Monday, January 29, 2007

"Something Might Turn It Around"

The collapse in the South, the one force which the American leaders could not control, continued unabated. The Americans had always had the illusion that something might turn it around; a new leader in South Vietnam who would understand how to get with the program; a realization on the part of the South Vietnamese that their necks were on the line, that the feared enemy (the Americans' feared enemy, though perhaps not the feared enemy of the Vietnamese), the Communists, were about to walk into Saigon. Or magically, the right battalion commander would turn up to lead ARVN battalions into battle against the Vietcong, or the right program would emerge, blending arms and pig-fatteners together to make the peasants want to choose our side. But nothing changed, the other side continued to get stronger, the ARVN side weaker. One reason the principals were always surprised by this, and irritated by the failure of their programs, was that the truth of the war never entered the upper-level American calculations; that this was a revolutionary war, and that the other side held title to the revolution because of the colonial war which had just ended. This most simple fact, which was so important to the understanding of the political calculations...entered into the estimates of the American intelligence community and made them quite accurate. But it never entered into the calculations of the principals, for a variety of reasons; among other things to see the other side in terms of nationalism or as revolutionaries might mean a re-evaluation of whether the United States was even fighting on the right side. In contrast, the question of Communism and anti-Communism as opposed to revolution and antirevolution was far more convenient for American policy makers.

David Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest, pp. 462-463.


Blogger mrs panstreppon said...

Responding to a question at the TPM Cafe, I was digging through 1972 polls on Vietnam, searching for a particular one that Jim Webb referred to and found this one:

"The results of a Gallup poll published in the New York Times on April 25,1972 showed that 71% of Americans favored a bill then in Congress that would cut off all funds for the support of American troops in Vietnam by December 31, providing that all United States prisoners were released."

1/29/2007 10:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

1/29/2007 11:07 AM  
Anonymous goldhorder said...

Great post. More and more, the war that everyone has been insisting isn't Vietnam...looks more and more like Vietnam. We had no national interest in Vietnam it was all an irrational fear of communism. Control of Vietnam had no negative consequences. Iraq and control of middle eastern resources have definite negative consequences for the value of the dollar. This war is worse than Vietnam for that reason. But a disregard for the natives nationistic aspirations and negative feelings for colonialism...that is exactly the same. Our political leaders never consider the effects our policies have on the inferior races. They just assume if they throw enough American cannon fodder into the mix eventually the natives will become docile. I don't see it happening unless we disregard all morality and let loose the hounds of hell. It would be hard for our leaders (and the public) to pretend we have the moral highground at this point but it might be tougher for them to admit the natives can't be subjugated by their power. After all what is the point of being the world's lone super power if you can't defeat a bunch of poor Arabs.

1/29/2007 11:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Our political leaders never consider the effects our policies have on the inferior races."

I could not belive this sentence in the above comment.

I thought that believe went with the removal of slavery or at least with the civil right struggle of the 60's.

The way our country acts, I would have to say we are proving by every action that we are the "inferior race."

In case this person comes back and reads this comment I would like to clue him/her in that we are ALL human beings and that NONE is inferior.

As far as Iraq is concerned that is a lost cause and the longer we stay and kill the worse the situation will become. There is nothing that we really can do to make it better.

Just declare victory and leave.

This administration has done more damage to this country (in any way you want to look at it)than all our enemies put together since the 17th hundreds.

Quite an achievement.

But then religious fanatics, whether christian, jewish or muslim all seems to relish death and destruction of every kind.

Sad really, why do they love blood and gore so much.

All in the name of god and in our case, in the name of Jesus that preached love.

1/29/2007 12:05 PM  
Blogger Jimmy the Saint said...

Anon 12:05,
Did you really read what goldhorder said?

1/29/2007 1:58 PM  
Anonymous Thomas Daulton said...

I'm not Goldhorder but I think I can safely say Goldhorder was speaking sarcastically (could have telegraphed it a bit better, though) and what he's doing is imputing primitive attitudes from previous centuries onto our current leadership. The pecking order of the races was common knowledge even a hundred years ago, and while the current Imperialists would never phrase things this way consciously, I think Goldhorder has a point that their attitide and strategy stems from bygone philosophies. All the Conservatives that I know personally, believe that "our" exact culture and "our" religion are objectively THE BEST (loosely defined as computerized Capitalism and Judeo-Christianity, but the only religion they really seem to care about is their own particular demonination) and are destined to "WIN" out over the whole planet. Either by conversion or by force, no skin off our nose, and anyone who doesn't sign up for conversion right away is just wasting time. Anonymous above obviously believes that various cultures and value systems can share the world peaceably, but let me assure you, modern Conservatives do _NOT_ believe this. (TCR is not a "modern" conservative, in the sense of a Neocon ideologue.)

People like Cheney, Bush, and Rumsfeld probably -- at some subconscious level -- look through a lens of biased history and think to themselves, "Geez, when the British arrived in India a few centuries ago, when the Americans came to Hawaii a hundred fifty years ago, these swarthy little native people saw our superior technology and culture and Fell Down and Worshipped Us, Like Unto Gods. What the hell is taking the Iraqis so long? Maybe just a few more MOABs will convince them."

But, sorry guys, I'm afraid those heady neocolonial days are long, long over (it probably never really worked that way in the first place). They will _never_ be repeated, in part thanks to the exposure in Iraq of American military hegemony as more bluster than brawn.

1/29/2007 2:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Among the ideas of Toynbee which influenced the Milner Group we should mention three: (a) a conviction that the history of the British Empire represents the unfolding of a great moral idea - the idea of freedom - and that the unity of the Empire could best be preserved by the cement of this idea; (b) a conviction that the first call on the attention of any man should be a sense of duty and obligation to serve the state; and (c) a feeling of the necessity to do social service work (especially educational work) among the working classes...

Milner giving a course of speeches on "The State and the Duties of Rulers" in 1880 and another on "Socialism" in 1882. The latter series was published in the National Review in 1931 by Lady Milner...

...Indeed, much of the rest of this volume will be a contribution to the biography of Lionel Curtis. Burning with an unquenchable ardor, which some might call fanatical, he has devoted his life to his dominant idea, that the finer things of life - liberty,
democracy, toleration, etc. - could be preserved only within an integrated world political system, and that this political system could be constructed about Great Britain, but only if Britain adopted toward her Dominions, her colonies, and the rest of the world a policy of generosity, of trust, and of developing freedom. Curtis was both a fanatic and an idealist. But he was not merely "a man in a hurry." He had a fairly clear picture of what he wanted. He did not believe that complete and immediate freedom and democracy could be given to the various parts of the imperial system, but felt that they could only be extended to these parts in accordance with their ability to develop to a level where they were capable of exercising such privileges. When that level was achieved and those privileges were extended, he felt that they would not be used to disrupt the integrated world system of which he dreamed, but to integrate it more fully and in a sounder fashion...

1/29/2007 9:38 PM  
Anonymous goldhorder said...

Mr Thomas Daulton is spot on why I blogged what I blogged...At the start of our current Iraq war, I had many the conservation with conservatives about the inferiority of Arab culture and what a favor we were doing them. Apparantly he has had many of the same discussions. As a libertarian (borderline anarchist) and fiscal conservative, I have many conservative friends who talk openly about their feelings because they assume I think the same. Before the war our conversations tended to be economic based rather than foreign policy based. They are always shocked to learn I have no respect for our militarism. Most of my conservative friends don't want to talk about it anymore...too proud to admit they were wrong and just don't want to argue a lost cause. And there is always the hope.....

"Maybe just a few more MOABs will convince them"

1/30/2007 10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Iraq is nothing at all like Vietnam (where we mostly stayed within country). Iraq is merely the beginning. As the army attacks Iraq, the US gov't erodes rights at home by opening mail, suspending habeas corpus, stealing private lands, banning books like "America Deceived" from Amazon, America Deceived (book) rigging elections, conducting warrantless wiretaps and starting 2 illegal wars based on lies. Soon, another US false-flag operation will occur (sinking of an Aircraft Carrier) and the US will invade Iran, (on behalf of Israel). Then we invade Syria... then Saudi Arabia... then Lebanon (again)... then attack non-compliant US citizens... then

1/30/2007 3:31 PM  
Anonymous George said...

The "America Deceived" spammer is back... sigh.

I can't help but noticing that every time we get a president from Texas, we wind up in a military quagmire. How 'bout a new rule: No More Texan Presidents!

1/30/2007 10:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2/01/2007 11:56 AM  
Anonymous Thomas Daulton said...

Or another a-historical example: hey, militarily, economically, the US has beaten-up Mexico several times, and now they're among our best friends. So therefore, obviously, the exact same thing will happen with Iraq if we just smack 'em around a little more. Fifty years later, the Iraqis will be our best friends. Because, really, all those little brown-skinned furriners are really all alike anyway, so obviously they will respond the same way to the same stimuli no matter what country we apply it to. What could possibly go wrong with this plan?

2/01/2007 12:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...By our efforts, we have lit a fire as well – a fire in the minds of men. It warms those who feel its power, it burns those who fight its progress, and one day this untamed fire of freedom will reach the darkest corners of our world." [gwb]

2/02/2007 1:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DO NOT BUY AMERICA DECEIVED. It is right-wing shock mockery. I know a independent bookseller that got snookered by one of these spam messages and bought a case of this "book." Google the title "America Deceived" and see how these right-wing spammers operate. Avoid the book and these spammers like the plague.

E.A. Blayre III "America Deceived"

4/10/2007 6:45 PM  
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