ISSN 2330-717X

Collateral Damage – OpEd

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In July, 2006, Israel bombed Lebanon.  The news released fury and anguish in me that was beyond words.  I visualized innocent, helpless babies swimming in their blood as bombs blasted away their lives. I struggled to grasp the needless, wanton destruction of lives, homes, futures, and dreams.  Why? Why had the decision been made to do this? Who made it?   Who benefited?  These questions exploded in my mind.  I was driven to put on canvas what I couldn’t write on paper.

What appeared was a larger-than-life furious woman holding a dead body as she stands knee deep in mangled, blood covered corpses killed by bombs dropped blindly, mindlessly from flying killers 35,000 ft.  from reality.  

The disconnect is obvious between indifferent, cold military power and helpless, targeted innocent flesh below.  We are reminded that President Eisenhour warned January 17, 1961 that the military-industrial complex was a danger that had to be kept in check or we would be bound up in endless wars concocted, not  for glory and good, freedom and democracy, but for profit.  His warnings were ignored and now we can see bloated bank accounts of a war machine headed by CEO’s coached and prodded by the Pentagon, the Congress, self-appointed pundits, legions of lobbyists and the media which explains and justifies.  The purveyors of weapons of war are well-known and include Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, General Atomics, and Raytheon.

I’m happy to learn that there is finally an effort to investigate and hold accountable those involved in the war machine.  Such an effort has been taken on by Ban Killer Drones, as well as Kathy Kelly, board president of World BEYOND War and founding member of Voices in the Wilderness, Nick Mottern, founder of BanKillerDrones, and Brad Wolf, founder of Peace Action Network, Lancaster, PA.  They, among others, are planning the Merchants of Death War Crimes Tribunal to be held in November, 2023.   According to Brad Wolf, “It is inspired by Nuremberg trials of German industrialists at the end of World War II, and especially by Bertrand Russell’s International War Crimes Tribunal, addressing U.S. Atrocities committed during the Viet Nam War.” 

Brad Wolf  explains that  “Armed conflicts generate enormous profits for corporate weapons manufacturers.  These corporate entities knowingly produce and sell products which maim and kill not only combatants, but noncombatants (civilians) as well.  The officials of these corporations should be held criminally and morally responsible for aiding and abetting the leaders of nation-states in the commission of War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity.” We are pleased that notable experts to testify and serve on the Tribunal include Noam Chomsky, Richard Falk, Mairead Maguire, Ajamu Baraka, Medea Benjamin, Ann Wright and John Pilger.  In addition, it is planned that Afghan, Yemeni, Iraqi, and Somali survivors of war will serve as witnesses and Tribunal members.  

I am very honored that my painting, Collateral Damage, has been chosen as the logo for the Merchants of Death War Crimes Tribunal. The painting’s image of the powerful mother represents the power of  the people’s Tribunal, fighting  for the  peace and justice we  demand.

Sallie Latch is an artist and author whose paintings have illustrated realities faced by victims of war throughout the world.  [email protected]

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