Comment(s) Of The Day: “The Insidious News Media Disinformation Campaign”

Soon after I designated Diego Garcia’s comment on this post a Comment of the Day, I  realized that it had to have the context of the Chris Marschner comment that Diego was responding to in order to be appreciated. So this is another rare tag team Comment of the Day on the post, “The Insidious News Media Disinformation Campaign.” I’ll have a brief comment at the end of the two COTDs.

First, Chris:

What exactly was the purpose of our involvement in Viet Nam? I know what we were told that it was to stem the rise of Communism in the world where countries in Asia would fall like dominoes if we did not intervene. If Communism will collapse upon itself because it is inherently flawed why do we need to hurry it along by killing people? You don’t win hearts and minds with coercion.

Wasn’t it learned that General Westmoreland falsified data to show we were actually winning when in fact we were mired down in a quagmire that only benefitted the military industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us about?

Maybe we were all duped. Maybe we are still being duped. Maybe we were all seen as suckers by Kennedy and Johnson. Maybe politicians and the public have been being duped for years by guys with scrambled eggs on their hats and stars on their epaulettes whose retirement plans include running Lockheed Martin or Boeing or just sitting on boards as they collect millions for a few days work because of what they know about defense contracts.

Maybe the smart parents were the ones that spirited their 19 year old’s off to Canada or paid their way to college and then on to Canada. I have no idea. However, those who served did so as patriots but even patriots can be suckered by politicians. I got suckered by Romney and McCain. I thought they were honest brokers of information until Trump forced them to expose themselves. I learned that integrity takes a back seat when someone challenges their power.

Why are we still in Afghanistan after nearly 20 years? Why is it that modern warfare lasts for generations while a poorly resourced rag tag bunch kicked the British ass in far less time? How could we defeat two enemies, forcing them to unconditionally surrender at the same time in roughly the equivalent of one presidential cycle? Could it be that the wars prior to Korea were existential imperative while today profits from equipment and expended munitions help keep the defense industries highly profitable? One has to ask, with all the budget hikes to improve the military’s readiness along with the positive changes in services for veterans, why do all these Generals have an ax to grind with the President who sees war as wasteful. Could it be that their business is war and part of their mission is to keep the public believing that these never ending wars are beneficial because it keeps them all in business. Tell me General’s Mattis and Kelly, which wars did you win to make you both experts on ending war?

If I recall correctly John Kerry told school kids to work hard and study because if they don’t they will wind up in Iraq. Maybe, just maybe Kerry and Trump have something in common. They can see when war is a gross waste of blood and treasure. They just have different ways of stating it.

Diego Garcia replied,

I have often remarked that during the Revolutionary period, I thought we were unusually blessed with some of the finest minds and leaders and the British had to endure some of the worst.

Perhaps Vietnam was a turning of the worm. Rather than asserting it was some sort of shadowy conspiracy, I think there is a simpler explanation. We didn’t win in large part because our military had stupid leaders who came up with one stupid strategy after another.

A historical lesson: In 1940 the French and British could win individual tank battles because, well, they had some better tanks than the Germans. But the German strategy and their combined arms tactics meant that they were going to prevail in the overall battle. The French, while every bit as valiant as their forefathers, were not fighting the same war as the Germans.

In Vietnam, the primary strategy appeared to be one of attrition: We will keep feeding young men into the meat-grinder and you’ll run out of them before we do. In some ways this was similar to Grant in 1864 and it worked for him, right? Well, it worked in 1864 because a)We were in an existential struggle for the survival of the nation and b)Atlanta. Without a spectacular and demonstrable victory, Lincoln might well have lost the election and then the strategy would have failed.

In a democracy such as ours, ultimately you just cannot fight a long, hard war without the support of the people (and the army). In 1864, we knew what was as stake. The soldiers being fed into that meat-grinder knew exactly what was going to happen and, for the most part, volunteered to be fed in. In WWII we all knew what was at stake.

If, in the 1960s our leadership had leveled with us and really told us what they thought we were fighting for and what they thought it would really take to win — they’d have had a lot better chance of keeping the country behind them. Certainly the army would have performed infinitely better if it had a good idea what it was fighting for and why. Of course, we would still have had to have generals who had some kind of clue how to fight and win that sort of war, but it would have been a start.

It’s me again.

Vietnam, the predominant Ethics Train Wreck of my generation, is something I’d rather not think about or talk about, but I can provide some perspective as one who was facing the draft in those years, and on a college campus where opposition to the war was virtually universal. I also had the benefit of expert commentary from my war hero, war-hating father, whom I listened to debate the Vietnam war with many astute critics, including the tenured Harvard professor of government who lived next door, and the pacifist MIT professor who was probably Dad’s closest friend who didn’t grow up with him. Here are some random points:

  • We weren’t so sure that Communism would, as Chris says, “collapse upon itself because it is inherently flawed.” Americans had been terrified of Communism since the Russian Revolution; remember, Hitler initially assumed that we would join him in fighting Stalin. It wasn’t called “The Red Scare” for nothing: people were frightened, and the news media initially aided politicians in the scare-mongering. Communism was regarded as a civilization-wrecking contagion that had to be wiped out or it would over-run civilization, and Kennedy, then Johnson, spurred by “experts,” decided that Vietnam was where a stand had to be taken. Remember, the Korean War had been successful in keeping the North from over-running the South.

It is said that every war is fought as if it was the last one, and that is especially true of Vietnam.

  • Unlike in Korea, however, where nearly the whole international community was united against the China-backed Korean surge, Communist nations had gained power and a foothold in the U.N. in the Fifties. Nikita Khrushchev was scary, banging his shoe at the U.N and threatening to “bury us.” Yet the nation was war weary, and also terrified of nuclear war, especially after the close call in Cuba in 1962. Thus Vietnam was not so much fought as a war of attrition but as a “limited war.” Indeed, the war of attrition strategy was Vietnam’s, and it worked.

Vietnam was also the equivalent of the Colonies in the Revolutionary War, with us playing the British. This was often commented upon at the time.

  • It was a limited war because we—the public and the government—were so afraid of getting into a full-on fight with Russia, China, or the two allied, that would result in nuclear war and the ending of “Dr. Strangelove.” Thus, while the U.S. could have ended the Vietnam war in a couple of months or less if it used everything at its disposal, it was wary of the consequences. What the Vietnam war was missing was a General Sherman, willing to use total war methods to end the conflict as quickly as possible and save American lives.

This drove my father, an admirer of Sherman, crazy. It also drove him crazy watching Iraq and Afghanistan later. “If you go to war, you do what’s necessary to win the war,” he kept saying. “If you are not willing, then don’t go to war.

  • That was what made the Vietnam War “immoral”: that American lives were being ended or destroyed in pursuit of a half-assed, irresolute strategy.

The Jane Fonda rationale that we were fighting a benign, blameless nation led by a patriot and mensch, Ho Chi Minh, was naive and offensive. Indeed, proponents of the war dug in in part because the arguments of the anti-war crowd were so frequently juvenile and offensive, like “Better Red Than Dead.” They were also often proto-Communists.

  • Why are we still in Afghanistan after nearly 20 years? It’s the dreaded “mission creep.” We had to attack Afghanistan because the Taliban had enabled and hidden Osama Bin Laden. Nobdoy seems to remember that President Bush gave the Taliban an ultimatum: hand Bin laden over to us, or we’re coming. There was no choice in that: no nation, especially this one, can absorb a foreign attack that kills 3000 civilians and fail to retaliate. So you go in, do as much damage as possible, declare victory and get the hell out, sending a clear message that the next time, our response will be twice as deadly.

10 thoughts on “Comment(s) Of The Day: “The Insidious News Media Disinformation Campaign”

  1. For added context, my original comment was relating to the allegation that Trump said soldiers who served in Viet Nam were suckers. If you die in battle when called upon by your nation for what you believe is a noble cause you are a patriot. However, if you have been led to believe that fight is for a noble cause because those that sent you to fight misled you for political reasons you have been suckered but still a patriot. Those who have been suckered are technically suckers. Unfortunately, we impose a negative connotation on that word. We don’t think of those who have been defrauded in disparaging terms we see them as victims of malevolent con artists. We could say that all those people that send money in the form of gift cards to help get their grandson out of jail in New York are suckers but we don’t. Asymmetric information creates the conditions necessary for being suckered. It very well may be true that many of those volunteering for the infantry from 1965 through 1973 were duped or suckered into joining.

    I believe you have captured quite accurately the thinking of that time period. There is absolutely nothing in Jack’s commentary that I would quibble about.

    However, understanding the geopolitics by the masses in the day regarding communism and the Domino Theory was based on information provided to the public by our military and political leadership. If any of that information was manipulated to assuage public opinion then it borders on fraud. Thus, choices by young men that caused them to die or be maimed in a war were not made with true informed consent.

    I am in Jack’s Dad’s camp when it comes to war. You avoid it whenever possible but when necessary you go in it to win it; and win it quickly. You give them the belief that surrender is the only option short of annihilation. If your goals include winning the hearts and minds of the people to win you are never going to win because you are imposing your ideals on another. That is not democracy in action.

  2. Thus, while the U.S. could have ended the Vietnam war in a couple of months or less if it used everything at its disposal, it was wary of the consequences. What the Vietnam war was missing was a General Sherman, willing to use total war methods to end the conflict as quickly as possible and save American lives.

    Recently Other Bill referred to my contributions as ‘contrariness’. Not so. I define myself as a Dissident Right Critical of American Conservatism. These perspectives — our perspectives I might say — are making inroads. Take for example the developing critical discourse of Tucker Carlson who, still largely mainstream I suppose, has yet put out some pieces that offer quite trenchant alternative perspectives. There is a right-leaning, or right-grounded, critique of hypocritical and extremely unethical (and profoundly immoral) perversions of America’s constitutional values such as American Conservatives are often wedded to. Jack and also Steve are profoundly wedded to these astoundingly shallow and profoundly immoral platforms, and for this reason they — those views — must be challenged. I would suggest that this is *actual patriotism*, not the false-patriotism of flag-waving and bomb-dropping without an intelligible and communicable war-aim.

    This form of ‘false-patriotism’ has enabled all the forces & powers that Chris refers to to penetrate very deeply, and also corruptly, directly into the Halls of American Power. For this reason such shallow patriotism has a side that is evil. If there are not so-called *good men* there to oppose it — if they do not have the moral and ethical rectitude to stand up for truth — then you can be sure that you will *lose your Republic*. This is the consequence of failure to stand up.

    My argument — for years now, and it is one that I receive that glorious Stoney Silence — is that *you* would gain much more benefit turning the les of examination around upon yourselves instead of pointing your figers at and jumping up and down as you condemn The Left or The Democrats. In certain senses — senses that can be named and discussed rationally — you are profoundly complicit in what has happened in America and to America.

    Yes, you could have dropped atom bombs on Vietnam. I guess it was not quite enough to have used all manner of different chemical agents to defoliate the land and make it impossible to grow food. The tactics that were used against peasant-culture in Vietnam were so obviously immoral that they cannot be described in any other way but as acts of evil, by evil-minded people. In your entire piece here Jack you did not mention the HARM DONE to the people who were the victims of your wondrous Constitutional Republic’s *liberation efforts*. Millions and millions of deaths have been attributed to that war, directly and indirectly. Yet you are silent. Why? Because what America does is by it nature good and America does not have to have concern for the effects of its actions. Because — of course — you are an *exceptional nation*. You are so exceptional that you do not have to think about the destruction wrought against others. But you howl when you suffer minimal harms. This is a sickness. And the cost of this is extreme.

    My theory is that it is this — a complex of retributions that have recoiled against America, brought about as a natural result of immoral actions — that are now coursing through the American body politic. You have become a sick people in a sick and sickening culture. This is what happens when an individual engages in evil and in immorality. He may not know or understand the consequences of his own actions, yet those consequences manifest themselves within his person, within his psychology, within his personality, and within his body. They come to the surface in one way or another. Similarly, at least it seems possible to me and is an idea I work with, a nation accrues either ‘blessings’ or ‘curses’ which rise up as I say *naturally* out of the general body-politic. I am not referring to some Divine retribution here, though such a notion must be examined and considered, but strictly in a psychological sense. The worst suffering will come to one who states that he is *special* and *especially just* when in fact he is not.

    Vietnam is a very peculiar case-study in *what went wrong* and also *how it went wrong*. Kathleen Belew in her book The War Comes Home — she makes the effort to link Rightwing extremism in America today with the disillusioned Vietnam War veteran who came back, essentially, with a damaged soul and turned his rage against The System that allowed this entire hypocrisy to develop. I have referred a few times to Louis Beam whose discourse is worth listening to (on YouTube) to understand one of the origins of a Rightwing resistance to corrupt American power.

    It is true that there was a Leftwing opposition to the Vietnam War, and both a philosophical and Christian-Catholic *Personalism-based* opposition to that war (and a great deal they understood to be dehumanizing in aspects of American culture) just as there also arose a Marxian-based and revolutionary Left-based movement. But it is also true that there developed at that time a Right-leaning and ‘conservative’ opposition to the machinations of US Power. Louis Beam, Randy Weaver and numerous others can be mentioned. These people choose to *go off the grid* because they came to see and understand the profound corruption in the US government. And this came about, significantly, because of the Vietnam War adventure.

    When the body gets sick, it heats up in fever. These social sicknesses, in my view, manifest most strongly among those who are in certain senses *weakened* or *susceptible*. Usually in the lower-strata. The sickness distorts them similarly to the distortion of a body in fever. There are ‘manifestations’ of the social sickness. There eventually is a ‘fevered crisis’. Things go to that point because that is the body’s natural way to fight off the sickness.

    Now the fact of the matter is that America is right now in the midst of just such a crisis. You will either make an effort to genuinely see it, or you will do what you-plural are very very good at: You set your will so as not to see! And you work, very hard in fact, to keep other people from developing their sight, their capacity to see. This is an evil work. But you-plural are definitely complicit in it. So have been the Republicans generally. And those who hold the reins of power in government and in industry.

    This is what “Military-Industrial Complex” connotes. This is what it means. The corruption of the Republic eventuating in the loss of the *exceptionalism* for which it stood and that brought into existence.

    The silent treatment I receive here will only make me more bold and more committed to bring out discourse that opposes HYPOCRISY. Be evil if you wish. Nuke your enemies. Destroy the very platform on which they live and grow their food. Poison their water and give them generations of cancer the result of your poison, but in the name of God do not lie to me about why you do this!

  3. Why are we still in Afghanistan after nearly 20 years? It’s the dreaded “mission creep.” We had to attack Afghanistan because the Taliban had enabled and hidden Osama Bin Laden. Nobdoy seems to remember that President Bush gave the Taliban an ultimatum: hand Bin laden over to us, or we’re coming. There was no choice in that: no nation, especially this one, can absorb a foreign attack that kills 3000 civilians and fail to retaliate. So you go in, do as much damage as possible, declare victory and get the hell out, sending a clear message that the next time, our response will be twice as deadly.

    This demonstrates in *chemically pure form* how ‘the will not to see’ operates! To me, given my studies over the last 5-6 years, this statement is simply amazing. I am amazed that people can allow themselves, there very ‘self’, to become wedded to false-narratives. To represents false-narrative as if they are representing themselves.

    The events of 9/11 are so murky, so complex, so obscured, that it requires a research project to even begin to scratch the surface. The very systems that mediate information to us must be examined. And when they are examined — from a media-studies perspective, and also one that examines ‘power-machinations’ — different and fuller narrative stories emerge.

    But when the *Patriot* is wedded to received views and what are being suggested (not only by me but by groups of responsible persons) as false and distorted views purveyed by the system itself as a form of political control — perspective control essentially — he himself dupes himself! He participates in obfuscation.

    These are very very complex issues that have to do with Managed Perception. It appears to be one of the features of the time we live in. We are forced to attempt to see, to try to assemble a more accurate view, and yet it is the obscuring system itself that inhibits this. And then, in that situation, powerless people, people with more limited capacity to organize a *true perspective*, start to invent things. And there you have *conspiracy culture*. They get deeply involved in *mystifications* which they imagine give them power — in a sense they do — but actually keep them out of a powerful perspective.

    If you cannot know the real truth, you are disempowered. But what people seem to do is to do the next best thing: invent a story that mimics true perception! Again, the reference is to Plato’s Cave And men who are bound shoulder and neck and *cannot turn around to notice the projectors*.

    My Dear Children! I am really & truly here for you! I will be your guide as you gnaw off the bonds that keep you far too fixed on your TeleScreens!

    I am praying for you! I even say the Rosary for you. 😉

  4. In the aftermath of Vietnam, we learned that we had indeed been duped. Like Jeremiah the biblical prophet. Also like Jeremiah being duped does not take away from you the desire to do good. My motivation to fight in Vietnam was renewed over and over after I entered villages and saw the devastation its people annihilated caused by the VC. Each subsequent battle was my attempt to assure “never again”. The politics were NOT part of my reasoning.
    I agree that war must be infrequent but when resorted to it must be done with all the gusto we can muster. War cannot be fought from the lounge chair of rear offices. I recently watched two accounts of Gallipoli, my point was underscored/

    • Dan, it has been my experience that policies that we have had, such as Vietnam, are rarely made by the people like us, with first-hand knowledge. Rather they are made by “Ivory Tower” types who rarely get their hands dirty..

  5. Interesting. I think there’s still more to it, though. A nation, or a cause, that has leaders that are resolute as well as smart has a huge advantage against one that has one that has neither, or only one or the other. It helps if the other side is worn out also, creating, if you will, a politico-military “perfect storm.” We didn’t win the American Revolution because of God-given rights, or because we had an idea whose time had come, or any of that other rhetoric.

    We didn’t even win because we were united, there were huge numbers of loyalists, although not enough to get even one of the 13 colonies to declare for the Crown. We won because the leadership was both determined and well-motivated. They knew that if this war went against them they would die at the end of a rope. It was do or die, no second-guessing. We won because we had military leadership, mostly Washington, but ably aided by Nathaniel Greene, Dan Morgan, and a few others (as well as some, like Gates and Arnold, who had their brilliant moments and then faded away), who understood the strengths and weaknesses both of their own forces and of the enemy’s, and knew how to best use them. Nathaniel Greene’s leading Cornwallis around by the nose didn’t win a single tactical victory, but strategically it wore down his numbers and his supplies until he retreated into Yorktown…and got caught in the fatal trap. We also had some master diplomats on our side, notably Franklin and Adams, who enabled us to put together a coalition of necessary allies (France gets most of the press, but Spain and the Dutch Republic also got involved), ultimately reminding the British that their power might have been greater than ANYONE else’s, but not greater than EVERYONE else’s.

    In the meantime the British were dealing with king who was not all there, a parliament still worried about the debt they had run up during the Seven Years’ War (of which the French and Indian War was just a part), less than wonderful military leadership (neither Gage, William Howe, nor Clinton were all that great, Cornwallis was a limited thinker, and Richard Howe committed a tactical blunder of the first water at the Capes and probably sealed the doom of Cornwallis), and an army frankly undersized for the task, which they stiffened by renting German regiments, whose officers might have gotten it, but whose rank-and-file were fighting on foreign soil for a cause they didn’t care about against one that made little difference to them. It was a perfect storm against the British that they just didn’t handle well.

    Actually one British commander DID get it, Lord Jeffrey Amherst, who disappears from American history books after a quick mention during the part about the French and Indian War. He hadn’t vanished altogether, though, he became commander in chief of the British forces. Being familiar with both the colonists and the land, he told Parliament he would need to send 75,000 soldiers to America to win this war. Parliament rebuffed the request, leading to the aforementioned German army rental and a decision to focus on the war at sea…where the playing field – or surface – was suddenly not so lopsided after the French entered the war.

    You know the rest, so that’s where I’ll stop on that part of history. American military history is not an unbroken string of victories after that, though, despite what some might like to believe. The War of 1812 was frankly one we shouldn’t have gotten involved in, and only did because of the then-young men in Congress from the rising states, John C. Calhoun, Henry Clay, David Porter, etc. called the “War Hawks.” The British had somewhat the better of the fight, since the American leadership had deteriorated since the Revolution, despite Winfield Scott’s creation of a disciplined professional force, William Henry Harrison’s smashing of the last attempt by the American Indians to form something like their own nation at the Thames, and Andrew Jackson’s victory against a British commander who didn’t understand the terrain at New Orleans. Frankly we were lucky just not to lose anything as a result. We won the war with Mexico, defeating a nation that was still frankly a mess from throwing the Spanish out, overthrowing their own would-be emperor, and dictatorial rule. We damaged ourselves pretty badly in the Civil War, which we ultimately won. We defeated the Indians, as we inevitably were going to, although we had some embarrassing setbacks like the Little Big Horn (bad tactics) and Chief Joseph Thunder-rolling-over-the-mountain’s near-escape (the weather was our ally). THEN we declared war on Spain, took what was left of their empire, and joined the World Powers club. We did fine on the field in WWI, although we lost the peace. Finally we came to the height of our military power in the victory in WWII, which the world will still be talking about long after OUR kids and grandkids are dust. Some say Korea was a draw, but is it really a draw when the other side ends up with less territory than they had when they started?

    Each time after 1814, though, we had better commanders than the other side and a strong government that the people were resolutely behind (though toward the end of Korea that started to falter). That all started to fizzle in Vietnam, though. By then most of the WW2 leadership was either dead, retired, or on the cusp of retiring, and the next generation just wasn’t on the same lever. American political leadership was probably the shakiest it ever had been or would be until Watergate, with LBJ determined to do everything his way and listen to no one, and following a hard act in the form of the martyred JFK. He was replaced by Nixon, who made it the shakiest it ever would be. Most of all, part of the American populace was just plain sick of war after 2 wars in 2 decades, and a rising part of it either wanted no part of being shipped off to the jungles or had had its head stuffed with neo-Communist garbage and hated this place. It was a perfect storm, with unpopular leadership at home, weak commanders on the ground who were held back from doing much, and a populace that was against both. It should be added that the objective of Vietnam was not simply to make a parking lot out of North Vietnam. That would have been easy. The objective was to build a democratic state in South Vietnam, which was not going to happen, the place was just too corrupt.

    Since then we spent the Soviets into the ground and won the Cold War, kicked Saddam out of Kuwait in the First Gulf War, scattered the Taliban, brought down the regime of Saddam, and helped eliminate Gaddafi. The thing is, we probably overstayed ourselves trying to build nations in both Iraq and Afghanistan, one of which was poorly conceived at the beginning, the other of which is just too much of a wreck. Eventually we defeated al-Qaeda in Iraq, but only at the expense of a lot of American soldiers being shot in the back or killed by IEDs, which led the news every night. Even so it just opened the door for ISIS, which we also beat, finally, seventeen years after this all started. The Taliban still haven’t disappeared in Afghanistan, they probably always will exist, although maybe just as a hyper-religious political party such as they have in Israel. The idea that one day Afghanistan will be a developing state with an emerging cadre of female professionals and leaders, police who actually enforce a secular legal system fairly, and soccer games on the weekends, like it was in the 1970s before the Soviets came, is a pipe dream, and I think most folks are coming to that conclusion (you could have looked to Iran to know that, still trying to follow 7th-century rules in the 21st century, but that’s water under the bridge now). What’s the point of expending lives and resources for a dream that will never materialize?

    More importantly, at this point the American leadership is hated more than any other cadre of leaders has been hated since the South seceded. What is more, quite possibly a majority of the populace has been convinced that this whole country and everything it has ever done, produced, or achieved, has been the fruit of the poisonous tree of slavery and racism. Now it’s the thing to throw down some symbols while painting the new slogan everywhere, ostentatiously refuse allegiance, and leave no one alone until they utter the new slogan or profess allegiance to this new creed. At this point ordinary people have two realistic choices: side with the old regime, which is now considered a bad thing, or embrace this new ideology. At this point who wants to stand for a bad and racist regime? Unless we wake up, there’s going to be a real problem, and time is running short.

  6. The big problem with the war on terror wasn’t what George W. Bush did at first. We needed to retaliate. To address a previously unthinkable threat, we needed to make big changes to our approach to defending the country, including those which were once considered unthinkable.

    The big problem with the War on Terror wasn’t what George W. Bush did initially, it is what he failed to do – errors of omission.

    He failed to build up the force structure of the military to handle the deployments.
    He failed to forcefully confront dishonest critics
    He failed to go all-out – maybe we should have carpet-bombed a Taliban-held city or Fallujah, instead of sending the Marines in.
    He failed to act against the treasonous “Gitmo bar” that turned our own legal system against those who WERE doing what had to be done to win the war.
    He also failed to ensure that those who fought wouldn’t become targets of lawfare.

    In addition, under Obama, we dismantled many of the necessary measures George W. Bush put in place after 9/11. Obama also took other steps that pretty much took things from an honest effort to win the war (albeit with a ton of flaws in its execution) to half-assed, do-the-bare-minimum approach in which troops like Clint Lorance and Mat Golsteyn were targeted for doing the sort of things we’d expect our troops to do to win a war, where those who stepped up to develop ways to get the information we needed to counter an unthinkable threat were betrayed. Meanwhile, those who stabbed the people who stepped up in the back preened about their righteousness in doing so.

    When people step up, they come up with a plan, are told it is legal and doesn’t cross lines, then they carry out the plan and get results, one does not allow them to be targeted in our courts by those representing the enemies they fought against.

    Obama’s mismanagement – to put it politely – has made it so that even though I still consider radical Islamic terrorism to be a serious threat, I no longer feel there is any moral authority left for the government to ask Americans to sacrifice lives to maintain anything more than a very minimal presence that is focused on training and supporting allies in Afghanistan and Iraq to try to reduce the chances of another 9/11 coming from al-Qaeda or ISIS.

    It stinks, we probably ought to be doing more, but it’s unethical to send troops to die when you’re pulling punches.

    • Bush never forcefully confronted dishonest critics on anything, same as Robert Bork just maintained a dignified silence in the face of unfair accusations. He didn’t defend Roberto Gonzales and clearly explain why certain US Attorneys were fired, while pointing out these were at-will appointees who could be hired and fired at will, just like his predecessor did with EVERYONE from his father’s administration pretty much on day one. He didn’t forcefully defend Federal efforts in New Orleans, clearly point out that the system was never set up for the Federal government to be the primary responding agency, and tell the other side to help instead of politicizing this. He also didn’t speak out strongly early on against the hordes of activists trying to turn this nation’s cities into chaos ahead of war, telling them in no uncertain terms that decisions like that were for elected officials, not mobs, to make.

  7. Jack, thank you. I’m honored to have a post so designated, especially considering the high overall quality of the commentariat here.

    Let me just make two small points regarding your remarks on the Korean and Vietnam wars — which I think are insightful.

    The early, decisive months of the Korean War ended up being fought in significant degree by World War II veterans. It was hardly fair, and asked too much, but for us to build a war winning army in those early days we just had to have veterans to flesh out the ranks — so a lot of men who had fought and won one war had to come back for a second one.

    And I believe one can make a strong argument that we did, in fact, win the Korean War we signed on for. We shattered the North Korean army and drove it out of South Korea and liberated the country. That’s a win. But — speaking of mission creep — we were so successful we decided to conquer North Korea as well. That war we arguably lost or at best was a draw. But I ask people to look at South Korea today and I have to regard the Korean War as a major success.

    Also, I think Korea was a lot more black and white than Vietnam — it was blatant, naked aggression whereas the Vietnamese had been fighting against colonialism at around the same time as Korea.

    Regarding Vietnam, I believe we can blame Johnson, in large measure, for the shattering of trust in the institution of the presidency and a lot of the ills that have come from that. He couldn’t see a good path forward in Vietnam, and he didn’t want to sacrifice his domestic programs — he wanted to leave a legacy there. So he lied to us and eventually we found out.

    We needed an Eisenhower, a Truman, a Grant, a Theodore for heaven’s sake. We got what: A Buchanan, a Pierce? Oh, perhaps not that bad but he wounded our nation.

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