March 09, 2011

Buddha on the Battlefield

Barack Obama's decision to double down on the war in Afghanistan has its supporters and detractors, but that we are largely insulated from the war's realities is indisputable. Differing from the Vietnam era—and in spite of the glut of information new technologies have made possible—images of the war and detailed and open discussion of its consequences are scarce in the mainstream media. You don't hear our representatives even discussing it much or at all when it comes to stretched budgets. And since the Democrats took power, open opposition has dropped off, as many moderates and liberals are afraid of "hurting Obama."

I've discovered that many people are surprised when they learn that the U.S. has used phosphorous and cluster bombs in Afghanistan. We are preoccupied with other things, and the war is weakly reported. That we are poorly informed is understandable, but is it excusable?

This is something we'll continue to discuss in an effort to wake up to the consequences of our actions, particularly to the U.S.'s near-continuous engagement in wars. But for now (I'm traveling and in between places), here's a Counterpunch piece by Dr. Lawrence Rockwood: "American Buddhists Fail to Stand up to Islamophobia." He also discusses in some detail the actions of the Indian army's Tibetan contingent.

For Rockwood, it's not even so much about whether there is such a thing as a just war as it is about our recognizing that we Buddhists are no more immune to transgressions as anyone else.


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