WRD 103: Composition & Rhetoric I: Winter Quarter 2015 Rotating Header Image

Captain Kudo’s response

We wrote to USMC Captain Kudo after reading his “How We Learned to Kill,” seeking clarification about his concluding paragraph: 

If this era of war ever ends, and we emerge from the slumber of automated killing to the daylight of moral questioning, we will face a reckoning. If we are honest with ourselves, the answers won’t be simple. I don’t blame Presidents George W. Bush or Barack Obama for these wars. Our elected leaders, after all, are just following orders, no different from the Marine who asks if he can kill a man digging by the side of the road.

We sensed some ambiguity as a class — who was to blame? Officers? Congress? The defense industry? Citizens? Citizens who vote? We didn’t reach consensus in class, and queried Kudo for clarification. From his response:

I was asked a similar question on twitter, my response was: They get their orders from the people. Both presidents were re-elected in the midst of the wars. As JFK wrote in Profiles in Courage: “For in a democracy, every citizen, regardless of his interest in politics, ‘holds office’; everyone of us is in a position of responsibility; and, in the final analysis, the kind of government we get depends upon how we fulfill those responsibilities. We, the people, are the boss, and we will get the kind of political leadership, be it good or bad, that we demand and deserve.”

I would add that the responses I’ve gotten across the board generally reflect the reader’s perspective much more than my own intentions. It is usually that last sentence where such assumptions come to light as people accuse me of failing to take Bush to task or of being an anti-war pacifist. Indeed, that last sentence more than any lays bare the raw political emotions surrounding war and the difficulties that veterans face continuously in trying to tell their stories and simply be heard without judgment. I would encourage your class of young writers to not only keep this in mind but also to bear in mind that even as readers they are not neutral bystanders.

I hope that helps.

Kudo’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/tkudo
Kudo’s Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/timothy.kudo — he posted a photo of his Op-Ed yesterday.