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Think of it as the Great Obama Shuffle.  When U.N. ambassador Susan Rice went down in flames as the president’s nominee for secretary of state, he turned to ally, former presidential candidate, and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee John Kerry (who had essentially been traveling the world as a second secretary of state during Obama’s first term). Next, he nominated his counterterrorism “tsar” and right-hand man in the White House-directed drone wars to be the next head of the CIA, which dominates those drone wars.  Then he picked White House chief of staff (and former Citigroup exec) Jack Lew to head the Treasury Department.  Meanwhile, he tapped his key foreign policy advisor and West Wing aide Denis McDonough to replace Lew as chief of staff.

He also renominated Richard Cordray, whose recess appointment as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was recently endangered by a federal appeals court, to the same position, and picked B. Todd Jones, the acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, as the man to reinvigorate that agency.  Otherwise, Tom Donilon will remain his national security advisor and James Clapper, his director of national intelligence.  And so it goes in Obama’s Washington where new faces and fresh air are evidently not an operative concept.

In such an atmosphere, the nomination of retired Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, the co-chairman of the president’s Intelligence Advisory Board, as secretary of defense was the equivalent of a thunderbolt from the blue.  Republicans, in particular, reacted as if the president had just picked Noam Chomsky to run the Pentagon, as if, that is, Hagel were the outsider’s outsider.  When it comes to military and foreign policy, the former Nebraska senator remains the sole breath of fresh air in today’s Washington.  That’s because he has expressed the most modest of doubts about the U.S.-Israeli relationship, as well as the efficacy of the U.S. sanctions program against Iran and a possible attack on that country’s nuclear facilities, and because he has spoken, again in mild terms, of “paring” a Pentagon budget that has experienced year after year of what he's called "bloat."

Of course, what little fresh space might exist between the Obama I and Obama II years (not to speak of the George W. Bush II years) has been rapidly closed.  Hagel was soon forced to mouth the pieties of present-day Washington, offering an ever friendlier take onIsrael and an ever-tougher set of positions on Iran, while assuring everyone in sight that his previous positions had been sorely misunderstood.  This should be a healthy reminder that, at least when it comes to war and national security policy, debate in Washington can be fierce and bitter (as over the Benghazi affair), even as what Andrew Bacevich calls “the Washington Rules” ensure that not a genuine new thought, nor a genuinely different position, can be tolerated, no less seriously discussed in that town.

Barack Obama arrived in Washington in 2009 buoyed by the slogan “change we can believe in.”  The bitter Hagel hearings will be a fierce reminder that, when it comes to foreign policy, old is new, and the words “change” and “Washington” don’t belong in the same sentence.  It remains something of an irony that, whether it’s John Kerry or Chuck Hagel, what little breathing room exists in the corridors of power can be credited to a now-ancient war whose realities, as Nick Turse reminds us in his remarkable new book, Kill Anything that Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam, most Americans -- Chuck Hagel evidently among them -- could never truly face or take in. Tom


The Hagel Hearings
The Last Best Chance for the Truth About a Lost War and America’s War-Making Future
By Nick Turse

He’s been battered by big-money conservative groups looking to derail his bid for secretary of defense.  Critics say he wants to end America’s nuclear program.  They claim he’s anti-Israel and soft on Iran.  So you can expect intense questioning -- if only for theatrical effect -- about all of the above (and undoubtedly then some) as Chuck Hagel faces his Senate confirmation hearings today.    

You can be sure of one other thing: Hagel’s military service in Vietnam will be mentioned -- and praised. It’s likely, however, to be in a separate and distinct category, unrelated to the pointed questions about current issues like defense priorities, his beliefs on the use of force abroad, or the Defense Department’s role in counterterrorism operations.  You can also be sure of this: no senator will ask Chuck Hagel about his presence during the machine-gunning of an orphanage in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta or the lessons he might have drawn from that incident.

Nor is any senator apt to ask what Hagel might do if allegations about similar acts by American troops emerge in Afghanistan or elsewhere.  Nor will some senator question him on the possible parallels between the CIA-run Phoenix Program, a joint U.S.-Vietnamese venture focused on identifying and killing civilians associated with South Vietnam’s revolutionary shadow government, and the CIA’s current targeted-killing-by-drone campaign in Pakistan’s tribal borderlands.  Nor, for that matter, is he likely to be asked about the lessons he learned fighting a war in a foreign land among a civilian population where innocents and enemies were often hard to tell apart.  If, however, Hagel’s military experience is to be touted as a key qualification for his becoming secretary of defense, shouldn’t the American people have some idea of just what that experience was really like and how it shaped his thinking in regard to today’s wars?

Chuck Hagel on Murder in Vietnam

"In Chuck Hagel our troops see a decorated combat veteran of character and strength -- they see him as one of their own," President Obama said as he nominated the former Republican senator from Nebraska to become the first former enlisted service member and first Vietnam veteran to serve as secretary of defense.  He went on to call him “the leader that our troops deserve.” 

Chuck Hagel and his younger brother, Tom, fought together in Vietnam in 1968. The two are believed to be the only brothers to have served in the same infantry squad in that war and even more remarkably, each ended up saving the other's life.  “With Chuck, our troops will always know, just as Sergeant Hagel was there for his own brother, Secretary Hagel will be there for you,” the president said. 

Largely unnoted was the falling out the brothers had over the conflict.  After returning home, Tom began protesting the war, while Chuck defended it.  Eventually, the Hagel brothers reconciled and even returned to Vietnam together in 1999.  Years before, however, the two sat down with journalist and historian Myra MacPherson and talked about the war.  Although their interpretations of what they had been through differed, it’s hard not to come away with the sense that both witnessed U.S. atrocities, and that Chuck Hagel’s vision of the war is far more brutal than most Americans imagine.  That his experience of Vietnam would include such incidents should hardly be surprising, especially given the fact that Hagel served in the 9th Infantry Division under one of the most notorious U.S. commanders, Julian Ewell, known more colorfully as “the Butcher of the Delta.”

The Hagel brothers, MacPherson recounts in her moving and important history Long Time Passing: Vietnam and the Haunted Generation, argued over whether American troops were “murdering” people.  Chuck disagreed at first, pointing instead to the depredations of Vietnamese revolutionary forces.  Tom reminded his brother of the CIA’s Phoenix Program which, with an estimated body count of more than 20,000 Vietnamese, too often turned murderous and was no less regularly used by corrupt Vietnamese government officials to settle personal grudges.  “There was some of that,” Chuck finally granted.

Tom then raised an example that hit closer to home -- the time, after an enemy attack, when a sergeant from their unit took out his frustrations on a nearby orphanage.  “Remember the orphanage, Chuck… That sergeant was so drunk and so pissed off that he crawled up on that track [armored personnel carrier] and opened up on that orphanage with a fifty-caliber machine gun,” Tom said.

When Chuck started to object, MacPherson writes, his brother was insistent.  “Chuck, you were there!  Down at the bottom of the sandhill.”  Skeptically, Chuck asked his brother if he was saying the sergeant had “slaughtered children in the orphanage.”  Tom granted that he didn’t know for sure, “because none of us went in to check.”  Chuck responded, “In any war you can take any isolated incident…”

But the war Tom Hagel detailed to MacPherson wasn’t one punctuated by a few isolated “incidents.”  He would talk about officers ordering the mutilation of enemy dead and soldiers shooting up and burning down a village, about how helicopter gunships and napalm decimated large areas of the countryside, about the lethality of indiscriminate weapons fire and about coming upon the bodies of women and children when firefights were over.  He also recounted, in detail, a July 1968 assault on a “hardcore” enemy village in which their unit took part.  After the battle had ended, he said, a lieutenant shot and killed a civilian in cold blood.  “We’re collecting all the NVA [North Vietnamese Army] bodies and this woman walks out of a hootch.  He just shot her dead,” Tom recalled.

The Hagel Hearings: America’s Last Best Chance for the Truth

Recently, MacPherson wrote an op-ed in the New York Times in support of Chuck Hagel’s bid to serve as Secretary of Defense: “His experience has taught him the physical and mental toll of combat.  He would surely think twice before sending young men and women into unnecessary, stupid, or unwinnable conflicts... One thing I know: Chuck Hagel will stand up to whatever is thrown at him.” 

Tom Hagel has recently talked about his brother in similarly glowing terms.  “He’s going to do a great job, he’ll be totally committed to it,” he told Politico. “I think he will bring special sensitivity for enlisted personnel to the job, because, of course, of his experiences as an enlisted person in Nam.”    

While he ultimately voted to authorize the war in Iraq -- despite grave misgivings -- there is a perception that, in the future, Hagel would be reticent to plunge the United States into yet more reckless wars and a strong belief exists among his supporters that he will stand up for America’s sons and daughters in uniform.  On one subject, however, Hagel’s Vietnam experience shows him in a lesser light: sensitivity to the plight of the men and women who live in America’s war zones.  In this area, his seeming unwillingness to face up to, no less tell the whole truth about, the Vietnam War he saw should raise serious questions.  Unfortunately, it’s a blind spot not just for him, but for official Washington generally, and probably much of the country as well. 

It’s worth noting that the Hagel brothers left Vietnam just as their commanding general, Julian Ewell, launched a six-month operation in the Mekong Delta code-named Speedy Express.  One whistleblowing veteran who served in that operation told the Army’s top generals that Ewell’s use of heavy firepower on the countryside resulted in a “My Lai each month” (a reference, of course, to the one massacre most Americans know about, in which U.S. troops slaughtered more than 500 civilians, most of them women, children, and elderly men).  That veteran’s shocking allegations were kept secret and a nascent inquiry into them was suppressed by the Pentagon.

A later Newsweek investigation would conclude that as many as 5,000 civilians were killed during Speedy Express.  A secret internal military report, commissioned after Newsweek published its account, suggested that the magazine had offered a low-end estimate.  The document, kept secret and then buried for decades, concluded:

“While there appears to be no means of determining the precise number of civilian casualties incurred by US forces during Operation Speedy Express, it would appear that the extent of these casualties was in fact substantial, and that a fairly solid case can be constructed to show that civilian casualties may have amounted to several thousand (between 5,000 and 7,000).”

During the war, efforts by U.S. senators to look into Speedy Express were thwarted by Pentagon officials.  More than four decades later, no senator is ever going to launch an investigation into what actually happened or the Pentagon cover-up that kept the American people in the dark for decades.  Theoretically, the Hagel hearings do offer the Senate a belated chance to ask a few pertinent questions about the Vietnam War and the real lessons it holds for today’s era of continuous conflict and for the civilians in distant lands who suffer from it.  But any such hope is, we know, sure to die a quick death in that Senate hearing room.

Chuck Hagel’s views on the Vietnam War underwent a fundamental shift following the release of audio tapes of President Lyndon Johnson admitting, in 1964, that the war was unwinnable.  That "cold political calculation" caused Hagel to vow that he would "never, ever remain silent when that kind of thinking put more American lives at risk in any conflict." 

But what about lives other than those of Americans?  What about children in shot-up orphanages or women who survive a murderous crossfire only to be gunned down in cold blood?  Chuck Hagel may well be, as Mr. Obama contends, “the leader that our troops deserve.”  But don’t the American people deserve a little honesty from that leader about the war that shaped him?  In these few days, the senators considering his nomination have an opportunity, perhaps the last one available, to get some answers about a war whose realities, never quite faced here, continue to dog us so many decades later.  It’s a shame that they are sure to pass it up in favor of the usual political theater. 

Nick Turse is the managing editor of TomDispatch.com and a fellow at the Nation Institute.  An award-winning journalist, his work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Nation, and regularly at TomDispatch. He is the author most recently of Kill Anything that Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam (The American Empire Project, Metropolitan Books).  Published on January 15th, it offers a new look at the American war machine in Vietnam and the suffering it caused. His website is NickTurse.com.  You can follow him on Tumblr and on Facebook. 

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter @TomDispatch and join us on Facebook.  Check out the newest Dispatch book, Nick Turse’s The Changing Face of Empire: Special Ops, Drones, Proxy Fighters, Secret Bases, and Cyberwarfare.

Copyright 2013 Nick Turse


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Comment Preferences

  •  As always, follow the money. (8+ / 0-)

    Behind the virulent attack on Hagel's pending appointment as Secretary of Defense is the military-industrial combine's attempt to protect the bloated defense budget.

    That's the point, Hagel publicly acknowledges that the defense budget is bloated and, if appointed, would take steps to reduce the bloat. Opposition to Hagel uses any subterfuge - references to Israel and gays - to keep him from following through on Obama's promise to reduce defense spending - at last.  

    •  100% opposition based on the fear that he may (0+ / 0-)

      Not support giving the military and defense contractors everything they want.

      A standing army is like a standing member. It's an excellent assurance of domestic tranquility, but a dangerous temptation to foreign adventure. Elbridge Gerry - Constitutional Convention (1787)

      by No Exit on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 05:56:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Additional reading (7+ / 0-)

    The private war of Chuck and Tom Hagel

    Monday, Apr 30, 2007
     After saving each other's lives in combat, Chuck Hagel, the future Republican senator of Nebraska, and his brother Tom fought about Vietnam and Iraq -- until they finally saw eye to eye.

    By Myra MacPherson

    Hobbs: "How come we play war and not peace?" Calvin: "Too few role models."

    by BOHICA on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 07:31:26 AM PST

  •  Why did LBJ drag us deeper into Viet Nam (6+ / 0-)

    when he knew it was unwinnable?

    I've been struggling with that question for years. Does anyone know or have a clue?

    look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

    by FishOutofWater on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 07:40:59 AM PST

    •  The Truman doctrine and Cold War (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BOHICA, irate, raincrow, SilentBrook, Kickemout

      LBJ did not want to be seen as being soft against the Soviet Union by seeming to do nothing while country after country fell under Communism.

      "Who Lost China?" was a very effective political attack by the Republicans who found their footing after being in the political wilderness for an entire generation.

      JFK attacked Nixon in the 1960 election for the weapons gap with the USSR.

      Cold war Democrats attacked Republicans from the right when it came to foreign policy back in those days.

      •  Not true (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        WattleBreakfast

        Cold war thinking was on the way out in the early stages of the Vietnam War.  Americans were sick of wars and wanted peace and prosperity for a change.

        LBJ's advisors were the ones who pushed for more war, led by the dinosaurs in the Pentagon and the military industrial complex.

        Democratic Leaders must be very clear they stand with the working class of our country. Democrats must hold the line in demanding that deficit reduction is done fairly -- not on the backs of the elderly, the sick, children and the poor.

        by Betty Pinson on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 08:00:08 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Everything about the Vietnam war was political (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BOHICA, melfunction, raincrow, SilentBrook

          "LBJ isn't deeply concerned about who governs Laos, or who governs South Vietnam -- he's deeply concerned with what the average American voter is going to think about how he did in the ball game of the Cold War. The great Cold War championship gets played in the largest stadium in the United States and he, Lyndon Johnson, is the quarterback, and if he loses, how does he do in the next election? So don't lose. Now that's too simple, but it's where he is. He's living with his own political survival every time he looks at these questions.”

          http://books.google.ca/...

          Sure the MIC enjoyed the dividends that were brought by more military spending.  But ultimately, the Democrats were scared of being branded as being too pro-Soviet.

          •  LBJ was forced into it by Republicans (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            BOHICA, SilentBrook

            He knew if Vietnam fell on his watch, Republicans would freak out and begin a new wave of McCarthyism/hysteria - and probably win.  So he was doing his best to appease by pursuing assistance to Vietnam.

            Once in, the military-industrial complex pushed and made it clear escalation was his only way to avoid an electoral disaster.  

            The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. --George Orwell

            by jgkojak on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 08:16:03 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Something happened to the psyche of the US (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              SilentBrook

              after Pearl Harbor.  The United States had a small, modest military before that and was largely averse to getting involved in foreign wars (WW1 and the Spanish-American war notwithstanding).

              The entire country was mobilized for WW2 and never really let itself go after that.

              To dismantle the MIC right now would likely have averse economic consequences because many people rely on the military as a source of employment.  So I understand that aspect of the MIC, and the influence it exerts.

              The MIC was a factor in Vietnam, but I was trying to answer the poster's question why it seemed that LBJ got involved in a quagmire with all those stupid decisions.  Hindsight is 20/20, and while the surge worked in Iraq, it didn't work quite as well as in Vietnam.

            •  LBJ ran as a peace candidate (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              BOHICA, PhilJD, raincrow, SilentBrook

              against war hawk, Barry Goldwater, and then sold us out to the war industry by escalating the war in Vietnam dramatically in 1965. Hence the famous chant: "Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?"

              Anyone still thinking that wanting to own a gun is normal? Wanting to own a gun is an immediate indicator that you should be the last person to have one.

              by pollbuster on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 08:55:24 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  It was also to cover his flank on "The Great (0+ / 0-)

              Society" ag Southern conservative Dems -- not exactly a quid pro for their support of, or failure to oppose, his social programs.  Just another reason I despise Blue Dogs.  

          •  Interesting analysis (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            melfunction, SilentBrook

            Presidential recordings of Lydon B. Johnson

            David Coleman
            Associate Professor and Chair of the Presidential Recordings Program, Miller Center of Public
            Affairs
            Marc Selverstone
            Assistant Director for Presidential Studies and Associate Professor with the Presidential
            Recordings Program, Miller Center of Public Affairs

            Westmoreland’s request prompted Johnson to convene one of the more significant of these study groups that emerged during the war, and one that Johnson would return to at key points later in the
            conflict. Comprised of figures from the business, scientific, academic, and diplomatic communities, as well as both Democrats and Republicans, these “wise men” came to Washington in July to meet with senior civilian and military officials, as well as with Johnson himself. They recommended that LBJ give Westmoreland what he needed, advice that General Eisenhower had also communicated to the White House back in June. Prior to finalizing any decision to commit
            those forces, however, Johnson sent Secretary of Defense McNamara to Saigon for discussions with Westmoreland and his aides. McNamara’s arrival and report back to Johnson on 21 July began the final week of preparations that would lead to Johnson’s announcement of the expanded American commitment. A series of meetings with civilian and military officials, including one in which LBJ heard a lone, dissenting view from Undersecretary of State George Ball, solidified
            Johnson’s thinking about the necessity of escalating the conflict. Ball’s arguments about the many challenges the United States faced in Vietnam were far outweighed by the many pressures Johnson believed were weighing on him to make that commitment.
            Those pressures were rooted in fears about domestic as well as international consequences.
            Political considerations that stretched back to the “loss of China” episode of the late 1940s and
            Copyright 2010 by the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia 11 early 1950s led Johnson, as a Democratic, to fear a replay of that right-wing backlash should the Communists prevail in South Vietnam. Concern over the fate of his ambitious domestic program
            likewise led Johnson deeper into Vietnam, fearing that a more open debate about the likely costs of the military commitment and the prospects for victory would have stalled legislative action on the Great Society. Worries about the credibility of the U.S. commitment to America’s friends around the world also led Johnson to support Saigon, even when some of those friends had questioned the wisdom of that commitment. Concern about his personal credibility was also at work in Johnson’s calculus. As he would say to U.S. Ambassador to South Vietnam Henry Cabot Lodge within two days of becoming president, “I will not lose in Vietnam.” That personal stake in the outcome of the war remained a theme throughout his presidency, perhaps best embodied by his remark to Senator Eugene McCarthy in February 1966: “I know we oughtn’t to be there, but I can’t get out,” Johnson maintained. “I just can’t be the architect of surrender.”

            Hobbs: "How come we play war and not peace?" Calvin: "Too few role models."

            by BOHICA on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 08:19:11 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Not at all (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            WattleBreakfast

            Especially considering so many Dem leaders in DC were adamantly opposed to escalating US involvement.  They weren't afraid of running for office in opposition to involvement in Vietnam, especially before the Tonkin Gulf incident.  LBJ was ultimately forced to declare he wouldn't run for re-election because of the war's increasing unpopularity.

            The early and mid 60's were the post- McCarthy/Commie/Red Scare years.  People were no longer looking behind every rock for  communist.  They wanted to move forward with peace and prosperity towards more diplomatic solutions in foreign relations.

            Public sentiment was never behind the Vietnam War in the way it was artificially ginned up for the Gulf war. Bush I learned from the Vietnam War lessons and engaged big PR firms to manipulate the news media and drum up public support before his invasions.  9-11 provided the public support Bush II needed to overcome the Vietnam political curse to gain public support for his wars.

            The political unpopularity of the Vietnam War was a blessing that prevented many later presidents from jumping into questionable ground invasions.

            Democratic Leaders must be very clear they stand with the working class of our country. Democrats must hold the line in demanding that deficit reduction is done fairly -- not on the backs of the elderly, the sick, children and the poor.

            by Betty Pinson on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 08:26:36 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  You're imagining things (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              BOHICA, raincrow, SilentBrook, Kickemout

              Gulf of Tonkin incident was August 1964. Before the (non) incident there were fewer than 20,000 US troops in Vietnam. It was a non-issue. Very few DC pols knew anything about Vietnam at all and those actively interested could be counted on one hand.

              People are still looking under rocks for Commies. In the 60s it remained a national preoccupation. The antiwar movement was a small circle of friends until at least 1966.

              •  Were you around then? I was just a punk kid, but (0+ / 0-)

                I was VERY aware of Vietnam, even before the Tonkin Gulf (Non-)Incident.  Of course, maybe I was aware of it just BECAUSE I was a punk kid -- I.e., draft bait if not having started my FR year in college.  Remember, this was the era of the U-2 & Gary Powers, Bay of Pigs (my brother was a Navy air- traffic controller there), Cuban Missle Crisis, Diem assassinations, JFK assassination, "Dr. Strangelove," etc., etc., etc.  You would've had to have been brain-dead not to have been aware of what was going on in Vietnam.  

                •  I was around then, too (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  WattleBreakfast

                  The Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964 was the military's attempt to "lobby"  LBJ and Congress by creating a scenario  that would justify moving beyond an advisory role.

                  LBJ/McNamara had opportunities then to pull out without political repercussions.  LBJ successfully won re-election against Goldwater, a much more hawkish politician.  It wasn't that long after the Cuban Missile Crisis and people were more afraid of nuclear annihilation than they were of commies invading our shores.  For that reason, public opinion then was more toward avoiding escalation of any military conflict.  

                  LBJ/McNamara could have pulled out of Vietnam without political blowback any time between 1964 and 1968.  McNamara chose not to simply because he wanted to triangulate and finesse the mess by micromanaging it and engaging in PR and damage control.  

                  In the end, even McNamara didn't know why he did it and admitted it was a mistake.  Corporate "groupthink", short term planning and hubris.  Typical problems with "savvy businessmen" trying to run governments.

                  Democratic Leaders must be very clear they stand with the working class of our country. Democrats must hold the line in demanding that deficit reduction is done fairly -- not on the backs of the elderly, the sick, children and the poor.

                  by Betty Pinson on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 10:18:37 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  And yes, I was around back then (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    WattleBreakfast

                    The arc of Vietnam occurred during my adolescence and young adulthood.  Since we didn't have a big variety of media sources, we had to watch and read the news about it every day as well as discussing it in class during the early part of the war.

                    Though I'll never forgive LBJ when, on a Saturday morning I was eagerly waiting to see The Young Rascals on American Bandstand, the show was interrupted for LBJ's announcement that he would not run for re-election.  ;-)

                    Democratic Leaders must be very clear they stand with the working class of our country. Democrats must hold the line in demanding that deficit reduction is done fairly -- not on the backs of the elderly, the sick, children and the poor.

                    by Betty Pinson on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 10:23:13 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                •  Yes I was around (0+ / 0-)

                  My reply to Ms Pinson might've been more plain that it was in reference to alleged Dem leaders  "adamantly opposed" to escalation. And supposedly campaigning on it. I went to antiwar events in 1965 where I was an audience of one. Politicians were not looking for my vote.

                  The public supported the war as a matter of course because it was America's war. What happened after millions were drafted was different. That there was ever general public support for peace per se is preposterous.

    •  I DO know that he was the only guy who (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SilentBrook, gc10, OLinda

      at least appeared to have a conscience afterward:
      He declined to seek the nomination, and he was clearly torn apart by the decision he had made.  We could have used a little more of that humility and introspection from 2000-2008

      Buy Aldus Shrugged : The Antidote to Ayn Rand, and tear Ayn and the GOP new orifices. ALL ROYALTIES BETWEEN NOW AND MARCH 1, DONATED TO THIS SITE, DAILYKOS!! @floydbluealdus1

      by Floyd Blue on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 09:41:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Ask "savvy businessman" Robert McNamara (5+ / 0-)

    A perfect example of how corporate executives who mistake corporate "groupthink" for real intelligence, good decision-making and ethics.

    From the Executive Branch to the Pentagon to the cloakrooms of Congress, our government is infected with a new generation of McNamara's clones.  Their questionable skills are governing our economy, our defense and our domestic and foreign policy.

    That's how we end up with messes like endless, expensive ME wars, a staggering economy, widespread poverty, Wall Street corruption and an ongoing drive to privatize all facets of government.

    Democratic Leaders must be very clear they stand with the working class of our country. Democrats must hold the line in demanding that deficit reduction is done fairly -- not on the backs of the elderly, the sick, children and the poor.

    by Betty Pinson on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 07:57:44 AM PST

  •  PS (4+ / 0-)

    Just finishing up Nick's book, "Kill anything that moves".

    All I can do is repeat this

    "I wish I was a big enough man to say I
     forgive them, but I swear to God, I can't."
    - Hugh C, Thompson - My Lai - Viet Nam.

    Hobbs: "How come we play war and not peace?" Calvin: "Too few role models."

    by BOHICA on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 08:29:26 AM PST

  •  Only brothers to serve in same squad (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BOHICA

    Were there brothers allowed to serve in the same infantry platoon or company?

    I'm living in America, and in America you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business.

    by CFAmick on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 08:51:19 AM PST

  •  I knew a guy once who served (5+ / 0-)

    in Vietnam. His job was to go house to house after his unit swept through a village to make sure everybody was dead. A very messed up guy. He'll never get his brain straightened out.

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