Monthly Archives: February 2014

History Lesson on 100 years of War



one of my photos taken at the British War Museum in 2008

As the 100 year anniversary of the First World War approaches, the Guardian has a fascinating slideshow on “Britain’s 100 years of conflict.”  It takes a while to get through it, but it’s well worth viewing. Everyone will draw their own lessons from it, but here are some items that struck me:

–British forces had over 900,000 dead or missing in WWI as compared to 383,000 in WWII.

–Churchill famously said (in 1919) that he was “strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes.”

–The Brits sent troops to help the French against Vietnamese communists and nationalists in Indochina after WWII. “As fighting with Viet-Minh forces quickly escalated, Japanese prisoners were rearmed, placed under British command and compelled to join the conflict.”

–In the war to reclaim the Dutch East Indies (indonesia), “there were mutinies among British troops who were sickened by the ferocity of their Dutch allies. In February 1946, British and Indian troops threatened to turn on the Dutch if the slaughter of civilians continued.”

–We learn that 4 million people died in the Korean war but the entry on the 2003 Iraq war does not list total casualties. Maybe that’s because the Iraq war is not really over yet?

Question for British and American Catholics:

How does one apply the “just war” teaching if you are a citizen of an empire which is engaged in nearly a constant state of warfare throughout the globe?

Kill Anything That Moves



From Amazon:

Based on classified documents and first-person interviews, a startling history of the American war on Vietnamese civilians.

The American Empire Project
Winner of the Ridenhour Prize for Reportorial Distinction

Americans have long been taught that events such as the notorious My Lai massacre were isolated incidents in the Vietnam War, carried out by just a few “bad apples.” But as award-winning journalist and historian Nick Turse demonstrates in this groundbreaking investigation, violence against Vietnamese noncombatants was not at all exceptional during the conflict. Rather, it was pervasive and systematic, the predictable consequence of official orders to “kill anything that moves.”

Drawing on more than a decade of research into secret Pentagon archives and extensive interviews with American veterans and Vietnamese survivors, Turse reveals for the first time the workings of a military machine that resulted in millions of innocent civilians killed and wounded—what one soldier called “a My Lai a month.” Devastating and definitive, Kill Anything That Moves finally brings us face-to-face with the truth of a war that haunts America to this day.

Vietnam War Commemoration Office

Lies, lies, lies, lies, lies. This is a great article about the lies we are told about our country’s wars: Misremembering America’s Wars, 2003 – 2053: The Pentagon’s Latest Mission Accomplished Moment:

In 2012, the Pentagon kicked off a 13-year program to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, complete with a sprawling website that includes a “history and education” component. Billed as a “public service” provided by the Department of Defense, the United vietnam-war-commemoration-flagStates of America Vietnam War Commemoration site boasts of its “resources for teachers and students in the grades 7-12” and includes a selection of official government documents, all of them produced from 1943-1954; that is, only during the earliest stages of modern U.S. involvement in what was then called Indochina.

The Vietnam War Commemoration’s educational aspirations, however, extend beyond students. “The goal of the History and Education effort,” according to the site, “is to provide the American public with historically accurate materials and interactive experiences that will help Americans better understand and appreciate the service of our Vietnam War veterans and the history of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.” To that end, the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration offers an interactive historical timeline.

Not surprisingly, there were a few problems with the timeline.

Setting the record straight seems, however, to be the last intention of the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration.  When I called with my questions last August, the Commemoration’s M.J. Jadick said, “This is something you should be able to get an answer for.”  Yet for six months, government officials have failed to provide me with any answers about the creation of their timeline, about its seeming lack of adequate context, about entries that are at best insufficient and, at worst, dishonest, or just plain wrong.  And in that same period, none of the obvious errors and obfuscations I pointed out has been changed in any way.

Author of the article Nick Turse writes:

You don’t need cybernetic eye implants and immersive propaganda portals to alter history.  You don’t need a digital David Petraeus or a President Bush avatar to distract you from the truth.  You don’t need to wait decades to have disinformation beamed into your head.  You just need a constant stream of misleading information, half truths, and fictions to be promoted, pushed, and peddled until they are accepted as fact.

Welcome to 2053.  Mission accomplished.

Nick Turse is author of Kill Anything That Moves. Read the whole article here.

Voice of the Living Light

Blessed Hildegard of Bingen (1098 – 1179), also known as Saint Hildegard, and Sibyl of the Rhine, was a German writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, Benedictine abbess, visionary, and polymath.

“Angels, living light most glorious!
Beneath the Godhead in burning desire
in the darkness and mystery of creation
you look on the eye of your God
never taking your fill:
What glorious pleasures take shape within you!

HILDEGARD OF BINGEN, “O gloriosissimi”

Welcome, Doug!

We are excited to welcome a new blogger, Doug, to our site! Let us introduce you…

Doug Fuda was raised as a Catholic, but left the Church as a young man in the late sixties. He returned to the Faith nearly 40 years later, largely as a result of reading Catholic blogs and websites, particularly those which featured writers who condemned the unjust U.S. war on Iraq that began in 2003. Doug is a member of Come Home America and the Boston New Oxford Review Club. He lives in Roslindale, MA.

We are so excited that he got in touch with us and expressed interest in helping with our blog. Pray for us as we continue to combat militarism in the Church.

St. Valentine, Feb. 14

valentineantiqueThe origin of St. Valentine, and how many St. Valentines there were, remains a mystery. One legend is that he was a Roman martyred during the reign of Claudius during the 3rd century around 270 A.D. The Roman Empire needed soldiers to protect their ever-expanding territories. Claudius had decided that unmarried men made better soldiers, so he decreed that young men could not  marry, effectively putting a ban on marriage (one of the defining aspects of militarism: subjecting all interests to the interests of the military). Legend has it that Saint Valentine defied the Emperor’s command and clandestinely married off young couples, leading to his imprisonment and death.

Afghanistan: A Distant War


From Amazon:

Noted documentary photographer Robert Nickelsberg’s photographs help bring into focus the day-to-day consequences of war, poverty, oppression, and political turmoil in Afghanistan. Since the attack on the World Trade Center, Afghanistan has evolved from a country few people thought twice about to a place that evokes our deepest emotions. TIME magazine photographer Robert Nickelsberg has been publishing his images of this distant yet all too familiar country since 1988, when he accompanied a group of mujahideen across the border from Pakistan. This remarkable volume of photographs is accompanied by insightful texts from experts on Afghanistan and the Taliban. The images themselves are captioned with places, dates, and Nickelsberg’s own extensive commentary. Timely and important, the book serves as a reminder that Afghanistan and the rest of the world remain inextricably linked, no matter how much we long to distance ourselves from its painful realities.

St. Polyeuctus, Feb. 13

Saint Polyeuctus, martyred 259

Saint Polyeuctus, martyred in 259

Saint Polyeuctus of Melitene was a wealthy Roman army officer who was martyred at Melitene, Armenia, under Valerian. From

The saint was friend of Nearchos, a fellow-soldier and firm Christian, but Polyeuctus, though he led a virtuous life, remained a pagan.

When the persecution against Christians began, Nearchos said to Polyeuctus, “Friend, we shall soon be separated, for they will take me to torture, and you alas, will renounce your friendship with me.” Polyeuctus told him that he had seen Christ in a dream, Who took his soiled military cloak from him and dressed him in a radiant garment. “Now,” he said, “I am prepared to serve the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Enflamed with zeal, St Polyeuctus went to the city square, and tore up the edict of Decius which required everyone to worship idols. A few moments later, he met a procession carrying twelve idols through the streets of the city. He dashed the idols to the ground and trampled them underfoot.

His father-in-law, the magistrate Felix, who was responsible for enforcing the imperial edict, was horrified at what St Polyeuctus had done and declared that he had to die for this. “Go, bid farewell to your wife and children,” said Felix. Paulina came and tearfully entreated her husband to renounce Christ. His father-in-law Felix also wept, but St Polyeuctus remained steadfast in his resolve to suffer for Christ.

With joy he bent his head beneath the sword of the executioner and was baptized in his own blood.

St Polyeuctus was also venerated by St Acacius, Bishop of Meletine, a participant in the Third Ecumenical Council, and a great proponent of Orthodoxy. In the East, and also in the West, the holy Martyr Polyeuctus is venerated as a patron saint of vows and treaty agreements.

Many pieces of classical music, opera and plays have been inspired by him.

Polyeucte by Paul Dukas

Pierre Corneille, inspired by the account of Saint Polyeuctus’ martyrdom, used elements from the saint’s story in his tragedy Polyeucte (1642). In 1878 it was adapted into an opera by Charles Gounod, with the assistance of the librettist Jules Barbier. Other works based on the play include a ballet by Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1679), and the opera Poliuto (1838) by Donizetti (adapted with Scribe as Les martyrs). Paul Dukas composed his Polyeucte overture, which premiered in January 1892.

from Wikipedia

Above: Léon Escalais sings ” Source dèlicieuse” from Polyeucte by Charles Gounod
with piano recorded in 1906.


Auteur : Paul Dukas (1865-1935)
Titre : Polyeucte, ouverture pour la tragédie de Corneille (1891)
Interprètes : Roberto Benzi ; Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine
Album : The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
Année : 1987
Polyeucte, Overture to Corneille’s tragedy. Polyeucte is an overture composed by Paul Dukas in 1891 for the tragedy of the same name by Pierre Corneille. Dukas made his public debut with the first performance of this overture on January 23 1892 at the Concerts Lamoureux.