COMMENT ON: Obama’s Afghanistan Plan: 30,000 Troops, No Endless Committment

Read the Article I’m commenting on at HuffingtonPost

Full Text of The President’s Speech on Afghanistan

This and his remarks about Pakistan remain the most salient reasons for the President’s action.

“Unlike Vietnam, we are joined by a broad coalition of 43 nations that recognizes the legitimacy of our action. Unlike Vietnam, we are not facing a broad-based popular insurgency. And most importantly, unlike Vietnam, the American people were viciously attacked from Afghanistan, and remain a target for those same extremists who are plotting along its border. To abandon this area now – and to rely only on efforts against al Qaeda from a distance – would significantly hamper our ability to keep the pressure on al Qaeda, and create an unacceptable risk of additional attacks on our homeland and our allies.”

It can be assumed that the full force of right wing will be focused on trashing him while a comparable group from the left will do the same. Both will forget that the President has said the same thing from the start.

What the President did not say as strongly as he might have, is that this is a battle comparable to WWII. We are fighting the same irrational and lethal force. The impunity of both Taliban and Al Qaeda stops at no boundary. If this is the case, it is naive to assume that we can walk away. It is a matter of trusting the President’s judgment.

Pacifists were ultimately willing to take up arms in WWII. Because they came to understand the stakes. The stakes are as high now.


COMMENT ON: A Vietnam Book That Haunts the US in Afghanistan

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

I hope this is widely read. And I hope we remember other roots of the mentality that gave us Vietnam such as HUAC and McCarthy.

I see the Dulles Brothers as the fathers of the country we now live in. And I believe the current crisis is to be laid at the feet not merely of liberals who should have known better but of the country as a whole, for knowingly accepting a charade as the truth, and willingly paying the incredible costs involved in fomenting disaster here and far beyond our borders in the name of national security.

Hindsight may be 20/20 but I believe it is fair to say that men like Stanley Kubrick saw it while JFK was still alive. Perhaps JFK also saw it, though he befriended McCarthy. But the assassinations of the 1960s served the interests of the military-industrial complex and LBJ and Nixon were the perfect pair to escalate the death toll beyond belief and to our still festering shame.

We need to support President Obama now. And to ensure the slow process of going back to the start of this and removing its scabrous reality from the body politic. The force of today’s media-assisted hate campaign cannot be allowed to win the day.

And to the virtues you evoke I would add national repentance, fully confident, sadly, that this is most unlikely.


Updated Gulf of Tonkin Page

I have updated https://stephencrose.wordpress.com/2008/01/18/the-vietnam-war-gulf-of-tonkin-an-exploration/

The Web giveth and taketh away. Some things I had on this page are gone now. That is too bad. This incident deserves to be put front and center now. We are still under the judgment of the crimes committed by our nation then. This is where I beg to differ with those who look warmly back at Lyndon Johnson. I look sadly back and weep a tear for this country.


Kerry: Afghanistan Equals Vietnam


KERRY: Let me begin with Afghanistan, if I may. I am deeply concerned that, at least thus far, our policy in Afghanistan has kind of been on automatic. And I made a promise to myself a long time ago that I would not see all of our conflicts, ground operations in the context of Vietnam. I really try hard. I have an automatic check that says, you know, not everything is that.

But, says Kerry, “I have to tell you, in the several visits I have now made, escape it as I might, the parallels just really keep leaping out in so many different ways.”

To make the two equal, how many parallels do you need?

Were I Barack, I would concentrate military activity on Bin Laden period and do the soft thing elsewhere, ceding as much control as possible to multilateral forces and to the existing, dispersed and problematic governances that exist. Getting Al Queda is the only possible thing that the American people have any stomach for. Seeing Afghanistan as Obama’s War is tying a heavy concrete block to the new President’s leg and suggesting he take a dip.

politics, vietnam war

The Vietnam War — Gulf of Tonkin — An Exploration

Updated  September 3, 2009.

Given the ongoing Presidential election campaign and the current reality and the threat of future war rising from President Bush’s decisions and inclinations, I think it makes sense to recall the Vietnam War and have in one place reminder of the behavior that the Vietnam War generated.

To me, the most shocking reminder is the admission by Robert McNamara that the entire pretext for escalation following the “Gulf of Tonkin incident” was based on misunderstanding. The “attack” never happened. It was an LBJ pretext. It has the same feeling as Bush’s WMD pretext.

Are the dice fixed?

Do we have too much momentum for shooting from the hip in this country?

The military-industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us against.

A born-again President who admirably champions liberty and idiotically assumes that the President of the United States can do as he damned-well pleases because he is Commander in Chief.

Bob Dylan correctly observed that there are times when even the President of the United States must stand naked. And Bush is cursed with a face that is so transparent as to be the source of an ongoing saga of little-boy aggression and adult spite.

Here in any case is today’s lesson. The Vietnam War in devastating words, images and music.

Let’s start with music. (But sadly the video is no longer available. Lyrics will have to do.)

Lyndon Johnson Told the Nation (Tom Paxton)

Tom Paxton is a folk singer who managed in a single song to touch all the bases. What strikes us today I believe is the relative humor that was present in much of the protest. How funny was it?

Lyndon B. Johnson (Vietnam Air Strikes)Music Video.

Lyndon Johnson was the protagonist of the Vietnam War because you will see below that JFK and even Robert McNamara were planning to ramp it down not up. The assassination of JFK becomes mega-tragic if one attaches to it the subsequent death of 50,000 Americans because of the proclivities of his successor, LBJ.

LBJ Speaks to Students on US Vietnam Presence (1965)

This is short and chilling still. It captures a man incapable of real warmth. Everyone’s nightmare, Stanley Kubrick, bad dream, home-room teacher.

Lyndon Johnson – The Hour Is Here Speech 1968 (Clip)

And here is a man who will brook no opposition. Today Vietnam has become our friend and China and Russia are, if not our friends, no longer Cold War enemies.


War of Vietnam – The Gulf of Tonkin incident. This gives you audio and visual insight into the confusion and the later admission that the conclusion that we had been attacked was wrong.

Anti-Vietnam War Movement 60’s and 70’s. Featuring Country Joe and the Fish

The rise of widespread profanity in our culture surely had its origin in the ambiguous response of the protest movement to the Vietnam War. Ambiguous for two reasons. Kids did not want to fight so protest became a means of legitimizing avoidance of the draft. The protests were correct in skewering the logic of the Vietnam War, but self-interest played a major role. Also, Black rhetoric of the time betrayed an anguished tension between pride in the incredible and unjust load Blacks had borne both in the Vietnam War and throughout our national history and rage at the white community for consistently frustrating legitimate and just aspirations.

Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon

Wayne Morse was one of my heroes. The only time I was ever invited to speak in Oregon I had the humbling experience of sitting next to him at the dinner before I said whatever it was I said — long forgotten. I also remember watching Morse on the Senate floor arguing the Dixon-Yates matter and feeling that here was a voice of courage and independence that trumps all talk of democracy by those who link democracy to the contest of the powerful against the weak.

Black casualties in Vietnam

I must ask in the face of widespread talk of how much change there has been in the last 40 years, oh really?

There has always been a vibrant and compelling Black middle class and this may have enlarged and surfaced in the last 40 years. But so too has the population of our prisons with a disproportionate number of Black prisoners.

I persist in my feeling that the Vietnam War trumped the Civil Rights Movement and that everything subsequent to 1968 has been judgment upon what we have done as a nation. I post this page with a sense that we are still under this judgment and that it is being played out as we speak.