Christmastime and North Korea

December 31th, 2017

The following letter was printed in the Capital Times (Madison WI) yesterday. A similar  letter from me has been posted in the Chicago Tribune, dated January 1st, 2018. I am displaying the letter to the Tribune immediately below the letter to the Capital times. Pick one of them, and then try to be festive.

To the Capital Times:

“Dear Editor: I have been spending time over this holiday reading about the prospect of war between the United States and North Korea. Needless to say, I am not feeling the joy and peace that should come with this season.

It is fascinating to me how numb we have become to violence. The U.S. is currently fighting in several countries around the world, and it appears that we are edging closer to another war, this time in East Asia. In our current wars we have grown accustomed to the idea of “collateral damage.” We don’t even blink when civilians are killed by bombs or drones. However, with the slaughter of those innocent and apparently expendable people, we are only talking in terms of hundreds or maybe thousands of casualties. A war with North Korea would certainly cause tens of thousands of deaths, and possibly millions of fatalities. Millions. I get the impression from reading the news that somehow that number of deaths is acceptable (as long as they aren’t Americans). We’ve come a long way.”


To the Chicago Tribune:

“I have been reading the news regarding the prospects of war between the United States and North Korea. It strikes me that since 9/11 we, as Americans, have become increasingly numb to the tragedy of war. First, we invaded Afghanistan. Then we invaded Iraq. Now U.S. forces are fighting in several countries simultaneously. For most people these wars are just background noise. Few people actually pay any attention to them, unless they or a loved one are actively fighting overseas.

We have become used to the idea of “collateral damage.” It doesn’t seem to bother us if civilians in faraway countries are killed by our bombs or drones. The media seldom even report those deaths. We are not shocked when hundreds or even thousands of innocent (and apparently expendable) people die in our wars. Now, we are edging toward a new war, this time in East Asia. If we fight against North Korea, it will surely cause tens of thousands of casualties. It might even cause a million people to die. A million people.

I can’t even conceive of the slaughter of a million people, much less justify it. How can we go to war if we know that Seoul may be incinerated? Are we willing to protect Chicago by offering up Tokyo? If we are somehow okay with a million deaths, then we have come a long, long way on a very dark road.”

Francis Pauc


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