O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst . . . . ¬¬–From“The War Prayer” by Mark Twain
Now in the summer of our love for the glory and greatness of the Republic, let us recall the soaring words of Mark Twain and his paean to war and its multitude of tender mercies. Let us give thanks to God and his various co-conspirators for making our nation an exceptional font of wisdom, wealth, and weapons. Let us praise the weapons makers with their bottomless thirst for profits and their pledge of allegiance to the continuation of war for which no price is too great to bear, no life too small to incinerate in the blessed pursuit of national security, global hegemony, and unchallenged control of the world’s most vital resources.
Let us bow down before the lords and ladies of the Pentagon and CIA, and their sovereign masters in the White House and legislature whose deep, uncompromising morality is clearly evident in their decision to provide billions of dollars worth of weapons to the enlightened despots of Saudi Arabia. God save King Salman and his ministers of state, presiding over shining seas of petroleum, that gooey lubricant that keeps our engines purring and our economy overflowing with the fruits of capitalist expansion and exploitation.
Now, as the world warms and the seas rise and the gods repose on cloudy cushions of greenhouse gas, let us salute our nation’s unbreakable bond of fealty to the House of Saud as the keeper of the flames that burn eternally from those precious repositories of oil in the heart of the desert. O Lord, keep those majestic wells pumping, keep the money flowing into the coffers of Raytheon, Textron, General Electric and their brothers in arms, keep our bombs and missiles falling like magical stars on the markets and mosques, villages, farms, and fields of ancient Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East and Saudi Arabia’s next-door neighbor. God, give us the strength and resolve to continue to support the Saudi-led coalition in its no-holds-barred onslaught on the people of Yemen and the rebellious fighters in their midst.
Above all, keep our eyes fixed on the endlessly falling cascade of tweets anointing our hands and the phones we hold so dear and dare not lay aside lest we miss the latest chirp or expose ourselves to the bitter winds twisting around us, bearing news of a world of woe. Let us never waver from our sworn duty to pillory Donald Trump at every opportunity and hold his feet to the fire for the crime of colluding with the evil empire. Let us only hear the opprobrium hurled at Trump and his cronies from the high and mighty pulpits of MSNBC and their all-seeing pundits, who detect under every rock and stone and in every crevice of the national security state a slimy trace ofRussian intrusion.
Grant us, O Lord, the strength to seal our hearts against those who would weaken our resolve with the corrosive acid of compassion. Like brave Ulysses resisting the song of the Sirens, let us not be tempted to heed the cries of those in need in places like Yemen where our largess, our weapons, and our diplomatic support allow the Saudi-led coalition to continue bringing a “hurricane of fire” to this poor, tortured land.
Thy will be done, O Lord. Thou hast ordained all this suffering, this dying of the flesh and of the spirit, this deliberate infliction of unrelenting pain on the people of Yemen. Truly, what is unfolding in Yemen is the fulfillment of Thy Word, what Thou hast ordained as a sign of Thy presence in the world and of the grace that flows from Thy immaculate heart. Though the people of Yemen cry out for mercy. Though millions of families have lost their homes, their livelihood, their future, their faith in a better life to come. Though famine, pestilence and death stalk the land as the bombing grows more savage with every passing day, this is as it should be, as it was written in the book of time.
O Lord our God, help us to see and accept the absolute necessity of the part we play in delivering unto the people of Yemen the gifts of Thy omniscience, for You alone understand the ultimate rightness of the war and the devastation it has wrought—with the assistance of our Congress, our President and our military. Help us to set on the path of righteousness those misguided members of our own House of Representatives who have voted to end our participation in Yemen’s civil war and our support of Saudi Arabia and its God-fearing allies. Surely, these politicos have failed to take the larger view and to grasp the sublime logic behind Thy design for Yemen and the entire Middle East.
The weeping of orphaned children, the keening of widowed mothers—are these not harbingers of greater things to come, a time when peace and plenty shall reign supreme, and the people of Yemen, finally subdued, shall harvest the blessings of Thy bounty. As it was in Iraq, so shall it be in Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, and every other nation in which our gallant men and women in uniform have led the fight against tyranny and strewn the land with the priceless jewels of freedom and democracy.
Help us, O Lord, neither to oppose nor condemn our nation’s complicity in the destruction of Yemen and the creation of the world’s most severe humanitarian crisis. Help us to carry on with the burden of our daily lives and feel not even a twinge of concern for the innocent victims of our forward-thinking, strategy-minded leaders and their endless war on terror. Let us insteadpraise the “beauty of our weapons” and the nobility of our cause. With Thy help, O Lord, we shall succeed in employing the instruments of war to carry outThy holy plan for peace on Earth.
The biggest fools are those who cannot see the evidence of Thy love for humanity. The arms and munitions we provide for the inspired rulers of Saudi Arabia and their regional partners are most assuredly working to advance Your most beneficent vision of what our race is capable of achieving. Behold the little children in hospital beds ortheir mothers’ laps, their paper-thin bodies shriveling up in the flames of hunger and disease, while planes overhead deliver load after load of pious bombs, and shrieking villagers scour the countryside for whatever remains of their loved ones. Is this not proof of Thy sweeping immanence in the affairs of men?
O Lord our God, help us to remain silent in the face of so much suffering, to avert our eyes and pretend our insignificant lives are no match for the powers that be, though history has demonstrated otherwise, and prophets from time immemorial have called upon the people to open their hearts and hear the cries of their brothers and sisters, and do whatever is in their power to feed the hungry, heal the sick, shelter the homeless, and put an end to war. Help us, finally, to ignore the wisdom of the ages and the admonitions of those who would oppose Thy will and the will of Thy servants in every government on Earth that measures its greatness by the number of corpses at its feet.
- “The beauty of our weapons” is from “First We Take Manhattan,” a song by Leonard Cohen. On MSNBC, news anchor Brian Williams used this phrase in response to the U.S. cruise missile attack on Syria on the morning of April 7, 2017.
George Capaccio is a writer and activist living in Arlington, MA. During the years of U.S.- and UK-enforced sanctions against Iraq, he traveled there numerous times, bringing in banned items, befriending families in Baghdad, and deepening his understanding of how the sanctions were impacting civilians. His email is Georgecapaccio@verizon.net. He welcomes comments and invites readers to visit his website: www.georgecapaccio.com