Home | About | Donate

The War That Never Ends (for the U.S. Military High Command)


#1

The War That Never Ends (for the U.S. Military High Command)

Danny Sjursen

Vietnam: it’s always there. Looming in the past, informing American futures.

A 50-year-old war, once labeled the longest in our history, is still alive and well and still being refought by one group of Americans: the military high command. And almost half a century later, they’re still losing it and blaming others for doing so.


#2

The one element missing in this piece is the key to restricting the madness of our military-on-steroids, and that is the funding.

If such a vast amount of the federal budget was not allocated to ‘defense’ in some fashion or other, perhaps these career militarists wouldn’t be able to wreak havoc around the planet.

But the obscene profits of the MIC are such that we will, as others before us, spend our way to self-destruction.


#3

I note your sympathy for the “ceaseless tragedy” the wars have brought to our soldiers.

I missed the part about the havoc, destruction and cultural upheaval we have caused to the other side. You emphasize tactics and strategy, but demonstrate little empathy for the victims of our perpetual wars.

Did I miss something?


#4

It’s simplistic thinking to frame the problem of endless war on books the top brass have red or have not read. By doing so, Sjursen, as always, suggests that the military option, though sometimes misguided, continues to be a necessary and valuable foreign policy tool. It’s exactly what hawkish establishment liberals want to hear. This is something I would expect to read in the N.Y. Times, not CD.

While his scholarship is admirable, when, if ever, will he apply it to the issue of the many thousands of innocent civilians killed (not just his “young soldiers”), wholesale destruction of cultures, obscene spending at the expense of social programs, the corruption of our political system that enables endless war and all the other horrors that his career path has supported? When, if ever, will he joint the many veterans who, after fighting in any of this country’s wars, devote the rest of their lives to peace and the abolition of war?


#5

Quite frankly, in an all volunteer force, every soldier that ever served suffers from a form of tunnel vision , one of “our side and their side” wherein “our side are generally the good guys”. Were it any other way only a handful would volunteer, all of them the sociopath.

It has long been known to everyone that the vast majority ( 90 percent) of peoples killed in wars are the innocent civilians. When an individual “signs up to serve” , they would be aware of that number yet they still sign up to serve.

He’s five feet two and he’s six feet four
He fights with missiles and with spears
He’s all of thirty-one and he’s only seventeen
He’s been a soldier for a thousand years

He’s a catholic, a Hindu, an Atheist, a Jane
A Buddhist and a Baptist and Jew
And he knows he shouldn’t kill and he knows he always will
You’ll for me my friend and me for you

And he’s fighting for Canada, he’s fighting for France
He’s fighting for the usa
And he’s fighting for the Russians and he’s fighting for Japan
And he thinks we’ll put an end to war this way

And he’s fighting for democracy he’s fighting for the reds
He says it’s for the peace of all
He’s the one who must decide who’s to live and who’s to die
And he never sees the writing on the wall

But without him how would Hitler have condemned him at Le Val
Without him Caesar would have stood alone
He’s the one who gives his body as the weapon of the war
And without him all this killing can’t go on

He’s the universal soldier and he really is to blame
But his orders come from far away no more
They come from him and you and me and brothers can’t you see
This is not the way we put en end to war

Buffey Ste Marie


#6

There’s a deeper question than what strategy or the other would have “won,” which is “What would winning look like?”

In the case of Viet Nam, (and, not coincidentally, of Afghanistan) winning would look like cementing in place a government feared and loathed by its people.

But of course, that question is never asked, as an honest appraisal of facts might interfere with profit, our One True God. War will continue, and will continue to manufacture both justifications for starting, and for losing.


#7

So now the longest war in Middle East has been a complete failure and put the world in crisis and a stream of frightened war torn people fleeing middle east to find security and peace to no avail, what line of bull are they reiterating?

How closely are these revisionists to the manufacturer of weaponry including planes, tanks, drones, other technologies of killing, bombs, bombs and more bombs. And now nuclear. What nation would not want protections from the mis informed US military/pentagon and warring industry?


#8

Recall that the cold war and Viet Nam occupation were launched and perpetuated by ever broadening fake news.

Today, as Trump makes the term “fake news” a household word, he fails to mention that he, and the military industrial media infotainment complex (MIMIC) that he has empowered more than ever (as Chris Hedges reminds us in his CD article today) originate more fake news than all other sources combined.


#9

Perhaps? If one can be definitive about anything in history at all, it is that nothing good would have come out of a U.S. victory in Vietnam. Why does Danny Sjursen insist on using words like perhaps and questionable (as in “South Vietnamese government of questionable legitimacy” - how about just illegitimate?).

However, I did find Sjursen’s story interesting as I have discussed this war with coworkers on the conservative side and I now recognize the arguments I hear as Clausewitzian and know where they are coming from. But it would have probably been a good idea to discuss what books Sjursen thinks are right ones to read and how to get the generals to read those (since we are stuck with generals for now - I’d prefer only a UN force and a domestic police force, but that is going to be a tough trek to get there).


#10

the scars of war live on forever. when will we learn that war should be the last tactic. and when was the last time we won at playing like we knew what we were doing?


#11

The “thinking generals”? Surely you jest. Now there’s an indictment of the US educational establishment.

I concluded some time back that when Eisenhower gave his parting remarks and forever gave us a name for this disease - the MIC - that it was already too late, he knew it, but something in his conscience made him get it off his chest. Maybe it was because he was in command when many died, and what had solidified wasn’t what he fought for.


#12

Truman, in 1963, had some real second thoughts. and reconsiderations about empowering the CIA and what we know call The Alphabets. Carter has spoken forcefully at times about the many failures residing in The Pentagon.
Hindsight, regrets and probably 6-8 million unnecessary deaths. That should give every thinking person pause and a reason to protest.
But, not so much, as usual.


#13

The scary specter of communism has been replaced by the scary specter of terrorism. And terrorists turn out to be whoever we say they are. Like, for instance Al Qaeda, except when we need Al Qaeda to help us fight ISIS. See how that works? Good, you’re not supposed to.

Thus shall the MIC be showered with obscene wealth into paranoid perpetuity.


#14

War warps. The Civil War, over for 153 years and 5 or 6 generations is still having its affect on the American psyche. The Vietnam War affected and still affects us all on both sides, not just the generals. No one, soldier or citizen, escapes unharmed. “All Wars are Bankers Wars”, a statement that carries weight.
Psychiatrists’ and doctors’ offices are full of the children of veterans who were injured psychologically or chemically or both by wars. As long as we have privately funded election campaigns we will have a militaristic society. There is just too much money and power to be extracted. The PIMMPS (Political Industrial Monetary Military Power Structure) run the country and will continue to do so until we institute true democracy. There should be no private funding of elections and complete public funding. As a start.


#15

“we were fighting on the wrong side.”

We seem to be doing that a lot. During Reagan’s wars in Central America and Operation Condor in South America, Pinochet, Honduras, Haiti and Poppa Doc, Iran and the Shah, tinpot dictators all over Africa, etc. we have invariably sided with the oppressors against the downtrodden. In the long run that is a losing strategy. When will we ever learn?


#16

The only way to win either of those wars would have been not to start them. The only way to draw this one is to stop fighting it right now, apologize and pay damages to the populations we’ve hurt. Since that’s not going to happen, we have to get used to losing yet another one and start winding down slowly enough that in a generation or 2, the world will have enough bigger problems to forget all about this.


#17

Murderers let loose, that war was the height of stupidity. It revealed how much our lives are really worth, absolutely nothing in the service of hard cold killers. I was in 7th Psyops Batt. in 1971 there printing propaganda leaflets. What a waste of human life. The same evil monsters calling the shots today. I spit in their face.


#18

It’s instructive as part of this discussion to research the roots of American involvement in Vietnam. Korea, certainly, was a prelude but quite a bit changed dramatically in just ten years. In the late 1940s when France was recalcitrantly reasserting its Colonial aspirations in Vietnam, America was very much against involvement for ALL THE OBVIOUS REASONS. Ten years later, America entirely usurped France’s position as Colonial occupier in Vietnam presumably under the auspices of checking the expansion of Communism in Indochina.

Here’s some enlightenment from the Pentagon Papers. Reading it now, it’s positively Orwellian. The irony of course is that State Capitalism, Capitalism controlled by the State, is effectively Vietnam’s strategy today. Look at Hanoi today — Capitalist Billboards everywhere you look. All of that blood spilled and the result was still the same. Blood shed in vain.

https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/pentagon/pent9.htm

Here’s a salient excerpt:

Because the early phase (1946-1949) of the Indochina war was an overt attempt by the French to reassert authority and control over their Indochinese colonies, the United States, although aware that European Recovery Program (ERP) funds were indirectly used to finance the war, refused to support that war directly. However, American actions taken to assure a neutral position-refusal to sell armaments to the French for use in Indochina; refusal to transport troops, arms, or ammunition "to or from Netherlands East Indies or French Indochina"--accompanied by public and private statements of anti-colonialist sentiments, did constitute, at least in French eyes, a policy hostile to the French interest in Indochina. Therefore, early in 1947, the Department of State attempted to reassure the French Government, and to make U.S. policies and actions more palatable to them.

Neither direct nor indirect assistance to the French effort in Indochina was deemed “appropriate,” however, until the French took concrete steps to grant autonomy to Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. The U.S. was prepared to support the “Bao Dai solution” for Vietnam when and if Bao Dai acquired genuine independence. The U.S. warned France against settling for a “native government [headed by Bao Dai] which by failing to develop appeal among Vietnamese might become virtually [a] puppet government, separated from [the] people and existing only by [the] presence [of] French military forces.”

The same “About Face” occurred with Iraq. Ten years prior to America’s invasion & occupation in 2003, Dick Cheney, per the video below of a 1994 interview, intelligently justifies the reasons why it would have been futile to march into Baghdad and take out Saddam Hussein during the first Gulf War. Cheney was correct. He knew more than the Generals. And yet just ten short years later Cheney agreed to march into Baghdad and entangle America in what he knew would be a cluster*ck and a quagmire, made worse by Petraeus’s ludicrous idea of paying off counterinsurgents not to counterinsurge and thus helping to nucleate what would later become The Islamic State by providing the Seed Money.


#19

I totally agree with the sharp rebukes in most of these comments. But I’d also like to give at least a one-handed clap to Danny S. for his strong words against an establishment in which he was thoroughly indoctrinated. For instance, I would much rather hear his views widely discussed than the thinktank wankery of the current moment. And I don’t mean on boards like this one. I mean more glaringly in the public eye. But then, see, that brings up another of those interlocked crocks of shite, a psycophantic mass media, in turn, embedded in a fetid stew with cowardly politicians, all of whom have abdicated their proper roles to hold power brokers accountable to the people. No war mongers are to blame in this crumbling imperium! Just go back into the Moyers’ archive of his show to hear Lyndon Johnson’s taped office calls to political leaders of the day if you want to hear it directly from the mouths of asses and elephants. Escalating the war mostly was about them saving face and I don’t mean those that literally were being blown or burned off. Even the latest Spielberg feel-good stroking of media titans who stood tall during release of the Pentagon Papers perhaps got one important thing right. 70% of the reason for continuing the war, their own study showed, a war that couldn’t be won, was so none of those in power would take the blame for America’s 1st “loss”. Who’s still losing now with that exact same thinking? I take that to be Danny’s point, as far as it goes. Hello? Dr. Einstein?? We’re trapped in a charnel house of the insane. And we’re the fortunate ones! What of the millions around the globe who suffer at the hands of these self-deluded, deeply flawed “leaders” that flail about without restraint? Who proclaim the founding principles “quaint”? Kind of makes you wonder if most of them don’t just enjoy harnessing their hate to fuck (a military term) with people’s lives. Oh, and does anyone really have a perfect workable solution for this situation, let alone one ex-military man who’s trying to tell at least a part of the story straight? The tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.