Dennis Campbell
May 12, 2004
Gen. Sherman never said war is heck
By Dennis Campbell

As he relentlessly marched through Georgia during the Civil War, Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman is famously said to have proclaimed, "War is hell."

Notice that he did not say, "War is heck."

Terrible, horrible, incomprehensibly evil things happen in war. People are treated horrendously, maimed, tortured, and subjected to the vilest of atrocities.

What happened at the Abu Ghraib prison complex near Baghdad did not reach that level.

Yes, what American prison guards in Iraq did to their Iraqi charges was wrong and they should be punished, and they will be unlike what would have happened if it had been Arabs abusing Americans, in which case they would have been rewarded by their government and treated as heroes by their fellow Muslims.

There still is a difference between Americans and most of the rest of the world. When we read of such things we are indignant and demand accountability. When an American general learned of the situation, he immediately began an investigation.

But to hear publicity-loving Democrats, whose reason to live seems to have been reduced to a visceral hatred of President George W. Bush, vent their hysterical screechings one would think this affair was comparable to what the Japanese did to the Chinese in 1937.

Surely, you know that in the infamous "Rape of Nanking" the Japanese killed and brutalized nearly 350,000 Chinese. That was hell. Keeping prisoners naked in their cells is not.

While putting down a Jewish revolt, the Romans crucified Jews by the hundreds of thousands. That was hell. Humiliating Iraqi prisoners, while deplorable, is not.

What is interesting about this spectacle is who is leading the histrionics. There is Sen. Teddy Kennedy of Massachusetts, who is best known for leaving Mary Jo Kopechne to die a slow death at the bottom of the Willamette River in Chappaquiddick in 1969.

And there is Sen. John Kerry, also of Massachusetts, who admitted to participating in war atrocities during his four months of active duty in the Vietnam War.

Interestingly, while they clamor for the head of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, neither Kennedy nor Kerry has had to suffer any consequences for their own actions.

There was a time when Americans, unspoiled by high-tech wars that result in the loss of hundreds of American lives, understood clearly that war is hell.

When 17 Americans were killed in Iraq in a single day, it was termed the war's "deadliest day." When U.S. soldiers assaulted Omaha Beach in Normandy toward the end of World War II, they took 3,000 casualties during the first wave.

When U.S. casualties in Iraq climbed to 134 in April, it was termed the war's "deadliest month." In the three months it took American forces to take Okinawa from the Japanese, they suffered more than 72,000 casualties, including 12,000 deaths.

The Iraqi prison scandal is just that a scandal. It pales next to the years-long imprisonment of American servicemen in Vietnam, which included torture of enormous magnitude, sometimes daily.

Keep this situation in perspective: These so-called "atrocities" will not make Muslims hate us more. Punishing the wrongdoers will not make them hate us less.

The spectacle of gleeful Democrats seeking to use the inexcusable actions of some American service personnel to bring down an administration during war is sickening. Are they so bereft of simple common sense as not to realize we are in a fight for our very survival as a nation?

As our constitutional republic form of government crumbles around us, now is not the time for grandstanding politicians to harvest political capital from the misdeeds of the few, while soiling the reputations of the many.

It is time for Democrats to embrace an old concept, one they seem to have abandoned as their party has steadily slipped into a moral and ethical dung heap: Refrain from giving aid and comfort to the enemy and stand by your country.

They can do that even as they condemn the actions of those military miscreants, just as our president and those in his administration have done.

Then, they need to get this into their heads: Gen. Sherman did not say that war is heck. He said war is hell, and when there is war, bad things happen, sometimes done by those on the good side.

And surely even a Democrat can concede the moral superiority of a people who rise up in anger at prisoner abuse over those who dance in the streets at the sight of 3,000 innocent civilians dying in New York.

© Dennis Campbell

 

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