Monday, January 15, 2007

"It Became Better Not To See The Shades Of Difference"

If the State Department did not apply adequate pressure on the French to negotiate...by the same token it did not accept the French tenet that this was a free-world fight against Communism, an idea close to the hearts of the French government. Though the American press did not delve with great insight into the struggle between the Vietminh and the French, it did not accept the assumptions of the French that this was a great Western crusade against Communist hordes. The war was, in fact, viewed as a colonial war.

Two events would change the American perceptions, and equally important in this case, the disposition to perceive nuances. (Many things, after all, were perceptible, if one wanted to see them, but the seeing involved increasing risk. It became better not to see the shades of difference -- the fact, for instance, that Ho, although a Communist, might also be primarily Vietnamese and under no orders from Moscow.) The first event was the hardening of the Cold War as tensions in Europe grew; the second was the fall of China, which sent deep psychic shock waves into the American political structure. These events...would markedly change the American perceptions of international Communism, and more important, change the disposition of high political figures to discern subtleties within the Communist world. The spectrum of American political attitudes would sharply narrow, and there would be an enormous two-party consensus of anti-Communism. The only main difference was on how to implement it, one centrist group believing in subtle anti-Communism, using economic aid as a weapon, using nationalism as a weapon; the other believing more in sheer military force...But the China issue, even more emotional, and the coming of the Korean War, would legitimize the fringe viewpoints, would limit rational discussion and rational political activity. China would help freeze American policy toward Communism. A kind of demonology about a vast part of the world would become enshrined as accepted gospel. One major political party would be too frightened to challenge it, the other delighted to reap the benefits of it.


David Halberstam in The Best and the Brightest (pp.105-106), describing how Vietnam's civil war became "the calling of our time." Re-read the second paragraph, substituting "9/11" for "the fall of China" and, in the next sentence, "Islam/Islamic" for "Communism/Communist."

29 Comments:

Blogger OrganicGeorge said...

For even more insite read
"The Devil and John Foster Dulles"

1/15/2007 10:27 AM  
Anonymous Thomas Daulton said...

As we all know, Iraq isn't Vietnam. After all, Iraq has deserts and Vietnam has jungles and swamps. (Wait, Iraq has swamps too.)

But plus la meme change, and so on.

I have read a lot of things from the late 1960s and 1970s which work equally well with your little word game here: Use your processor's Global Search and Replace Function to switch "Vietnam" for "Iraq" in Philip Slater's book, The Pursuit of Loneliness, first published in 1970, and every word remains as true.

He has a fascinating chapter which I would like to quote (but I'm goofing off at work, so obviously I don't have it with me...) where he suggests that, subconsciously, Americans resent(-ed in 1970) the fact that our lives are controlled basically by impersonal, remote, ethereal entities such as big corporations, inflation, the Stock Market, etc., frustrated by things like traffic and pollution where there is no single person to blame; terrified by the (then- and frankly still-)constant threat of nuclear missiles falling from the sky... And so as a reaction, there is a peculiarly and distinctively American preference for conducting war remotely, impersonally, without ever bothering to look our opponents in the face: dropping Napalm from fighters, carpet-bombing, etc.

I read that and of course immediately thought of all the video-game style Pentagon PR footage of smart bombs knocking on the door of a house before blowing up the entire city block; Don Rumsfeld's "Transformational" army and the resistance to the idea of 500,000 troops on the ground; the years of resistance to the idea of house-to-house combat in Baghdad; continued reliance on air power and drones in Iraq to this day, etc., etc. And today we are developing (and reportedly testing in Iraq) things like sonic and/or microwave weapons so that two soldiers can disperse an angry crowd from five blocks away; "Rods from God" which drop from space, and so on.

People steeped in this background, such as, oh I dunno, certain politically powerful draft-dodgers from the Vietnam War... they might have a much more favorable estimation of the effectiveness of a few "punitive" air strikes on Iran solving the whole Gordian knot of the Middle East, remotely, from a distance, without ever looking anyone in the face -- they might have a more favorable view of this strategy than people younger than them. We need to take that into account. These people were raised in a different era.

1/15/2007 12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The 10% solution. Currently, approximately 200,000 soldiers fight for 'democracy' in Iraq [roughly US troops + foriegn troops + paid mercenaries (i.e. Blackwater)]. So, the President's solution is to add 10% more (20,000 troops). Even assuming these extra troops perform 100% efficient, things will merely get 10% better in Iraq. Will 10% be worth the continuing carnage of American soldiers? Don't look to the Democrats for help. They will sit idly by as they did when the gov't suspended habeas corpus, opened mail, banned the novel "America Deceived" from Amazon, stole private lands, conducted illegal wire-taps and continues wars in the Middle East based on a false-flag event known as 9/11. If the Democrats cannot stop the current 10% increase in this war, then they will never stop 100% of this war.
Only remaining link (until the gov't pulls the novel off Google Books):
America Deceived (book)

1/15/2007 8:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

..."No modern political ruling group has successfully controlled its constituency after failing to sustain the continuing credibility of an external threat......"[lewin]

1/16/2007 1:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.usnews.com/usnews/politics/whispers/documents/truth.pdf

1/16/2007 10:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.waynemadsenreport.com/Politjournincest.php

1/16/2007 9:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/politics/article2157702.ece

1/17/2007 12:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16673270/

1/17/2007 7:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16668110/

1/18/2007 12:12 AM  
Blogger jonnybutter said...

The CR highlights the ongoing (from the beginning) rigid cold war thinking which has characterized our government's foreign policy in the past 6 years. I hate to call it 'neocon' because that implies more coherence than there really is to it. But the Vulcans/neocons do deserve the blame. It has been, above all, a stunning and humiliating failure of imagination; pop philosophy at it's very worst - in terms of consequences. In a word, mediocre. In another word, stupid.

I got here via Eric Martin, who has a germane post up about our policy vis a vis Ethiopia.

1/18/2007 10:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.waynemadsenreport.com/Datathefts.php

1/19/2007 4:48 AM  
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http://www.waynemadsenreport.com/scoops/christian_mafia.php

1/19/2007 11:54 PM  
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http://watch.pair.com/jbs-cnp.html

1/20/2007 5:06 AM  
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http://rigint.blogspot.com/2007/01/patterns-of-force.html

1/23/2007 11:23 AM  
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1/23/2007 10:50 PM  
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http://www.mediamonitors.net/karoui20.html

2/02/2007 12:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.conservatives.com/pdf/unitingthecountry.pdf

2/02/2007 9:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/01/31/ntory31.xml

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2581783,00.html

2/03/2007 1:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.redmoonrising.com/Ikhwan/BritIslam.htm#V.

2/03/2007 10:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.sweetliberty.org/issues/israel/freedman.htm

2/05/2007 11:16 AM  
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http://news.google.com.sg/news?q=temple+mount&hl=en&sa=X&oi=news&ct=title

2/06/2007 10:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"China is a special place for Strong, a self-declared, life-long socialist. It is the burial place of a woman said to be one of his relatives, the famous pro-communist American journalist Anna Louise Strong, a vociferous supporter of Lenin and Stalin until the mid-‘30s, and a strong booster of Mao Zedong’s China. ...."

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0%2C2933%2C250789%2C00.html

2/09/2007 11:13 AM  
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