'A Vietnam Memorial stands in Washington. That long, handsome black stone wall condemns the war in Vietnam man by man, one at a time, name after name. The war is real because those names belonged to real men who lived with their names to identify them, and now are dead. Why are these men dead? By what right and for what reason were they sent off to be killed? The Vietnam memorial is a lesson in stone: mourn the dead, never excuse the war.
The whole of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos is a war memorial. The Vietnamese have never been able to count their dead and wounded. Cambodians, subjected to 3,500 secret bombing raids, and Laotians, are a separate and unknown casualty toll...The bulk of the dead were peasants, who died of hunger and disease, died in massacres, died because they lived on that day's battleground, died because artillery sprayed random shells over the countryside. Mainly they died under the fire and steel that rained from the skies. American planes dropped more tonnage of bombs here than was dropped by anyone anywhere in the whole of World War Two.'
Civilians now form the greatest number of casualties in war. They are regarded with indifference by the warring armies, and with concealed indifference by warring governments (which may not be their own). What about the attitude to casualties in local conflicts?
Civilian citizens may be treated without respect by unelected leaders who take power, reinforce it with armed gangs, and embark on a rule of terror. What can be done (nonviolently) to make that process impossible?
In Cambodia it was war that gained the unelected Khmer Rouge its surge of recruits, and war that equipped them with weapons and the will to use them. What parallel examples are there in present day society and communities? The Khmer Rouge were a band of bullies, on a large scale. How can the desire to bully be defused?
All these are vital issues. There is another: the involvement of powerful armies from outside the conflict, who intervene for political reasons of their own and, in the case of Cambodia, illegally. Political awareness is needed to tackle this. Meanwhile, are there equivalent situations locally to think about and learn from?
And why are 'intellectuals' seen as a threat?