Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Portrait of War Crimes

Pablo Picasso's famous antiwar painting, Guernica, commemorates the small Basque village in Northern Spain that was bombed by Hitler's German forces in April 1937 during the Spanish Civil War, marking the first time civilians had been targeted on such large and effective scale. According to Russell Martin, Author of Picasso's War, "Guernica has become for people around the world visceral, visual evidence of the true nature of war, a perspective very unlike the heroic and optimistic one so often presented by politicians who have never seen war close at hand." A third of the villagers were either killed or wounded during the three hours of bombing and machine gun fire.

We know that since the inception of the Iraq war, the Bush administration has been uncomfortable with Guernica's ability to inspire parallels between the Bush and Hitler regimes, evoking poetic response. I note the parallel one can also draw to Israel's bombing of civilians in Southern Lebanon. And as we teeter on the verge of "action" in Iran, and depending on how we act, we may, indeed, strike a stunning parallel to the fascist friends of Franco. If we are willing to justify the slaughter of civilians because of "terrorists", haven't "the terrorists won?"

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