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Brendan S.  -Dedicated to all victims of war -Anti-war mentality -Respect all opinions -I don't support Nazism or Communism -Zone for free thinking

—Impressions—
II
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A young boy mourns the death of his brother who was killed in a Syrian government airstrike on the Aleppo neighborhood of al-Soukour in April, 2016. (PC: The Independent)

—Impressions—
I
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A young boy plays soldier with a toy machine gun around other children in his neighborhood, which had been destroyed by Saudi airstrikes. Sana’a, Yemen; dated June 2016. (PC: Khaled Abdullah / Reuters)

—Broken Earth, Broken Men—
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Photo of the Somme battlefield from 150 meters above. When zoomed in to the left, French infantrymen can be seen launching an assault under a smoke screen. To the right, French troops provide covering fire from their trench and prepare to go over the top. Photo taken sometime during the Battle of the Somme, 1916. (PC: The Atlantic)

—Muses of the Demagogue—
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A crowd of Austrians cheer wildly during a Hitler campaign rally in Schwarzach, Austria sometime prior to the Anschluss, dated 1938. (PC: Hugo Jaeger / LIFE)
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It has always boggled my mind how demagogues have so often gained power throughout the ranges of history. From Caligula to Pol Pot, the human race has allowed many bad apples to gain power unchecked. But what allows greedy or deranged people to become dictators?
When one looks at history’s most hated demagogues, one usually finds a man who built his psychological base by speaking passionately about his proposals, usually when his country is going through a difficult time or crisis. With this passion, the masses follow under the assumption that he is strong and trustworthy to make the nation better. The dictator most commonly assumes power not from logic, but from oration. When he yells for his nation, his listener hears. The listener’s heart beats faster with every sentence and the adrenaline begins to race as the words grow louder. Chemicals begin to dance through the listener’s brain, mistaking the orator’s greed for passion. Some in the crowd may catch the greed, but often pay no mind, as emotion beats logic every day of the week just as scissors beat paper. When passion strikes the listener’s emotions, the competition is over. The listener is won by the orator; the aspiring dictator. The listener is so commonly the masses, and the masses so commonly the listener. It takes one with passion to rise and manipulate all who choose to listen with their chemicals instead of listen with their thoughts. Those who listen with their thoughts are immediately the dictator’s enemy, those who are logical. These are the listeners who must be extirpated without question, the domestic enemies of the regime. Those who listen with their chemicals are the dictator’s mental slaves, as they do not think twice of their leader’s passion. They had been won the moment they heard him speak. This is pathos, the appeal to emotions. It is how we have arrived at our Hitlers, our Mussolinis, our Diems, our Maos. The power of the word, however mindless it may be, will always defeat logic.

—Parleying with Pain—
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A US Marine of the 3rd Marine Division screams in pain as he is treated for an arm wound during Operation Prairie in the DMZ, dated November 1966. (PC: Catherine Leroy)

—The Dark Side of America—
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A Vietnamese family huddles around one another just seconds before being slaughtered by American soldiers in a small Vietnamese hamlet called My Lai.
(PC: Ronald Haeberle / LIFE)
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On the day of March 16, 1968, Company C of 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, was ordered by Captain Ernest Medina to open fire on anything that was “walking, crawling, or growing” under suspicion that the hamlet of My Lai and surrounding areas were housing a VC unit. When these orders were questioned by some of his soldiers, he replied by stating “They’re all VC, now go and get them.” Lieutenants William Calley and Stephen Brooks followed these orders, and commanded their platoons to commence this atrocity. Handicapped elders were bayoneted, women and children were shot in the head as they prayed and weeped helplessly in a temple, and Lieutenant Calley himself shot and killed multiple mothers as they held their babies. Nobody was armed except the GIs and it was confirmed that there was no VC presence at the time of the massacre. Amid cries of “No VC! No VC!” and the piercing screams of children beside their dead parents and siblings, some soldiers and even a Huey crew attempted to stop the massacre and save civilians. These men who attempted to stop the atrocity were labeled as “traitors” by not only their own unit, but also members of the US Congress. Up to 500 innocent civilians were slaughtered that day. Few things in American history show such a failure of human decency, even mere conscience. America started with a casus-belli to unite Vietnam under one democratic government. This casus-belli was pockmarked by a series of civilian massacres from the air and from the ground, and the highest number of civilian massacres came from the US’s ally, the South Vietnamese Army (ARVN). The US higher command and government would indirectly support these ARVN mass slaughterings by doing little about them and justifying them with false labels of threat neutralization and communist containment. Any civilian massacre involving US forces would be immediately covered up, but with little success. (Continued below)

—Art for Destruction—
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French camouflage artists paint a camo scheme on a Matériel de 75mm Mle 1897 cannon somewhere behind the lines on the Western Front during WWI, undated.
(PC: Jean Courboulin / Musée de l’Armée)

—End of the Line—
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Bolivian POWs depart a train to be marched to a Paraguayan prison camp in Puerto Casado, Paraguay during the Chaco War, 1932-35.
(PC: ICRC)

—Death’s Tools—
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ARVN soldiers stand guard beside captured Viet Cong with their equipment and weapons laid out in the foreground in Saigon on February 15, 1968.
(PC: Hulton Archives/Getty Images)

—Fortune to Quietude—
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Captain John R. Wiest, the commanding officer of D Company, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry, 173rd Airborne Brigade shows where a bullet pierced his helmet from a firefight in Plei Me, Vietnam, dated November 1965. Wiest, a resident of Billings, Montana, would later be killed in action on October 12, 1968 by an NVA sniper on Hill 975, Bình Định Province. Sergeant Al Zachary, a squad leader who served with Wiest and was standing next to him at the time of his death stated: “I remember John on his last day, confident, compassionate and a fine leader.” Wiest is honored on Panel 41W, Line 55 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC.
(PC: Corbis Images; info from Billings Gazette and Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund) See a more detailed account of Wiest’s final day below.

—Faces of Modern Warfare—
III
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Specialist Brian Underwood of 2nd Platoon, B Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team expresses a thousand-yard stare after defending OP Restrepo from insurgents in Korangal Valley, Afghanistan, circa 2007-08. (PC: National Geographic Entertainment; seen in American war documentary “Restrepo”)

—Faces of Modern Warfare—
II
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Corporal Antonio Metruccio of the Italian 66th Airmobile Infantry Regiment exhibits a lucid thousand-yard stare supposedly after engaging in a 72-hour firefight sometime during the War in Afghanistan. (PC: Maki Galimberti)

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