In 2007, I spent a week in Croatia, the most landmine-saturated country in the world, as I was told. Though my stay was unexplosive, I witnessed multiple fields that were still in the process of being cleared of munitions from the Balkan conflicts.
The contrast of serene pastures and maiming death just under their soil was rather haunting.
Capturing this feeling on film, Brett Van Ort shares “Minescape” a gorgeous, horrifying gallery of photographs centering on landmines and the beautiful landscapes they pollute.
Let me begin a difficult Veteran's Day Post by thanking any individual veterans or families who may read this for undergoing difficulty in support of national defense. Though I dissent strongly with America's military philosophy and culture, I do not forget the individual men and women who frequently put themselves in harm's way.
I've been following the trial of Sgt. Calvin Gibbs and his "Kill Team" ever since the story broke some time ago.
Gibbs was convicted of the murder and mutilation of Afghan civilians during a tour of duty with the 5th Stryker Brigade – a platoon described as "out of control" by prosecutors. The evidence bears that description out, with widespread drug use, abuse of Afghan remains, and suppression of whistle-blowers.
Taking the stand in his own defense, Gibbs pleaded that in many cases, after he murdered a civilian and staged their corpse, he cut off their fingers as trophies. Why? In his own words he was "disassociated." "It was like keeping the antlers off a deer you'd shoot."
War creates killers, there's no arguing that. I'm sure that we all can relate stories from family members or friends who have seen combat. But sometimes the violence exceeds even the standards of battlefield ethics. I've heard descriptions many times of sociopathy in war, whether in the Ardennes, Mai Lai, or Baghdad. The pressures of combat encourages the abandonment of social norms and ethics. Even good men do terrible things.
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