Letter: The hypocrisy of war crimes

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Editor of the Reformer,

A couple of decades ago, I wrote a column decrying the metamorphosis within the crime community, wherein the rise of youth gangs and the inherent recklessness of youth had changed crime from what was once called Organized Crime into Disorganized Crime. When crime was organized, they catered to basic human vices: gambling, alcohol and prostitution. Certainly there was violence but it was intramural with very little collateral damage. As crime became more disorganized, collateral damage has become the rule rather than the exception.

And so it has been with war. Wars used to be waged between armies, and civilians were mainly excluded other than capture and serving differing rulers. Over the millennia, warfare became increasingly violent, but, again, civilians were mainly excluded.

World War II changed all that. The Nazis carried out a planned extermination of Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals and other "undesirables." The Luftwaffe bombed British civilians endlessly. Britain firebombed Dresden; we firebombed Tokyo; and ultimately we dropped A-bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, slaughtering hundreds of thousands of innocents.

I bring this up in view of our fearless leader's threat to attack Iranian cultural assets. The world became up in arms at the thought of this. Apparently destroying cultural centers is against international law and is considered to be a war crime.

So that whole concept blew my mind. Not that I favor destroying these things and places. Far from it. On the other hand, although these places are part of human history, we have shown time after time that we don't give a damn about history anyhow. But really! It's OK to incinerate millions of human beings but don't touch the relics. Really?

And if the Western World, who basically made up the rules of war, are so damned concerned about cultural items, relics, etc., why the hell don't they return all the ones that they stole from these countries in the first place.

Bob Fagelson

Brattleboro, Jan. 8

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