War record

In 2015 I returned to Svay Rieng, where the US army threw the first B52 bomb on Cambodian soil.

There, I did a series of articles about President Richard Nixon's "Breakfast" campaign - when he decided to bomb Cambodia's carpet, a neutral, non-combat state - to stop the North Vietnamese army.

The scene after 40 years is still heartbreaking. The Khmer point to the pond in front of the house, a crater, and say the word "second year" in Vietnamese. A man with faded hair still sobbed, mentioning his parents. In his memory, as a 10-year-old boy who ran back from a cowherd and saw that the house was on fire, he was an orphan.

Some time after that series, a colleague met me and said, "People curse you on forums." That is not a surprising development. I didn't try to read it, because I could guess what people said. That 40 years after the war, my still writing articles about old wounds, makes many people understand that the nuance of "condemning the crimes of the US military" is thought to be an expression of old propaganda , evokes hatred. And of course, there will be arousing debate over who is responsible for the bomb craters in Cambodia. I have dug up an annoying stream of views in the context of "normalization" being absolute.

The topic of war is easy to get tired. In my journalistic life, I myself was tired of the topic of war at times. Last month, I told the female colleague I was in charge of, that from now until the end of the year I asked you not to do any more articles about war. It was a young person, just like me a few years ago, who came out of the school gate and was startled to realize that I knew so little about history. Text-based textbooks and movies made according to state orders do not explain the complexity of the country's history, nor do they fully reflect people's emotions. She passionately traveled back to the old battlefields, met old witnesses and evoked historical stories. It is very time consuming. And I am now an editor with a lot of topical affairs. "People are living with too many problems, I want you to do it first" - I said coldly.

But I always wondered if I was fair at that moment, when just a few years ago, I defied curses to rejuvenate the wounds of war. I told myself, that in that village of Svay Rieng, where electricity is not available today, the roof of thatched roof, if not me, who would go there to know that people were still crying because of bombs .

Viet Thanh Nguyen, a Vietnamese-born refugee professor who won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize, wrote an article in the New York Times titled, "The Vietnam War has never ended." Arriving in the United States at the age of 4, successful and respected, he did not call himself an "immigrant", but still affirmed that he was a "refugee" because the United States had created a disastrous war in Vietnam. Male. Those who follow Viet Thanh's career know that Vietnamese refugees in the US are a subject that this American-born professor is obsessed with.

Viet Thanh said that telling, reading and hearing about the lives of people who lost their lives as a war is an obligation, is "a way to deal with the loss of control of the industrial-military complex" of the United States.

Superpowers, with their own economic and political motives, have more than once been shown to have a need to wage war on their own. The wars will then be called by this name, another name; summarized by political theories; photographed in the form of heads of state in a suit shaking hands at a conference table; then will be judged right and wrong by debate, blame, by experts.

But I have never met a witness of the war calling it by a name other than "war". Not "Vietnam War", "Second Indochina War" or "54-75 War", simply "War". War is not a social state, an activity that limits time and space. It is the personal pain of a person, the child who just laid down like yesterday and the mother lying in a pool of blood, the pain that is endless and cannot end.

Today the US directly attacked Syria, with "beautiful, new and intelligent" missiles as President Trump called. And then this war will be called by some name on Wikipedia. It will again be described by political debate, with "Russia" or "America", "Putin" or "Trump" as the subject. Hungry Syrian children and Syrian women and men covered in blood and mortar will never appear enough. Even the Syrian refugee fleets will be described by "Merkel policy" or "Edict of Theresa May". We have always dealt with war in such a written manner. No one can look at each face, each eye long enough to comprehend their terrible pain.

I myself, realized that at one point, I had also considered war to be a "topic", arranged in a certain order of priority by an observer from a distance. At one point, I also felt that repeatedly telling painful stories about the war was exhausting, and wondered what it might do for the military-industrial complex that Viet Thanh Nguyen mentioned. next? Who can stop the US government from spending US $ 2 trillion budget on bombs in Iraq when they have the incentive to spend? Fifteen million people took to the streets around the world on March 15, 2003, nor did it prevent George W. Bush and his allies.

But maybe as normal people on this planet, we only have one way. Remind that war is not the records, but the pain, scars of each person in the flesh. It cannot end in peace. We tell and teach our children to share that pain, to hate war and the polities that create war.

That day, the reporter finished listening and said: "I won't let you go on your own. In July, I will revisit the border battlefield ”. I was silent, accepting that I was a bad manager. Sometimes, the scribes - like us - don't have the right to treat everything as a record.

Lord Emperor