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Collateral Damage

The world watched the latest scene of Yugoslavian horror unfold on the nightly news. Scores of Albanaian Kosovar Muslims had fled from the brutal Serbs of Slobodan Milosevic. Then their protectors, American jet bombers, had come to the Kosovars’ rescue. Now the world saw the charred bodies of the “rescue” women, children, and seniors, victims of the latest NATO bombs gone astray. Perhaps the obliteration of a nation with a population half that of the state of Texas by the mightiest military machine in the history of the world will be completed by the time this column is read. Bu the shame of America before the God of history will not. It shall not be remedied until an old, barbarous, anti-Christian way of thinking is purged forever from an America who seems not to understand that our judgment does not loom around the corner. It is a work already in progress. Indeed, there is a sort of terrible reciprocity in the eternal councils of Almighty God. Is it happenstance that as U.S. bombers laid waste to tiny Serbia, the most ferocious tornadoes ever recorded in history left entire American communities in rubble, including one next to the country’s largest military air base? Is it coincidence that a nation which bombs civilian trains, buses, vehicle caravans, apartment buildings, embassies, and five countries on three continents in seven months sees its own children gunned down in cold blood in one school after another? But we “deeply regret the loss of innocent human life.” Still, rather than relent or rethink our strategy, we “intensify the bombings.” Soon, we regret the loss of more innocent human life. But “collateral damage”—the killing and maiming of women and children, among others, and the destruction of their property—“is an unavoidable part of war.” General Robert E. Lee of Virginia thought not. Even as rampaging Federal armies laid waste to the homes, treasure, and lives of Southern civilians during the War Between the States, Lee issued the following order as he twice invaded the North: “It must be remembered that we make war only upon armed men, and we can not take vengeance for the wrongs our people have suffered without . . . offending against Him to whom vengeance belongeth . . . ” Some of Lee’s critics in the South blamed his refusal to war on the Northern populace for the Confederacy’s defeat. Brutality, as it will do, came more easily for the U.S. government the next time, against the American Indians, as the legacy of “Manifest Destiny” was blackened forever on fields of horror like the “Battle” of the Washita, Sand Creek, and Wounded Knee. A later generation of American leaders unleashed the greatest single slaughters of the modern age at Dresden, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki—against the aged and infirmed, the women and the children, of Germany and Japan.