Sorry, sorry, sorry

The political meaning of "collateral damage" repentance

by Ken Sehested

We kill and bomb
Murder and maim
Target and terrorize mostly
      (for high-tech armies)
from great distance
the better not to see actual faces
or severed limbs, or intestines oozing through
holes where belly buttons used to testify
to being a mother-born child

But then we apologize
           So sorry
                Deeply regret
                        Such a tragedy!
                              Sorry, sorry, sorry

We do everything we can to limit civilian casualties
“This isn’t Sunday school”
      (one politician’s actual words)
Didn’t have those children in our sights
Impossible to see, at 10,000 feet,
      whether Kalashnakovs are present
Smart bombs aren’t flawless
Flawed intelligence
      (as if a test score were at stake)
Military necessity
Rules of engagement need refining
S**t happens
We gave them advance warning
War is hell

The unintended consequences and inevitable
eventualities in hostile force-reduction and
counter-insurgency strategic operations
      (See s**t happens)
Freedom isn’t free
Do unto others before they do unto you
Asymmetrical warfare
      (“Why don’t they come out and fight like men!”)
No independent verification of claims of civilian massacre
      (aka, no one left standing)
“This is no My Lai” (Vietnam, where as many as 504—
      the Pentagon says only 347—unarmed women,

      children and old men were killed by U.S. troops, no
      weapons recovered, for which one soldier was
      convicted, spending 4 months in prison.) 

We fight them there so we don’t have to fight them here
      (which is why the U.S. needs 1,000 or so military
      bases outside its borders, dozens with golf courses)

              Won’t happen again, unless it does, then
                                    Sorry, Sorry, Sorry

Video, and sentiments, at the top of the hour
      They left us no option
            Forced into this corner
                  Them or us
                        Hearings to be convened
                              We’ll get to the bottom of this
We need to wait ’til all the facts are in

But only eyes, no heads, will roll:
      foreign-born blood being cheap as it is
If war is the answer
      the question must be really stupid

Written after hearing one too many public officials rationalize “collateral damage”against innocent victims of military strikes.

©Ken Sehested @ From In the Land of the Willing: Litanies, Prayers, Poems, and Benedictions.