"The wealthy, not only by private fraud but also by common laws, do every day pluck and snatch away from the people some part of their daily living. Therefore, when I consider and weigh in my mind these commonwealths which nowadays do flourish, I perceive nothing but a certain conspiracy of rich men in procuring their own commodities under the name and authority of the commonwealth.

They invent and devise all means and crafts, first how to keep safely without fear of losing that which they have unjustly gathered together, and next how to hire and abuse the work and labor of the people for as little money and effort as possible."

Thomas More, Utopia

Friday, November 03, 2006

A Response To "Old Grey Guy"

On November 2nd at the Second City Cop blog under the post, "We Couldn't Have Said It Better", the moderator(s) fell all over themselves in praising a post by a Vietnam War veteran and retired Chicago Police officer who blogs under the "Old Grey Guy" moniker. The target of Old Grey's attack was frequent SCC Blog contributor Leftisthebest, who, like yours truly, has often been the target of abuse on that site for ( to borrow from Orwell) "thought crimes" , i.e espousing positions which flaunt conventional wisdom regarding American foreign and/or domestic policy.

Lefty had the temerity to point out that most of the desk-warriors in Congress and Bush's administration who've sent America's sons and daughters off on various imperial ventures around the globe, have never served in the armed services. And of those who did "serve", many, like The Decider, managed to land cushy state-side National Guard assignments during the Vietnam War.The focus of my response will be on this issue of the Vietnam conflict for it seemed to dominate the thread after Old Grey's diatribe.

Let's begin with the moderator's estimation of Old Grey's comments that they "couldn't have said it better". That struck me as rather odd because immediately after reading this veteran's comments, another narrative became apparent to me. It went something like this:

The people of Vietnam posed the exact same threat to America in 1961 (the year the US began its assault on South Vietnam) that the people of Iraq posed to this country in 2003--that is to say none at all. It thereby stands to reason that the US assault on Vietnam and the bordering nations of Indochina was--like the war of aggression in Iraq--unjustified and fundamentally immoral.

How about that? Sound better? Sure does to me. Furthermore, what I have just written reconciles with the historical record.

Let me first be perfectly clear. I have nothing against those who served in Vietnam. Most of those young men were draftees and, like soldiers everywhere, went where they were told to go and killed whom they were told to kill. The American servicemen in Vietnam were in many ways as much victims of our government's criminal policy as those they had been sent to slaughter. Almost.

The servicemen may have my sympathy, but I have an abiding respect for those who refused to partake in America's imperial adventure in southeast Asia. These young men understood at the time that their nation had neither the right or the competence to decide--by force of arms--how another people should organize their society. It takes moral courage to resist the State, particularly where the elite classes and their institutions have determined that acts of aggression and the war crimes that follow are in the "national interest".

It's important to recall that between 2 to 3 million Vietnamese would perish during the 21 year US assault on that country--17% of the population. An equivalent ratio of American deaths would have represented 25 million souls. More ordinance was dropped on this Third World country, than in both the European and Pacific theaters of the Second World War combined. All that because the people of this largely agrarian, peasant society, refused to submit to Western colonialism.

A Brief History

After a bloody struggle that would span a century, the Vietnamese finally broke free of their shackles following their defeat of the French Army on May 7, 1954 at Diem Bein Phu. But did America, the self-proclaimed champion of self-determination for all people, acknowledge and accept the hard-earned liberation of the Indochinese? Of course we know the answer don't we Old Grey Guy? The Eisenhower administration moved at once to undermine the 1954 Geneva Peace Accords--specifically Chapter III Articles 16 through 19. These Accords called for general elections to be held in 1956 which would re-unify the northern and southern provinces of Vietnam--at the time temporarily divided along the 17th parallel. It was clear to all that the irredeemably corrupt regime of Ngo Dinh Diem stood no chance of winning a popular election (Diem along with his cohorts had collaborated with the French colonials for decades). Likewise, it was equally clear which party had the support of the overwhelming majority of the population; the same force that resolutely resisted the French occupation for over half a century--the National Liberation Front (NLF).

Diem frankly warned Eisenhower that if he didn't assist in halting the '56 elections, then the communists (NLF) would win in a landslide, for he was completely devoid of popular support. The masses had fully embraced the domestic platform of the NLF which included a massive land reform program and a more equitable distribution of the nation's rich natural resources. It was readily apparent that, left to their own devices, the people of Vietnam would have organized a society based upon socialist principles. For the Cold Warriors of the Eisenhower administration, however, that would just never do.

Here's the part where you come in Old Grey Guy.

You were not "defending America" during your tour in Vietnam Old Grey. Was the NLF planning to row their canoes across the Pacific and launch an attack on California? How would a Third World, agrarian society without benefit of a navy or air force, invade, conquer, and occupy the most powerful nation in all of recorded human history?

No Old Grey, what you were doing was "draining the swamp". What does that mean? Well, you see it was understood by the American architects of the war (much like the French before them) that the NLF relied on massive support from the peasants in the southern provinces of Vietnam (particularly the countryside) in order to survive and conduct operations. What does one do when the overwhelming majority of the population supports the "enemy"? It was lost on no one but the American public that the southern peasants of Vietnam and the NLF were one and the same. No guerrilla movement can survive much less succeed without a powerful undercurrent of popular support.

"To kill the mosquitos one must first drain the swamp", or so the saying goes. The "mosquitos" in our example were of course the NLF, and the "swamp" were the peasants of South Vietnam--their base of support. This explains why you and your fellow soldiers concentrated all of your efforts on controlling the "swamp". Massive US exercises such as Operation Wheeler Walla (of which the My Lai massacre was but a small footnote) were designed to herd the peasants into "pacification camps"--or if we are to accept their conventional definition--concentration camps. This was the ultimately unsuccessful attempt by US planners to deny the NLF its lifeline--the people themselves. So in essence Old Grey, you were "defending" South Vietnam from its own population.

I read your words with a mixture of sadness and pity Old Grey. Sadness because it was clear that you were used by your government like toilet paper in pursuit of elite interests that never concerned you or most Americans for that matter. That sadness, however, turned to pity when I realized that you still believe, and will likely go to your grave believing, that you were defending your country.

Although it will probably make no difference, I'll state the obvious:

No!

The NLF in the South, and the NVA in the North were defending their country from foreign aggressors, of which you were one. The Vietnamese had a long history of fighting off invaders before you arrived in 1965 Old Grey. The French before us, the Japanese before them (briefly taking over from the Frogs during WWII), and the Chinese (for millennia) before them all.

Did the NLF, the only force defending the peasants of the South, launch an attack on the United States of America? Pure nonsense. Did the NLF/NVA take on all comers in defense of their sovereignty? You bet. Wouldn't we? How would you respond Old Grey, to the presence of foreign troops on American soil, "standing up" leaders of their choosing to manage our affairs. Would you turn the other cheek to the spectacle of those same troops turning our wives, daughters, and sisters into their "comfort whores" to pass the time (tell us all about Da Nang buddy). How many of your children would you bury before you took up arms against the forces of another power, whose unrequested attempts to "help" us, require that they "kill us to save us"?

I was also fascinated by your blistering attack on those you condemn as "unpatriotic" for their opposition to the war in Vietnam and now in Iraq. What makes your position so fascinating is that you are genuinely oblivious to the fact that neither of these countries posed a threat to your own. Would anyone be sympathetic to similar complaints from say, a German soldier who served his nation faithfully during the atrocities in Poland in '39 through the siege of Stalingrad in '44? Or for a Russian soldier's fulminations about the lack of support on the home front during his rampage through Afghanistan? Somehow I doubt it.

It is a testimony to the level of our society's indoctrination that a sizable portion of the American public note no sense of irony when the very people responsible for the most aggressive foreign policy in our nation's history, claim to be peacemakers.

Other Voices

I couldn't help but notice Old Grey, that you cast doubt on the accounts of Kerry and other veterans who admitted that they either witnessed or participated in war crimes during the Vietnam War. I'm curious to know what your reaction is to this series of stories on just that very subject by Deborah Nelson and Nick Turse of the Los Angeles Times. Stay safe.

15 comments:

Shadi said...

Extremely well stated Coldtype. SCC has done a fine job with the local CPD dish, but you're obviously in another league entirely in terms of considering the deeper issues/ truths involved here. Kudos to you and your blog! (maybe YOU'RE the "old grey guy" who really deserves the adulation for breaking away from the easy knee-jerk politically correct worship of the vets who kick ass and take names whenever Uncle Sam's Military-Industrial-Corporaation War Machine says "do it now!"

- idahS ;-)

fillmoreranger said...

Well said to a point. I cannot disagree with you on our nations policies now or then, however those in the military sign on to do as the president and congress order. To hold them at fault for doing the bidding of the elected officials who are the representatives of the people is wrong. Torture etc just doesn’t appear it is at the very least done in most cases with tacit approval with the knowledge that there is to be no repercussions. As seen in the Abu Ghriab when the public was outraged it was the lowly enlisted men who were punished and the officers that condoned it walked away. So that bring to question is the loyalty to your oath of enlistment reason enough to be condemned for ? As you do to old grey guy? If he felt that his actions were proper and fulfilled his oath of enlistment then he is to be held in the same esteem or higher than those that dodged the draft(including those in the current elected government) certainly it is patriotic to voice dissention to but those who hide behind it to avoid personal injury when their country calls are in many cases just cowards.
As for your references to Da Nang there is a reason it is called the world’s oldest profession and you cheapen your argument with its reference. You might as well make the same argument for the Roosevelt road hookers

Coldtype said...

A few points Fillmore. I do not condemn Old Grey at all. As I stated he and thousands of soldiers like him were also victims of the immoral Kennedy/Johnson policy regarding Vietnam.

That fact alone,however, does not absolve a soldier of responsbility for the war crimes he may have committed in theater. One of the defenses used by Nazis on trial at Nuremberg was that they had just been "following orders". That defense was (correctly) rejected on the grounds that human beings have a conscientious duty to refuse an immoral order. For example, if your supervisor gave you a direct order to shoot and kill a man who displeased him, are you duty-bound to obey such an order? Those who conscientiously objected to the US assault on Vietnam considered it a crime against humanity and refused to participate on those grounds not cowardice. It would not be "cowardice" for you to refuse the hypethetical supervisor's illegal order--it would be morally just.

The German people faced the world's condemnation after the Second World War because they passively and obediantly allowed the National Socialists to hyjack their republic and unleash destruction upon Europe as never seen before in history. Only those courageous enough to refuse to be obedient when their "patriotism" is questioned because they oppose aggression deserve to be called "heroes". There can be no doubt that many Japanese soldiers fought heroically while ravashing Manchuria. Likewise, no one questions the ferocity of the German soldiers as they annihalated all who stood before them. Are you aware, however, that scores of German and Japanese conscientious objectors faced the firing squad rather than partake in the war crimes their countrymen were being praised for. Those are heroes to me.

Democracy requires a healthy degree of skepticism on the part of the citizenry. Those whom we elect to do our bidding should operate in fear of OUR displeasure--not the other way around.

Very soon Fillmore, Americans are going to be asked by their government to support yet another attack upon a nation that poses no threat to us. That would be Iran. Where do you stand and what are you willing to risk? There are some orders that I cannot obey--no matter the risk. That's my stand.

Anonymous said...

Face it coldtype,some folks will NEVER comprehend. Just like the people who now control the GOP they will either demonize and/or dismiss anyone with views contrary to their own. Unable to campaign on the issues,they result to fear-mongering and playing to base fears and prejudices(The Harold Ford attack ad in Tennesee.) The sad thing about it is that it IS effective. Strategists like Karl Rove know this and how to manipulate the political system to his candidates advantage. They took what John Kerry said out of context and "flipped the script." They have tried to tie support for the troops to support for the war. The same people who wave the flag and say "stay the course" cut funding to VA programs that provide services to veterans nationwide. You're only valuable to Bush & co. as long as you can hold a rifle. This administration and the GOP are the ones who are disrepecting our men and woman in uniform.

leftisthebest said...

Bravo Coldie, for a great piece. Welcome back also to Shadi, whom I thought, had been scared off by the rightists.

When "Old Grey Guy," launched into his attack he mentioned me. I never condemned the soldiers who fought in the Viet Nam Conflict. I did not support Kerry's ill-timed, and very poor joke. I also think the "joke" thing is a lie, but I digress.

I simply stated at least he served, unlike almost all of the neo-cons (I hate that term by thge way).

Yet like those on the far right Old Grey has to trot out the old "liberals don't support our troops" line. Rubbish. It is an old trick to throw off people from the truth. That being Bush, Hannity, Limbaugh Cheney and all the rest of the goofs, who want to lead us into battle never served in a hot zone. They'll say, "oh I wanted to go but....." Rubbish.

leftisthebest said...

Enjoyed the look back at the Viet Nam history.

Incidentially, his full name was Ngo Dinh Diem Jean Baptiste. He and his younger brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, were assassinated just 20 days before JFK. The White House was aware of the coup by South Viet Nam generals and gave the go-ahead because the brothers were losing popularity with their people.

fillmoreranger said...

That fact alone,however, does not absolve a soldier of responsbility for the war crimes he may have committed in theater.

I must have mised the part where OG admitted to war crimes.

your analogy is faulty how about this one ?

if your supervisor orders you into a building and you go not knowing that it is an illegal search and once in the building an occupant shoots at you do you return fire?

prior to the Nuremburg trials there was never any such catagory as crimes against humanity again as now the powers that be made up laws and then applied them retroactively,and i am not saying this is right or wrong i am just stating it as a fact.

War is War. As a simple foot soldier put into it you do what is necessary to survive. You have the benefit of looking on with years of experience whereas for the most part these soldiers believed the government both then and now with the idealism of youth.

as for the C.O.'s I don't have a problem with them except for, and we all know some, that were not in it for their personal believes but to keep themselves from harm. Those are the cowards ( I include W and Cheney in this lot).

Very soon Fillmore, Americans are going to be asked by their government to support yet another attack upon a nation that poses no threat to us. That would be Iran.

I personaly believe this was the intended target from the start. The only reason for going into Iraq was to create a pincher on Iran. Unfortunatly King George failed to get the Iraq wing of the pincher,
but i will decide on my support for that decision when the evidence is given if ever. For awhile i think the american people have become two herds of sheep depending on the party to lead them with a third small herd (including myself) belong or believing neither.Americans as a whole are all going to demand much more solid proof before going into another country.

sorry it took so long to respond but i forgot to bookmark your blog the 1st time.

Coldtype said...

Glad to hear from you Fillmore.

You are correct, Old Grey never admitted to war crimes--but then who does?

I must repeat, I hold to a special level of contempt those who sent Old Grey to kill and be killed on the other side of the globe. Having said that, however, every one of us is still morally responsible for the consequences of the choices we make.

Nuremberg & Crimes Against Humanity

You are again correct with regards to Nuremberg and the charge of "crimes against humanity". That does not of course mean that merely because there had been no formal charge prior to the Second World War, that crimes against humanity were not occurring throughout human history. Western civilization owes its very existence to the crimes against humanity committed by Alexander and Ceasar. We would not be here communicating in "America" if our ancestors had not wiped out the previous inhabitants.

The point that I'm making Fillmore is that as we have progressed as a species, we have come to the stage where we at least formally acknowledge that such a thing as "crimes against humanity" exsists. For most of our history we did not. That fact alone, however, does not alter the fact that we are still in many ways quite violent and, all appearances aside, primitive. Where we can decern an opportunity for comparative advantage, we are willing to achieve it through means of astounding violence. As a fellow police officer this doesn't really come as a surprise to you I'm sure.

What's important to remenber is that the same impulse is present in our rulers--the owners of our society and the managers who serve them. These are the decision makers who powerfully influence our nation's domestic and foreign policy. It is this sector that sent Old Grey to Vietnam and sends our youth to Mesopotamia today. Not because we are threatened by the people there, but because they possess what this elite class desires. Of course the endevour is always framed in the proper soaring rhetoric with calls to "patriotism" but this is often little more than a lullaby for the cannon fodder.

You MUST think for yourself or you will be used. You are NOT obligated to do anything that you know to be immoral merely because it comes wrapped in the flag. Stay safe.

fillmoreranger said...

Wow i am amazed a discourse on a blog that does not descend into name caling.

The point that I'm making Fillmore is that as we have progressed as a species, we have come to the stage where we at least formally acknowledge that such a thing as "crimes against humanity".

I have to disagree with this statement mostly as you refer to us a species. My disagreement is becuase all you have to do is look at news reports coming from the mideast (i recommend al jezzerra's english site) and know that we as a species have not progressed.When the political establishment in Pakistan has to face and bargain with those who believe rape and gang rape are legitimate to the political process you cannot believe we as a species have progressed.As for nuremberg slavery etc I will not judge the past by todays moral standards, acceptable practices at the time taking in the context of those times should not be condemned by modernists.In this repect i am refering not to those who bore responsibility for genocide but more in the continued hunting of the lowly foot soldier who was a guard at a concentration camp etc. I have said elsewhere when you give your word, in these cases the oath of enlistment, then rightly so you should be held to fulfill that oath, part of that oath eliminates you from having a political opinion.As we often see in this world a military with a political opinion leads to a dictatorship.


sends our youth to Mesopotamia today.Of course the endevour is always framed in the proper soaring rhetoric with calls to "patriotism" but this is often little more than a lullaby for the cannon fodder.

Umm you had better take another look at who is serving in the mideast it is a large crossection of society, When I was there it was actually a lot of older reserve and national guard than regular military. We were not all young nor were we all believing the line from the top, however, what we all did believe in was that we gave our oath and we had enough belief in our personal honor that we were not going to break it, trusting in the process to employ us as the american people wanted. As I believe was the case for OGG.War by nature brings out the savagery in it's participants, and as you know from the street the switch cannot be instantly shut off, so yes savagery and excessive violence will occur is it necessarily a "war crime"? No more than being human is a crime against the planet.

As for your previous statements about invading iran i request that you keep an open mind only becuase having seen what the rabid muslims(not condemning the whole) are capable of, then there is no doubt in my mind that a nuclear armed theocratic state is a danger to us here, the bomb does not distinguish and as you state we are human. I'd rather he and his be dead than me and mine.

Coldtype said...

Hello Fillmore, I would have responded by now but things have been rather hectic lately.

You raise important issues that deserve a more detailed response than I can attempt at the moment. Keep an eye on this thread for my comments in the next day or two.

Stay safe.

Coldtype said...

Fillmore, once again I apologise for this long delay in responding or for that matter posting at all. I've changed internet providers and also had my system crash on me. Its been a long (and expensive) road back. Thanks for your patience.

I'm not sure you understood what I was getting at regarding humanity's evolvement as a species. By "evolve" I don't mean to imply that we are any less brutal a people than those who lived 500 years ago. I only mean to say that we are now at the point where we at least acknowledge that certain acts constitute a crime against humanity--not that we refrain from committing those very acts where comparative advantage can be achieved.

"...I will not judge the past by today's moral standards, acceptable practices at the time taking in the context of theose times should not be condemned by modernists"

Fillmore I have to disagree with this statement for a couple of reasons. First, we have every obligation to judge the crimes of past generations by today's moral standards (whatever they may be) or how how else would we set our moral compass? What should the present generation hold up as an example of what should not be done, of what is unjust?

Secondly, during the time these crimes were being committed (the Nazi atrocities, slavery, Caesar's destruction of the Roman republic and rape of Gaul) there were contemporary dissidents who spoke out against these policies at the price of their lives.

During the height of slavery--which served no useful purpose outside of stupendous profit margins--the most pious of church-going slave owners were violating virtually every tenent Jesus spoke of in the Gospels. In other words Fillmore, hypocracy is not a modern invention.

The Oath and Giving Your Word

On of the most important tenents of totalitarianism is the absolute insistence that all must identify with and internalize the objectives and priorities of The State--without reflection. If you'll notice, throughout history going back into antiquity whenever ruling elites, be they monarchs, warlords, or "public servants" have declared that war is "necessary" for our continued survival we are never encouraged to reflect upon the fact that the conflict in question invariably serves the interests of the these same elites--never the public.

The public is encouraged to identify with ruinously expensive war campaigns that they will foot the bill for in both blood and money, but will never realize a benefit. The campaigns of Genghis Khan served Genghis Khan not his people. Do you really believe that the Hundred Years War in Europe was in the interests of the common people who did all to fighting and dying? Yet they all swore an oath. To what exactly?

In no way was Vietnam destroyed and its population slaughtered to "defend" America. We are not in Mesopotamia to promote democracy. We are there to defend the interests of the US energy corporations and nothing more.

As I stated in my earlier post, what Nuremberg firmly established was that one's first obligation is to humanity. It is not a defense to the charge of crimes aganist humanity that you were just "following orders". Your are not obligated to obey unjust, immoral orders. Ever.

IRAN

Fillmore, I'm not sure how familiar you are with our history with Iran, but they have every reason to both fear and despise us. In 1953 the democratically elected government of Mohommed Mossadega was overthrown by a CIA inspired and supported coup which installed the Shah--an iconic mass-murderer. Mossadega made the mistake of believing that the oil wealth of Iran belonged to the people of Iran and not the US/UK energy corporations, so he nationalized the oil industry and re-directed its profits into Iranian infrastructure. Big mistake.

The Shah would see to it that billions in oil revenues would continue to be expropriated into the coffers of the US oil giants while the Iranian public lived under perhaps the most repressive regime on earth. The Iranian revolution was a direct consequence of America's 25 year support for the Shah.

Bush has already threatened Iran with "regime change", and despite the debacle in Iraq, his beastiary of madmen are determined to take them on. Make no mistake we pose a very real threat to Iran and they are doing what any nation under similar circumstances would do--making preparations to defend themselves.

Ask yourself this question: what nation has Iran invaded, occupied and destroyed in the past fifty years? In the past 10 years? The past year? None.

Name a single nation that has reaped more havoc in the Middle East than our own.

Fillmore, people will not sit and wait calmly for their throats to be cut--they will take steps to counter known threats to their security. The Bush administration is perhaps the most aggressive in US history and has formalized this stance in the 2002 NSS. It was lost on no one that of the nations Bush targeted in his "axis of evil" speech, only the weakest was attacked and destroyed. There are no plans in the works for a similar attack on North Korea. Few are suprised. More later. Stay safe.

fillmoreranger said...

There is a large difference between a state demanding your oath and one freely given. If you cannot see the difference between our current military and the Waffen SS(whose oath by the way was to Hitler not the state)then I am sorry for you. However we reside in a free elected representative society, the people spoke and endorsed this war in 2004 again, that was their chance to end it however legal illegal etc it was /is.

As for acknowledging “crimes against humanity” well there is a large difference from lip service to reality. I think that in almost any nation currently in existence there could be made a case for “crimes against humanity” It is a very broad brush with which to paint.

As for Iran and the history between us, which I am well versed in, it means nothing to me. All that matters is a nuclear armed theocratic state whose stated purpose is to wipe out nonbelievers (of which I am one). Therefore I don’t question your belief that you are willing to pay for your father’s sins with you and your families lives to atone for the past. I personally am not willing to do this, and it’s not like Germany prior to WWII where they are saying “Oh it’s only a defensive buildup “they have flat out stated they will wipe Israel off the map. While I am no friend of Israel I cannot see any real feasible peace coming from this action, or any good for me and mine.

I agree with you that Iran does have a reason to fear the US under Bush, that fear though is a direct result of their attempting to wipe out our 51s state. And yes while Iran has not directly attacked any nation it has through Hezbollah made many attacks and usually those were on civilian targets. So what is the answer? I really don’t know, but I know that regardless of the religion allowing nuclear arms into the hands of a zealot who has said he will use them is not a good idea.

So while I understand where you are coming from I cannot understand why you have already shut your mind to the possibility that war With Iran may be necessary. Personally I am open to peace or war whichever becomes necessary for me and mine to survive and progress.

Coldtype said...

Hello Fillmore. Good to hear from you again. I'll make it a point to be more prompt in my responses from now on since i'm back online.

NATIONALISM

"There is a large difference between a state demanding your oath and one freely given"

Not really Fillmore. Not when you look closely at how "freely" that oath is given. Lets take a look at the US entry into the First World War. Wilson ran on a campaign pledge to keep America out of the growing conflict in Europe, fully recognizing that the American public did not at the time support its country's involvement. George Washington had warned 120 years earlier that nothing good could come from US entanglement in foreign affairs and for the most part the public agreed.

The Wilson administration sought at once to change the game and make America a major player in world affairs. Wilson and his supporters among the business elite saw WWI as an opportunity for a place at the big table--then fully occupied by the bickering European powers.

The music had barely died down from Wilson's inauguration before he when back on his pledge to keep the country out of the war. His backers in the corporate media began a full court press on the propaganda front and overnight all things German--including German-Americans--became the despised "Other".

The German language was banned in the US. German-Americans, particularly immigrants still possessing accents, were harrassed in ways only felt by African-Americans at the time. Those on the political left such as union organizers and conscientious objectors who had the temerity to point out that the war served primarily the interests of industrialists and major financial institutions, were imprisoned and in some instances lynched during the propaganda-fueled atmosphere of hysteria against anyone "unpatriotic" enough to speak out against the "good" war.

The advertising industry as we now know it developed its technique of "manufactoring consent", i.e convincing the public to conflate wants with "needs" in purchasing things they just can't live without, during lead up to WWI. The public relations industry was born during Wilson's propaganda offensive which convinced many Americans to identify with and internalize the needs of business elites as their own, and furthermore to recognize this as true "patriotism".

You see Fillmore this is how EVERY nation-state manipulates its population into internalising the priorities of its elite class. "Nationalism" is one of those mechanisms. How freely is ones loyalty obtained in an atmosphere where ones patriotism is called into question if they object to the massive misuse of the nation's resources (war) in pursuit of the interests of private capital?

Lets return to the issue of Iran. You indicate that you are fully aware of our nation's history with that country. This is perplexing to me for if that were true, you would no doubt recognize that given this history what we owe the people of Iran are massive reparations for imposing a quarter century of tyrrany and repression upon them after undermining their democracy. This in dramatic contrast to the nuclear holocaust we now threaten them with.

Iran is guilty of defiance and little else. It refuses to go along with the desires of the US energy corporations, i.e their continued dominance of the oil resources of the region. As to Iran's "threats" against Israel, they come from a man who has not the authority to decide policy for the Iranian government. Iran poses no more of a threat to the US, or Israel for that matter, than Iraq posed in 2003 or Vietnam posed in 1965. This is why I cannot support the Team Bush agenda in the Midddle East.

These are just the broad strokes Fillmore. I'll fill in more details in my next post in this debate particularly regarding Hezbollah--what it is and what it isn't. Stay safe.

fillmoreranger said...

Just a quick response as it is Xmas eve and I still haven’t shopped. While your Wilson story is accurate and very repetitive in American history. In short repeated in all it’s wars.
It is comparing apples and oranges. An oath freely given, mine and many of my generation/ contemporaries, was not in response to a governments call there was no war no jingoistic effort etc we joined out of a sense of duty and/or to repay what we were given in freedom etc.
As for what I and mine owe Iran it is zero. I don’t owe slave reparations. I don’t owe the Hiroshima survivors. I don’t owe the American Indian tribes. And I certainly don’t owe the Iranians. The Shah betrayed them then let the Shah repay them. Oh that’s right he wasn’t an American so he can’t be held at fault. He was an American puppet so once again it’s America’s fault. Nope, sorry I owe for what I have done and will answer to my Gods for it. But just because we were able to (and not just in Iran) find a weak person to betray his people to our national betterment (cheap oil) doesn’t mean I owe them squat.
Their political system produced a weak backstabbing betrayer long before I even knew or cared about where oil came, from not my fault not my children fault. and I am certainly not going to make choices where future generations of my family are going to pay i.e allowing a nuclear armed theocratic state that desires the elimination of me. as a side note if your replace the word nationalisn with Islam you have another very accurate statement. So you see it is just human nature and there has been no evolving only lip service to it.

Coldtype said...

Hello Fillmore, I once again am forced to apologize for yet another long delay in responding to your comments. Things aren’t going well with this new internet service I’m trying out (HughesNet) which is a satellite-based system. After spending much of December off-line as they worked out the dish misalignment issues—amid other system bugs, I’m finding this “new and improved” version only marginally faster than dial-up. Comcast here I come.

The Moral Concept of Universality

Fillmore I suspect that we are bringing forth our arguments based on completely different assumptions and as a result we seem to be talking past one another. You see, I do not subscribe to the myth of American Exceptionalism which holds that our nation, unlike other nation-states, exercises its power only in pursuit of benevolent ends. There are virtual mountain ranges of evidence that suggests the precise opposite. Like every nation-state Fillmore, ours is one designed by and primarily for the powerful, not for those like you and I or most Americans for that matter.

I was first introduced to the concept of “universality” from the dissident writings of MIT professor Noam Chomsky (a link to much of his work is on my site). This simple moral concept holds that we bare responsibility for the consequences of our actions (or inaction). Furthermore, the concept of universality naturally requires that we be logically consistent in justifying our actions. Hence, if it is considered a crime for an official enemy to commit certain acts, then logic and elementary moral principles dictate that it is also a crime if we or forces with which we are allied commit the same acts. For example, how could the purveyors of elite public opinion in the US condemn the human rights abuses committed daily within the totalitarian regimes of Eastern Europe during the Cold War yet reserve nary a word in protest for far worst abuses within the US domains (i.e, South and Central America, Haiti & Dominican Republic, Indonesia, and the Philippines)?

On a related note, it is also a wasted effort (if not the height of hypocrisy) and of no benefit whatsoever for those living under tyranny (whom we hope to relieve) if we don’t direct our energies in directions that have some realistic hope of success. If our efforts are genuine then this should naturally be our only goal. For example, it makes little sense for us as American citizens to shake our fists in anger over the mistreatment of say the Chinese by their government (no doubt a fact) because we have no influence over that government and its internal decisions. Our protest would therefore be empty and of little moment for those whom we profess to defend. We cannot help them.

A far more effective use of our energies would be in applying pressure in areas where we can wield influence and effect change—our own government for example. So if it is our intention to relive the suffering of Iraqis then Washington is where we would begin. Likewise, if we wish to end the deplorable conditions under which the Palestinians live within the open sewer that is the illegally occupied West Bank and Gaza then, once again, Washington holds the key. Are you aware that the nation with the highest rate of human rights abuses in the Western Hemisphere—Colombia—also is the recipient of the largest share of US foreign (military) aid? These are people we can help Fillmore.

Let’s turn now to some of your comments.

“As far as what I and mine owe Iran it is zero” –F

Let me ask you these questions Fillmore, if it could be proven definitively that Iraq was behind the 9/11 attacks what in your estimation would the people of Iraq owe us? What did the people of Imperial Japan—who had no say in the decision—owe the United States for their Navy’s attack upon our military installation in December, 1941 on our then-colony of Hawaii? Think carefully about your response Fillmore while baring in mind the moral concept of universality.

Let’s take it a step further and reflect upon the other 9/11 Fillmore. I refer to September 11, 1973 and the US sponsored coup overthrowing the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile. The atrocities committed by General Augusto Pinochet against the Chilean masses in service to US capital far outstrips anything we suffered on September 11, 2001 relative to their population and our government bares direct responsibility for this outrage upon a people that posed no threat to us. We provided direct military, economic, and diplomatic support for the Chilean fascists in defiance of international law. How do we escape culpability? Imagine if you will, similar evidence against a foreign power committing such crimes against the US? Would their population owe us reparations? Would we be justified in launching a counterstrike?

One final note Fillmore, the exploitation Iran’s oil resources by the US energy corporations during the reign of the Shah was in no way to our country’s “betterment”. There is nothing “cheap” about oil obtained through tyranny and bloodshed. Furthermore, the US energy corporations did not share their profits with the public—-it had nothing to do with us.

Stay safe.