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What are we up to here on DailyKos?  I mean, I know what I'm up to.  I'm doing the job that I gave myself, to promote dialog about citizenship and what I perceived as the necessity--for Democrats and anyone else concerned about human survival--to make a turn toward social democracy.  I may not do a good job, or even an adequate job, but I'm doing my best given what I've got to work with.

And Barack Obama, Barack-the-Magnificient, he's here in spirit, and he sure knows what he's up to.  If ever the President has been a true leader, those of us alive now are witness to this fact.   He's more than an African-American, he's African and American(the cherry pie version, to boot).  Just to ponder that conjunction is chilling--slavery and Liberia and Patrice Lumumba alone are worth ten thousand years of study and explication.  So, from the contradictions and possibilities of his life and history, Barack-the-Magnificent is leading us.

INTRODUCTION
But where are we going?  Quo vadis?  And, though we hardly recognize it, or if we do apparently don't like the recognition much, the answer to such a question depends on us.  In a democracy, a leader's primary job is to rouse the people, the citizenry, to do their jobs and provide the direction from below that is the only hope for humankind.  In order to be collectively responsible in such a fashion, one way or another we need to be willing and able to do a lot more, politically, than we've done so far, which is to be part of the process of getting Barack-the-Magnificent into office, surrounded by a cast, for the most part, of 'the usual suspects.'

Of course, participants can all articulate the standard explanation for their presence--which is in fact just to get more Democrats elected and so on.  But I'd have to say that we owe ourselves more than this, if we're even to serve so limited a purpose in a conscious and defensible fashion.  Specifically, we've got to pay attention to the details that are freely available, make sense of them, and then do something like a citizen's job in responding to them.  After all, that's what a huge part of responsibility is: responding.

THE GENERAL POINT
In that vein, our new President made quite a speech the other day.  I listened to it, and I've read it over two or three times so far.  As noted, Barack-the-Magnificent seems to know exactly what he's up to.  Back in November, I wrote a diary, "Of  Rotten Apples," http://www.dailykos.com/... about the only part of then President-elect Obama's victory speech that gave me pause.  Though the audience for this essay was paltry, it basically made a similar point as I make today, to wit that we need to attend more carefully to what appears in iconic texts that purport to represent the popular will.

Paying attention means being responsible for all of what one says, and it means being responsible for all of what others, who act in our names, have to offer as well.  If a leader like Barack-the-Magnificent gives voice to something, and we remain silent or cheer him on, then we are accepting what he says.  And we need to be responsible in this, to respond if we are truly citizens and democrats, unless we are in complete agreement.

Here is one of the 'worms in the apple' of his recent presentation:

    [I]t has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things--some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.
    For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.
    For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.
    For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

And even as I tip my hat to the beauty and simplicity here, and much of the ideation, I think to myself, "Khe Sanh?"  "Tragic warriors" seems apt, maybe "valiant soldiers" if one has a celebratory bent in regard to the inevitable murder and mayhem of war, but our President contends that those who "fought and died" were essentially playing a heroic role, "carr(ying)us up the long, rugged path toward prosperity and freedom."

Whoa!!  In our response to such statements, we have three choices: honesty, dishonesty, or ignorance.  To believe, honestly, that the Marines and their Air Force cover and their Army rescuers at Khe Sanh have propelled us toward prosperity and freedom, we must find a way of viewing the Vietnam butchery in such a light as well.  Of course, the barbarity and treachery of war always bursts with complexity and paradox.  Any simple characterization of such monstrous humanity is inherently too simple.

But by way of contrast, a reasonable person might respond to the presence of Concord in President Obama's speech with the overly simple but supportable, "We had to fight for independence;" to the presence of Gettysburg with the overly simple but supportable, "We had to fight for the Union;" to the presence of Normandy with the overly simple but supportable, "We had to defeat the fascists."  But Khe Sanh!  Unless we choose ignorance or dishonesty in bridging the gap between 'freedom and prosperity' and Khe Sanh, the two standard tropes to account for our 'presence' in Vietnam--"We had to stop the Communists," or, "We had to fight for South Vietnamese self-determination"--are, at best, foolish bullshit.  At worst, such thinking leads to some dark places indeed.

So, the only way that I see, honestly, to account for our Vietnam foray is like this: "We had to fight to mainain the maximum extent of the ruling class' imperial goals."  And, in some sense, one might be able to hold that such a view has a connection with 'freedom and prosperity.'  But honestly, I can't say that it has contributed to my freedom or my prosperity.  And objectively, I can develop a potent argument that it hasn't contributed to the freedom or the prosperity of most Americans, let alone the freedom or prosperity of our six and half billion cousins all over the planet; except for those whose 'bread is buttered' by empire, that is.

And if we were a culture that chose honesty, instead of dishonesty or ignorance, I could conclude this essay with the paragraphs that will appear many paragraphs hence.  This diary grew out of a realization of how profound the lack of understanding now is, at least on the part of folks who have commented on some of my comments, about the history and purpose of modern United States involvement in Southeast Asia.  Therefore, prior to  ending this diary, I'm making a brief detour into this missed history, the lack of understanding about which is a serious detriment to democratic potential, as the likes of Madison and Jefferson admirably testify.

SOUTHEAST ASIA, EMPIRE, AND THE IMPERIAL PRESENT

Here is the text with which some folks apparently took issue.

  Our new President saluted the fallen heroes of Khe Sanh, who were soldiers and citizens who deserve our compassion, but who were also soldiers of the empire that practiced murder and mayhem in our name.  The same imperial loggerheads unfold around the planet tonight.

In pertinent part, here was the response to this note, after we bickered a bit over the definition of murder.

   You can disagree with the reason for fighting in Vietnam, but that war was hardly a war of empire.  American politicians (John Foster Dulles for instance) were interested in backing up the French prior to US involvement in Vietnam.  Surely that had nothing to do with Empire because the French would still have been there if our joint forces had prevailed.
   These guys truly believed in the South East Asia Domino Theory.  We now know that theory was incorrect but that is somewhat in hindsight.  Call those politicians what you will, but a lot of them were worried about the Soviet Union taking over the world and THAT was what our military was fighting against in many places.          
    You also fail to address the point that a large number of nations were involved in Vietnam and not just us.  Are you going to argue that they were all bought and paid for by the US?

Now, of course I am aware that not everyone agrees about the primarily imperial character of our wars in Southeast Asia.  But I am also aware that an honest, non-ignorant view of the Vietnam conflict is impossible that follows the lines of the commenter.  I set myself the task of demonstrating this, which is what ensues just below.  Expanding the facts and analysis of this brief presentation would be as easy as pie, given a bit of time and effort, but what shows up will do to get the ball rolling, so to say.
                       
That said, let's just do a little tour of the work of one of the folks whom the commenter mentioned: John Foster Dulles.  While dozens of truly critical sources are available, Ronald Pruessen's book, John Foster Dulles: The Road To Power, and Townsend Hoopes', The Devil and John Foster Dulles are good for general background, along with Wikipedia, etc.   Beginning with his role at the Versailles Peace Conference after 'the Great War,' as a partner at Sullivan and Cromwell, as an adviser to presidents, as a mover and shaker behind the Central Intelligence Act, and as Secretary of State, his entire career supported the protection of corporate wealth and the embodiment of that protection in the administrative apparatus--that is to say the military, the intelligence agencies, and the Department of State--of the United States of America.  

       After moving more or less full time into the upper reaches of the governing establishment, he did indeed espouse a virulent anti-communism as his primary perspective.  But this was inseparable from his earlier, much more pragmatic commitments to United Fruit, to Citibank, and other corporate interests in Latin America, where he did a lot of his legal work, destroying unions, making sure the fix was in against any reform-politician, etc.  

These legal moves are matters of fact, and to say that they stemmed from a fear of Russian dominance is nonsensical.  In fact, a reasonable person would have a very difficult time accepting that any rational belief in Soviet takeover was real on the part of upper level government officials.  At best, a very real fear of social democracy existed, as witness the destruction of elected regimes in Iran and elsewhere at Dulles' behest.

        Anyone can point to words about communist aggression; I can provide reams of documentation about backing the moneybag interests that he worked for as a high priced corporate attorney. In regard to anyone who thinks that makes Vietnam a conflict that resulted from a fear of commie takeover, I'd have to say that the evidence in support of that position is rhetorical and ideological.  That same evidence fits too, and therefore better, with a more analytical and material position, that a defense of a new form of empire was at the root of the war, after the old empire failed to hold its ground.  For more reading about this, one might check out The Great Heroin Coup, which documents the U.S. involvement with the French as an imperial venture.

        Among copious other sources, I'd also look at the work of Daniel Ellsberg for the CIA; The Pentagon Papers amply document that the 'red scare' was just one tactic to accomplish sacrosanct political goals opposing any independent Vietnam. Observers can try to go down the 'lions and tigers and reds, oh my!' road, but a lot of people won't buy it.  'It just don't add up, son,' as my grandpa used to say.

On the surface, I suppose, points like these have some validity.  'It was the French Empire, not ours, and besides the Commies were trying to take over.'  Of course, such notions assume that geopolitics is essentially like a game of Risk--a game that lots of people probably enjoy, right?--and it completely ignores documentary, testimentary, and eyewitness evidence that suggest other predominant factors of self interest, but hey, who knows?  

Maybe bald assertions about fearing Reds can stand against Chapters Two and Four of the aforementioned Pentagon Papers--passim, as the saying goes for those who care to examine the case.  And again, supporting--half-heartedly and with our own interests and agenda, but still, somewhat--the French was a part of the story, albeit just a part.  

The vast majority are unaware of Ho Chi Minh's repeated attempts to appeal to the U.S.  He wrote Truman in 1946,            

  I wish to invite attention of your Excellency for strictly humanitarian reasons to following matter.  Two million Vietnamese died of starvation during winter of 1944 and spring 1945 because of starvation policy of French... .Unless great world powers and international relief organizations bring us immediate assistance, we face imminent catastrophe.

As Howard Zinn points out in his A People's History of the United States, "Truman never responded."  

        But the U.S., financing 80% of the war effort in Indochina, beginning well before the formal inauguration of the Cold War in Autumn, 1946, and years before we "lost China," pursued such a 'selfless' policy not because our leaders were morons who just thought the French Foreign Legion romantic, but because they foresaw markets, labor, resources, and key commodities in the region that they wanted for our bankers and manufacturing companies and fuel outfits.  To suggest that we were fighting for French imperial interests under these circumstances and in this fashion is, at best, hilarious nonsense.

      But wait, there's more.

  The most important region in the French empire was that of Indochina, which supplied sources of tin and rubber to the allied war effort.  Vietnam, the largest, most populous part of Indochina, was already seething with nationalist sentiment, and the leaders of the Vietnamese independence movement seized on the Atlantic Charter to press their demands for self-determination.  Yet the Roosevelt administration turned a deaf ear to those appeals. In late 1942, FDR assured the French that "it is thoroughly understood that French sovereignty will be reestablished as soon as possible... .
   Even before the... war, some business leaders described their ultimate goals in blunt terms.  Speaking to the Investment Bankers Association of New York in 1940, Virgil Jordan, president of the National Industrial Conference Board, used these words: "Whatever the outcome of the war, America has embarked on a career of imperialism, both in her world affairs and in every other aspect of her life."  Carrying out "our imperial responsibilities"...meant advocacy of an American empire, based on dominance of the global economy, continu(ing)after the war.

We simply must notice here, that our leaders had more than just a tad of self interest, imperial purpose, that sort of thing, in being so magnanimous with the French while we let the Vietnamese starve.  And this was, in significant part, occurring while our alliance with the Soviets was in high gear--we also wanted to sell them shit, after all.  The quotation above is from Peter Irons most excellent monograph, War Powers: How the Imperial Presidency Hijacked the Constitution.  Folks seriously ought to study this matter some, before trying to make a serious argument, but hey, that's just my advice.

  Of course, some people just can't help themselves, they have to keep throwing up the commie bugaboo.  To these, I'll have to explain something about chronology.  The future cannot cause the past.  The plans for empire date from at least--and many people, like Irons, would move this back a couple of decades or more--the late 1930's.  'The commie menace'--which never really existed in any substantial form, except to our imperial presence, but hey, we're all liberals here, right?--therefore didn't exist in any form when we got all of this started.  That means, that to account for this matter of empire, we have to do a lot more than talk about the evils of communism, or in current parlance, the evils of the terrorist evildoers.

To anyone who would point out the multinational nature of the fight against the victorious North Vietnamese, I'd have to reply, "You're joking right?"  Not just did we supply over 98% of the non-Vietnamese combat troops, endure the same proportion of casualties and expense, but just, like, it was our deal.  It's like calling Operation Iraqi Liberation--oh, excuse me, I mean OIF, they changed the name for a less damning acronym--a 'multinational effort.  Please.

  Many 'liberals' note, charitably, that they do oppose imperialism in general, in Latin America say, "for the most part."  Unfortunately, it's the same empire, led by the same folks, for the same purposes, in Vietnam, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and so on.  Thanks all the same for deigning to accept a general disclaimer.
                             
So I would repeat, "Our new President saluted the fallen heroes of Khe Sanh, who were soldiers and citizens who deserve our compassion, but who were also soldiers of the empire that practiced murder and mayhem in our name."  Some of them, such as Lieutenant William Calley, were guilty of war crimes.  All of them who saw combat participated in 'murder and mayhem.'  That's what war is.  

  The question in all of this is not 'circumspection' but analysis.  Were all members of the Wehrmacht guilty of war crimes?  To assert such would be absurd; but unless one wants to advance a case that the nazi cause was a justifiable engagement of war powers, they were participants in unjust 'murder and mayhem' in the name of Germany and its people.  A precise analogy is possible with the involvement of the United States in Southeast Asia, just as the same analogy, of war for imperial purpose, is applicable to our current wars.

This does not prove that the war was a fascist enterprise, though some might argue that.  But they are all, since at least the 1950's, imperial enterprises, about controlling markets, resources, real estate, and trade.  And, arguably, the United States' actions, in all of the 'there's' over there, have been unjust: just ask the people of the world; hell, a lot of Americans agree with me.  As such, the soldiers there, though caught between a rock and a hard place, were doing the work of murder and mayhem in the name of freedom and democracy while actually representing the interests of the rich, the military, corporate contractors, and so on.

BY WAY OF CONCLUSION

    So, in this context, of willful ignorance and a choice to believe naive analysis, I would insist, repeatedly, "we have gotten just what we deserve the past eight years."  Moreover, our foreign policy will continue to be the source of carnage and mayhem so long as we fail to acknowledge this past and present commitment to imperial hegemony.  Moreover, if we're stubborn in remaining clueless, and insistent in clinging to ignorance like an infant to its mother's breast, then the future is gloomy indeed.

Across this nation, citizens call for accountability and the indictment of the crooks and thugs who have robbed us blind and plundered the planet with a rapacious appetite for murder and mayhem.  But how honest are these sentiments?  How willingly would we apply the standards of justice to ourselves, who so often have acceded to the policies of pillage and carnage in the name of patriotism?

Once more, "Our new President saluted the fallen heroes of Khe Sanh, who were soldiers and citizens who deserve our compassion, but who were also soldiers of the empire that practiced murder and mayhem in our name.  The same imperial loggerheads unfold around the planet today," and will keep doing so for the foreseeable future, until we get our act together and become clear hat only by opposing empire can we advance the interests of common humanity.

Barack Obama, somehow without immolation and with some measure of miraculous grace, has to 'lead' this ship of state.  To what end?  Until the citizens are willing to see that, without our covering Barack-the-Magnificent's 'grassroots' flank, policy will continue to assume the form of practicing the American creed of cupidity and capitalism, and insodoing will pursue what many of us continue to hold most sacred--that is to say the main chance and the easy killing, Barack Obama can only lead us into harbors in which we've dropped anchor before.

'What goes around comes around' is apt advice, no matter how unwelcome.  If the United States of America cannot manage a social democratic turn, miraculous even to consider, then the plutocrats will yet have their way with Barack-the-Magnificent.  And their agenda does not include include either democracy or Democratic politics, as they sit and scheme atop their cabal of capital and divide-and-conquer.  In that light, as I began, so I'll end. What are we up to here?

Originally posted to SERMCAP on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 11:56 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Erm, you should have stopped (5+ / 0-)

    writing after "Barack-the-Magnificent" since the rest, I assume was nonsense.

    You'll never have a quiet world till you knock the patriotism out of the human race. - G.B. Shaw, "Misalliance"

    by gchaucer2 on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 12:00:06 PM PST

    •  Yes and when you assume... (0+ / 0-)

      ...you make an 'ass' of Urself while trying to make 'me' look bad.

      Thanks anyway.

      I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

      by SERMCAP on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 12:04:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  OK, I continued past that (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mas Gaviota

        Though, to tell you the truth, using the hyperbolic "B-t-M" is so silly that you deserve all the lack-of-attention you'll receive because of it.

        In focusing in on that one phrase in the inaugural address, you're making an immense mountain of a very small molehill.  My interpretation of that same series of battlefields was that the President was purposely and pointedly omitting the battles in the current wars -- no mention of Fallujah or Kandahar, and certainly nothing about the WTC or 9/11.

        Is your take better than mine?  More meaningful?  More important?  More apt?

        Who knows?  And who really cares?

        grok the "edku" -- edscan "reveals" all, 21 January 2009

        by N in Seattle on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 12:14:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Well, actually...brave Americans did die... (5+ / 0-)

      in Khe Sanh.  We still lost the war and no dominoes fell. Curiously, it took the Vietnamese to crush the horrid Kmher Rouge...that we actually supported.

      Do you know what "cheese in my pants" means?

      by David Kroning on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 12:19:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Brave men die in every war. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Nell Lancaster, davidincleveland

        Do we want more such opportunities in the support of empire?  That's the point of the post; and if we pay attention to the President's language, he seems to be offering us that choice, and then appointing people who seem to favor visiting that choice upon us.

        Are we going to allow this to happen?  I'm at the least going to keep pointing out what seems to be coming, which is more imperial war to give the moneybags even more of our tax dollars, after TARP and everything.

        I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

        by SERMCAP on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 12:21:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  We lost Vietnam? Where's the surrender document? (0+ / 0-)

        all defeats have surrender documents.  Also, where are the surrender photographs.  I've never seen them.

        Everybody says we lost Vietnam, but I need objective, documetation!

        80 percent of success is just showing up - Woody Allen.

        by Churchill on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 01:12:32 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  We fled and left our 'allies'... (3+ / 0-)

          ...to fend for themselves, and our 'enemies' took complete command.

          Someone who can't recognize objective reality, might easily cling to illusions of omnipotent empire; might easily comfort himself with fantasies of American might in the service of his welfare.  Is that what you're doing?  If not, maybe you have some other point in mind.

          I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

          by SERMCAP on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 01:18:08 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  How do you "fled out allies" after 15 years? (0+ / 0-)

            When we left things were going pretty well. Two years later was when the collapse happened.

            "fend for themselves"  with our weapons?  They weren't defenseless.

            We we have to stay somewhere forever so we can't say that two years after we left the communist overthrow the government?

            When does this end?  Must we stay in Iraq forever, or Afghanistan?

            The first two soldiers that dies in Vietnam were Major Buis and Master Sergean Ovrnard in July, 1959

            The last two soldiers to dies in Vietnam was

            Marines,  Corporal McMahan and Lance Corporal Judge,  on April 29, 1975

            almost 16 years later?

            How did we "fled our allies" and let them "fend for themselves"?

            59,081 soldiers dies so that someone wouldn't say we cut and ran.

            After 16 years, if a government can't defend itself, then it will never defend itself!

            80 percent of success is just showing up - Woody Allen.

            by Churchill on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 01:44:44 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  sorry, I mean 58,913; they didn't cut and run (0+ / 0-)

              80 percent of success is just showing up - Woody Allen.

              by Churchill on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 01:46:33 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Look, Churchill... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Churchill

              I appreciate the data that you provide, but your quotation of me in your 'subject' line is not correct, I hope you realize.

              Have you watched the scene of our departure?  It was chaos; we fled, and I use that verb consciously--because it is accurate, primarly.  The NVA 'liberators' were in the suburbs of Saigon while we were burning files, disabling and destroying equipment that we could not get out of the country, etc.  The South Vietnamese forces didn't hold the country more than a few hours, at most a few days, after we 'withdrew in a hasty fashion,' if you prefer.

              We killed over a million Asians, primarily with superior fire power, and then we ditched, because the resistance here, the condemnation world wide, and our own economic ability to carry on the fight, made our continued war effort impossible to sustain.

              I'm not saying that a single soldier--not even Lieutenant Calley--was an evil villain, though, like all folks, some probably were.  Your comments do not address this.  Instead, you are processing your own feelings, which is fine, if that's what you need to do.  But it has nothing to do with argument.

              Vaya con Dios, and good luck.

              I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

              by SERMCAP on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 07:18:07 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  fact: All combat troops out March 73 (0+ / 0-)

                we had a few embassy troops is Saigon.  That's what you saw evacuating the embassy, not our army.  It went pretty well from March 73 to about February 75, almost 2 years.  Then they NVA put their tanks an the road and drove into Saigon.

                After 15 years of fighting our country finally saw that it wasn't going to work.  We didn't abandon anything.  We didn't have anything there to abandon.  We hadn't accomplished anything that would last

                My point is that this is long ago history.  However, we will leave Iraq soon.  It may very well be that the Iraq government is taken over by Muqtada al-Sadr.  There isn't much we can do about it.  After six years of fighting we have done all that we can do.  I think these wars are extended and go on and  on and on and on because someone doesn't want to lose his macho "man card" and say that it's over, we didn't accomplish the mission.

                To build a democracy in Vietnam or Iraq will take so much time and money we don't have.  We can't do these wildly ambition things every twenty or twenty-five years.  We don't have the money

                80 percent of success is just showing up - Woody Allen.

                by Churchill on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 05:20:33 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Some of the points that you make... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Churchill

                  ...are excellent.  However, you don't address one bit of what I have developed as an argument: about the source of the war in imperialism; about the need for clarity on that; about the common jingoism and ignorance about that.

                  The war was an imperial misadventure, to be generous.  That misadventure ended as April ended in 1975.  We financed, supplied, and advised after we left, having "accomplished nothing," as you say, except murder and mayhem in the service of empire.  In a word, we left in defeat, which our evacuation  in 1975 punctuated.

                  "Long ago history" is such a weird idea about my youth, when my friends were there, when I was part of the peace movement here, when so many did not understand, just as so many are ignorant and misled today.

                  Here's a video and some data to add to the hopper, the data from PBS, the video an independent compilation.
                  http://www.youtube.com/...

                   The last American combat soldiers leave South Vietnam, though military advisors and Marines, who are protecting U.S. installations, remain. For the United States, the war is officially over. Of the more than 3 million Americans who have served in the war, almost 58,000 are dead, and over 1,000 are missing in action. Some 150,000 Americans were seriously wounded.

                  I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

                  by SERMCAP on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 07:00:21 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Imperial wars can't be won anymore, U R rt, (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    SERMCAP

                    I just get tired of people saying we lost the Vietnam War.  The Vietnamese lost the war, we had left the country two years before, after losing almost 60,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.

                    After 16 years, 60,000 dead soldiers, and half a trillion dollars in today's money, what else could we do?

                    This hero stuff, this don't cut and run because you would be a coward, just gets more Americans, and of course, Vietnamese and Iraqi's killed.

                    80 percent of success is just showing up - Woody Allen.

                    by Churchill on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 03:47:33 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I like your tag line. (0+ / 0-)

                      And of course, you are right, at least in the sense that to say the "we lost the war" is simplistic and at best somewhat descriptive of what happened.  The main point to keep in mind is how you start, that 'winning' an imperial war, in terms of the interests of common people, is next to impossible at best.

                      Take care, and thanks for the thread.  

                      I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

                      by SERMCAP on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 04:22:54 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  58,913 dead, but 1800 MIA, about 60,000 (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    SERMCAP

                    it's a horrible cost. Plus the 184,000 ARVN soldiers KIA, and maybe a million civilians killed, or more.

                    80 percent of success is just showing up - Woody Allen.

                    by Churchill on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 03:48:57 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  And the wounded. (0+ / 0-)

                      And the psychologically screwed.  And the people who never can let go of fear and suspicion and hate again.  It's real easy to get biblical in looking at such as this, which is so characteristic of so much of humanity.  

                      But that's the nature of 'giving up childish things,' to me, that we're willing anyway to take an honest look at the situation and say, "How can we avoid this carnage again?"  And then, despite the apparent inevitability, to seek a path toward peace; and the point of remembering is that peace cannot come from a distorted, romantic, or naive view of the past.  

                      Real transformation can only come from real understanding.

                      I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

                      by SERMCAP on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 04:27:03 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

          •  This just points out how unrealistic empire is (0+ / 0-)

            after 16 years in Vietnam we didn't create a stable democracy that could defend itself against their enemies.

            16 years, 59,913 dead soldiers,

            and over 184,000 ARVN dead

            Their government couldn't hold the country after we left.  That's out fault?  How?

            80 percent of success is just showing up - Woody Allen.

            by Churchill on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 01:48:28 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Our 'fault'... (0+ / 0-)

              ...was in fighting for an imperial domination to replace and somehow improve on the old colonial model.  Our government orchestrated a massive mass murder, in order to hold on to this imperial model.

              The ARVN "couldn't hold the country after we left" because of what you say: "how unrealistic empire is."

              I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

              by SERMCAP on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 07:21:06 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  Yeah? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SERMCAP

      Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions

      by publicv on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 12:44:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Kudos and Critiques. (5+ / 0-)

    A popular government, without popular information, or the means to obtain it, is but a prelude to a farce or a tragedy, or both.  James Madison.

    I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

    by SERMCAP on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 12:00:26 PM PST

    •  I'll give you a kudo (5+ / 0-)

      but the Barak-the Magnificent is a little too much, especially in a diary critical of empire.

      (-7.0, -6.4) "I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, you know I'm a peaceful man.'" Robbie Robertson

      by NearlyNormal on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 12:05:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  So what is your point in this tome? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      N in Seattle, onanyes, willb48

      You seem to have a problem with Obama giving kudos to those that sacrificed to serve the US (aside from justifying the war) in Vietnam.  Your point was not well taken and an insult to those that served and the families of those that died.

      "Es mejor morir de pie que vivir de rodilla." E. Zapata

      by Mas Gaviota on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 12:12:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  How do you justify that conclusion? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        davidincleveland, chidmf

        Are you saying that all anti-war Vietnam vets, of whom two are good friends of mine, are disrespectful to themselves and their comrades?  The point is that the "sacrifice" and the "service" have nothing to do with helping our freedom or our prosperity, and that this imperial purpose continues, and at the top may even be strengthening.  

        If that is what you prefer, we disagree.  Vaya con Dios in any event.

        I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

        by SERMCAP on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 12:24:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  No (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          esquimaux

          Obama was saluting the service of those that sacrificed in Vietnam.  It has NOTHING to do with the question of the legitimacy of that conflict.  Yes, those that serve in the armed forces are helping with our freedom and prosperity.  It is not their fault that we elected a jackass that decided to invade Iraq.  

          "Es mejor morir de pie que vivir de rodilla." E. Zapata

          by Mas Gaviota on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 12:33:04 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  No. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Nell Lancaster, davidincleveland

            If you know how to read, you will see that he is connecting our "freedom and prosperity" to the battle of Khe Sanh.  As a rhetorical flourish, from an amateur, such may be an excusable mistake.

            From a brilliant man who is the President of the United States, the use of "Khe Sanh" is a sop to imperial pretensions.  And I won't let it pass by without comment.

            I am being responsible, by responding.

            I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

            by SERMCAP on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 12:36:14 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  You are the amateur n/t (0+ / 0-)

              "Es mejor morir de pie que vivir de rodilla." E. Zapata

              by Mas Gaviota on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 12:41:34 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  True enough. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                davidincleveland

                So what?  I'm a citizen.  And I offer a lot more to think about than do you.

                I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

                by SERMCAP on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 12:42:58 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Then offer something n/t (0+ / 0-)

                  "Es mejor morir de pie que vivir de rodilla." E. Zapata

                  by Mas Gaviota on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 12:46:48 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I already did, compadre. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    davidincleveland

                    And so far, you've offered not a single substantive word in reply.  Merely snark and blithe dismissal.

                    I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

                    by SERMCAP on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 12:56:31 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  What I heard (2+ / 0-)

                      was vets are crap.  If that's your position, I will defend it.  I will think you are a crappy piece of shit, but as a vet I will defend your right to be one.

                      Bush was a train wreck. McCain is the Titanic. -5.13/-3.38

                      by Grannus on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 01:52:51 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Why did you 'hear' that? (0+ / 0-)

                        I never said it; in fact, repeatedly, in the diary and in my replies to comments, have said exactly the opposite.  What else can I say?  

                        I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

                        by SERMCAP on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 07:22:34 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Perhaps it was the implication (2+ / 0-)

                          Once more, "Our new President saluted the fallen heroes of Khe Sanh, who were soldiers and citizens who deserve our compassion, but who were also soldiers of the empire that practiced murder and mayhem in our name.

                          that we were murderers.  

                          Our government orchestrated a massive mass murder

                           And who carried out your murders?  You imply the soldiers who were at Khe Sanh, and by extrapolation, anyone who was in theater.

                          Bush was a train wreck. McCain is the Titanic. -5.13/-3.38

                          by Grannus on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 04:43:49 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Listen, if you want to learn. (0+ / 0-)

                            I know exactly what "imply," the verb form of implication means, both in common sense usage, and in a technical sense, in relation to text.  I teach these things, and my students do really well on the tests for which I am often preparing them.  

                            In everyday usage, 'imply' means to suggest without stating directly; in textual matters of interpretation, it means to use clues that do not state some fact or idea directly, but which naturally and logically suggest that fact or idea.  Of course, 'implication' is just the noun form.

                            Whenever anyone believes that something is implicit(the adjective form), or believes that a text implies something, that reader has drawn an inference, a guess from the clues.  Such matters of inference and implication are possible to deal with objectively or subjectively.

                            Subjectively, you saw clues and believed an implication was present.  Three possible objective conclusions are possible.  You are right, and I intended the implication to be present.  You are right, and I mistakenly planted the clues.  Or, you are wrong.  

                            The first possibility is out.  I wrote the piece and I didn't intend to imply what you said.  What about the second possibility?  That I don't know how to write well enough to avoid unintended implications?  To an extent, this is a matter of opinion of course.  But, if we're honest, and don't let our prejudice or presumptuousness get in our way, we should at least be able to pinpoint the clues in the text.

                            Let's deal with the second 'clue' that you provide first.

                            Our government orchestrated a massive mass murder.

                            Does this imply that the soldiers, the employees of the government were also guilty?  At the highest levels of the officer's corps, the answer would have to be somewhere between an unqualified affirmative and a qualified affirmative.  What about lower officers and enlisted personnel?  Do they participate in policy?  Do they have the right, as we do in a democracy, to vote for the policy they want?  Of course, the answer is 'No, they do not.'  Does this imply that they were guilty of murder?  Not to me; I would make this bet with you.  If we posed this query in any college English class, "In the context of this essay(which means taking all that I said into account)was the author implying that U.S. soldiers were guilty of crimes such as murder?" three quarters or more of the respondents would answer, "No, not really," or something similar.  "Tragic warriors," the term that I applied to the soldiers, certainly doesn't seem a good description of murdering mercenaries.

                            Now what about the first quotation above?

                              Once more, "Our new President saluted the fallen heroes of Khe Sanh, who were soldiers and citizens who deserve our compassion, but who were also soldiers of the empire that practiced murder and mayhem in our name.

                            I repeated this line three times in the essay, on purpose.  Why did I do that?  My intention was to make clear two things: the soldiers were not to blame, but the policy behind the soldiers' presence was blameworthy.  So, as above, certainly no intention of implication is present.  Does the text justify your conclusion.  To me the clues are clear; separating the soldiers from the policy is the point of "deserve our compassion," since, as a fierce critic of imperialism, I clearly reject a positive attitude toward those who cling to imperial perquisites.  In the second independent clause notice the relative pronoun "that."  It repeats empire and could make another independent clause, "The empire practiced murder and mayhem in our name."  Does that imply that the soldiers, separated already from the imperial policy, are to blame, especially considering the whole context of the essay?  Again, I'll bet anyone who wants to try it as an experiment in a college English class.

                            What's the bottom line here?  I would wager, whatever consideration I can afford, that most people would not read these lines as you have.  Maybe most vets would; I don't know about that.  Maybe I've got some soul-searching to do; as someone reared Catholic, I'm a great believer in 'examining my conscience.'  But my conscience feels very clear.  How about you?  Do you still have a monkey on your back or a chip on your shoulder about this issue?  If so, I didn't put it there, although, like the soldiers, tragic warriors and victims almost to a man, you have my compassion.  Of course, that probably just pisses you off more.  Isn't that interesting.  

                            I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

                            by SERMCAP on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 09:45:24 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Actually (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Urtica dioica gracilis

                            like the soldiers, tragic warriors and victims almost to a man, you have my compassion.  Of course, that probably just pisses you off more.  Isn't that interesting.  

                            no.

                            What's the bottom line here?  I would wager, whatever consideration I can afford, that most people would not read these lines as you have.  Maybe most vets would; I don't know about that.

                            yes

                            And simply tossing out a wall of text doesn't change what you actually said.  Spin away though.

                            Bush was a train wreck. McCain is the Titanic. -5.13/-3.38

                            by Grannus on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 03:00:46 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Vaya con Dios, Grannus. (0+ / 0-)

                            I'm responding to your abuse and your snark, as civilly as I'm able.  I believe in making an effort to be rational.  Good luck to you, whatever the heck you're trying to accomplish.

                            I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

                            by SERMCAP on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 03:25:01 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

        •  VN Vets Against the War (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mas Gaviota, SERMCAP

          were not disrespectful but at the same time, judging from the Winter Soldier Project and from conversations with various members 1971/1972, it seems that their concern was that their sacrifice and their service and that of their fellows would either count for nothing or else count for the wrong thing.
          http://www.wintersoldier.com/

          It was an effort for a search and rescue of what was right with the country at the time (circa 1962-1974) and what had gone horribly wrong with us at the same time.

          The hope was not just to rescue that generation but to make sure that no future generations had to experience what ours had. In retrospect it appears we failed terribly.

    •  Bravo SERMCAP! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chigh, SERMCAP

      A well reasoned argument, in spite of the slow learners among us. I am one of those slow learners and so are most of my fellow human beings.

      The B-t-M had me wonderin' where it was goin', but since I know where Khe Sanh is/was, I stayed for the rest of the show.

      I noticed it, and I also noticed that he didn't mention Chosin Reservoir either, or anything else from the "Korean Conflict".

      I think you are right to call him on it, and I think he would agree that you had a point there. The Vietnam war has been held out as an example of what happens when we have these damn civilians in charge of the government. "If they would have only allowed us some small nukes, why hell, this damn war would be over!" (Yeah, sure. We could have won in Vietnam and Nixon was hounded out of office.)

      The memories so many of us have of those years and particularly among the veterans of that conflict are still very sensitive, obviously. When over 58,000 die for a "cause" and don't come back with a "victory", people start making shit up about how we won it, or some other variant.

      I think Mr. Obama knew that a lot of surviving Vietnam Veterans were listening and threw them a bone. I also think you are correct in tagging him for it.

      Of course, he also gave GW a bone about his "years of service", and I got past that even after throwing up in my mouth a little.

      I would have liked him to clap Bush in irons at 12:10 EST, but he's better than I am, he's smarter than I am, and, and... he's got his eye on the whole game.

      "Anyone who has been tortured, remains tortured." -- Primo Levi

      by Flywheel Grinding on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 03:17:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Please, man... (0+ / 0-)

        ...at some point do a diary on the Bush issue.  I've made some comments about that, which I'd be happy to share with you.

        Stay in touch, and send your comment here to Op-Ed News and other sites, as it is important to consider.

        Thanks.

        I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

        by SERMCAP on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 07:24:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  did you ever try to unfold a loggerhead? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mas Gaviota

    if you do, you'll find it's easier said than done.

    You ain't gonna learn what you don't want to know - John Barlow

    by bottles on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 12:08:42 PM PST

  •  This certainly is a long diary (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    N in Seattle, onanyes, triv33, Mas Gaviota

    But you entirely missed the point.

  •  heroes nonetheless (3+ / 0-)

    most were drafted and fulfilling their obligation to their country.  My country right or wrong, when wrong to make right etc.  Yes, I would also call Viet Nam a war of imperialism but the men and women who died there are every bit as worthy of our respect even if they were ill-served by their elected leaders.  Perhaps, more so.

    •  I repeat that need for compassion... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      davidincleveland

      ...which certainly implies respect for their humanity, repeatedly in the diary.  Consider this: if the new Chancellor of Germany talked about how the 'heroes' of Stalingrad or the Battle of Britain had contributed to Germany's well-being, how would that strike you?  How about a Japanese Prime Minister extolling the virtues and contributions of the 'heroes' of Pearl Harbor.

      Nationalism and imperialism equal a death sentence for humanity.

      I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

      by SERMCAP on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 12:28:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Stay away from analogies amigo n/t (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wystler

        "Es mejor morir de pie que vivir de rodilla." E. Zapata

        by Mas Gaviota on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 12:34:20 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  What's that supposed to mean? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          davidincleveland

          Everything in the universe is an analogy.  It's how things work at the quantum level on up.

          I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

          by SERMCAP on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 12:37:09 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  It is the last resort for those (0+ / 0-)

            with a weak argument.

            "Es mejor morir de pie que vivir de rodilla." E. Zapata

            by Mas Gaviota on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 12:40:09 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Really? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              davidincleveland

              Then so far, my friend, you should be lovin' on some analogies.

              I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

              by SERMCAP on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 12:41:27 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  You really are dense (0+ / 0-)

                Your diary was about two thousand words too long to make a point that most here dissagree with and now you are going to resort to insults.  Goood luck with that.

                "Es mejor morir de pie que vivir de rodilla." E. Zapata

                by Mas Gaviota on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 12:45:56 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I'm not the one who started the insults. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  davidincleveland

                  And I believe in giving back what I get.  So far, you've made no substantive argument, preferring to pick nits and pretend that you have something more useful to offer.

                  I'll be glad to respond in kind if you have an argument to offer.  If you prefer pithy abuse and coy insinuation, then guess what?  Right back at ya.

                  I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

                  by SERMCAP on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 12:48:33 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Ok here it is (0+ / 0-)

                    The point of this diary (your quote):

                    If you know how to read, you will see that he is connecting our "freedom and prosperity" to the battle of Khe Sanh.  As a rhetorical flourish, from an amateur, such may be an excusable mistake.

                    You are wrong.  Obama was pointing to the service of those in the armed forces as being essential to our freedom and prosperity.  You are the one that turned that small point in his speech into a essay on the US role in  Vietnam and "the empire."  Your analysis of this part of Obama's speech is clearly overdone, innaccurate and yes the mark of an amateur.

                    "Es mejor morir de pie que vivir de rodilla." E. Zapata

                    by Mas Gaviota on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 12:57:54 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  OK, you could be right. (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      davidincleveland

                      But the point is that I can provide evidence, to make a case, that the empire has not contributed to our 'freedom and prosperity.'  You offer nothing in reply except your assertion that Obama chose to use Khe Sanh for a less important point than I contend.

                      And you could be right.  Wanna bet about what's coming in regard to Afghanistan and elsewhere?  Maybe you like the idea of eternal imperial war.  It doesn't appeal to me, thanks all the same.

                      I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

                      by SERMCAP on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 01:20:48 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

    •  Problem with Khe Sanh is that it was a (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mas Gaviota, SERMCAP

      flytrap with the US Marines (III Marine Amphibious Force) as bait in the trap, as seen by Westmoreland. While Marines were volunteers, there was also a powerful incentive to volunteer as recruiters in 1970 told young men who had a low lottery number that if they joined, they could pick their service area and avoid being drafted into combat as an infantryman.

      So the pressure was placed to join as a volunteer, even though volunteering did not mean you would not end up slogging through a paddy somewhere.

      A perspective on Marine/Army service in VN:
      http://www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil/...

  •  Maybe it would be best to consider (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wystler, Mas Gaviota, SERMCAP

    the four battles mentioned in their totalities and their relationships (if any to each other)

    Khe Sanh was an extremely complex action whose purpose is still disputed today as to Giap's actual intentions and Westmoreland's perceptions of his intentions as well as Khe Sanh's relationship to the Tet Offensive:

    http://www.library.vanderbilt.edu/...
    Concord is a little harder to find decent analysis for:
    http://www.arlingtonhistorical.org/...
    http://www.marshall.edu/... (peripherally)

    Gettysburg is easier:
    http://en.allexperts.com/...

    as is Normandy:
    http://www.historyguy.com/...

    Speculation about the connections can pretty much go anywhere but off the cuff, I note that all of these battles were game changers for the US.

    •  I understand your point about the battle... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      davidincleveland

      ...in the context of the war, as a military matter.  However, that utterly misses my point about the nature of the war, whatever the nature of that battle.  As the genius who is our President, Barrack Obama is undoubtedly also aware of the nature of the Vietnam conflict.  

      And I always think that very thoughtful and intelligent people mean to make the rhetorical choices that they do.  And then there's the whole matter of Afghanistan, which is about to blow up in our faces.  So looking at Khe Sanh as a question of military strategy just doesn't seem that pertinent.

      I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

      by SERMCAP on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 12:33:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I am trying to understand why (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        davidincleveland, chidmf, SERMCAP

        those 4 battles were chosen as examples. My curiosity is if his reference were micro, i.e. referring directly to the battles mentions and not macro i.e. seeking broader extrapolations on the wars involved instead of the battles in and of themselves.

        Military decisions have an inevitable political dimension; in Iraq, we repeated the "flypaper" mistake of Khe Sanh, so if we do extrapolate from the battle do we extrapolate to the VN War or do we extrapolate to our nation's actions since VN?

        •  I was also wondering about those choices. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          davidincleveland, chidmf

          After a commenter showed profound ignorance about Vietnam, and then defended that ignorance righteously, I had to do a diary.  And these results please me.  I'll get to say "I told you so" pretty quickly, in my estimation, if the tenor of these responses are indicative of the American consciousness of history and politics at large.

          I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

          by SERMCAP on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 12:52:45 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  "Cast not your pearls before swine." (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            SERMCAP

            This magnificent diary is utterly wasted on Americans, even the ones who call themselves 'progressive.' Without any understanding of or even knowledge of history, even political non-right-wing Americans have simply absorbed the pap they were fed in our high schools and colleges.

            Truly, you are dealing here with "educated fools from uneducated schools." I'm sending this diary to my younger brother, a 'Nam vet, because I know he'll love it and agree with it. He cracked on that inclusion in Obama's speech as we watched the inauguration at his house.

            My best friend Jose, who was also a 'Nam vet, and who committed suicide in NYC 70 days before the ceasefire, would have applauded this diary to the echo--and he was not a demonstrative man. Thank you for writing this diary. Tipped and most heartily recommended.

            "Dialogue is good, sometimes even productive, but if you do not believe in equality, then you are not of this tribe." -swampus

            by davidincleveland on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 03:21:16 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thanks, man. (0+ / 0-)

              I know that I may be asking a lot, but if you would, at some point, be willing to dig up some of that personal background that you share briefly here, connect it with what's happened in Iraq and continues to go down in Afghanistan, and write a diary about it, you'd be doing a service for humanity.

              Of course, you'd catch a lot of grief.  But I'll be a wingman if you ever go for it.  Just let me know, well in advance if possible, when you intend to post, and we'll do a virtual education session about all of this.

              I teared up at your description.  You have a command of language that these tragic and chilling events require.

              Again, thanks, and please keep us posted.

              I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

              by SERMCAP on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 09:50:54 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  My brother (8+ / 0-)

    was a 19 year old Marine at Khe Sahn. He spent most of his time in a underground bunker trying not to get killed. He escaped shortly before his tour of duty was up. He wasn't an imperialist.  Just a kid from a lower class family trying to live long enough to return home to his infant daughter.

    I was touched that President Obama mentioned Khe Sahn in his speech.

    GWB/McCain will pry my 23 and 20 year old sons from my cold dead fingers.

    by Momagainstthedraft on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 12:43:12 PM PST

  •  Bloviating!!! (2+ / 0-)

    I never quite knew what that word meant until I read this diary. In fact I never knew exactly what a bloviator was until now. thanks

    •  Well thank you. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      davidincleveland

      Coming from someone who extols ignorance and condemns conversation, the label is like being called evil by the devil.

      I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

      by SERMCAP on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 12:55:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Truth hurts huh? n/t (0+ / 0-)

        "Es mejor morir de pie que vivir de rodilla." E. Zapata

        by Mas Gaviota on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 12:58:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You dishonor a hero. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          davidincleveland

          You know, with your quote.  You celebrate his killers.  Maybe that's your idea of a snarky 'gotcha,' uh?

          I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

          by SERMCAP on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 01:21:54 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Are you kidding? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Urtica dioica gracilis

            The best you can do is argue with my sig line and then reply to the wrong poster.  This is the first time that I have seen someone hijack their own diary!!!! Are you a tool or a troll?

            "Es mejor morir de pie que vivir de rodilla." E. Zapata

            by Mas Gaviota on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 02:08:10 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'm a technical idiot. (0+ / 0-)

              If I responded to the wrong comment, ah well.  Your sig line, so beautiful, is something a Colombian woman said to me when I was reporting on the butchery of Plan Colombia.  But that line is anomalous in relation to your attitude and treatment of me.

              You have abused and misrepresented what I have said repeatedly, and made snarky, 'n/t' remarks in your copious comments.  The one thing that you did say, of any substance anyway, is that I misread Barack-the-Magnificent's speech.

              Now, you may not be willing to listen, but one who will not listen cannot learn.  I listen, believe me.  Here is what our President said, as I noted in my diary.

               [I]t has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things--some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.
                 For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.
                 For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.
                 For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

              This is a series of connected thoughts. The first sentence, ending with "prosperity and freedom," points to all of the other sentences.  Note that they all begin with "For us."  This is a potent literary device, and rhetorically, it guides the audience to connect these points.

              You may not want to admit a fact that flows from this analytical point.  But the fact remains: Barack Obama connected the fighting in Khe Sanh with our "freedom and prosperity."  He may have wanted something else to result from the mention; I don't know.  But the connection that I elucidate is inescapable.

              It is also, at best, a delusion about the past, which is what the diary is about.  I understand that you have played a part in leading people who have been fucked in the ass by empire.  I find especially anomalous your attitude and presentation here.

              If you want "to mix it up a little," cousin, I can make my point very graphic, and painful, for you.  But I would prefer not to do that.  You needn't apologize, but you should.  I needn't apologize at all, and I won't.  I try not to put myself in the position of saying I'm sorry for the truth.

              Just ask yourself, "How would Emiliano Zapata have thought about the Vietnam War a butchery of peasants and farmers for lucre?"  Those were the same people that he fought and died for.

              I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

              by SERMCAP on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 07:44:05 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  Whoa, Nelly! (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        copithorne, Mas Gaviota, debbieleft

        Wrong person to toss that at. You may not appreciate what he said, but your allegations, in this instance, are so far off as to be laughable. Except I'm not laughing.

        •  Dying on your feet... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          davidincleveland

          ...versus living on your knees.  Zapata was a hero; he was assassinated at the behest of American empire.  Anyone who can respond to my diary in this fashion is either a defender of empire or someone who is incapable of honorable disagreement.  In either case, Zapata wouldn't put up with it.

          Thanks very much, though.

          I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

          by SERMCAP on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 01:24:20 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The man you directed that comment at (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mas Gaviota, marsanges, debbieleft

            is one of the finest leaders of AIM  and a champion of not only Indian rights, but civil rights; a man who has walked his talk and talked his walk; a man to whom we all owe respect. How ironic, then, that you cite Zapata.

            One cannot learn anything with their mouth open.

            •  And you misread my comment. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              davidincleveland

              I was talking about Zapata, not him.  He consistently defended the VN war as honorable.  Zapata would spit in the face of anyone who did that, great leader or no.

              I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

              by SERMCAP on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 01:30:32 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I didn't think you were old enough (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                debbieleft

                to know Zapata personally. Live and learn.

                •  haha, it just struck me (2+ / 0-)

                  sorry about getting people excited, it just seemed the word (bloviating) was just right for the guy. I shouldn't have bothered. byw, did he compare me to Zapata?  :)

                •  I assume, Ms. Priss... (0+ / 0-)

                  ...that you refer to this line: " He consistently defended the VN war as honorable."  I was rushed, so the sentence is not completely clear.  But honestly, in context, you must have had some small clue that your comrade is the one to whom that line refers.  He over and over said that I had disrespected veterans, which is either a lie or ignorance.

                  He implied or stated these soldiers were heroes, with which I disagree, since they were fighting in the cause of a vicious and hypocritical empire.  He disrespected me repeatedly, while saying snarky things that offered nothing substantive.  

                  I'll go on if you like, or we can part ways completely, or agree to disagree; it's your call.  I'm merely speaking the truth, as in speaking honestly about what appears accurate to me.  I am well aware that other viewpoints are sustainable.  So far, however, no one has come close to a Kissinger POV that is defensible, which is to say an honest endorsement of empire.  

                  Everyone here so far wants it both ways.  They want their fallen dead to be heroes, but they don't want to acknowledge the inevitable imperialism that is concomitant with that.  I am patient, and I write quickly, so I'll continue to point out this inconsistency.

                  What do you think Zapata would think of the VN war?  He would certainly not have consistently supported the butchery of the farmers for whom he so valiantly fought and died.  Vaya con Dios.

                  I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

                  by SERMCAP on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 07:53:43 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Well! I never! How dare you?!!! (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Mas Gaviota, SERMCAP

                    Not really; just couldn't pass up such a fine opportunity to say that, after being called

                    Ms. Priss

                    Heh. I don't subscribe to the concept of "heroes," or war, so that's that. I would hazard a guess that my anti-war sentiments, perhaps, exceed your own.

                    However, I also acknowledge that some people see nuances between the actions of the state and the actions of its subjects.

                    In tribal culture, generally, warriors are welcomed home and reintegrated into society, rather than shamed or chastised into perpetuity. Not necessarily because it is "right," but because it is best for the cohesion and functionality of the community. If the word hero, or concept of heroism facilitates that, so be it.

                    So, yes, I knew what you meant. You seemed to be having a hard-of-thinking moment about the distinctions others perceive between a warrior and a war, and I felt entitled, in that moment, to be a bit hard-of-thinking, myself. As you say, people want the fallen to be heroes, while decrying the war. People also sometimes prefer the term "passed," to saying someone died. My oldest son is dead, killed at age 14, nearly 15, yet, sometimes, I say he "passed," because, in that moment, it is too painful to hang such an ugly word on my beautiful child's memory. Can you blame me?  Tolerance and empathy, love.

                    Zapata: hell if I know what Zapata would think of the US aggression in Vietnam. probably would have thought it was more of the same arrogant, religion-fueled US colonialism that led to the settlement of America. Just for the record, I view the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War in the same light as I do Vietnam, Iraq, Korea, WWII, WWI, etc. No one would mistake me for a "patriot," in the usual sense. But, in the end, Zapata's views are of less concern to me than those of the now living.

                    How about I ask you: what do you think Quanah Parker, or even Geronimo would think of the VN war?

                    •  Well, what a fun, thoughtful... (0+ / 0-)

                      ...even eloquent little screed have we here.  Geronimo would have taught the Viet Cong a thing or two about tactics and taken some lessons of his own home.

                      He was one tough hombre.  I catch all of your distinctions; I follow the beauty and sense of what you say; I also know that I'll never be a politician or a leader.  But I've got a good mind for dissection and meaning, and all I can do is offer what I see as honest and useful.

                      Of course, I can 'live and learn,' as best I'm able, so long as I have companeros y companeras who show me the light now and again.

                      I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

                      by SERMCAP on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 09:27:44 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Tell the truth: did you read every word? (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Grannus, Mas Gaviota

                        Because what I really hoped you would take away is that these are human people you're interacting with, who may find it very painful to think of their dead friends as part of the horrors of the US government's atrocities. This may be entirely true, but grinding someone's psyche over something like that does not further discourse. If you make them angry, on a very intimate level, you give them an excuse to stop listening to you.

                        •  I read every word. (0+ / 0-)

                          The fellow whom I assume you meant was the AIM leader, in one of his snarky, 'n/t' comments, asked, "The truth hurts, huh?"  

                          If my job is to be a therapist, I can see your point.  If my job is to win something from a community with such wounds, I see your point.  

                          But those are not my jobs.  My job is to initiate discussions that are real and honest about what is happening in this country.  Inasmuch as many or, God fucking help us, most citizens are so delicate and sensitive as to be unable to deal with honest reality, then we are indeed well and truly fucked.

                          But being nicer, being 'less confrontive,' being more sensitive is not the issue and will do nothing to bring about my purpose, the aforesaid honest and real discussion.  I highly recommend that you read the comment above, about "casting your pearls before swine."  He and the real, honest to God vets to whom he forwarded the diary, are my intended audience.  Young people who have learned crap from the media and schools are my intended audience.  Democrats who are being led down the primrose path to more imperial war are my intended audience.

                          And while my compassion for the weak and the wounded is real, they need to get a grip and develop an ability to deal with that reality.  I can deal with it.  I've dealt with it my entire life.  

                          In short, I got what you intended, and it was beautifully written.  I take the ideas into consideration.  I ponder tactics that might permit me to be gentler and yet still fierce in my most basic commitment, to the reality and the honesty of dialog.

                          But I am quite clear: if I have to choose between sensitivity and inclusiveness, and honest realism, I will choose the honest approach in every instance.  Give me substance, please, and not a market basket of psychological problems.  We've plenty of those to deal with anyhow, come what may.

                          I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

                          by SERMCAP on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 10:02:08 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  So be it. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            debbieleft

                            Your use of flattery was quite effective. :)

                            Nah. The AIM leader, cacamp, wasn't the one with the Zapata sig line that said "truth hurts." That was someone else. cacamp was the "bloviating" comment. Lol. He made a backhanded-apology elsewhere in the thread.  

                            I read the "pearls before swine" comment. Hell, I read all the comments. What can I say, it was a do-nothing sort of day for me. And I know quite a few vets that, if something like that were said in their presence, would have an immediate and definitive response. That's reality, too.

                            Anyway, sorry to have thrown objections up to a course of action you have already clearly contemplated.

                            How's your son doing? Getting it all worked out through the courts?

                            We took an emergency trip to Arizona a couple of weeks ago to retrieve our daughter. She's doing fine and we're flying her back next Monday, but it was lovely having her home for a couple of weeks, to pamper and dote upon. My, my how she's matured in the year she's been on her own.

                            You catch more flies with rotting salmon than honey.

                            by Urtica dioica gracilis on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 01:46:13 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Just like mama... (0+ / 0-)

                            ...and yet, the world turns around us.  I know as time passes that my cluelessness is irremediable.  Yet my job, as a citizen and a human, is to offer what I've got, whether I receive 'kudos or critiques.'

                            My son is out of the woods, at least on paper.  He's a brilliant musician, and a gorgeous hunk of youngster, but his scholarship leaves a lot to be desired, to say the least.

                            My daughter has all of my imperiousness and all of her mother's toughness, so she is a force of nature.  So long as she survives her own willfulness, she'll do great things.

                            I'm glad you were able to nurture and relaunch the little one.  Things are dicey now in so many ways. Vaya con Dios, and keep me posted.

                            I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

                            by SERMCAP on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 05:16:35 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

              •  You need to explain this (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Urtica dioica gracilis

                He consistently defended the VN war as honorable

                No, the soldiers that served were honorable, the war was not.  Who is this "he" that you are talking about?

                "Es mejor morir de pie que vivir de rodilla." E. Zapata

                by Mas Gaviota on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 02:13:34 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Dear God! (0+ / 0-)

                  What an insult that would be to a great hero.

                  I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

                  by SERMCAP on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 07:55:16 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  You are the 'he.' (0+ / 0-)

                  You repeatedly, as in over and over and over, said that I was disrespecting heroic veterans.  That is objectively false, and you clearly implied that said Vets were heroic.  In order for them to be heroes, one must approve the imperial purpose of their enterprise.  Otherwise, at best, they are "tragic warriors" and in some senses equally victimized along with the millions of Asians that we butchered.

                  You cannot have 'heroes' who were conducting a war of imperial conquest.  At least, I'll dispute the name of hero in that regard.  The Japanese pilots who died attacking Pearl Harbor may have been "tragic warriors," but I will not accept--I will fight with all of my might against--calling them "heroes."

                  I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

                  by SERMCAP on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 07:59:24 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  You have a serious problem (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Urtica dioica gracilis

                    with telling the difference between honoring those that served and support for the Vietnam war.  You can post many words but your premise is deeply flawed.

                    "Es mejor morir de pie que vivir de rodilla." E. Zapata

                    by Mas Gaviota on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 09:33:40 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  You asked for this. (0+ / 0-)

                      Here is an analogy.  My argument is not weak.  It is close to incontrovertible.  You want things to be two ways that are diametrically opposed.  You want soldiers honored as heroes who were part of an unjust, imperial, criminal war.  

                      My opinion is that such 'honoring of heroes' is impossible in such a situation.  You believe it is possible, apparently.  If so, then we may part, agreeing to disagree.

                      But here is what you are also agreeing to.  "We should honor the cavalry from Wounded Knee who were carrying out imperial butchery to increase the freedom and prosperity of White people through their murder and theft."  You suggested above, "The truth hurts, huh?"

                      You tell me.

                      I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

                      by SERMCAP on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 10:06:32 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Butting in... (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        debbieleft

                        Although each cavalry soldier at Wounded Knee had a choice, as to whether they killed the people they were directed to kill, or, alternately, to be jailed or killed by their own military for not fighting and killing Indians, the impulse to preserve the integrity of one's own life is undeniably strong.

                        Tell me honestly what your response would be if you were drafted tomorrow and told you must either fight against a perceived enemy of the state, or face death yourself by refusing?

                        Be honest. Would you truly toss away your own life, your potential to support your family, to reach others with your message, in order to live your principles against imperial war? Would you choose to leave your son and daughter with no father? Your wife with no husband? Would you choose to die, or be jailed into perpetuity, rather than be part of an imperial war?

                        It's easy to yes in theory, but much harder to do in reality.

                        This is the choice many men have faced in the past and it is the ultimate reason imperial war is possible. Shame on the power of the state and the decisions made that give the state such powers, not the warrior.

                        You catch more flies with rotting salmon than honey.

                        by Urtica dioica gracilis on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 02:20:24 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  I know exactly what I would do. (0+ / 0-)

                          However, I'll keep that to myself for now; I'm not a big believer in either/or scenarios.  I've been in some tough spots, in all kinds of situations, ranging from being outnumbered and under attack to being in a vehicle with people who wanted to do me harm to being in all sorts of athletic and other competitions in which the odds overwhelmingly were against me.

                          I'll tell you this; people who face such situations deserve compassion.  Of such is the tragedy of human kind composed.  What I am saying has absolutely nothing to do with judgment.  Implicitly, everything that you write judges me.  You judge me as judgmental, if nothing else.  

                          And, try as you might, the best that you can generally demonstrate is that I might be judgmental, based on the textual evidence at hand.  So why have you never asked, "Aren't you judging others here, without recognizing their horrifyingly difficult conundrums?"  I point this out to you because, though I am very patient about continuing to clarify and attempt acuity and intelligence, I just note that your entire note seems to imply that I would reach a conclusion other than the one which you reached, and I defy you to find any dispositive textual clue that would make such a conclusion reasonable, even defensible.  Certainly no such conclusion is possible for me.  I know that.

                          So saying, none of that was the point of my essay, nor was it the point of much of the discussion here.  The point of that was to point out error, a profoundly important part of any sort of improvement, any sort of empowerment that has more options than seeking to 'shame' the powers that be.  The error is that we 'honor' the warriors by lying to ourselves about their function.  Never was their function abroad in any substantial situation, since at least the 1950's, to sustain or protect us.  Always has their function been to control populations and territory and provide lucre for the already wealthy and powerful.  

                          We dishonor their memory, their plight, their pain, their deaths, if we don't get this straight.  And, in my estimation, you need to get this straight.  I can justify this suggestion based on what you have articulated to me, in this and several other e-mails. In service to various others, I have done the same thing, in spite of the abuse and calumny that I have encountered as a result.  

                          So I appreciate the well-written hypothetical.  But you're either preaching to the choir or making presumptions for which you have no basis or justification.  And, as I said, you haven't bothered to check about such assumptions, if you have them.   Hmmmmmmm.  "Physician, heal thyself."

                          I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

                          by SERMCAP on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 04:47:21 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

  •  I'm too dense to see any disagreement (3+ / 0-)

    here- the soldiers at Khe Sahn weren't criminal or imperialist, but our involvement was both. What Obama said illustrates our inability to face up to this, but the attitude that we can do no wrong is obviously one of the 'childish things' he calls on us to set aside, in concord with our 'better history'.

    •  That's interesting. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      davidincleveland

      How do you reach such an interpretation?  I'd like to know.  I've been trying to figure out how such would be possible, especially in the context of his apparent support for amping up operations in Afghanistan.

      But the point of the diary is clarity on the 'childish' clinging to our presence in VN being anything other than imperial murder.

      And plenty here have taken exception with that.

      I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

      by SERMCAP on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 01:26:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  well, Obama's pointing up the contradiction (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        davidincleveland, SERMCAP

        by saying that the soldiers at Khe Sahn fought for our freedom- when, clearly, they fought for nothing but greed and arrogance-  and then calling us to put aside 'childish things', one of which, clearly, is the attitude that we can do no wrong. It's his political judgement that he can't now be more explicit, and he's right: we haven't yet found the strength to face up to our past, as many of the comments on this thread show.

        I only hope he sees that Afghanistan is a total repeat of Vietnam.

        •  Thank you. (0+ / 0-)

          This whole exercise is a teaching moment, and those who accuse me of arrogance should heed the biblical injunction about motes and beams.  You could do a diary about the point you make, btw.  Nice development.

          I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

          by SERMCAP on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 08:01:34 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I'm just really tired; worn out by O-Campaign (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SERMCAP

    I'll think of what to do next month.  I've got to start taking care of my business.

    Obama can manage without us/me for a few days, I HOPE!

    80 percent of success is just showing up - Woody Allen.

    by Churchill on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 01:10:51 PM PST

  •  Nits to pick... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mas Gaviota, marsanges, SERMCAP

    Your line of discussion, "But where are we going?", certainly showed promise, and I congratulate you on less self-contemplation in this post, but then you veered off into the dark woods and, rather than open dialog, you clamped the lid tightly shut, pontificating and preaching, as your jumped on your high horse and took a few spins around the barnyard.

    To promote dialog, one must engage with others in equal, peer-to-peer communications. Present your perspective, ask others their viewpoint, and allow others an opportunity to answer. Discuss the ensuing results.

    Most people here are intelligent and have arrived at their positions after some contemplation. We are not students, in the usual sense, but, rather, people journeying together.

    Do not follow me, for I shall not lead
    Do not lead me, for I shall not follow
    Walk beside me, as an equal

    And just a side note: when people perseverate on and dissect prior dialogs in subsequent posts, particularly when it is done with the external awareness of a cyclone, I simply quit reading at the moment it appears. Of course, you're not writing to satisfy me, but I think I may not be alone in this response.

    •  I'm off to work. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      davidincleveland

      I'll respond fully later.  I give what I got.  Nowhere in the diary do I 'go off into dark woods,' unless one insists on support for imperial war.  If one insists on such, then my absolute intention is to get them started, to give them the opportunity to show 'true colors.'  That's my story, in any event.

      I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

      by SERMCAP on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 01:29:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Okay, but read this first: (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mas Gaviota, SERMCAP

        The answer, I think, was given to me a long time ago when I worked for an eminent consultant pediatrician in a hospital.  He had the delicate task of writing letters to doctors who had referred patients to him. Often he had to give them the news that they had misdiagnosed the patient, wasted a lot of time, caused suffering unnecessarily, or even hastened the patient’s demise.  In private, behind closed doors, he would wax vitriolic about the dangerous incompetence of the doctor concerned. The letters, however, would be effusive with compliments; any criticism was hedged about with lashings of thickly-spread flattery.

        I was a young hothead, and I eventually asked him why his letters were so mealy mouthed. I didn’t get it.

        "Nobody is immune from politeness and flattery", he told me. "In fact, there seems to be no upper-limit to the amount of flattery that a person can absorb. If you can compliment and encourage the person that you must instruct, then any reproach is accepted more readily. There are ways of phrasing a painful truth about a person’s skills or conduct that will deflect hurt feelings, and therefore be accepted more readily. All you get by haranguing people for their foolishness is resentful resistance."

        I highly recommended application of this technique in forum posting. When the urge to flame somebody strikes,  rephrase your thoughts in such a way that the person is impelled into doing the right thing, but does not feel insulted. A nice fringe benefit to this process is that it provides a wonderful way of managing one’s anger and frustration.

        Also known as the "shit sandwich."

        •  Well this is gorgeous. (0+ / 0-)

          I'm a pugilistic asshole, and I enjoy the fray.  On the other hand, I do have some things to say that may in fact be useful, and possibly of crucial import if we don't all want to end up like Emiliano, shot to rags by butchers whom we trusted.

          I take your point, and will attempt a more judicious approach when I can keep my wits about me.  A friend of mine much more successful in life and politics than I put it this way: "You attract a lot more flies with honey than with vinegar."

          I guess I needn't reply to the other again, unless something important there bears further discussion in your estimation of things.  Of one thing, I'm certain.  My job is to bring stuff like the content of this diary up, come what may.  And I don't want to 'soften' that, because it's a dire strait that's ahead, which no easy reckoning will allow us to negotiate successfully.

          I'm still not sure how I got all mixed up about whose response went where.  Which one of these hornets was the AIM leader?  The one with the Zapata tag, right?

          I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

          by SERMCAP on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 08:19:41 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You attract more flies with rotting salmon (0+ / 0-)

            than honey. Trust me on that one.

            cacamp is Carter Camp. You should read this article by Brenda Norrell.

          •  Finally some clarity (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Urtica dioica gracilis

            I'm a pugilistic asshole, and I enjoy the fray

            "Es mejor morir de pie que vivir de rodilla." E. Zapata

            by Mas Gaviota on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 09:36:18 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Absolutely. (0+ / 0-)

              'Black-Jack' Pershing's forays into Mexico deserve honor in you opinion.  What a patriot.

              I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

              by SERMCAP on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 10:09:18 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  No Harvard guy, (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Urtica dioica gracilis

                those that serve have no say in the policies of the government.  Those that serve(d) deserve honor, that was the point of Obama's speech.  If you cannot seperate policies and decisions made by leadership from the foot soldiers that follow orders, you really need to work on your critical thinking.

                "Es mejor morir de pie que vivir de rodilla." E. Zapata

                by Mas Gaviota on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 10:22:50 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  OK, whatever kind of guy you are... (0+ / 0-)

                  ...(now carefully adjust the chip on your shoulder, or it might fall off), then all of the soldiers who worked with 'Black Jack' plundering Northern Mexico and following the policies of their imperial masters, deserve our honor.  So do all the soldiers of the Wehrmacht.  So do the pilots of the Japanese at Pearl Harbor.  So do the butchers of the Apache and Commanche and the Sioux and more.  Welcome to your world.

                  Hopefully, someone will actually survive it to celebrate all of that heroism.

                  I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

                  by SERMCAP on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 10:35:21 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Logic is not your strong suit, (0+ / 0-)

                    the Harvard reference has nothing to do with chips and everything to do with your lack of critical thinking skills.  People that post their educational credentials on Kos usually do so to establish their intellectual bonafides.  You however, with your endless devotion to a weak diary are showing everone the poverty of your ideas.

                    "Es mejor morir de pie que vivir de rodilla." E. Zapata

                    by Mas Gaviota on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 10:43:09 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  What a pompous ass! (0+ / 0-)

                      You have offered 60% snark, 30% non-sequitur, and equal parts of the remaining ten per cent whining and defense(albeit unintended, all the worse)of empire.  You could no more explicate my argument, more's the pity than you could fully understand the Declaration of Independence or the Bill of Rights.

                      I have deep compassion for you.  Should you ever grow up enough to recognize the need, I'd be happy to tutor you--I've helped bunches of younger sorts in this fashion, with great success.  My rates are competitive.

                      Vaya con Dios, and as long as you choose to dish out your nonsense, I'll keep on slinging back the crap with an appeal to reason.  At least I'll say this for you.  You say little, which is a good strategy when you're uncertain about what to offer and wouldn't know how to go about it if you did.

                      I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

                      by SERMCAP on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 10:53:03 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I will make this easy for you, tutor me (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        SERMCAP

                        Show me one post I made that was a :

                        defense(albeit unintended, all the worse)of empire

                        "Es mejor morir de pie que vivir de rodilla." E. Zapata

                        by Mas Gaviota on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 11:01:14 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  "Where there's life, there's hope." (0+ / 0-)

                          Or so my granny used to say anyway.  OK.  Here we go.  In your first comment, you wrote that SERMCAP

                            seem(s) to have a problem with Obama giving kudos to those that sacrificed to serve the US.

                          Before we get to the reading and interpretation lesson, I can't help myself.  I'm a grammar nut.  When you write "Obama giving," it should be "Obama's giving," because 'giving' is a gerund and requires a possessive.  And although your usage of "those that" is technically permissible, "those who" would arguably be better.

                          All right then.  We both agree that I "have a problem," or something similar, with a reference in Obama's speech.  But then you totally put words in my mouth, to the effect that I don't like kudos to those who served the U.S. in Vietnam.  And this completely misses a primary point of my diary, which many readers saw, and which I stated plainly.  Serving in Vietnam was NOT serving the nation; it did NOT contribute to my freedom and prosperity; it was NOT in the best interest of either people here or there in general.  It was imperial business and it was murder.  So to say that I objected to kudos for service was objectively wrong--no service to the nation occurred--and it did not apply to my thinking--I made clear that I completely disagreed with such a characterization in the President's speech.

                          Are you with me?  I hope so.  Now, since I did not say what you suggested, and in fact said and believe the opposite of what you suggested, where does that idea, that being a soldier in the Vietnam War was service to America, come from?  Here's a clue; it's a three letter personal pronoun that starts with "Y" and ends with "U."

                          Are we squirming yet, just a little?  Now let's go a little deeper.  Why would you put words in my mouth?  I cannot demonstrate this with 100% certainty, but where I come from 95% certainty is generally adequate, and I'd say that I'm 95%+ certain that those words are how you think about the Vietnam war, at least reflexively or subconsciously.  The reason that I add those qualifiers, is that, when I began to point out that you were implying an acceptance of imperial ventures, you became snarky and vicious, and when pressed, said that I was the one conflating imperialism with the unfortunate lot of conscripted kids ten thousand miles from home.

                          You're a good guy; you don't want to butcher other people and support anti-democratic murder for the sake of wealthy people.  I understand that and sympathize with your plight.  That plight is essentially that you have this longing to view the bloody work of a generation of Americans as something other than waste in support of murder and mayhem.  But part of coming to terms with ourselves is to honor those soldiers at the same time that we condemn the work that they did in following the orders of empire.  

                          So, I've given you some grammar pointers.  I've used the art of verbal inference and critical reasoning skills to point out some things about your comment.  You may not appreciate this, or you may want to try to squirm out of the little net that I have closed around you.  But I'm not a lawyer trying to trick you.  I'm an honest broker offering you help and guidance, if you're willing to listen.

                          And I did it for free, you rascal.

                          I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

                          by SERMCAP on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 11:56:01 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

  •  Well, I appreciate what you are trying to do. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mas Gaviota, SERMCAP

    I think it is worth discussing. I get that we are on the same side.

    Of course a President can never speak as far outside of American power as you speak.

    For me, though, I have trouble generating the escape velocity to get into the orbit of the conspiratorial view.

    I think the Vietnam war is more of a stupid war than an imperialist war. Once the outcome became clear (a while after Khe Sanh) continuing the war was immoral and murderous. But it was started with a shred of a good intention. The soldiers themselves certainly fought in the context of that good intention of fighting for freedom so President Obama's statement is true and right on that level.

    Even when I read Howard Zinn, I don't get the sense of Vietnam policy being driven by imperialism.

    For myself, I don't relate to the war in Iraq being about oil so much as it was about engineering the politics of the Middle East and US security. It was monumentally stupid and inconsistent with any tradition of moral reasoning. But it is more stupid than evil.

    Also, this was challenging to read this much. For the scope of the point, I would have tried to halve this. The length explains some of the dismissive reaction you got.

    Thanks, though.

    From an abomination to an Obama Nation

    by copithorne on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 01:55:21 PM PST

    •  Finally, reason with which I can reasonably... (0+ / 0-)

      ...disagree.  I'd say that your perspective is too idealistic and that garnering the evidence to support it would be a 'tough row to hoe,' to say the least.  I highly recommend Irons' book to your purview in that regard, as well as The Pentagon Papers.

      And, point of information, I am not contending that empire was any sort of 'conspiracy.'  It was policy, which is a perspective that Zinn clearly advances, repeatedly too, in his People's History, and elsewhere.

      We might end up just having to agree to disagree, but I would enjoy seeing evidence to support your position, since I am very interested in seeing things in as rounded a way as possible.

      I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

      by SERMCAP on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 08:07:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  reply (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mas Gaviota

        I’m just upholding liberal conventional wisdom. If you look at any orthodox history, you’d see Eisenhower and Kennedy escalating involvement in Vietnam because of a doctrine of containing communism and a sense of commitment to upholding treaty obligations. In my mind, actually, that was basically justifiable from a moral reasoning standpoint. The war became a murderous mess when Johnson and Nixon both understood that they could not achieve their objectives but they were unwilling to de-escalate due to considerations for their own political career and highly abstract notions of geo-politics.

        The idea that the war was initiated by a mercantilist/corporate appetite for profits from raw materials comes across to me as hard to prove.

        I haven’t read Peter Iron’s book and in my reading, that was the only piece of evidence you had for the Vietnam War as imperialism.  The other pieces didn’t quite support that contention.

        And it is just like the hypothesis that the war in Iraq was fought over access to oil. I think it may be possible to find evidence that access to oil was discussed as a factor in the decision to go to war. But it doesn’t quite add up to viewing that as the REAL reason why we started a war in Iraq.

        For one thing, neither the Vietnamese war or the war in Iraq make any sense as a quest for natural resources. Cost/benefit are totally out of proportion.

        For sure, the President can’t go to that level of conspiracy thinking – that kind of cynicism about American power. And I’m just sharing my sense that I’m not likely to go there either.

        From an abomination to an Obama Nation

        by copithorne on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 11:05:17 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not a simple determinist. (0+ / 0-)

          And there's a lot more to the ledger of empire than any balance sheet of profits and losses will show.  And I certainly recognize the standard trope of 'liberal history' in your note.

          Of course, Zinn, Alperowitz, Chomsky, and hundreds of other secondary sources support what I'm saying, and the primary sources--everything from the speech that I lifted from Irons, to the testimony of General Smedley Butler, to the law firm records from Dulles' work at Sullivan and Cromwell, and on and on and on and on and on--admirably serve to advance the case that I make as well.

          Like I said, I know that I cannot 'prove' what I'm saying, just as you would have to acknowledge your inability to do so in regard to your case.  I'm happy to discuss this and leave the conclusion up to democratic disposition.  Of course, the sad history of the release of The Pentagon Papers, filled with evidence of what I say, is interesting in this regard, what with the government fighting 'tooth and nail,' as it were, to suppress this information, for 'national security reasons.'

          Again, thanks for the opportunity to make some points.  I haven't responded to the latter half of your comment on purpose, as its points are elements of a forthcoming diary of mine, and I'm in a hurry at the moment.

          Vaya con Dios, and ciao for now.

          I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

          by SERMCAP on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 11:32:03 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Vietnam etc. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SERMCAP

    An important factor, not discussed, in all our post WW11 wars and skirmishes, is racism! It was very instrumental in the Vietnam War, as we were fighting gooks and zipper heads, not human beings! And yes, it was a war waged in the name of U.S. Imperialism, to control the rubber, oil and tin (ROT)in Vietnam.
    With all the talk of our soldiers and how they serve the country, I ask a philosophical question. When is a U.S. soldier responsible for his actions and their consequences or will we continue to use the "good German defense", I was just following orders? Also, if a war is immoral and dishonorable, how can those who wage the war be moral and honorable? It would be nice to have an intelligent discussion concerning this conundrum.

      With God On Our Side-Dylan

    •  Praise God for this! (0+ / 0-)

      One of my good friends came back from the war a unremitting revolutionary.  He told me a story of sleeping in the bush, on an extended foray into the wilds in search of said same 'gooks.'  

      He woke up of a morning with a flyer next to his head; when he cleared the sleep from his eyes, he read, "No Viet-Cong Ever Called Me Nigger!"  He told me that he never again fired on 'enemies' who were not shooting at his ass directly.

      I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

      by SERMCAP on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 08:11:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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