It was 40 years ago today that the last troops from America’s criminal war against the people of Vietnam scurried ignominiously onto a helicopter on the roof of the US Embassy in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) and fled the country where US forces had killed some 3-4 million people in the name of “fighting Communism.”
The growth of the (military) Beast involved a lot of factors.
I think the mindset that favored the dominance of the Military-Industrial Complex goes back to the end of WW II. Three reasons stand out:
- A lot of money was made via the Marshall Plan and the rebuilding of a decimated Europe. U.S corporations intended to maintain "that model."
- A lot of Nazi engineers, behavioral scientists, and assorted sociopaths were imported to become part of the U.S. martial machine. Natural-born warriors admire other warriors and together, they devote themselves to making wars or finding reasons to start them.
- The exploding of the atom bomb gave those under thrall to military "solutions" (what I term Mars rules) a new God Complex; and theirs was--and remains--a god of destruction. The resulting potency is better than Viagra to old, aging warriors.
When the war fevers should have died down in the 1950s, instead J. Edgar Hoover struck up the ghostly menace of fear--fear of the outsider, the radical thinker, the nonconformist, the pro-labor rights "communist" to demonize those who did not march lockstep to patriarchal authoritarian creeds.
The inception of the NSA in l947 was the beginning of a Deep State apparatus that could topple foreign governments through 007-style stealth maneuvers; nor was it any coincidence that during that run-up Hollywood began to sex-up the persona of the spy... equipped with a "license to kill."
Enter the assassinations of Dr. King, JFK, Bobby Kennedy, Medgar Evans, Malcolm X... and the beginnings of a growing prison-industrial state, and the mood of macho took root.
When the anti-Vietnam war protests gave rise to a mini-Renaissance where FEMININE peace-loving values took precedence, boys grew their hair long, music filled the air, and youth spoke of "making love, not war," a new set of tactics were required.
I believe that "The War On Drugs" satisfied that clause. Having stood on the White House grounds during anti-war protests with lots of joints passing around as WE burned an effigy of Richard Nixon right outside his window, it seems that the right wing protectors of the status quo that martial patriarchy built had their enemy... right before their eyes. By criminalizing the use of recreational drugs, they could incarcerate and later disenfranchise many of their political opponents.
Of course, the Black Community suffered massively from this nonsensical "war."
Enter Reagan to insist that anything that government does is a travesty... to pave the way for privatization. Then bring in charismatic Clinton to smile while he dismantled programs that protected American workers. The take-down of the Glass Steagall Protections directly led to the Stock Market crash (an outcome that was easily predictable); and the deregulation of media allowed for odious individuals like Rupert Murdoch to own and control an entire news empire.
The result of media ownership? Sickening things like 60% of Fox TV viewers believing that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 911.
The Inside Job paved the way for the implementation of the Project for a New American Century. Its game plan was to destabilize the entire Middle East. And since war abroad allows for tyranny at home, this make-believe---based on a case FIXED for war (as the British insider exposed in "The Downing Street Memos") scenario led to an immediate cessation of significant Civil Rights along with an established Press Corp ready to march lockstep in its recitation of whatever idiotic Official Narrative came down from high places.
Enter into the calculus a fake 2000 election that let The Supreme Court place Bush, the lesser into office; the legal jujitsu used to justify torture; the gutting of Democracy to the "Citizens United" debacle; and the rounding up of inconvenient Truth Tellers and assorted whistle-blowers. This left the pro-war patriarchs with little resistance to their plans for ongoing (if not endless) wars.
War planners know how to plan multi-dimensional forms of warfare. Propaganda is one front, and a lousy economy that compels lots of naïve young people to "be all that they can be" through a job inside the BEAST constitutes another. A third front tragically comes from the surge of fundamentalist Christian churches; nor was it an accident that Bush let slip this idea of a new Crusades. To those naïve enough to think God's will means massacring individuals who worship a "different god," little in the way of reason can be used to counter their delusion.
Eisenhower's nightmare prophecy has now come fully into place... however, it involved all of the items I've laid out, and more.
It will be all those outside of the grasp of Mars-rules and its bankrupt ethos who collectively and eventually take down this Beast. Mother Nature will play a significant role since, as I've frequently quoted from Yogananda, violent conflicts play a direct role in destabilizing geological systems. Yogananda stated--inside the United Nations (back in l949)--that violent conflict would lead to more earthquakes, massive storms, droughts, etc.
The pollutants and fossil fuel detritus of the Industrial Age certainly factor dramatically into the calculus of climate chaos; but overlooked are those invisible forces stemming from angry violent acts and thoughts that also act upon ecosystems.
The state of our world is in peril. Shock Therapy, in the form of long-predicted massive Earth Changes will lead to a new understanding where WAR becomes the great taboo.
Excellent article Mr. Lindorff. Thanks.
Excellent comment Sioux Rose, thanks
Siouxrose - outstanding comment. Could post as an article on some web sites. Might be too far out for dailykos, but it is probably not worth your time to go there.
Thank you. It's obvious that I feel passionate about these issues and how they connect. (And thank you, also, Jgibsosman.)
Siouxrose, this is an excellent summation of what happened to the USA in my lifetime. From WWII to 40 years after Vietnam, you describe the arc of the deadly path the USA has taken. All people don't see history the same way. I see it your way because I am of the group who believes in democracy, justice, equality, peace, the worker, and the potential of the USA to be better than it has been these past 70 years. Those like us must oppose and cage the BEAST. Else, the future is very, very bleak for ordinary people, humankind, and eventually all life on the planet. I am reminded by today's anniversary how difficult it will be to thwart the power of the MIC and its minions. Thank you for this insightful post.
By Lindorff's measure, all servicemen who served in Vietnam are war criminals. By extension, this includes all of those whose names are on the wall of the Vietnam War Memorial in D.C. You gonna pay to send in the bulldozer, Dave?
As a student of that war, as a member of VVAW since 1970, who had friends as well as at least nine relations killed in southeast Asia, I say FUCK YOU, Lindorff! We do not need your simplistic thinking.
Not at all. I never said that nor could anyone with the ability to read basic English be able to construe such a thing from what I wrote.
Many American troops in Vietnam did commit atrocities, some willingly, some under orders. Many did not. Many actually refused orders (one reason the US war there failed). But John Kerry and John McCain were both war criminals. Kerry admitted as much in recounting his exploits as a member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. He blew up fishing boats before bothering to establish whether they were enemy vessels or simply fisher folk. He chased and captured a Viet Cong soldier and then killed him (a war crime). As for McCain, as a bomber pilot he participated in bombing civilian targets in the wholesale bombing of North Vietnam -- including dikes, hospitals, schools, etc. He was a war criminal and a terrorist before he was a war prisoner.
My view now, and back when I was a war resister in the 60s was that most American troops were victims, not murderers. Of course we urged the troops to resist, to go AWOL, to desert, or to file for conscientious objector status. Some heroic soldiers did that. We didn't hold it against the ones who did not have that courage.
I'm not condemning, and never have, condemned the soldiers for what they do.
Higher officers are another matter.
I'm surprised to hear you're with VVAW. Actually, my colleague John Grant who is a Vietnam War veteran and activist in Veterans for Peace, would I suspect find your comment and your "Fuck You," surprising.
You didn't, by the way, say you were a veteran of the war, just a "student" of the war. Are you a veteran of Vietnam?
The reason I'm surprised is that VVAW back in the day was pretty much taking the position, as articulated by Kerry in his congressional testimony during the Winter Soldier hearings, that the whole war was about commiting war crimes. The whole war was a war crime.
But that said, I've never blamed soldiers -- draftees or economic draftees -- for that, unless like Calley they revelled in the slaughter of innocents (which I think was unusual).
It is, I'm afraid, you who are guilty here of "simplistic thinking." Also of rather pathetic argument skills.
I believe there are millions who think like us. And I don't feel that human beings are alone in the quest not just for justice, but also for Life's call to sustainability since THAT is at risk due to disproportionate corporate power dramatically assisted by militarism. Just as Dr. King reminded that "the universe arcs towards justice," whether we think in terms of Divine Order, Universal Justice, the law of karma, and/or the volatile earth changes which hold the power to thwart business as usual, "there are more forces in heaven and earth than dreamt of..." in most persons' philosophies. I've had a good deal of "contact" with this realm.
In the past, those conditioned by sports or militarism to think ONLY in terms of polarized "with us or against us," "this or that" frames have sought to say that by my pointing out these spiritual forces, I am arguing that people need to do nothing. That has never been my position. A swimmer who swims in alliance with a current moves faster than he or she could were that current not lending invisible support to their personal strokes.
Michael Klare wrote a piece a few days ago that itemized 4 potential scenarios based on what's taking place in the natural world. ALL of them eventuate in a decentralization of power, a likely return to localism. Many Indigenous prophecies, notably those taken from the traditions of the Sun Bears speak of the day when the white man's children will turn back to the tribes for guidance in how to restore the earth and live in a holistic balance with Her: Gaia/Earth Mother/Pacha Mama.
Thank you for the kind post.
Poor military brat can't stand any mention of things spiritual. Funny then that my columns have been read and remain read by thousands. Not all people require fundamentalist views that expunge any mention of the greater universal field--within which very real causal relationships exist. MILLIONS resonate with mystical topics. YOU are the one with the problem. You've outed yourself as card-carrying Conservative... and by their nature, Conservatives cling to past premises. Anything beyond their controlling grasp, a/k/a materialistically locked-in focus is anathema. MY kind didn't burn witches or set up inflammatory pogroms. A view from the stars is ultimately liberating to the team style polarities that have sent one army crashing into another for too many centuries, army brat.
Given your elected sign-on name (one of many)... it's no wonder that YOU would take offense at my exposing the military for what it is. Indeed, tragic farce and endless follies can be attributed to Mars Rules as pro-war governing ethos. IT is spiritual retardation at its most obvious.