a desiderative pastiche
The word experience is like a shrapnel shell, and bursts into a
George Santayana (1920, 1956)
I joined the fight because it occurred to me that many modern day
"humanists" who claim to possess a genuine concern for human
beings throughout the world are in fact quite content to allow
their fellow "global citizens" to suffer under the most hideous
state apparatuses and conditions. Their excuses used to be my
excuses. When asked why we shouldn't confront the Ba'ath party,
the Taliban, or the various other tyrannies throughout this
world, my answers would allude to vague notions of cultural
tolerance (forcing women to wear a veil and stay indoors is such
a quaint cultural tradition), the sanctity of national
sovereignty (how eager we internationalists are to throw up
borders to defend dictatorships!), or even a creeping suspicion
of America's intentions. When all else failed, I would retreat to
my fragile moral ecosystem that years of living in peace and
liberty had provided me. I would write off war because civilian
casualties were guaranteed, or temporary alliances with illiberal
forces would be made, or tank fuel was toxic for the environment.
My fellow "humanists" and I would relish [sic: revel]
content[ed]ly in our self righteous declaration of opposition
against all military campaigns against dictatorships,
congratulating one another for refusing to taint that
aforementioned fragile moral ecosystem that many still cradle
with all the revolutionary tenacity of the members of Rage
Against the Machine and Greenday. Others would point to America's
historical support of Saddam Hussein, sighting it as hypocritical
that we would now vilify him as a thug and a tyrant. Upon
explaining that we did so to ward off the fiercely Islamist Iran,
which was correctly identified as the greater threat at the time,
eyes are rolled and hypocrisy is declared. Forgetting that
America sided with Stalin to defeat Hitler, who was promptly
confronted once the Nazis were destroyed, America's initial
engagement with Saddam and other regional actors is identified as
the ultimate argument against America's moral crusade. And maybe
it is. Maybe the reality of politics makes all political action
inherently crude and immoral. Or maybe it is these adventures in
philosophical masturbation that prevent[s] people from ever
taking any kind of effective action against men like Saddam
Hussein. One thing is for certain, as disagreeable or as
confusing as my decision to enter the fray may be, consider what
peace vigils against genocide have accomplished lately. Consider
that there are 19 year old soldiers from the Midwest who have
never touched a college campus or a protest who have done more to
uphold the universal legitimacy of representative government and
individual rights by [literally] placing themselves between Iraqi
voting lines and homicidal religious fanatics. Often
times it is less about how clean your actions are and more about
how pure your intentions are. So that is why I joined
[the military mission in the Middle East]. In the time it took
for you to read this explanation, innocent people your age have
suffered under the crushing misery of tyranny. Every tool of
philosophical advancement and communication that we use to
develop our opinions about this war are denied to countless human
beings on this planet, many of whom live under the regimes that
have, in my opinion, been legitimately targeted for destruction.
Some have allowed their resentment of the president to stir
silent applause for setbacks in Iraq. Others have ironically
decried the war because it has tied up our forces and prevented
them from confronting criminal regimes in Sudan, Uganda, and
elsewhere. I simply decided that the time for candid discussions
of the oppressed was over, and I joined. In digesting this
posting, please remember that America's commitment to overthrow
Saddam Hussein and his sons existed before the current
administration, and would exist into our future children's lives
had we not acted. Please remember that the problems that plague
Iraq today were set in motion centuries ago, and were, up until
now, held back by the most cruel of cages. Don't forget that
human beings have a responsibility to one another, and that
Americans will always have a responsibility to the oppressed.
Don't overlook the obvious reasons to disagree with the war, but
don't cheapen the moral aspects either. Assisting a formerly
oppressed population in converting their torn society into a
plural[istic], democratic one is [a] dangerous and difficult
business, especially when being attacked and sabotaged from
literally every direction. So if you have anything to say to me
at the end of this reading, let it at least include "Good Luck".
2LT Mark J. Daily [ROTC Outstanding Cadet (2005),
Distinguished Military Graduate (2006); KIA in Mosul Iraq on 15
Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analyzed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.
W.H. Auden ["September 1, 1939" (1939)]
We who prayed and wept
for liberty from kings
and yoke of liberty
accept the tyranny of things
we do not need.
In plenitude too free,
we have become adept
beneath the yoke of greed.
Those who will not learn
in plenty to keep their place
must learn it by their need
when they have had their way
and the fields spurn their seed.
We have failed their grace.
Lord, I flinch and pray,
send Thy necessity.
Wendell Berry ["We Who Prayed and Wept"]
The U.S. is in the process of building the world's first 21st
century model economy. The only other countries doing this are
U.K. and Australia. The model is fast, flexible, highly
productive and unstable in that it is always fracturing and
re-fracturing. This will increase the economic gap between the
U.S. and everybody else, especially Europe and Japan. At the same
time, the military gap is increasing. Other than China, we are
the only country that is continuing to put money into their
military. Plus, we are the only military getting on-the-ground
military experience through our war in Iraq. We know which
high-tech weapons are working and which ones aren't. There is
almost no one who can take us on economically or militarily.
There has never been a superpower in this position before. On the
one hand, this makes the U.S. a magnet for bright and ambitious
people. It also makes us a target. We are becoming one of the
last holdouts of the traditional Judeo-Christian culture. There
is no better place in the world to be in business and raise
children. The U.S. is by far the best place to have an idea, form
a business and put it into the marketplace. We take it for
granted, but it isn't as available in other countries of the
world. Ultimately, it's an issue of culture. The only people who
can hurt us are ourselves, by losing our culture. If we give up
our Judeo-Christian culture, we become just like the Europeans.
The culture war is the whole ballgame. If we lose it, there isn't
another America to pull us out.
Herbert Meyer ["What in the World is Going On?" (Feb
[nb: America is ranked sixteenth internationally, behind Sweden
and Switzerland, Saudi Arabia and Syria, on per capita military
spending; and except for consumerism, does not rank in the top
ten percentile on the global index of ANYTHING, from educational
attainment to public health!/s/Ed]
Let the American youth never forget, that they possess a noble
inheritance, bought by the toils, and sufferings, and blood of
their ancestors; and capacity, if wisely improved, and faithfully
guarded, of transmitting to their latest posterity all the
substantial blessings of life, the peaceful enjoyment of liberty,
property, religion, and independence.
Joseph Story (1833)
Honor, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that
freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which
our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us.
Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure
the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are
It is the manners and spirit of a people which preserve a
republic in vigor. A degeneracy in these is a canker which soon
eats to the heart of its laws and constitution.
I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather
strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the
business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm,
and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his
principles unto death.
The belief in a God All Powerful wise and good, is so essential
to the moral order of the world and to the happiness of man, that
arguments which enforce it cannot be drawn from too many sources
nor adapted with too much solicitude to the different characters
and capacities impressed with it.
Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have
removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the
people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are
not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my
country when I reflect that God is just: that His justice cannot
sleep for ever.
Without liberty, law loses its nature and its name, and becomes
oppression. Without law, liberty also loses its nature and its
name, and becomes licentiousness.
It should be the highest ambition of every American to extend his
views beyond himself, and to bear in mind that his conduct will
not only affect himself, his country, and his immediate
posterity; but that its influence may be co-extensive with the
world, and stamp political happiness or misery on ages yet
The real purpose of those [little yellow] ribbons is to ease some
of the guilt we feel for voting to send them to war and then
making absolutely no sacrifices .... I understand the guilt. We
know we're sending recruits to do our dirty work, and we want to
seem grateful. After we've decided that we made a mistake, we
don't want to blame the soldiers who were ordered to fight. Or
even our representatives, who were deceived by false
intelligence. And certainly not ourselves, who failed to object
to a war we barely understood. But blaming the president is a
little too easy.
Joel Stein [Warriors and Wusses Los
Angeles Times (24 Jan 2006)]
Vietnam wasn't a real war – not like the
world wars that were main events that took
center stage in dramatizing our lives! It was
just a little side show on amphetamines! All
those other little skirmishes since Vietnam don't even deserve to
be dignified by the term war – they're not
even interesting enough to make a movie about them.
unknown political commentator
This is Jane Fonda. During my two week visit in the Democratic
Republic of Vietnam, I've had the opportunity to visit a great
many places and speak to a large number of people from all walks
of life – workers, peasants, students, artists and dancers,
historians, journalists, film actresses, soldiers, militia girls,
members of the women's union, writers. I visited the (Dam Xuac)
agricultural co-op, where the silk worms are also raised and
thread is made. I visited a textile factory, a kindergarten in
Hanoi. The beautiful Temple of Literature was where I saw
traditional dances and heard songs of resistance. I also saw
unforgettable ballet about the guerrillas training bees in the
south to attack enemy soldiers. The bees were danced by women,
and they did their job well. In the shadow of the Temple of
Literature I saw Vietnamese actors and actresses perform the
second act of Arthur Miller's play All My Sons, and this
was very moving to me – the fact that artists here are
translating and performing American plays while US imperialists
are bombing their country. I cherish the memory of the blushing
militia girls on the roof of their factory, encouraging one of
their sisters as she sang a song praising the blue sky of Vietnam
– these women, who are so gentle and poetic, whose voices
are so beautiful, but who, when American planes are bombing their
city, become such good fighters. I cherish the way a farmer
evacuated from Hanoi, without hesitation, offered me, an
American, their best individual bomb shelter while US bombs fell
near by. The daughter and I, in fact, shared the shelter wrapped
in each others arms, cheek against cheek. It was on the road back
from Nam Dinh, where I had witnessed the systematic destruction
of civilian targets-schools, hospitals, pagodas, the factories,
houses, and the dike system. As I left the United States two
weeks ago, Nixon was again telling the American people that he
was winding down the war, but in the rubble-strewn streets of Nam
Dinh, his words echoed with sinister [words indistinct] of a true
killer. And like the young Vietnamese woman I held in my arms
clinging to me tightly – and I pressed my cheek against
hers – I thought, this is a war against Vietnam perhaps,
but the tragedy is America's. One thing that I have learned
beyond a shadow of a doubt since I've been in this country is
that Nixon will never be able to break the spirit of these
people; he'll never be able to turn Vietnam, north and south,
into a neo-colony of the United States by bombing, by invading,
by attacking in any way. One has only to go into the countryside
and listen to the peasants describe the lives they led before the
revolution to understand why every bomb that is dropped only
strengthens their determination to resist. I've spoken to many
peasants who talked about the days when their parents had to sell
themselves to landlords as virtually [sic] slaves, when there
were very few schools and much illiteracy, inadequate medical
care, when they were not masters of their own lives. But now,
despite the bombs, despite the crimes being created – being
committed against them by Richard Nixon, these people own their
own land, build their own schools – the children learning,
literacy – illiteracy is being wiped out, there is no more
prostitution as there was during the time when this was a French
colony. In other words, the people have taken power into their
own hands, and they are controlling their own lives. And after
4,000 years of struggling against nature and foreign invaders
– and the last 25 years, prior to the revolution, of
struggling against French colonialism – I don't think that
the people of Vietnam are about to compromise in any way, shape
or form about the freedom and independence of their country, and
I think Richard Nixon would do well to read Vietnamese history,
particularly their poetry, and particularly the poetry written by
Ho Chi Minh.
Jane Fonda [22 August 1972 Radio Speech from Hanoi,
transcript (page 7671) Travel to Hostile Areas, HR 16742, 19-25
September 1972, US Congress House Committee on Internal
It amazes me that I still get letters about you [Jane Fonda] ...
what has it been since Vietnam? ... forty years? ... the anger.
"Traitor to her country." "Honoring her would be traitorous,
stupid," and so on. It goes on and on and on.
It's sad, and in a way, it's pathetic, that lo, these many years
later, these people have not made sense of the [Vietnam] War.
They're off base in terms of where the anger needs to be placed.
And I'm made a lightning rod, and the right wing has been very
assiduous in fanning the flame of the "myth of Hanoi Jane". You
know, they've spread lies on the Internet about things I
supposedly did that aren't true.
The human mind's ability to rationalize its own shortcomings into
virtues is unlimited.
Robert A. Heinlein
I departed from legality only to return to justice.
Louis Napoleon Bonaparte [1851 speech explaining coup
Though the command of superior officers be very absolute, yet no
command against the laws of nature is binding; so that a soldier,
retaining his commission, ought to refuse to execute any
barbarity, as if a soldier should be commanded to shoot a man
passing by inoffensively, upon the street, no such command would
exempt him from the punishment of murder.
inquiry commission on the Glencoe Massacre
Tolerance has been one of the virtues of western civilization.
But virtues can be carried to extremes that turn them into vices.
Toleration of intolerance is a particularly dangerous vice to
which western nations are succumbing, both within their own
countries and internationally. Double standards are being wrapped
in the mantle of morality.
Thomas Sowell [The Week's Revelations
(26 Sept 2006)]
If someone denies their behavior, like a frightened child too
afraid to admit the truth and accept the consequences of their
misconduct, then that person is either a coward or hysteric or
both. If they benefit from telling lies, like actors and
politicians, then such cowardice or hysteria is an asset. If
"good citizens", who have paid their taxes, who have sometimes
paid their dues with blood, do not believe the outrageous claims
of people shown to be duplicitous and irresponsible, then these
plaints, even when reinforced by sympathizers, are just noise,
static, interference in our commonplace lives ... that normal
routine which is so uninteresting to those lost in illusions. It
is only by the kindness of "good people" that tolerance is shown
these defectives, when true justice would warrant their utter
extermination. Good men and women have died protecting everyone's
rights and privileges, and these societal parasites have no
appreciation for our forbearance, but complain even louder that
we are not as stupid and blind as they. No, we are not like you,
nor you like us, and we thank God, while you curse our charity.
Your synthetic realm is tawdry, your revisionism is transparent,
and your persistence is annoying, so don't be surprised when we
run out of patience.
anonymous combat veteran
A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it
cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less
formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But
the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly
whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls
of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he
speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their
face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies
deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he
works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars
of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer
resist. A murderer is less to fear.
Marcus Tullius Cicero
Treason and betrayal is possible only among those who are
Thirty five years ago, after the Vietnam veterans fulfilled our
civic responsibilities at a terrible cost, the American people
allowed Congress to weasel out of their promises to our allies at
a far more terrible cost. You then relegated us, the veterans who
served and died for your freedom, to second class citizenship.
You honored the tiny minority among us like John Kerry who
attacked our honor. To assuage your guilt, you funded programs
that destroyed the resilience of many of our brothers. You kept
our point of view out of the history texts. You lionized our
peers that refused to serve. You allowed them to keep us out of
academia, the media, politics and in many areas of employment,
unless we masked or denied the truths which we had bitterly
learned. You stereotyped us in books, television, movies and the
news. You destroyed the values and the beliefs of the society in
which the tenets of our lives had been shaped. Now you do the
same to another generation, many of whom are our sons and
daughters, nephews and nieces. You write off our allies and laud
our enemies again. You honor those who despise their betters,
precisely because they fear to do what their betters do for them.
You leave the song unsung, unheard, and allow the noblest deeds
to die, suffocated. It has proven otherwise. America should
Steve Sherman [op-ed, The Wall Street
Governments don't live together ... men live together. Nobody can
get either a fair word or a fair fight from governments. But men,
between themselves, can give either one to each other without
denying manhood to each other for the transaction.
paraphrase of Forrest Carter [Asa Earl Carter]
The [American] government keeps getting us into war, so the
[peace-loving] people must keep getting us back out, and solving
the problems [made by war] directly ... people to people, not
government to government.
T. Jefferson Parker
No sensible person seeks conflict, especially with governments,
but if we don't pursue the truth, we are lost as individuals and
as a society.
Timothy Ball (2007)
We have arrived at the present unhappy situation not so much
because we challenged those with a different worldview, but
because we ceased to assert our own values and advance our world
"Peace" movements don't bring peace but war.
He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already
earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake,
since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice. This disgrace
to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at
command, senseless brutality, deplorable love-of-country stance,
how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is;
I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an
action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war
is nothing but an act of murder.
People say talk is cheap but it can be enormously costly when it
becomes just a way to forestall action while an enemy nation
builds up its military threat.
Thomas Sowell [The Week's Revelations
(26 Sept 2006)]
People with big mouths keep getting people with
big backs into war, leaving it to people with
big feet to flee while people with big
hearts finish it; and then people with big
butts tell others what people with big
shoulders did wrong. If people with big
heads can't stop wars then people with big
hands ought to shut the big mouths that
Once and for all the idea of glorious victories won by the
glorious army must be wiped out. Niether side is glorious. On
either side they're just frightened men messing their pants and
they all want the same thing – not to lie under the earth,
but to walk upon it – without crutches.
A sudden, mirthless, ugly violence is the great leveler. Men
revert to childhood, where the night is full of spooks and
ghosties, when they are reminded of death. A man whipped in a
fair fight retains stubborn remnants of pride and honor; but a
man rendered helpless without warning is much more susceptible,
tractable, even amenable. Such rapid and raw cruelty exposes his
true nature, reveals his underlying character, displays his
essential being ... a fearful thing anxious to survive. All that
is pretty and brave lies abandoned beside the bloody corpse, the
reeking offal, the nasty inexorable truth.
paraphrase of John D. MacDonald (1964)
In the entire history of the human race there is not a single
instance in which cruelty effected a genuine reformation. It can
crush, but it cannot improve. It can restrain, but, as soon as
the restraint is removed, the subject is worse than before. The
human mind is so constituted that it must be led toward the good,
and be driven only in one direction, and that is toward ruin.
John Peter Altgeld
We have been told, on leaving our native soil, that we were going
to defend the sacred rights conferred on us by so many of our
citizens settled overseas, so many years of our presence, so many
benefits brought by us to populations in need of our assistance
and our civilization. We were able to verify that all this was
true, and, because it was true, we did not hesitate to shed our
quota of blood, to sacrifice our youth and our hopes. We
regretted nothing, but whereas we over here are inspired by this
frame of mind, I am told that in Rome, factions and conspiracies
are rife, that treachery flourishes, and that many people in
their uncertainty and confusion lend a ready ear to the dire
temptations of relinquishment and vilify our action. I cannot
believe that all this is true and yet recent wars have shown how
pernicious such a state of mind could be and to where it could
lead. Make haste to reassure me, I beg you, and tell me that our
fellow citizens understand us, support us and protect us as we
ourselves are protecting the glory of the Empire. If it should be
otherwise, if we should have to leave our bleached bones on these
desert sands in vain, then beware of the anger of the legions!
Marcus Flavinius (a centurion in the 2nd Cohort of the
Augusta Legion writing to his cousin Tertulus in Rome about
But the fact that you cannot stop something does not mean that
you have to become an accomplice.
Records of old wars mean nothing to me. History is more or less
bunk. It's tradition.
Henry Ford [Chicago Tribune (25 May
The more individuals capable of watching the world theater calmly
and critically, the less danger of monumental mass stupidities
– first of all, wars.
You must know a great many unimportant things in order to know a
very few important things.
Call if you will, but who will answer you? To which of the holy
ones will you turn? Resentment kills a fool, and envy slays the
simple. I myself have seen a fool taking root, but suddenly his
house was cursed. His children are far from safety, crushed in
court without a defender. The hungry consume his harvest, taking
it even from among thorns, and the thirsty pant after his wealth.
For hardship does not spring from the soil, nor does trouble
sprout from the ground. Yet man is born to trouble as surely as
sparks fly upward.
Job 5:1-7 NIV Bible
Did you know that for everyone who dies in war there are others
who are born, and re-born? That is why veterans will never make
the peace. And why, in denying the nobility of battle, pacifists
cultivate war. To stop something so powerful, you must at least
tell the truth about it, and they don't. What I'm trying to say
is: don't feel bad about us. There is a balance to everything ...
symmetry, compensation. A soul buried in the ground rises in the
air. When you go home and make a new life, thrive in peace ...
but don't pity those of us still in war.
Mark Helprin (1977)
Being a soldier [in wartime] was like being on a team in a sport
that drew no crowds, except for the players' own parents and
If you haven't been to war then you can't have any war stories to
tell! Lying about war won't make you a warrior
any more than lying about sex makes you a lover,
or about fishing makes a fisher! ... besides,
the important part of any story is not what's
said, but what's felt.
We pay the soldiers a decent wage, take care of their families,
provide them with housing and medical care and vast social
support systems and ship obscene amenities into the war zone for
them, we support them in every possible way, and their attitude
is that we should in addition roll over and play dead, defer to
the military and the generals and let them fight their war, and
give up our rights and responsibilities to speak up because they
are above society? ... [It] is just an ugly reminder of the price
we pay for a mercenary – oops sorry, volunteer –
force that thinks it is doing the dirty work.
I say to you: that we are in a battle, and that more than half of
this battle is taking place in the battlefield of the media.
Sheikh Ayman Muhammad al-Zawahiri [an authenticated
communications intercept used as a declassified example in a
"Media as Terrain" military briefing; excerpted from a message by
Osama bin Laden's chief lieutenant sent to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi,
before Zarqawi's termination in June 2006]
The torrents of [complaints] represent the worst of polarized and
hate-filled America. [I am not] apologizing for being critical of
the military. Instead, I'm trying to make sense of the worldview
of those who have responded. For the critics, I have become the
enemy and have been demonized ... I am part of the all powerful,
self-congratulatory, far-left, Bush-bashing, fifth-column
mainstream. It isn't so much what I say ... it is more that I sit
in my safe little cubicle in front of a keyboard sipping lattes,
giving aid and comfort to the enemy while our boys and girls die.
In other words, I'm comfortable while others suffer.
Democratic politicians rarely feel they can afford the luxury of
telling the whole truth to the people. And since not telling it,
though prudent, is uncomfortable, they find it easier if they
themselves do not have to hear too often too much of the sour
truth. The men under them who report and collect the news come to
realize in their turn that it is safer to be wrong before it has
become fashionable to be right.
Walter Lippmann [p26 Essays in the Public
It might seem at first glance that the left wing of the Democrat
Party should be in the forefront to fight radical Islam. Islamic
radicals despise women's rights and gay rights. I think we all
know what they would do with Hillary Clinton or Barney Frank.
[Their] reluctance to support the war on terror ... has nothing
to do with cultural relativism or multiculturalism. It has
everything to do with domestic politics. Basically the Left hates
Bush more than it hates Bin Laden .... Consider the war in Iraq.
This war is tough going in Iraq. But it is even tougher going in
America. The war is being lost not on the streets of Baghdad but
right here in America .... There is no way that Bin Laden could
persuade America to give up on the war on terror and get out of
Iraq and the Middle East. Fortunately for Bin Laden he has a
whole political movement in the United States that is dedicated
to exactly this objective.
Dinesh D'Souza [The Enemy At Home (2007)]
Islamic organizations are carefully orchestrating lawsuits,
marches, large propaganda campaigns all across the nation.
Islamic schools and mosques are being built in record numbers
across the nation with Saudi oil money being funneled into the US
legally. Islam is on the march. The submission of the great
country of the United States to Islam has begun, just as planned.
Just as we were warned by Osama bin Laden, Islam is using
Americas own laws and freedoms to destroy us.
Randy Taylor (19 March 2007)
History is made, wars are won and lost, cultures and nations and
civilizations come and go, rise and fall, as much by blunders as
by victories. The failure of many Americans, including many of
the leading Democrats in Congress, and some Republicans, to fully
appreciate the persistent, long-term threat posed to America's
liberties and survival, and to the future of Liberal Democracies
everywhere, by an Islamic Resistance Movement that envisions a
world dominated and defined by an Islamic Caliphate of religious
totalitarianism, and which will fight any war, make any
sacrifice, suffer any hardship, and pay any price to achieve it,
may prove to be the kind of blunder upon which the fate of
America turns, and falls.
Raymond S. Kraft [Terrorism (24 Oct
[The troops here in Iraq] all told me it's time to end this war
.... [T]he soldiers also asked why it seems from here there are
no plans to end the war, just discussions of battle tactics?
I don't oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war.
Having lost in Vietnam, many Americans cannot bear the thought of
another defeat. That's why the stakeholders in the current
conflict – the president and his party, principally –
cannot bring themselves to accept the fact that the Iraq war is
Nothing is easier than to second-guess decisions made in wartime.
Anyone who has bothered to read the history of wars knows that
very few wars have been without disastrous surprises, often on
both sides. It is not that the people in charge are stupid. Too
many things are unpredictable in war, despite politicians who
demand timetables, as if running a war is like running a train.
... We have learned the hard way, notably in the Vietnam war,
that military victories are not enough. American troops scored a
big victory on the battlefield in 1968 that was presented in the
American media as a big defeat – and that began the
political unravelling of the Vietnam war. Many in the media seem
to think that they did something noble, to get us out of an
"unwinnable" war. But the war was unwinnable only because they
made it so politically. Even after American troops were withdrawn
from Vietnam, South Vietnam was able to hold off the invaders
from North Vietnam. Only after Congress cut off financial support
for South Vietnam, while the North Vietnamese continued to get
support from the Communist bloc, did South Vietnam fall. Since
then, even the Communist conquerors have admitted that they did
not win on the battlefield, but in the American media and in the
American political arena, surrounded by an atmosphere created by
a defeatist media.
Thomas Sowell ["Another Vietnam?" (16 Jan 2007)]
It is very hard for us to understand the American attitudes about
the war in my homeland – about their role and our role and
the results. Although we have sought independence for centuries,
our first encounter with America was as an oppressed people who
were offered assistance by a great and noble power, and when
things were not as quick or as easy, as simple or as satisfactory
as our allies would've preferred, they abandoned us to a worse
fate ... where thousands were exploited and murdered as refugees,
and a million innocent people were starved and tortured to death
in slave labor camps that were politely called "re-education
centers" by the ruling regime. We have lost everything that we
cherished – our ancestral homes, our families, our
livelihoods and fortunes, our culture and homeland – and
despite our greater commitment and greater losses, we are blamed
for "not trying hard enough"! Facts about the Vietnam war are
being distorted by the lies of our enemies and the myths of our
allies, and scholars are not even recording the truth, much less
refuting the misinformation. Being responsible for the loss of
our heritage is very difficult, but it's almost impossible to
endure the blame for causing America's only ever wartime defeat!
Because America does not want to accept the results of her own
mismanagement, she has blamed the victim for being victimized!
America is doing to us after the war what she did to us during
the war – finding us guilty for her sins. Nobody seems to
care about the truth anymore, but this is more than anyone should
be expected to bear.
comment in a review of an academic book about the
Vietnamese military by an unknown émigré, a former
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Wendell Berry ["The Peace of Wild Things"]
compiled by Ed Staff