Posts Tagged Military


NOTE:  Following France’s devastating loss at Dien Bien Phu, in July 1954, Viet Nam was partitioned at the 17th parallel. When the Geneva Agreements were signed, many Roman Catholics fled south, and elections were supposed to be held within two years, unifying all of Vietnam. South Vietnamese President Bo Diem’ however, never agreed to hold them


In 2044 B. C., Chinese People began building dikes, roads and engaged in primitive farming in the Red River Valley of Vietnam.  Throughout history, Vietnam embodied much of Chinese culture, including Buddhism.  The country has always ben an agricultural nation.

During the 20th Century, Vietnam was ruled by China for 1,000 years.  Whenever there was a change in Dynasty, however, the Vietnamese fought for their freedom, but China always re-gained its control. And then, the French colonials ran Vietnam for two hundred years.

Unlike the Chinese rule, which was mostly territorial expansion, the French plundered the agricultural resources by making the locals work for them, and treated the Vietnamese People awfully.  The British and the Dutch were equally harsh in how they plundered the natural resources, and treated the locals in other parts of Asia.

During World War II, the American O. S. S. (Office of Strategic Services), which later became the C. I. A., was involved in sorting out the instigators from prisoners in the various Prisoner of War Camps.  Most OSS agents sent dispatches back to Washington, stressing that the Colonials should not return.

Mao Zedung, in China, Ho Chi Minh, in Vietnam, Sukarno, in Indonesia, etc., were all beloved by their citizenry, and they wanted them to lead.  As one Vietnamese man said:  We hated the Japanese; however, we knew that they would leave.  But, if we allowed the French to return, they would never leave.  Those sentiments were how the other Western Colonials behaved, as well.

President Dwight Eisenhower felt compelled to stand with the Western nations, who had been our Allies throughout WWII.  From then on, America was regarded as just another of the various Colonials, who were expecting to return to their plundering ways.

You might recall the “Domino Theory”, which was a key part of the basic rationale as to why America engaged in the Vietnam War, to begin with.  President Eisenhower gave a press conference in early 1954, just about the time that the Viet Minh, fighting for Vietnamese independence, were about to conquer the French at Dien Bien Phu.

“Ike” suggested that the four countries of Indochina—Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam were like dominoes, lined-up in a row.  And, once once fell to Communism, the rest would also fall, in turn.  After the Paris Peace talks for Vietnam, one of the Vietnamese representatives shot that theory down, however, when he pointed-out that Vietnam fought China for a thousand years.  Would we allow them in now?

With the 1954 Partition of Vietnam, most of the Roman Catholic minority fled south, from the North and the Central portions of the country.  This was a major problem for the Saigon government gaining the support of the People, 90% of whom were Bhuddist.  President Diem only admitted Catholics into his government, as well as the upper levels of his military.

To make matters worse, Diem had ordered his military not to fight; because, he said casualties made him “lose face.” Actually, he wanted the full force to be available, at all times, to rush back and defend him, in case of an attempted coup.  The Vietnamese Army preferred to just call in air and artillery strikes; however, they often killed more civilians, than than Viet Cong, the local guerrillas.

When the SeniorAmerican Advisors told the generals in Saigon that the Vietnamese Military refused to fight, regardless of how much they coerced them, they were ignored. And American junior Generals and Colonels, who tried to report what Washington didn’t want to hear, they were sometimes sent back to the Pentagon and forced to retire.

Washington and the American Saigon Command knew what news they wanted to hear: America and its Vietnamese allies would turn the corner:  with another 100,000 of our combat troops or another $10 billion would help; perhaps an additional six months; etc. And the Diem government was only too happy to tell it.  When I was there, in 1967 and ’68, there were more than 500,000 American GIs in the country.

Around that time, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, specially Air Force Chief of Staff Curtis LaMay, kept recommending that we bomb the North back to the Stone Age by targeting railroads; bridges; industrial plants, etc.  Common sense, however, would have suggested that agricultural nations would have very little industrial infrastructure to bomb.  The industrious North Vietnamese People had a solution for the bombs that were raining down on them—make bomb shelters out of the craters.

Perhaps the best example of what America failing to understand Vietnam was the ”Protective Hamlets” strategy.  Whole villages were destroyed, and the farmers were re-located to small hamlets, generally miles away rom their land.  The peasants were let out in the morning so they could work their farms, and return to the hamlets in the evening.  There were two major problems, however, with that solution.

Some of the farms were so far from their land, that the farmers had to walk as far as ten miles, each way, carrying their tools to and from work.  Also, a major part of Buddhism is ancestor worship; but, with the burial mounds are back at the farm, the ancestors are left behind each day.  That’s why we were not “Winning the Hearts and Minds” of the majority Buddhists, and this idea, in effect, was sending them over fight for the Viet Cong.

Additionally, as with most non-industrial countries, the government of South Vietnam was rife with corruption. America financed the Saigon Government; but, Diem and his key associates made sure to send sizable portions those funds to their offshore bank accounts.

We were in Vietnam under false pretenses, and the troops seemed to have been kept their for political reasons.  Previously, the VC or the North Vietnamese always attacked in small hit-and-run ambushes.  Over Tet, the Lunar New Year holiday, of late January 1968, Secretary of Defense Robert Mc Namara was convinced that the attacks would be limited to the  Khe Sanh Marine base and the large city of Da Nang, both of which were in the north of South Vietnam.  As it turned out, the local VC and the North Vietnamese Army attacked the South at many locations, and with sizable force. From that day forward, the war in Vietnam was recognized as being not winnable.

Newly-elected President Richard Nixon, however, decided to keep the war going until January 1973, in case he needed the extra push. How many innocent soldiers, marines, airmen or sailors were killed during those additional five years—just in case Nixon needed the extra political push.

NOTE:   It truly breaks my heart when I think of the more than 58,000 (mostly) young Americans who died in that senseless war, which we had no reason to be in, in the first place.  I have a few friends that I know were killed; but, how many did I know in Naval ROTC that died; boot camp, language school at Monterrey, CA and Infantry OCS, where some young Lieutenants lead from the front, but left their minds behind. But, the total of 58,000+ killed in a senseless war, even 50 years later is still just too difficult to fathom.

If you are in Washington, near the Mall, visit the Vietnam Memorial, either at sun-up or at dusk.  I believe that you will find it a very emotional experience.  Perhaps it is the only war memorial that can be truly viewed as an anti-war memorial. Also, the names of those killed, which are listed on it, have grown over time.


KEN BURNS LINK:   The following link, about the showing of select clips a The Kennedy Center from Ken Burns’ series, followed by a panel discussion–with a number of present and former Congressional and Administration members–from The Washington Post, is a great introduction to the topic of Vietnam:

 The Daily 202: McCain and Kerry outline lessons from Vietnam after watching new Ken Burns documentary
  September 13

With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

THE BIG IDEA: Hundreds of Washington insiders gathered last night in the Kennedy Center Opera House for an advance screening of Ken Burns’s new documentary on Vietnam.

Before he showed half a dozen choice clips from his 10-part, 18-hour film, which premieres Sunday, the director asked everyone who served in the military during the war to stand so they could be recognized.

John McCain and John Kerry were among those who rose, along with other famous veterans like Bob Kerrey and Mike Mullen.

Burns then asked anyone who protested Vietnam to also stand. Dozens did.

“I couldn’t tell the difference,” the director said, referring to the two groups.

The veterans, including McCain, joined the audience in applauding the antiwar demonstrators.

That moment set a tone of reconciliation and harmony for a discussion about one of the darkest and most divisive chapters in American history.

— Forty-two years after the fall of Saigon, McCain believes “it is the right time to take notes.” “There has to be a period of time after a conflict where the passion cools,” he said during a panel that followed the screening. “Maybe we can look back at the Vietnam conflict and make sure we don’t make the same mistakes that we did before.”

“Their leaders didn’t lead, whether they were military or civilian,” said the Arizona Republican, who spent 5½ years as a prisoner of war after getting shot down on a bombing mission over Hanoi in 1967. “By telling the American people one thing, which was not true, about the progress in the war and the body counts, it caused a wave of pessimism to go across this country, which bolstered the antiwar movement. We can learn lessons today because the world is in such turmoil: Tell the American people the truth!

McCain said he visits the Vietnam Veterans Memorial as often as he can to take in the names of the more than 58,000 Americans who died. “Depends on the weather,” he said. “Sometimes once a week. Sometimes once every couple of weeks. I try to go very early in the morning or when it’s near sunset. … It’s really an incredibly emotional experience. … These young men died because of inadequate or corrupt leadership.”

As chairman of the Armed Services Committee, McCain is managing the defense reauthorization bill on the Senate floor this week. Whenever troops go into combat, he explained, it is essential that the country decides “what victory means” and, then, “do not forget it!”

“We need to be able to have leaders who will lead and who will be able to give (the troops) a path to victory so that we will not sacrifice them ever again in a lost cause,” McCain said.

Kerry, who captained a swift boat in Vietnam before returning home to protest the war, echoed similar themes and alluded to the Trump administration’s credibility gap.

“Vietnam has always stood out to me a stunning failure of leadership,” said the former secretary of state. “We were operating without facts back then. In today’s world, it’s (also) really hard to figure out what the facts are. And people won’t honor facts. You know what they are, but you have your ‘alternative facts.’”

The 73-year-old spoke of feeling betrayed by “the best and the brightest” who he had looked up to in the American government. He singled out Robert McNamara, who was secretary of defense under John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.

“I thought I had felt all the anger I could feel about the war, but I hadn’t until I read ‘A Bright Shining Lie’ by Neil Sheehan,” Kerry said, referring to the classic book that came out in 1988. “All the way up the chain of command, people were just putting in gobbledygook information, and lives were being lost based on those lies and those distortions.”

Martha Raddatz of ABC News, who moderated the discussion, asked Kerry how society can learn “the right lessons” from Vietnam. “A lot of people don’t,” he replied. “It’s that simple.”

The five-term Massachusetts senator said that war should always be “a choice of last resort” after diplomatic options have been exhausted. He spoke of the need to have an endgame before going in. “So many missed opportunities,” Kerry said, shaking his head. “I hope never again will any generation have to face a moment like we did.”

Kerry explained that his combat experience as a young man has been “tricky” at times, and that he tried to not let it overly color his approach to the world during his tenure at Foggy Bottom. “I wanted to make sure I wasn’t a captive of Vietnam,” he said. “Not everything is Vietnam!”

— By sparking new conversations, Burns and his co-director, Lynn Novick, hope to heal old wounds. Famous for his in-depth explorations of the Civil War and World War II, the director highlighted additional parallels between Vietnam and the present moment: “Mass demonstrations taking place all across the country against the administration … A president certain the news media is lying … Asymmetrical warfare that taxes the might of the United States military … A country divided in half … Huge document drops of stolen, classified material into the public sphere … Accusations that a political campaign reached out to a foreign power during a national election to affect the outcome.”

“So much of the division that we experience today, the hyper-partisanship that besets us, we think the seeds of that were sown in Vietnam,” Burns said.

— Kerry recounted his work with McCain in the 1990s to normalize relations with Vietnam, which grew out a conversation they had during an all-night flight on a CODEL to the Middle East. “We decided consciously to work on this because we felt very, very deeply that the country was still at war with itself, and that we needed to move forward in the relationship with Vietnam in order to be able to move forward with the relationship here at home,” Kerry said. “We wanted to be able to talk about Vietnam as a country, not as a war.”

As the 2004 Democratic nominee for president spoke, the 2008 Republican nominee interjected to say that Bill Clinton deserves credit for backing them up at a time (before he got reelected) when it was not politically easy.

— Former defense secretary Chuck Hagel, who enlisted to fight in Vietnam and received two Purple Hearts as an infantryman, praised the documentary for humanizing the war. “We too often don’t humanize the mechanics of war,” the former Nebraska Republican senator lamented. “We say, ‘Well, we’re going to send six or seven divisions or three battalions or squadrons of planes.’ But what does that mean to the men and women who are fighting and dying? … As secretary of defense, I saw that from many years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq. The same was true for Vietnam.”

NOTE:  Two books, which I have on my Recommended Public Affairs Tab, which are arguably the two best on Vietnam, are as follows:

The Brightest and the Best, by David Halbersham.

Perhaps the most widely acclaimed book on Vietnam, I believe, along with Bright and Shining Lie, by Neil Sheehan, tell two sides of what until then, was our longest war.  The two books, however, relate it from different perspectives.  While Sheehan recounts the war mostly as related to him by subordinate officers in Vietnam, Halberstram portrays it mostly from the political perspective, back on Washington.  

Both reported that America was losing the war, and the generals only wanted to receive good news from the field.  Many lies and omissions were also bandied about in Washington, as President Lyndon B. Johnson placed more emphasis on his Great Society, and running for President in his own right.  Read both, if you can!

A Bright Shining Lie, by Neil Sheehan.
This is the most exquisite, well-written and comprehensive (790 pages) book that I have read about Vietnam, or any war! It won the Pulitzer Prize for Non-Fiction in 1989.

Sheehan made numerous trips to South Vietnam, oftentimes going out with combat troops on missions; because that is where wars or fought! Our War was mismanaged at the highest civilian and military levels; because, no one understood the culture, nor was flexible enough to consider more relevant ideas and strategies. Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon used the War for their own political purposes.

Additionally, America didn’t understand the Saigon Elite, and the string of unpopular puppet governments that we helped establish. Each of those South Vietnamese governments had two primary concerns: use the Army to prevent an overthrow; and manage both the civilian and military bureaucracy for their own corrupt enrichment.




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Donald Trump ignorantly said that former Presidents did not telephone the families who lost sons and daughters in hostel action, while serving their country.  That, of course is an outright lie!  All former Presidents have called or written the families, and many have specifically held functions for the so-called “Gold Star” Families at the White House.  But, telling such lies has become routine for Donald Trump.

Over the past week, once again, Trump was bitten by his own version of “fake facts.”   He had to be prodded to call the families of four Special Forces sergeants, who were ambushed and killed in Niger.  Thus, Donald Trump has once again created a mess; which, given the question of faulty intelligence, has blown the whole Niger issue way out of proportion.

Chief-of-Staff John F. Kelly, a retired four-star Marine General thus entered the fray. General Kelly has known the heartache over military troops killed in battle, from both sides:  his own son, Marine First Lieutenant Robert M. Kelly died in battle, in Afghanistan, nine years ago; also, he has walked among the gravestones at the Arlington National Cemetery, knowing that some of those men died, following his orders.

Since the details of the recent blow-up have been endlessly covered by the media, I will not go there.  The question that I ask, however, is: When Chief-of-Staff Kelly inserted himself into this brouhaha, was he speaking as a father and a former general, or was he acting as one of Donald Trump’s closest advisors?  Kelly had always preferred to keep his family’s loss out of the media, since one soldier’s life is as valuable as any other; however, Trump brought it up assumedly for his own thoughtless purposes.

In a prior post, I cited the fact that several recent Presidents—Kennedy, Johnson and Bush 43—virtually disregarded the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  And with Donald Trump, having three generals who answer directly to him—Chief-of-Staff John Kelly, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster—the role of the JCS, in offering military planning and ideas, would be totally up to Mattis.  That is, however, if Trump listened to anyone!

Originally, all three of the generals appeared to provide their own advice to Trump, rather than just telling him what he had wanted to hear.  Currently, however, by getting involved in this latest flair-up, it appears that John Kelly has taken on the role of answering for the Chief.  After 43 years of serving his country, how much longer can General Kelly stomach defending Donald Trump?

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Besides the “Vietnam” TV Documentary, by Ken Burns and Lynn Novice, there have been many books, recent articles and blog posts, about this Horrible Mistake, which was characterized by lies and mismanagement, both among the Civilian and Military Leadership.  Result:  our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, have lasted even longer–and with no end in sight!


We’re forever scarred by the Vietnam War, and the lies | Opinion

The Sun Sentinel Editorial Board gives their parting thoughts for Monday, September 25, 2017.
Richard Aregood

We were right about all of it. The wildest, most paranoid-seeming accusations about our leaders turned out to be true.
The Vietnam War was insane. Various presidents lied to us over and over. Nixon added being a crooked, traitorous weasel. We should never have been there. Never.

Watching Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s “The Vietnam War” isn’t easy — at least not for this old man. There is a tragic heroism, even nobility and wisdom, on the part of soldiers and marines who gave all, only to learn that it was in support of cheap slogans and plain bullheaded stupidity. There is also the soul-ripping tragedy that affected generations of Vietnamese and Americans, inflicting and suffering inhuman brutality.

The politicians lied. The generals lied. Both lied to keep their jobs, not for any nobler reason. Others lied to make a bloodstained buck. War can be very profitable, for those who provide the makings and for the self-dealing crooks we backed in the despised and corrupt South Vietnamese government.

Fifty-eight thousand Americans (and god knows how many Vietnamese) died. More than 21,000 of those Americans were killed after the American people bought Nixon’s smokescreen about his “secret plan to end the war” and elected him president. All along, he was scheming to sabotage peace for his selfish ambition.

It was insane to believe that we exceptional Americans would be “fighting for freedom” by stifling the Vietnamese battle for independence. It was equally crazy to deny the evidence that the war had never gone well and never would. It was bat guano nuts to have gone there in the first place because guys in nice suits gravely intoned something scary about “communists.”

My generation is forever marked by Vietnam, no matter what we did during its pollution of our politics. Whether we were in harm’s way fighting as volunteers or draftees in Vietnam or were protesters hated, beaten and even killed, we bear the scars. In some ways we will never know where some of those scars are. Lyndon Johnson’s domestic programs and civil rights initiatives, so impressive in the beginning, were sacrificed to the war. Everyone lost faith in the government.

It was insane to believe that we exceptional Americans would be “fighting for freedom” by stifling the Vietnamese battle for independence.  May this documentary give our children and grandchildren the knowledge they need to reject liars and those scoundrels who cynically exploit the patriotism of all Americans and the innocent courage of the young.

All these years later, the “best and brightest” have been replaced. We have two more endless wars. Instead of fearing that the reds will be in downtown Fort Lauderdale by sunset, many of us are buying the hogwash that a bunch of fringe maniacs in the desert will. Or North Koreans. Or Mexicans. Or football players. There are always bogeymen. We can always find someone to fear.

Now that the worst and dumbest are in charge, the orange grifter comes up with new bogeymen, seemingly daily. Instead of solemn humbug about falling dominoes, we get crazy schoolyard bleats about foreign leaders who may be as unstable as our own. Instead of worrying about communists on the march, we get to worry about whether former communists gamed our election. Instead of being lied to in complete sentences, we’re lied to in 140 characters.
None of that is an improvement.

Richard Aregood is a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer in Sioux Falls, S.D., and a former editorial page editor of the Philadelphia Daily News and The Star Ledger of Newark, N.J.
Copyright © 2017, Sun Sentinel


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During the Vietnam War, America only halfheartedly attempted to engage the Viet Cong guerrillas and the North Vietnamese Army in Guerrilla, or Unconventional Warfare. Generally, however, the American Battle Plan called for Conventional Warfare, to take advantage of our technologically superior firepower.  That doesn’t necessarily work against a more primitive adversary, however, that prefers to engage only on its terms. This is, in effect, somewhat of a David and Goliath mismatch!

After Vietnam, the U. S. Military has had an aversion to unconventional warfare. Although we have participated in numerous military engagements since then, I will focus on our three longest wars—Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq.  The tank battle against Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard in 1991, and occasional confrontations with ISIS today have been conventional, in that the two armies faced each other head-on.  Those battles were short-lived, however, and not against comparable firepower.

Weaker insurgent and military forces, with little more than rifles and the occasional bazooka, would be insane to confront a major military power head-on.  Rather, they break-up into small groups and peck away at the more organized, larger foe.  Keep in mind that our infantry is weighed-down with 70-to-100 pounds of gear, as were the Soviets in Afghanistan and Chechnya—and they suffered the same fate!

The small groups can scatter and hide, blend in with the local populace, or lure the superior force into cities, thus eliminating the value of the artillery and air bombardment.  Also, major forces, which move in large groups can find difficulty traversing jungles, mountains and deserts.  Infantry that usually deploys in armored personnel carriers (lightly armored, tracked vehicles) or helicopters, may be at a loss when their vehicles are halted by terrain, triple canopy jungle foliage or sandstorms.

When a large foreign army enters another country, it is usually regarded as an Invading Force.  Also, our propping-up corrupt governments merely compounds the situation.  The South Vietnamese government, which we installed, was composed of Roman Catholics who fled the North; however, that offended the predominantly Chinese Buddhists in the South.  Then, the George W. Bush Administration replaced Saddam Hussein’s secular government with Shia Muslims who returned from self-exile in Iran, and embroiled the country into an on-going Shia-Sunni religious war.  Afghanistan has always been just lines on a map, with more Afghan’s aligned with tribal or ethnic groups in neighboring countries than their own nation.

In most cases, America engages in these wars against countries that never attacked us or our allies, merely for economic or political reasons.  Both Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon used Vietnam as tools to be re-elected.  After the Tet (Chinese Lunar New Year) Offensive in January of 1968, the war was ostensibly lost, and national sentiment had shifted against it.  Nixon kept it going, however, until January of 1973 in order to boost his re-election chances.  George W. Bush also used the two wars in the Middle East to boost his re-election chances in 2004.

In war, if you’re not winning, you’re losing!  Last June, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, a retired Marine General, told a Congressional Committee that we are not winning the War in Afghanistan.  After 14 years, I certainly believe that the same could be said for Iraq.  But, if we continue insisting on fighting the wrong type of war, we will never win wars outright again!

Unconventional warfare just enables the weaker adversary to eliminate the strengths of the superior military power.  And, as the equalizer effect kicks-in, the one remaining difference is that our enemy is fighting for a cause, while our troops barely know why they are there!

NOTE:  Many times over the years, I have wondered how many lives were lost—on both sides—during that five year period in which the war was essentially lost.  Even from the start, it was one huge, costly mistake!


The protest music, during the Vietnam War, was quite cogent.  The linked song, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”, as performed by Peter, Paul and Mary in that era, has always been one of my favorites.  I believe that it reflects the never-ending insanity of Warfare.  A different version of the performance, by a much older Peter, Paul and Mary, playing to a packed audience of senior citizen–singing, clapping and dancing with their grandchildren–can be found on the Internet.





Sporting events pit Americans against one another and, at least at the collegiate and professional levels, can result in serious and debilitating injuries, and sometimes with deadly results.  Such games are not played for any other reason than to generate profits for the colleges and universities, as well as the professional team players owners.  So, why play the anthem at events, which are more akin to those played centuries ago, back in the Roman Colosseum?  My focus here is specific to pro sports.

When I have watched the National Anthem being played on TV, I always sensed that people were standing out of habit, and any sense of genuine interest was more out of endurance, rather than patriotism.  As the camera scanned the stands, many of the fans, although standing, were demonstrating their reverence by:  wearing their hats; talking; taking selfies; and checking their smartphones, while others saw the opportunity to make a trip to the rest room, or TO make a beer run.

I think that it is quite absurd that our Tweeter-in-Chief has become such a patriot, when he shirked his own duty during the Vietnam Era, when his contemporaries were deployed!  Donald had five deferments, and one of those was a mysterious medical one for “bone spurs,” which never hindered his tennis game.   Now, how patriotic was that?

Donald Trump is supposedly a businessman.  If so, he should realize how moronic it would be for him to expect owners to fire some of today’s best pro players, such as Chris Curry and LeBron James, just because they pissed Trump off!

Firing someone, who has a multi-year contract—upwards of $25 million per annum, plus various incentives—would become immediately due and payable on the firing date.   So too might championship and personal accomplishment bonuses, since the players were denied the opportunity to compete for them.   That would cause team revenue to plummet!

Trumpet also suggests that fans boycott the games if the players do not comply with his inane ideas.   At the price of tickets today, I guarantee that very few fans would boycott the games for a reason that most Americans regard as idiotic.   In fact, a growing majority of Americans appear to be embarrassed by Trump, on a daily basis.

Considering the tense situation in North Korea, various on-going wars, and our nation’s failure to have just one diplomatic voice speak for America, doesn’t Donald have more important matters to attend to than whether players stand, kneel, or sit during the National Anthem?  Perhaps his motivation lies elsewhere.

Apparently, this Anthem Intrigue is a political move on Donald Trump’s part, in order to stir-up his Base—especially the White Supremacists—and, perhaps, once again distract Americans from the Russia Collusion Investigation. So far, he hasn’t attacked any White athletes, just Black ones.

Consider how many Black men, and a few women, have been suspiciously killed at the hands of police officers, and very rarely were the officers even indicted, let alone tried and convicted.  There is no rational reason to question Black athletes’ concern for that form of racism, with he National Anthem reflecting their most public outrage!

At this Sunday’s NFL games, players—both Black and White—from many teams joined the boycott against Trump’s intrusion on their profession.  Several other teams remained in the locker room until the Anthem had ended.  Also, several of the owners took a knee in solidarity with their teams, as well.  It will be interesting to watch whether the players’ action will continue, and if it will spread to other professional sports.

Donald Trump is grasping at bullshit when he suggests that the military, who are deployed into Harm’s Way, are fighting for a flag, which is a mere symbol of what America stood for-pre-Trump!  The “grunts,” Army and Marine infantry each fight, first and foremost, to cover each other’s asses.  Other than that, all of the rest are mere platitudes, which politicians refer to on holidays.   But then how would a Draft-Dodger know?

NOTE: This piece was cross-posted to another site, on which some readers made comments that read more like fairy tales, rather than demonstrate a connection between war and the symbolism of the flag. During my two tours (1967-1968) in South Vietnam, many GI’s had small versions of their respective state flags; but, I never saw even one person who had a U. S. flag.

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Considering the way Diplomacy is being handled by the Trump Regime, its easy to understand why the rest of the world seems to view the goings on at the White House as being somewhat haphazard, at best.  America presents itself to the world through its diplomacy, starting with the President and his State Department.  With Donald Trump, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson; however, its more or less: Here we are!

Prior to January, Secretary Tillerson was the CEO of Exxon-Mobil.  And, If his heart is not still back in the Oil Patch, it’s certainly not into diplomacy!  In Donald Trump’s original budget proposal, he had intended to slash the State Department by 31%, and Tillerson didn’t raise Holy Hell!  Such acquiescence doesn’t show the leadership that one would expect from a former Captain of Industry—let alone from our Nation’s Top Diplomat!

The most vexing problem with America’s Foreign Policy today centers on the mis-handling of the situation in North Korea.  Presidents Xi Jinping, of China, and Vladimir Putin, of Russia, appear more “presidential” than Mr. Trump, in that they have a better grasp of the overall situation.  The potential implications of each participating nation’s actions must clearly be considered.  But with Trump and Tillerson, the potential explosiveness of the Korean Peninsula seems to be disregarded.

Most importantly, America needs to speak with one voice, preferably that of an experienced diplomat, who can assume ownership of the problem in order to arrive at a peaceful solution.  The current situation on the Korean Peninsula is much too important not to give it our complete and undivided attention!

Over the past five months, the Trump Regime has been alternating one person after another, to speak for the U. S; but, without any one person with experience to assume the overall responsibility.  And, spurious comments and Tweets by Donald Trump have only escalated the problem to a whole new level.

In his book, “One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the brink of nuclear war,” Michael Dobbs corrected the general presumption that Kennedy and Khrushchev were engaged in a cat and mouse game during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.  Since his book was only published in 2008, however, Dobbs had access to previously unavailable documents from all three nations.

As it turned out, both President Kennedy and Premier Khrushchev realized, once they had deployed their respective military forces, that they couldn’t insure that the stand-off wouldn’t escalate into a potential nuclear Armageddon. Luckily, the two rational leaders avoided such a possibility!  Castro, on the other hand, preached Death with Honor!

Where is our capable diplomat, who can assess the actual intent of North Korea’s original communique, which stated that it would only fire missiles “near Guam,” and there was no threat of a nuclear weapon?  A single capable and dedicated envoy would have attempted to interpret what that message really meant!  Surely, Kim Jong-Un knew that, if he targets the U. S. or an ally, North Korea would be totally annihilated.  Also, if Kim was truly seriously about striking America, wouldn’t he have targeted, let’s say, San Francisco, Seattle or, at least, Honolulu?

America needs a diplomat—a real one—to take charge of solving this problem, and see it through to a final solution.  Ignorant comments about “locked and loaded,” and threatening to impede the North’s energy supplies—especially with the harsh North Korean winter approaching—would just lead to mass disruption on the Peninsula.  We need that experienced envoy now—to engage with North Korea, along with all interested parties.

As President Kennedy and Premier Khrushchev realized: No one wins when we all lose!

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I laughed to myself when I saw a NY Times headline, suggesting that Donald Trump’s Afghanistan Address, on Monday evening, had been “Masculine”.  My reaction was—Yes, with other people’s kids!   I have previously revealed my contempt for so-called “Wartime Presidents”: those who avoided service themselves, while keeping their own sons home. Let the Poor go to war:  What do they have to lose?  DUH!

One of Trump’s key themes, on Monday evening, was that we are going to help the Afghanistan people take control of their country back.  Really?   Afghanistan’s government has little relevance, once you venture outside of the capital.  Various Afghan presidents have often been jokingly referred to as the “Mayor of Kabul!”  That seems similar to the government of Iraq, where that nation’s leaders rarely strays outside of the Green Zone!

Very poor, pre-industrial nations such as Afghanistan, rely mostly on ancient agricultural practices, barter and the common person fending for themselves, and their families.  The per capita Gross Domestic Product of Afghanistan was only $594.32, in 2015.  There is one other agricultural crop, however, which for some reason, just doesn’t seem to be included in the usual GDP Statistics.  Poppy production!

One species of poppy, Papaver somniferum, contains the opium derivative, known as alkaloids, which is found in morphine.  Such opioids are currently a major cause in drug addiction in the U. S, and in other Western nations.  Afghanistan produces 555,750 acres of poppies annually, which is almost four times that of the next highest producer, Myanmar (formerly Burma), at 143,321 acres, followed by #3, Mexico, at 37, 056 acres. Would Afghan poppy growers really take money, to kill the means of their sustenance?

The poppy crop is so pervasive in Afghanistan that, after the imams warn that it is forbidden, they still take their ten percent.  Perhaps tithing is just tithing, huh?

I had written previously about traveling on a dirt road, in a very remote part of (then) South Vietnam back in 1968, and realizing that that one man, working his own rice paddy, was all by himself.  I could only assume that he had no idea who was ruling in Saigon, and surely, the government there knew, nor cared, little about his needs—infrastructure or personal.  But he was surviving—war zone, and all!

This is how the average person survives in such poor nations.  In fact, while these rural peasants are totally on their own, there are groups—somewhat like organized crime families in the West—who provide certain basic services, especially protection.  The local warlords and such, always receive their pound of flesh, however, in return for their “services rendered”.

We in the West cannot adequately understand what it means to take one’s country back, especially when our very presence there might have provided the very cause for its disarray.  The various groups that we assume to eradicate are not the ones causing the death and destruction that the people fear the most.  And when they and/or we are gone, there will be other groups, offering to help.  And that’s the way it has always been!

NOTE:  Another recent blog post, “Does foreign aid really work, or is it just another form of bribery?” takes another look at the life of the average rural resident from a different perspective




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