Tag Archives: Vietnam War

D-Day: No one Died For the Flag

Today is the 74th anniversary of the Normandy invasion.

On June 6, 1944 the Allied Forces landed on the beaches of Normandy.  Thousands died. None of them died for the flag. They died fighting totalitarianism. They died fighting Hitler. Eventually the Allied Forces overcame the Nazis and won the war.

My uncle died in that war. On his fourth mission bombing Germany. He was the only son of an immigrant. He was shot down on the way back to base after a bombing mission over Berlin. He died fighting against totalitarianism. He did not die for the flag.

Korea. Vietnam. Iraq. Afghanistan. Wars fought for various reasons. Some legitimate, some not. Thousands of Americans died. Some died because they believed were protecting America. Some died because they were drafted and had no choice.  Not a single one died for the flag.

When the Heel Spur Patriot tries to equate patriotism with the flag he is confusing symbols with reality.

Yes, the flag CAN represent the ideals of the USA. It CAN represent freedom, honor, fairness, justice and all those other positive values we try to aspire to.

It can also represent slavery, discrimination, lynching, voter suppression , police brutality and a number of other values we SHOULD reject.

It is in the eye of the beholder.

“Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel” wrote Samuel Johnson in 1775.

Today we have a scoundrel in the White House. A scoundrel who clothes himself in the flag of a country that he would never defend himself. A Heel Spur Patriot.

So, no matter how many times the Heel Spur Patriot tries to sing the National Anthem or God Bless America. No matter how often he respectfully places his hand over his heart and nods solemnly while the anthem plays.  No matter how he tries to equate REAL military service with jingoistic flag waving.

The fact remains. Many Americans have died in wars. Many died to fight totalitarianism. Many died to protect the right to protest. To exercise your First Amendment rights. To preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.

But no one ever died for the flag.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Constitution, flag, government, nazi, Politics, POTUS, Trump, US

Time to Do Nothing

In 1949 Mao Zedong and the communists took over China. They instituted communist policies . In response the US cut off all relations with the People’s Republic of China for many years. Mao was a dictator. Harsh. Ruthless. The US would have nothing to do with him. He was an enemy.

Then, in 1972 , Richard Nixon did what was necessary. Mao did what his subordinates did not want him to do. Nixon visited China, met with Mao and started the opening up of trade and cultural relationships. The rightwing in China and the US were outraged by this betrayal of ideals. They wanted conflict, not reproachment.

The world did not end. The US was not defeated. In fact, over time, China has become a major world player and dominant economic force. A major trading partner with the US.

In 1986 the Russian leader, Gorbachev, met with the US leader, Ronald Reagan. Gorbachev had opened up Russia and the Russian people to the possibilities of democracy. Perestroika and glasnost . Reagan, a fervent anti-communists, saw an opportunity to cooperate on arms control. Both men signed the arms reduction deal which helped defuse the 40 years of hostility and tension between the two superpowers. Both men were criticized as “weak” by hardliners at home.

While Russia has fallen back into a dictatorship, the arms deals have held. Billions that could have been wasted by both nations on military spending has been saved. Not to say that both countries still spend way too much on the military. More than either needs for its defense. It was a bold, unpopular move for Reagan and Gorbachev to make.

But Reagan took a step toward an enemy and helped change the world.

Vietnam was a communist nation. The US fought a long war before ultimately admitting defeat. The hatred of many toward the North Vietnamese (and to some extent the South Vietnamese) was overwhelming. They were ruthless. They were despicable. The hatred of Americans by the millions of Vietnamese who had family killed by the “invaders” was also overwhelming.

In 1994, almost 20 years after the US left Vietnam, Bill Clinton lifted the trade embargo. Once again US companies could do business in Vietnam. Vietnam could be brought fully into the world trading system. Trade between the two nations now has reached billions of dollars a year. Former enemies have become trading partners.

Which brings us to Kim Jung -Un. The dictator of North Korea. Yesterday Mr Kim called for talks with his neighbor, South Korea. And South Korea responded positively. Both sides see no reason for increased hostility and increased fear. The president of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, has asked the US to postpone joint military operations as a gesture of good will. He wants to open up talks with his enemy to the north.

Would it not be nice if North and South Korea opened up more and more trade relations? Would it not be nice if these two nations could tone down the rhetoric and begin more cultural and economic interactions? Hasn’t history taught us that even the most hated  enemies can, over time, become trading partners? And once nations forge strong trade partnerships they both have a stake in keeping the peace and developing economically.

Nixon taught us that. Reagan taught us that. Clinton taught us that. Have we learned?

Let us hope that the US encourages this new interaction between the 2 Koreas. Or at least does not do anything to undermine the possibility of peace. Then, 20 years from now the people of North and South Korea may be able to freely visit each other and take advantage of increased trade and wealth.

If the US just lets it happen. Sometmes just doing nothing is enough.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Clinton, Conservatives, economics, Economy, foreign aid, Foreign policy, Free Trade, government, nuclear weapons, Politics, president, Trump, United Nations, US

Bone Spurs Explained

Anyone who has ever read any of my posts knows by now that I usually don’t know what I am talking about. That is why I LOVE the interweb! Any idiot can post anything.

That said. One thing I do know about is bone spurs.  Just yesterday Senator John McCain made a veiled insult to Mr Trump about his avoidance of military service in Vietnam. He implied that folks with “bone spurs” were using that malady to avoid duty.

I confess that I refused to join the military during the Vietnam War. I opposed that particular war for moral reasons and attempted, unsuccessfully, to obtain a conscientious objector status.  I actively opposed that war and also the 2nd Iraq War. I stand by that opposition. I don’t think we should put our military at risk without a thorough assessment and public debate.

In my opinion there are some military actions that are/were necessary. North Korea cannot be allowed to expand it’s influence and South Korea and Japan must be protected. The support for Granada was necessary during the Reagan years. The US was right to form a coalition to eject Saddam Hussein from Kuwait  . The coalition to attempt to destroy the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan was a proper response to 9/11. The entire world joined us in that effort. The US support for NATO has limited the influence of Russia in Europe, which is a good thing.

But, back to “bone spurs”. As it so happens I have bone spurs. On both heels . They hurt. They can be very, very painful. Some athletes get them. And women who wear high heels. I developed them later in life. They can be caused by age or overuse of your feet.  After all, I have been walking on these feet for over 60 years. They are bound to take offense eventually. So I can empathize with the president and the millions of other Americans who suffer from this malady. But bone spurs are treatable with a wide range of techniques.

However, bone spurs are not cancer . (Which I have also survived) .They are not terribly debilitating when given a little treatment. In my case, my podiatrist took a cast of my feet and made orthotics. These inserts simply create a small “donut hole” around the heel so the bone spur does not rest on anything but cushion. No pain.

When I golf I walk between 6 and 7 miles a day. Often in the woods. No pain.When I walk the three mile loop in my rural neighborhood it is on paved roads. No pain. When I chop wood or saunter behind the snowthrower in the  the driveway or mow the lawn I walk a lot. No pain. I went to work for over 30 years and never missed a day because of “bone spurs”.  ( I did miss a lot of work, but that is another story). There is no job you cannot do with a “bone spur” in you heel, except, perhaps Heel Dancing. (Yes, there is such a thing). A simple orthotic takes care of it.

Unless the US Army incorporates heel dancing as part of basic training there is nothing that prevents someone with heel spurs from serving except for one exception. You would be disqualified from joining the elite  “Dancing 54th”. Their motto :  Stompus Enemus Ouchus. (We Stomp on the Enemy. OUCH).

So, I cannot criticize Mr. Trump for avoiding the Vietnam War, but he and his doctor should have come up with a better excuse. Looking at the current “disqualifying ” factors for joining the US Army I notice that “bone spurs” is not mentioned. However, there is a section that Mr Trump could have used.

Under Personality, Conduct and Behavior Disorders

“b. Personality, conduct, or behavior disorders where it is evident by history, interview, or psychological testing that the degree of immaturity, instability, personality inadequacy, impulsiveness, or dependency will seriously interfere with adjustment in the Army as demonstrated by repeated inability to maintain reasonable adjustment in school, with employers and fellow workers, and with other social groups

Mr. Trump, you just earned your 1-Y. I would like to see Senator McCain try to challenge that one.

 

https://www.salon.com/2017/10/23/john-mccain-calls-out-trumps-bone-spurs-excuse-to-avoid-draft/

https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/tc/bone-spur-topic-overview#2

http://www.military.com/join-armed-forces/disqualifiers-medical-conditions.html

Leave a comment

Filed under government, Politics, POTUS, president, Psychology, Trump, United States, US

Re-Fighting the Vietnam War

The US lost the war in Vietnam. The USA bombed and napalmed and bombed  some more. And lost. In the end, the US forces left and the North Vietnamese united the country.

Ever since the US lost the Vietnam War many American politicians and military men of my generation have been trying to win it. In other parts of the world. In Grenada. In Lebanon. In Libya. In Panama. In Haiti. In Bosnia.  In Kuwait. In Iraq. In Afghanistan.

The idea that a superpower like the USA could be defeated by a small Asian country like Vietnam has stuck in the craw of some in my generation for many years. They simply could not understand it. Or accept it. Many still can’t.

And they have been fighting it over and over again in other parts of the world ever since. The military solution is, in their minds, the only solution.

So now we are on the brink of a war with North Korea. Make no mistake, this is a war of choice. Like Vietnam. Like Iraq. It is a war we are being pulled toward simply because those in power want it. They want to be “tough”. And they want simple solutions. Nothing is more simple than war.

Demonizing leaders of nations before attacking them has become par for the course. Ho Chi Minh, an ally in WW2, was suddenly a devil. Noriega, our man in Panama, became evil overnight. Saddam Hussein, who the US supplied with chemical and other weapons in his war with Iran,  was discovered to be a bad guy! And so it goes.

Which brings us to North Korea. Kim Jung -un is the new Ho. The reincarnation of Saddam. In preparation for war.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think Kim is a great guy. He has his political enemies jailed or executed. He has poured vast resources into the military at the expense of other forms of development. By most accounts the North Korean people have an extremely low standard of living compared to their southern neighbors.

Kim is a big mouth, a braggart, a complete narcissist and shows signs of instability. No president of the USA could ever be accused of that! He likes to rattle the sabers.  He is certainly no one I would want to invite to dinner.

And, like Saddam and Ho and Noriega he has never attacked the USA. The only reason to attack Kim, like the attack on Iraq, is some theory of a “pre-emptive” strike. Of course, you cannot have a “pre-emptive” strike without a propaganda campaign to convince folks that war is inevitable.  Major powers using “pre-emptive” strikes are not new. Hitler attack the Poles in 1939 before the Polish cavalry could sweep through Germany. And Tojo attacked Pearl Harbor before Americans could attack Tokyo. Bush attacked Iraq before Saddam could unleash all those WMDs, which were never discovered.

The Trump administration seems intent on going to war. The American media is right there with him. Wars sell air time. Sell newspapers. Sell books. Make careers, in both the military and in journalism. So we see various editorials and proclamations about the “inevitable” conflict.

Of course war is with North Korea is not inevitable. The only outcome would be the deaths of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of North and South Koreans, Japanese and Americans.

The only other “solution” to the North Korea-USA conflict, according to “conventional wisdom”, is to close off North Korea and further isolate Kim. That has not worked and will not work . Especially since China and Russia are not about to stop supporting his regime. Has isolating Cuba led to the downfall of the Castro regime?

Only by opening up trade and cultural exchanges, bringing North Korea into the web of international affairs, will catastrophe be avoided. We have done so with characters less savory even than Kim. Stalin and Mao Zedong come to mind. Vietnam is now a trading partner. The world needs to make sure Kim has “skin in the game”, not further isolate him.

It is sad. Very sad. That a man like Dennis Rodman has shown more diplomatic skill than our current president. Rodman has gone to North Korea and tried to open up the doors of understanding. Instead of anticipating (hoping for?) war, he has tried to bring people together.

From a Newsweek article published today, Rodman, just back from North Korea  says the following:

“I’m not defending him, I’m not defending the fact that what he does as far as his country and his leadership. I think he has been passed a throne from his grandfather and his father. A lot of people say that the grandfather was worse than the father and the father is worse than the marshal today. I’ve got to hope,” he said, adding “I don’t love him. I just want to try to straighten things out for everyone to get along together, that’s it.”

“Things can happen if Donald Trump, if they sit down, have some type of mutual conversation, they don’t have to be like a friendship conversation, just a mutual conversation, saying: ‘Hi, I would love to engage in some words and politics and over the history of your country and my country and just try to start some dialogue,” Rodman said, “I think that’ll open up maybe the door just a little bit.”

What a state of affairs when Dennis Rodman seems to be the sane one in the room! When a tatooed body pierced former athlete makes more substantial diplomatic efforts that the US State Department.

But then again, Dennis was not around when the USA lost the Vietnam War. He sees no need to fight it all over again.

Leave a comment

Filed under Foreign policy, government, Politics, POTUS, president, Trump, United Nations, United States, US