A Lame Duck Nation on Steroids

Lame duck, indeed.
It’s not just the Tea Party that’s lame (Toby Toons)

W.J. Astore

The more the United States has come to talk about dominance, the less dominant we’ve become.

To compensate, we’ve become a steroidal nation, to include the violent side effects associated with steroid use (just look at the latest stories out of the NFL about spousal and child abuse, or our steroidal police forces, including MRAPs and M-16s for school police).  If the story of the last fifty years is the gradual decline of the U.S., most notably in the economic and political realms, the story of today is how we’ve compensated with militarized Viagra.  We’ve reached “the age of knowing” that we’ve lost much of our potency as our country.  To compensate, we’re forever popping pills and flexing our muscles.  (Just look at John McCain’s enthusiasm for bombing.)

It’s precisely those steroids that are weakening us as a country.  As we’ve overcompensated with military weapons and bases, we’ve allowed our economy to slide.  As we’ve sought domination overseas, we’ve weakened our country right here at home.  We feverishly build and repair roads in Afghanistan but not here in the USA.  Same with schools — we’d rather build prisons, to include Gitmo, than colleges (since 1984, California has built 21 prisons but only one university).

Consider our binary debates on foreign policy.  It’s the hawks versus the doves, militarized “engagement” versus isolationist “appeasers,” the implication being that the latter is wrong — that minding one’s own business is not an option in a globalized world.  But the world is not some “global village”: it’s a conglomeration of fragments.  And U.S. efforts to dominate those fragments by military means are only accelerating that fragmentation.  Just look at what our government did and is doing to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Fragmentation facilitates dominance by multinational corporations even as the U.S. military is misused and overextended.  The result is more global instability and a retreat (or a return) to ideologies that promise coherence and order.  Witness the rise of militant Islam and ISIS.  By attacking it, the U.S. is acting as an accelerant to it.

As the U.S. weakens itself as a country, as it accumulates debt by constantly fighting wars while passing the costs along to future generations, large multinational corporations grow in power.  They are today’s equivalent to the British East India Company, the Dutch East India Company, and similar entities of the past.  Combine powerful multinationals with privatized mercenary outfits and you see echoes of the seventeenth century, to include wars over religion and resources.  Three centuries ago, it was Catholics versus Protestants and wars over spices like pepper and nutmeg.  Now it’s divisions within Islam and wars over oil.

We’re witnessing the decline of Enlightenment ideals and community-based Democracy, as seen by the way in which the U.S. government routinely betrays those ideals.  Any sense of shared, community-based, obligation is tainted by “socialism,” meaning that a Darwinian capitalism based on selfish individualism is promoted instead, which only feeds the growth of multinationals competing to sell “product” to the masses.

Everything is becoming a consumable, including the most vital parts of life.  As a consumable, it can be marketed, sold, and controlled by those same multinationals.  Even education is now an ephemeral product, marketed and sold as a commodity.

Corporations think and act for short-term profit.  But democracies are supposed to think strategically, over the long term.  Now the quarterly business cycle controls all.  Look at politics: A congressman is elected and instantly starts fund raising to win his next campaign.  Obama wins a second term and is almost instantly branded a lame duck.

But it’s not Obama who is the lame duck – it’s America.  And all the militarized steroids in the world won’t cure that lameness.  Indeed, they just aggravate it.

23 thoughts on “A Lame Duck Nation on Steroids

  1. Colonel:

    I couldn’t agree with you more and I didn’t even need to read your entire piece to come to this conclusion.

    Our nation’s legislative and executive branches are now infested with “war lovers”, which is a far cry from a “war-monger”. War-mongers promote war to promote political agendas and their corresponding goals. These are very violent and aggressive people who are no less dangerous than war-lovers who promote war not for any agenda but simply for the sake of the act of destruction itself…

    Unfortunately, many US citizens are in love with war since it is an inherent part of the existence of this nation. And war is being promoted as fun and exciting to our nation’s youth through continuous exposure to violent movies and video games, which has been wreaking havoc increasingly on the sociological fabric of a nation that may have had a chance to finally wean itself off war after WWII had our nation’s leaders acted responsibly. However, with the exception of John F. Kennedy, no one did…

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    1. John F. Kennedy offered no relief from this, if a person’s actions count for more than their words. He attacked South Vietnam and conducted an extensive covert terror campaign against Cuba that went far beyond the Bay Of Pigs invasion. His good reputation in the foreign-policy arena rests entirely on romantic baby-boomer what-ifs, indulgence in all too optimistic speculation about what he might have done had he lived longer. What he did while he was alive is what matters, and it wasn’t pretty. His obsession with Cuba in particular bordered on psychosis. To call his nearly world-ending brinksmanship during the Missile Crisis “acting responsibly” is a monumental stretch. We got lucky only because Khrushchev fully realized he was dealing with maniacs even crazier than himself and his own.
      That job Kennedy held is not a job for kind people or even particularly sane ones, and it never has been.

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      1. Thank you, Neil. I refrained from “chiding” Steve N. on his praise for JFK. He was certainly a committed “Cold Warrior.” “Rumor” has it one of his mistresses was a go-between on behalf of the Giancana Family. Since The Mob was very displeased to lose their gambling/dope/prostitution operations in Cuba, this could certainly explain an obsession with regime change down there.

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      2. JFK deserves credit for reining in the military during the Cuban Missile Crisis. By going with a naval quarantine or blockade instead of bombing or an invasion, he may have averted WWIII. But Kennedy could be reckless, and not only in his personal life with its sexual excesses. There’s little that suggests Kennedy wouldn’t have escalated in Vietnam, just as LBJ did. Forces were at work to compel any president, JFK or LBJ or even Nixon, to fight that war in the name of containing communism.

        JFK was a product of the system, just as Obama is today. Certain forces are at work, driven in part by domestic politics, but also by external actors as well as cultural forces, that in a sense compel mediocre presidents to pursue militarized solutions. It would take a man (or woman) of iron will to resist these forces, and neither JFK nor Obama fits that description.

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      3. Wrong. Do some research and reading. Start with James W. Douglass, “JFK And The Unspeakable”. Kennedy was killed because he was bucking the Military Industrial-Intelligence Complex. As Truman said, there’s nothing new, only the history you don’t know. 50, 000 plus dead in Vietnam. Iraq Wars I, II and now III. The Afghanistan “surge” of 2010 which served to kill another 1000 or so Americans — for nothing. Same Old Shit, Different Decade. JFK was the LAST President to defy the MIIC. All subsequent Presidents learned the lesson.

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      4. I believe you are all wrong.

        By the time JFK was assassinated, there were approximately 16,000 US advisers in South Vietnam. I do not recall any “invasion” during his short time in office. He did however, use air strikes against the Ho Chi Min “highway” that was supplying the North Vietnamese supporters in the south.

        “When Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963, there were 16,000 US military advisers in Vietnam. The number of troops grew to more than 500,000, and the war raged for another decade.”

        See… http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2005/06/06/papers_reveal_jfk_efforts_on_vietnam/?page=full

        In addition, it has already been well documented that JFK had plans to begin withdrawing troops from Vietnam at the time of his assassination, and probably was one of the major factors for his death. He had plans to have been completely out of Vietnam by 1967.

        In fact, it was LBJ that immediately expanded the role of US Forces in Vietnam by increasing actual combat troops in place of advisers.

        Vietnam was a complete product of the French involvement there in the 1950s. Eisenhower inherited the conflict as the French gave it up. Eisenhower did nothing to stem the tide of US involvement there. JFK inherited it from Eisenhower who did on fact do more than he should have but hardly engaged in gross expansion of the conflict. And nor did he start the war; anyone who says otherwise has no knowledge of the history.

        Kennedy was not perfect and yes he did come into office as a product of the system and a supporter of Cold War policies. However, the Cuban Missile Crises changed him considerably and how would it not? He was dealing with possibility that life as he knew it on this planet could be extinguished. Such a traumatic situation would change anybody.

        This change led JFK towards pacifism which is noted by his subsequent embrace of African Nationalist leaders as those countries began to strive for complete self-determination.

        The comments that were made in reply to my post have been well documented in recent years to be categorically wrong or at the very least incorrect interpretations of JFK’s involvement in the South Vietnam conflict.

        I suggest that those who question my responses here read Gareth Porter’s, “Perils of Dominance”, which is considered a definitive study of JFK and his history with Vietnam.

        Colonel Astore… I am surprised at you…

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      5. Steve: It’s impossible to say what JFK would have done. My supposition is based on what did happen in 1964-65. I don’t see JFK acting that much differently from LBJ. Johnson also was not enthusiastic about escalation in Vietnam. When you listen to his private (and recorded) telephone calls, you get a clear sense that LBJ didn’t want to escalate — that he believed the war was unsound and that South Vietnam was pretty much a lost cause. But he escalated regardless. There were so many pressures for him to do so: Republican posturing, the policy of containment, the tendency to see communism as monolithic, promises from the military that the war was quickly winnable (where have we hard that before?), and so on. So LBJ took the plunge and it destroyed his presidency.

        Would JFK have resisted the urge to escalate in 1964-65 as South Vietnam began to collapse? Again, we’ll never know, but I don’t think his actions would have been much different from LBJ’s.

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      6. Colonel:

        It has already been documented that JFK did not want to escalate the conflict but in fact withdraw the troops.

        I believe there is even order that stipulates as such that was drafted right before his assassination.

        After the Cuban Missile Crises, JFK was a changed man. Who wouldn’t be?

        I don’t believe you can assume that just because he entered the White House under certain predispositions that such predispositions would not change with his ongoing experiences.

        Documentation has already shown that JFK at the time he was assassinated had no inclination to escalate the conflict in Vietnam. Why would you think that he would?

        Yes, at first LBJ was very hesitant to expand the conflict when he first became president. However, LBJ was a complete political animal and that too has been well documented. He did things out expediency and to further his own agendas. As a result, it wasn’t to long after he entered the presidency that he began to ratchet up the war. Once in the conflict and even later when his own advisers were telling him to get out of it he continued to pursue it…

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      7. Hi Steve: Again, I think we’ll never know for sure. since JFK was assassinated before he faced the decision that LBJ made. I will say that LBJ kept many of JFK’s advisers, the so-called best and brightest. And JFK’s enthusiasm for “Flexible Response” and Special Forces suggests — just suggests — he would have continued to use them in an attempt to stabilize South Vietnam.

        Given the prevailing Domino Theory and the political tenor of the U.S. back then, could any president have risked being seen as having “lost” South Vietnam to the Communists? Would JFK have allowed South Vietnam to collapse in 1964-65? Can we see him going on TV to explain to the American people that a wider war in Vietnam was both unwinnable and unwise? We’ll never know, but my guess is “no.”

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  2. Yes, something peculiar is afoot when an apparently generally decent individual like Barack Obama ascends to the presidency and is converted to an expander of the wars he previously had criticized and becomes best buds with SEAL Team 6, those brave killers of an unarmed chap in Pakistan. But Obama’s not on steroids–his wife still has bigger muscles than he, and in a quite eye-pleasing form for this observer. But if endlessly escalating war is the price we pay for a photogenic First Lady, I’d much prefer Margaret Hamilton made up as the Wicked Witch of Oz fame. No, it’s not steroids. The problem with Obama is the Pentagon ate his brain and he’s been reduced to Zombie-in-Chief. Either that or (to continue a cinematic theme) a double of the POTUS was grown in a pod planted in the famous Rose Garden and switched out with the “real” Obama. The replacement has no soul; he can’t relate to the suffering of the innocents who will be killed or maimed in the bombing raids he authorizes against the New Bogey Man (“Islamic State”). Wow, if I don’t leave this particular theme right now I might convince myself of this Ultimate Conspiracy Theory! Should it prove true some day, I guess we’ll have to call it “Podgate”!

    In the 2008 presidential campaign I was delighted to watch the Republican Party shred its chances for success via a contest of who’s more Looney-Tunes. Yes, I voted for Obama that year because I could not stomach the notion of a continuation of Cheney/Bush by another name. Oh, cruel irony! Gitmo still hasn’t been closed, US troop strength in Iraq is being boosted, the US mission in Afghanistan is allegedly being wound down but who knows? Looking ahead (if you have the stomach for it) we see names like bible-thumper Mike Huckabee already maneuvering to be a GOP candidate in 2016, along with the younger crowd of Tea Party-friendly wannabes. This will make Romney appear a “sensible” candidate, but he’ll have nothing to offer but more Trickle-down Economics. The GOP primaries will once again be a contest of who’s farther to the right than whom and who will be tougher against “radical Islam.” What perturbs me most, though, is that the real economy (as opposed to the fantasy recovery touted from on high) is so lame that the GOP may very well recapture the White House. Though I contend that Obama is proof that there’s no longer a “lesser evil” to elect, I still can’t help feeling queasy about such a prospect.

    The decline of the United States of America is a one-way street. “The System” is so hopelessly corrupted and so out of the control of the citizenry, so in the hands of corporate greed, that only a genuine cataclysm could shake the nation out of this catatonia. Time to hope and pray for a cataclysm?

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  3. O Ye of too much faith in the decency of man. Brutish ambition rules in the heart of most who chose the golden ring of political life. Epictetus said ” No man knowingly does evil”. Liberal thinkers always find it very hard to understand that the inherent brutishness of ambition leads all tyrants to cloak their deeds in “doing good for their people”. Hitler went to his death feeling that he had cleansed Germany of the Jews for the good of his people. A biographer of Kennedy said of him that he lied through ‘candor’. Judge people by what they DO, not by what they say. Obama’s ‘decency’ is an assumption not a fact. Democracy will survive with skepticism of its rulers not excuses for their acts.

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    1. Well put. Judge them by their acts. But Obama is certainly no tyrant. Not even close. Just a mediocre president who is operating within the system as it stands. Why he has done so is still unclear and awaits future judgment by historians. Was he misguided? Too tepid and weak? Was “hope” and “change” really just a facade, and Obama much more establishment-oriented than his supporters ever believed? Was he threatened or intimidated by a Washington system that would eat up true reformers? Was it all of these, and more? What say you, traven?

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      1. So it is not “tyrannical” to send pilotless aircraft, controlled from hundreds if not thousands of miles away to drop bombs that kill women children and occasionally a feckless ‘somebody’ we don’t like? How is this different than Waffen SS
        German troops murdering women and children because they suspected that some Partisans came from that village? And who indeed ordered a many fold increase in those drone attacks all over the world. Is that just some poor “schmuck” who is “mediocre”. but not tyrannical? Let’ us not give excuses for our leadership’s tyranny because we are all ‘nice’ Americans. It is easy to blame “the system” but it is time we bell the cat.

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  4. I recommend two related articles which bear on this topic of perceived powerlessness — whether of presidents or national populations. The first: Obama, the slide back into Iraq, and the power of the deep state, by Andrew O’Hehir, normally the film critic for Salon.com. The second: Anatomy of the Deep State, by Mike Lofgren of Moyers and Company (February 21, 2014). Without trying to recapitulate the content of both essays, which have wide-ranging implications, I would just like to quote the final footnote to Mr Lofgren’s essay:

    “Obama’s abrupt about-face [on bombing Syria for the alleged use of chemical weapons] suggests he may have been skeptical of military intervention in Syria all along, but only dropped that policy once Congress and Putin gave him the running room to do so. In 2009, he went ahead with the Afghanistan “surge” partly because General Petraeus’ public relations campaign and back-channel lobbying on the Hill for implementation of his pet military strategy pre-empted other options. These incidents raise the disturbing question of how much the democratically elected president — or any president — sets the policy of the national security state and how much the policy is set for him by the professional operatives of that state who engineer faits accomplis that force his hand.”

    Regarding this disturbing question, President Obama has recently made several speeches in which he swears that the United States will not get sucked back into another needless and pointless military misadventure in Iraq, a prospect abhorrent to the nation and which he metaphorically labels “boots on the ground.” Yet two of his generals — Dempsey and Odierno — have publicly contradicted him, as have his Secretary of War, Chuck Hagel, and his Vice President, Joe Biden. It certainly does appear that the “professional operatives” of the Deep State have started engineering their “accomplished facts” which their erstwhile — but apparently lame duck — Commander in Brief will have “no choice” but to ratify.

    Two-and-a-half more years of this perceived presidential powerlessness — while the professional deep state goes on loudly and publicly accomplishing its self-interested “facts” — seems a rather appalling prospect, not to say a pathetic one for our current Commander In Brief. What this says about the nation that permits it to continue, I cannot find the words to express.

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    1. Allow me to shed some Marxist light on all this: The role of POTUS is to serve as a kind of CEO for the ruling class. The ruling class typically has different factions and they may not agree fully on specific tactics for maintaining dominance (in the case of USA, a declared god-given exceptionalism and even flat-out mandate to dominate the entire world–talk about hubris!). This clash of factions explains the demise of JFK, as alluded to by Mel Gibson’s protagonist in Richard Donner’s movie “Conspiracy Theory.” (Yes, heaven help us all, I have introduced Mel Gibson into discussion on TCP!) Who was Jimmy Carter before he ascended to the Oval Office? A peanut farmer from Georgia and former Naval officer on nuclear subs…but also a member of the Trilateral Commission, we’re told! Oh, how the right wing still howls for his blood!! Amazing level of hatred.

      Who was Barack Obama before becoming POTUS? A “community organizer” in Chicago, we were told, and a Constitutional Law professor who became a US Senator. I first heard his name during the 2004 campaign when he was a much-ballyhooed keynote speaker at the Dem Convention that year. I did not watch his speech; I can no longer stomach either party’s conventions. But someone had vetted him, as we say, and put him on the fast track to high national office(s). That someone, per Marxist analysis, must have been a leading faction in the ruling class. How on Earth was an African American going to get elected otherwise, without the king-making machine getting behind him? (Sorry, America, you haven’t persuaded me that you’re now “color blind.”) And now Obama has to pay back the machine by dancing to the tunes it calls, muddled and self-contradicting (cacophonous?) though the music may be at times, like debate over what approach to take to attacking “The Islamic State.”

      Keeping in this Marxist vein, I now reply to “b. traven”: I know you have been around longer than I, exposing you to more of humans behaving badly than I have experienced. Venal and repulsive though humans so often can be–and politicians and our self-selected leaders especially so!–if we cease believing that things CAN be made better in the world, what is left to us but nihilism? Individuals have gone to their deaths at the barricades, and will continue to do so I believe, with some faith that we ARE capable of better conduct. Should we mock or pity these? Shall we light candles or continue to curse the darkness? How about we get off our butts and try to make a better world for all? I will be doing that September 21 in New York City, as one of many thousands demanding action on global climate chaos. Therefore my additional comments on this thread will be delayed. The rest of you will survive, I predict.

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      1. Speaking of the corrupt and venal Deep State on Viagra, I truly enjoyed the epigram with which Mike Lofgren began his essay:

        “Rome lived upon its principal till ruin stared it in the face. Industry is the only true source of wealth, and there was no industry in Rome. By day the Ostia road was crowded with carts and muleteers, carrying to the great city the silks and spices of the East, the marble of Asia Minor, the timber of the Atlas, the grain of Africa and Egypt; and the carts brought out nothing but loads of dung. That was their return cargo.

        The Martyrdom of Man by Winwood Reade (1871)”

        I would say that “loads of dung” aptly describes the output of the American Deep State only with the added proviso that this enormous pile of manure tends to explode periodically in the face of the actor/puppets who make it to the top of the greasy pole where they begin to consider themselves “powerful.”

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  5. Steve.. Those 16,000 troops that Kennedy inserted into a country based on the phony theory of the “domino effect” i.e. If Vietnam fell to Communism all of Asia would, were young draftees put in the way of harm for no good reason. Sixteen thousand troops is a major investment of military resources. Not minor at all.
    Kennedy saw to it that a Catholic was made President of this foreign country who were mainly Buddhists. His learning curve on peace was pretty flat. If we are to win back our democracy we must take a much more critical view of our “leaders”.

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    1. JFK had advisers in Vietnam, not combat troops. His only major aggressive operations were through the use of the Air Force.

      And we are not going to win back any democracy by having a more critical view of our leaders because the United States has never been a true democracy but instead an oligarchy which was given a very nice democratic veneer.

      You want to create democracy in the US then I would recommend that you first study its history in-depth. You cannot return to something that never existed…

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      1. Steve.. I can’t disagree with your assessment of our democracy too much but I will say that what we had of it, if you were white and Christian was still the best that was around. Then, following WW II under FDR and the old Democratic Party it got much better. There was hope. Slowly the doors opened for Blacks, Jews, and other infidels. One could even get a job and for those of us who served in the war a top education and help to own a home were a government subsidy. Not too bad.

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      2. Steve … the U.S. military in South Vietnam went through two periods of deploying “advisers” to South Vietnam: the first during the initial build-up of U.S. ground forces during the Kennedy administration, and the second during the withdrawal of U.S. ground forces during the Nixon administration. I served in the latter deployment, from July of 1970 to January 1972. In both deployments, U.S. “advisers” — note the cautionary scare quotes — went on combat operations with their South Vietnamese counterparts, frequently assumed direct command of them, and often took casualties as a result.

        As a matter of fact, the political and military officials of the U.S. Government — but I repeat myself — use the word “advisers” as a euphemism for U.S. combat personnel who do their “advising” first-hand in combat situations. The euphemism of “advisers” has the sole purpose of deceiving the American people as to just how deeply U.S. forces have become entrapped in their own ticket-punching, careerist crusades. The same bureaucratic imperative holds true for the failed U.S. military intervention in the Chinese Civil War of 1945-49 as well as the Vietnamese Wars of Independence (1945-75) as well as the currently disastrous U.S. military interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, etc., etc. The U.S. military only “advises” and “trains” indigenous foreign military forces in how to depend upon American “advisers” and their recourse to vast sums of money and profligate use of “air-power” as a substitute for casualty prone “boots on the ground.” In truth, the U.S. military has nothing but contempt for the foreign forces it “advises” and as soon as the “advice” and “training” fail, which doesn’t take long, the U.S. military brass demands that American units move in to replace the unmotivated local foreigners. And the local foreigners, as historian Barbara Tuchman wrote about the U.S. supplied and advised peasant conscript Nationalist Chinese Army, have only one response: namely, “to make dependence pay.”

        As for President John F. Kennedy, he appointed so many right-wing Republicans to his administration that loyal Democrats began to wonder who had won the election of 1960. Scared shit-less by the rabid, red-baiting Republicans, he and his brother Bobby tried to prove themselves even “tougher” by co-opting the Republicans’ bellicose anti-communism. JFK positively adored special forces like the Green Berets and thought that he had found in them a cheap, romantic way to defeat the Red Menace without fully committing the regular Armed Forces whom he had come to distrust after the Bay of Pigs fiasco. But once JFK let the genie out of the bottle with special forces “advisers” who quickly started getting themselves killed in embarrassing numbers, the other military services demanded to “play a role” and the Lunatic Leviathan, as I like to call it, quickly overwhelmed Kennedy’s ability to control it. His untimely death in 1963 probably saved his reputation and left his two immediate successors, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, to reap, if not to furiously fan, the whirlwind that he had sown.

        I’ve done some of this so-called “advising,” and I advise against it.

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      3. Just back from a very long day marching in NYC to demand “our leaders” actually do something about global climate chaos, I’ll try to be concise about the ongoing discussion of JFK re: Vietnam. (And Steve, sorry, I know it looks like we’re picking on you.) A radio colleague of mine, now deceased, George Michael Evica, was one of the deepest researchers of the JFK assassination “investigation” fiasco. (His prime book on the subject, AND WE ARE ALL MORTAL, is probably still available via e-Bay or used/rare book dealers.) He poked innumerable holes in the Warren Commission’s findings, important work, but I have no doubt his motivation was that he worshipped that president. He (Evica) made these same claims, i.e. that JFK wanted to withdraw US forces, was leaning toward semi-decriminalization of illicit drugs, and other proposed reforms. There may be numerous books available advancing these arguments–and I confess I have NOT read them–but it just doesn’t ring as plausible for me. Kennedy didn’t simply admire the Green Berets, he ordered their creation. Some more reminders for everybody on this thread: I believe it was right after the Cuban Missile Crisis that JFK was overheard to say “The military are mad” (NOT in the sense of being merely angry, you understand). Doubtless the Joint Chiefs did not take kindly to that, but that doesn’t prove the rubout was done on their behalf (or not exclusively). Let us also recall that just a few weeks before that infamous event in Dallas, Mr. Diem, thrust into the “presidency” of the US-occupied part of Vietnam by the Pentagon/State Dept. two-headed monster, was removed from same by method of bullets. Without JFK’s advance approval? I believe that’s the contention of the Kennedy-worshippers. “Coming events cast their foreshadows.” And Malcolm X was excoriated for his very cogent observation that on Nov. 22, 1963 “the chickens came home to roost.” Foreign policy melded firmly with domestic. As part of this that I consider JFK mythology, I have heard this claim that he had issued some kind of plan to get US forces out of Vietnam by 1967. That may be perfectly historically accurate, but a.) it reflected a belief that the fearsome Green Berets and their ilk would demolish the guerillas; and b.) as suggested in another post here, such a plan could easily have been rescinded under pressure from “the mad military” when it was found that Ho Chi-Minh was no pushover. True, Kennedy did not initiate US involvement in Southeast Asia (Eisenhower having aided the French in their futile effort to maintain their colonial control), but he certainly sent in the first significant allotment of troops. Sixteen thousand “advisors”? Bollocks!

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  6. Thank you Michael…
    .And Steve.. If one is “advising” a foreign force you don’t need a battalion or more of 16,000 “advisors” for that task.
    I believe 16K is almost double the size of our initial landing force at Omaha beach in WWII. As Michael says advisors die.
    At that time we had a draftee army and those young men probably were not expecting to die for their country.
    We might also add to Kennedy’s list of bellicose and destructive policies the embargo he clapped on Cuba which 50 years later is still crippling that small countries economy. And we can thank Obama for yesterday renewing that policy which only has the support of Israel and the US in the United Nations.

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