February 8, 2018

"Our enemy... has finally shattered the mask of official illusion with which we have concealed our true circumstances, even from ourselves."

50 years ago today: Robert F. Kennedy gave a speech to tell America that it could not win the war in Vietnam. This screen grab — click to enlarge and clarify — is from page 12 of the NYT 1/9/68:

171 comments:

Ken B said...

Zero dossiossity.

Comanche Voter said...

If Bobby was talking about Tet, he had it ackbasswords. But then none of the Kennedy brothers--Jack included-were ever the sharpest intellectual crayons in the box.

C Hayes said...

I'm pretty sure there's a Prager University thing on the fact that we had actually won Vietnam, but at the very end there was what i can only call a "process" problem. Also, the lens of history has not been kind to any of the Kennedy family, to be honest.

Achilles said...

We won the war militarily. Even the VietCong leadership said so.

But the democrats didn’t and don’t want the United States or its people to win. Just watch them cheer the Dow falling while wages are going up.



John K said...

The war WAS won by 1973. It was lost a couple of years later after the Dem congress cut off aid to the South. Because, really, they felt the South was better off under the Communists.

EDH said...

Robert Kennedy's own "Bright Shining Lie"?

Or is it just Chapstick?

Curious George said...

Hard to win if you chose to surrender.

Comanche Voter said...

Oops--thats ack basswards. If I'm going to call Bobby not too bright, I should at least be able to spell.

Tet destroyed the Viet Cong cadre in South Viet Nam. Just like Pickett's charge at Gettysburg destroyed his division. It was seven years later before a regrouped and strengthened NVA took South Viet Nam (and after the US Congress withdrew its support).

Now one might say that ---from the North Vietnamese viewpoint, Tet was a tactical loss--but a strategic victory in that they traded the distruction of the South Vietnamese VC cadre for the breaking of the American will. But as a strictly military proposition, Tet was a significant loss for the NVA and Uncle Ho.

john mosby said...

The girl in the lord & taylor ad looks like you!

Hagar said...

Actually, I think in the long run, we ,did win the war in Viet Nam.
A couple of months ago, there was an article about a young lady who had become Viet Nam's first female billionaire by putting together the country's largest privately owned airline.

Ann Althouse said...

"The girl in the lord & taylor ad looks like you!"

Thanks. I left her in the screen grab because I thought she looked pretty great. Lord & Taylor had the best fashion illustration (back when the fashion ads were always drawings and not photographs).

Hagar said...

Also note that the US Navy has been invited to send a carrier squadron for an official fleet visit and has accepted.

FIDO said...

The Vietcong and Walter Cronkite lying on television.

MikeD said...

Lead from behind RFK only entered after Eugene McCarthy showed there was a large anti-war component in the Democrat Party.

Steven said...

Sirhan Sirhan deserved the Nobel that went to fellow Palestinian terrorist Yasser Arafat.

Sebastian said...

""Our enemy... has finally shattered the mask of official illusion with which we have concealed our true circumstances, even from ourselves.""

Indeed. They shattered the mask of the illusion that the Dems wanted America to win. Ever since, we have been under no illusions.

MikeR said...

Sigh. The media in those days was controlled by people who wanted us to lose. It's only recently that the rest of us have started to find alternatives.
1) North Vietnam was militarily crushed at the time Americans began to concede defeat. The Tet offensive was a disaster for the Communists; they had no army left. American media did not care. I and so many others like me were brought up on things like, "Where have all the flowers gone?" and "Give peace a chance". They did not care what that meant to the nation we were abandoning.
2) As Cold Warriors have been saying for a long time, the point of the Vietnam War - and the Korean War before that, and various other conflicts before and after - was the doctrine of Containment. The Free World didn't need to win in Vietnam, it needed to keep the Soviet Union from growing quickly enough to profit from it. The long term goal was to bankrupt the USSR and wait for it to fall apart from within, and that is what happened.
The only thing victory or defeat in Vietnam affected was all those Vietnamese and Cambodians who were murdered when we left, especially when we refused to send them bullets.

Paul said...

We 'could not win' that war cause we didn't go all out to win it.

Just that simple.

Etienne said...

There would have been no war, if in 1945 we sided with the Vietnamese against the French colonists.

Fighting a country seeking their independence is like trying to make water run up hill.

That said, the conscripts did their duty, and one can only blame the Generals.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Thank you, Democrats. Still crazy after all these years.

glenn said...

We lost 58,000 young men in Vietnam. I only knew 3 of them but the whole of SE Asia and all the people in weren’t worth any one of them getting a scratch on his pinky finger. And if that whole Harvard best and brightest crowd was out in a field drenched in gasoline I’d light the match.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Kim Strassel, Mollie Hemingway, and Byron York are doing excellent work on the FISA/collusion/etc issues.

tcrosse said...

We 'could not win' that war cause we didn't go all out to win it.

One of the problems with that war was what you meant by "We". A whole lot of people managed to stay out of it.

Hagar said...

If we had known then what we know now, there would not have been any "Domino Theory" and Kennedy would have pulled out of Viet Nam and let Khrushchev and Mao have at it.

The Godfather said...

Since everyone's a partisan, let's remember that the war RFK said was unwinnable was the Democrats' war, started by JFK, expanded by LBJ. The Democrats lost the election in '68. Nixon continued the war, but with a different approach ("Vietnamization") which led to a peace treaty that achieved the principal US goals. When the North Vietnamese violated the terms of the treaty and attacked the South, the Democrat-controlled Congress refused to aid our supposed ally.

Our Hostess supported a Democrat for President in 2008 because she wanted the Democrats to be forced to take the terrorist threat seriously. We now know that the only thing the Democrats will take seriously is winning the next election.

TWW said...

In his defense, RFK was preoccupied with trying to blackmail MLK and took his eye off the ball.

tcrosse said...

A girl I went to High School with said that she wanted a husband who was rich enough to buy her anything that was advertised in the Sunday New York Times.

Etienne said...

"We could not win that war because we didn't go all out to win it." -- General Charles Cornwallis, October 19, 1781.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Didn't the Kennedy's attack the FBI?

Caligula said...

"Lead from behind RFK only entered after Eugene McCarthy showed there was a large anti-war component in the Democrat Party."

And the essential difference between the two was that McCarthy was always the cool, cerebral candidate whereas Kennedy was the hot, sweaty, emotional candidate.

Or so it seems in the old recordings. Of course, after he was fatally shot, he became a martyr and thus immune from criticism.

J. Farmer said...

Guerilla insurgency campaigns are almost always a losing gambit for an outside great power to win. In the entire 20th century, the only successful example was probably the British counterinsurgency in Malaysia, and that was mostly to do with the fact that the insurgency was largely Chinese, who were widely reviled by the ethnic Malay majority. Vietnam was born from an hysterical fear of the "domino theory" and was a complete misapplication of the containment principle, as articulated by the author of containment, George Kennan.

We have been in Afghanistan for 16 years, including one year under the administration of Trump and "Mad Dog" Mattis, and the Taliban is still in control of more than a dozen Afghan districts and operates openly in hundreds more. In other words, the Taliban operate openly in something like 3/4 of Afghanistan. And insurgent forces are still able to carry off daring and destructive attacks in the heart of the Afghan capital, including a little more than a week ago when over 100 people were murdered in one of the most fortified areas of Kabul.

sean said...

He was sadly wrong. Ronald Reagan, who said "Communism is a sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages are being written now," was smarter than any university professor in America. Sadly, thousands of Vietnamese people died in re-education camps or as refugees, due to RFK and his colleagues' stupidity and ignorance. None of the hippie chicks cared about them at all.

cubanbob said...

I wonder if everyone who voted for Johnson in 1964 and was alive in 1975 to see the fall of Saigon if given the choice to recast their vote for Goldwater how many would have done so at that time.

Trumpit said...

"The war WAS won by 1973. It was lost a couple of years later after the Dem congress cut off aid to the South. Because, really, they felt the South was better off under the Communists."

That's partisan bullcrap. I don't need history lessons from you when I can find a learned book on the subject on Amazon using Alhouse's portal. So there!

buwaya said...

"Guerilla insurgency campaigns are almost always a losing gambit for an outside great power to win."

That's why they have to be won by the locals. Like the South Koreans who defeated their own communist insurgency in the context of the Korean War. There were two wars going on at once. Or the Filipinos who defeated the Huks. Or the NPA (with which I was well acquainted).

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Whether Nixon could have kept South Vietnam propped up with U.S. aid and a skeleton U.S. presence if he had not been forced from office is one of those things we can't know, like what Kennedy would have done in Vietnam if he had not been assassinated.

But having a unified Vietnam today is much better for the U.S. than the North Korea situation. I think we should all agree with that.

Mark said...

could not win the war in Vietnam

Certainly not in the deceitful, arrogant beyond hubris, and incompetent way that LBJ, McNamera and Westmoreland conducted it. But rather than seeing them for their criminal incompetence, Bobby took the elitist, typical of the left, attitude that if these guys, the "best and brightest" could not win, it couldn't be done.

dbp said...

For those who thought it was "unwinnable", this is a pretty effective rebuttal.

A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam
by Lewis Sorley

My Dad, who served three tours flying RF-4C photo-reconnaissance jets, put it well:

"We were winning when I was there".

Etienne said...

It took Germany 14 more years before their country was reunited.

The Vietnamese couldn't wait for the other side to go bankrupt. Especially, since they print their money backed with debt interest.

JohnAnnArbor said...

Advocating for the abandonment of an ally is dishonorable. To say the least.

buwaya said...

"A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam
by Lewis Sorley"

Highly recommended.

JohnAnnArbor said...

When the North Vietnamese violated the terms of the treaty and attacked the South, the Democrat-controlled Congress refused to aid our supposed ally.

Have you ever noticed that our adversaries are never expected to abide by their treaties/agreements? The left just shrugged/shrugs when the Soviets/North Vietnamese/Palestinians/etc. blatantly violate the terms of agreements the moment they're signed or soon after. How dare we try to enforce the terms!

gilbar said...

John Goodman's character has a line in Kong Island that I thought was pretty succinct.
Some peacenik is talking to a Vietnam vet about "losing the war", and the vet says: "We didn't Lose the War; we Abandoned it. "

Etienne said...

"We were winning when I was there".

Your dad was involved in a "plinking war." It smells like victory, but killing a man with a 600 pound bomb is like dropping an elephants on a mouse.

LYNNDH said...

Just got back from a cruise that stopped in three cites, Saigon, Hanoi and Hue. They are still repairing the damage at the Citadel where the NVA was crushed by the 1st. Marines. Interesting place. Lots of construction, tall apt, bank, hotels. Busy streets. Was told that something like 60+% are under 25 yrs old. And lots of underemployment for university grads. One guide said that they don't say South China Sea but instead call it the Easter Sea. They really do not like nor trust the Chinese. The guides said that things are a little better on the political front. Can now say Saigon and not get thrown in prison. Communist gov't with Capitalist economy.
My wife told me I could not spit on the plaque "honoring" McCain. We did go the Hanoi Hilton, where one of the old French guillotines was on display. Yes, it had been used, often.

LYNNDH said...

That was Eastern Sea

madAsHell said...

Our enemy... has finally shattered the mask of official illusion with which we have concealed our true circumstances, even from ourselves.

Did he steal this from Joan Baez?

Nancy Reyes said...

I am waiting for the Vietnamese to write history. The millions who fled, the ethnic cleansing of the Chinese community, the war with China, the concentration camps and finally the famine in a country that is a traditional exporter of rice.
But never mind. The PC meme in the US is that the communists were the good guys.
As for being unable to win: President Magsaysay would say you read the wrong book. http://malacanang.gov.ph/7759-magsaysay-and-the-afp-a-historical-case-study-of-military-reform-and-transformation/

Etienne said...

The millions who fled Vietnam are now Democrats running sanctuary cities for people fleeing Central America.

Drago said...

Trumpit: "That's partisan bullcrap."

Nope.

In the end, after our Congress cut off financial aid to the South, the Soviet built tank columns rumbled to the South from the North right down Hwy 1.

There isn't any real military strategist alive who doesn't understand how the dems handed final defeat to the South Vietnamese. I guess the dems just wanted to see if the North Vietnamese commies would do a "better job" with their death camps than all the other lefty commie People's Paradises.

Drago said...

Etienne: "The millions who fled Vietnam are now Democrats running sanctuary cities for people fleeing Central America."

Nope.

The ones who fled the commies never forgot what Robert Cook's philosophical brethren did to them.

Until the mid-90's the Asian vote went to the republicans. But the children of these immigrants, well, they have been swallowed up in the lefty public schools with expected results.

Amazing isn't it? The parents and grandparents risked their lives to escape leftist horrors and their children and grand-children have been indoctrinated to think its the only way forward.

Heinlein's quote comes to mind again and again...

James K said...

the left just shrugged/shrugs when the Soviets/North Vietnamese/Palestinians/etc.

Iranians.

Etienne said...

Q: What's the difference between Vietnamese refugees versus Mexican, Guatemalan, and Honduran refugees?

A: Guilt.

dbp said...

"Your dad was involved in a "plinking war." It smells like victory, but killing a man with a 600 pound bomb is like dropping an elephants on a mouse."

The only armament my dad carried on his plane was his .38 sidearm. In photo-reconnaissance, they said, "We killum with filum". He said that some of the hot-shots in his squadron would try to drop their drop tanks at targets of opportunity.

gg6 said...

Ah, yes, the brilliant Kennedys. And now we have yet another one trying to BS his way to to a BS career in Washington.
Oh, the horror, the horror.

Etienne said...

photo-reconnaissance

See if the elephants did any good.

Big Mike said...

The US had a treaty obligation with South Vietnam to provide air support in the event of North Vietnam invading the south. We violated that treaty agreement. I don’t know why anyone believes that the US will keep its treaty pledges past the administration that signs it.

jimbino said...

Time to coin a medal of honor for all of us who avoided Vietnam by staying in college, getting married, breeding, bodily mutilation, becoming gay, fleeing to Canada or seminary, or by being sent to conscientious objector prison. That war interfered with my major life decisions in the prime of my youth between 1963 and 1970.

Sean Gleeson said...

Aaaand, that’s how you go T̶r̶u̶m̶p̶ Nixon.

Molly said...

(eaglebeak)

Actually, what Bobby meant was that he was just noticing that Gene McCarthy was making incredible political hay out of being anti-war, so he decided to jump on board.

readering said...

No one is going to answer this question on this board. A big subject. I think it's fair to say that the U.S. did not lose the war, since S. Vietnam was still independent when the peace treaty was signed in 1973 (A full five years after RFK's speech), but the evidence is also pretty good that Nixon and Kissinger did not expect S. Vietnam to survive in the long run and were just looking for a version of the George Aiken line (declare victory and go home).

But because of the way things ended in 1975, we seem to be unable to extricate ourselves from Iraq and Afghanistan because we foresee a repeat of the same thing. (Indeed we came perilously close to the same thing with Isis, a rag tag collection of 1000 or so guerrillas taking the second largest city in Iraq against a garrison force ten times larger, but with the same mismatch of resolve that the two sides had in Vietnam.)

Big Mike said...

But having a unified Vietnam today is much better for the U.S. than the North Korea situation. I think we should all agree with that.

No.

Meade said...

sean said...
"Sadly, thousands of Vietnamese people died in re-education camps or as refugees, due to RFK and his colleagues' stupidity and ignorance. None of the hippie chicks cared about them at all."

Not true. One hippy chick did care. Joan Baez. From Wikipedia:

"Her disquiet at the human-rights violations of communist Vietnam made her increasingly critical of its government and she organized the May 30, 1979, publication of a full-page advertisement (published in four major U.S. newspapers)[65] in which the communists were described as having created a nightmare. Her one-time anti-war ally, Jane Fonda, refused to join in Baez's criticism of Hanoi,[66][67][68] leading to what was publicly described as a feud between the two.

Human rights[edit]
Baez was instrumental in founding the USA section of Amnesty International in the 1970s, and has remained an active supporter of the organization.

Baez's experiences regarding Vietnam's human-rights violations ultimately led her to found her own human-rights group in the late 1970s, Humanitas International, whose focus was to target oppression wherever it occurred, criticizing right and left-wing régimes equally."

Etienne said...

The US had a treaty obligation

Damned lawyers...

Big Mike said...

Actually, what Bobby meant was that he was just noticing that Gene McCarthy was making incredible political hay out of being anti-war, so he decided to jump on board.

True. I was around back then, and I can assure you that’s precisely what happened. No one in DC wanted to be against the war until “Clean Gene” finished a relatively close second to LBJ in New Hampshire and Johnson saw the writing on the wall and announced that he “would not seek, nor would [he] accept” the presidential nomination. I was watching the TV in the dorm’s TV room when Johnson made the announcement and Bobby wasted no time reassembling his brother’s brain trust and entering the campaign.

Michael K said...

The war was lost in 1963 when Kennedy and Cabot Lodge approved the assassination of the Diem brothers.

Then Kennedy was assassinated and John took over and ran the ting into the ground.

Maybe the South Vietnamese could have survived if the post Watergate Democrat Congress had not cut them off.

That whole event divided the country and it has never gotten back to any consensus.

The left hated Reagan. The Carter Administration, on the way out the door , ended the use of the competitive exam for federal service.

It left us with a bureaucracy that is far dumber than it wants us to think.

For example, its last day in office in January 1981, the Carter administration did long term damage to the U.S. government by abolishing the venerable civil service examination for hiring federal bureaucrats. The pretext was a consent decree throwing the derisory Luevano suit against the Carter Administration that had been rigged up by Carter’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and its allies on the left.

Ironically, civil service exams to reform the spoils system were one of the great causes of 19th century progressives. When President James Garfield was assassinated by a frustrated office-seeker in 1881, public opinion veered decisively toward awarding federal jobs by competitive examination.

During the 1920s, federal testing for job seekers became scientific. By the late 1970s, the federal government had a superb test, the Professional and Administrative Career Examination, which had been validated for 118 different positions.



Trumpit said...

The pro-Bay-of-Pigs, and the pro-Vietnam-War commenters have no reason to relive the old battles when they can start new ones. You can all form a troop to land where the old Bay-of-Pigs battle took place, and try to liberate Cuba once again. I'm all in favor of it.

Jupiter said...

Etienne said...
"We could not win that war because we didn't go all out to win it." -- General Charles Cornwallis, October 19, 1781.

A better analogy would have been if one of the numerous American attempts at invading Canada had been more successful, and the British had failed to support the Canadians. The South Vietnamese may not have wanted the French back, but that doesn't mean they wanted Saigon renamed.

Josephbleau said...

Blogger tcrosse said...
"A girl I went to High School with said that she wanted a husband who was rich enough to buy her anything that was advertised in the Sunday New York Times."

Like in Chicago where the Guy and Girl walked down Michigan Avenue Sunday evening looking at the store displays, and her asking for a prized item in the window. "Whadiya think! I'm made of Bricks!"

Robert Cook said...

"But the democrats didn’t and don’t want the United States or its people to win."

What would "winning" in Vietnam have been? Why were we there in the first place? It wasn't our war to be fighting and we have no business trying to "win" anything there.

Just like every war we've joined or started since, there was no need, no purpose, no valid reason to be there...and in the name of "winning," we've squandered (and continue squandering to this day) trillions of dollars better spent here at home, as well as millions of lives, (most of them not Americans), and any claim to having the moral high ground.

Sally327 said...

A little off topic but I find Democrat criticism of Trump for getting out of the draft back during the Vietnam War kind of funny...Senator Tammy Duckworth calls him Cadet Bone Spurs. Which he totally deserves that kind of ridicule, I think, mostly because he likes to dish the insults himself.

Bobby Kennedy has been dead a long time now. His killer Sirhan Sirhan is still alive, though, which doesn't seem right. And Vietnam is now a partner for peace in the region, according to Secretary of Defense Mattis who visited there a couple of weeks ago. He said the war was in the past but an article I read about his visit said there were lots of "reminders". In Vietnam they call it the American War. Which I didn't know until I read the article but of course they wouldn't call it the Vietnam War in Vietnam.

Personally I think the French deserve a lot of the blame.

Hagar said...

I am waiting for the Vietnamese to write history.

You may want to read May Elliott's "The Sacred Willow Tree." It is a family history from one of the traditional bureaucrat families and their lives through those times. Plain, but quite good.

J. Farmer said...

@readering:

But because of the way things ended in 1975, we seem to be unable to extricate ourselves from Iraq and Afghanistan because we foresee a repeat of the same thing. (Indeed we came perilously close to the same thing with Isis, a rag tag collection of 1000 or so guerrillas taking the second largest city in Iraq against a garrison force ten times larger, but with the same mismatch of resolve that the two sides had in Vietnam.)

I think you vastly overestimate the threat ISIS posed to the region. It was only able to thrive because it existed in anarchic political spaces in which all centralized governing authority had collapses. It begins with the Syrian Civil War, fueled by us, our ally Turkey, and our Gulf state clients. It pops up in Libya. It's attempted incursion into Lebanon was repelled within a matter of days. It has little presence or hope of gaining a presence in significant areas of Syria and Iraq. North Vietnam by 1979 had managed to successfully invade Cambodia and overthrow the Khmer Rouge.

Also, your analysis would only seem to apply if American forces were playing the role of a stabilizing force. We have been in Afghanistan for nearly 17 years, and the Taliban operates openly in a majority of the country. It continues to have the ability to carry out major attacks against the central government. Afghanistan is full of centuries-old tribal and ethnic tensions and hatreds. The notion that the presence of American garrison forces will do anything to remedy this fundamental political problem is a delusion.

Sam L. said...

I suspect we could have, but the Dems (who started it--JFK himself) didn't much like LBJ, who had to run the war himself (w/ McNamara), and then later cut off funding to the SVNs, thereby handing it over to NVN.

FIDO said...

None of the hippie chicks cared about them at all.

Do any of the hippie chicks care about Afghan girls who can't get an education? Did they care about closing the Rape Rooms in Iraq? Did they care about Iranian women seeking freedom...or did they side with Obama's stance of giving billions to Iranian Misogynists?

From where they are putting their passion and their pussy hats, they seem to be much more concerned, vocal and electronically engaged about men clumsily asking them on dates than about women literally DYING anywhere else.

FIDO said...

Not true. One hippy chick did care. Joan Baez.

And how effective has she been at redirecting the Left and Feminism?

So while pedantically correct on this one issue, in terms of effectiveness, sean is more broadly correct.

Darkisland said...

Several people have already noted that the Viet Cong were essentially destroyed as a military force in the Tet Offensive. They never did recover.

In 1971 the North Vietnamese army invaded South Vietnam and were roundly defeated, primarily by SVN forces with US air support.

By 1974, we had under 1,000 troops in SVN. The NVN invaded and were held back by the SVN until they ran out of ammunition because Congress refused to send any aid.

Just by way of no harm, here are troop levels by year:

1960 900
1961 3,205
1962 11,300
1963 16,300
1964 23,300
1965 184,300
1966 385,300
1967 485,600
1968 536,100
1969 475,200
1970 334,600
1971 156,800
1972 24,200
1973 50

In 1964 LBJ ran on a PROMISE not to get us into Vietnam. Look how that worked out.

In 1968, Nixon ran on a promise to get us out. That promise actually did work out. Perhaps not as fast as some hoped but he did get us out with honor.

In fairness to LBJ, it is what Demmies do. In 1916 Wilson ran principally on a platform of "He kept us out of war" WWI. Then proceeded drag us into it.

In 1940, FDR Promised to keep us out of WWI (Part 2) Then he started working on Germany to declare war on us (Financing and arming Britain, Occupying Iceland, Air patrols over British convoys, "Sink on sight" order. USN ships were to open fire as soon as they saw a German sub. ANd more)

Dragging us into wars is what Demmies do.

John Henry

buwaya said...

"they seem to be much more concerned, vocal and electronically engaged about men clumsily asking them on dates than about women literally DYING anywhere else."

Men being clumsy around THEM is a proximate personal issue, not whatever is going on with some stranger far away. Or a potential personal issue. Or a hoped-for personal issue.

So they tweet about it and scare some marketing guys.

madAsHell said...

thousands of Vietnamese people died in re-education camps

At one time, I worked with one of the boat people. I asked him "How many times were you caught, and re-educated?".

"Don't know, and it doesn't matter. The only time I remember is the time I got out!!"

Howard said...

We did win, we just decided to stop conducting genocide. The defeated Vietnamese still struggle to recover from their huge losses and the destruction of their country. Now, they are begging to be our friends to help defend them from ChiCom hegemony.

Michael K said...

What would "winning" in Vietnam have been? Why were we there in the first place? It wasn't our war to be fighting and we have no business trying to "win" anything there.

You could look at South Korea of you were serious.

Bad Lieutenant said...


Sean Gleeson said...
Aaaand, that’s how you go T̶r̶u̶m̶p̶ Nixon.

2/8/18, 5:43 PM


Sean, how TF did you get strikethrough to work?!?

Darkisland said...

A great book on our "Best and Brightest" and how they draggged us into Vietnam is by Lt General HR McMaster

Dereliction of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam

I first read it a couple years ago. Reread it last year when General McMaster became President Trump's National Security Advisor.

5 stars on Amazon and 2 thumbs up from John Henry. Buy it through the portal.

John Henry

Mark said...

Why were we there in the first place? It wasn't our war to be fighting and we have no business trying to "win" anything there.

Why do you expect that anyone will come to your aid if you are sick or your house catches fire or if you get gang raped? It doesn't involve us and is none of our business to intervene.

But you have lots of company with your repugnant isolationist attitude. Plenty of people said the Union had no business fighting the Confederates -- whether people were enslaved was none of our concern, they said. Then of course there were those who objected to getting in WWII. So what if a bunch of Jews and others were being exterminated -- quite a few of them after FDR turned them away when they sought refuge here. Screw too the hundreds of thousands more recently who were being slaughtered as part of the ISIS genocide.

Well, at least you are being true to yourself, foul as that might be.

buwaya said...

"It was only able to thrive because it existed in anarchic political spaces in which all centralized governing authority had collapses."

ISIS had the well known historical qualities of a conquering movement, very much like the Mahdists of 19th-century Sudan. They are the definition of the maxim the moral is to the material as x:1.

Their conquest of Mosul was classic - 1000 men against 10-20x their number, enormously better armed with heavy weapons and dug in to boot. The difference is morale and leadership. Mosul was not an anarchic political space in which all governing authority had vanished, it was simply garrisoned by a grossly incompetent and demoralized force.

The Iraqis were not even sufficiently competent or well led to flee successfully - thousands were captured without a struggle, in great crowds, and slaughtered like sheep.

And the same was true for the next three years - ISIS was massively outnumbered to its end in Iraq. They gave much better than they got.

People like this are very dangerous and should not be dismissed for their small numbers. They are the stuff of empires. They are Cortez and Pizarro and, of course, Mohammed.

Howard said...

John Henry... how does a great book merit 2/5 stars from you?

bolivar di griz said...

I think we made similar mistakes in Vietnam and south Asia and mesotamia. Small unit warfare special forces had been successful to a degree, in the pre 1963 era as mark moyar has discovered, but halberstam falsely represented the amount of resistance and that causes harriman to pull the plug on diem. Large expedifionaries forces like those pat 1965 couldn't accomplish the task. Nuxons plan was based on Gerald templers successful strategy in Malaya, a decade before.

Similarly small units were successful in Afghanistan and Iraq, it really was when we imposed our will, giving karzai thud duxtat and brewer Cromer like pretentions that we came cropper.

Darkisland said...

Robert Cook said...

Just like every war we've joined or started since, there was no need, no purpose, no valid reason to be there

Agree.

As well as most before, too. Dominican Republic, Korea, WWII, WWI, the various central American wars, 1898 war with Spain, the Philipines, the War Between the States, 1812 and so on.

We have been in damn few wars that we really had any business being in.

FWIW, I agree that we had no business being in VN. However, after LBJ stirred up the shit, we had a duty to unstir it, which is what Nixon did, to a fair extent.

John Henry

Bob Boyd said...

Get The Politically Incorrect Guide To The Vietnam War
by Phillip Jennings

Use the Althouse Portal, of course.

Darkisland said...

Mark,

Proud to be a "repugnant" deplorable isolationist. See above.

John Henry

Darkisland said...

Howard,

It was 5 stars from Amazon, out of 5.

2 thumbs up, out of 2, from me. I've sometimes been accused of being all thumbs so perhaps I could give it a 10 thumbs up?

Excellent book.

John Henry

Darkisland said...

In Brad Pitt's movie The War Machine, available on NetFlix, his character, based on General McChrystal has a great line about war in Afghanistan.

He puts an equation on a whiteboard and asks his civilian audience "If we have 10 terrorists and kill 2, how many do we have left?"

Someone in the audience answere 8 and he says "Wrong. We have 20 because some of the dead terrorists will have family or friends who were undecided about becomeing terrorists. This tips them over the edge and we now have 20"

That quote is VERY approximate.

Excellent movie.

John Henry

Howard said...

Got it John, my bad Thanks for the recommendation.

BUMBLE BEE said...

A Vietnam vet said to me "it's hard to lose a war when you've won every battle".
In high school I was taught that the war was fought over control of the abundant natural resources in Vietnam. You know, just like Iraq. Dems are stuck playin the same shit, generation after generation.

BillyTalley said...

Spring 1975, I was 18 year old sailor on a cruiser in the South China Sea. We picked up exhausted refugees packed on boats, some had their dead strapped on the roof, families unwilling to cast them overboard.

Gahrie said...

But we did win the war in Vietnam. We won every battle of the war, destroyed the Vietcong, destroyed the North Vietnamese Military, and left South Vietnam an independent country with a functioning government and economy.

However we lost the peace because the Democrats in Congress broke our promise to come back to South Vietnam's aid when North Vietnam re-armed and re-invaded several years later.

Ray said...

A friend of mine, Vietnamese, heard the same thing about Vietnam, it was about the natural resources. My Father has a Masters in SE Asian Politics, and was surprised. This was around 1980. My friend had a hard time the US would go to war based on an idea.

And then in my daughter's AP US History Class, they used A People's History of the US.

bolivar di griz said...

Yes halberstam, comers like a bed penny in his first book, quagmire something or other, said it was about tungsten, that a deranged as the mouth of flint and Ted tall saying Afghanistan wee about a gas pipeline.

Ray said...

The US actually has a pretty good track record against insurgencies. Argentina, Guatemala, El Salvador, Greece, Philippines, Thailand, Italy, etc. come to mind. Not to mention what the US Marines experience in the Caribbean and Central America before WW2. A lot of the time the US just gave expertise and equipment, not actual troops.

Korean War was not an insurgency. Vietnam became a regular war, after Tet devastated the local Communist. The top leadership in North Vietnam was educated in France. And the French and US actually supported the Ho Chi Minh's forces at one time. Freedom fighter, kinda sounds like what happened with Castro, or Iran. Where we supported the side that was actually the dictator / Communist side.

Humperdink said...

I work for a major steel fabricator from 1979-82. During that time, the company sponsored a South Vietnamese refugee. His story was incredible. His extended family, eighteen in all, was able to get a severely crowded boat, the Vietnamese boat people, as they were called. As he related to us, there was enough room on the boat for only one person to lay down at a time. Everyone else stood the entire voyage until their rescue.

Turns out he was educated in Paris as an engineer. His two boys enrolled at the Univ. of Pittsburgh, also engineers. He loved the US.

Gahrie said...

What would "winning" in Vietnam have been?

Exactly what happened...killing all your Commie friends that invaded South Vietnam and leaving South Vietnam a free, democratic and capitalist nation when we left.

Why were we there in the first place?

To contain the spread of Communism and aid a people asking for help to defeat a Communist invasion.

It wasn't our war to be fighting and we have no business trying to "win" anything there.

Sure it was. As long as you agree that defeating Communism is a good thing...which of course you don't.

Just like every war we've joined or started since, there was no need, no purpose, no valid reason to be there.

Grenada is free, Kuwait is free because of us.

Sebastian said...

"Guerilla insurgency campaigns are almost always a losing gambit for an outside great power to win" True.

Of course, it had nothing to do with the outcome in Vietnam, determined by a North Vietnamese invasion of a neighbor shamefully abandoned by its ally.

"almost always." Almost. Let's check with ISIS.

Guildofcannonballs said...

"fungle jungle
He is only a very shallow critic who cannot see an eternal rebel in the heart of the Conservative. -- GKC"

http://funglejungle.blogspot.com

David said...

Kennedy made a usual mistake. He reached a conclusion without having all the evidence, because he was in a hurry to get noticed. Or he did not care about the evidence and was in a hurry to get noticed.

This speech was given over two months before RFK announced his candidacy for president. Gene McCarthy was getting the notices and RFK needed a way to break through. This was a good way to jump into the game.

Cynicism or incompetence? You decide.

PB said...

Every political family has a Hillary. He's the Kennedy family's Hillary.

Guildofcannonballs said...

This is a link incorporating my changing The Artist's name, to the right one, a Name, Dwight Yoakam, I admire, even if that makes me a damn fool, and yet seems to show I didn't learn a damn thing

Damn.



Stephen Cooper said...

David at 8:23 PM - both are correct (cynicism and incompetence).

The question is, why did he feel as if his cynicism was important, why did he feel he had a right to power? The question involves issues of phony glamour, the sad and sadly almost universal desire for something like aristocracy, the Barnum level of gawping celebrity-mad foolishness among even a sophisticated electorate like the USA electorate of the 1960s, and the tragedy of life.

As for the incompetence, the question about why incompetent people do the incompetent things they do is rarely interesting. You can make it interesting, but why bother? Fifty years ago people talked about bad music that was popular then, 100 years ago people talked about the bad music that was popular then.
Nobody talks about incompetent music that is that old. People - 999 of 1,000, at a minimum, all but one out of ten million as a best guess - just do not care about incompetent and ignorant politicians of the past. Robert Kennedy was a profoundly incompetent young man - it is a tragedy that he never got to grow old, but the intensely boring essence of his incompetent youth - as applied to politics, anyway ( those who he cared for and who cared for him have nothing to do with this assessment )- is simply not interesting for all but one in ten million people, today.

Had he lived a few years longer, and put on a few more pounds, would he not have looked a lot like Kevin Spacey, at best, or Harvey Weinstein, at worst?

Not saying Richard Nixon was a great prize, either. Smart guy, understood the Middle East and was loved by everyone who knew him well, but - well, it is what it is.

rcocean said...

Vietnam was LBJ bullshit war from the very start with LBJ lying in 1964 about the NV attacking us in the Tonkin Gulf AND about "Not sending american boys to do a job that Asian boys should be doing".

No one's ever given a good reason why we didn't mine Haiphong Harbor in 1966 instead of 1972. Or why we didn't invade Laos and block the Ho chi minh trail.

rcocean said...

Or we could have sent South Vietnamese Troops into North Vietnam. Why should all the fighting have gone one way?

Bottom Line: You can't win a war by just hoping the other side will quit. That's what LBJ did.

Lucien said...

Re: the Brad Pitt character’s comment mentioned by Darkisland. True (sort of, in a Hollywood screenwriter fortune cookie wisdom kind of way), but incomplete.

Pitt’s character should also have asked, “If we have 10 terrorists and we kill 6, how many do we have left?” The answer is not 4, but zero (or at most 1). Why? Plenty of people are willing to die for a cause. Very few are willing to die for a losing cause. If you’re going to fight an insurgency, fight it. Don’t half ass about it.

Mark said...

If we have 10 terrorists and we kill 6, how many do we have left?” The answer is not 4, but zero (or at most 1). Why? Plenty of people are willing to die for a cause. Very few are willing to die for a losing cause.

Sounds like McNamera, Westmoreland body count math.

Paul said...

Blogger tcrosse said... "One of the problems with that war was what you meant by "We". A whole lot of people managed to stay out of it."

Hells Bells, that can be said of any war, including WW1 and WW2. There are always those who don't want to fight. We had plenty of people to fight in Vietnam. Plenty of airpower, plenty of Navy, Army, Marines. What we didn't have was a government that was willing to go all out and WIN. Bomb North Vietnam into the stone age and if necessary, China.

You see, Gen. MacArthur in Korea tried to buck Democrat President Truman and got sacked. He knew there literally was 'no substitute for victory'. You win. You go all out. If need be you to take on the suppliers (in the case of both North Korea and Vietnam its CHINA.)

We didn't. So North Korea is still a pox today and Vietnam was totally lost.

THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR VICTORY. No 'armistice', no cease fire (as George Bush Sr. did in Iraq), no nothing except unconditional surrender.

bolivar di griz said...

Of course that is Michael Hastings interpretation on mccrystal remember he wrote that rolling atone profile that didn't quite pan out. He misunderstood galula as well that is clear in the operators.

In large part our focusing on afghanistan or Iraq misses the point, after All massouds assassin was part of a Moroccan cell in malbeek (in nassiris Bo they said Brussels) many if the more spectacular attacks like the ones that took out the UN compound came from Europe.

Lucien said...

Mark, not really.

Robert Cook said...

"In 1968, Nixon ran on a promise to get us out. That promise actually did work out. Perhaps not as fast as some hoped but he did get us out with honor."

Actually, no. In the 1968 election campaign, Nixon was afraid that if LBJ managed to negotiate a peace settlement with the North Vietnamese, it would scuttle his chance to win. He contacted the North Vietnamese and persuaded them not do a deal with LBJ, as he (Nixon) would give them a better deal. LBJ was aware of this and called it "treason."

Then, upon winning, Nixon failed to get us out throughout his entire first term, and even expanded it into surrounding countries.

No honor of any kind attaches to Richard Nixon.

Mark said...

And here comes the "colluding with the enemy" lie. And Reagan had Bush I fly to Paris in a spy plane to convince the Iranians to keep our hostages through the election.

bolivar di griz said...

Who was the enemy, the south Vietnamese were the allies, it was the north Vietnamese who couldn't be trusted as we found out after 1973,

Etienne said...

rcocean said...No one's ever given a good reason why we didn't mine Haiphong Harbor in 1966 instead of 1972.

Having lived through that era, I can tell you the answer. Russia. If we would have mined Haiphong, the Russians would have retaliated.

After Cuba, Kennedy left Turkey with all of our nuclear rockets, and that was the lesson. Two can play that game, only we will bleed more.

Etienne said...

There's an old joke about a prostitute who filled her vagina with glue. She said if you pay to go in, you have to pay to get out to.

We paid for the mining of Haiphong, and we paid for the de-mining. The Navy had to go in and clean up the mess, and it wasn't cheap.

Guildofcannonballs said...

"Lucien said...
Re: the Brad Pitt character’s comment mentioned by Darkisland. True (sort of, in a Hollywood screenwriter fortune cookie wisdom kind of way), but incomplete.

Pitt’s character should also have asked, “If we have 10 terrorists and we kill 6, how many do we have left?” The answer is not 4, but zero (or at most 1). Why? Plenty of people are willing to die for a cause. Very few are willing to die for a losing cause. If you’re going to fight an insurgency, fight it. Don’t half ass about it."

Yeah you're really rich, so really smart. You don't half ass anything, especially fanboi quotes from movies a couple decades ago!

And Catholics are stupid, PLEASE remember that rich man.

And your life is and always will be everything those you hate didn't want it to be, so there! You are always and forever winning, as you earned your entitled right to be!

!

Big Mike said...

@Etienne, but what changed in the intervening six years? I know, from serving in a Pentagon office, that as late as 1970 everyone believed the Russians would react to mining Haiphong harbor, but less than two years after i mustered out Nixon ordered the harbor mined and the Russians did nothing to respond.

Guildofcannonballs said...

"Blogger Lucien said...
Mark, not really."

Lucien, really.

Mark said...

as late as 1970 everyone believed . . .

Establishment, deep state, smarter than everyone else, Democrat group think.

Guildofcannonballs said...

"@Etienne, but what changed in the intervening six years?"

What didn't change is people like you asking the wrong fucking questions.

After getting paid so much for so long as the cost of so many lives.

But of course, keep asking why why why and getting paid more more more.

Shit on the little guy more too, as you like.

Etienne said...

the south Vietnamese were the allies

No.

South Vietnam was created out of the ether. It was a fake country created with the devilish use of a latitude line on a globe.

Guildofcannonballs said...

Derp derp we got attacked

OKAY MURDER SADDAM BECAUSE RAPE ROOMS!!!

Fucking bullshit.

Goddamned Bush will rot in Hell bullshit.

Big Mike said...

Yes, Mark, and Reagan had Bush put on fake eyeglasses and a wig, no doubt. I don’t know whether the mullahs held onto the hostages as s gesture of contempt towards Carter or decided to release them after Reagan was sworn in as a ploy to get some normalization of relations or (my favorite theory) they actually believed Democrat propaganda that Reagan would nuke Tehran within seconds of being sworn in. Doesn’t matter, all the possibilities are less fanciful than your bullshit.

Big Mike said...

@Guildofcannibals. Sober up, assface, and we can discuss this in the morning.

Etienne said...

To answer why the Russians squatted in 1972, has to do with Nixon going to Russia, and the SALT treaties.

Obviously a deal was made. Nixon and Kissinger wanted the war over, and the Vietnamese wanted an unconditional surrender.

By mining the harbors, Russia would look the other way, Vietnam would sign the peace agreement in Paris, and after everyone cooled off, they could have their fucking country back and do whatever they wanted.

bolivar di griz said...

And the e north was more legimiate because of the bodies in the red river, that's like saying north koreaismore legitimate than south, Bruce comings actually believes that bilge.

Etienne said...

I've mentioned this before, but my French Uncle was conscripted into the Colonial Army and he was sent to Vietnam in 1931. He was sent to the Michelin rubber plantations.

Alas, he was then sent to China in 1932 and was killed in Shanghai during the war.

Point being, Vietnam (Indochina) goes back a long way with the French, and when they were sent packing in 1954, we should have minded our own business.

America in Vietnam was a blink of the eye in comparison to the French.

Etienne said...

Bottom line, tires aren't even made out of rubber anymore...

Mark said...

Did you really miss the word "lie" in my comment, BM?

Big Mike said...

@Mark, oh shit. My apologies; I grovel in shame and humiliation.

Big Mike said...

@Etienne, I agree, somewhat. In 1972 the Soviets wanted SALT I more than they wanted to fight a nuclear war with the US. If Nixon had still been president in 1975 I think the North Vietnamese would have had to wait intil a Democrat was elected in 1976 to move south in 1977.

stan said...

Kennedy was wrong, of course. As he was on most things. The US couldn't possibly win using the brain dead military tactics of LBJ and McNamara. But we did win with Nixon's approach and it was only perfidy of Democrats in Congress that led to the loss of the South.

langford peel said...

Bush fought Saddam in service of his paymasters the Saudi's.

Egged on and given cover by neo-con cuck globalists.

He never gave a shit about rape rooms or any of that bullshit.

It was about money as it always is in the real world.

We never should have sent our boys to die for a bunch of worthless camel jockeys.

Mac McConnell said...

We were in Nam for the same reasons we were in Europe, Korea, etc because it was congruent with George F. Kennan's containment policy, America's policy since WWII.

In a sense it's the same reason we are in Afghanistan, Iraq and now Syria, the containment of Iran (and the Russians).

Chris N said...

Thanks to everyone who served.

Gahrie said...

No honor of any kind attaches to Richard Nixon.

Wow..what a surprise! Commie lover Comrade Marvin hating on a man who was a Commie hunter.

Big Mike said...

@Chris, you are welcome.

Robert Cook said...

"And here comes the 'colluding with the enemy" lie.'"

It's not a lie just because you don't want to believe it.

And yes, evidence does strongly suggest a pre-election collusion between the Reagan team and Iran. Our known illegal sale of arms to Iran during Reagan's presidency to covertly raise money to provide to the murderous Contras in Nicaragua--prohibited by Congress, thereby compounding the crimes--further confirms the Reagan team's willingness to break the law to achieve its desired ends.

Lloyd W. Robertson said...

It's probably not a good idea to get a democratic public voting yes or no to every possible war that comes along. Are they well informed about distant countries, about purely military considerations as opposed to political, geographic (a hot country with a jungle canopy) and other issues? The Pentagon has learned its lesson: no one gets drafted, the volunteer forces perform extremely well, at least partly because military service is perceived as a great life experience or career, and a few people in Washington get what they want as long as they persuade the President in the situation room. How many presidents have been able to stand up to all the military and intelligence people, or question their judgment? World War II taught us that in a total war, the civilian population has no choice but to become involved. It's just a mistake to say that every war that comes along is just like that, or to believe that there is a fairly easy way for us to change the whole world.

Robert Cook said...

"“Once a policy has been adopted and implemented, all subsequent activity becomes an effort to justify it”

— Barbara Tuchman, The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam (1984. p. 245).

J. Farmer said...

@Mac McConnell:

We were in Nam for the same reasons we were in Europe, Korea, etc because it was congruent with George F. Kennan's containment policy, America's policy since WWII.

In a sense it's the same reason we are in Afghanistan, Iraq and now Syria, the containment of Iran (and the Russians).


It really was not congruent with containment, and Kennan himself said as much. Plus it was part of a larger foreign policy blunder in the second half of the 20th century of seeing "communism" as some kind of monolithic force and exaggerating its power and the threat it posed to the international system.

In a sense it's the same reason we are in Afghanistan, Iraq and now Syria, the containment of Iran (and the Russians).

In a sense the same misapplication of "containment" is used to justify our foolish adventurism in the middle east. Iran is in fact a relatively weak power that has very limited capacity to project military force outside its border. But the notion of an Iranian bogeyman on a march of conquest across the middle east is a chimera dreamed up to justify continued US intervention. The single greatest strategic gift to Iran in a generation were the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. They removed Iran's chief enemies. The same faulty logic was used to justify intervening against Assad, that he was part of an Iranian nexus. Of course, that involved supporting anti-government forces who were often radical salafi jihadist. And as for Russia, they have had a presence in Syria since at least the early 1970s. Trying to destroy a government they are allied with is not "containment."

J. Farmer said...

@Lloyd W. Robertson:

It's probably not a good idea to get a democratic public voting yes or no to every possible war that comes along.

How about a democratically elected legislature? Can anyone explain the legal justification for the US fighting a war against the government in Syria? Are we all really comfortable with the fact that a president (any president) now has the unilateral power to declare war on countries and deploy military resources in support of such wars?

Mike said...

This speech was given over two months before RFK announced his candidacy for president.

The only text I read when I zoomed in was the lie that this speech “in no way suggests he is entering the presidential race.”

Paul Snively said...

My family hosted a Vietnamese boat family.

As a consequence, my attitude towards Communism is very simple: you give me a self-identifying Communist and a length of rope, and I will personally tie the noose and swing the demon in human form from the rafters, and sleep well that night, knowing for a fact I have improved the moral state of the world.

I Callahan said...

That war interfered with my major life decisions in the prime of my youth between 1963 and 1970.

Some things are bigger than your pressing wants.

I Callahan said...

What would "winning" in Vietnam have been? Why were we there in the first place? It wasn't our war to be fighting and we have no business trying to "win" anything there.

I, for one, and not going to stand back when innocent people are being slaughtered over a philosophy. So were I president at the time, I'd have told you to go pound sand and get some moral levity.

Just like every war we've joined or started since, there was no need, no purpose, no valid reason to be there...and in the name of "winning," we've squandered (and continue squandering to this day) trillions of dollars better spent here at home, as well as millions of lives, (most of them not Americans), and any claim to having the moral high ground.

Of course there was a purpose or need to be there. You just don't agree with the philosophy behind it, being the pinko that you are.

Big Mike said...

Cookie, what’s your real name and address? Paul wants to drop by and say “hello.”

Gahrie said...

Plus it was part of a larger foreign policy blunder in the second half of the 20th century of seeing "communism" as some kind of monolithic force and exaggerating its power and the threat it posed to the international system.

You're a Commie who is pissed that the Commies lost just like Comrade Marvin aren't you?

Because there can be no other explanation for such an absurd statement.

Paul Snively said...

J. Farmer: Plus it was part of a larger foreign policy blunder in the second half of the 20th century of seeing "communism" as some kind of monolithic force and exaggerating its power and the threat it posed to the international system.

It's not possible to be an informed person and believe this post-Venona-decrypts.

Please see:

Communism: A History

Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America (Annals of Communism)

Stalin's Secret Agents: The Subversion of Roosevelt's Government

"The most paranoid and xenophobic conservatives of the Cold War were, painful though this is to admit, the closest to the truth in estimating the magnitude and subtlety of Soviet subversion. Liberal anticommunists (like myself in the 1970s) thought we were being judicious and fair-minded when we dismissed half of the Right’s complaint as crude blather. We were wrong; the Rosenbergs and Alger Hiss really were guilty, the Hollywood Ten really were Stalinist tools, and all of Joseph McCarthy’s rants about 'Communists in the State Department' were essentially true. The Venona transcripts and other new material leave no room for reasonable doubt on this score." — <a href=">Eric S. Raymond</a>

Paul Snively said...

Hmm. Two bad links I can't edit:

Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America (Annals of Communism)

Eric S. Raymond

I Callahan said...

Paul Snively - Good Stuff!!!

Plus it was part of a larger foreign policy blunder in the second half of the 20th century of seeing "communism" as some kind of monolithic force and exaggerating its power and the threat it posed to the international system.

It was, at the time, the greatest evil on the planet, bar none. It killed hundreds of millions of people. And its aim was to turn every other country to communism by any means necessary - war, propaganda, espionage, whatever. It already has a foothold on college campuses today, and is celebrated by our media and entertainment industries as a whole.

J Farmer - having read quite a few of your comments in the past, it sounds to me that you're grasping at anything that fits your preconceived narrative, which you've always been vocal about here: The United States should never be involved in any kind of military action ever except on its own home soil, and never until after it's attacked.

I'm sorry, but anyone who believes that bilge about Communism not being a threat really needs to re-think their entire philosophy.

Robert Cook said...

"And its aim was to turn every other country to communism by any means necessary....

“Once a policy has been adopted and implemented, all subsequent activity becomes an effort to justify it”

— Barbara Tuchman, The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam (1984. p. 245).


Tuchman's comment applies to beliefs, too.

Robert Cook said...

"...war, propaganda, espionage, whatever."

Sounds like a red, white, and blue country I know!

"(Communism) already has a foothold on college campuses today, and is celebrated by our media and entertainment industries as a whole."

Tuchman's comment applies to delusions in spades!

I Callahan said...

Sounds like a red, white, and blue country I know!

Only in your feeble mind. I notice you sidestep the hundred million Communism killed in the 20th century alone. And please don't bore me with the nonsensical idea that the US killed that many, directly or indirectly, because it's a conspiracy nut non-starter.

Once a policy has been adopted and implemented, all subsequent activity becomes an effort to justify it

Is that an argument AGAINST being vigilant about Communism? Or is it an argument that Communism is guilty of that phenomena? Either way, it's not an argument against anything I said.

All that aside - it's time your side comes to grips with the fact that inherent in Communism is that no individual is free - he/she lives for the state alone. And using your Tuchman quote, it ought to be obvious to you what any next step a Communist state must take to "justify itself". That alone ought to be enough, yet here you are apologizing for what is essentially pure, unfiltered evil.

I Callahan said...

Tuchman's comment applies to beliefs, too.

Yup, you're a living testament to that logic. Ignore all the terrible things Communism has wrought, and pretend they don't exist.

Robert Cook said...

"Is that an argument AGAINST being vigilant about Communism?"

It has nothing to do with communism. It has to do with all the unnecessary, wasteful, murderous wars we have joined or started, that, even today, when the folly of these wars is fully evident, find their die-hard defenders who hold on to feeble rationales to claim they were good and necessary.

"I notice you sidestep the hundred million Communism killed in the 20th century alone."

I don't sidestep it, it's just not what I'm talking about. Yes, Mao and Stalin and Pol Pot killed millions of people, an incredibly evil series of ghastly crimes. But I'm talking about our crimes and misdeeds. I'm a citizen of the USA, so my business is my country's activities. Bloviating about the evil crimes of foreign lands or now-dead dictators is easy but is simply farting in the wind. At any given time, our chief concern is our own country and it's behavior internally and externally. If we move to a different country, then our concern is the behavior of our adopted land. You want to decry the wife-beater several neighborhoods away while ignoring the drunkard or unfaithful family member in your own household. The problems in one's own home must always be a rational person's primary concern.

Communism lost in the great contest with capitalism, so anyone going on today about the global menace of communism is simply deluded, beating a long-dead equine.

J. Farmer said...

@Gahrie:

You're a Commie who is pissed that the Commies lost just like Comrade Marvin aren't you?

No.

Because there can be no other explanation for such an absurd statement.

Let me propose one. The actual history of the second half of the 20th century. The threat of the Soviet Union was consistently overstated. See, for example, the findings of the so called Team B. The Soviet Union had ceased to be a highly ideological revolutionary since at least the days of Stalin. And never mind that the Soviet Union was running one of the most inept, inefficient economies in the world.

@Paul Snively:

It's not possible to be an informed person and believe this post-Venona-decrypts.

That there was spying going on by the Soviet Union against the United States has nothing to do with the point I made, which was twofold: "seeing 'communism' as some kind of monolithic force and exaggerating its power and the threat it posed to the international system."

@I Callahan:

J Farmer - having read quite a few of your comments in the past, it sounds to me that you're grasping at anything that fits your preconceived narrative, which you've always been vocal about here: The United States should never be involved in any kind of military action ever except on its own home soil, and never until after it's attacked.

That's not exactly what I believe, but it is a close summation. Yes, I have the radical notion that the US military should be to defend the US homeland and vital US interests. And no, I do not consider nation-building in the Balkans, North Africa, or the Middle East to fit those criteria.

I'm sorry, but anyone who believes that bilge about Communism not being a threat really needs to re-think their entire philosophy.

Of course I never said it was not a threat. I said that its power and the threat it posed was overblown. Mutually assured destruction guaranteed no direct military action between the US and USSR. And what we did instead was get involved in a lot of stupid third-world civil proxy wars. The fact that through the late 1980s, figures such as Robert Gates were going around telling us about a powerful, expansionist Soviet Union. You may recall this was a year or two before the entire thing fell apart.

I Callahan said...

when the folly of these wars is fully evident, find their die-hard defenders who hold on to feeble rationales to claim they were good and necessary.

This is your opinion, Bob. That's the point. It's NOT fully evident to everyone because some of us believe that the long term project of Communism being to stick its tentacles everywhere, and the results of that happening, are WAY WORSE than what actually happened. That's MY opinion.

You want to decry the wife-beater several neighborhoods away while ignoring the drunkard or unfaithful family member in your own household. The problems in one's own home must always be a rational person's primary concern.

Here is a better comparison: the wife beater isn't just a beater, he's murdered 3 of his ex wives. And buried them somewhere. And a lot of neighbors just don't care. Being a drunkard or someone unfaithful is a LOT less of an issue than that murdering wife beater. But people like you want to treat them as equally bad. I'm here to tell you: they're not even close to being equally bad. Warts and all, that drunkard or unfaithful husband goes to work every day, earns a living for his family, and tries. Maybe he needs to try harder, but it doesn't mean he isn't allowed an opinion on his neighbor's murdering 3 ex wives.

Communism lost in the great contest with capitalism, so anyone going on today about the global menace of communism is simply deluded, beating a long-dead equine.

This isn't going to hold much water with you, but it needs to be said anyway: Communists, and apologists for Communism, usually make that same statement. But they don't talk about the fact that EVERY GOVERNMENT in the world, including ours, tries to enact Communist policies, like national health care, or forced military service, or extremely high taxes, and the like. So no one calls it Communism anymore - it's socialism, or "socialist Democracy", where 51% of the people vote the money out of the other 49%'s pockets. But the idea that the philosophy is a dead horse? Laughable. Get a few beers into some of these socialists, and you'll get them to admit it. I've done it to people myself.

I Callahan said...

The Soviet Union had ceased to be a highly ideological revolutionary since at least the days of Stalin. And never mind that the Soviet Union was running one of the most inept, inefficient economies in the world.

There is a very good argument to be made that the U.S. Government's anti-Communism policy was the linchpin that caused the USSR to be such a mess.

Of course I never said it was not a threat. I said that its power and the threat it posed was overblown. Mutually assured destruction guaranteed no direct military action between the US and USSR.

Ironic. MAD was the REASON the USSR didn't try. Because they were (genuinely) afraid to try something. So the U.S's policies around the world of trying to contain Communism, worked. In other words, see above.

And what we did instead was get involved in a lot of stupid third-world civil proxy wars. The fact that through the late 1980s, figures such as Robert Gates were going around telling us about a powerful, expansionist Soviet Union. You may recall this was a year or two before the entire thing fell apart.

The Soviets used satellite countries like Vietnam, Korea and Cuba to try to get the upper hand on the U.S. If we'd taken your suggestion and done pretty much nothing, the USSR would still exist, and those other countries would have missiles pointed at us right now, and could have been used before the U.S. had time to respond.

My argument is this: you say that Communism wasn't as big a threat as I'm making it out to be. My response is that U.S. involvement in trying to contain Communism is the DIRECT reason it wasn't that great a threat. To me, it really is that simple.

J. Farmer said...

@I Callahan:

There is a very good argument to be made that the U.S. Government's anti-Communism policy was the linchpin that caused the USSR to be such a mess.

Considering that the Soviet's centrally planned system predates the "U.S. Government's anti-Communism policy," I'm not sure how it could be a "linchpin that caused the USSR to be such a mess."

Ironic. MAD was the REASON the USSR didn't try. Because they were (genuinely) afraid to try something. So the U.S's policies around the world of trying to contain Communism, worked. In other words, see above.

Huh? MAD made containment meaningless. Suppose the US had stayed completely out of Vietnam; would the USSR be a global behemoth right now?

The Soviets used satellite countries like Vietnam, Korea and Cuba to try to get the upper hand on the U.S. If we'd taken your suggestion and done pretty much nothing, the USSR would still exist, and those other countries would have missiles pointed at us right now, and could have been used before the U.S. had time to respond.

I don't think there is anything to support that counterfactual. Cuba and Vietnam remain communist countries like after the USSR has faded from the international scene. If you think the failure of the USSR was due to containment in Korea, Vietnam, and Cuba, then we do have extremely big disagreements in our reading of recent history.

My response is that U.S. involvement in trying to contain Communism is the DIRECT reason it wasn't that great a threat.

Tell that to the Hungarians and the Czechoslovakians. What did the US do when Soviet tanks were running through Budapest or Prague? Nothing, because there was nothing we could do. In my estimation, the USSR mostly collapsed due to internal contradictions and the extreme inefficiency of its economy.

My response is that U.S. involvement in trying to contain Communism is the DIRECT reason it wasn't that great a threat.

Your argument, then, isn't really with me. It's with George Kennan, the creator of the containment policy, who was absolutely opposed to the Vietnam War as not involving vital US national interests. An assessment I happen to agree with. So perhaps you can tell me what I am getting wrong about containment now and what George Kennan got wrong about it in the 1960s.

Jim at said...

Communism lost in the great contest with capitalism, so anyone going on today about the global menace of communism is simply deluded, beating a long-dead equine. - Cookie

Sure doesn't seem to stop you from still pushing it.

Robert Cook said...

"Sure doesn't seem to stop you from still pushing it."

Really? When have you seen me pushing it?

Robert Cook said...

"...because some of us believe that the long term project of Communism being to stick its tentacles everywhere...."

What makes you think that was ever true...except for the our own crude propaganda to that effect?

Robert Cook said...

"The Soviets used satellite countries like Vietnam, Korea and Cuba to try to get the upper hand on the U.S. If we'd taken your suggestion and done pretty much nothing, the USSR would still exist, and those other countries would have missiles pointed at us right now, and could have been used before the U.S. had time to respond."

Paranoia runs deep, as the song goes.

Robert Cook said...

J. Farmer is like cleansing mouthwash for all the rhetorical halitosis stinking up this joint.

Gahrie said...

@ I Callahan:

Give it up.

As far as J. Farmer is concerned, all of the U.S.'s enemies are merely misunderstood good guys who just want to live in peace and prosperity with their neighbors, but unfortunately the U.S. fucks things up for everybody.

Comrade Marvin is just pissed the Commies lost.

J. Farmer said...

@Gahrie:

As far as J. Farmer is concerned, all of the U.S.'s enemies are merely misunderstood good guys who just want to live in peace and prosperity with their neighbors, but unfortunately the U.S. fucks things up for everybody.

If you can quote anything I've ever said even remotely close to that effect, I'll give you $500. It does seem slightly insane to me that those who opposed American interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria are looked at some kind of cranks who have something to answer for. While the people who happily cheered on those disasters and downplayed the risks and consequences others warned them about, our happily whistling along cheering on the next US military intervention. Where's next North Korea? Iran? But wait, we're still trying to clean up the mess in Afghanistan? And the one in Iraq (where there has been basically zero political reconciliation, the supposed purpose of the surge). And Libya remains a failed state. And Syria is finally getting put back together again after the US trained and armed and funded guerrilla fighters to make war against the government. And now Turkey is waging war against the Kurds.

And as for "but unfortunately the U.S. fucks things up for everybody," I obviously never said any such thing. But the U.S. does fuck things up for some people; perhaps you think you're job as a patriotic American is to deny that this ever happens. I prefer to live in reality.