In his book entitled, “The Statesman and the Storyteller”– John Hay, Mark Twain, and the Rise of American Imperialism, Mark Zwonitzer draws some unintentional parallels between nineteenth-century American imperialists and those of modern times. He writes about war atrocities Americans inflicted on the people of the Philippines (the slaughter and torture of women and children). He summarizes William Howard Taft’s testimony before a select Senate committee. Taft said that “murder and torture had been a part of the American arsenal in the pacification of the Philippines and that cruelties have been inflicted.” The military officer following Taft, regarding the killing and torture of women and children, added, “The women and children are part of the family, and where you wish to inflict a punishment you can punish the man probably worse in that way than any other way.” Well over a century later, Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump said he would go after the family of terrorists if he were in charge. The Republican leadership under Roosevelt justified all the evilness by arguing that rules and morality are suspended when dealing with “uncivilized” societies.
The killing of women and children is excruciating difficult to justify under any circumstance whether dealing with a primitive culture or an alleged family of terrorists. Even the inadvertent killing of innocent bystanders– such as when Obama’s drones fly amuck and cause death is tragic. But the intentional killing of a family to punish the perceived enemy is psychopathic behavior. The practice has endured for centuries, and there is no indication that our political or military frontmen will graduate course.