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tv   History of U.S. Wars in Five Disabled Veterans  CSPAN  December 23, 2017 10:10am-11:24am EST

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next on american history tv from , the new york academy of medicine, professor kinder explorers the history of u.s. wars through the eyes of five disabled veterans. and argues that the nation's struggles -- the nation's struggles to meet the needs of fallen veterans. this 75 minute talk includes graphic images of wounded veterans. >> for this evening, we are happy to welcome john kinder to talk about the history of american war, this is part of a series of lectures and events we have had throughout the year, legacies of war, medical innovations and impacts, which commemorate the entry into world war i for the talks, dr. kinder will look at the way hollywood has shied away from graphic war wounds and how military
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downplayed wars consumption of life and limb in wars. moving from the margins to the center of the american war story in this talk, kinder will look , at the history of american war through the eyes of five disabled veterans. what emerges is a portrait of a nation struggling and often failing to mitigate the human cost of military conflict. we welcome dr. kinder from oklahoma state university where he is associate professor of history and american studies. "paying withhor of their bodies," which came out two years ago. and he is currently completing a zooson the history of thi in world war ii. please welcome professor john kinder. [applause] professor kinder: thank you.
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let me just arrange this real quick. first off, i want to thank the new york academy of medicine for inviting me to speak with you this evening. this is a real pleasure and i look forward to the day i'm able to come back here, hopefully soon as a researcher. to use this amazing collection. i want to point out from the start that i am not a physician. i am a historian and a cultural historian at that. which means when it comes to war, i am less interested in medical advancement, the nuts and bolts of putting people back together, then in how we make sense of war's trauma.
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the extent to which we grapple with what has happens as we head into battle and then come home. so that is what i am about. with that in mind, i thought we might begin today with looking at hollywood, which i consider ground zero. it is 1949, four years after the end of world war ii, and the sands of iwo jima has just reached theaters. anyone here see the film? ok, good. for those who have not seen it, it stars john wayne in his most iconic role, john stryker. and he is this amazing character. marine, parte's father figure and part dictator. he is tasked with leading the young platoon in a series of
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assaults culminating in an attack on the japanese stronghold in iwo jima. and it is an interesting film. at the time it was released, critics praised it for the realism of the onscreen combat. in fact, the u.s. marine corps participated in making the film with hollywood. today however, the film is best known for its ending. for those who have not seen it, i apologize because i am about to spoil it. nearing the top of the mountain, john stryker pauses to have a cigarette and is shot through the chest. it happens so quickly, you do not really know what is happening. one moment all of them are there , they are celebrating and then the unthinkable has happened. john wayne is dead. how could this be? and despite the ending, the film was catnip for the generation
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raised in the afterglow of world war ii. even today, it is easy to understand why. why the film was so appealing. "sands of iwo jima" makes war seem heroic and honorable. it seems like a fast-track to manhood for those brave enough to follow in john wayne's footsteps. plus, this is what i want to hammer home, the movie makes john wayne's final seconds the p are virtually -- appear virtually pain-free. the death is instantaneous. corpse is kept out of the view of the camera. the young platoon crowds around him, so you really do not see anything. perhaps john stryker's organs were ripped apart as the bullet tumbled through his chest.
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perhaps his back exploded in a volcano of blood and bone. perhaps as a tumbled backwards, grouping -- john wayne evacuated his bowels as so many others do the last moments of life. but we will never know. prior to the 1960's, hollywood shied away from showing those sorts of details. those fated to die did so quickly with little more than a little squirt of chocolate syrup to signify that they had been hit, chocolate syrup as fake blood. raised on a diet of john wayne films, you would never know that enemy gunfire destroyed spines, faces, brains, and genitals. this sanitization of wartime violence can be chalked up by the hollywood code which
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restricted bodily trauma. you were not going to see it in hollywood. but i think john stryker's is symptomatice of a larger trend in american culture. that is an unwillingness to a acknowledge what happens to bodies in military conflict. we just do not think about it, we just do not see it. when it comes to bodily trauma, many americans live in a world of euphemism. or let's face it willful , ignorance. tv journalists rarely speak about severed limbs. instead, we are more likely to hear about losses and sacrifices and tragedies, as if the whole point of war were not to out .njured the other side visit the world war ii memorial
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on the national mall in washington dc and he would be hard-pressed to discover what actually happened to america's 400,000 plus war dead. on the virtual tour, no less than tom hanks assures us that they gave their lives for freedom. we have that. do not know what happened, but we are told that their deaths meant something. there is no conspiracy. there is no larger force acting to keep this information away. as comforting as that thought might seem to some of us, yes in , wartime the federal government has maintained a long tradition of censoring the worst of the slaughter in order to maintain civilian morale. just think about world war ii. one or two was a conflict in which 50 million people were killed, and yet americans at home did not begin to see photos
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of g.i. corpses until 1943. even these were free of all signs of bodily mutilation. they were basically men who had been killed and were laying down in the sand. were absent, you could not see them. today technology has rendered most forms of censorship updated. in 2009, a ban was lifted. as we will see, there are exceptions to all of this, to this pattern of emptiness and absence. some americans have one great acclaim, even high political office by sharing intimate details of their physical and mental trauma. on the whole, however, american culture has long engaged in what i think of as self-censorship. many of us do not think about wartime suffering. and there are lots of reasons why.
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thinking about wartime suffering and injuries is unpleasant. doing so would politicize the suffering. supporting the troops, we are told means focusing on the , positive. focusing on the good things. and because, this is my main theory, we have been trained not to care. war, for the vast majority of americans, has been and continues to be out of sight, out of mind. i want to use our time together tonight to take a brief tour of the history of american war. our guidepost will be five u.s. of veterans, some famous and others forgotten whose , bodies were permanently altered in wartime. what emerges is a portrait of a nation struggling and failing to come to terms with the human cost of military conflict. what you is is a portrait --
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emerges is a portrait of war that looks quite different from what you would see in a holiday movie starring somebody like -- hollywood movie starring someone like john wayne. that is what i want to get a sense of tonight. so, we will start in the depths of the u.s.'s bloodiest conflict, that is the civil war. on may 3, 1863, private joseph harvey of the 149th infantry was fighting at the battle chancellorsville in virginia when he was hit in the face by a shell fragment. the burning piece of metal took off part of his jaw, fractured his cheekbone and destroyed one of his eyes, leaving behind a gaping hole. now harvey fell into southern hands and was held prisoner for 11 days before he was finally
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admitted into a hospital, where doctors removed bone from the open cavity. it was basically a month and a half before he saw any kind of real doctor. he was discharged on the account of physical disability in 1865. that was two years later. he took a job as a night watchman. when this photo was taken the following month, liquid and saliva continued to leak from the wound and much of his face was numb. story in a harvey's of surgicalstory and medical advancements of the civil war. i chose harvey to show you for a couple of reasons. fulfills manyhe of our expectations that we have of disabled veterans. he was injured in battle and suffered a physical wound, one that remained visible after the war ended.
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and on top of that, he embodies many of the cliches that we gravitate towards when talking about disabled veterans. you know, some wounds never heal. war lives on in the bodies of those who fought. that is quite literally the case in joseph harvey. scholars often talk about how the body is a site of traumatic memory, unhealed wounds opening and closing, even update sometimes -- and even obtain erupting sometimes after years of dormancy. they are portals to an earlier time. evidence that the past is never really passed. that was the case for joseph harvey. he would never be able to move on from the war. he would never become what he once was. not as long as spit continued to dribble from the hole in
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his face. harvey is sometimes what i like to think about, our expectation is of a disabled veteran. he is injured, it is visible, it happened in battle, it lives on in his body. yet for all of that, he is also something of an outlier. during the civil war, twice as many troops were killed by disease as by battle wounds. battlefield and camps where cesspools of dysentery and malaria and typhoid fever, illnesses that left many permanently impaired. as one might imagine, medical technology was crude during the civil war. and sometimes in fact, the cure was worse than the sickness. this is carlton, a 20-year-old private from maryland who lost an eye and much of his upper jaw
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after he ingested mercury to treat a bout of pneumonia. eventually, surgeons had to remove much of his face. and i say this, i bring up cases like this not to downplay the brutality of the battlefield, far from it. advancements in transportation and manufacturing enabled both sides to equip, deploy and eventually blast apart troops with unprecedented speed. high casualties were not a tragic byproduct of civil war battles. they were the point of civil war battles. but if we only focus on men like joseph harvey, we miss another part of the war story, the every day dangers that plague american warmaking to this day. for the 10,000 or so union soldiers that suffered wounds to the face, thousands of others we
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like to think about, were permanently disabled far from the battlefield when they were hit by trains, when limbs fell on their heads, or when they were kicked in the face by mules. in the decades following the harvey's death, in 1868, americans struggled to come to terms with the civil war's legacy of destruction. by the century's end, something very strange began to happen, something we don't think about, which is that growing numbers began to see the conflict as an aberration. it was the last outburst of a brutal age. in the future, wars between what they called "civilized nations," by which they meant white, would be shorter and more survivable. no sane nation would dare repeat the civil war's deadly formula of mass armies and industrial age weaponry, not when the guns
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and bombs would only get more lethal. this was the prediction. the most optimistic predicted that international arbitration would replace large-scale bloodletting. at the very least, military physicians could take some comfort in the medical lessons they learned from harvey and thousands like him. so this was the dream that mass , warfare and mass casualties would disappear in the 20th century, which brings us to world war i and our second disabled veteran, boris pippen. no doubt many of you have heard of him. a generation removed from slavery, he rose to become one of the most important african-american artists of the 20th century, a journey that hinged in no small part on his experience in world war i. the date was september 30, 1918, barely a month after the cease-fire. his regiment was fighting
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northeast of paris when he was hit by german machine gun fire. bullets smashed through his right shoulder. he spent hours awaiting rescue. at one point, he fell into a ditch and was pinned beneath a corpse for hours before he was finally evacuated beyond the front lines. after months of treatment, he was discharged with a steel plate in his shoulder and a partially polarized -- paralyzed right arm and a pension of $22.50 a month. over the next decade, he scraped by, working a series of odd jobs, spending his nights decorating cigarette boxes as a crude form of occupational therapy. in 1930, pippin took up painting, using his left hand to prop up his right arm and guide the brush across the canvas. by the time of his death in 1946, pippin's portraits and scenes of african-american life have been featured in magazines
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like "time," "newsweek," and "vogue." you can see his work at moma and the metropolitan museum of art. when the u.s. entered world war i, many believed that men like pippin did not belong in uniform, let alone wielding rifles on the front line. and i certainly wouldn't be the first person to bring up the irony of the fact that the united states waged the war with a white supremacist army. baked into alld into allracisms aspects of military life during world war i, from segregated recreational facilities to the violent harassment of blacks in uniform to the odious race science that faced decisions of wartime physicians. a postwar study of draft board data co-authored by an -- by a eugenicist diagnosed
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african-americans with high rates of hysteria, poor emotional control, and venereal disease. for men like davenport and many others like camp, african-americans lacked the intelligence and the emotional discipline to be effective fighters. black bodies were suited for one thing, manual labor. that was it. regiment, only saw action when it was put under french command. white troops refused to fight alongside their african-american countrymen. was so successful at routing germans that the regiment one a citation from the french government, and a quarter of a million new yorkers cheered -- cheered as they marched in a parade up fifth avenue right past where we are tonight.
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such displays were not enough to alter the nation and the military's systemic tea of black bodies and black minds. african-americans were alleged after world war i, countless more were beaten, their houses set aflame. with his wounded arm and measly pension, boris spent and was able to survive the summer of 1919. another world war for the commander-in-chief decided to desegregate the u.s. military. 369th, military leader's charge that men of color had little place and more unless they were janitors or the targets of american firepower. this is the story up until world war i and into world war ii. we have two figures. you might not recognize the name
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of our next veteran, what it is likely that many tonight are familiar with his work. harold russell is perhaps the most famous disabled veteran of world war ii and he never saw action overseas. 19 44, as u.s. troops landed on the beaches of normandy, he was serving as an army instructor in north carolina when a defective explosive blew off both of his hands. sent to walter reed medical center in washington, d.c., where he spent months recovering from his injuries. this was agonizing. he was in pain. he was worried about spending the rest of his life as a deputy. .s -- as and amputee for a disabled veteran in 1940 four, rehabilitation was not a realistic prospect.
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for all i knew, i was better off dead. i had plenty of time to figure out if i was right. this was his attitude. i want to pause to point out that this term he uses, rehabilitation, this is not a generic term for any kind of medical treatment, it meant something specific. adopted in world war i, rehabilitation was an integrated set of practices, orthopedics, jobs training, psychological counseling, that was aimed at helping disabled veterans reintegrate into society as economically productive workers. it was conceived as a modern approach to what they called the problem of the disabled veteran. it was seen as an alternative to the days when government largess was consigned to pension and old soldiers homes. today we take this sort of thing for granted -- the idea that if you are wounded in war, the government will help put you back on your feet and get you
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working again. this idea of rehabilitation has been the backbone of federal policy toward veterans to this day. during world war i, this was , onedered an experiment that if successful would transform war itself. it would eliminate the social and a butternut -- the social and economic burden of disability from warfare. aging teddy roosevelt opined, the cripple in being a helpless or useless cripple, will largely be illuminated and out of this will have, and other step in the slow march of mankind toward a better and more just life. era rehabilitation do not live up to this lofty promise. at least not for most veterans. new cohortsw war,
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of physical therapists and counselors and prosthetics designers have all recycle the same old promise you get from teddy roosevelt. this is that today's wounded warriors have the best care ever. thanks to advanced technology and research, the disabled veteran will soon be a thing of the past. they literally believe this. with each new war, we would have to no such thing as disabled veterans. if you are wounded, we will put you back together, get your job, and you will be even better than you were before the war. teddy roosevelt believed this 100 years ago and we are still hearing this today. back to harold russell. he day, while an recovery saw a documentary film about a world war i veteran who had been successfully rehabilitated. he was intrigued and after some training he went on to star in his own film called "diary of a sergeant" in which he is shown
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performing tasks with his iron hawk prostheses. this caught the attention of william weiler, who tapped the 31-year-old to act in "the best years of our lives." a melodrama about three world war ii vets attempting to transition to civilian life. the film was a critical and box office smash in 1946 for its portrayal of the former quarterback who lost both of his hands in a naval attack. he won two academy awards, one for best supporting actor and another for bringing aid and comfort to disabled veterans. portion of the film mainly focuses on his character, homer, his anxieties about hardening his family and fiance with his disability. in his most poignant scene, he is struggling to take off his
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hawks at -- to take off his hooks and his wife talks him into bed as if he is a baby. we are not sure what is going to happen to homer down the road. we have said he is going to get married and maybe things will be better, but there is still lingering sense of doubt. , hisrajectory for russell transformation from helplessness to hopefulness, from depression to rehabilitation, seem to mirror the optimism of post-world war ii victory culture. foras a disabled veteran what some now call the good war. he seemed to embody semi-traits of it. manysing to embody so traits of it. few veterans have carried as much symbolic weight is at a bar fourth-grader. on october 20 -- of our fourth
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figure. john mccain was flying a bombing mission over hanoi when his plane was down by a surface-to-air missile. he ejected at 500 miles an hour, breaking both arms and his right knee in the process. landing in a shallow lake, he was attacked by locals and taken to a prison, which was nicknamed the hanoi hilton. medical care was extremely's heirs. doctors failed -- was extremely scarce. his brokenled to set bone, he lost a third of his body weight to dysentery and forced starvation. he was the son of it admiral, yet he consistently thwarted his captors efforts to use him as a political pawn. they wanted to turn them into a propaganda figure. he refused to go home early, saying he had no right to do so ahead of other men. then came the torture. the beatings, the agonizing
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nights spent in stress positions. john mccain tried to commit suicide twice. as he later wrote, "every man has his breaking point, and i had reached mine." he signed a confession thanking the vietnamese people and calling himself a criminal. mccain spent a total of 5.5 years as a prisoner of war. four decades later, he still has limited flexibility in his knees and difficulty raising his arms higher than we can see in this photo. he is noted for his difficulty in fixing his shirt collar. one cannot talk about john mccain's experience without reflecting on the relationship between war and politics. after the korean war, pows, many of whom are assumed to be brainwashed, returned home under a cloud of suspicion because --
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suspicion came from collaborating with the enemy or the sense they might have done so. john mccain was a national hero. his broken body and prematurely white hair were evidence of his willingness to suffer on america's behalf. it is important to point out that the politics of the disabled body saturated wartime u.s. culture. on the one hand, you have figures like ron kovic who was paralyzed from the waist down by a gunshot to the spine. he and plenty of others on the antiwar left displayed their disabled bodies as signs of protest, as signs to protest the inhumanity of the vietnam war. you have that on one side. john mccain's injuries were meant to symbolize something different. they symbolized faith that the war had been worth it.
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faith in duty and country and the righteousness of american violence. to this day, john mccain's identity as an x p.o.w. is central to his political credibility. it is the hammer he uses to beat down war doubters, those who would cut and run in places like afghanistan and iraq. you cannot understand john mccain and his political clout without understanding his .isabled body recently, recordings of north vietnamese propaganda broadcasts featuring john mccain's voice have been circulating online. the mainstream press has largely ignored these broadcasts, and for good reason. for one thing, john mccain has long admitted to taking his false confession after days of abuse. some of the darker corners of the right-wing internet have seized upon the recordings of evidence of what they have long
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maintained -- that john mccain was a songbird. he was a traitor who deserve to be, "hung by the neck until dead." i do not want to make any assumptions, but i would ask you set aside whatever you think about john mccain and his politics. let us focus on what it takes to make the kind of claim. , are is a lack of empathy sociopathic defense of the military code of conduct which requires pows to resist, to the utmost of their ability. to those who would say these kinds of things about mccain, i see something more insidious going on, which is a failure to take the body seriously. those who would criticize mccain or anyone who breaks, and i hate this term -- rakes under torture -- do so -- breaks under torture
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-- do so from the belief that a mind is more powerful than body, that a strong welcome holdout against anything. this is not the case. bodies matter. this is something i like to emphasize again and again and everything i do -- bodies matter. starveem, mutilate them, them, torture them, overpower them, expose them to heat or cold or the humiliating days of others and even the strongest of us will do things, will feel things we never thought possible . to make this claim about mccain or anyone else is a reluctance to take the body seriously. that is dangerous. that is four. we're coming to our fifth. i want to ignore knowledge my ouridation about including fifth disabled veteran of this evening.
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follows is an account of sexual violence, a story so recent that i cannot locate a photo in the public domain, and i'm not sure i would show it if i could. katie lynn casino joined the navy at the age of 21, serving aboard a missile destroyer. the following year, she was raped at knife point by one of her shipmates in a san diego hotel room. reported the assault to her superiors, but according to her mother, she was told it is not that we do not believe you, but he outranks you. the trauma drove her from the navy and she was treated for depression and posttraumatic , all the while peering that her rapist was never prosecuted and attacked again. she published -- she published the start of her memoirs on her
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facebook page. "i would like to dedicate this page the united states navy and all the men and women who have served and were raped and were ."ave enough to tell someone she did not finish the book. in 2001, kitty committed suicide and used a gun. -- katie committed suicide and used a gun. she is a member of what has always been the largest cohort andisabled veterans americans. that is those with invisible injuries. there is no such thing as a purely mental trauma -- the brain is a part of the body. most disabled veterans do not look like harold russell. this is part of the reason disabled veterans continue to struggle in the united states.
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larger point, why it is seemingly easy to disregard wars legacy of violence. we do not see disabled veterans for what they are -- they pass by us, invisible. wars violence becomes invisible as well. lynn's shines a light on another unreported military american culture, and that is the ubiquity of sexual violence against enemies and other americans in uniform. vary, but a department of defense survey found that one quarterback to duty women had experienced some form of sexual assault. 26,000 rapes took place in the u.s. military. only about one in seven were reported to higher-ups and one .n 10 went to trial
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service members are likely to -- are more likely to be raped than their male counterparts. men represent the largest population of rape victims in the u.s. military. there are huge number of men who are raped as well as women. there is a name for the psychological toll of these kinds of attacks. military sexual trauma, or mst. the veterans administration mst as psychological, resulting from a physical assault of a sexual sexual battery of a nature, or sexual harassment that occurred while in service. symptoms include depression, difficulty sleeping, heightened rates of ptsd, and heighten rates of suicide.
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rates of sexual trauma ptsd are -- the myth that men do not get raped has been proven to be especially intractable in the military when filing disability claims. some survivors have characterized sexual violence in the military as a two pronged assault. there is the original rape, followed shortly after by the command rape. the threats of retaliation, the unwillingness of commanders to take action. the boys club mentality that would rather shame the victim then prosecute the perpetrator. many who have been interviewed about this say the command rape is far more traumatizing, than the original rape. katie lynn cesena is just one of tens of thousands of mst track -- mst casualties of the war on terror.
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the wart traumatized by on islam or whatever the u.s. claims to be fighting today, the buyer rape culture wherein nothing feminine is welcome. what does this add up to? what does the history of american war look like if it is stitched together through the howard russell, john mccain, and katie lynn cesena. i would like to start a wrapup by offering broad interpretations. perhaps the most generous would be to think about the history of american war as a story of progress, or medical progress at the least. there can be little doubt that today's surgeons would be able to close the hole in harvey's face or restore some of the movement to pippin's damaged shoulder. this upward trajectory of things getting better is not a recent development, although war supporters often treated as such.
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during the early years of the iraq war, news outlets gushed about the developments in reconstructive surgery and prosthetic design. these medical miracles meant to put back together what war has torn apart. of stories asnds part of the apparatus of american innocence that a competent -- that accompanies all u.s. conflicts, at least early on. america'sation that wars are different, they are better, they are more righteous. whatever former military failings have now been resolved. if you go off to war, it is not your daddy's war. it is something better. that is one interpretation. another interpretation would be to highlight, by contrast, the resounding failure of efforts to eliminate disability from the calculus of american war. 100 years after teddy roosevelt predicted the passing of the cripple, this was his term, the
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u.s. is no closer to solving the problem of disabled veterans that in generations past. according to a 2016 census, many americans have a service-connected disability, among whom one in four served in iraq and afghanistan. producew war seems to any knowledge meant of new categories of disability, from traumatic brain injury to military sexual trauma. it is not going away. in addition, several of our figures often ignore aspects of the american war story -- that is the history of division and violence between u.s. citizens in wartime. many of us are raised on the myth that americans set aside their differences, that they come together in times of military conflict. antagonisms ever race, over gender, over sexuality, over which bodies belong and who
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belong do not simply fade away when people put on uniforms. day, entrenched racism dictated that african-americans were not worthy of fighting alongside their countrymen. more recently, the u.s. military has struggled to reflect the diversity of the nation is meant to reflect. the repeal of don't ask don't tell is a step in the right direction. however, the recently announced transgender band along with skyrocketing msg bait -- msg -- mst rates indicate the struggle is far from over. ultimately, i think our five bodies point to the need for a new veteranology. anna -- a field of study aimed at improving the lives of veterans and asking tough questions about the values underlying the work on their behalf.
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what does it mean to readjust in the wake of dramatic impairment? those the u.s. military use disabled veterans in recruiting literature and its football halftime shows to smooth over anxieties about past and future conflicts? increasinglyforces outsource their functions to private contractors, how will the social contract between veterans and the federal government evolved? answer to these questions will require the cooperation of an array of researchers, activist groups, veterans, and people like you. concludeote, i want to by drawing attention to another category of bodies. the title of my talk is misleading. it is not just five. these include the bodies of america's enemies. those killed and maimed as collateral damage.
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those whose pain-and-suffering is meant to force the nation's opponents to the bargaining table. americans do not spend much time fretting about the nation's history of asymmetrical violence , how an even failed military campaigns, the united states dishes out far more death and destruction than it has ever sustained. in the run-up to u.s. involvement in cuba, korea, vietnam, i rock, and elsewhere thereq, and elsewhere, was hand wringing in the highest circles about how many in the outside would be killed if americans took up arms. this goes beyond the patriotic instinct some of us have to prioritize the lives of our own. on an almost pathological indifference to human suffering. tens,ingness to sacrifice
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hundreds, perhaps even thousands of them so that one of your own can be saved. journalist derek jackson has called this calculus the west moreland mindset -- the west moreland mindset. quote william a west moreland delivered in the 1974 documentary "hearts and minds." it is an astounding image and an astounding moment in the film. sitting on a peaceful riverbank, the general declares, "the oriental does not put the same price on life as does a westerner." this is the director cuts to a scene of a vietnamese woman trying to crawl into the grave of a loved one. it is a chilling moment. chilling in the general's
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indifference. i believe jackson's characterization is a bit unfair , not because the general did not deserve it, but because so many other u.s. leaders do too. we could just as easily point to andrew jackson or henry kissinger or even madeleine albright, who when asked in 1996 about the 500,000 iraqi children who died because of u.s. , "theons replied that price is worth it. it.- the price is worth include such factors as infrastructure damage and disease, that number tops 500,000. future generations might speak about the trump mindset. one that would have us do unto
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others, totally destroy north korea, on the off chance they might do something to us. if we really want to take war seriously, we need to think about the bodies and lives of all of those involved, not just those who fight on america's behalf. at the very least, i hope that putting the body at the center of the american war story reminds us that the nations marshall history is -- history is martial much messier and reflective of who we are as a people, both for .ood or for ill -- thank you, and i hope we can have a conversation. [applause]
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>> that was an extremely moving lecture. i have a rather dry question. medialk about how the focused on not informing people about the severity and horror of war. one of the things i've always heard and thought was that war in the past was less horrendous than war in the present, certainly the destructive power of armies has increased, in that sense it would be true. i wonder, is it true that in the past, armies were any less focused on causing death and distraction to their enemies than we are now? prof. kinder: that is a terrific
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question. were wars in the past more gentlemanly? there is a sense in which a number of older wars were more rule-based. there were certain assumptions about when a battle would take place. you would set a time, you would set a field, and you would fight. there was a sense of when the battle was over and there would be a time, maybe a molded -- maybe a moment to collect the dead and the wounded, and that of that intoo the civilyou cans world war i and so forth. by the time you get to the u.s. civil war, somebody things are changing. you have so many more people who --g, you have people you have so much more powerful weaponry, right? and the destruction is almost beyond anything that can be
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controlled. so yes, there is a sense in which you know, there seemed to be some rules on how war was fought. these sorts of things apply to, for most of u.s. history and the history of war in the west there have been two kinds of wars, wars between other nations, between other western nations, and wars between western nations and people of color, or those viewed as savages. they had no rules. rules about slaughtering the enemy, removing the dead, rules about utter destruction, these things fell out the window. there were different sets of tools and weaponry viewed as uncivilized, could only be used against people of color, that sort of thing. by the time you get a world war sense of -- there
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is still an expectation that war would have a set of clear-cut rules and would be gentlemenly and over four years that really gets worn down. one thing that allowed -- one thing scholars have looked at when to get about what thesformed modern war is development of aerial bombing. aerial bombing, if you read memoirs from the early 20th -- and theople frontline soldiers railed against aerial bombing more than anything. and they are saying, i understand a war in which i am fighting somebody right in front of me. i know when the war is going to happen, i know that they will come this way and i will go that way, there is a logic to it. but somebody flies overhead and maybe they are trying to bomb something a mile away and they drop a bomb and because of wind it hits me and i cannot do anything about it.
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there is a real sense of powerlessness. there is a real sense in which the logic of machines had taken over the logic of people. morehis gets even more and accelerated as things go on, so by the time you get toward war ii, there iswar still a sense in which there are occasions in which this gentlemanly war you are talking about is still around, but tickets beaten -- it gets beaten out by the level of destruction and machines. so i do not think -- i am hesitant to embrace the idea that war in the past was ever that much better than it is today. but there are certain moments, sometimes they are technological, sometimes ideological, these tipping points, and one is the
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development of aerial bombing, but along with that the development of gas. gas, anything, any kind of weapon you have that is not meant to hit someone, it is meant to hit anything, and that goes from machine guns to gas to atomic bombs, and eventually it leads to the atomic bomb. are not aiming at anybody in particular, which is in there is emphasis today transforming our ideas about bombing, transforming ideas about war. by emphasizing the surgical strike. we will have a surgical strike on north korea. it is not going to be this thing that is out of control, we are able to contain the violence and aim the violence, focus the violence. that is a kind of war that maybe i can get behind, versus a war
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in which we will randomly kill until they give up. that is why there is such emphasis on drone strikes and surgical attacks and decapitation. this is the language of making were accessible again. thinkable once again. are you able in your book to get into the question of the volunteer army and therefore how not taking bodies seriously becomes not taking the bodies of people who feel they can only get into the army as a way forward? that is where this all ends up. in some ways, my book is wrestling with this question of coming out of the civil war, where there is such destruction, more than 6000 people killed and
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more than a million severely injured. by the time to get a world war i, many people are saying we cannot do this again, we cannot have wars like this in the future. not with improved technology. so how do we remove the figure, the calculus of disability for more? -- war? had we remove disability? one way is to remove the significance of those bodies. and the political will behind those bodies. and the development of the all volunteer force in 1973 is sort of the culmination of that. many in thehat government and military took from the vietnam war was, the u.s. did not lose, they lost on the streets of new york and washington dc. they lost on the streets because enough people at home said, wait , maybe i might be willing to pay with my body for a good
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, maybe iorld war ii would be willing to do this if i think i am fighting nazis, but this war is nothing like that. there is no good that will come with it and you can try to sell me on the idea of fighting communism, but it is not going to work. so those in the aftermath of the war said, how do we get rid of those people into those voices? thent rid of the draft and we have a war over here in iraq, a bunch of people are getting killed, it is going on for 10 years, what do i care? i am not going. the people who are going are signing up, that is on them. it is a small number of people and we do not know them. and there isahoma a larger percentage of veterans there, so veterans are more of a presence, but even in oklahoma it is nothing like it was in the past. so getting or developing the all
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volunteer force what you really do is get rid of so much of the anger at home and so much of the feeling that war, that individual investment in the war, what happens now is that the u.s. can fight wars for 16 years and they just sort of keep going. and for the vast majority of people, they have absolutely no impact on them. and the trend is going to get more exaggerated with the development of robotics and corporate armies. so in the future, the u.s. military's will fight wars with machines and with the poor. haveou are not going to big parades rallying against that. they are going to go off and get killed. having aa recipe for
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war, while also having a nation at home, a nation that does not really care. part of what i do in my work is try to think about, if those are the conditions, how do i get people to care about these things? i am not a veteran. i have family that are veterans. but i want to get ordinary people raised in this environment where they do nothing about wars as having anything to do with them, how do i get them to care about the plight of disabled veterans? how do i get them to care about homelessness and sexual trauma? how do i get them to care about the long history of a violence on all sides? it is very difficult. today, you can say that focusedd is much more on homecomings and the violence at home, but conditions have changed. when john wayne was fighting in
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a regime a, there was a -- and iwo jima, there is a sense that the generation that watched the film would be going into the military and it was important for them to have a sense of what the military was and why america was fighting. .oday, it is very difficult that is the situation we are in. interested in the designation of -- is that the surgeon general naming -- >> that is the term of the veterans administration uses. >> the reason i was interested is it seems unusually transparent in these days, because i remember when shell shock was a term, but now we and say ptsd for civilians people in the military and i wonder if that was a political
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decision or if in fact it is indistinguishable from civilian trauma, or do you think it warmizes the role of and itldiers have ptsd, is the same designation that others have? a politicalften designation. , number of veterans groups likeled veterans groups, the wounded warrior project, has been invested in keeping control of these terms. they want to define what disability is, who disabled veterans are, what counts as a disabled veteran. there was a lot of lobbying to say invisible injuries count too, ptsd counts too, dramatic brain injury counts too, because there is almost a hierarchy of
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injuries. the things that are most important. an injury to the body that is physical, that ranks number one, especially if it comes from more time. below that, maybe an injury to the mind, and it has physical symptoms and so forth, and maybe at the bottom, kicked in the face by a mule. kicked in the face by a mule might require just as much or more therapy and pension work than the person at the top, but because pensions and these disability ratings are always political, you have to lobby the government to get funding and so forth, they want to control what a disabled veteran is, a heroic vision of the disabled veteran and so forth. the military is in a strange place and i do not think i conveyed the complexity of the military today, just for the purposes of this talk the military in many ways has been
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on the cutting edge of a lot of this research. increasingly, they are invested in this idea of military sexual obstacle an important for what they want to do going forward. , it will not have the high numbers forever. it knows that members will be increasingly diverse and will be coming from different backgrounds and having increasingly different sexual and gender identities and it is important for the u.s. military allddress the complexity of of their issues and so forth, so , atmilitary tends to be least when it comes to definitions and pronouncements, they are good about recognizing things and being blunt about them. part of the reason why is that veterans groups and others hold
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them accountable. the american legion, disabled american veterans, the wounded warrior project, there are all of these groups that are incredibly powerful at lobbying, raising awareness, drawing attention to veterans issues. and so they tend to be quite , good at pushing the u.s. military to recognize a lot of these issues. said, historically, veterans groups have tended to sort of say, there are disabilities and there is the rest of the world's disabilities, and if the government has to find one of -- fund oneund f of them, they fund us. and their argument is quite
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simple, which is, you might be disabled because you are born that way. i was disabled because i put my body on the line in service of my country. my disability is a product of national service, and thus, if anyone is going to be funded, we are going to be funded. and for this reason, disabled veterans groups have been past beenin the hostile to joining forces with non-veterans disability groups. and that is a mistake. that worked in the 20th century and the 19th century, but that is not going to work in the 21st. because they are small. the u.s. military represents a smaller and smaller portion of the country. the civilian groups are going to be much better. it is not in the groups' best interest to remain isolated paid they need to reach out --
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isolated. they need to reach out. those addressing military sexual trauma should reach out and work with those in all walks of life. and not be so careful in sanctifying that their disabilities are different. as the military is involved, so must these groups. yes? term,m intrigued by the the corporate army, which you see as the future. it makes me think about what for that mean rehabilitation? warounds to me in the civil where the veterans were given pensions and then by the time we got to world war i, we said, we are not going to do pensions anymore. therefore, we are going to
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rehabilitate to make them self-sufficient. so if we have a corporate military and the government is no longer involved with running the military, but paying for it, what happens to rehabilitation and the idea of getting these veterans back? what do you think would happen? >> i think they would say that you are a private worker, you signed a contract. you are not like somebody that entered at 18 because he or she wanted to go to college, or wanted to get away from a small town. , i think the u.s. military increasingly tries to draw a division between those two groups. for the most part, the united states is always -- they are not always -- but throughout the 20th century they have always had a contractors and that sort of thing, but for a long time they were setting up bases, or
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cooking the food, doing the laundry, all these kinds of jobs. we do not want marines who are trained to kill to be spending their time setting up tents. we will hire people to do that and let the marines do the marine thing. in the 20th century, the u.s. military is hiring corporate contractors to do marine things. many in the military, but increasingly -- withhis ordinary ordinary citizens, they would say, we owe something to these veterans who deserve to be rebuilt it. -- rehabilitate. it is the least we can do. the corporate actors, that was the will of the marketplace. now, they get paid a lot more. i do not know about what kind of insurance they have.
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i imagine it is quite good. today, one of the big issues tends to be a lot of people were in the u.s. military and they are saying, i am only getting paid a couple hundred dollars where they are getting paid five times as much or 10 times as much and we are doing the same thing. so, i do not think there will be -- i think rehabilitation will be private. i do not think it will be government-funded. but who knows? they have been so successful at making inroads into the u.s. military and its a successful at blending what was this clear-cut division between the citizen soldier and what used to be called the private mercenary. it has been called -- has become so blended that down the road we might be paying taxes further rehabilitation. but you know their corporate
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, contract and private contract should distinguish in them. the question would be then, i think a lot of americans believe the u.s. has a moral duty, if you want to frame it that way, to rehabilitate those injured in war. do americans feel a moral duty for somebody that works for blackwater or for some corporate firm? i do not think many americans, i am guessing, but i do not think many americans would say, yes, we do. so -- ask the last question. you talked about this dissociative attitude towards the actual body, making it easy to not see veterans.
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is that a peculiar llely peculiar american attitude or , does it exist elsewhere in the western world? >> i want to say it is an american attitude because that is my answer for most things. [laughter] you know, and my real answer should probably be i do not know. i have not studied or i have not done enough comparative work to say that with any sense of security. that said, i will plunge ahead and give my best guess. i would say for the most part that it is an american attitude. and i think part of it stems from the fact that with the , exception of the civil war and 9/11, most american war takes place over there, and that is why the phrase is so useful. -- you know, over there.
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just a couple weeks ago, south carolina republican senator lindsey graham was talking about future attacks in north korea, and he said, if there is going to be a war, it's going to be over there. right? there is not going to be killing here. the killing will be there. if you go to great britain england, france, germany, japan, , australia, the war took place here. so not only did you have more injured bodies, you had more injured civilians, people who are not even in the military. for the most part in the united states, if you are injured -- say you were injured in world war ii -- you might go to a hospital. if you were in europe, you might go to the hospital in britain. you might be there for months. and because of troop transports, you might stay there. you might not get home for a year and a half since that
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moment of injury. and so a lot of time has gone by in terms of healing, in terms of experiencing the open wounds, and that sort of thing, but that is not the case in france. that is not the case in spain. that is not the case across the entire global south. these two oceans have buffers for the united states, from so much of the violence of the wars it has taken part in. and so for that reason, and because of the civilian attacks, it would be my strong, strong states'at the united attitude is maybe one little bit of american exceptionalism. >> if everybody could join me in inder forjohn k
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