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Demobilizing America
A Nation Made by War and a Citizenry Unmade By It
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On successive days recently, I saw two museum shows that caught something of a lost American world and seemed eerily relevant in the Age of Trump. The first, “Hippie Modernism,” an exploration of the counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s (heavy on psychedelic posters), was appropriately enough at the Berkeley Art Museum. To my surprise, it also included a few artifacts from a movement crucial to my own not-especially-countercultural version of those years: the vast antiwar protests that took to the streets in the mid-1960s, shook the country, and never really went away until the last American combat troops were finally withdrawn from Vietnam in 1973. Included was a poster of the American flag, upside down, its stripes redrawn as red rifles, its stars as blue fighter planes, and another showing an American soldier, a rifle casually slung over his shoulder. Its caption still seems relevant as our never-ending wars continue to head for “the homeland.”

“Violence abroad,” it said, “breeds violence at home.” Amen, brother.

The next day, I went to a small Rosie the Riveter Memorial museum-cum-visitor’s center in a national park in Richmond, California, on the shores of San Francisco Bay. There, during World War II, workers at a giant Ford plant assembled tanks, while Henry Kaiser’s nearby shipyard complex was, at one point, launching a Liberty or Victory ship every single day. Let me repeat that: on average, one ship a day. Almost three-quarters of a century later, that remains mindboggling. In fact, those yards, as I learned from a documentary at the visitor’s center, set a record by constructing a single cargo ship, stem to stern, in just under five days.

And what made such records and that kind of 24/7 productiveness possible in wartime America? All of it happened largely because the gates to the American workforce were suddenly thrown open not just to Rosie, the famed riveter, and so many other women whose opportunities had previously been limited largely to gender-stereotyped jobs, but to African Americans, Chinese Americans, the aged, the disabled, just about everyone in town (except incarcerated Japanese Americans) who had previously been left out or sold short, the sort of cross-section of a country that wouldn’t rub elbows again for decades.

Similarly, the vast antiwar movement of the 1960s and early 1970s was filled with an unexpected cross-section of the country, including middle-class students and largely working-class vets directly off the battlefields of Southeast Asia. Both the work force of those World War II years and the protest movement of their children were, in their own fashion, citizen wonders of their American moments. They were artifacts of a country in which the public was still believed to play a crucial role and in which government of the people, by the people, and for the people didn’t yet sound like a late-night laugh line. Having seen in those museum exhibits traces of two surges of civic duty — if you don’t mind my repurposing the word “surge,” now used only for U.S. military operations leading nowhere — I suddenly realized that my family (like so many other American families) had been deeply affected by each of those mobilizing moments, one in support of a war and the other in opposition to it.

My father joined the U.S. Army Air Corps immediately after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He would be operations officer for the First Air Commandos in Burma. My mother joined the mobilization back home, becoming chairman of the Artist’s Committee of the American Theatre Wing, which, among other things, planned entertainment for servicemen and women. In every sense, theirs was a war of citizens’ mobilization — from those rivets pounded in by Rosie to the backyard “victory gardens” (more than 20 million of them) that sprang up nationwide and played a significant role in feeding the country in a time of global crisis. And then there were the war bond drives for one of which my mother, described in an ad as a “well known caricaturist of stage and screen stars,” agreed to do “a caricature of those who purchase a $500 war bond or more.”

World War II was distinctly a citizen’s war. I was born in 1944 just as it was reaching its crescendo. My own version of such a mobilization, two decades later, took me by surprise. In my youth, I had dreamed of serving my country by becoming a State Department official and representing it abroad. In a land that still had a citizen’s army and a draft, it never crossed my mind that I wouldn’t also be in the military at some point, doing my duty. That my “duty” in those years would instead turn out to involve joining in a mobilization against war was unexpected. But that an American citizen should care about the wars that his (or her) country fought and why it fought them was second nature. Those wars — both against fascism globally and against rebellious peasants across much of Southeast Asia — were distinctly American projects. That meant they were our responsibility.

If my country fought the war from hell in a distant land, killing peasants by the endless thousands, it seemed only natural, a duty in fact, to react to it as so many Americans drafted into that military did — even wearing peace symbols into battle, creating antiwar newspapers on their military bases, and essentially going into opposition while still in that citizen’s army. The horror of that war mobilized me, too, just not in the military itself. And yet I can still remember that when I marched on Washington, along with hundreds of thousands of other protesters, it never occurred to me — not even when Richard Nixon was in the White House — that an American president wouldn’t have to listen to the voices of a mobilized citizenry.

ORDER IT NOW

Add in one more thing. Each of those mobilizing moments, in its own curious fashion, proved to be a distinctly American tale of triumph: the victory of World War II that left fascism in its German, Italian, and Japanese forms in literal ruins, while turning the U.S. into a global superpower; and the defeat in Vietnam, which checked that superpower’s capacity to destroy, thanks at least in part to the actions of both a citizen’s army in revolt and an army of citizens.

The Teflon Objects of Our American World

Since then, in every sense, victory has gone missing in action and so, for decades (with a single brief moment of respite), has the very idea that Americans have a duty of any sort when it comes to the wars their country chooses to fight. In our era, war, like the Pentagon budget and the growing powers of the national security state, has been inoculated against the virus of citizen involvement, and so against any significant form of criticism or resistance. It’s a process worth contemplating since it reminds us that we’re truly in a new American age, whether of the plutocrats, by the plutocrats, and for the plutocrats or of the generals, by the generals, and for the generals — but most distinctly not of the people, by the people, and for the people.

After all, for more than 15 years, the U.S. military has been fighting essentially failed or failing wars — conflicts that only seem to spread the phenomenon (terrorism) they’re supposed to eradicate — in Afghanistan, Iraq, more recently Syria, intermittently Yemen, and elsewhere across the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa. In recent weeks, civilians in those distant lands have been dying in rising numbers (as, to little attention here, has been true periodically for years now). Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s generals have been quietly escalating those wars. Hundreds, possibly thousands, more American soldiers and special ops forces are being sent into Syria, Iraq, and neighboring Kuwait (about which the Pentagon will no longer provide even inaccurate numbers); U.S. air strikes have been on the rise throughout the region; the U.S. commander in Afghanistan is calling for reinforcements; U.S. drone strikes recently set a new record for intensity in Yemen; Somalia may be the next target of mission creep and escalation; and it looks as if Iran is now in Washington’s sniper scopes. In this context, it’s worth noting that, even with a significant set of anti-Trump groups now taking to the streets in protest, none are focused on America’s wars.

Many of these developments were reasonably predictable once Donald Trump — a man unconcerned with the details of anything from healthcare to bombing campaigns — appointed generals already deeply implicated in America’s disastrous wars to plan and oversee his version of them, as well as foreign policy generally. (Rex Tillerson’s State Department has, by now, been relegated to near nonentity-hood.) In response, many in the media and elsewhere began treating those generals as if they were the only “adults” in the Trumpian room. If so, they are distinctly deluded ones. Otherwise why would they be ramping up their wars in a fashion familiar to anyone who’s been paying attention for the last decade and a half, clearly resorting to more of what hasn’t worked in all these years? Who shouldn’t, for instance, feel a little chill when the word “surge” starts to be associated again with the possibility of sending thousands more U.S. troops to Afghanistan? After all, we already know how this story ends, having had more than 15 years of grim lessons on the subject. The question is: Why don’t the generals?

And here’s another question that should (but doesn’t) come to mind in twenty-first-century America: Why does a war effort that has already cost U.S. taxpayers trillions of dollars not involve the slightest mobilization of the American people? No war taxes, war bonds, war drives, victory gardens, sacrifice of any sort, or for that matter serious criticism, protest, or resistance? As has been true since Vietnam, war and American national security are to be left to the pros, even if those pros have proven a distinctly amateurish lot.

And here’s one more question: With an oppositional movement gearing up on domestic issues, will our wars, the military, and the national security state continue to be the Teflon objects of our American world? Why, with the sole exception of President Trump (and in his case only when it comes to the way the country’s intelligence agencies have dealt with him) is no one — with the exception of small groups of antiwar vets and a tiny number of similarly determined activistsgoing after the national security state, even as its wars threaten to create a vast arc of failed states and a hell of terror movements and unmoored populations?

The Age of Demobilization

In the case of America’s wars, there’s a history that helps explain how we ended up in such a situation. It would undoubtedly begin with an American high command facing a military in near revolt in the later Vietnam years and deciding that the draft should be tossed out the window. What was needed, they came to believe, was an “all-volunteer” force (which, to them, meant a no-protest one).

In 1973, President Nixon obliged and ended the draft, the first step in bringing a rebellious citizen’s army and a rebellious populace back under control. In the decades to come, the military would be transformed — though few here would say such a thing — into something closer to an American foreign legion. In addition, in the post-9/11 years, that all-volunteer force came to shelter within it a second, far more secretive military, 70,000 strong: the Special Operations Command. Members of that elite crew, which might be thought of as the president’s private army, are now regularly dispatched around the globe to train literal foreign legions and to commit deeds that are, at best, only half-known to the American people.

ORDER IT NOW

In these years, Americans have largely been convinced that secrecy is the single most crucial factor in national security; that what we do know will hurt us; and that ignorance of the workings of our own government, now enswathed in a penumbra of secrecy, will help keep us safe from “terror.” In other words, knowledge is danger and ignorance, safety. However Orwellian that may sound, it has become the norm of twenty-first-century America.

That the government must have the power to surveil you is by now a given; that you should have the power to surveil (or simply survey) your own government is a luxury from another time. And that has proven an effective formula for the kind of demobilization that has come to define this era, even if it fits poorly with any normal definition of how a democracy should function or with the now exceedingly old-fashioned belief that an informed public (as opposed to an uninformed or even misinformed one) is crucial to the workings of such a government.

In addition, as they launched their Global War on Terror after 9/11, top Bush administration officials remained obsessed with memories of the Vietnam mobilization. They were eager for wars in which there would be no prying journalists, no ugly body counts, and no body bags heading home to protesting citizens. In their minds, there were to be only two roles available for the American public. The first was, in President George W. Bush’s classic formulation, to “go down to Disney World in Florida, take your families, and enjoy life the way we want it to be enjoyed” — in other words, go shopping. The second was to eternally thank and praise America’s “warriors” for their deeds and efforts. Their wars for better or worse (and it would invariably turn out to be for worse) were to be people-less ones in distant lands that would in no way disturb American life — another fantasy of our age.

Coverage of the resulting wars would be carefully controlled; journalists “embedded” in the military; (American) casualties kept as low as possible; and warfare itself made secretive, “smart,” and increasingly robotic (think: drones) with death a one-way street for the enemy. American-style war was, in short, to become unimaginably antiseptic and distant (if, that is, you were living thousands of miles away and shopping your heart out). In addition, the memory of the attacks of 9/11 helped sanitize whatever the U.S. did thereafter.

In those years, the result at home would be an age of demobilization. The single exception — and it’s one that historians will perhaps someday puzzle over — would be the few months before the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq in which hundreds of thousands of Americans (millions globally) suddenly took to the streets in repeated protests. That, however, largely ended with the actual invasion and in the face of a government determined not to listen.

It remains to be seen whether, in Donald Trump’s America, with that sense of demobilization fading, America’s wars and military-first policies will once again become the target of a mobilizing public. Or will Donald Trump and his Teflon generals have a free hand to do as they want abroad, whatever happens at home?

In many ways, from its founding the United States has been a nation made by wars. The question in this century is: Will its citizenry and its form of government be unmade by them?

Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He is a fellow of the Nation Institute and runs TomDispatch.com. His latest book is Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

(Republished from TomDispatch by permission of author or representative)
 
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  1. fnn says:

    My father joined the U.S. Army Air Corps immediately after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

    If some activist federal judge (like the kind we have now who think they can dictate Trump’s immigration policy) had struck down FDR’s oil embargo against Japan we could have skipped the attack on Pearl Harbor.

    I know Hitler is Satan, but we can also mainly blame FDR for the outbreak of general European war in 1939. See Herbert Hoover and mainstream liberal Jewish historian Robert Edwin Herzstein.

    Read More
    • Replies: @jacques sheete
    Some folks may be interested in what Rothbard had to say about the origins of WW2. The first quote is from a fairly short article, and the second is from an elaboration of it.

    “… this entire myth, so prevalent then and even now about Hitler, and about the Japanese, is a tissue of fallacies from beginning to end. Every plank in this nightmare evidence is either completely untrue or not entirely the truth.

    If people should learn this intellectual fraud about Hitler's Germany, then they will begin to ask questions, and searching questions…”

    - Murray Rothbard 1966
    http://mises.org/daily/2592

    Review of The Origins of the Second World War
    By Murray N. Rothbard

    Mises.org
    March 15, 2017

    https://www.lewrockwell.com/2017/03/murray-n-rothbard/origins-2nd-world-war/ [From a memo to Mr. Kenneth Templeton at the William Volker Fund, April 18, 1962.]

     

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  2. He would be operations officer for the First Air Commandos in Burma. My mother joined the mobilization back home, becoming chairman of the Artist’s Committee of the American Theatre Wing, which, among other things, planned entertainment for servicemen and women.

    Pretty cushy jobs, actually. My father got drafted and spent WW II as a seaman rank SeaBee in the Pacific, taking constant sniper fire, getting malaria, and subsisting for weeks at a time on rice, canned fruit salad, and Spam because incompetent “operations officers” failed to properly plan logistics. He should never have been drafted since he was the youngest of three brothers, two of whom were already serving, and should have been exempt. He was told to suck it up since they really needed skilled construction workers in the Pacific. My mother worked in a munitions plant.

    I’m beginning to understand better my atavistic dislike for Mr. Engelhardt. His faux politics are just a convenient cover for and way of hiding from his privilege. A privilege that apparently extends back at least a generation.

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  3. anarchyst says:

    The so-called “anti-war” movement during Vietnam WAS NOT based on altruistic concern for the Vietnamese people–not at all…
    This anti-war movement was largely fomented by communists and their fellow travelers, who were doing what they could to tear down civil society.
    What better way than to blame the troops for policies fomented in Washington D.C.?
    The only reason for the anti-war protests was to “SAVE THEIR OWN SKINS”–nothing more. Once the draft was abolished, the protests stopped. Even “uber-conservatives” such as “rock star” Ted Nugent found a way to avoid service by feigning mental illness, later claiming that Vietnam “was not his war”.
    These same “anti-war” protester “chickenhawks” are once again pushing for war.
    These “anti-war” protesters were egged on by the likes of the “mainstream media”. Walter Cronkite comes to mind, in particular, who never met a communist that he did not like. His lies and fabrications about the effectiveness of the 1968 Tet offensive prolonged the war for years. North Vietnamese General Giap admitted that the American news media gave his side “new resolve” to keep going.
    It is interesting to note that returning Vietnam veterans were demonized and marginalized, being called “unstable”, and “baby killers”, despite the majority coming back home and resuming their normal lives without incident.
    To this day, there are “anti-war” protesters who claim to be Vietnam veterans…sick…

    Read More
    • Replies: @Corvinus
    Wow, so many False News Stories here. Where does one begin?

    "The so-called “anti-war” movement during Vietnam WAS NOT based on altruistic concern for the Vietnamese people–not at all…"

    To the contrary...MLK explained his motives in explicitly Christian terms:

    Beyond the calling of race or nation or creed is this vocation of sonship and brotherhood, and because I believe that the Father is deeply concerned especially for his suffering and helpless and outcast children, I come tonight to speak for them.

    This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation's self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation and for those it calls "enemy," for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.

    And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond in compassion, my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula. I speak now not of the soldiers of each side, not of the ideologies of the Liberation Front, not of the junta in Saigon, but simply of the people who have been living under the curse of war for almost three continuous decades now. I think of them, too, because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution there until some attempt is made to know them and hear their broken cries.

    "This anti-war movement was largely fomented by communists and their fellow travelers, who were doing what they could to tear down civil society."

    People young and old who spoke out against the war were not communists or influenced by Marxian doctrine. They were opposed to the incivility in our society and the D.C. war machine. These same individuals today are anti-neo-cons.

    "What better way than to blame the troops for policies fomented in Washington D.C.?
    The only reason for the anti-war protests was to “SAVE THEIR OWN SKINS”–nothing more. Once the draft was abolished, the protests stopped."

    The protests officially stopped when the Vietnam War ended.

    "These same “anti-war” protester “chickenhawks” are once again pushing for war."

    Specifically, who?

    "His lies and fabrications about the effectiveness of the 1968 Tet offensive prolonged the war for years."

    Historians have written extensively about the impact of the Tet Offensive. No lies and fabrications, just analysis of the facts.

    https://cup.columbia.edu/book/the-tet-offensive/9780231128407

    "It is interesting to note that returning Vietnam veterans were demonized and marginalized, being called “unstable”, and “baby killers”"

    Absolutely.

    "despite the majority coming back home and resuming their normal lives without incident."

    And how do you know for certain considering that soldiers from any war continue to suffer from physical and emotional trauma and may not report their condition.

    https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/publications/agent-orange/agent-orange-summer-2015/nvvls.asp

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  4. I was born in ’44 also. Every boy born between WWII and Vietnam was a cold warrior. There were deferments. Dick Cheney had five of them. But most of us working class boys knew from grade school that we would be called to service. My turn came in 1965. Serving under Johnson and briefly under Nixon I learned that Democrats and Republicans are the same thing. And I learned that the purpose of war was to make rich men richer. Today Imperial Washington is a country unto itself. It seeks neither advice nor consent. What it does is none of our business. Absolute power has corrupted Washington absolutely.

    I am a blood and soil American. My heart is with the people and the land. I enjoy American music, especially at its roots. But Washington’s wars are not my wars. Washington’s Police State is not my government. I hope to live to see the final demise of the Anglo/Zio Empire.

    Read More
    • Agree: anarchyst
    • Replies: @jacques sheete

    I learned that Democrats and Republicans are the same thing. And I learned that the purpose of war was to make rich men richer. Today Imperial Washington is a country unto itself. It seeks neither advice nor consent.
     
    Sir, you write better than about 95% of the authors on UR and the quality of writing here at UR is beyond most others.

    With those few sentences you not only capsulized the truth with admirable economy, but you expressed it elegantly. Damn near poetically. I reread them several times and suspect I'll read them several more times as well! What a pleasure!!

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  5. So where were all the antiwar people when BHO was waging war every day of his 8 years in office.

    Are they only now finding their voices because it is a Republican in office?

    At least in the 60′s it was a bipartisan protest. A protest against the wagers of war irrespective of party.

    Todays anti war movement has sold out and become a tool of the Deep State.

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  6. willem1 says:

    “Why does a war effort that has already cost U.S. taxpayers trillions of dollars not involve the slightest mobilization of the American people? No war taxes, war bonds, war drives, victory gardens, sacrifice of any sort, or for that matter serious criticism, protest, or resistance?”

    Because no one is drafted and no one is taxed. The government hires civilians to fill a lot of the jobs formerly held by military personnel, reducing demand for military personnel to a level that can be met by volunteers. The vast amounts being spent are being paid for by borrowing and money printing, so taxpayers are not feeling the pain of reduced domestic spending or increased taxes to nearly the extent that they otherwise would.

    This is all going to work just swell until our financial system blows up.

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  7. Corvinus says:
    @anarchyst
    The so-called "anti-war" movement during Vietnam WAS NOT based on altruistic concern for the Vietnamese people--not at all...
    This anti-war movement was largely fomented by communists and their fellow travelers, who were doing what they could to tear down civil society.
    What better way than to blame the troops for policies fomented in Washington D.C.?
    The only reason for the anti-war protests was to "SAVE THEIR OWN SKINS"--nothing more. Once the draft was abolished, the protests stopped. Even "uber-conservatives" such as "rock star" Ted Nugent found a way to avoid service by feigning mental illness, later claiming that Vietnam "was not his war".
    These same "anti-war" protester "chickenhawks" are once again pushing for war.
    These "anti-war" protesters were egged on by the likes of the "mainstream media". Walter Cronkite comes to mind, in particular, who never met a communist that he did not like. His lies and fabrications about the effectiveness of the 1968 Tet offensive prolonged the war for years. North Vietnamese General Giap admitted that the American news media gave his side "new resolve" to keep going.
    It is interesting to note that returning Vietnam veterans were demonized and marginalized, being called "unstable", and "baby killers", despite the majority coming back home and resuming their normal lives without incident.
    To this day, there are "anti-war" protesters who claim to be Vietnam veterans...sick...

    Wow, so many False News Stories here. Where does one begin?

    “The so-called “anti-war” movement during Vietnam WAS NOT based on altruistic concern for the Vietnamese people–not at all…”

    To the contrary…MLK explained his motives in explicitly Christian terms:

    Beyond the calling of race or nation or creed is this vocation of sonship and brotherhood, and because I believe that the Father is deeply concerned especially for his suffering and helpless and outcast children, I come tonight to speak for them.

    This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation’s self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation and for those it calls “enemy,” for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.

    And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond in compassion, my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula. I speak now not of the soldiers of each side, not of the ideologies of the Liberation Front, not of the junta in Saigon, but simply of the people who have been living under the curse of war for almost three continuous decades now. I think of them, too, because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution there until some attempt is made to know them and hear their broken cries.

    “This anti-war movement was largely fomented by communists and their fellow travelers, who were doing what they could to tear down civil society.”

    People young and old who spoke out against the war were not communists or influenced by Marxian doctrine. They were opposed to the incivility in our society and the D.C. war machine. These same individuals today are anti-neo-cons.

    “What better way than to blame the troops for policies fomented in Washington D.C.?
    The only reason for the anti-war protests was to “SAVE THEIR OWN SKINS”–nothing more. Once the draft was abolished, the protests stopped.”

    The protests officially stopped when the Vietnam War ended.

    “These same “anti-war” protester “chickenhawks” are once again pushing for war.”

    Specifically, who?

    “His lies and fabrications about the effectiveness of the 1968 Tet offensive prolonged the war for years.”

    Historians have written extensively about the impact of the Tet Offensive. No lies and fabrications, just analysis of the facts.

    https://cup.columbia.edu/book/the-tet-offensive/9780231128407

    “It is interesting to note that returning Vietnam veterans were demonized and marginalized, being called “unstable”, and “baby killers””

    Absolutely.

    “despite the majority coming back home and resuming their normal lives without incident.”

    And how do you know for certain considering that soldiers from any war continue to suffer from physical and emotional trauma and may not report their condition.

    https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/publications/agent-orange/agent-orange-summer-2015/nvvls.asp

    Read More
    • Replies: @Quartermaster
    Your post is BS. You can invoke MLK all you like, but Communists are the people that fomented the anti-war riots.

    The impact of the Tet offensive was felt mainly because of Cronkite's lies. The Tet offensive was an utter failure and simply resulted in the destruction of the Viet Cong and a good bit of the North Vietnamese Army. Almost all enemy contact afterwards was with the North Vietnamese Army. The Easter Offensive of 1972 was as much a failure. Half the Army that invaded form the north returned home. The rest had been destroyed or captured. Most of the work in that was done by the Army of The Republic of Vietnam.

    Chickenhawks are mostly those who refused to serve, and now agitate for military action. Some of them were anti-war protesters. Many of those anti-war protesters regret their actions because of the blood on their hands because of Southeast Asia.

    The majority have come home and lived normal lives. That does not mean they did not report problems. Many have had problems. Some sucked it up and dealt with them, others were too deeply impacted to be able to deal with them. Most, however, did come home and live their lives without incident.

    There's much more that could be said. But, you need to quit reading leftist sources and get your facts together before you post anymore idiocy.

    Agent Orange exposure is a different matter entirely from the issue raised. Everyone that had to handle the stuff, or was otherwise exposed, has had some health problem related to the PCB exposure.
    , @jacques sheete

    “The so-called “anti-war” movement during Vietnam WAS NOT based on altruistic concern for the Vietnamese people–not at all…”

    To the contrary…MLK explained his motives in explicitly Christian terms:
     
    While you are correct about MLK, (bless his soul), he can be considered the exception that proves the rule.

    In my experience, most of the people involved in the anti-war movement of the time most definitely were not, in the least, altruistic. Most were a spoiled, self-indulgent snots who never gave a damn about anything beyond themselves and knowing that makes their absence now even more loathsome to me. Hypocritical swine, in other words.
    , @anarchyst
    In reply to you, I WAS THERE. I served proudly and would do it again. Corvinus, you need to lose your left-wing communist ways... you must have been one of the college pukes that I still detest...
    Regards,
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  8. @Corvinus
    Wow, so many False News Stories here. Where does one begin?

    "The so-called “anti-war” movement during Vietnam WAS NOT based on altruistic concern for the Vietnamese people–not at all…"

    To the contrary...MLK explained his motives in explicitly Christian terms:

    Beyond the calling of race or nation or creed is this vocation of sonship and brotherhood, and because I believe that the Father is deeply concerned especially for his suffering and helpless and outcast children, I come tonight to speak for them.

    This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation's self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation and for those it calls "enemy," for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.

    And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond in compassion, my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula. I speak now not of the soldiers of each side, not of the ideologies of the Liberation Front, not of the junta in Saigon, but simply of the people who have been living under the curse of war for almost three continuous decades now. I think of them, too, because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution there until some attempt is made to know them and hear their broken cries.

    "This anti-war movement was largely fomented by communists and their fellow travelers, who were doing what they could to tear down civil society."

    People young and old who spoke out against the war were not communists or influenced by Marxian doctrine. They were opposed to the incivility in our society and the D.C. war machine. These same individuals today are anti-neo-cons.

    "What better way than to blame the troops for policies fomented in Washington D.C.?
    The only reason for the anti-war protests was to “SAVE THEIR OWN SKINS”–nothing more. Once the draft was abolished, the protests stopped."

    The protests officially stopped when the Vietnam War ended.

    "These same “anti-war” protester “chickenhawks” are once again pushing for war."

    Specifically, who?

    "His lies and fabrications about the effectiveness of the 1968 Tet offensive prolonged the war for years."

    Historians have written extensively about the impact of the Tet Offensive. No lies and fabrications, just analysis of the facts.

    https://cup.columbia.edu/book/the-tet-offensive/9780231128407

    "It is interesting to note that returning Vietnam veterans were demonized and marginalized, being called “unstable”, and “baby killers”"

    Absolutely.

    "despite the majority coming back home and resuming their normal lives without incident."

    And how do you know for certain considering that soldiers from any war continue to suffer from physical and emotional trauma and may not report their condition.

    https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/publications/agent-orange/agent-orange-summer-2015/nvvls.asp

    Your post is BS. You can invoke MLK all you like, but Communists are the people that fomented the anti-war riots.

    The impact of the Tet offensive was felt mainly because of Cronkite’s lies. The Tet offensive was an utter failure and simply resulted in the destruction of the Viet Cong and a good bit of the North Vietnamese Army. Almost all enemy contact afterwards was with the North Vietnamese Army. The Easter Offensive of 1972 was as much a failure. Half the Army that invaded form the north returned home. The rest had been destroyed or captured. Most of the work in that was done by the Army of The Republic of Vietnam.

    Chickenhawks are mostly those who refused to serve, and now agitate for military action. Some of them were anti-war protesters. Many of those anti-war protesters regret their actions because of the blood on their hands because of Southeast Asia.

    The majority have come home and lived normal lives. That does not mean they did not report problems. Many have had problems. Some sucked it up and dealt with them, others were too deeply impacted to be able to deal with them. Most, however, did come home and live their lives without incident.

    There’s much more that could be said. But, you need to quit reading leftist sources and get your facts together before you post anymore idiocy.

    Agent Orange exposure is a different matter entirely from the issue raised. Everyone that had to handle the stuff, or was otherwise exposed, has had some health problem related to the PCB exposure.

    Read More
    • Agree: anarchyst
    • Replies: @Corvinus
    "Your post is BS. You can invoke MLK all you like, but Communists are the people that fomented the anti-war riots."

    Corrected for accuracy --> Citizens of a country who are opposed to war for a host of ideological may show their displeasure by engaging in peaceful protests, at best, or may take to the streets with bats and Molotov cocktails, at worst.

    "The impact of the Tet offensive was felt mainly because of Cronkite’s lies. The Tet offensive was an utter failure and simply resulted in the destruction of the Viet Cong and a good bit of the North Vietnamese Army. Almost all enemy contact afterwards was with the North Vietnamese Army. The Easter Offensive of 1972 was as much a failure. Half the Army that invaded form the north returned home. The rest had been destroyed or captured. Most of the work in that was done by the Army of The Republic of Vietnam."

    The Tet Offensive was a military disaster for the Vietcong. But from a psychological point of view, it was devastating to our morale. The American public had been led to believe that progress was being made by our military, and that South Vietnamese cities were safe from attack. By 1969, the body count numbers being reported to be accurate were shown to have been inflated. When Nixon announced a gradual troop reduction, America soldiers were still being drafted and asked to fight, realizing that their efforts were in the end for naught.

    "The majority have come home and lived normal lives. That does not mean they did not report problems. Many have had problems. Some sucked it up and dealt with them, others were too deeply impacted to be able to deal with them."

    You are contradicting yourself. Now, if you are able to muster up some evidence that supports your contention, I am all ears.

    "Agent Orange exposure is a different matter entirely from the issue raised. Everyone that had to handle the stuff, or was otherwise exposed, has had some health problem related to the PCB exposure."

    Talk about idiocy. Agent Orange is NOT a different matter. There have been perpetual health problems. The military ultimately failed to protect its soldiers from the long-term exposure from that dangerous chemical.
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  9. @fnn

    My father joined the U.S. Army Air Corps immediately after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
     
    If some activist federal judge (like the kind we have now who think they can dictate Trump's immigration policy) had struck down FDR's oil embargo against Japan we could have skipped the attack on Pearl Harbor.

    I know Hitler is Satan, but we can also mainly blame FDR for the outbreak of general European war in 1939. See Herbert Hoover and mainstream liberal Jewish historian Robert Edwin Herzstein.

    Some folks may be interested in what Rothbard had to say about the origins of WW2. The first quote is from a fairly short article, and the second is from an elaboration of it.

    “… this entire myth, so prevalent then and even now about Hitler, and about the Japanese, is a tissue of fallacies from beginning to end. Every plank in this nightmare evidence is either completely untrue or not entirely the truth.

    If people should learn this intellectual fraud about Hitler’s Germany, then they will begin to ask questions, and searching questions…”

    - Murray Rothbard 1966

    http://mises.org/daily/2592

    Review of The Origins of the Second World War
    By Murray N. Rothbard

    Mises.org
    March 15, 2017

    https://www.lewrockwell.com/2017/03/murray-n-rothbard/origins-2nd-world-war/ [From a memo to Mr. Kenneth Templeton at the William Volker Fund, April 18, 1962.]

    Read More
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  10. @WorkingClass
    I was born in '44 also. Every boy born between WWII and Vietnam was a cold warrior. There were deferments. Dick Cheney had five of them. But most of us working class boys knew from grade school that we would be called to service. My turn came in 1965. Serving under Johnson and briefly under Nixon I learned that Democrats and Republicans are the same thing. And I learned that the purpose of war was to make rich men richer. Today Imperial Washington is a country unto itself. It seeks neither advice nor consent. What it does is none of our business. Absolute power has corrupted Washington absolutely.

    I am a blood and soil American. My heart is with the people and the land. I enjoy American music, especially at its roots. But Washington's wars are not my wars. Washington's Police State is not my government. I hope to live to see the final demise of the Anglo/Zio Empire.

    I learned that Democrats and Republicans are the same thing. And I learned that the purpose of war was to make rich men richer. Today Imperial Washington is a country unto itself. It seeks neither advice nor consent.

    Sir, you write better than about 95% of the authors on UR and the quality of writing here at UR is beyond most others.

    With those few sentences you not only capsulized the truth with admirable economy, but you expressed it elegantly. Damn near poetically. I reread them several times and suspect I’ll read them several more times as well! What a pleasure!!

    Read More
    • Replies: @WorkingClass
    Thank you for the kind words.
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  11. @Corvinus
    Wow, so many False News Stories here. Where does one begin?

    "The so-called “anti-war” movement during Vietnam WAS NOT based on altruistic concern for the Vietnamese people–not at all…"

    To the contrary...MLK explained his motives in explicitly Christian terms:

    Beyond the calling of race or nation or creed is this vocation of sonship and brotherhood, and because I believe that the Father is deeply concerned especially for his suffering and helpless and outcast children, I come tonight to speak for them.

    This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation's self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation and for those it calls "enemy," for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.

    And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond in compassion, my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula. I speak now not of the soldiers of each side, not of the ideologies of the Liberation Front, not of the junta in Saigon, but simply of the people who have been living under the curse of war for almost three continuous decades now. I think of them, too, because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution there until some attempt is made to know them and hear their broken cries.

    "This anti-war movement was largely fomented by communists and their fellow travelers, who were doing what they could to tear down civil society."

    People young and old who spoke out against the war were not communists or influenced by Marxian doctrine. They were opposed to the incivility in our society and the D.C. war machine. These same individuals today are anti-neo-cons.

    "What better way than to blame the troops for policies fomented in Washington D.C.?
    The only reason for the anti-war protests was to “SAVE THEIR OWN SKINS”–nothing more. Once the draft was abolished, the protests stopped."

    The protests officially stopped when the Vietnam War ended.

    "These same “anti-war” protester “chickenhawks” are once again pushing for war."

    Specifically, who?

    "His lies and fabrications about the effectiveness of the 1968 Tet offensive prolonged the war for years."

    Historians have written extensively about the impact of the Tet Offensive. No lies and fabrications, just analysis of the facts.

    https://cup.columbia.edu/book/the-tet-offensive/9780231128407

    "It is interesting to note that returning Vietnam veterans were demonized and marginalized, being called “unstable”, and “baby killers”"

    Absolutely.

    "despite the majority coming back home and resuming their normal lives without incident."

    And how do you know for certain considering that soldiers from any war continue to suffer from physical and emotional trauma and may not report their condition.

    https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/publications/agent-orange/agent-orange-summer-2015/nvvls.asp

    “The so-called “anti-war” movement during Vietnam WAS NOT based on altruistic concern for the Vietnamese people–not at all…”

    To the contrary…MLK explained his motives in explicitly Christian terms:

    While you are correct about MLK, (bless his soul), he can be considered the exception that proves the rule.

    In my experience, most of the people involved in the anti-war movement of the time most definitely were not, in the least, altruistic. Most were a spoiled, self-indulgent snots who never gave a damn about anything beyond themselves and knowing that makes their absence now even more loathsome to me. Hypocritical swine, in other words.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Corvinus
    "In my experience, most of the people involved in the anti-war movement of the time most definitely were not, in the least, altruistic. Most were a spoiled, self-indulgent snots who never gave a damn about anything beyond themselves and knowing that makes their absence now even more loathsome to me. Hypocritical swine, in other words."

    The anti-war movement was not just about Vietnam, but about the corruption taking place in our government and their efforts made by people to bring about genuine reform. I can see why people would be angry and upset with "hippies" at that time frame. But the counterculture movement was clearly altruistic in nature in that it attacked the values of egoism and materialism.
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  12. woodNfish says:

    We have not been in a military skirmish since the end of WWII that had anything to do with defending our country. Every single military action since that time has been nothing more than military adventurism and all to our detriment.

    Read More
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  13. Corvinus says:
    @Quartermaster
    Your post is BS. You can invoke MLK all you like, but Communists are the people that fomented the anti-war riots.

    The impact of the Tet offensive was felt mainly because of Cronkite's lies. The Tet offensive was an utter failure and simply resulted in the destruction of the Viet Cong and a good bit of the North Vietnamese Army. Almost all enemy contact afterwards was with the North Vietnamese Army. The Easter Offensive of 1972 was as much a failure. Half the Army that invaded form the north returned home. The rest had been destroyed or captured. Most of the work in that was done by the Army of The Republic of Vietnam.

    Chickenhawks are mostly those who refused to serve, and now agitate for military action. Some of them were anti-war protesters. Many of those anti-war protesters regret their actions because of the blood on their hands because of Southeast Asia.

    The majority have come home and lived normal lives. That does not mean they did not report problems. Many have had problems. Some sucked it up and dealt with them, others were too deeply impacted to be able to deal with them. Most, however, did come home and live their lives without incident.

    There's much more that could be said. But, you need to quit reading leftist sources and get your facts together before you post anymore idiocy.

    Agent Orange exposure is a different matter entirely from the issue raised. Everyone that had to handle the stuff, or was otherwise exposed, has had some health problem related to the PCB exposure.

    “Your post is BS. You can invoke MLK all you like, but Communists are the people that fomented the anti-war riots.”

    Corrected for accuracy –> Citizens of a country who are opposed to war for a host of ideological may show their displeasure by engaging in peaceful protests, at best, or may take to the streets with bats and Molotov cocktails, at worst.

    “The impact of the Tet offensive was felt mainly because of Cronkite’s lies. The Tet offensive was an utter failure and simply resulted in the destruction of the Viet Cong and a good bit of the North Vietnamese Army. Almost all enemy contact afterwards was with the North Vietnamese Army. The Easter Offensive of 1972 was as much a failure. Half the Army that invaded form the north returned home. The rest had been destroyed or captured. Most of the work in that was done by the Army of The Republic of Vietnam.”

    The Tet Offensive was a military disaster for the Vietcong. But from a psychological point of view, it was devastating to our morale. The American public had been led to believe that progress was being made by our military, and that South Vietnamese cities were safe from attack. By 1969, the body count numbers being reported to be accurate were shown to have been inflated. When Nixon announced a gradual troop reduction, America soldiers were still being drafted and asked to fight, realizing that their efforts were in the end for naught.

    “The majority have come home and lived normal lives. That does not mean they did not report problems. Many have had problems. Some sucked it up and dealt with them, others were too deeply impacted to be able to deal with them.”

    You are contradicting yourself. Now, if you are able to muster up some evidence that supports your contention, I am all ears.

    “Agent Orange exposure is a different matter entirely from the issue raised. Everyone that had to handle the stuff, or was otherwise exposed, has had some health problem related to the PCB exposure.”

    Talk about idiocy. Agent Orange is NOT a different matter. There have been perpetual health problems. The military ultimately failed to protect its soldiers from the long-term exposure from that dangerous chemical.

    Read More
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  14. Corvinus says:
    @jacques sheete

    “The so-called “anti-war” movement during Vietnam WAS NOT based on altruistic concern for the Vietnamese people–not at all…”

    To the contrary…MLK explained his motives in explicitly Christian terms:
     
    While you are correct about MLK, (bless his soul), he can be considered the exception that proves the rule.

    In my experience, most of the people involved in the anti-war movement of the time most definitely were not, in the least, altruistic. Most were a spoiled, self-indulgent snots who never gave a damn about anything beyond themselves and knowing that makes their absence now even more loathsome to me. Hypocritical swine, in other words.

    “In my experience, most of the people involved in the anti-war movement of the time most definitely were not, in the least, altruistic. Most were a spoiled, self-indulgent snots who never gave a damn about anything beyond themselves and knowing that makes their absence now even more loathsome to me. Hypocritical swine, in other words.”

    The anti-war movement was not just about Vietnam, but about the corruption taking place in our government and their efforts made by people to bring about genuine reform. I can see why people would be angry and upset with “hippies” at that time frame. But the counterculture movement was clearly altruistic in nature in that it attacked the values of egoism and materialism.

    Read More
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  15. anarchyst says:
    @Corvinus
    Wow, so many False News Stories here. Where does one begin?

    "The so-called “anti-war” movement during Vietnam WAS NOT based on altruistic concern for the Vietnamese people–not at all…"

    To the contrary...MLK explained his motives in explicitly Christian terms:

    Beyond the calling of race or nation or creed is this vocation of sonship and brotherhood, and because I believe that the Father is deeply concerned especially for his suffering and helpless and outcast children, I come tonight to speak for them.

    This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation's self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation and for those it calls "enemy," for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.

    And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond in compassion, my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula. I speak now not of the soldiers of each side, not of the ideologies of the Liberation Front, not of the junta in Saigon, but simply of the people who have been living under the curse of war for almost three continuous decades now. I think of them, too, because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution there until some attempt is made to know them and hear their broken cries.

    "This anti-war movement was largely fomented by communists and their fellow travelers, who were doing what they could to tear down civil society."

    People young and old who spoke out against the war were not communists or influenced by Marxian doctrine. They were opposed to the incivility in our society and the D.C. war machine. These same individuals today are anti-neo-cons.

    "What better way than to blame the troops for policies fomented in Washington D.C.?
    The only reason for the anti-war protests was to “SAVE THEIR OWN SKINS”–nothing more. Once the draft was abolished, the protests stopped."

    The protests officially stopped when the Vietnam War ended.

    "These same “anti-war” protester “chickenhawks” are once again pushing for war."

    Specifically, who?

    "His lies and fabrications about the effectiveness of the 1968 Tet offensive prolonged the war for years."

    Historians have written extensively about the impact of the Tet Offensive. No lies and fabrications, just analysis of the facts.

    https://cup.columbia.edu/book/the-tet-offensive/9780231128407

    "It is interesting to note that returning Vietnam veterans were demonized and marginalized, being called “unstable”, and “baby killers”"

    Absolutely.

    "despite the majority coming back home and resuming their normal lives without incident."

    And how do you know for certain considering that soldiers from any war continue to suffer from physical and emotional trauma and may not report their condition.

    https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/publications/agent-orange/agent-orange-summer-2015/nvvls.asp

    In reply to you, I WAS THERE. I served proudly and would do it again. Corvinus, you need to lose your left-wing communist ways… you must have been one of the college pukes that I still detest…
    Regards,

    Read More
    • Replies: @Corvinus
    "In reply to you, I WAS THERE. I served proudly and would do it again."

    Wonderful. My best friend's father in law served in Vietnam as a medic. Two tours. Those who served in Vietnam deserve much better than what they got when they came home.

    "Corvinus, you need to lose your left-wing communist ways… you must have been one of the college pukes that I still detest..."

    I'm white American man, married with children, who is an independent thinker. A moderate, dare I say. Not left-wing. Sorry to disappoint.
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  16. @jacques sheete

    I learned that Democrats and Republicans are the same thing. And I learned that the purpose of war was to make rich men richer. Today Imperial Washington is a country unto itself. It seeks neither advice nor consent.
     
    Sir, you write better than about 95% of the authors on UR and the quality of writing here at UR is beyond most others.

    With those few sentences you not only capsulized the truth with admirable economy, but you expressed it elegantly. Damn near poetically. I reread them several times and suspect I'll read them several more times as well! What a pleasure!!

    Thank you for the kind words.

    Read More
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  17. Corvinus says:
    @anarchyst
    In reply to you, I WAS THERE. I served proudly and would do it again. Corvinus, you need to lose your left-wing communist ways... you must have been one of the college pukes that I still detest...
    Regards,

    “In reply to you, I WAS THERE. I served proudly and would do it again.”

    Wonderful. My best friend’s father in law served in Vietnam as a medic. Two tours. Those who served in Vietnam deserve much better than what they got when they came home.

    “Corvinus, you need to lose your left-wing communist ways… you must have been one of the college pukes that I still detest…”

    I’m white American man, married with children, who is an independent thinker. A moderate, dare I say. Not left-wing. Sorry to disappoint.

    Read More
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  18. bjondo says:

    Most maybe all of the Vietnam war protesters, refuseniks were protesting to save their own rear ends. They were thinking of their future careers as attorneys and lobbyists. Nothing regarding war, especially getting shot or blown up, was seen as worthwhile for them to do. Let the farm boys and blacks do the fighting and maybe dying.

    Protesting and pretending to be heroes or having more important things to do was their talent.

    Virtually all the neocons and Jews for wars for Israel to be fought by Americans.

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  19. As someone who successfully resisted the draft in the Vietnam War–twice–I find it amusing that so may commenters here think they know what was in the minds of the protesters against that war.

    People my age during that era could not understand what the fuck we were in Vietnam for at all. And they did not want to die fighting for nothing. The fact that many of us were middle class? It only means that we had a few more options than others. Like we could try for student deferrments or join in protests.

    Yes, there were many who joined the armed services and who sincerely believed the nonsense hyped by the goverment, all of that now completely discredited in the historical record.

    And we lost. Got our asses handed to us by the people that lived in Vietnam.

    And the men who went there? They came back many of them damaged beyod repair, either mentally or physically from being contaminated by Agent Orange or by being maimed in some other way. I read a few years ago that suicides by Viet vets is still very high–over 40 years after the war was ended in a resounding defeat of American forces.

    I was right to resist and decline to go there. As were all of the people that protested that senseless, useless, shitty war that lead to nothing but the defeat of the American armed forces and the destruction of a generation of Americans.

    Those who think it went differently are diluded. Those who think that men like me disparaged the ones that went and fought are lying diluded assholes. That spitting on the veterans idiocy has been debunked over and over again. We felt sorry for the guys that had been duped into going to Vietnam. And we still do. Sorry and sad that their lives became all about that utter waste of American resources and lives.

    No, we weren’t communists, you diluded fool up there in the comments. We were Americans who believed that foreign entanglements and a standing army are the enemies of our Republic and our way of life.

    And we have been and will be in the near future surely proved right.

    Open your eyes. Look what’s happening right before them. Let the scales fall away. It may be too late for us, but one should always strive for truth and clarity. Unlike some of the muddled visions I read in both the article writer’s piece and the commenters who responded.

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  20. Stogumber says:

    I found it very interesting how thin the “pacifist” disguise can be, in this case the disguise of Tom Engelhardt. That’s a man who doesn’t look for peace, but who’s nostalgically longing for a “good war”, a “war for the people and by the people”, in which the government really mobilizes the masses (like it mobilized his parents) – how much ever the (Roosevelt) government did to suppress and intimidate the war critics.
    With other words, he’s longing for the Hitlerian kind of war.

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