The Battle Death Blame Game

When a man died, there had to be blame. [1LT] Jimmy Cross understood this. You could blame the war. You could blame the idiots who made the war. You could blame [the dead soldier] Kiowa for going to it. You could blame the rain. You could blame the river. You could blame the field, the mud, the climate. You could blame the enemy. You could blame the mortar rounds. You could blame people who were too lazy to read a newspaper, who were bored by the daily body counts, who switched channels at the mention of politics. You could blame the munitions makers or Karl Marx or a trick of fate or an old man in Omaha who forgot to vote.

In the field, though, the causes were immediate. A moment of carelessness or bad judgment or plain stupidity carried consequences that lasted forever.

SOURCE: The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien (Broadway Books, 1998), p. 177

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