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    Slaughterhouse-Five and the War in Afghanistan 

          Without consulting Congress or the American public, President Obama played his favorite game and quietly backed out on his word to scale-down U.S combat missions in Afghanistan.  Last Friday, Obama signed a classified order which extends the role of U.S troops fighting obscure enemies and increases the bombing and drone campaign in America’s longest war.  This comes at a time when a new report from the human rights group Reprieve finds that U.S drones strikes kill twenty-eight unidentified people for every intended target.  The grave inaccuracy of these “targeted strikes,” – championed by the current administration and military – are part of the reason why terrorists attacks are increasingly common in foreign lands occupied by the United States and serve to generate severe distrust and hatred for Americans here and abroad.  That the United States is choosing to increase such attacks speaks to the incompetence of our government and its lack of imagination when it comes to devising a path toward peace in the Middle East. 

         Such depressing subjects are often best dealt with by fiction writers who make a parody of those men and women who are so fearful of others and utterly arrogant that they feel entitled to destroy the world in order to make it safer for themselves (which doesn’t work anyway).  Along with Catch-22, Slaughterhouse-Five is a terrific novel which speaks the insanity of war and the power structure, and is a great book to read in this day in age.  One of my favorite parts of Slaughterhouse-Five is when Billy Pilgrim watches a World War II war movie, but only it’s playing backwards.  Vonnegut writes:

          American planes, full of holes and wounded men and corpses took off backwards from an airfield in England.  Over France, a few German fighter planes flew at them backwards, sucked the bullets and shell fragments from some of the planes and crewmen.  They did the same for wrecked American bombers on the ground, and those planes flew up backs to join the formation… 

    More of the excerpt is feature in the slideshow below (you may need to right-click in order to view the full image).

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