World War Two. The good war. The best.
Fascism. I mean, that’s why I enlisted in the Air Force – to fight against fascism. And it’s a good war, it’s a just war. What can be more obvious? They are evil, we are good.
And so I became a bombardier in the Air Force; I dropped bombs. On Germany, on Hungary, on Czechoslovakia. Even on a little town in France three weeks before the war was to end – when everybody knew the war was to end. We didn’t need to drop any more bombs but we dropped bombs.
On the little town in France we were trying out napalm. It was the first use of napalm in the European theater. I think by now you all know it: napalm is one of the ugliest little weapons. Who knows what reasons, what complex of reasons, led us to bomb a little town in France when everybody knew the war was ending. And, yes, there were German soldiers there hanging around – they weren’t doing anything – they weren’t bothering anybody. But they were there; it gives us a good excuse to bomb. We’ll kill some Frenchmen, too, what does it matter? It’s a good war.
We’re the good guys.
One thing – and I didn’t think about any of this while I was bombing – I didn’t examine “who are we bombing and why are we bombing and what’s going on here?”
“Who is dying?” I didn’t know who was dying because when you bomb from 30,000 feet (this is modern warfare, you do things at a distance) it’s very impersonal. You just press a button and somebody dies. You don’t see them. I dropped bombs from 30,000 feet and I didn’t see any human beings. I didn’t see what’s happening below.
The only rational position, confronted with the reality of warfare, is moral nihilism. It ought to be impossible to believe that there is some kind of system of belief in effect in mankind, except the belief that we must destroy that which we do not understand because it scares us – of that we may destroy that which we can.