struggling against a strong wind. And at each step the soldier gave him a push with the butt-end of his rifle, and one leg, tearing itself from the earth, convul­sively thrust itself forward, while the other still stuck tightly. The faces of the soldiers were weary and angry, and evidently they had been marching so for a long time; one felt they were tired and indifferent as to how they carried their guns and how they marched, keeping no step, with their feet turned in like countrymen. The senseless, lingering and silent resistance – of the peasants, seemed to have dimmed their disciplined brains,and they had ceased to understand where they were going and what their goal was.

“Where are you leading them to?” I asked of one of the soldiers. He started, glanced at me, and in the keen flash of his eyes I felt the bayonet as distinctly as if it were already at my breast.

“Go away!” said the soldier; “go away, or else…”

The middle-aged man took advantage of the moment and ran away; he ran with a light trot up to the iron railings of the boulevard and sat down on his heels, as if he were hiding. No animal would have acted so stupidly, so senselessly. But the soldier became savage. I saw him go close up to him, stoop down and, thrusting his gun into the left hand, strike something soft and flat with the right one. And then again. A crowd was gathering. Laughter and shouts were heard….

FRAGMENT XIV

…In the eleventh row of stalls. Somebody’s arms were pressing closely against me on my right- and left-hand side, while far around me in the semi-darkness stuck out motionless heads, tinged with red from the lights upon the stage. And gradually the mass of people, confined in that narrow space, filled me with horror. Everybody was silent, listening to what was being said on the stage or, perhaps, thinking out his own thoughts, but as they were many they were more audible, for all their silence, than the loud voices of the actors. They were coughing, blowing their noses, making a noise with their feet and clothes, and I could distinctly hear their deep, uneven breathing, that was heating the air. They were terrible, for each of them could become a corpse, and they all had senseless brains. In the calmness of those well-brushed heads, resting upon white, stiff collars, I felt a hurricane of madness ready to burst every second.

My hands grew cold as I thought how many and how terrible they were, and how far away I was from the entrance. They were calm, but what if I were to cry out “Fire!”…And full of terror, I experienced a painfully passionate desire, of which I cannot think without my hands growing cold and moist. Who could hinder me from crying out – yes, standing up, turning round and crying out: “Fire! Save yourselves – fire!”

A convulsive wave of madness would overwhelm their still limbs. They would jump up, yelling and howling like animals; they would forget that they had wives, sisters, mothers, and would begin casting themselves about like men stricken with sudden blindness, in their madness throttling each other with their white fingers fragrant with scent. The light would be turned on, and somebody with an ashen face would appear upon the stage, shouting that all was in order and that there was no fire, and the music, trembling and halting, would begin playing something wildly merry – but they would be deaf to everything – they would be throttling, trampling, and beating the heads of the women, demolishing their ingenious, cunning headdresses. They would tear at each other’s ears, bite off each other’s noses, and tear the very clothes off each other’s bodies, feeling no shame, for they would be mad. Their sensitive, delicate, beautiful, adorable women would scream and writhe helplessly at their feet, clasping their knees, still believing in their generosity – while they would beat them viciously upon their beautiful upturned faces, trying to force their way towards the entrance. For men are always murderers, and their calmness and generosity is the calmness of a well-fed animal, that knows itself out of danger.

And when, having made corpses of half their number, they would gather at the entrance in a trembling, tattered group of shamefaced animals, with a false smile upon their lips, I would go on the stage and say with a laugh:

“It has all happened because you killed my brother.” Yes, I would say with a laugh: “It has all happened because you killed my brother.”

I must have whispered something aloud, for my neighbor on the right-hand side moved angrily in his chair and said:

“Hush! You are interrupting.”

I felt merry and wanted to play a joke. Assuming a warning severe expression, I stooped towards him.

“What is it?” he asked suspiciously. “Why do you look at me so?”

“Hush, I implore you,” whispered I with my lips. “Do you not perceive a smell of burning? There is a fire in the theatre.”

He had enough power of will and good sense not to cry out. His face grew pale, his eyes starting out of their sockets and almost protruding over his cheeks, enormous as bladders, but he did not cry out. He rose quietly and, without even thanking me, walked totteringly towards the entrance, convulsively keeping back his steps. He was afraid of the others guessing about the fire and preventing him getting away – him, the only one worthy of being saved.

I felt disgusted and left the theatre also; besides I did not want to make known my incognito too soon. In the street I looked towards that part of the sky where the war was raging; everything was calm, and the night clouds, yellow from the lights of the town, were slowly and calmly drifting past.

“Perhaps it is only a dream, and there is no war?” thought I, deceived by the stillness of the sky and town.

But a boy sprang out from behind a corner, crying joyously:

“A terrible battle. Enormous losses. Buy a list of telegrams – night telegrams!”

I read it by the light of the street lamp. Four thousand dead. In the theatre, I should say, there were not more than one thousand. And the whole way home I kept repeating -“Four thousand dead.”

Now I am afraid of returning to my empty house. When I put my key into the lock and look at the dumb, flat door, I can feel all its dark empty rooms behind it, which, however, the next minute, a man in a hat would pass through, looking furtively, around him. I know the way well, but on the stairs I begin lighting match after match, until I find a candle. I never enter my brother’s study, and it is locked with all that it contains. And I sleep in the dining-room, whither I have shifted altogether; there I feel calmer, for the air seems to have still retained the traces of talking and laughing, and the merry clang of dishes. Sometimes I distinctly hear the scraping of a dry pen – and when I lie down on my bed…

FRAGMENT XV

…That absurd and terrible dream. It seemed as if the skull had been taken off my brain and, bared and unprotected, it submissively and greedily imbibed all the horrors of those bloody and senseless days. I was lying curled up, occupying only five feet of space, while my thought embraced the whole world. I saw with the eyes of all mankind, and listened with its ears; I died with the killed, sorrowed and wept with all that were wounded and left behind, and, when blood flowed out of anybody’s body, I felt the pain of the wound and suffered. Even all that had not happened and was far away, I saw as clearly as if it had happened and was close by, and there was no end to the sufferings of my bared brain.

Those children, those innocent little children. I saw them in the street playing at war and chasing each other, and one of them was already crying in a high-pitched, childish voice – and something shrank within me from horror and disgust. And I went home; night came on – and in fiery dreams, resembling midnight conflagrations, those innocent little children changed into a band of child-murderers.

Something was ominously burning in a broad red glare, and in the smoke there swarmed monstrous, misshapen children, with heads of grown-up murderers. They were jumping lightly and nimbly, like young goats at play, and were breathing with difficulty, like sick people. Their mouths, resembling the jaws of toads or frogs, opened widely and convulsively; behind the transparent skin of their naked bodies the red blood was coursing angrily – and they were killing each other at play. They were the most terrible of all that I had seen, for they were little and could penetrate everywhere.

I was looking out of the window and one of the little ones noticed me, smiled, and with his eyes asked me to let him in.

“I want to go to you,” he said.

“You will kill me.”

“I want to go to you,” he said, growing suddenly pale, and began scrambling up the white wall like a rat – ust like a hungry rat. He kept losing his footing, and squealed and darted about the wall with such rapidity that I could not follow his impetuous, sudden movements.

“He can crawl in under the door,” said I to myself with horror, and as if he had guessed my thoughts, he grew thin and long and, waving the end of his tail rapidly, he crawled into the dark crack under the front door. But I had time to hide myself under the blanket, and heard him searching for me in the dark rooms, cautiously stepping along with his tiny bare foot. He approached my room very slowly, stopping now and then, and at last entered it; but I did not hear any sound, either rustle or movement, for a long time, as if there was nobody near my bed. And then somebody’s little hand began lifting up the edge of the coverlet, and I could feel the cold air of the room upon my face and chest. I held the blanket tightly, but it persisted in lifting itself up on all sides; and all of a sudden my feet became so cold, as if I had dipped them into water. Now they are lying unprotected in the chill darkness of the room, and he was looking at them.

In the yard, behind the house, a dog barked and was silent, and I heard the trail of the chain as it went into its kennel. But he still watched my naked feet and kept silence; I knew he was there by the unendurable horror that was binding me like death with a stony, sepulchral immobility. If I could have cried out, I would have awakened the whole town, the whole world, but my voice was dead within me, and I lay submissive and motionless, feeling the little cold hands moving over my body and nearing my throat.

“I cannot!” I groaned, gasping and waking up for an instant, I saw the vigilant darkness of the night, mysterious and living, and again I believe I fell asleep….

“Don’t fear,” said my brother, sitting down upon my bed, and the bed creaked, so heavy was he – dead. “Never fear, you see it is a dream. You only imagine that you were being strangled, while in reality you are asleep in the dark rooms, where there is not a soul, and I am in my study writing. Nobody understood what I wrote about, and you derided me as one insane, but now I will tell you the truth. I am writing about the red laugh. Do you see it?”

Something enormous, red and bloody, was standing before me, laughing a toothless laugh.

“That is the red laugh. When the earth goes mad, it begins to laugh like that. You know, the earth has gone mad. There are no more flowers or songs on it; it has become round, smooth and red like a scalped head. Do you see it?”

“Yes, I see it. It is laughing.”

“Look what its brain is like. It is red, like bloody porridge, and is muddled.”

“It is crying out.”

“It is in pain. It has no flowers or songs. And now­ – let me lie down upon you.”

“You are heavy and I am afraid.”

“We, the dead, lie down on the living. Do you feel warm?”

“Yes.”

“Are you comfortable?”

“I am dying.”

“Awake and cry out. Awake and cry out. I am going away.…”

FRAGMENT XVI

…Today is the eighth day of the battle. It began last Friday, and Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday have passed – and Friday has come again and is gone – and it is still going on. Both armies, hundreds of thousands of men, are standing in front of each other, never flinching, sending explosive, crashing projectiles without stopping, and every instant living men are turned into corpses. The roar and incessant vibration of the air has made the very sky shudder and gather black thunder­clouds above their heads – while they continue to stand in front of each other, never flinching and still killing each other. If a man does not sleep for three nights, he becomes ill and loses his memory, but they have not slept for a whole week, and are all mad. That is why they feel no pain, do not retreat, and go on fighting until they have killed all to the last man. They say that some of the detachments came to the end of their ammunition, but still they fought on, using their fists and stones, and biting each other like dogs. If the remnants of those regiments return home, they will have canine teeth like wolves – but they will not return, they have gone mad and die, every man of them. They have gone mad. Everything is muddled in their heads, and they cease to understand anything! If they were to be turned round suddenly and sharply, they would begin firing at their own men, thinking that they were firing at the enemy.

Strange rumours – strange rumours that are told in a whisper, those repeating them turning white from horror and dreadful forebodings. Brother, brother, listen what is being told of the red laugh! They say phantom regiments have appeared, large bands of shadows, the exact copy of living men. At night, when the men forget themselves for an instant in sleep, or in the thick of the day’s fight, when the bright day itself seems a phantom, they suddenly appear, firing out of phantom guns, filling the air with phantom noises; and men, living but insane men, astounded by the suddenness of the attack, fight to the death against the phantom enemy, go mad from horror, become grey in an instant and die. The phantoms disappear as suddenly as they appear, and all becomes still, while the earth is strewn with fresh mutilated bodies. Who killed them? You know, brother, who killed them. When there is a lull between two battles and the enemy is far off, suddenly in the darkness of the night there resounds a solitary, frightened shot. And all jump up and begin firing into the darkness, into the silent dumb darkness, for a long time, for whole hours. Whom do they see there? Whose terrible, silent shape, full of horror and madness appears before them? You know, brother, and I know, but men do not know yet, but they have a foreboding, and ask, turning pale:

“Why are there so many madmen? Before there never used to be so many.”

“Before there never used to be so many madmen,” they say, turning pale, trying to believe that now it is as before, and that the universal violence done to the brains of humanity would have no effect upon their weak little intellects.

“Why, men fought before and always have fought, and nothing of the sort happened. Strife is a law of nature,” they say with conviction and calmness, growing pale, nevertheless, seeking for the doctor with their eyes, and calling out hurriedly: “Water, quick, a glass of water!”

They would willingly become idiots, those people, only not to feel their intellect reeling and their reason succumbing in the hopeless combat with insanity.

In those days, when men over there were constantly being turned into corpses, I could find no peace, and sought the society of my fellow men; and I heard many conversations and saw many false smiling faces, that asserted that the war was far off and in no way concerned them. But much oftener I met naked, frank horror, hopeless, bitter tears and frenzied cries of despair, when the great Mind itself cried out of man its last prayer, its last curse, with all the intensity of its power:

“Whenever will the senseless carnage end?”

At the home of some friends, whom I had not seen for a long time, perhaps several years, I unexpectedly met a mad officer, invalided from the war. He was a school fellow of mine, but I did not recognise him: if he had lain for a year in his grave, he would have returned more like himself than he was then. His hair was grey and his face quite white, his features were but little changed – but he was always silent, and seemed to be listening to something, and this stamped upon his face a look of such formidable remoteness, such indifference to all around him, that it was fearful to talk to him. His relatives were told he went mad in the following circumstances: they were in the reserve, while the neighboring regiment was ordered to make a bayonet charge. The men rushed shouting “Hurrah” so loudly as almost to drown the noise of the cannon – and suddenly the guns ceased firing, the “Hurrah” ceased also, and a sepulchral stillness ensued: they had run up to the enemy and were charging him with their bayonets. And his reason succumbed to that stillness.

Now he is calm when people make a noise around him, talk and shout, he listens and waits; but if only there is a moment’s silence, he catches hold of his head, rushes up to the wall or against the furniture, and falls down in a fit resembling epilepsy. He has many relations, and they take turns and surround him with sound, but there remain the nights, long solitary nights – but here his father, a grey-­haired old man, slightly wandering in his mind too, helped. He hung the walls of his son’s room with loudly ticking clocks, that constantly struck the hour at different times, and at present he is arranging a wheel, resembling an incessantly going rattle. None of them lose hope that he will recover, as he is only twenty-seven, and their house is even gay. He is dressed very cleanly – not in his uniform – great care is taken of his appearance, and he is even handsome with his white hair, young, thoughtful face and well-bred, slow, tired movements.

When I was told all, I went up and kissed his hand, his white, languid hand, which will never more be lifted for a blow – and this did not seem to surprise anybody very much. Only his young sister smiled at me with her eyes, and afterwards showed me such attention that it seemed as if I were her betrothed and she loved me more than anybody in the world. She showed me such attention that I very nearly told her about my dark empty rooms, in which I am worse than alone – miserable heart, that never loses hope….And she managed it so that we remained alone.

“How pale you are and what dark rings you have under your eyes,” she said kindly. “Are you ill? Are you grieving for your brother?”

“I am grieving for everybody. And I do not feel well.”

“I know why you kissed my brother’s hand. They did not understand. Because he is mad, yes?”

“Yes, because he is mad.”

She grew thoughtful and looked very much like her brother, only younger.

“And will you,” she stopped and blushed, but did not lower her eyes, “will you let me kiss your hand?”

I kneeled before her and said: “Bless me.”

She paled slightly, drew back and whispered with her lips:

“I do not believe.”

“And I also.”

For an instant her hand touched my head, and the instant was gone.

“Do you know,” she said, “I am leaving for the war?”

“Go! But you will not be able to bear it.”

“I do not know. But they need help, the same as you or my brother. It is not their fault. Will you remember me?”

“Yes. And you?”

“And I will remember you too. Good-bye!”

“Good-bye for ever!”

And I grew calm and felt happier, as if I had passed through the most terrible that there is in death and madness. And yesterday, for the first time, I entered my house calmly without any fear, and opened my brother’s study and sat for a long time at his table. And when in the night I suddenly awoke as if from a push, and heard the scraping of the dry pen upon the paper, I was not frightened, but thought to myself, almost with a smile:

“Work on, brother, work on! Your pen is not dry, it is steeped in living human blood. Let your paper seem empty – in its ominous emptiness it is more eloquent of war and reason than all that is written by the most clever men. Work on, brother, work on!”

…And this morning I read that the battle is still raging, and again I was possessed with a dread fear and a feeling of something falling upon my brain. It is coming, it is here; it is already standing upon the threshold of these empty, light rooms. Remember, remember me, dear girl; I am going mad. Thirty thousand dead, thirty thousand dead!…

FRAGMENT XVII

…A fight is going on in the town. There are dark and dreadful rumours….

FRAGMENT XVIII

This morning, looking through the endless list of killed in the newspaper, I saw a familiar name; my sister’s affianced husband, an officer called for military service at the same time as my dead brother, was killed. And, an hour later, the postman handed me a letter addressed to my brother, and I recognized the handwriting of the deceased on the envelope: the dead was writing to the dead. But still it was better so than the dead writing to the living. A mother was pointed out to me who kept receiving letters from her son for a whole month after she had read of his terrible death in the papers: he had been torn to pieces by a shell. He was a fond son, and each letter was full of endearing and encouraging words and youthful, naive hopes of happiness. He was dead, but wrote of life with a fearful accuracy every day, and the mother ceased to believe in his death; and when a day passed without any letter, then a second and a third, and the endless silence of death ensued, she took a large old-fashioned revolver belonging to her son in both hands, and shot herself in the breast. I believe she survived, but I am not sure; I never heard.

I looked at the envelope for a long time, and thought: He held it in his hands, he bought it somewhere, he gave the money to pay for it, and his servant went to fetch it from some shop; he sealed and perhaps posted it himself. Then the wheel of the complex machine called “post” came into action, and the letter glided past forest, fields and towns, passing from hand to hand, but rushing infallibly towards its destination. He put on his boots that last morning, while it went gliding on; he was killed, but it glided on; he was thrown into a pit and covered up with dead bodies and earth, while it still glided on past forests, fields and towns, a living phantom in a grey stamped envelope. And now I was holding it in my hands.

Here are the contents of the letter. It was written with a pencil on scraps of paper, and was not finished: something interfered.

“…Only now do I understand the great joy of war, the ancient, primitive delight of killing man – clever, scheming, artful man, immeasurably more interesting than the most ravenous animal. To be ever taking life is as good as playing at lawn-tennis with planets and stars. Poor friend, what a pity you are not with us, but are constrained to weary away your time amidst an unleavened daily existence! In the atmosphere of death you would have found all that your restless, noble heart yearned for. A bloody feast – what truth there is in this somewhat hackneyed comparison! We go about up to our knees in blood, and this red wine, as my jolly men call it in jest, makes our heads swim. To drink the blood of one’s enemy is not at all such a stupid custom as we think: they knew what they were doing….

“…The crows are cawing. Do you hear, the crows are cawing. From whence have they all gathered? The sky is black with them; they settle down beside us, having lost all fear, and follow us everywhere; and we are always underneath them, like under a black lace sunshade or a moving tree with black leaves. One of them approached quite close to my face and wanted to peck at it: he thought, most probably, that I was dead. The crows are cawing, and this troubles me a little. From whence have they all gathered?…

“…Yesterday we stabbed them all sleeping. We approached stealthily, scarcely touching the ground with our feet, as if we were stalking wild ducks. We stole up to them so skillfully and cautiously that we did not touch a corpse and did not scare one single crow. We stole up like shadows, and the night hid us. I killed the sentry myself – ­knocked him down and strangled him with my hands, so as not to let him cry out. You understand: the slightest sound, and all would have been lost. But he did not cry out; he had no time, I believe, even to guess that he was being killed.

“They were all sleeping around the smouldering fires­ – sleeping peacefully, as if they were at home in their beds. We hacked about us for more than an hour, and only a few had time to awake before they received their death­blow. They howled, and of course begged for mercy. They used their teeth. One bit off a finger on my left hand, with which I was incautiously holding his head. He bit off my finger, but I twisted his head clean off: how do you think – are we quits? How they did not all wake up I cannot imagine. One could hear their bones crackling and their bodies being hacked. Afterwards we stripped all naked and divided their clothes amongst ourselves. My friend, don’t get angry over a joke. With your susceptibility you will say this savours of marauding, but then we are almost naked ourselves; our clothes are quite worn-out. I have been wearing a woman’s jacket for a long time, and resemble more a….than an officer of a victorious army. By the bye, you are, I believe, married, and it is not quite right for you to read such things. But…you understand? Women. D–n it, I am young, and thirst for love! Stop a minute: I believe it was you who was engaged to be married? It was you, was it not, who showed me the portrait of a young girl and told me she was your promised bride? – and there was something sad, something very sad and mournful underneath it. And you cried. That was a long time ago, and I remember it but confusedly; there is no time for softness at war. And you cried. What did you cry about? What was there written that was as sad and mournful as a drooping flower? And you kept crying and crying….Were you not ashamed, an officer, to cry?

“…The crows are cawing. Do you hear, friend, the crows are cawing. What do they want?”

Further on the pencil-written lines were effaced and it was impossible to decipher the signature. And strange to say the dead man called forth no compassion in me. I distinctly pictured to myself his face, in which all was soft and delicate as a woman’s: the color of his cheeks, the clearness and morning freshness of the eyes, the beard so bushy and soft, that a woman could almost have adorned herself with it. He liked books, flowers and music, feared all that was coarse, and wrote poetry – my brother, as a critic, declared that he wrote very good poetry. And I could not connect all that I knew and remembered of him with the cawing crows, bloody carnage and death.

…The crows are cawing. …

And suddenly for one mad, unutterably happy instant, I clearly saw that all was a lie and that there was no war. There were no killed, no corpses, there was no anguish of reeling, helpless thought. I was sleeping on my back and seeing a dream, as I used to in my childhood: the silent dread rooms, devastated by death and terror, and myself with a wild letter in my hand. My brother was living, and they were all sitting at the tea-table, and I could hear the noise of the crockery.

…The crows are cawing. …

No, it is but true. Unhappy earth, it is true. The crows are cawing. It is not the invention of an idle scribbler, aiming at cheap effects, or of a madman, who has lost his senses. The crows are cawing. Where is my brother? He was noble-hearted and gentle and wished no one evil. Where is he? I am asking you, you cursed murderers. I am asking you, you cursed murderers, crows sitting on carrion, wretched, imbecile animals, before the whole world. For you are animals. What did you kill my brother for? If you had a face, I would give you a blow upon it, but you have no face, you have only the snout of a wild beast. You pretend that you are men, but I see claws under your gloves and the flat skull of an animal under your hat; hidden beneath your clever conversation I hear insanity rattling its rusty chains. And with all the power of my grief, my anguish and dishonored thought – I curse you, you wretched, imbecile animals!

FRAGMENT THE LAST

“…We look to you for the regeneration of human life!”

So shouted a speaker, holding on with difficulty to a small pillar, balancing himself with his arms, and waving a flag with a large inscription half-hidden in its folds: “Down with the war!”

“You, who are young, you, whose lives are only just beginning, save yourselves and the future generations from this horror, from this madness. It is unbearable, our eyes are drowned with blood. The sky is falling upon us, the earth is giving way under our feet. Kind people…”

The crowd was buzzing enigmatically and the voice of the speaker was drowned at times in the living threatening noise.

“…Suppose I am mad, but I am speaking the truth. My father and brother are rotting over there like carrion. Make bonfires, dig pits and destroy, bury all your arms. Demolish all the barracks, and strip all the men of their bright clothes of madness, tear them off. One cannot bear it….Men are dying…”

Somebody very tall gave him a blow and knocked him off the pillar; the flag rose once again and fell. I had no time to see the face of the man who struck him, as instantly everything turned into a nightmare. Everything became commotion, became agitated and howled; stones and logs of wood went flying through the air, fists, which were beating somebody, appeared above the heads. The crowd, like a living, roaring wave, lifted me up, carried me along several steps and threw me violently against a fence, then carried me back and away somewhere, and at last pressed me against a high pile of wood, that inclined forwards, threatening to fall down upon somebody’s head. Something crackled and rattled against the beams in rapid dry succession; an instant’s stillness–and again a roar burst forth, enormous, open-mouthed, terrible in its overwhelming power. And then the dry rapid crackling was heard again and somebody fell down near me with the blood flowing out of a red hole where his eye had been. And a heavy log of wood came whirling through the air and struck me in the face, and I fell down and began crawling, whither I knew not, amidst the trampling feet, and came to an open space. Then I climbed over some fences, breaking all my nails, clambered up piles of wood; one pile fell to pieces under me and I fell amidst a cataract of thumping logs; at last I succeeded with difficulty in getting out of a closed-in space–while behind me all crashed, roared, howled and crackled, trying to overtake me. A bell was ringing somewhere; something fell with a thundering crash, as if it were a five-story house. The twilight seemed to have stopped still, keeping back the night, and the roar of shots, as if steeped in red, had driven away the darkness. Jumping over the last fence I found myself in a narrow, crooked lane resembling a corridor, between two obscure walls, and began running. I ran for a long time, but the lane seemed to have no outlet; it was terminated by a wall, behind which piles of wood and scaffolding rose up black against the sky. And again I climbed over the mobile, shifting piles, falling into pits; where all was still and smelt of damp wood, getting out of them again into the open, not daring to look back, for I knew quite well what was happening by the dull reddish color that tinged the black beams and made them look like murdered giants. My smashed face had stopped bleeding and felt numbed and strange, like a mask of plaster; and the pain had almost quite disappeared. I believe I fainted and lost consciousness in one of the black holes into which I had fallen, but I am not certain whether I only imagined it or was it really so, as I can remember myself only running.

I rushed about the unfamiliar streets, which had no lamps, past the black death-like houses for a long time, unable to find my way out of the dumb labyrinth. I ought to have stopped and looked around me to define the necessary direction, but it was impossible to do so: the still distant din and howl was following at my heels and gradually overtaking me; sometimes, at a sudden turning, it struck me in the face, red and enveloped in clouds of livid, curling smoke, and then I turned back and rushed on until it was at my back once more. At one corner I saw a strip of light, that disappeared at my approach: it was a shop that was being hastily closed. I caught a glimpse of the counter and a barrel through a wide chink, but suddenly all became enveloped in a silent, crouching gloom. Not far from the shop I met a man, who was running towards me, and we almost collided in the darkness, stopping short at the distance of two steps from each other. I do not know who he was: I only saw the dark alert outline.

“Are you coming from over there?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“And where are you running to?”

“Home.”

“Ah! Home?”

He was silent for an instant and suddenly flung himself upon me, trying to bring me to the ground, and his cold fingers searched hungrily for my throat, but got entangled in my clothes. I bit his hand, loosened myself from his grip and set off running through the deserted streets with him after me, stamping loudly with his boots, for a long time. Then he stopped – I suppose the bite hurt him.

I do not know how I hit upon my street. It had no lamps either, and the houses had not a single light, as if they were dead, and I would have run past without recognising it, if I had not by chance lifted my eyes and seen my house. But I hesitated for some time: the house in which I had lived for so many years seemed to me unfamiliar in that strange dead street, in which my loud breathing awakened an extraordinary and mournful echo. Then I was seized with a sudden wild terror at the thought that I had lost my key when I fell, and I found it with difficulty, although it was there all the time in the pocket of my coat. And when I turned the lock the echo repeated the sound so loudly and extraordinarily, as if all the doors of those dead houses in the whole street had opened simultaneously.

…At first I hid myself in the cellar, but it was terrible and dull down there, and something began darting before my eyes, so I quietly stole into the rooms. Groping my way in the dark, I locked all the doors and after a short meditation decided to barricade them with the furniture, but the sound of the furniture being moved was terribly loud in the empty rooms and terrified me. “I shall await death thus. It’s all the same,” I decided. There was some water, very warm water in the water-jug, and I washed my face in the dark and wiped it with a sheet. The parts that were smashed galled and smarted much, and I felt a desire to look at myself in the looking-glass. I lit a match–and in its uneven, faint light there glanced at me from out of the darkness something so hideous and terrible that I hastily threw the match upon the floor. I believe my nose was broken. “It makes no difference now,” said I to myself. “Nobody will mind.”

And I felt gay. With strange grimaces and contortions of the body, as if I were personating a thief on the stage, I went into the larder and began searching for food. I clearly saw the unsuitableness of all my grimaces, but it pleased me so. And I ate with the same contortions, pretending that I was very hungry.

But the darkness and quiet frightened me. I opened the window into the yard and began listening. At first, probably as the traffic had ceased, all seemed to me to be quite still. And I heard no shots. But soon I clearly distinguished a distant din of voices: shouts, the crash of something falling, a laugh. The sounds grew louder perceptibly. I looked at the sky; it was livid and sweeping past rapidly. And the coach-house opposite me, and the paving of the streets, and the dog’s kennel, all were tinged with the same reddish glare. I called the dog softly –

“Neptune!”

But nothing stirred in the kennel, and near it I distinguished in the livid light a shining piece of broken chain. The distant cries and noise of something falling kept on growing, and I shut the window.

“They are coming here!” I said to myself, and began looking for some place to hide myself. I opened the stoves, fumbled at the grate, opened the cupboards, but they would not do. I made the round of all the rooms, excepting the study, into which I did not want to look. I knew he was sitting in his armchair at his table, heaped with books, and this was unpleasant to me at that moment.

Gradually it began to appear that I was not alone: around me people were silently moving about in the darkness. They almost touched me, and once somebody’s breath sent a cold thrill through the back of my head.

“Who is there?” I asked in a whisper, but nobody answered.

And when I moved on they followed me, silent and terrible. I knew that it was only a hallucination because I was ill and apparently feverish, but I could not conquer my fear, from which I was trembling all over as if I had the ague. I felt my head: it was hot as if on fire.

“I had better go there,” said I to myself. “He is one of my own people after all.”

He was sitting in his armchair at the table, heaped with books, and did not disappear as he did the last time, but remained seated. The reddish light was making its way through the red drawn curtains into the room, but did not light up anything, and he was scarcely visible. I sat down at a distance from him on the couch and waited. All was still in the room, while from outside the even buzzing noise, the crash of something falling and disjointed cries were borne in upon us. And they were nearing us. The livid light became brighter and brighter, and I could distinguish him in his armchair – his black, iron-like profile, outlined by a narrow stripe of red.

“Brother!” I said.

But he kept silence, immobile and black, like a monument. A board cracked in the next room and suddenly all became so extraordinarily still, as it is where there are many dead. All the sounds died away and the livid light itself assumed a scarcely perceptible shade of deathliness and stillness and became motionless and a little dim. I thought the stillness was coming from my brother and told him so.

“No, it is not from me,” he answered. “Look out of the window.”

I pulled the curtains aside and staggered back.

“So that’s what it is!” said I.

“Call my wife; she has not seen that yet,” ordered my brother.

She was sitting in the dining-room sewing something and, seeing my face, rose obediently, stuck her needle into her work and followed me. I pulled back the curtains from all the windows and the livid light flowed in through the broad openings unhindered, but somehow did not make the room any lighter: it was just as dark and only the big red squares of the windows burned brightly.

We went up to the window. Before the house there stretched an even, fiery red sky, without a single cloud, star or sun, and ended at the horizon, while below it lay just such an even dark red field, and it was covered with dead bodies. All the corpses were naked and lay with their legs towards us, so that we could only see their feet and triangular heads. And all was still; apparently they were all dead, and there were no wounded left behind in that endless field.

“Their number is growing,” said my brother.

He was standing at the window also, and all were there: my mother, sister and everybody that lived in the house. I could not distinguish their faces, and could recognise them only by their voices.

“It only seems so,” said my sister.

“No, it’s true. Just look.”

And, truly, there seemed to be more bodies. We looked attentively for the reason and found it: at the side of a corpse, where there was a free space, a fresh corpse suddenly appeared; apparently the earth was throwing them up. And all the unoccupied spaces filled rapidly, and the earth grew lighter from the light pink bodies, that were lying side by side with their feet towards us. And the room grew lighter, filled with a light pink dead light.

“Look, there is not enough room for them,” said my brother.

And my mother answered:

“There is one here already.”

We looked round: behind us on the floor lay a naked, light pink body with its head thrown back. And instantly at its side there appeared a second, and a third. And the earth threw them up one after the other, and soon the orderly rows of light pink dead bodies filled all the rooms.

“They are in the nursery too,” said the nurse. “I saw them.”

“We must go away,” said my sister.

“But we cannot pass,” said my brother.

“Look!”

And sure enough, they were lying close together, arm to arm, and their naked feet were touching us. And suddenly they stirred and swayed and rose up in the same orderly rows: the earth was throwing up new bodies, and they were lifting the first ones upwards.

“They will smother us!” said I. “Let us save ourselves through the window.”

“We cannot!” cried my brother. “We cannot! Look what is there!”

…Behind the window, in a livid, motionless light stood the Red Laugh.

Categories: Uncategorized

Ambrose Bierce: An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

American writers on peace and against war

Ambrose Bierce: Selections on war

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Ambrose Bierce
Member of the Anti-Imperialist League
An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

A man stood upon a railroad bridge in northern Alabama, looking down into the swift water twenty feet below. The man’s hands were behind his back, the wrists bound with a cord. A rope closely encircled his neck. It was attached to a stout cross-timber above his head and the slack fell to the level of his knees. Some loose boards laid upon the sleepers supporting the metals of the railway supplied a footing for him and his executioners – two private soldiers of the Federal army, directed by a sergeant who in civil life may have been a deputy sheriff. At a short remove upon the same temporary platform was an officer in the uniform of his rank, armed. He was a captain. A sentinel at each end of the bridge stood with his rifle in the position known as “support,” that is to say, vertical in front of the left shoulder, the hammer resting on the forearm thrown straight across the chest – a formal and unnatural position, enforcing an erect carriage of the body. It did not appear to be the duty of these two men to know what was occurring at the center of the bridge; they merely blockaded the two ends of the foot planking that traversed it.

Beyond one of the sentinels nobody was in sight; the railroad ran straight away into a forest for a hundred yards, then, curving, was lost to view. Doubtless there was an outpost farther along. The other bank of the stream was open ground – a gentle acclivity topped with a stockade of vertical tree trunks, loopholed for rifles, with a single embrasure through which protruded the muzzle of a brass cannon commanding the bridge. Midway of the slope between the bridge and fort were the spectators – a single company of infantry in line, at “parade rest,” the butts of the rifles on the ground, the barrels inclining slightly backward against the right shoulder, the hands crossed upon the stock. A lieutenant stood at the right of the line, the point of his sword upon the ground, his left hand resting upon his right. Excepting the group of four at the center of the bridge, not a man moved. The company faced the bridge, staring stonily, motionless. The sentinels, facing the banks of the stream, might have been statues to adorn the bridge. The captain stood with folded arms, silent, observing the work of his subordinates, but making no sign. Death is a dignitary who when he comes announced is to be received with formal manifestations of respect, even by those most familiar with him. In the code of military etiquette silence and fixity are forms of deference.

The man who was engaged in being hanged was apparently about thirty-five years of age. He was a civilian, if one might judge from his habit, which was that of a planter. His features were good–a straight nose, firm mouth, broad forehead, from which his long, dark hair was combed straight back, falling behind his ears to the collar of his well-fitting frock coat. He wore a mustache and pointed beard, but no whiskers; his eyes were large and dark gray, and had a kindly expression which one would hardly have expected in one whose neck was in the hemp. Evidently this was no vulgar assassin. The liberal military code makes provision for hanging many kinds of persons, and gentlemen are not excluded.

The preparations being complete, the two private soldiers stepped aside and each drew away the plank upon which he had been standing. The sergeant turned to the captain, saluted and placed himself immediately behind that officer, who in turn moved apart one pace. These movements left the condemned man and the sergeant standing on the two ends of the same plank, which spanned three of the cross-ties of the bridge. The end upon which the civilian stood almost, but not quite, reached a fourth. This plank had been held in place by the weight of the captain; it was now held by that of the sergeant. At a signal from the former the latter would step aside, the plank would tilt and the condemned man go down between two ties. The arrangement commended itself to his judgment as simple and effective. His face had not been covered nor his eyes bandaged. He looked a moment at his “unsteadfast footing,” then let his gaze wander to the swirling water of the stream racing madly beneath his feet. A piece of dancing driftwood caught his attention and his eyes followed it down the current. How slowly it appeared to move, What a sluggish stream!

He closed his eyes in order to fix his last thoughts upon his wife and children. The water, touched to gold by the early sun, the brooding mists under the banks at some distance down the stream, the fort, the soldiers, the piece of drift – all had distracted him. And now he became conscious of a new disturbance. Striking through the thought of his dear ones was a sound which he could neither ignore nor understand, a sharp, distinct, metallic percussion like the stroke of a blacksmith’s hammer upon the anvil; it had the same ringing quality. He wondered what it was, and whether immeasurably distant or near by – it seemed both. Its recurrence was regular, but as slow as the tolling of a death knell. He awaited each stroke with impatience and – he knew not why- apprehension. The intervals of silence grew progressively longer, the delays became maddening. With their greater infrequency the sounds increased in strength and sharpness. They hurt his ear like the thrust of a knife; he feared he would shriek. What he heard was the ticking of his watch.

He unclosed his eyes and saw again the water below him. “If I could free my hands,” he thought, “I might throw off the noose and spring into the stream. By diving I could evade the bullets and, swimming vigorously, reach the bank, take to the woods and get away home. My home, thank God, is as yet outside their lines; my wife and little ones are still beyond the invader’s farthest advance.”

As these thoughts, which have here to be set down in words, were flashed into the doomed man’s brain rather than evolved from it the captain nodded to the sergeant. The sergeant stepped aside.

II

Peyton Farquhar was a well-to-do planter, of an old and highly respected Alabama family. Being a slave owner and like other slave owners a politician he was naturally an original secessionist and ardently devoted to the Southern cause. Circumstances of an imperious nature, which it is unnecessary to relate here, had prevented him from taking service with the gallant army that had fought the disastrous campaigns ending with the fall of Corinth, and he chafed under the inglorious restraint, longing for the release of his energies, the larger life of the soldier, the opportunity for distinction. That opportunity, he felt, would come, as it comes to all in war time. Meanwhile he did what he could. No service was too humble for him to perform in aid of the South, no adventure too perilous for him to undertake if consistent with the character of a civilian who was at heart a soldier, and who in good faith and without too much qualification assented to at least a part of the frankly villainous dictum that all is fair in love and war.

One evening while Farquhar and his wife were sitting on a rustic bench near the entrance to his grounds, a gray-clad soldier rode up to the gate and asked for a drink of water. Mrs. Farquhar was only toe, happy to serve him with her own white hands. While she was fetching the water her husband approached the dusty horseman and inquired eagerly for news from the front.

“The Yanks are repairing the railroads,” said the man, “and are getting ready for another advance. They have reached the Owl Creek bridge, put it in order and built a stockade on the north bank. The commandant has issued an order, which is posted everywhere, declaring that any civilian caught interfering with the railroad, its bridges, tunnels or trains will be summarily hanged. I saw the order.”
“How far is it to the Owl Creek bridge?” Farquhar asked.

“About thirty miles.”

“Is there no force on this side the creek?”

“Only a picket post half a mile out, on the railroad, and a single sentinel at this end of the bridge.”

“Suppose a man – a civilian and student of hanging – should elude the picket post and perhaps get the better of the sentinel,” said Farquhar, smiling, “what could he accomplish?”

The soldier reflected. “I was there a month ago,” he replied. “I observed that the flood of last winter had lodged a great quantity of driftwood against the wooden pier at this end of the bridge. It is now dry and would burn like tow.”

The lady had now brought the water, which the soldier drank. He thanked her ceremoniously, bowed to her husband and rode away. An hour later, after nightfall, he repassed the plantation, going northward in the direction from which he had come. He was a Federal scout.

III

As Peyton Farquhar fell straight downward through the bridge he lost consciousness and was as one already dead. From this state he was awakened–ages later, it seemed to him – by the pain of a sharp pressure upon his throat, followed by a sense of suffocation. Keen, poignant agonies seemed to shoot from his neck downward through every fiber of his body and limbs. These pains appeared to flash along well-defined lines of ramification and to beat with an inconceivably rapid periodicity. They seemed like streams of pulsating fire heating him to an intolerable temperature. As to his head, he was conscious of nothing but a feeling of fulness – of congestion. These sensations were unaccompanied by thought. The intellectual part of his nature was already effaced; he had power only to feel, and feeling was torment. He was conscious of motion. Encompassed in a luminous cloud, of which he was now merely the fiery heart, without material substance, he swung through unthinkable arcs of oscillation, like a vast pendulum. Then all at once, with terrible suddenness, the light about him shot upward with the noise of a loud splash; a frightful roaring was in his ears, and all was cold and dark. The power of thought was restored; he knew that the rope had broken and he had fallen into the stream. There was no additional strangulation; the noose about his neck was already suffocating him and kept the water from his lungs. To die of hanging at the bottom of a river!–the idea seemed to him ludicrous. He opened his eyes in the darkness and saw above him a gleam of light, but how distant, how inaccessible! He was still sinking, for the light became fainter and fainter until it was a mere glimmer. Then it began to grow and brighten, and he knew that he was rising toward the surface – knew it with reluctance, for he was now very comfortable. “To be hanged and drowned,” he thought? “that is not so bad; but I do not wish to be shot. No; I will not be shot; that is not fair.”

He was not conscious of an effort, but a sharp pain in his wrist apprised him that he was trying to free his hands. He gave the struggle his attention, as an idler might observe the feat of a juggler, without interest in the outcome. What splendid effort! – what magnificent, what superhuman strength! Ah, that was a fine endeavor! Bravo! The cord fell away; his arms parted and floated upward, the hands dimly seen on each side in the growing light. He watched them with a new interest as first one and then the other pounced upon the noose at his neck. They tore it away and thrust it fiercely aside, its undulations resembling those of a water snake. “Put it back, put it back!” He thought he shouted these words to his hands, for the undoing of the noose had been succeeded by the direst pang that he had yet experienced. His neck ached horribly; his brain was on fire; his heart, which had been fluttering faintly, gave a great leap, trying to force itself out at his mouth. His whole body was racked and wrenched with an insupportable anguish! But his disobedient hands gave no heed to the command. They beat the water vigorously with quick, downward strokes, forcing him to the surface. He felt his head emerge; his eyes were blinded by the sunlight; his chest expanded convulsively, and with a supreme and crowning agony his lungs engulfed a great draught of air, which instantly he expelled in a shriek!
He was now in full possession of his physical senses. They were, indeed, preternaturally keen and alert. Something in the awful disturbance of his organic system had so exalted and refined them that they made record of things never before perceived. He felt the ripples upon his face and heard their separate sounds as they struck. He looked at the forest on the bank of the stream, saw the individual trees, the leaves and the veining of each leaf – saw the very insects upon them: the locusts, the brilliant-bodied flies, the grey spiders stretching their webs from twig to twig. He noted the prismatic colors in all the dewdrops upon a million blades of grass. The humming of the gnats that danced above the eddies of the stream, the beating of the dragon flies’ wings, the strokes of the water-spiders’ legs, like oars which had lifted their boat – all these made audible music. A fish slid along beneath his eyes and he heard the rush of its body parting the water.

He had come to the surface facing down the stream; in a moment the visible world seemed to wheel slowly round, himself the pivotal point, and he saw the bridge, the fort, the soldiers upon the bridge, the captain, the sergeant, the two privates, his executioners. They were in silhouette against the blue sky. They shouted and gesticulated, pointing at him. The captain had drawn his pistol, but did not fire; the others were unarmed. Their movements were grotesque and horrible, their forms gigantic.

Suddenly he heard a sharp report and something struck the water smartly within a few inches of his head, spattering his face with spray. He heard a second report, and saw one of the sentinels with his rifle at his shoulder, a light cloud of blue smoke rising from the muzzle. The man in the water saw the eye of the man on the bridge gazing into his own through the sights of the rifle. He observed that it was a grey eye and remembered having read that grey eyes were keenest, and that all famous marksmen had them. Nevertheless, this one had missed.
A counter-swirl had caught Farquhar and turned him half round; he was again looking into the forest on the bank opposite the fort. The sound of a clear, high voice in a monotonous singsong now rang out behind him and came across the water with a distinctness that pierced and subdued all other sounds, even the beating of the ripples in his ears. Although no soldier, he had frequented camps enough to know the dread significance of that deliberate, drawling, aspirated chant; the lieu. tenant on shore was taking a part in the morning’s work. How coldly and pitilessly – with what an even, calm intonation, presaging, and enforcing tranquillity in the men – with what accurately measured inter vals fell those cruel words:

“Attention, company! . . Shoulder arms! . . . Ready! . . . Aim! . . . Fire!”

Farquhar dived – dived as deeply as he could. The water roared in his ears like the voice of Niagara, yet he heard the dulled thunder of the volley and, rising again toward the surface, met shining bits of metal, singularly flattened, oscillating slowly downward. Some of them touched him on the face and hands, then fell away, continuing their descent. One lodged between his collar and neck; it was uncomfortably warm and he snatched it out.

As he rose to the surface, gasping for breath, he saw that he had been a long time under water; he was perceptibly farther down stream nearer to safety. The soldiers had almost finished reloading; the metal ramrods flashed all at once in the sunshine as they were drawn from the barrels, turned in the air, and thrust into their sockets. The two sentinels fired again, independently and ineffectually.

The hunted man saw all this over his shoulder; he was now swimming vigorously with the current. His brain was as energetic as his arms and legs; he thought with the rapidity of lightning.

The officer,” he reasoned, “will not make that martinet’s error a second time. It is as easy to dodge a volley as a single shot. He has probably already given the command to fire at will. God help me, I cannot dodge them all!”

An appalling plash within two yards of him was followed by a loud, rushing sound, diminuendo, which seemed to travel back through the air to the fort and died in an explosion which stirred the very river to its deeps!

A rising sheet of water curved over him, fell down upon him, blinded him, strangled him! The cannon had taken a hand in the game. As he shook his head free from the commotion of the smitten water he heard the deflected shot humming through the air ahead, and in an instant it was cracking and smashing the branches in the forest beyond.

“They will not do that again,” he thought; “the next time they will use a charge of grape. I must keep my eye upon the gun; the smoke will apprise me – the report arrives too late; it lags behind the missile. That is a good gun.”

Suddenly he felt himself whirled round and round – spinning like a top. The water, the banks, the forests, the now distant bridge, fort and men – all were commingled and blurred. Objects were represented by their colors only; circular horizontal streaks of color – that was all he saw. He had been caught in a vortex and was being whirled on with a velocity of advance and gyration that made him giddy and sick. In a few moments he was flung upon the gravel at the foot of the left bank of the stream – the southern bank – and behind a projecting point which concealed him from his enemies. The sudden arrest of his motion, the abrasion of one of his hands on the gravel, restored him, and he wept with delight. He dug his fingers into the sand, threw it over himself in handfuls and audibly blessed it. It looked like diamonds, rubies, emeralds; he could think of nothing beautiful which it did not resemble. The trees upon the bank were giant garden plants; he noted a definite order in their arrangement, inhaled the fragrance of their blooms. A strange, roseate light shone through the spaces among their trunks and the wind made in their branches the music of Æolian harps. He had no wish to perfect his escape – was content to remain in that enchanting spot until retaken.

A whiz and rattle of grapeshot among the branches high above his head roused him from his dream. The baffled cannoneer had fired him a random farewell. He sprang to his feet, rushed up the sloping bank, and plunged into the forest.

All that day he traveled, laying his course by the rounding sun. The forest seemed interminable; nowhere did he discover a break in it, not even a woodman’s road. He had not known that he lived in so wild a region. There was something uncanny in the revelation.

By nightfall he was fatigued, footsore, famishing. The thought of his wife and children urged him on. At last he found a road which led him in what he knew to be the right direction. It was as wide and straight as a city street, yet it seemed untraveled. No fields bordered it, no dwelling anywhere. Not so much as the barking of a dog suggested human habitation. The black bodies of the trees formed a straight wall on both sides, terminating on the horizon in a point, like a diagram in a lesson in perspective. Overhead, as he looked up through this rift in the wood, shone great garden stars looking unfamiliar and grouped in strange constellations. He was sure they were arranged in some order which had a secret and malign significance. The wood on either side was full of singular noises, among which – once, twice, and again – he distinctly heard whispers in an unknown tongue.

His neck was in pain and lifting his hand to it found it horribly swollen. He knew that it had a circle of black where the rope had bruised it. His eyes felt congested; he could no longer close them. His tongue was swollen with thirst; he relieved its fever by thrusting it forward from between his teeth into the cold air. How softly the turf had carpeted the untraveled avenue – he could no longer feel the roadway beneath his feet!

Doubtless, despite his suffering, he had fallen asleep while walking, for now he sees another scene – perhaps he has merely recovered from a delirium. He stands at the gate of his own home. All is as he left it, and all bright and beautiful in the morning sunshine. He must have traveled the entire night. As he pushes open the gate and passes up the wide white walk, he sees a flutter of female garments; his wife, looking fresh and cool and sweet, steps down from the veranda to meet him. At the bottom of the steps she stands waiting, with a smile of ineffable joy, an attitude of matchless grace and dignity. Ah, how beautiful she is! He springs forward with extended arms. As he is about to clasp her he feels a stunning blow upon the back of the neck; a blinding white light blazes all about him with a sound like the shock of a cannon – then all is darkness and silence!

Peyton Farquhar was dead; his body, with a broken neck, swung gently from side to side beneath the timbers of the Owl Creek bridge.

Categories: Uncategorized

Bahrain: U.S. Backs Saudi Military Intervention, Conflict With Iran

March 16, 2011 2 comments

Stop NATO
March 16, 2011

Bahrain: U.S. Backs Saudi Military Intervention, Conflict With Iran
Rick Rozoff

On March 14 Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Cooperation Council partner the United Arab Emirates deployed 1,000 troops, 500 security personnel and armored troop carriers across the 25-mile King Fahd Causeway to Bahrain to shore up their fellow monarchy after a month of protests against the Al Khalifa dynasty. The following day the Bahraini government declared a three-month state of emergency and authorized the military “to take necessary steps to restore national security.” On March 16 government security forces staged a violent crackdown against protesters in the nation’s capital with tanks, armored personnel carriers and helicopters, killing at least two people and injuring hundreds.

Two weeks earlier Egypt’s Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper reported that the Saudi government had sent an estimated thirty tanks to Bahrain.

In the interim U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates visited Bahrain on March 11 and 12 and met with King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa and Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa. The first is Commander-in-Chief and the second Deputy Supreme Commander of the Bahrain Defence Force. The Bahraini monarch underwent military training with the British Army at the now-defunct Mons Officer Cadet School and later attended the United States Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, graduating in 1973.

The Pentagon chief and former Central Intelligence Agency director was in the company of men who spoke his language.

Gates commented approvingly of his hosts:

“I am convinced they both are serious about real reform. I think that the concern now is that it’s important that they have somebody to talk to, and that the opposition be willing to sit down with the government and carry this process forward.” [1]

He praised the king’s and prince’s “willingness to engage with the opposition,” lauding their efforts as “a model for the entire region” – the Middle East and North Africa. Bahrain lies directly across the Persian Gulf from Iran.

The Defense Secretary confirmed that there had been “much talk of Iran” between him and his royal interlocutors and added: “One of the issues under discussion with respect to Libya, obviously, is a no-fly zone….If we are directed to impose a no-fly zone, we have the resources to do it.” [2]

On March 7 the foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council member states – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – called for imposing a no-fly zone over Libya, with Emirati Foreign Minister Sheik Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan emoting: “We appeal to the international community, especially the Security Council, to meet its historical responsibility to protect this dear people.” A week after the above display of unconvincing solicitude, leading members of the organization sent troops to Bahrain to suppress protests against the hereditary autocracy.

Last September the Financial Times reported that the U.S. had struck deals to provide four members of the Gulf Cooperation Council – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Oman – with $123 billion worth of arms in a dramatic move to confront Iran in the Persian Gulf. Saudi Arabia accounts for over half the total, $67 billion for 84 F-15 jets, 70 Apache gunships, 72 Black Hawk helicopters, 36 light helicopters and thousands of laser-guided smart bombs, the largest weapons deal in U.S. history. Even before those transactions are finalized, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute documented last December that Washington accounted for 54 percent of arms sales to Persian Gulf states between 2005 and 2009 and France 21 percent.

Gates flew home to Washington on March 12 from the Bahraini capital of Manama, ending a trip that started in Afghanistan five days before, after which he went to U.S. Africa Command headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany where he officiated over the transfer of command from General William Ward to General Carter Ham, and to NATO Headquarters in Brussels where he engaged in two days of meetings with his 27 fellow Alliance defense chiefs and those of another 20 nations providing troops for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell stated of U.S. relations with allies in the Middle East region: “All of the…deep strategic interests we have with them remain the same as they were six months ago.” [3]

That Saudi military forces entered Bahrain two days after Secretary Gates left would lead any sensible person to draw the conclusion that the Pentagon chief had discussed more than Iran and Libya with the kingdom’s top two government and defense officials. Though discussions on Iran would not have been unrelated to those concerning a U.S.-backed deployment of Saudi and other Gulf Cooperation Council forces to Bahrain, as some 70-75 percent of Bahrain’s population is Shi’a Muslim by way of confessional background although the ruling family is Sunni.

A Bahraini protester quoted by Reuters on March 15 commented on the Saudi-led military incursion this way: “It’s part of a regional plan and they’re fighting on our (land). If the Americans were men they would go and fight Iran directly but not in our country.”

The U.S. Fifth Fleet, one of six used by Washington to patrol the world’s seas and oceans, is headquartered near Manama, where between 4,000-6,000 American military personnel are stationed. Unlike Tunisia and Egypt, U.S. military partners but not hosts of American bases, Bahrain is vital to U.S. international military and energy strategy, and allowing a doctrinal affinity to in any manner augment Iran’s influence in its Persian Gulf neighbor is anathema to the White House, State Department and Pentagon.

The Fifth Fleet’s area of responsibility encompasses 2.5 million square miles of water, including the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, the Gulf of Oman, the Arabian Sea and the western Indian Ocean as far south as Kenya. [4] Aircraft carriers, destroyers and other warships are assigned to it on a rotational basis and the fleet is the naval component of U.S. Central Command, sharing a commander and headquarters in Bahrain with U.S. Naval Forces Central Command. Central Command’s purview stretches from Egypt in the west to Kazakhstan, bordering Russia and China, in the east. CENTCOM is in charge of American military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as in Pakistan and Yemen.

The Fifth Fleet has approximately 30,000 personnel stationed across the region.

The geopolitical importance of Bahrain was demonstrated when the U.S.’s top military officer, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, visited several nations in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa last month: Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Djibouti and Kuwait, with a last-minute stop in Bahrain not listed on his itinerary.

Mullen inspected the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, the first major American military base on the African continent, now assigned to U.S. Africa Command.

While in Saudi Arabia, he characterized Iran as “a country that continues to foment instability in the region and take advantage of every opportunity.”

“There are always concerns in this region with Iran. Certainly the United States has them, as well as all the regional players. Certainly that was part of the discussion today [February 21] with the Saudis.” [5] A discussion that was held with Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, Deputy Interior Minister; Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, commander of the National Guard; Prince Khalid bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud, Assistant Minister for Defense and Aviation; and Lieutenant General Husein Abdullah al-Qubail, Deputy Chief of the General Staff.

Mullen was cited as saying the talks “focused largely on the tumult in Bahrain,” with him stating:

“Obviously the Saudis, in particular – but everybody in the region – is watching what’s happening in Bahrain very closely.” [6]

In Bahrain on February 25 he “reaffirmed our strong commitment to our military relationship with the Bahraini defense forces,” according to his spokesman. He also commended the Bahraini royal family “for the very measured way they have been handling the popular crisis here,” although several hundred protesters have now been killed and wounded, and praised the government for the “giant leaps” it has taken in recent years. [7]

Mullen visited the Marine Corps Forces Central Command (MARFORCENT) Forward element at the Naval Support Activity Bahrain base, home to U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and the U.S. Fifth Fleet. The new Marine headquarters “stood up in November to bring Marine Corps Forces Central Command what its other sister services already have: a forward element within the 20-nation Centcom area of operations.”

“Exactly how many Marines ultimately will join the element is classified, but…developments underway” are seen “as a sign of MARFORCENT’s long-term commitment to strengthening partnerships and protecting U.S. interests in the region.” [8]

Ten days earlier North Atlantic Treaty Organization Deputy Secretary General Claudio Bisogniero addressed a conference in Qatar (immediately southeast of Bahrain), the fourth Ambassadorial Conference of NATO’s Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, also attended by Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Concerns expressed in Bisogniero’s keynote address were capsulized by a local newspaper as follows:

“Gulf nations are crucial to world energy supplies and their security supplies are also important….Since 50 percent of world energy supplies transit through the Gulf region, it is Nato’s main concern to ensure these supplies.” [9]

The Istanbul Cooperation Initiative was created at the NATO summit in Turkey in 2004 to complement the upgrading of the Mediterranean Dialogue partnership with Israel, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Jordan, Mauritania and Morocco to the level of the Partnership for Peace program that graduated twelve Eastern European candidates to full NATO membership from 1999-2009, an unprecedented seven at the Istanbul summit seven years ago, with new bilateral partnerships with Gulf Cooperation Council members Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

In NATO’s words at the time: “NATO leaders decided to elevate the Alliance’s Mediterranean Dialogue to a genuine partnership and to launch the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative with selected countries in the broader region of the Middle East.” [10]

Last month NATO’s second top civilian leader “welcomed Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) partners Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, showing his interest in deepening energy security and cooperation in the Gulf region also with Oman and Saudi Arabia.” [11]

In 2008 a NATO-Bahrain Public Diplomacy Conference was held in Manama. “The Conference brought together the Secretary General of NATO, the North Atlantic Council, the Deputy Secretary General of NATO, the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee and NATO officials, with government representatives, academics and senior scholars from countries in the Gulf region invited in the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative.” [12]

The groundwork has been laid for U.S. and allied military intervention in the Persian Gulf. [13]

The day after Saudi and Emirati military forces arrived in Bahrain, several thousand protesters descended on the Saudi embassy to demonstrate their opposition to the intervention. As the Reuters news agency reported, “Bahrainis are concerned that their tiny island could become a proxy battleground for a wider stand-off between the Sunni-ruled Gulf Arab countries, all U.S. allies, and Shi’ite-ruled Iran, a U.S. foe.”

The Iranian Foreign Ministry referred to the foreign military deployment in Bahrain as “unacceptable” and the Bahraini king recalled his ambassador from Tehran in response.

Two years ago Saudi Arabia engaged in its true first war, that against Houthi militias in northern Yemen. On December 14 of 2009 BBC News reported that 70 Yemeni civilians had been killed in a Saudi bombing raid on the village of Bani Maan. Houthi sources on the same day claimed that “US fighter jets have attacked Yemen’s Sa’ada Province” and “US fighter jets have launched 28 attacks on the northwestern province of Sa’ada.” [14]

The U.S. is no less complicit in the Saudi military intervention currently underway in Bahrain. Pentagon spokesman Colonel David Lapan stated the U.S. had been “informed” of but not “consulted” on the Saudi deployment, but his verbal sleight of hand was solely intended to cozen the uninformed and unwary given the recent visits to Bahrain by the head of the Pentagon and America’s top military commander, who decidedly were not there to discuss the weather.

1) U.S. Department of Defense, March 12, 2011
2) Ibid
3) Ibid
4) Arabian Sea: Center Of West’s 21st Century War
Stop NATO, October 25, 2010
https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/10/25/arabian-sea-center-of-wests-21st-century-war
5) U.S. Department of Defense, February 21, 2011
6) Ibid
7) Joint Chiefs of Staff, February 25, 2011
8) Marine Forward Element Set Up to Help in Middle East
U.S. Department of Defense, February 25, 2011
9) The Peninsula, February 16, 2011
10) North Atlantic Treaty Organization, June 29, 2004
http://www.nato.int/cps/en/SID-DA0A4642-13E9063A/natolive/news_20811.htm?
11) Ibid
12) North Atlantic Treaty Organization, April 28, 2008
http://www.nato.int/docu/update/2008/04-april/e0424a.html
14) NATO’s Role In The Military Encirclement Of Iran
Stop NATO, February 10, 2010
https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/02/10/natos-role-in-the-military-encirclement-of-iran
14) Yemen: Pentagon’s War On The Arabian Peninsula
Stop NATO, December 15, 2009
https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/12/15/yemen-pentagons-war-on-the-arabian-peninsula

Categories: Uncategorized

William James: The Moral Equivalent Of War

March 16, 2011 1 comment

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

American writers on peace and against war

William James: The Philippine Tangle

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And the hapless Soldier’s sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls

William Blake

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William James, member of the Anti-Imperialist League
The Moral Equivalent of War (1906)

[Emphasis added]

The war against war is going to be no holiday excursion or camping party. The military feelings are too deeply grounded to abdicate their place among our ideals until better substitutes are offered than the glory and shame that come to nations as well as to individuals from the ups and downs of politics and the vicissitudes of trade. There is something highly paradoxical in the modern man’s relation to war. Ask all our millions, north and south, whether they would vote now (were such a thing possible) to have our war for the Union expunged from history, and the record of a peaceful transition to the present time substituted for that of its marches and battles, and probably hardly a handful of eccentrics would say yes. Those ancestors, those efforts, those memories and legends, are the most ideal part of what we now own together, a sacred spiritual possession worth more than all the blood poured out. Yet ask those same people whether they would be willing, in cold blood, to start another civil war now to gain another similar possession, and not one man or woman would vote for the proposition. In modern eyes, precious though wars may be they must not be waged solely for the sake of the ideal harvest. Only when forced upon one, is a war now thought permissible.

It was not thus in ancient times. The earlier men were hunting men, and to hunt a neighboring tribe, kill the males, loot the village and possess the females, was the most profitable, as well as the most exciting, way of living. Thus were the more martial tribes selected, and in chiefs and peoples a pure pugnacity and love of glory came to mingle with the more fundamental appetite for plunder.

Modern war is so expensive that we feel trade to be a better avenue to plunder; but modern man inherits all the innate pugnacity and all the love of glory of his ancestors. Showing war’s irrationality and horror is of no effect on him. The horrors make the fascination. War is the strong life; it is life in extremis; war taxes are the only ones men never hesitate to pay, as the budgets of all nations show us.

History is a bath of blood. The Illiad is one long recital of how Diomedes and Ajax, Sarpedon and Hector killed. No detail of the wounds they made is spared us, and the Greek mind fed upon the story. Greek history is a panorama of jingoism and imperialism – war for war’s sake, all the citizen’s being warriors. It is horrible reading – because of the irrationality of it all – save for the purpose of making “history” – and the history is that of the utter ruin of a civilization in intellectual respects perhaps the highest the earth has ever seen.

Those wars were purely piratical. Pride, gold, women, slaves excitement were their only motives. In the Peloponesian war, for example, the Athenians ask the inhabitants of Melos (the island where the “Venus de Milo” was found), hitherto neutral, to own their lordship. The envoys meet, and hold a debate which Thucydides gives in full, and which, for sweet reasonableness of form, would have satisfied Matthew Arnold. “The powerful exact what they can,” said the Athenians, “and the weak grant what they must.” When the Meleans say that sooner than be slaves they will appeal to the gods, the Athenians reply, “Of the gods we believe and of men we know that, by a law of their nature, wherever they can rule they will. This law was not made by us, and we are not the first to have acted upon it; we did but inherit it, and we know that you and all mankind, if you were as strong as we are, would do as we do. So much for the gods; we have told you why we expect to stand as high in their good opinion as you.” Well, the Meleans still refused, and their town was taken. “The Athenians,” Thucydides quietly says, “thereupon put to death all who were of military age and made slaves of the women and children. They then colonized the island, sending thither five hundred settlers of their own.

Alexander’s career was piracy pure and simple, nothing but an orgy of power and plunder, made romantic by the character of the hero. There was no rational purpose in it, and the moment he died his generals and governors attacked one another. The cruelty of those times is incredible. When Rome finally conquered Greece, Paulus Aemilius, was told by the Roman Senate, to reward his soldiers for their toil by “giving” them the old kingdom of Epirus. They sacked seventy cities and carried off one hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants as slaves. How many they killed I know not; but in Etolia they killed all the senators, five hundred and fifty in number. Brutus was “the noblest Roman of them all,” but to reanimate his soldiers on the eve of Philippi he similarly promises to give them the cities of Sparta and Thessalonica to ravage, if they win the fight.

Such was the gory nurse that trained soldiers to cohesiveness. We inherit the warlike type; and for most of the capacities of heroism that the human race is full of we have to thank this cruel history. Dead men tell no tales, and if there were any tribes of other type than this they have left no survivors. Our ancestors have bred pugnacity into our bone and marrow, and thousands of years of peace won’t breed it out of us. The popular imagination fairly fattens on the thought of wars. Let public opinion once reach a certain fighting pitch, and no ruler can withstand it. In the Boer war both governments began with bluff, but they couldn’t stay there; the military tension was too much for them. In 1898 our people had read the word “war” in letters three inches high for three months in every newspaper. The pliant politician, McKinley, was swept away by their eagerness, and our squalid war with Spain became a reality.

At the present day, civilized opinion is a curious mental mixture. The military instincts and ideals are as strong as ever, but they are confronted by reflective criticisms which sorely curb their ancient freedom. Innumerable writers are showing up the bestial side of military service. Pure loot and mastery seem no longer morally allowable motives, and pretexts must be found for attributing them solely to the enemy. England and we, our army and navy authorities repeat without ceasing, are solely for “peace.” Germany and Japan it is who are bent on loot and glory. “Peace” in military mouths today is a synonym for “war expected.” The word has become a pure provocative, and no government wishing peace sincerely should allow it ever to be printed in a newspaper. Every up-to-date dictionary should say that “peace” and “war” mean the same thing, now in posse, now in actu. It may even reasonably be said that the intensely sharp preparation for war by the nations is the real war, permanent, unceasing; and that the battles are only a sort of public verification of the mastery gained during the “peace”-interval.

It is plain that on this subject civilized man has developed a sort of double personality. If we take European nations, no legitimate interest of any one of them would seem to justify the tremendous destructions which a war to compass it would necessarily entail. It would seem that common sense and reason ought to find a way to reach agreement in every conflict of honest interests. I myself think it our bounden duty to believe in such international rationality as possible. But, as things stand, I see how desperately hard it is to bring the peace-party and the war-party together, and I believe that the difficulty is due to certain deficiencies in the program of pacifism which set the military imagination strongly, and to a certain extent justifiably, against it. In the whole discussion both sides are on imaginative and sentimental ground. It is but one utopia against another, and everything one says must be abstract and hypothetical. Subject to this criticism and caution, I will try to characterize in abstract strokes the opposite imaginative forces, and point out what to my own very fallible mind seems the best utopian hypothesis, the most promising line of conciliation.

In my remarks, pacifist though I am, I will refuse to speak of the bestial side of the war-regime (already done justice to by many writers) and consider only the higher aspects of militaristic sentiment. Patriotism no one thinks discreditable; nor does any one deny that war is the romance of history. But inordinate ambitions are the soul of any patriotism, and the possibility of violent death the soul of all romance. The militarily-patriotic and the romantic-minded everywhere, and especially the professional military class, refuse to admit for a moment that war may be a transitory phenomenon in social evolution. The notion of a sheep’s paradise like that revolts, they say, our higher imagination. Where then would be the steeps of life? If war had ever stopped, we should have to re-invent it, on this view, to redeem life from flat degeneration.

Reflective apologists for war at the present day all take it religiously. It is a sort of sacrament. It’s profits are to the vanquished as well as to the victor; and quite apart from any question of profit, it is an absolute good, we are told, for it is human nature at its highest dynamic. Its “horrors” are a cheap price to pay for rescue from the only alternative supposed, of a world of clerks and teachers, of co-education and zoophily, of “consumer’s leagues” and “associated charities,” of industrialism unlimited, and feminism unabashed. No scorn, no hardness, no valor any more! Fie upon such a cattleyard of a planet!

So far as the central essence of this feeling goes, no healthy minded person, it seems to me, can help to some degree parting of it. Militarism is the great preserver of our ideals of hardihood, and human life with no use for hardihood would be contemptible. Without risks or prizes for the darer, history would be insipid indeed; and there is a type of military character which every one feels that the race should never cease to breed, for everyone is sensitive to its superiority. The duty is incumbent on mankind, of keeping military character in stock – if keeping them, if not for use, then as ends in themselves and as pure pieces of perfection, – so that Roosevelt’s weaklings and mollycoddles may not end by making everything else disappear from the face of nature.

This natural sort of feeling forms, I think, the innermost soul of army writings. Without any exception known to me, militarist authors take a highly mystical view of their subject, and regard war as a biological or sociological necessity, uncontrolled by ordinary psychological checks or motives. When the time of development is ripe the war must come, reason or no reason, for the justifications pleaded are invariably fictions. War is, in short, a permanent human obligation. General Homer Lea, in his recent book The Valor of Ignorance, plants himself squarely on this ground. Readiness for war is for him the essence of nationality, and ability in it the supreme measure of the health of nations.

Nations, General Lea says, are never stationary – they must necessarily expand or shrink, according to their vitality or decrepitude. Japan now is culminating; and by the fatal law in question it is impossible that her statesmen should not long since have entered, with extraordinary foresight, upon a vast policy of conquest – the game in which the first moves were her wars with China and Russia and her treaty with England, and of which the final objective is the capture of the Philippines, the Hawaiian Islands, Alaska, and whole of our Coast west of the Sierra passes. This will give Japan what her ineluctable vocation as a state absolutely forces her to claim, the possession of the entire Pacific Ocean; and to oppose these deep designs we Americans have, according to our author, nothing but our conceit, our ignorance, our commercialism, our corruption, and our feminism. General Lea makes a minute technical comparison of the military strength which we at present could oppose to the strength of Japan, and concludes that the Islands, Alaska, Oregon and Southern California, would fall almost without resistance, that San Francisco must surrender in a fortnight to a Japanese investment, that in three or four months the war would be over and our republic, unable to regain what it had heedlessly neglected to protect sufficiently, would then “disintegrate,” until perhaps some Ceasar should arise to weld us again into a nation.

A dismal forecast indeed! Yet not unplausible, if the mentality of Japan’s statesmen be of the Ceasarian type of which history shows us so many examples, and which is all that General Lea seems able to imagine. But there is no reason to think that women can no longer be the mother of Napoleonic or Alexandrian characters; and if these come in Japan and find their opportunity, just such surprises as The Valor of Ignorance paints may lurk in ambush for us. Ignorant as we still are of the innermost recesses of Japanese mentality, we may be foolhardy to disregard such possibilities.

Other militarists are more complex and more moral in their considerations. The Philosophie des Krieges, by S. R. Steinmetz is a good example. War, according to this author, is an ordeal instituted by God, who weighs the nations in its balance. It is the essential form of the State, and the only function in which peoples can employ all their powers at once and convergently. No victory is possible save as the resultant of a totality of virtues, no defeat for which some vice or weakness is not responsible. Fidelity, cohesiveness, tenacity, heroism, conscience, education, inventiveness, economy, wealth, physical health and vigor – there isn’t a moral or intellectual point of superiority that doesn’t tell, when God holds his assizes and hurls the peoples upon one another. Die Weltgeschichte ist das Weltgericht; and Dr. Steinmetz does not believe that in the long run chance and luck play any part in apportioning the issues.

The virtues that prevail, it must be noted, are virtues anyhow, superiorities that count in peaceful as well as in military competition; but the strain is on them, being infinitely intenser in the latter case, makes war infinitely more searching as a trial. No ordeal is comparable to its winnowings. Its dread hammer is the welder of men into cohesive states, and nowhere but in such states can human nature adequately develop its capacity. The only alternative is “degeneration.”

Dr. Steinmetz is a conscientious thinker, and his book, short as it is, takes much into account. Its upshot can, it seems to me, be summed up in Simon Patten’s words, that mankind was nursed in pain and fear, and that the transition to a “pleasure economy” may be fatal to a being wielding no powers of defence against its degenerative influences. If we speak of the fear of emancipation from the fear-regime, we put the whole situation into a single phrase; fear regarding ourselves now taking the place of the ancient fear of the enemy.

Turn the fear over as I will in my mind, it all seems to lead back to two unwillingnesses of the imagination, one aesthetic, and the other moral; unwillingness, first, to envisage a future in which army-life, with its many elements of charm, shall be forever impossible, and in which the destinies of peoples shall nevermore be decided quickly, thrillingly, and tragically by force, but only gradually and insipidly by “evolution,” and, secondly, unwillingness to see the supreme theatre of human strenuousness closed, and the splendid military aptitudes of men doomed to keep always in a state of latency and never show themselves in action. These insistent unwillingnesses, no less than other aesthetic and ethical insistencies, have, it seems to me, to be listened to and respected. One cannot meet them effectively by mere counter-insistency on war’s expensiveness and horror. The horror makes the thrill; and when the question is of getting the extremest and supremest out of human nature, talk of expense sounds ignominious. The weakness of so much merely negative criticism is evident – pacifism makes no converts from the military party. The military party denies neither the bestiality nor the horror, nor the expense; it only says that these things tell but half the story. It only says that war is worth them; that, taking human nature as a whole, its wars are its best protection against its weaker and more cowardly self, and that mankind cannot afford to adopt a peace economy.

Pacifists ought to enter more deeply into the aesthetical and ethical point of view of their opponents. Do that first in any controversy, says J. J. Chapman, then move the point, and your opponent will follow. So long as antimilitarists propose no substitute for war’s disciplinary function, no moral equivalent of war, analogous, as one might say, to the mechanical equivalent of heat, so long they fail to realize the full inwardness of the situation. And as a rule they do fail. The duties, penalties, and sanctions pictured in the utopias they paint are all too weak and tame to touch the military-minded. Tolstoi’s pacifism is the only exception to this rule, for it is profoundly pessimistic as regards all this world’s values, and makes the fear of the Lord furnish the moral spur provided elsewhere by the fear of the enemy. But our socialistic peace-advocates all believe absolutely in this world’s values; and instead of the fear of the Lord and the fear of the enemy, the only fear they reckon with is the fear of poverty if one be lazy. This weakness pervades all the socialistic literature with which I am acquainted. Even in Lowes Dickinson’s exquisite dialogue, high wages and short hours are the only forces invoked for overcoming man’s distaste for repulsive kinds of labor. Meanwhile men at large still live as they always have lived, under a pain-and-fear economy – for those of us who live in an ease-economy are but an island in the stormy ocean – and the whole atmosphere of present-day utopian literature tastes mawkish and dishwatery to people who still keep a sense for life’s more bitter flavors. It suggests, in truth, ubiquitous inferiority.

Inferiority is always with us, and merciless scorn of it is the keynote of the military temper. “Dogs, would you live forever?” shouted Frederick the Great. “Yes,” say our utopians, “let us live forever, and raise our level gradually.” The best thing about our “inferiors” today is that they are as tough as nails, and physically and morally almost as insensitive. Utopians would see them soft and squeamish, while militarism would keep their callousness, but transfigure it into a meritorious characteristic, needed by “the service,” and redeemed by that from the suspicion of inferiority. All the qualities of a man acquire dignity when he knows that the service of the collectivity that owns him needs him. If proud of the collectivity, his own pride rises in proportion. No collectivity is like an army for nourishing such pride; but it has to be confessed that the only sentiment which the image of pacific cosmopolitan industrialism is capable of arousing in countless worthy breasts is shame at the idea of belonging to such a collectivity. It is obvious that the United States of America as they exist today impress a mind like General Lea’s as so much human blubber. Where is the sharpness and precipitousness, the contempt for life, whether one’s own or another’s? Where is the savage “yes” and “no,” the unconditional duty? Where is the conscription? Where is the blood-tax? Where is anything that one feels honored by belonging to?

Having said thus much in preparation, I will now confess my own utopia. I devoutly believe in the reign of peace and in the gradual advent of some sort of socialistic equilibrium. The fatalistic view of the war function is to me nonsense, for I know that war-making is due to definite motives and subject to prudential checks and reasonable criticisms, just like any other form of enterprise. And when whole nations are the armies, and the science of destruction vies in intellectual refinement with the science of production, I see that war becomes absurd and impossible from its own monstrosity. Extravagant ambitions will have to be replaced by reasonable claims, and nations must make common cause against them. I see no reason why all this should not apply to yellow as well as to white countries, and I look forward to a future when acts of war shall be formally outlawed as between civilized peoples.

All these beliefs of mine put me firmly into the anti-military party. But I do not believe that peace either ought to be or will be permanent on this globe, unless the states, pacifically organized, preserve some of the old elements of army-discipline. A permanently successful peace-economy cannot be a simple pleasure-economy. In the more or less socialistic future toward which mankind seems drifting we must still subject ourselves collectively to those severities which answer to our real position upon this only partly hospitable globe. We must make new energies and hardihoods continue the manliness to which the military mind so faithfully clings. Martial virtues must be the enduring cement; intrepidity, contempt of softness, surrender of private interest, obedience to command, must still remain the rock upon which states are built – unless, indeed, we which for dangerous reactions against commonwealths, fit only for contempt, and liable to invite attack whenever a centre of crystallization for military-minded enterprise gets formed anywhere in their neighborhood.

The war-party is assuredly right in affirming and reaffirming that the martial virtues, although originally gain by the race through war, are absolute and permanent human goods. Patriotic pride and ambition in their military form are, after all, only specifications of a more general competitive passion. They are its first form, but that is no reason for supposing them to be its last form. Men are now proud of belonging to a conquering nation, and without a murmur they lay down their persons and their wealth, if by so doing they may fend off subjection. But who can be sure that other aspects of one’s country may not, with time and education and suggestion enough, come to be regarded with similarly effective feelings of pride and shame? Why should men not some day feel that is it worth a blood-tax to belong to a collectivity superior in any respect? Why should they not blush with indignant shame if the community that owns them is vile in any way whatsoever? Individuals, daily more numerous, now feel this civic passion. It is only a question of blowing on the spark until the whole population gets incandescent, and on the ruins of the old morals of military honor, a stable system of morals of civic honor builds itself up. What the whole community comes to believe in grasps the individual as in a vise. The war-function has grasped us so far; but the constructive interests may some day seem no less imperative, and impose on the individual a hardly lighter burden.

Let me illustrate my idea more concretely. There is nothing to make one indignant in the mere fact that life is hard, that men should toil and suffer pain. The planetary conditions once for all are such, and we can stand it. But that so many men, by mere accidents of birth and opportunity, should have a life of nothing else but toil and pain and hardness and inferiority imposed upon them, should have no vacation, while others natively no more deserving never get any taste of this campaigning life at all, – this is capable of arousing indignation in reflective minds. It may end by seeming shameful to all of us that some of us have nothing but campaigning, and others nothing but unmanly ease. If now – and this is my idea – there were, instead of military conscription, a conscription of the whole youthful population to form for a certain number of years a part of the army enlisted against Nature, the injustice would tend to be evened out, and numerous other goods to the commonwealth would remain blind as the luxurious classes now are blind, to man’s relations to the globe he lives on, and to the permanently sour and hard foundations of his higher life. To coal and iron mines, to freight trains, to fishing fleets in December, to dishwashing, clotheswashing, and windowwashing, to road-building and tunnel-making, to foundries and stoke-holes, and to the frames of skyscrapers, would our gilded youths be drafted off, according to their choice, to get the childishness knocked out of them, and to come back into society with healthier sympathies and soberer ideas. They would have paid their blood-tax, done their own part in the immemorial human warfare against nature; they would tread the earth more proudly, the women would value them more highly, they would be better fathers and teachers of the following generation.

Such a conscription, with the state of public opinion that would have required it, and the many moral fruits it would bear, would preserve in the midst of a pacific civilization the manly virtues which the military party is so afraid of seeing disappear in peace. We should get toughness without callousness, authority with as little criminal cruelty as possible, and painful work done cheerily because the duty is temporary, and threatens not, as now, to degrade the whole remainder of one’s life. I spoke of the “moral equivalent” of war. So far, war has been the only force that can discipline a whole community, and until and equivalent discipline is organized, I believe that war must have its way. But I have no serious doubt that the ordinary prides and shames of social man, once developed to a certain intensity, are capable of organizing such a moral equivalent as I have sketched, or some other just as effective for preserving manliness of type. It is but a question of time, of skilful propogandism, and of opinion-making men seizing historic opportunities.

The martial type of character can be bred without war. Strenuous honor and disinterestedness abound everywhere. Priests and medical men are in a fashion educated to it, and we should all feel some degree if its imperative if we were conscious of our work as an obligatory service to the state. We should be owned, as soldiers are by the army, and our pride would rise accordingly. We could be poor, then, without humiliation, as army officers now are. The only thing needed henceforward is to inflame the civic temper as part history has inflamed the military temper. H. G. Wells, as usual, sees the centre of the situation. “In many ways,” he says, “military organization is the most peaceful of activities. When the contemporary man steps from the street, of clamorous insincere advertisement, push, adulteration, underselling and intermittent employment into the barrack-yard, he steps on to a higher social plane, into an atmosphere of service and cooperation and of infinitely more honorable emulations. Here at least men are not flung out of employment to degenerate because there is no immediate work for them to do. They are fed a drilled and training for better services. Here at least a man is supposed to win promotion by self-forgetfulness and not by self-seeking. And beside the feeble and irregular endowment of research by commercialism, its little shortsighted snatches at profit by innovation and scientific economy, see how remarkable is the steady and rapid development of method and appliances in naval and military affairs! Nothing is more striking than to compare the progress of civil conveniences which has been left almost entirely to the trader, to the progress in military apparatus during the last few decades. The house-appliances of today, for example, are little better than they were fifty years ago. A house of today is still almost as ill-ventilated, badly heated by wasteful fires, clumsily arranged and furnished as the house of 1858. Houses a couple of hundred years old are still satisfactory places of residence, so little have our standards risen. But the rifle or battleship of fifty years ago was beyond all comparison inferior to those we now possess; in power, in speed, in convenience alike. No one has a use now for such superannuated things.”

Wells adds that he thinks that the conceptions of order and discipline, the tradition of service and devotion, of physical fitness, unstinted exertion, and universal responsibility, which universal military duty is now teaching European nations, will remain a permanent acquisition when the last ammunition has been used in the fireworks that celebrate the final peace. I believe as he does. It would be simply preposterous if the only force that could work ideals of honor and standards of efficiency into English or American natures should be the fear of being killed by the Germans or the Japanese. Great indeed is Fear; but it is not, as our military enthusiasts believe and try to make us believe, the only stimulus known for awakening the higher ranges of men’s spiritual energy. The amount of alteration in public opinion which my utopia postulates is vastly less than the difference between the mentality of those black warriors who pursued Stanley’s party on the Congo with their cannibal war-cry of “Meat! Meat!” and that of the “general-staff” of any civilized nation. History has seen the latter interval bridged over; the former one can be bridged over much more easily.

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Mark Twain: The War Prayer

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

American writers on peace and against war

Mark Twain: Selections on war

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Mark Twain
Vice president of the Anti-Imperialist League from 1901-1910

The War Prayer
Opus posthumous

It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and spluttering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts, and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country, and invoked the God of Battles beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener. It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety’s sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.

Sunday morning came – next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their young faces alight with martial dreams – visions of the stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender! Then home from the war, bronzed heroes, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for the flag, or, failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation:

God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest!
Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!

Then came the “long” prayer. None could remember the like of it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The burden of its supplication was, that an ever-merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers, and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in the day of battle and the hour of peril, bear them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them to crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory.

An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher’s side and stood there waiting. With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued with his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal, “Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!”

The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside – which the startled minister did – and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes, in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said:

“I come from the Throne – bearing a message from Almighty God!” The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. “He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd, and will grant it if such shall be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import – that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of – except he pause and think.

“God’s servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two – one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him Who heareth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this – keep it in mind. If you would beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor’s crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.

“You have heard your servant’s prayer – the uttered part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it – that part which the pastor – and also you in your hearts – fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: ‘Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!’ That is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory – must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

“O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle – be Thou near them! With them – in spirit – we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it – for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

(After a pause.) “Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits!”

It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

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Radio And Text: West Has Crossed The Rubicon On Libya

Voice of Russia
March 10, 2011

West has crossed the Rubicon

Interview with Rick Rozoff, a U.S. journalist covering NATO enlargement
Yekaterina Kudashkina

Rough transcription:

The question at this point is to what extent NATO is prepared to intervene in the Libyan crisis. You know, the true moment of truth will be when a two-day summit of defense ministers, defense chiefs, of the 28 members of NATO meet in Brussels that will of course include US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and his 27 counterparts and the other NATO member states.

They are to meet on 10th and 11th March, Thursday and Friday, and there is no question about what will be at the top of the agenda: it is going to be the question of Libya.

And we know from US permanent representative, ambassador, to NATO Ivo Daalder as of yesterday that NATO has announced that it will enforce 24-hours, around-the-clock aerial and naval surveillance of Libya that’s up from 10 hours previous to that.

Just in the last hour I saw that the foreign minister of Italy, Franco Frattini, made an announcement at a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Italian parliament stating this: “We need to take action in reference to Libya.”

And he stated that his country would propose to an extraordinary meeting of the European Council that the European Union and NATO coordinate forces to enforce a naval blockade of Libya. So we are talking about a flight ban or no-fly zone which is going to be brought up in the UN Security Council by France and Germany in the first instance along with the United States.

Germany is currently on the Security Council and the other three Western countries are of course permanent members. Those four countries are what is sometimes referred to as the NATO Quad, the big four NATO powers, Britain, France, United States and Germany.

It appears at this point they are united in wanting to enforce a flight ban over Libya to keep the nation’s air force and aircraft in general grounded.

The comment I just mentioned by the foreign minister of Italy Frattini demonstrates that a naval blockade would complement or accompany that. I mean, this is really putting the Libyan nation under siege and clearly if there were actions of that sort taken against France, Britain, Germany and the United States it would be construed as an acts of war, which is effectively what they are. So I would argue we’re days, perhaps hours, away from a U.S.-NATO military operation against Libya; whether it entails bombing and destroying on the ground the Libyan air force and air defense and surveillance facilities and so on we can only speculate, but I think at this point it’s pretty clear that the West has crossed the Rubicon.

But it is not the first time the international community introduces a no-fly zone?

There are precedents for this as we know. One was instituted against Iraq starting in 1991 after the end of Operation Desert Storm and continued until 2003.

From 1992 to 1995 there were actually two no-fly zone operations run by NATO in Bosnia, particularly against the Bosnian Serb Republic. It was a very partisan effort.

And at the beginning of the war against Yugoslavia in 1999, a 78-day bombing campaign, a no-flight zone was established over that country.

The actual mechanics of getting UN Security Council approval or sanctioning for a no-fly zone is for nine or more of the fifteen members of the Security Council to approve it, and then for no permanent member of the Security Council to veto that resolution.

There are five permanent members – the U.S., Britain, France, China and Russia – and ten non-permanent members. And to be honest with you, I haven’t looked at the rest of the current membership and I don’t know how the other ten would be likely to vote.

But with the permanent members it’s going to break down predictably into Western NATO nations – the U.S., Britain and France – in favor of the flight ban and other military measures against Libya with China and Russia presumably voting against, and of course with the latter two countries in a position to veto the resolution if it’s passed by nine or more other countries.

Do I get it right that introducing a no-fly zone will not contribute much to containing violence on the ground?

The formal or diplomatic explanation for why a flight ban is effected against a country – this is an expression we hear more and more since Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the UN, is once again obligingly accommodating the West (the U.S. and Western Europe), pushing the concept of what’s called the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P).

And this was used of course in Iraq in 1991. No-fly zones included that in the Northern Iraqi ethnic Kurdish areas of the country and so forth. The argument presented by the major Western powers, which are always those who introduce and lobby for no-fly zones, is that it protects civilians on the ground against – as we hear in the language from American, Western European, and NATO officials recently, employing the term – crimes against humanity. The other terms are of course genocide and war crimes – they are all borrowed from the Nuremberg Tribunal.

And we remember that these expressions were used in the Balkans in the 1990s inevitably to further, I would argue, NATO political and geopolitical ambitions in Southeast Europe.

In theory, again, no-fly zones protect civilians against military attacks by the government and in fact that’s what the Western parties are going to claim in Libya. They are going to claim that military forces loyal to Gaddafi are perpetrating massacres and even genocide against the Libyan people. And that’s the pretext, I believe it’s largely a pretext, but that will be the formal explanation for why they are enforcing a flight ban.

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Point Of No Return: U.S. And NATO Prepare For War With Libya

March 8, 2011 1 comment

Stop NATO
March 8, 2011

Point Of No Return: U.S. And NATO Prepare For War With Libya
Rick Rozoff

March 7 was a pivotal moment in plans by Western powers to launch military operations against Libya.

After meeting with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard in Washington, President Barack Obama stated “we’ve got NATO, as we speak, consulting in Brussels around a wide range of potential options, including potential military options, in response to the violence that continues to take place inside of Libya.”

In an interview she gave to The Australian newspaper immediately before her departure for the U.S., Gillard stated that she supported the “US placing more military forces on Australian soil if it believes this is necessary in the light of the growing might of China and India.” Her government is also on record as backing military action in Libya.

On the same day North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen held a press conference at the military bloc’s headquarters in Brussels and while formally disavowing plans to intervene in the North African nation said that “as a defence Alliance and a security organisation, it is our job to conduct prudent planning for any eventuality.”

He revealed his true intentions with further statements like:

“We can see a strong wind of change blowing across the region – and it is blowing in the direction of freedom and democracy.”

“This is a humanitarian crisis on our door-step that concerns us all. The civilian population in Libya is the target of systematic attacks by the regime. So we must remain vigilant. The whole world is watching events in Libya and the wider Middle East. Many of our Allies have been evacuating their nationals and helping other people in need. We strongly condemn the use of force against the Libyan people. The violation of human rights and international humanitarian law is outrageous.”

Rasmussen also announced that the defense ministers of NATO’s 28 member states, including American Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, will meet at NATO Headquarters on March 10-11 to “discuss the situation in Libya, and the longer term prospects for the region” and to “consider how NATO can do more to help partner countries in North Africa and the wider Middle East.” [1] NATO partnership nations include Libya’s neighbors to the east and west, Egypt and Tunisia, members of the Alliance’s Mediterranean Dialogue.

Almost simultaneously, the U.S. permanent representative to NATO, Netherlands-born Ivo Daalder, informed reporters that on the same day NATO military planners had completed an assessment for enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya in time for the defense chiefs meeting three days later and had decided to conduct around-the-clock air surveillance of the country using AWACS aircraft. The no-fly operation assessment had been presented to the ambassadors of NATO’s 28 members, who planned to meet again on March 8 and 9 to deliberate on the issue.

Daalder also stated that “In coming days, military assessments should be completed into a no-fly zone and how to enforce an arms embargo.” [2]

The U.S. envoy was the National Security Council director for European Affairs in charge of Bosnia policy in the mid-1990s in which capacity he assisted in overseeing the last days of NATO no-fly operations conducted over Bosnia, which is to say largely over the Republika Srpska (the Bosnian Serb Republic), from 1992-1995, Operation Sky Monitor and Operation Deny Flight.

In 1995 Operation Deny Flight gave way to Operation Deliberate Force, directed against the Republika Srpska with 400 aircraft flying 3,515 missions against 338 targets. Daalder also supported the U.S. and British no-fly zone over Iraq in the 1990s and in 2006 co-authored an article for Foreign Affairs, journal of the Council on Foreign Relations, entitled “Global NATO” in which he applauded the military alliance’s role in the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq and the Darfur region of western Sudan. [3] At the time the article appeared many in the U.S. were calling for a replication of the no-fly operations employed over Iraq, Bosnia and later Yugoslavia for Sudan.

Daalder criticized his then-former chief President Bill Clinton in 1999 for not introducing ground troops into Kosovo in conjunction with the 78-air war the U.S. and NATO mercilessly prosecuted against the nation.

Susan Rice, like Ivo Daalder a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution currently on leave, in her case as American ambassador to the United Nations, demanded in 2007 that the U.S. and NATO enforce a no-fly zone over the Darfur region of Sudan and “signal its readiness to strike Sudanese military and intelligence assets, including aircraft and airfields, if necessary.” She also called for the deployment of NATO Response Force troops to western Sudan. Rice will vote on a no-fly resolution for Libya when it is introduced in the UN Security Council. [4]

On March 6 Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told the television news program Meet the Nation “that Libya’s air force could be disabled without the kind of expense and commitment required to maintain previous no-fly zones in Iraq and the Balkans,” [5] and instead “One could crater the airports and the runways and leave them incapable of using them for a period of time.” His position on grounding Libya’s air force was echoed by two of the Senate’s top Republicans, John McCain and Mitch McConnell.

Kerry also called for turning an unspecified amount of the $30 billion in Libyan assets seized by the American government over to rebel groups in the country, adding, “I assume that a lot of weapons are going to find their way there from one means or another over the course of the next weeks.”

Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nation Bill Richards, too, advocated a plan to “covertly arm the rebels” (as did White House spokesman Jay Carney) and enforce a no-fly zone over Libya.

George W. Bush administration national security advisor Stephen Hadley chimed in, telling CNN: “Obviously, if there is a way to get weapons into the hands of the rebels, if we can get anti-aircraft systems so that they can enforce a no-fly zone over their own territory, that would be helpful.”

Reports have circulated about Washington enlisting Saudi Arabia to airlift weapons to rebels in Benghazi.

Pentagon spokesman Colonel David Lapan told Agence France-Presse that in regard to U.S. plans for Libya, “all options are being considered.”


USS Kearsarge

The New York Times on March 6 listed what those options are. They include the deployment of the USS Kearsarge amphibious assault ship, on which the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit is embarked and which took on board 400 more Marines in addition to the 1,200-2,000 it arrived with on the Greek island of Crete and with the USS Ponce amphibious warfare ship is now heading for the Libyan coast in a deployment ordered by Pentagon chief Gates. USS Kearsarge is equipped to carry V-22 Osprey vertical takeoff and landing aircraft and MH-53E Super Stallion helicopters, the largest and heaviest helicopters in the U.S. military arsenal.

“The flotilla can be seen as a modern-day example of ‘gunboat diplomacy,’ intended to embolden rebels and shake the confidence of loyalist forces and mercenaries, perhaps even inspiring a palace coup.” [6]

Gunboat diplomacy is the proper term, reminiscent as it is of the dispatching of four American warships to Tripoli in 1801 where they enforced a blockade of the harbor and where the USS Enterprise defeated the privateer ship Tripoli in a naval battle off what is now Libya’s capital.


USS Enterprise

The current USS Enterprise, the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, is positioned in the Red Sea with a carrier strike group attached to it which includes the guided missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf, guided-missile destroyers USS Bulkeley, USS Barry and USS Mason, and the fast combat support ship USNS Arctic.

On February 16 Enterprise and Kearsarge, the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group and Expeditionary Strike Group 5, met up in the Red Sea leading to the Suez Canal which USS Kearsarge and USS Ponce passed through on March 1 to the Mediterranean Sea and the American naval base in Souda Bay, Crete.

The New York Times laid out further options in addition to the stationing of American warships off the shores of Libya. They include several offered by planners on the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and its field commands:

Signal jamming “aircraft operating in international air space,” thus disabling “Libyan government communications with its military units.”

“Administration officials said Sunday [March 6] that preparations for such an operation were under way.”

The aforementioned use of the Kearsarge and the Ponce amphibious assault ships, “Known as a Marine Air-Ground Task Force,” which “provides a complete air, sea and land force that can project its power quickly and across hundreds of miles, either from flat-decked ships in the Mediterranean Sea or onto a small beachhead on land.”

“In this task force are Harrier jump-jet warplanes, which not only can bomb, strafe and engage in dogfights, but can also carry surveillance pods for monitoring military action on the ground in Libya; attack helicopters; transport aircraft – both cargo helicopters and the fast, long-range Osprey, whose rotors let it lift straight up, then tilt forward like propellers to ferry Marines…across the desert; landing craft that can cross the surf anywhere along Libyas’ long coastline – and about 400 ground combat troops of the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines.”

Other operations being planned are air-dropping weapons to insurgents in the country and “inserting small Special Operations teams…to assist the rebels, as was done in Afghanistan to topple the Taliban.”

Another option is to launch a “handful of strikes on valued government or military targets…as was done in the Gulf of Sidra raids in 1986,” by the Ronald Reagan administration.

“There are ample planes based in Europe and on the aircraft carrier Enterprise and its strike group, now in the Red Sea, for missions over Libya.

“Pentagon officials said Sunday that those vessels were carefully sailing in the direction of the Suez Canal, gateway to the Mediterranean.”

USS Enterprise, should it join other U.S. and NATO nations’ warships in the Mediterranean, will provide as many as 85 aircraft.

The newspaper account also detailed these actions:

“The destruction of Libyan air-defense radars and missile batteries would be required, perhaps using missiles launched from submarines or warships. A vast fleet of tankers would be needed to refuel warplanes. Search-and-rescue teams trained in land and sea operations would be on hand in case a plane went down.

“The fleet of aircraft needed for such a mission would easily reach into the hundreds. Given the size of such a mission, it would be expected that American and NATO bases in Europe would be used, and that an American aircraft carrier would be positioned off Libya.” [7]

On March 1 the Wall Street Journal quoted an unnamed senior U.S. official recommending another expedient: “The best outcome for those Libyan leaders who are defecting will be (to put) two bullets into the heads of Gadhafi and his son.”

NATO’s Aviano Air Base In Italy, across the Mediterranean from Libya, hosts 42 U.S. F-16 jet fighters. Aviano is the base from which U.S. F-15s and F-16s and NATO warplanes took off for the bombing of the Bosnian Serb Republic in 1995 and Yugoslavia in 1999. In the second case over 38,000 air missions were conducted.

A Russian analyst recently wrote of the parallels between NATO’s first full-scale war in 1999 and the impending campaign against Libya:

“The old term used to describe such actions, ‘gunboat diplomacy,’ is no longer politically correct. Now ‘liberal intervention’ is preferred. But while the name may have changed, the methods have not. Libya appears to be maneuvered down the same path of action that culminated in the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, which started on March 24, 1999, after a no-fly zone was announced.

“The quest for UN approval is an essentially meaningless but nevertheless indispensable political ritual that always precedes violations of international law. The same thing happened before NATO’s Operation Allied Force (Noble Anvil) in Yugoslavia.”

“The military preparations underway in the Mediterranean go beyond the simple redeployment of U.S. warships ‘just in case.’ These preparations always have a critical mass – the line beyond which war becomes unavoidable.

“USS Kearsarge is one of the world’s largest assault vessels of its kind. It has dozens of helicopters on board, missiles, landing craft, and over 2,000 Marines. The ship was used in the Yugoslavian operation in 1999 to deploy Marines, reconnaissance groups and special forces.” [8]

Associated Press reported on March 4 that “Some NATO countries are drawing up contingency plans modeled on the no-fly zones over the Balkans in the 1990s.”

The news agency cited a senior European Union official stating that “taking control of the airspace over Libya would more likely be modeled on Operation Deny Flight, a 1993-95 NATO mission in which its warplanes patrolled the skies over Bosnia as a civil war raged between government forces and Serb secessionists.”

“During Deny Flight’s 33-month duration, NATO flew more than 100,000 sorties. Roughly half were carried out by fighters and attack jets, and the others by transports, reconnaissance planes and aerial tankers. Four Serbian fighter-bombers were shot down during the operation.”

“NATO planes mostly operated from air bases in Italy and from carriers in the Adriatic Sea and the Mediterranean. Many of those bases, and those in Spain, Crete and Cyprus, could be used for a potential air mission over Libya.” [9]

On the first of the month the European Union scheduled a crisis summit of its 27 heads of state requested by British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy for March 11, which will be the second day of the NATO defense ministers’ meeting also occurring in Brussels. Earlier in the same week the EU imposed its most stringent sanctions to date against Libya and adopted an embargo on arms and equipment to the nation.

On March 5 the Daily Telegraph revealed that the Black Watch (3rd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland) has been placed on heightened alert, “prepared to deploy to North Africa at 24 hours’ notice.”

The 600-troop infantry unit returned from Afghanistan in late 2009 where it fought in Operation Panchai Palang (Panther’s Claw) and before that participated in the first attack on Basra, Iraq in 2003.

The British newspaper added:

“Nato members yesterday agreed to draw up contingency plans for how their armed forces could intervene. Britain is also preparing to send diplomats and specialist advisers to the eastern city of Benghazi, where the disparate Libyan opposition is based.” The advisers were Special Air Service (SAS) and Military Intelligence (MI6) operatives “carrying espionage equipment, reconnaissance equipment, multiple passports and weapons” who were captured by Libyan rebel forces in Benghazi at the time the above-cited report appeared.

The Guardian reported that Britain was also deploying Typhoon multirole combat aircraft to its base at Akrotiri in Cyprus.

On March 1 Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced in the House of Commons that he was ordering the frigate HMCS Charlottetown with 240 military personnel “to the waters off Libya to enhance its military presence in the region in response to the escalating unrest in the Northern African country.” Defense Minister Peter MacKay said it would take six days for the warship to arrive. Canada also has C-17 Globemaster and two C-130J Hercules military transportation planes as well as a military reconnaissance team of 13 soldiers based in Malta, 300 kilometers north of Libya.

The amassing of military assets – warships, warplanes, assault troops and special forces – near and in Libya means more than brinkmanship, demonstrates more than a show of strength, more than simply “sending a message.”

So does the enforcement of a no-fly zone over the country, which is not a substitute for but a prelude to war. Last week Defense Secretary Gates acknowledged that “A no-fly zone begins with an attack on Libya to destroy the air defenses.”

It in fact demands the grounding of a targeted nation’s aircraft and the neutralization if not destruction of its surveillance systems and anti-aircraft batteries.

A no-fly regime is succeeded by war as day is followed by night. In Bosnia from 1992-1995 it led to a bombing campaign and the deployment of 60,000 NATO troops. In Yugoslavia in 1999 it was the opening move in an air war which resulted in 50,000 U.S. and NATO troops occupying part of the country’s territory. In Iraq from 1991-2003 it was the lead-up to an invasion and ongoing military occupation that will soon be eight years old.

Britain and France, in close consultation with the U.S. and Germany (collectively the NATO Quad), are jointly writing a draft resolution for a no-fly zone over Libya to be presented to the Security Council. If the resolution is supported by nine or more of the fifteen nations on the Security Council and if permanent members China and Russia don’t veto it, the stage will be set for a series of further military actions by the U.S. and NATO against Libya, which will be presented by the West as UN-sanctioned, in a manner alarmingly evocative of the process used to prepare the attack on Iraq in 2003.

1) NATO Defence Ministers will discuss situation in Libya and longer term
prospects in Middle East
North Atlantic Treaty Organization, March 7, 2011
2) Wall Street Journal, March 7, 2011
3) Ivo Daalder and James Goldgeier, Global Nato
Foreign Affairs, September/October 2006
http://www.brookings.edu/views/articles/daalder/2006sept_oct.pdf
4) Susan E. Rice, The Genocide in Darfur: America Must Do More to Fulfill
the Responsibility to Protect
Brookings Institution, October 24, 2007
http://www.brookings.edu/papers/2007/1024darfur_rice_Opp08.aspx
5) Washington Post, March 6, 2011
6) U.S. Weighs Options, on Air and Sea
New York Times, March 6, 2011
7) Ibid
8) Andrei Fedyashin, The Yugoslavian option for Libya
Russian Information Agency Novosti, March 4, 2011
http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20110304/162866224.html
9) NATO weighing Libyan no-fly zone
Associated Press, March 4, 2011

Categories: Uncategorized

Africa: la NATO globale si prefigge di reclutare 50 nuovi partner militari

Stop NATO
6 Marzo 2011

Africa: la NATO globale si prefigge di reclutare 50 nuovi partner militari
Rick Rozoff

Traduzione dall’inglese per www.resistenze.org a cura del Centro di Cultura e Documentazione Popolare

Un recente articolo apparso sulla rivista keniota Africa Review cita fonti dell’Unione Africana (UA), svelando che l’Organizzazione del Trattato Nord Atlantico (NATO), con 28 stati membri, si appresta a firmare un trattato di collaborazione militare con l’UA, che conta 53 stati membri.

Riportando i commenti di alcuni funzionari dell’UA ad Addis Abeba, in Etiopia dove l’organizzazione ha sede, l’autore dell’articolo scrive che mentre “l’obiettivo dichiarato è quello di contrastare le minacce alla sicurezza mondiale e in particolare le minacce contro l’Africa, alcuni osservatori leggono il patto come un tentativo di contrastare l’espansione cinese in Africa.”

L’articolo afferma anche che la NATO sta negoziando l’apertura di un ufficio di collegamento presso la sede dell’Unione Africana e che il suo ufficio legale collabora con il suo omologo nell’UA “per definire il nuovo patto, che sarà firmato a breve.” [1]

Un’altra notizia divulgata dall’articolo è che Ramtane Lamamra, Commissario dell’Unione Africana per la Pace e la Sicurezza, “ha confermato che la NATO firmerà un accordo di cooperazione militare con l’Unione Africana”, con particolare enfasi sul consolidamento della Forza d’Intervento Africana (ASF – African Standby Force). Quest’ultima è destinata a essere composta da brigate sotto il comando delle cinque Comunità Economiche Regionali del continente (Nord, Est, Ovest, Centro e Sud). ASF per l’Africa occidentale ha avuto ordini di intervenire in Costa d’Avorio – vale a dire invadere e occupare il paese – dopo l’annuncio a dicembre dei risultati del ballottaggio per le elezioni presidenziali [2], e i soldati dei paesi contributori, Uganda e Burundi, che fanno parte della Brigata d’Intervento per l’Africa orientale (EASBRIG), sono impegnati come combattenti nella guerra civile in Somalia.

Il Commissario Lamamra ha dichiarato che “l’Africa vorrebbe apprendere dalla NATO competenze in materia di trasporto aereo strategico e comunicazioni avanzate, in materia di rotazione di unità da combattimento importante tra diverse regioni e per rispondere alle sfide logistiche”, aggiungendo che “la NATO è stata un buon modello su cui costruire l’ASF.” [3]

Nel marzo dello scorso anno, la NATO ha aerotrasportato 1.700 soldati ugandesi nella capitale somala di Mogadiscio e ne ha rimpatriati altri 800, a sostegno delle truppe ugandesi e burundesi impiegate nella campagna militare dell’UA in Somalia (AMISOM). [4]

La rivista keniota ha anche rivelato che “Gli esperti dicono che l’Africa sta diventando un campo di battaglia strategico tra le potenze mondiali, in particolare Stati Uniti, Unione Europea, Cina e Russia”, con le prime due (eccezion fatta, al momento, per Cipro) pienamente integrate nella NATO e nel suo programma di Partenariato per la Pace; le altre due con investimenti crescenti in Africa nei settori del petrolio e del gas naturale. Inoltre, la Russia e la Cina sono concorrenti degli Stati Uniti e dei loro alleati NATO per quanto riguarda la vendita di armi alle nazioni africane. L’articolo prosegue:

“Secondo fonti informate, il nuovo accordo per la sicurezza potrebbe essere un modo per bloccare gli altri grandi fornitori di armi all’Africa: la Cina e la Russia”.

“Se il patto viene approvato dagli stati membri dell’UA, sarebbe un duro colpo per la Cina e la Russia”.

“Al suo vertice annuale del 2010, la NATO si è posta l’obiettivo di farsi ‘garante della sicurezza’ globale entro il 2020.” [5]

Nei giorni 18 e 19 febbraio, una delegazione UA con funzionari di alto livello cappeggiata da Sivuyile Thandikhaya Bam, Responsabile della Divisione per il Sostegno di Operazioni di Pace presso l’UA, si è recata alla sede della NATO e al quartier generale delle potenze alleate in Europa (SHAPE) in Belgio. Secondo la NATO:

“Dal 2005 la NATO e l’Unione Africana hanno sviluppato una collaborazione pratica sempre più fruttuosa. … La NATO ha sostenuto la missione dell’Unione Africana in Sudan [portando con i suoi aerei più di 30.000 truppe alla e dalla regione del Darfur], e sta attualmente contribuendo alla missione dell’Unione Africana in Somalia; non solo trasporta truppe per aereo e per mare, ma provvede anche un sostegno alla programmazione strategica”.

“La NATO fornisce anche … sostegno ai programmi di formazione e di consolidamento dell’Unione Africana, migliorando le sue capacità a lungo termine di mantenere la pace, in particolare con la Forza d’Intervento Africana.” [6]

Questa Forza d’intervento, sistematicamente costruita sul modello della Response Force della NATO, è stata inaugurata con i giochi di guerra su vasta scala nell’isola di Capo Verde nel 2006. L’ASF è un progetto congiunto della NATO e il Commando Africano degli Stati Uniti, che prima di raggiungere la piena capacità operativa il 1 ottobre 2008 è stato concepito, sviluppato e gestito dal Commando Europeo statunitense, il cui comandante è anche Comandante Supremo per la NATO in Europa.

Nel 2007 il Consiglio Nord Atlantico, l’ente civile della NATO con maggiori poteri decisionali, ha commissionato uno studio “sulla valutazione della prontezza operativa delle brigate dell’ASF.” [7]

L’anno successivo, il Segretario Generale della NATO, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, è stato in Ghana per tre giorni e ha detto che “l’alleanza militare potrebbe svolgere un ruolo importante nel addestramento di soldati africani”, in particolare che “l’Alleanza aveva accettato di sostenere la Forza d’Intervento Africana.” [8 ]

Nel 2009 il blocco ha cominciato ad addestrare ufficiali africani per conto della ASF presso la Scuola NATO di Oberammergau, Germania. Il Comitato dei Capi di Stato Maggiori a Lisbona, il comando dell’Alleanza con il compito di supervisionare la cooperazione militare con l’Unione Africana, ha addestrato ufficiali africani per eseguire esercitazioni militari, e “La NATO ha anche partecipato in e sostenuto vari esercitazioni preparatorie dell’ASF intese a sviluppare concetti correlati ad essa.” [9]

Lo stesso anno il colonnello norvegese Brynjar Nymo – l’Ambasciata della Norvegia in Etiopia è l’ente non ufficiale di collegamento per le relazioni tra la NATO e l’Unione Africana – ha detto che “la cooperazione tra la NATO e l’Unione Africana si concentra attualmente a fornire un supporto tecnico all’ASF.”

Nello stesso periodo, si poteva leggere sul sito web dell’ambasciata norvegese che “Il Gruppo per il Monitoraggio e il Sostegno dell’Africa (the Africa Monitoring & Support Team) presso la sede della NATO in Portogallo è la sede operativa per il lavoro della NATO in Africa”, come sopra indicato. [10]

Più tardi nel 2009, Maurits Jochems, l’allora Vice Segretario Generale si è recato alla sede dell’Unione Africana nella capitale etiope, dove ci sono un alto ufficiale di collegamento militare della NATO e altri funzionari.

“Nel suo ruolo di Vice Segretario Generale della NATO, l’Ambasciatore Jochems ha spesso visitato Addis Abeba per colloquiare con l’Unione Africana …. La NATO fornisce consulenza tecnica, e mette a disposizione esperti in materia, l’esperienza acquisita nel corso di operazioni internazionali e l’accesso alla formazione pertinente alle basi di addestramento dell’AUC [Commissione dell’Unione Africana] nel contesto dell’ASF.”[11]

Il 26 e 27 gennaio di quest’anno, il Comitato Militare della NATO ha tenuto due giorni di incontri a Bruxelles con i capi della difesa – il responsabile del Comitato dei Capi di Stato Maggiore degli Stati Uniti, Ammiraglio Michael Mullen e i suoi omologhi – e i rappresentanti militari di 66 nazioni (un terzo degli stati membri delle Nazioni Unite).

Hanno parlato delle operazioni NATO in corso in Afghanistan – attualmente la guerra più grande e più lunga del mondo, con una stima di 140.000 soldati provenienti da circa 50 nazioni in servizio nella sua Forza Internazionale per la Sicurezza – nonché delle operazioni nei Balcani (Kosovo Force), nel Mar Mediterraneo (Operazione Active Endeavor ) e quelle nel Corno d’Africa, nel Golfo di Aden e lungo la costa orientale dell’Africa (Operazione Ocean Shield).

Nel corso delle riunioni del Comitato Militare e altri incontri, si è svolta una sessione del gruppo Dialogo Mediterraneo con i leader militari di sette membri del partenariato NATO: Israele, Egitto, Tunisia, Algeria, Giordania, Marocco e Mauritania. La sessione si svolgeva nei giorni successivi alla caduta del governo del Presidente della Tunisia Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, mentre le manifestazioni in Egitto che avrebbero portato alla fine il Presidente Hosni Mubarak erano in corso.

Il 9 febbraio la Serbia Beta News Agency ha pubblicato una notizia sul Ministro della Difesa Dragan Sutanovac. Secondo il comunicato, Sutanovac aveva annunciato che una conferenza strategica della NATO dal titolo “Dopo Lisbona: l’attuazione della trasformazione” si sarebbe svolta a Belgrado, la capitale del suo paese, nel mese di giugno con i rappresentanti di 69 nazioni: tutti i 28 stati membri della NATO, 22 nazioni del Partenariato per la Pace [12] di Europa, Caucaso e Asia centrale e altri 19 stati. [13]

Oltre al Dialogo Mediterraneo, il programma NATO “Iniziativa di Cooperazione, Istanbul” sta allacciando accordi di cooperazione militare con gli stati del Golfo Persico (Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar e gli Emirati Arabi Uniti), mentre l’Oman e l’Arabia Saudita si aggiungeranno in breve tempo. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Segretario Generale della NATO, è stato in Qatar dal 15 al 16 febbraio per una conferenza di due giorni titolata “Migliorare l’Iniziativa di cooperazione NATO, Istanbul” assieme ai rappresentanti permanenti (ambasciatori) dei 28 stati membri del blocco e alti ufficiali, militari e funzionari dei governi dei sei stati membri del “Consiglio di Cooperazione del Golfo”: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Arabia Saudita e gli Emirati Arabi Uniti. Bahrain e gli Emirati hanno truppe che combattono nelle forze NATO in Afghanistan.

La NATO ha anche una categoria di partenariato denominata” Contact Countries”. Per il momento, prima che se ne aggreghino altre, le quattro nazioni sono tutte della regione del Pacifico: Australia, Giappone, Nuova Zelanda e Sud Corea. Il blocco militare capeggiato dagli Stati Uniti mantiene anche la “Commissione Tripartita per la Forza di Assistenza alla Sicurezza Internazionale in Afghanistan e Pakistan” per coordinare gli sforzi di guerra su entrambi i fronti del Khyber Pass e dispone di truppe e altro personale militare assegnato al suo comando in Afghanistan proveniente da nazioni che non sono attualmente tra i 70 stati membri della NATO né di stato che ha ufficialmente lo status di partenariato: Colombia, Malesia, Mongolia, Singapore e Tonga.

Il Consiglio NATO-Russia è stato rilanciato in occasione del vertice di Lisbona a novembre; Kosovo Force (KFOR) della NATO sta addestrando ed armando le nascenti forze armate in Kosovo, il Kosovo Security Force. [14] La NATO, quindi, conta non meno di 75 membri e partner, mentre altre nazioni neutrali, come la sopraddetta Cipro, stanno candidandosi ad entrare. [15]

L’Unione africana ha 53 stati membri a cui presto si aggiungerà un altro paese dopo il successo del referendum per l’indipendenza del Sud Sudan. L’UA comprende la Repubblica Democratica Araba Saharawi (Sahara Occidentale), conquistata dal Marocco nel 1975 e non riconosciuta da nessuno stato della NATO, ma non il Marocco, che si è ritirato dalla UA quando l’Unione ha riconosciuto e accettato come stato membro il Sahara Occidentale.

Quattro membri dell’UA (Algeria, Egitto, Mauritania e Tunisia), oltre al Marocco, sono già parte di “Dialogo Mediterraneo”, uno dei programmi di partenariato della NATO. Questo significa che un trattato di cooperazione militare tra la NATO e l’Unione Africana potrebbe aggregare altri 20 nuovi stati all’Alleanza Atlantica.

In poche parole, l’unico blocco militare del mondo cresciuto da 16 a 28 stati membri in un decennio (1999-2009), potrebbe espandersi ulteriormente per diventare veramente globale, con quasi 100 alleati militari tra partner e membri in tutti i continenti abitati. Due terzi delle nazioni del mondo.

Note:

1) Argaw Ashine, Nato to sign security cooperation pact with AU Africa Review, February 18, 2011 http://www.africareview.com/News/Nato+to+sign+security+cooperation+pact+with+AU/-/979180/1110238/-/4igp64/-/

2) Ivory Coast: Testing Ground For U.S.-Backed African Standby Force Stop NATO, January 23, 2011 https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2011/01/23/ivory-coast-testing-ground-for-u-s-backed-african-standby-force

3) Africa Review, February 18, 2011 4) Uganda: U.S., NATO Allies Prepare New Invasion Of Somalia Stop NATO, July 28, 2010 https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/07/29/uganda-u-s-nato-allies-prepare-new-invasion-of-somalia

5) Africa Review, February 18, 2011

6) North Atlantic Treaty Organization http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/news_61534.htm

7) North Atlantic Treaty Organization http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/topics_54617.htm

8) Ghana News Agency, November 21, 2008

9) North Atlantic Treaty Organization http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/topics_54617.htm

10) Royal Norwegian Embassy in Ethiopia, April 20, 2009

11) Royal Norwegian Embassy in Ethiopia, November 4, 2009

12) Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia, Finland, Georgia, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Russia in sometimes included.

13) NATO conference in Belgrade announced Beta News Agency, February 9, 2011 http://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics-article.php?yyyy=2011&mm=02&dd=09&nav_id=72629

14) KFOR’s Final Firefighting Exercise for Kosovo Security Force North Atlantic Treaty Organization Allied Command Operations February 17, 2011 http://www.aco.nato.int/page424203219.aspx

15) Push for NATO programme deemed unconstitutional Cyprus Mail, February 19, 2011 http://www.cyprus-mail.com/cyprus/push-nato-programme-deemed-unconstitutional/20110219

Categories: Uncategorized

Cyprus: U.S. To Dominate All Europe, Mediterranean Through NATO

March 3, 2011 3 comments

Stop NATO
March 3, 2011

Cyprus: U.S. To Dominate All Europe, Mediterranean Through NATO
Rick Rozoff

On February 24 a majority in the Cyprus parliament voted for the country to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Partnership for Peace program, a transitional mechanism employed to bring twelve Eastern European nations into the U.S.-dominated military bloc from 1999-2009: The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Albania and Croatia. Macedonia would have become a full member of the Alliance in 2009 along with the last two except for the lingering name dispute with Greece.

Cyprus is the only member of the 27-nation European Union that is not either in NATO or the Partnership for Peace (PfP), the only EU member that did not need to join NATO or be on its doorstep in order to be accepted, and the only European nation (excluding the microstates of Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City) that is free of NATO entanglements. Every other nation on the continent and island state in the Mediterranean Sea is a member of NATO or the PfP. (NATO still lists Russia as a member of the second and since last November’s NATO summit in Portugal it has been active again in the NATO-Russia Council.)

The vote broke down along party lines, with all 32 opposition parties’ members voting supporting the resolution and all 17 members of the ruling party, the left-wing Progressive Party of [the] Working People (AKEL), voting against it. Deputies from the right-wing Democratic Rally (DISY) – whose initiative it was – the centrist Democratic Party (DIKO) and European Party (EVROKO), the liberal United Democrats (EDI) and the Movement of Social Democrats (EDEK) closed ranks against the government of AKEL President Demetris Christofias in a move to, in the words of a Cypriot newspaper, “force the administration to apply for membership in Partnership for Peace.” [1]

Ahead of the vote, which AKEL members of parliament succeeded in postponing for a week, government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou stated, “Exercising foreign policy and taking foreign policy decisions is a safeguarded constitutional right of the executive.” [2]

Cyprus was split into northern ethnic Turkish and southern Greek sections after the Turkish military invasion of 1974, although only Turkey recognizes the northern entity. The Republic of Cyprus has a population of 800,000 and a unicameral parliament, the House of Representatives, and as there is no prime minister President Christofias is both head of state and head of government.

The administration accused DISY and its allies of violating the principle of the separation of powers in attempting to override the president’s prerogative to make foreign policy decisions, with the country’s ruling party denouncing the move as “unprecedented political blackmail.”

AKEL Central Committee member Aristos Damianou “said there is clear evidence of NATO’s involvement in the division of Cyprus and wondered why EDEK [ADEL’s coalition partner from 2008 until February of 2010], which chairs the committee on the Cyprus File – as the investigation into the 1974 coup and subsequent invasion is called – sides with DISY on the matter.” [3]

Damianou also leveled the charge that representatives of the opposition parties (the one Green Party member of parliament abstained on February 24) conspired behind the backs of their AKEL colleagues to introduce the motion.

When the proposal to join the NATO partnership program was passed in the legislature President Christofias announced he would veto the decision, and government spokesman Stefanou issued a written statement maintaining “that membership of the program is not in line with President Dimitris Christofias’ vow to achieve a peace deal with breakaway Turkish Cypriots that would demilitarize the island.” [4]

The day of the vote supporters of the Cyprus Peace Council, including minority Turkish, Armenian and Maronite Cypriots, and all 17 AKEL representatives demonstrated outside the parliament building with banners reading “No to the Partnership for Peace” and “No Cyprus in NATO, or NATO in Cyprus.” Former mayor of Famagusta (now in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus where NATO member Turkey maintains 30,000 troops) Yiannakis Skordis demanded Cyprus abjure any association with the “murderous organisation, at the hands of which Cyprus has suffered and continues to suffer.” [5]

The protesters delivered a petition for House President Marios Garoyian (of DIKO) which castigated the drive to drag Cyprus into “warmongering NATO” as an act of “treachery.”

It added: “We demand an immediate end to efforts to join the military camp of those who are responsible for the Cypriot tragedy. We demand respect for the deceased of the coup and the invasion; respect to the revolutionaries, respect to everything the refugees and enclaved have suffered; respect to our missing persons.” [6]

The local press at the time reported that the president would “take the decision to the supreme court as he believes Parliament’s decision violates the Constitution.” [7]

The parliamentary action of last month is the culmination of several years of a concerted campaign by DISY, NATO and the EU to incorporate the last truly neutral European nation into the Pentagon-NATO global military nexus.

Six years ago Canada’s General Raymond Henault (now retired), at the time chairman of the NATO Military Committee, said, in relation to “Cyprus’s strategic importance in the eastern Mediterranean,” that “NATO has a very open policy for countries that want to work with it and Cyprus could be one of those if it decided to do that.” [8]

In January of 2009 DISY intensified efforts to bring Cyprus into the PfP, winning support from EVROKO:

“Based on the argument that Cyprus is the only EU member that has not joined, DISY is trying to forge alliances with other parties that support its entry. Meanwhile, AKEL is adamant that entry to the PfP would not serve Cyprus’ interests, particularly while peace talks [for reunification of the island] are ongoing.” [9]

At the time AKEL leader Damianou itemized the country’s ruling party’s objections to a partnership with the world’s only military bloc, one which has waged open warfare from Southeastern Europe to South Asia:

“AKEL is opposed for three main reasons. First, we are now going through a period of negotiations for the settlement of the Cyprus problem, and demilitarisation is a basic parameter of this settlement.

“We would therefore be giving the wrong messages to the international community if at the same time we start negotiating entry into a military organisation.

“Second, we should also analyse international political developments, our capabilities as a small state and what role we could play in such an organisation. This body functions as a gateway to NATO, where Turkey plays a significant role.

“Thirdly, we should not forget the role which NATO played in Cyprus, in the events of 1974.”

He added: “Indeed, nine out of the ten new member-states that joined in the 2004 enlargement were granted EU membership on the precondition that they joined NATO. We did not have to do that as our interests are different and we seek a solution without armies.” [10]

Regarding the assertion that NATO accession is a precondition for EU membership – that is, that through control of the military bloc the U.S. effectively determines who enters the European Union – the defense minister of post-“Twitter Revolution” (2009) Moldova, Valeriu Marinuta, last week affirmed that “joining NATO is crucial to gaining European Union membership” and that “As a rule…countries join NATO first and then the European Union.” [11]

The AKEL leader also warned that “NATO and the Partnership for Peace participated in military missions that were not sanctioned by the United Nations, such as the war in Yugoslavia and the first stages of the Iraq war.

“As we are struggling for a solution based on international justice, we cannot join an organisation that infringes international rules.” [12]

All twelve new NATO members (some at the time still in the Partnership for Peace) – Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia – deployed troops to Iraq after the U.S. invasion of 2003 and all now have troops in Afghanistan serving under NATO command. Current Partnership for Peace affiliates Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Moldova and Ukraine also provided the U.S. with troops for Iraq and all those except for Moldova (for the time being) have troops in Afghanistan. Fellow PfP members Austria, Finland, Ireland, Montenegro (which became an independent nation in 2006), Sweden and Switzerland have also assigned troops to NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, a nominal amount in most cases but with Sweden supplying 500 soldiers and Finland 200. Georgia has 950 troops in the Afghan war theater and had 2,000 in Iraq in 2008, the third largest national contingent at the time until the U.S. flew them home for the five-day war with Russia in August of that year.

Two years ago AKEL also warned about the perils of PfP membership in regard to another war – NATO’s first, the 78-day bombing campaign against Yugoslavia in 1999 – recalling that “during the Kosovo crisis, Albania and Macedonia had used a mechanism provided in the PfP’s Framework Document, that calls partners to alert the organisation when it perceives a direct threat to its territorial integrity, political independence or security.” [13] That is, whatever NATO and the U.S. may say to the contrary, PfP members are de facto covered by NATO’s Article 5 which obligates all members to respond to a threat, real or contrived, against another member. Or partner.

A commentary in the Cypriot press two years ago framed the prospect of PfP membership this way:

“Call me an idealist but it does seem a little contradictory that an island which has been exploited for centuries due to its geographic location would still want to place itself in the firing line for any future wars in the region.

“Cyprus could easily become the Switzerland of the Middle East, given a peaceful solution to the Cy Prob [Cyprus Problem] and the complete demilitarisation of the island.” [14]

The earlier-cited government spokesman Stephanou has just demanded information from Britain about plans for deploying Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft to one of the two military bases the United Kingdom still retains in Cyprus, that at Akrotiri, for use against Libya. (The base and that at Dhekelia are referred to as a British Overseas Territory and Sovereign Base Areas of the United Kingdom. President Christofias has referred to the bases as a “colonial bloodstain”.)

On February 20, 2009 the EU’s European Parliament complemented the push by DISY in Cyprus to recruit the nation into the PfP by characterizing “the Cyprus problem as a major obstacle in EU-NATO relations” and “deploring” the fact that it continued to “badly impair the development of EU-NATO cooperation.” It “further called on the Cyprus government to join NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme.”

In the European Parliament’s first report on NATO, it bemoaned the fact “that only six member states of the EU are not NATO members. From those, only one, Cyprus, does not have bilateral ties with NATO through its PfP programme.”

AKEL-supported MEP [Member of the European Parliament] Adamos Adamou said the report was “interfering in the internal affairs of a sovereign country by asking it to join an organisation that it has no obligation to join.” [15]

AKEL General Secretary Andros Kyprianou, who replaced Demetris Christofias in that role after the latter was elected president in 2008, blasted the narrowly-approved European Parliament report – 293 votes for, 283 against and 60 abstentions – which “included a clause inserted by Cypriot MEP Yiannakis Matsis [member of DISY and at the time of the center-right European People’s Party] calling on the Cyprus government to join NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme.”

Kyprianou called the action of Matsis and fellow DISY MEPs “unacceptable and unethical” and described NATO as “an aggressive organisation that has scattered death and destruction in many corners of the world” and one which “continuously violates international law and the UN Charter.”

The AKEL leader also warned that PfP membership mandates submitting defense plans and budgets to all NATO members, including Turkey, adding: “If that doesn’t bother some people, they should say so openly to the Cypriot people.”

Regarding the European Parliament itself, Kyprianou stated: “It is unacceptable for a democratic country, operating on a completely democratic basis, to have its sovereignty compromised and have opinions imposed on it from abroad, wherever that opinion may come from.” [16]

President Christofias was equally firm in rejecting the demand to join the NATO program and “referred to decisions taken by former Presidents Tassos Papadopoulos and Glafcos Clerides not to apply for accession to PfP and said he wondered why his government is now being urged to apply for PfP membership.” [17]

In April of 2009 DISY, DIKO and EDEK deputies in the parliament mustered a majority to pass a resolution calling on the government to join the PfP.

Government spokesman Stefanou condemned the move, calling the PfP an “antechamber” to full NATO membership, and ruling party AKEL’s General Secretary Kyprianou said that any affiliation with NATO would irredeemably jeopardize the achievement of a just solution to the Cyprus problem, adding:

“We remain committed to our position for the demilitarization of the island. We insist on defending the cause of Cyprus based on the principles of international law and the United Nations Charter.

“We are adamant that we should not attach ourselves to the bandwagon of NATO and of the United States. We are resolute that nations must base their behavior on international law and not on the law of the ‘big fish eats the small fish.'” [18]

Joining the PfP would put pressure on Cyprus to honor its obligations to NATO – and through NATO to the U.S. – by supplying troops for the war in Afghanistan and providing support for NATO’s Operation Active Endeavor in the Mediterranean Sea and Operation Ocean Shield off the Horn of Africa. Had Cyprus become a member two years ago as DISY, NATO and the EU alike pushed for, it might at this moment be dragged into plans for military intervention against Libya.

It would be expected to accommodate ships and submarines assigned to the Mediterranean-based U.S. Sixth Fleet and American carrier and expeditionary strike groups (the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier visited Cyprus in 2006) crossing the sea from the Strait of Gibraltar to the Suez Canal for operations in the Horn of Africa and for the war in Afghanistan.

As a NATO partner, Cyprus will be unable to deny the Alliance and the U.S. the use and upgrading of military bases – infantry, air and naval – and will be employed for the U.S. and NATO interceptor missile system being developed in Europe, the Middle East and the South Caucasus, initially in relation to Aegis class American warships with Standard Missile-3 interceptors of the sort that have already been deployed in the Mediterranean.

Cyprus, south of Turkey and west of Syria in the Eastern Mediterranean, is the final link in the chain that allows NATO to control the entire sea. Every other European nation bordering or in the sea is a member of NATO or the PfP: Albania, Britain (through Gibraltar), Croatia, France, Italy, Greece, Slovenia, Spain and Turkey in NATO and Bosnia, Malta (which withdrew in 1996 and rejoined in 2008) and Montenegro in the PfP. Bosnia and Montenegro were given advanced NATO Individual Partnership Action Plans, Montenegro being granted one only two years after becoming independent. Both nations now have a Membership Action Plan, the final stage before full NATO accession.

All the African nations on the Mediterranean except for Libya are members of NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue partnership: Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. A new government in Libya, especially one installed after a U.S.-NATO military intervention, would be expected to join the Mediterranean Dialogue.

Israel is the major member of that program, leaving only Lebanon (under a five-year-long naval blockade enforced by NATO nations), Libya and Syria among Mediterranean littoral nations not members of NATO and its partnership programs. (NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen was in Israel last month where he discussed the deployment of NATO troops as part of a future Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, which means sending them to the Gaza Strip in the first place.)

Small and insular Cyprus is for the moment the last holdout in U.S. and NATO plans to consolidate control over Europe and the Mediterranean Basin.

1) Cyprus Mail, February 19, 2011
2) Ibid
3) Ibid
4) Associated Press, February 24, 2011
5) Cyprus Mail, February 25, 2011
6) Ibid
7) Famagusta Gazette, February 25, 2011
8) Kathimerini, December 5, 2005
9) Cyprus Mail, January 28, 2009
10) Ibid
11) Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, February 24, 2011
12) Cyprus Mail, January 28, 2009
13) Ibid
14) Haji Mike, From the sublime to the ridiculous
Cyprus Mail, February 21, 2009
15) Cyprus Mail, February 21, 2009
16) Ibid
17) Famagusta Gazette, February 23, 2009
18) Cyprus Mail, April 3, 2009

Categories: Uncategorized

U.S. And NATO Escalate World’s Deadliest War On Both Sides Of Afghan-Pakistani Border

Stop NATO
March 1, 2011

U.S. And NATO Escalate World’s Deadliest War On Both Sides Of Afghan-Pakistani Border
Rick Rozoff

The United States and its military allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization have entered the third month of war in Afghanistan this year, which President Barack Obama in December of 2009 announced as the year in which American and other foreign occupation forces would be reduced preparatory to their full withdrawal.

Within months of the U.S. head of state’s claim, the commander-in-chief had over 90,000 troops in the conquered country and currently there are 60,000 more from some fifty other nations serving in NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). The total number exceeds that of any foreign military force ever before stationed in Afghanistan. The presence of American and allied troops, beginning as it did on October 7, 2001, is the longest in the Asian nation’s history, with U.S. forces already in the country for several months longer than Soviet troops were stationed there from late 1979 until early 1989.

Since Obama’s pledge that U.S. and NATO troop strength would be reduced this year – not a firm deadline but an evasion, a self-serving lie designed to take the sting out of the announcement of increased troop deployments, one the international community, self-styled and genuine, chose to take at face value – the world’s only ongoing war of occupation has stretched into not only the longest armed conflict in Afghanistan’s history but also in that of the U.S.

In the same interim several new force contributors like Armenia, Bahrain, Colombia, Egypt, Japan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Montenegro, Mongolia, South Korea (which had withdrawn an earlier contingent in 2007) and Tonga were recruited to provide troops to serve under NATO’s Afghan command, to which the overwhelming majority of American troops are now also assigned, and to be initiated into 21st century warfare under the control of the West.

Last year marked the largest amount of U.S. and ISAF deaths in the war that is now in its eleventh calendar year, as well as the most Afghan government troop and police fatalities, the highest number of reported insurgent deaths and the most civilians slain in the nearly decade-long war. 712 foreign soldiers and almost 10,000 Afghans were killed in 2010.

To the east of Afghanistan, unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) missile attacks conducted by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency killed in the neighborhood of 1,000 people in Pakistan last year, the most in any year since the cowardly targeted assassinations and concomitant civilian “collateral damage” were begun in 2004 and almost half of the total dead for the entire period.

As last year wound down, bombing, strafing and other air attacks launched by the U.S. and NATO increased in intensity, with October registering the highest monthly number of air combat missions, over 1,000, of the war to date.

The Pentagon has ordered a record quantity of Predator, Reaper and other death-dealing drones for this year, beyond to the new “drawdown” date – 2014 – and for as far afterward as it chooses to continue and further escalate the war on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border.

On that score, the infinite plasticity of a final withdrawal date, U.S. Marine General James Mattis, the head of U.S. Central Command, stated last month that he was “militarily uncomfortable” with the 2014 deadline, [1] and Senator Joseph Lieberman said “it was unwise to set the beginning of any exit date.” [2]

In addition to unprecedented foreign troop numbers, air attacks and drone operations, head of U.S. Special Operations Command Admiral Eric Olson recently said of special forces operations, increasingly the ground combat emphasis for America’s counterinsurgency war in South Asia, that the demand for special operations forces in Afghanistan is “insatiable,” and:

“As we have essentially doubled our force over the last nine years [and] tripled our budget over the last nine years, we have quadrupled our overseas deployments over the last nine years.” [3]

U.S.-selected and -protected Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced last month that Washington intends to establish permanent military bases in his nation – a development that was evident to many almost a decade ago – and “The bases would enable US troops to remain in the area beyond the planned transfer of security responsibility from US and NATO troops to Afghan forces by end of 2014….” [4]

The military installations to be retained, added and expanded would include the Bagram, Kandahar and Shindand air bases in the north, south and west of the nation from which the Pentagon could conduct surveillance and combat operations not only in Afghanistan but throughout the region.

Afghans are not to be spared another decade – or generation or more – of Western military occupation and attacks of the sort that occurred on February 17 in the eastern province of Kunar.

A week after the event, an Afghan government investigation determined that NATO air strikes targeted civilians in a village in the province, killing over five dozen people including 50 women and children, among them 19 females from seven months to 18 years of age. 21 teenage boys and 15 elderly men were also slain. [5]

The head of the government delegation appointed to conduct the probe stated:

“After four days of discussions and interviews with tribal leaders, security officials and other civilians, we found that 65 civilians were killed by NATO missiles in the Ghazi Abad district of Kunar province.” [6]

In the week between the slaughter and the release of the report documenting its details, a NATO attack in the province of Nangarhar “hit a house, killing a couple and their four children,” according to a spokesman for the province’s governor. [7]

During the same period the U.S. was occupied in killing people on the Pakistani side of the border. Drone missile attacks were launched near Miranshah, the administrative headquarters of North Waziristan in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. A local security official told the news media that “three missiles were fired at a residential compound in Dattakhel Mohammedkhel,” resulting in five people being killed in an “attack which completely demolished [their] house.”

The same source added, “the identity of those killed could not be ascertained.”

Another local official described what has become the typical modus operandi of the murderous CIA missile strikes when he detailed that “two people were killed when a missile strike from another drone hit a vehicle proceeding towards the house that was targeted earlier.” [8]

The day before, February 20, the U.S. also attacked a village in South Waziristan, killing six people and wounding several others.

According to a Pakistani news source which placed the death toll for the other attack at eight, “The two attacks by the US drones in the Pakistani tribal areas were the first ones after the arrest of CIA spy Raymond Davis for killing two Pakistanis in Lahore.” [9]

Regarding the strike in South Waziristan, it was reported that the “identity of the slain people could not be ascertained, but local tribesmen claimed all of them were tribal people.”

And in reference to the attacks in North Waziristan:

“Villagers and official sources said 10 US spy planes were seen hovering over various villages in Mir Ali and Miramshah throughout the day on Monday [February 21]. According to villagers in Mir Ali, the drones fired four missiles and hit two rooms and a car parked inside [a] mud house.

“The villagers claimed all the victims were local tribespeople and had no affiliation with militants. They said the injured people were rushed to a nearby hospital in the town of Mir Ali, where doctors said the condition of some of them was critical. The tribesmen who pulled out bodies from the debris of the house said the bodies of the majority of the slain people were mutilated beyond recognition.”

According to a local tribesman, “The Americans don’t care for others and they will continue killing us.” [10]

American and NATO war deaths in Afghanistan are at 71 so far this year, before the spring fighting season has begun, but Afghan and Pakistani civilian deaths exceed those of Western belligerents.

Earlier last month NATO and Afghan government forces shelled a Pakistani military post in North Waziristan, killing a soldier and wounding seven more.

A local news source said some of the injured were in critical condition and that “Pakistani forces returned the fire with artillery and rocket launchers and targeted the Nato and Afghan forces’ positions across the border.”

“Soon after the shelling, Nato helicopters intruded into Pakistan airspace and kept flying for some time over the area….Some reports said Nato jet fighters also violated the Pakistani airspace in the border area….Later in the evening, five mortar shells fired by Nato forces landed in the Saidgi locality in Ghulam Khan Tehsil.” [11]

Two days later, February 4, NATO renewed the bombardment and “Shelling from across the Durand Line continued unabated as 22 more mortar shells fired by Nato and Afghan forces from Afghanistan’s territory fell in North Waziristan,” with shells landing in populated areas of the agency. [12]

The deadly attack by NATO against Pakistani military targets was not the first such incident and will not be the last. On September 30 of 2010 NATO helicopter gunships attacked a security post in the Upper Kurram Agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, killing three Pakistani soldiers and reducing the fort to rubble in the third violation of the nation’s airspace in a week.

Two fixed-wing NATO aircraft accompanied the helicopters, which launched two attacks over four hours apart. “According to local people, the dead and injured had suffered severe burn injuries.”

In a strike in the same agency three days before, “Nato claimed killing six insurgents and injuring eight others while local people contradicted the claim and said those killed were Muqbal tribesmen.” [13]

The following month NATO aircraft penetrated the province of Balochistan when “NATO warplanes and helicopter gunships entered up to 15 kilometers inside Pakistani airspace.” [14]

By November NATO attack helicopters had, in addition to conducting strikes in the tribal belt, “violated Pakistani airspace, defying the integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan, over half a dozen times in…northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and southwest Balochistan provinces….” [15]

Not only has the U.S. killed over 2,000 people with drone missile strikes in North and South Waziristan, but over the last five months NATO has slain several Pakistani military personnel, extending the war into a nation with a population of 170 million and nuclear weapons.

While most of the world’s attention is concentrated on events in North Africa, the West is steadily and inexorably intensifying the longest, largest and most lethal war on the planet.

1) Reuters, February 2, 2011
2) New York Times, February 6, 2011
3) U.S. Department of Defense, February 8, 2011
4) Deutsche Presse-Agentur, February 8, 2011
5) Deutsche Presse-Agentur, February 27, 2011
6) Ibid
7) Deutsche Presse-Agentur, February 21, 2011
8) RTT News, February 24, 2011
9) The News International, February 22, 2011
10) Ibid
11) The News International, February 3, 2011
12) The News International, February 6, 2011
13) DawnNews, October 6, 2010
14) Asian News International, October 19, 2010
15) Xinhua News Agency, November 28, 2010

Categories: Uncategorized

Audio/Text: NATO Becoming Global Security Force

March 1, 2011 1 comment

Stop NATO
March 1, 2011

Voice of Russia
February 28, 2011

Is NATO to become a global security organization?

Radio interview:
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http://english.ruvr.ru/radio_broadcast/25298789/46650107/index.html

See also:

Africa is the next NATO goal:
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http://english.ruvr.ru/2011/03/01/46720879.html

[Rough transcript]

NATO’s potential involvement in Libya has spurred more speculation on NATO’s ongoing enlargement. In this program we are discussing the issue with Rick Rozoff, US journalist covering NATO enlargement and analyst with the Canadian independent Center for Research on Globalization.

Last Friday NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen convened an emergency meeting of NATO’s main decision-making body, the North Atlantic Council. The Council met in Brussels to discuss how it should react to what is going on in Libya.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who chaired the meeting, said the alliance did not intend to intervene in Libya, that it has received no requests to do that, and that such an action would require a U.N. mandate.

That’s right, but however, earlier on Friday Anders Fogh Rasmussen attended a meeting of European Union defense ministers in Budapest, Hungary, and was quoted as saying: “What’s happening in Libya is of great concern to us. This crisis in our immediate neighborhood affects Libyan civilians and many people from NATO allies. Clearly this is a massive challenge.”

Besides, before the North Atlantic Council meeting began Friday afternoon, Spain said it will propose that NATO deploy radar-equipped surveillance aircraft off Libya’s coast to monitor the situation.

The Spanish Defense Minister told reporters that Spain was going to suggest that NATO deploy its ships off the North African country’s coast.

But NATO already has a naval force in the Mediterranean Sea, this force is known as Active Endeavor, it monitors shipping to protect it from terrorist activity.

Besides, Africa Review has recently run a story saying that the 53-nation African Union is preparing to sign a military partnership treaty with 28-nation strong NATO.

After the referendum in Sudan the African Union will get another member which makes it 54-nation strong.

Algeria, Egypt, Mauritania and Tunisia are already members of the NATO partnership program called the Mediterranean dialogue.

That makes one wonder if the NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, really looks to become global.

This is the question we addressed to Rick Rozoff, US journalist covering NATO enlargement and analyst with the Canadian independent Center for Research on Globalization:

This is talk currently about military intervention in Libya which can take a number of forms. I think it is important to recall that the chief military commander of European Command is also the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO. So currently, for example, US Admiral James Stavridis occupies both posts. But until Africa Command became an independent Command, the first new overseas US military command since the end of the Cold war, I believe the launching of Africa Command is a signal. It is also worth mentioning that recently the population of Africa was estimated to exceed 1 billion people, which makes it the second most populated in the world next to Asia.

My point was that the US European command launched Africa, it was very much in conjunction with NATO, including the fact that the European command and the NATO are run by the same person, so there is an organic connection between these two organizations. NATO became involved openly in Africa, in 2006. The African stand-by force is based on NATO’s response, and of course we had NATO first operation in Africa in 2005, when NATO airlifted over 30,000 African Union peacekeepers in the West of Sudan.

We know NATO actively involved in airlifting and sea lifting both troops and suppliers in Somalia. Starting last March, NATO airlifted several thousand Ugandan troops both in and out of Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. Until now NATO has conducted two operations, currently the name is “Ocean shield” operation, which has been extended till the end of next year. So we are seeing the extension of NATO from its Cold War traditional boundaries, between 1999 and 2009 we saw NATO’s expansion to include the countries of Eastern Europe.

There is also one major European country, excluding microstates like Vatican and Monaco, there is only one nation in Europe that is not either a member of NATO or engaged in a partnership program with NATO, and that is Cyprus. Its parliament avoided to bring the country into the NATO partnership for Peace program. Every single nation is either a member of NATO or engaged in a transition program in some sort. So it seems now that NATO is moving onto the next continent.

But such extension makes them less operational?

Currently there are 152 000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, a much larger figure than during the Soviet intervention. 140 000 are under the NATO’s International assistance force command, so you have a NATO army of 140 000 troops from 50 nations. When people are talking about NATO’s overextending itself, you know, it’s the world’s only military bloc, it’s one that increases its membership by 75% in 10 years, that has conducted operations on 4 continents, that has partners or members on 4 continents, five actually with Africa. And it is talking now about the signing of a partnership program or agreement treaty with 53, soon there will be 54 members of the African Union, that is a pretty substantial development.

A large number of members still do not facilitate decision-making?

Yes, that’s true. For example, Macedonia was not welcomed as a full NATO member 2 years ago because of the main dispute with Greece. However if we need to recall the invasion into Iraq in 2003, there is now more unity than there has ever been; nevertheless the NATO was unanimous, France being absent at that time, even Belgium and Luxembourg and Germany, three countries that supposedly opposed the war being present. Every single NATO member has troops in Afghanistan, every new NATO member and every NATO candidate (there is a partnership for Peace members) had troops in Iraq, it’s something like 33 nations.

The NATO training mission in Iraq has graduated hundreds if not thousands of officers, soldiers. It is worth looking at the NATO websites to see what they managed to do in Afghanistan. It is the longest continuous operation in history of the United States, and this is the longest operation in history of Afghanistan. I believe a few days ago it was the anniversary of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989. Afghanistan has not had foreign troops for as long as it currently has.

All the main nations remain involved, so do the Partnership for Peace nations: Armenia, Azerbajdjan, Georgia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia, Kazakhstan. It’s a part of global NATO expansion in the Asian-Pacific region, but they don’t have military partnerships under the country category with Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Japan. At the end of the day, if NATO or the United States were to pick up and leave Afghanistan tomorrow – highly unlikely – I think it is worth recalling about the US and Great Britain’s initial invasion in Afghanistan in October 2001. Over 50 000 US-NATO troops are transited in and out to Afghanistan through a base in Kyrgyzstan every month, which is an impressive figure. I think I have underestimated it, the figure should be larger than that. The personnel is still German.

Local reports from the Pentagon confirm that the US is going to deploy a military base in Pakistan. So you have a US-NATO military infrastructure in South-Asia that is really built for a long time. So you remember the recent comment by Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai stating that US is seeking permanent military bases in Afghanistan, and I would suspect these are going to be built into strategic airbases, near the Iranian border. They may follow the Iraqi model, at some point they may draw down the US-NATO troops in Afghanistan, but what’s going to remain? The Afghan army is trained by NATO trainers in Afghanistan, the Afghan officers are trained in NATO bases in Europe, so there is some discussion about NATO’s potential role in intervening in the ongoing and expanding crisis in North Africa.

Very important is Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, which states that there should be unanimous response of the entire alliance. The activation of this article accounts for 52 000 troops in Afghanistan. After the September 2001 attacks in the United States NATO invoked Article 5. There are actually 8 components to this commitment, Afghanistan is one of them. An operation called “Active Endeavour” in the Mediterranean Sea was launched by NATO which continues. It is a maritime surveillance also, and it may come into play right now with developments in Libya. The General-Secretary talked about NATO becoming an international security guarantor, there is a meeting on a new strategic concept adopted in London in October or September 2009, which laid out 70 different distinctly non-military pretexts to which NATO would respond, everything from energy security to climate change, to demographic transformation etc. So you have a self-appointed US dominated global military bloc now that states that it has the right to address and maybe to intervene with military forces for about 70 different reasons, none of which has anything to do with the military threat to NATO as a whole or any of its members individually. And there is no question who is the dominate partner of the alliance is – it is the United States. That’s why every single supreme commander in Europe is American. The United States doesn’t trust it to the Europeans. Serbia is developing an individual partnership plan with NATO. The fact is that 20-30 years ago in Europe there were movements about nuclear disarmament, hundreds and thousands in Europe took to the streets, the US still has many tactical nuclear weapons in Europe in NATO bases, but nobody says a word! Swedish and Finnish troops are in charge of 5 provinces in Northern Afghanistan for NATO international security assistance force, and the other day another Finnish soldier was killed, so you have Finland which was not engaged in operations since World War II, its troops killing and dying in Afghanistan under NATO command; you have Sweden which has not been in war for 200 years, with troops being killed, and killing Afghans and in return. I have a feeling that 20 or 30 years ago in the Cold War period surely, there would have been much more protests and opposition in Europe and in the North America than now. There seems to be the acceptance of the fact that the United States dominating the military bloc has the right to intervene worldwide for as long as it chooses and it is not accountable to anybody, and it is very frightening.

But then let’s imagine that the NATO is covering the whole of the globe – what’s next?

That’s a very interesting question! Condoleezza Rice in 2005 explained on what in January 2003 George W. Bush referred to be as the “axis of evil”, at that time being Iraq, Iran and North Korea. Iraq was taken off the list because we invaded it, and it was no longer a threat. The countries she referred to were: Belarus, Zimbabwe, North Korea, Iran, Cuba and Burma. Iran – of course, Belarus – they needed to find some villain in Europe since they overthrew President Slobodan Milosevic in Yugoslavia in 2000, and it is one of the key points. Zimbabwe stands for Africa, Cuba for both Americas. There was also discussion about NATO desire to build partnership with India and China, and of course we know that last November the NATO-Russia Council was revived and reactivated at the Lisbon Summit. I would say that the only part of the world so far comparatively untouched is Central America.

There has been talk of the last few years that the internal security forces from Columbia have been operating in Afghanistan. But there were reports that the Columbian soldiers were going to be deployed to Afghanistan not under the US operation but under the NATO International security assistance force. There is a small contingent of military personnel from Egypt already operating in Afghanistan, which means that there are troops in Afghanistan serving under NATO from all 6 inhabited continents. I would suggest the North Atlantic Treaty Organization look at the revision of its name. The 12 new members that have joined since 1999 do not border the Atlantic Ocean. So now the majority of the members now unlike the majority of the members in 1949 when the bloc was formed with 12 members, are not at the Atlantic Ocean. What we see is the expansion. And there is interest toward the Arctic Ocean. There was a meeting in February 2009 in Iceland, when the then Secretary-General of NATO recommended transformation, and major NATO leaders got together and talked about the strategy.

Thank you very much!

So to sum up what we’ve been discussing in this program, it really looks like NATO is bound to become a global security organization present in all six continents of our planet.

However, the question is who will be its potential enemy in that case? And what will a global NATO do if a war sparks off between its members?

Categories: Uncategorized