Tag Archives: Vietnam

Not Everything on Earth is a Vital Interest for America, by Doug Bandow

Maybe any politician or military officer who says that somewhere is of vital interest to the US and thus justifies a military commitment should have to be in front of the troops, leading the charge. That would cut down on our “vital interests” in a hurry. From Doug Bandow at theamericanconservative.com:

Sure, the Caucasus is important in world affairs, but not especially important to the affairs of the United States.

Washington policymakers spend much of their time on the frivolous. Especially when it comes to foreign policy.

American officials and diplomats constantly circle the globe issuing statements, making demands, proposing initiatives, and otherwise bothering people to little effect. Most of these efforts are harmless, and often provide a politically advantageous image of international activity and influence for home consumption.

More malign, however, are forceful interventions in other countries. In some cases Washington spends years, even decades, attempting to impoverish and starve other peoples, as in Cuba, into submission. The U.S. also engages in endless wars, as so often in the Middle East.

The human and resource costs of such actions are high, often tragically so. Yet the resulting benefits often are impossible to discern. For instance, some 58,000 Americans died in Vietnam, supposedly to prevent communist hordes from conquering Southeast Asia. Less than two decades after the humiliating U.S. withdrawal, the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact were gone, Maoism had disappeared from China, Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge had been ousted, Vietnam’s communist regime had battled China’s communist regime, and Hanoi was moving toward rapprochement with America.

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Pentagon Papers Failed to Stop Media Kowtowing, by James Bovard

Explosive as the Pentagon Papers were when published, in the longer span of history they were barely a ripple on the pond in terms of changing the mainstream media’s relationship with the government. From James Bovard at consortiumnews.com:

The revelations of the secret study should have spawned permanent, radical skepticism concerning the candor and competence of U.S. foreign interventions, writes James Bovard. 

June 26, 2007: An embedded civilian journalist, at right, taking photographs of U.S. soldiers in Pana, Afghanistan. (Michael L. Casteel, U.S. Army, Wikimedia Commons)

Fifty years ago, The New York Times began publishing excerpts from a massive secret report called the “History of U.S. Decision-Making Process on Vietnam Policy.” Those excerpts, which quickly became known as the “Pentagon Papers,” provided shocking revelations of perennial government deceit and spurred an epic clash over the First Amendment. Unfortunately, many of the media outlets celebrating the Pentagon Papers anniversary have long since become lap dogs of perfidious politicians dragging America into new foreign conflicts.

The report that became the Pentagon Papers was a secret study begun in 1967 analyzing where the Vietnam War had gone awry. The 7,000-page tome showed that presidents and military leaders had been conning the American people on Southeast Asia ever since the Truman administration. Like many policy autopsies, the report was classified as secret and completely ignored by the White House and federal agencies that most needed to heed its lessons. New York Times editor Tom Wicker commented in 1971 that “the people who read these documents in the Times were the first to study them.”

Unfortunately, few Washingtonians bothered to read the Pentagon Papers after their disclosure and missed lessons that could have spared the nation fresh debacles.

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Pentagon campaign to recruit Vietnam as military ally against China exposed delusions of US war strategy, by Gareth Porter

The US somehow mistranslated Vietnamese and understood no to mean yes. From Gareth Porter at thegrayzone.com:

After convincing itself Vietnam would grant it access for missile bases against China, the Pentagon got a hard dose of reality.

When the Pentagon began gearing up for a future war with China in 2018, Defense Department officials quickly realized that they needed access to Vietnamese territory for troops armed with missiles to hit Chinese ships in a US-China conflict. So they initiated an aggressive campaign to lobby the Vietnamese government, and even Communist Party officials, in the hope that they would eventually support an agreement to provide them the permission.  

But a Grayzone investigation of the Pentagon’s lobbying push in Vietnam shows what a delusional exercise it was from its inception. In a fit of self-deception that highlighted the desperation behind the bid, the US military ignored abundant evidence that Vietnam had no intention of giving up its longstanding, firmly grounded policy of equidistance between the United States and China.

Vietnam as a key base in US war strategy

Between 2010 and 2017, China developed intermediate-range missiles capable of hitting American bases in Japan and South Korea. To counter that threat, the Pentagon and military services began working on a new strategy in which US Marines, accompanied by an array of missiles, would spread out over a network of small, rudimentary bases and move continuously from one base to another.

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THE ANGRY ARAB: The Lessons of the Taliban, by As`ad AbuKhalil

The US government and its military learned nothing from Vietnam. From As`ad AbuKhalil at consortiumnews.com:

The U.S. humiliation in Afghanistan shows that the empire can’t impose its will, no matter how much violence it inflicts, writes As`ad AbuKhalil.

Zalmay Khalilzad, left, the U.S. chief envoy, signs off on peace deal with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a Taliban leader, in Doha, Qatar, Feb. 29, 2020. (State Department)

It was quite a spectacle for this century.  If Western media were not all tied to the war establishment, they would have commented on the symbolism: a U.S. envoy signing a peace agreement with an official representatives of the Taliban movement.

Had Osama bin Laden been alive, he may have been invited to the signing ceremony.  Younger readers did not live through the massive propaganda campaign by all Western governments against the Taliban back in 2001.  The U.S. war on Afghanistan was very popular then: at least 90 percent of Americans supported it in 2001.

Conservatives and liberals united to convince public opinion that the removal of the Taliban from power was an American national priority.  The liberal organization, the Feminist Majority, aided the White House in its propaganda effort by releasing information on the Taliban’s war on women.

But when U.S. bombs started to kill women and children on a regular basis, the Feminist Majority and other liberals were silent. (Among women’s rights activists — including some in Afghanistan — the Feminist Majority’s pro-military position on Afghanistan was controversial at the time.)

George W. Bush and his wife briefly posed as feminist in an effort to persuade the public that the American invasion of Afghanistan is a humanitarian effort.

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From Vietnam to Afghanistan, all US governments lie, by Gordon Adams

Anybody who’s surprised by the headline should probably find another website. From Gordon Adams at theconversation.com:

The Washington Post has, after more than two years of investigation, revealed that senior foreign policy officials in the White House, State and Defense departments have known for some time that the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan was failing.

Interview transcripts from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, obtained by the Post after many lawsuits, show that for 18 years these same officials have told the public the intervention was succeeding.

In other words, government officials have been lying.

Few people are shocked. That’s a stark contrast to 1971, when the Pentagon Papers, a classified study of decision-making about Vietnam, were leaked and published. The explosive Pentagon Papers showed that the U.S. government had systematically lied about the reality that the U.S. was losing the Vietnam War.

The failure of the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan has been known for years. Virtually none of the U.S. goals have been met. These goals included a strong, democratic, uncorrupt central government; the defeat of the Taliban; eliminating the poppy fields that contribute to the world’s heroin problem; an effective military and police and creating a healthy, diversified economy.

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The US Military Is Winning… No, Really, It Is! by Nick Turse

The US can “win” every war in which it engages, simply by having the military stay put wherever it’s inserted, and calling that winning. From Nick Turse at tomdispatch.com:

A Simple Equation Proves That the U.S. Armed Forces Have Triumphed in the War on Terror

4,000,000,029,057. Remember that number. It’s going to come up again later.

But let’s begin with another number entirely: 145,000 — as in, 145,000 uniformed soldiers striding down Washington’s Pennsylvania Avenue. That’s the number of troops who marched down that very street in May 1865 after the United States defeated the Confederate States of America. Similar legions of rifle-toting troops did the same after World War I ended with the defeat of Germany and its allies in 1918. And Sherman tanks rolling through the urban canyons of midtown Manhattan? That followed the triumph over the Axis in 1945. That’s what winning used to look like in America — star-spangled, soldier-clogged streets and victory parades.

Enthralled by a martial Bastille Day celebration while visiting French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris in July 2017, President Trump called for just such a parade in Washington.  After its estimated cost reportedly ballooned from $10 million to as much as $92 million, the American Legion weighed in. That veterans association, which boasts 2.4 million members, issued an August statement suggesting that the planned parade should be put on hold “until such time as we can celebrate victory in the War on Terrorism and bring our military home.” Soon after, the president announced that he had canceled the parade and blamed local Washington officials for driving up the costs (even though he was evidently never briefed by the Pentagon on what its price tag might be).

The American Legion focused on the fiscal irresponsibility of Trump’s proposed march, but its postponement should have raised an even more significant question: What would “victory” in the war on terror even look like? What, in fact, constitutes an American military victory in the world today? Would it in any way resemble the end of the Civil War, or of the war to end all wars, or of the war that made that moniker obsolete? And here’s another question: Is victory a necessary prerequisite for a military parade.

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On Veterans’ Day, Remember the Lies That Filled Military Cemeteries, by James Bovard

Watch what politicians do to veterans, not what they say to “honor” their service. From James Bovard at mises.org:

Politicians will be heartily applauded for saluting American’s soldiers today. But if citizens had better memories, elected officials would instead be fleeing tar and feathers. Politicians have a long record of betraying the veterans they valorize.

Veterans Day 2018 has been dominated by the confab of political leaders in Paris to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One. American media coverage fixated on President Trump’s cancellation of one of his two visits to U.S. military cemeteries. In his speech yesterday at a U.S. military cemetery in France, Trump declared that it is “our duty … to protect the peace they so nobly gave their lives to secure one century ago.” But that peace was sabotaged long before the soldiers’ corpses had turned to dust. Though the American media exalted French President Emmanuel Macron’s denunciation of nationalism at the armistice anniversary, it was conniving by French leader George Clemenceau at the Versailles Peace Treaty that helped assure that U.S. sacrifices in 1917 and 1918 were for naught.

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John McCain: When “Tokyo Rose” Ran for President, by Ron Unz

In a few days we’ll let John McCain rest in torment, but first we’ll do our best to counter the mainstream media’s hagiography onslaught. From Ron Unz at unz.com:

Although the memory has faded in recent years, during much of the second half of the twentieth century the name “Tokyo Rose” ranked very high in our popular consciousness, probably second only to “Benedict Arnold” as a byword for American treachery during wartime. The story of Iva Ikuko Toguri, the young Japanese-American woman who spent her wartime years broadcasting popular music laced with enemy propaganda to our suffering troops in the Pacific Theater was well known to everyone, and her trial for treason after the war, which stripped her of her citizenship and sentenced her to a long prison term, made the national headlines.

The actual historical facts seem to have been somewhat different than the popular myth. Instead of a single “Tokyo Rose” there were actually several such female broadcasters, with Ms. Toguri not even being the earliest, and their identities merged in the minds of the embattled American GIs. But she was the only one ever brought to trial and punished, although her own radio commentary turned out to have been almost totally innocuous. The plight of a young American-born woman alone on a family visit who became trapped behind enemy lines by the sudden outbreak of war was obviously a difficult one, and desperately taking a job as an English-language music announcer hardly fits the usual notion of treason. Indeed, after her release from federal prison, she avoided deportation and spent the rest of her life quietly running a grocery shop in Chicago. Postwar Japan soon became our closest ally in Asia and once wartime passions had sufficiently cooled she was eventually pardoned by President Gerald Ford and had her U.S. citizenship restored.

Despite these extremely mitigating circumstances in Ms. Toguri’s particular case, we should not be too surprised at America’s harsh treatment of the poor woman upon her return home from Japan. All normal countries ruthlessly punish treason and traitors, and these terms are often expansively defined in the aftermath of a bitter war. Perhaps in a topsy-turvy Monty Python world, wartime traitors would be given medals, feted at the White House, and become national heroes, but any real-life country that allowed such insanity would surely be set on the road to oblivion. If Tokyo Rose’s wartime record had launched her on a successful American political career and nearly gave her the presidency, we would know for a fact that some cruel enemy had spiked our national water supply with LSD.

To continue reading: John McCain: When “Tokyo Rose” Ran for President

Lyndon Johnson’s Terrible Legacy, by Patrick Barron

LBJ easily gets a spot in the 5 worst US presidents. From Patrick Barron at mises.org:

Recently my wife and I spent a morning at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas. The damage done by this big bully is incalculable. His library reminds us of the start of the blizzard of government expansion during Johnson’s presidential term, which lasted from the Kennedy assassination in October 1963 to his decision not to run for a full second term in 1968, which usually is attributed to his failure to end the war in Vietnam.

Johnson was an admirer of FDR and was determined to revive and complete what he believed should have been integral parts to FDR’s New Deal. Johnson called his program The Great Society. As if ignorance of the consequences of this socialist expansion of domestic control by government was not enough, LBJ expanded the war in Vietnam, promising America both Guns and Butter. Even today we live with this expansion of government domestic programs and seemingly never-ending wars as the modern Welfare/Warfare state.

The Johnson Treatment

I called Johnson a big bully in the paragraph above. I believe my assessment is justified by what actually is celebrated at his presidential library. The displays proudly explain and document “the Johnson touch” in print, photograph, and actual recorded telephone interviews. Johnson was a big man who towered over most people. He had a habit of getting very close to someone, leaning over at the waist, and forcing his partner in conversation to bend over backwards to avoid an uncomfortable encounter with LBJ’s face. There is a large picture of Johnson giving Supreme Court Associate Justice Abe Fortas this “Johnson Treatment”, literally face-to-face. Fortas, who was a long time LBJ supporter, appears to be taking the “Treatment” in good humor, but it is easy to see how it would be almost impossible to keep one’s dignity with the president of the United States performing this obviously uncomfortable act.

treatment.PNG

To continue reading: Lyndon Johnson’s Terrible Legacy

Vietnam Déjà Vu, by Eric Margolis

PBS’s Vietnam series doesn’t look very closely or critically at the US government’s motives there, according to Vietnam veteran Eric Margolis. From Margolis at lewrockwell.com:

Much of America, including yours truly, has been watching the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) series, ‘Vietnam.’  Instead of clarifying that confusing conflict, the series has ignited fiery controversy and a lot of long-repressed anger by soft-soaping Washington’s motives.

This march to folly in Vietnam is particularly painful for me since I enlisted in the US army at the height of the war.  Gripped by youthful patriotism, I strongly supported the war.  In fact, the TV series even showed a pro-war march down New York’s Fifth Avenue that I had joined.  Talk about déjà vu.

At the time, 1967, the Cold War was at full force.  We really believed that if the US did not make a stand in Vietnam the Soviets and Chinese would overrun all of South Asia.

No one in Washington seemed to know that China and the Soviet Union had split and become bitter enemies.  As ever, our foreign human intelligence was lousy. We didn’t understand that Vietnam deserved independence after a century of French colonialism.  Or that what happened in Vietnam was of little importance to the rest of the world.

Three American presidents blundered into this war or prolonged it, then could not back out lest they lose face and risk humiliation.  I don’t for a moment believe that the ‘saintly’ President John Kennedy planned to end the war but was assassinated by dark, rightwing forces, as is claimed.  This is a charming legend.  Richard Nixon, Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson all feared that a withdrawal from Vietnam would lose them the next election.   Republicans were still snarling over ‘who lost China’.

The current 17-year old US war in Afghanistan has uncanny resemblances to the Vietnam War.  In Kabul and Saigon, the US installed puppet governments that command no loyalty except from minority groups. They were steeped in drugs and corruption, and kept in power by intensive use of American air power.   As in Vietnam, the US military and civilian effort in Afghanistan is led by a toxic mixture of deep ignorance and imperial arrogance.

To continue reading: Vietnam Déjà Vu