Posts Tagged Veterans

HOW DID THE HORRIBLE MISTAKE, WHICH WAS VIETNAM, HAPPEN?

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.

 

 

Advertisements

, , , , ,

1 Comment

THE KOREAN PENINSULA—A POTENTIALLY MUCH MORE DANGEROUS SITUATION THAN SYRIA!

By now, most people are aware that: America fired 59 Tomahawk Missiles on a Syrian airfield; that act was a violation of both the U. S. Constitution and the U. N. Charter; the Syria Air Force bombed the same city (without Sarin gas) just a few days later; the Pentagon has not suggested any sort of long-range plan in Syria; but, there have been suggestions that the U. S. is considering either placing nuclear weapons in South Korea, and/or sending a team of (assumedly) special ops to assassinate North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-Un.

In 1950, Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai told several foreign diplomats that China would enter the Korean War if the U. S. crossed the 38th parallel, into North Korea.  General Douglas MacArthur, Commander of U. N. Forces—disobeyed direct orders—crossed the 38th, and continued on to the Yalu River—the Chinese Border.

The Chinese. as Zhou had said, entered the war in a big way, and the Armies of the Two Koreas, plus the U. S., have been encamped at the DMZ ever since.  Although there was considerable Signals and Human Intelligence ,reporting a very significant massing of Chinese troops at the Yalu River, Mac Arthur disregarded it—at his own Army’s peril!

During the second (I believe) Presidential Debate last fall, Donald Trump had suggested that China should just invade North Korea and be done with the irrational Kim Jong-Un.  The result from such an action, however, would force a direct confrontation between nuclear-armed China and the U. S., across the DMZ.  So, here we are, 65 years after that War, and the Chinese seem to understand the potential danger of a nuclear build-up on the Korean Peninsula.  But, why doesn’t Donald Trump get it ?

The Pentagon has deployed a Carrier Strike Force to Korea with the USS Carl Vinson, and three guided missile destroyers, all of which have been temporarily docked in Singapore.  Japan must also be included in any strategic Korean Plan, along with Taiwan, which lies off the southeast coast of China.  I believe that, if China deploys ships to the Formosa Strait, which separates Taiwan from the Mainland, Donald Trump should be very, very careful in making his next move. China proved, once before, that it does follow-through i protecting its interests!

North Korea  has an 880 mile (1,420 km.) border with China, as well as a very small one with Russia.  But, neither of the two nuclear superpowers have common borders with Syria.  Additionally, the U. S. apparently has no long-term plans for Syria.    

America does, however, have a very long, and semi-permanent, presence in South Korea.  With a total of approximately 77,000 U. S. Troops in East Asia, and roughly two-thirds of them in nearby Japan, the situation appears to be more dangerous than Donald Trump’ s first major “Adventure”, in Syria.

Unfortunately, Donald Trump can be almost as irrational as Mr. Kim, of North Korea.  So far, however, Donald has dodged a bullet in Syria, at least so far; but, I surely don’t trust him in Korea, where China will be a much more serious, and powerful, opponent!

NOTE:  Welcome to my readers in China, Taiwan and Malta!

 

, , , , ,

3 Comments

WHAT’S BEHIND THE DAILY AVERAGE OF 22 VETERANS COMMITTING SUICIDE?

Before I start:  Let me point-out that I am not a Mental Health Care Professional.

I had already decided not to write any more about Donald J. Trump since he seems to be self-destructing right before our eyes.  But On October 3, before the Retired American Warriors, a group of military veterans, in Herndon, Virginia, he stated that military (and veterans) who develop mental health issues, are not “strong” and “can’t handle it”.  He went on to suggest that others saw many of the same things, like the members of his audience; but they were strong, and could handle it.  Now, that’s coming from a Draft-Dodger!

What Trump said certainly didn’t help those in the mental health care field, who have been trying to remove the stigma surrounding mental health issues for decades, and to move it out into the mainstream. Although similar issues abound in civilian life, the difficulty in encouraging diagnosis and treatment is more greater in the military, where strength and bravery are celebrated.

Several years ago, I ran across a blog by Steve Rose, Ph.D., a Canadian psychologist, who has done a great deal of research on PTSD among Canadian soldiers returning from Afghanistan.  I have linked his most recent blog post, in which he specifically reports some of his findings regarding the average 22 man suicide rate in the U. S:  https://steveroseblog.com/2016/08/27/who-are-the-22-veterans/.

I personally found the VA chart, which Steve included, that provides a demographic break-down, in ten-year age groupings, of suicide rates for both civilians and veterans, to be of great interest. The chart reflects the percentage of suicides in each of these groups, between 2009 and 2010, broken-down by the age demographics. Take a few moments to study the table from the report. Can you spot what is happening?

veteran-suicides

Notice the Main Finding, right below the chart: 69% of the veteran suicide rate is among those 50 years old, and older.

In his research, Steve began to look behind the numbers.  The non-veteran suicide rate is higher than that of the veterans, up until the 50-59 year-old demographic, during which the veterans group shifts slightly higher.  In the next age group, 60-to-69, the suicide rate for Civilians drops significantly, while that of Veterans remains relatively higher.

As I look at this chart, I can only make two unprofessional observations:

1. The suicide rate for civilians is significantly higher in the younger age groups, than that of the veterans. Then, they appear to criss-cross—with civilians veering lower and veterans remaining relatively higher in the older demographic.

2. The fairly-consistent, higher suicide rate among older veterans, at least to me, suggests that military service might have something to do with the different outcomes.  I am assuming that the veterans’ statistic might be more skewed toward “lifers”, who retired within the past ten-to-fifteen years, after having served for 20-to-30.

As Professor Rose points-out, there are a number of factors, which come into play, regarding the suicide rate among veterans.  I will leave the possible medical reasons for the professionals; but, let’s consider the various societal reasons that might be causing suicide among veterans.  Research indicates that the rate is highest among white males, with a high school diploma.

There are some gender-related factors, such as the male focus on masculinity, competitiveness and accomplishment.  Oftentimes, men tend to be more geared toward work, hobbies or other “instrumental” activities, whereas women—with that maternal instinct—are somewhat less competitive, have greater empathy, and are more societal in nature.  Professor Rose points out that there can be a loneliness factor among men, whereas women tend to have more social relationships that provide some protection from depression.

A major problem for some military veterans is making the transition into civilian life.  In the service, oftentimes your co-workers might be your neighbors, or people you see around the post or a small town, on a regular basis.  That communal atmosphere can take-on greater significance in overseas assignments, and yet be even higher yet in combat units, where each member of the unit’s life depends upon the others.

As I consider what I have read on Steve Rose’s blog, as well as other things regarding communal and even tribal societies, with regard to returning veterans, I have the following points to make:

1.   Having a support group—family, friends, co-workers—can help prevent depression.
2.   Finding a job helps and, if necessary, use the GI Bill to gain job skills.
3. In the current All-Volunteer Military, roughly only one percent of Americans are either serving in the military, or has a family member that is. The makes the transition, from military to civilian life, that much more difficult.
4. I wonder if education beyond high school, possibly reflecting greater job skills, has any effect on the outcome?

NOTE:  Ladies, I am not in any way suggesting that you cannot be intelligent, accomplished and focused!

, , , , , ,

Leave a comment

MIGHT AMERICA BE COMPLICIT IN THE KILLINGS OF “AMERICAN SNIPER” CHRIS KYLE AND HIS FRIEND, CHAD LITTLEFIELD?

I have written previously about the movie, “American Sniper”, about Chris Kyle, the U.S. Navy SEAL, who had served four tours between Iraq and Afghanistan, and was considered by some to be the Ultimate Sniper.  Two years ago, he and Chad Littlefield, a Friend and also a Veteran of the Middle East, were going to a rifle range, near where they lived in Texas.

They decided to invite Eddie Ray Routh, a former Marine and also a Veteran, who apparently had some lingering psychological problems (PTSD?), to go along with them.   As it turned out, Routh shot and killed both of Kyle and Littlefield, right on the rifle range near their hometown.  Tonight, a Guilty Verdict was handed down.  Its important note that the case revolved around Routh’s psychological state–both at the time of the murders, and aside from that time.

In a prior Blog Post, https://thetruthoncommonsense.com/2015/01/21/how-do-you-view-american-sniper/, I suggested that the popular movie was being received differently, depending upon the viewer’s personal feelings about: guns, warfare, killing, etc.

Given this evening’s Guilty Verdict, and the subsequent Life in Prison Sentence, I’m sure that the debate will now continue on to the new post-Trial platform.  Former U. S. Congressman Patrick Murphy, of Massachusetts, a Middle East Veteran himself, voiced his opinion in somewhat of an odd fashion.  He said that: “:Justice has been served; but it’s a sad day”.  What might he have meant by that?

Last October, I had written another Post, suggesting that; “America is War-Weary!’, linked as follows: https://thetruthoncommonsense.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=3048&action=edit.  In it, I questioned the insanity of not re-enacting the Military Draft, a universal conscription process whereby everyone’s Children or Grandchildren might be called-on to serve.  Currently, only one percent of Americans even know someone who is, or did, serve in the Middle East.  That means that the most members of the Administration and Congress, along with most of the American People, just don’t feel the Pain of War.

In that second Post, I pointed out that many Soldiers and Marines–often skewed to the poor and less-educated--have served multiple deployments in the War Zones.  A Universal Draft would reduce the probability of death or injury to any one “GI”.  But unfortunately, as many have served three, four, five deployments, or even more, the possibility of becoming a casualty is greatly increased.

The two recent Wars that have been fought, both in Iraq and Afghanistan, have lasted roughly ten years each–about the same as Vietnam, back in the 60s and early 70s.  The Deaths in the Middle East combined are roughly only one-tenth that of Vietnam.  That’s because the medical capabilities are greatly improved today–with regard to proximity to the battlefield, mobile delivery and the technology.  So, as the Deaths have been reduced to only a sliver, as compared to some 40 years ago, that means that the Injuries have surged dramatically.

Young Men and (now) Women are returning with a multitude of medical and/or psychological problems today,   And, since many of these Veterans are going to be suffering from their various injuries for years to come–if not the rest of their lives–that’s where the problem lies.  And, I believe that’s what the Congressman was referring to.

As a former District Attorney, back in Massachusetts, Patrick Murphy knew the importance of having a fair and honest Legal System.  But, he also knew the burden that the All-Volunteer Military places on those who do serve–and their Families I’m inclined to agree with him.

To summarize, the question really is:  might all of America be complicit in the deaths of Kyle and Littlefield–for not recognizing the physical and emotional burden that they are placing on their young men and women.  Did America kill them?

, ,

Leave a comment

HOW DO YOU VIEW “AMERICAN SNIPER”?

First, let me point-out that I do not go to see movies.  They seem to focus too much on action, chase scenes and special effects.  Each and every one claims to be a “blockbuster”.  Unfortunately, with all that, you cannot expect them to also have an actual story line, a credible script, a talented director and a complementary supporting cast, can you?

American Sniper is about Chris Kyle, a former Navy SEAL, purported to be the best sniper ever and, after four deployments to Iraq, his trouble adjusting to civilian life–and life with his Wife and Kids.  This can happen to returning combat veterans, especially those who have been through and seen the worst, and whose job was to Kill, kill, kill..!  Unfortunately, after all that he had been through, Kyle and a friend were killed on a target range, in Texas in 2013, by a former Marine who they took along with them.

The movie has been a box office smash and there have been many commentaries in the media, both Pro and Con.  Clint Eastwood is both the Director and Producer, and he states that American Sniper is an anti-War movie, within a War move.  And perhaps that may truly be the case.  I wonder, however, if the question of whether the movie is good or bad, accurate or not, might really lie in the eyes of the beholder?

Growing up in America in the 1950’s and 60s, there were many, many war movies.  Every one seemed to have a senior military officer on screen (at the beginning) presenting it, and with the Flag and the patriotic music playing in the background.  In more recent times, the movie “Top Gun” surely gave a shot in the arm to recruitment for the Navy–specifically to fly jets.

In a war zone, especially where both the enemy and the locals do not look like “Us”, oftentimes our military has trouble telling the good guys from the bad.  Also, when soldiers just lost close friends in their platoon, they might just want to relieve some of that frustration–even though their vision might be somewhat blurred by resentment.  And, for Chris Kyle, part of his mental state, upon returning home, might have been from second-guessing whether any of those 250 “Kills” where innocents, by mistake. That can be a tough burden to carry with you…forever.

But, let’s focus back on the movie–what is the mindset of the audience who sees, or has seen, American Sniper?  Society in America is very polarized these days.  That bias can come from Washington, state capitols and also from within.  Over the last few years, we’ve had Marines urinating on the corpses of enemy bodies, a pastor in Florida burning Quran’s, and people firebombing and desecrating Mosques.  So, taking out your frustration on others, whom you do not even know, is nothing new in America.

At the same time, the story within the movie often has very little in common with the actual book, on which it is supposedly based.  For instance, as a teenager, I read the book “Dr. Zhivago”, a truly gripping novel about the Russian Revolution, in 1917.  When I saw the movie, however, it was mostly a love story, with fantastic cinematography and music.  But, what about the political aspects of the Revolution?  They were omitted.  So, poetic license sometimes can go too far!

I am not suggesting whether you either should or should not see American Sniper; however, you should keep in mind that you are bringing something else to the theater, besides yourself.  Your upbringing, your life experiences and your personal point-of-view are perhaps the most fundamental ingredients in determining how you see the movie.

NOTE:  Currently, an average of 22 American Veterans commit suicide each and every day.

,

2 Comments

CAN BOB McDONALD SUCCESSFULLY LEAD THE VA?

It was announced that President Barack Obama will nominate Bob McDonald to be the next Secretary of the Veterans’ Administration.  Mr. McDonald is a West Point graduate, had served in the Army for five years and had also been the CEO of Procter & Gamble.

Let me repeat two points, about the role of the VA Secretary, which I had made before in a prior Blog Post, linked as follows: https://thetruthoncommonsense.com/2014/06/01/do-we-really-need-a-separate-va-health-care-system/. Veterans might be better-served if the current VA Health Care System were combined with the Private Health Care System, which operates side-by-side with it. Also, given the various facets of the VA Secretary’s role, and supervision of Health Care Facilities, if they are retained at VA, should be delegated to a top-level deputy who has considerable health care administration experience.

Now, don’t get excited about a potential thaw between the Republicans and President Barack Obama.  Keep in mind that P & G’s Headquarters is in Cincinnati, Ohio; so it’s no wonder that Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senator John Portman (R-OH) have endorsed one of the former key executives in their home state.  A linked article, from the Washington Post, is as follows: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/bob-mcdonald-former-pandg-chief-to-be-obamas-nominee-to-lead-veterans-affairs/2014/06/29/2fddd794-ffab-11e3-b8ff-89afd3fad6bd_story.html?wpisrc=nl_politics.

Previously, former Generals or Men with Health Care backgrounds had been appointed to head the VA.  At the moment, however, Real Leadership is what is needed.  Military Leadership tends to be autocratic, with the General telling everyone else what to do.  But, a VA Secretary must work within a multi-faceted environment, which a former Corporate Executive, who had to work both Inside and Outside the Organization, might be in a better position to provide that Leadership.

Likewise, with some 1,700 VA Health Care Systems, it is truly extensive enough that a full-time Health Care Administrator, operating at the Top Echelon of the VA, is definitely the way to delegate the various day-to-day executive functions of those Facilities.  Also, Sloan Gibson, the Acting VA Secretary, a classmate of McDonald’s at West Point, is expected to remain as a Deputy Secretary at the VA.

,

Leave a comment

WHO CARES FOR THE DEAD AT NORMANDY?

Many of the Western Leaders will gather at Normandy, France this Friday to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Landings, by American, British and Canadian Forces, on June 6, 1944.  Those Landings–at a considerable loss of Young Lives–turned the tide in World War II.  The Survivors from that Fateful Day–at least those who can still travel–will be there, as well.  Since they are now in their 90s, however, this will probably be their last chance to commemorate that Day–and honor their fallen comrades.

The linked article, by Alexandria Sage, from Reuters, provides a touching description of what goes on at the several Cemeteries (American, British and Canadian), day-in, and day-out.  Although this article is specific to the American Cemetery, the same care and devotion is given the burial places of the other Allied Heroes, as well.  To me, this is a very touching and, perhaps, poetic story: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/30/us-d-day-cemetery-idUSKBN0EA1CH20140530,

As I read Ms. Sage’s article, it makes me think of those splendid words from President Abraham Lincoln’s speech at Gettysburg, Pa., some eighty years before, when he said: “…The World will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but can never forget what they did here…”  The story of the successive generations of French who have cared for the Gravesides is quite enthralling, and reflects the love and devotion which they provide.

, ,

2 Comments