The Fury of Aerial Bombardment

The Fury of Aerial Bombardment

You would think the fury of aerial bombardment
Would rouse God to relent; the infinite spaces
Are still silent. He looks on shock-pried faces.
History, even, does not know what is meant.
You would feel that after so many centuries
God would give man to repent; yet he can kill
As Cain could, but with multitudinous will,
No farther advanced than in his ancient furies.
Was man made stupid to see his own stupidity?
Is God by definition indifferent, beyond us all?
Is the eternal truth man’s fighting soul
Wherein the Beast ravens in its own avidity?
Of Van Wettering I speak, and Averill,
Names on a list, whose faces I do not recall
But they are gone to early death, who late in school
Distinguished the belt feed lever from the belt holding pawl.

Richard Eberhart in Understanding Poetry

I know, I know, I promised myself not to read the news anymore, to take some time to find some sanity in my own life, but it’s difficult to ignore the news, no matter how depressing it is.

Although I’ll admit that I think the worst news is the possible use of smallpox as a weapon by terrorists(UN’s smallpox terror alert), I am almost as worried about the continued bombing in Afghanistan, particularly the bombing of population centers. Netscape’s top story, US Jets Hit Hard Near Taliban Front, though it has a decidedly American slant, presents the kind of details that may move even Americans to question the wisdom of long-term bombing and certainly provides reason why the Islamic world is so outraged.

Despite our precision bombing, bombs continue to crash helter skelter into residential neighborhoods killing innocent Afghans. One bomb crashed into a residential neighborhood, destroying two houses. An Associated Press reporter saw the bodies of seven dead at the scene and later at a city hospital. All were said to be related.

At a nearby hospital, Dr. Izetullah, who like many Afghans uses only one name, wept as he pulled back bloodstained sheets to show the bodies of the four children – all boys, ages 8 to 13. Izetullah said 13 dead had been brought to the hospital.

If the comments of Haziz Ullah are typical, the reaction does not bode well for Americaâs attempts to create a coalition government after it eviscerates the Taliban leadership.”This pilot was like he was blind,” neighbor Haziz Ullah said. “There are no military bases here – only innocent people.” The neighborhood holds no known Taliban military sites, although a Taliban army garrison and other installations are several miles away.

So, what does precision bombing mean? Certainly several miles would seem imprecise, at least for a smart bomb like the ones we are dropping.Thankfully, as the story points out, President Bush said the United States had been “as careful as we possibly could” to avoid killing civilians. Surely that oft-repeated phrase will comfort the parents of those who died and defuse the growing anger in the Islamic world.