Come you masters of war You that build all the guns You that build the death planes You that build all the bombs You that hide behind walls You that hide behind desks I just want you to know I can see through your masks. You that never done nothin' But build to destroy You play with my world Like it's your little toy You put a gun in my hand And you hide from my eyes And you turn and run farther When the fast bullets fly. Like Judas of old You lie and deceive A world war can be won You want me to believe But I see through your eyes And I see through your brain Like I see through the water That runs down my drain. You fasten all the triggers For the others to fire Then you set back and watch When the death count gets higher You hide in your mansion' As young people's blood Flows out of their bodies And is buried in the mud. You've thrown the worst fear That can ever be hurled Fear to bring children Into the world For threatening my baby Unborn and unnamed You ain't worth the blood That runs in your veins. How much do I know To talk out of turn You might say that I'm young You might say I'm unlearned But there's one thing I know Though I'm younger than you That even Jesus would never Forgive what you do. Let me ask you one question Is your money that good Will it buy you forgiveness Do you think that it could I think you will find When your death takes its toll All the money you made Will never buy back your soul. And I hope that you die And your death'll come soon I will follow your casket In the pale afternoon And I'll watch while you're lowered Down to your deathbed And I'll stand over your grave 'Til I'm sure that you're dead.------- Bob Dylan 1963
An Afghan child looks toward the site of a suicide bombing that occurred near a NATO convoy in Kabul, Afghanistan's capital, last February.For the United States, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will be over soon. We will leave behind, after our defeats, wreckage and death, the contagion of violence and hatred, unending grief, and millions of children who were brutalized and robbed of their childhood. Americans who did not suffer will forget. People maimed physically or psychologically by the violence, especially the Iraqi and Afghan children, will never escape. Time and memory will play their usual tricks. Those who endured war will begin to wonder, years from now, what was real and what was not. And those who did not taste of war’s noxious poison will stop wondering at all.
I sat last Thursday afternoon in a small conference room at the University of Massachusetts Boston with three U.S. combat veterans—two from the war in Iraq, one from the war in Vietnam—along with a Somali who grew up amid the vicious fighting in Mogadishu. All are poets or novelists. They were there to attend a two-week writers workshop sponsored by the William Joiner Institute for the Study of War and Social Consequences. It is their voices and those of their comrades that have to be heeded now, and heeded in the future, if we are to curb our appetite for empire and lust for industrial violence. The truth about war comes out, but always too late. And by the time the drums begin beating, the flags waving and the politicians and press hyperventilating as they shout out their nationalist cant, once again we have forgotten what we learned, as if the debacles of the past had no bearing on the debacles of the future.
Joshua Morgan Folmar, 29, a bearded Marine Corps veteran from Alabama who participated in 200 combat patrols in Iraq, sat next to me. He handed me his poem “Contemplating the Cotard Delusion on the Downeaster to Boston.” It begins:
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