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September 24, 2017


The Viet Nam War is a manual on how to invent and perpetuate quagmires. Ken Burns' Viet Nam doc clarifies apparent typos in the original manual. It's how NOT to fall into quagmire,

Ken Burns is a national treasure. If he ever dies he should be stuffed, mummified in such way as to maintain his likeness in perpetuity in an important public square. I'm sure he never owned slaves, committed genocide on Native Americans or serially harrassed women (please be true).

The depression- and rage-enducing 18 hours recapping the Viet Nam War years covered every imaginable angle. An angle that wasn't covered, but rang clear and hits the hardest, is that I might have been watching an in-depth documentary about our post-9/11 wars in Iraq and, particularly, Afghanistan. The same American exceptionalist delusions imposed on millions of people. The same ultimate understanding that there is no possible victory to be had there. Yet we're sending in thousands more Americans to have their lives lost or locked into permanent nightmare and to continue the destruction of entire countries and millions of lives. So they can be free just like us despite having no expressed interest in being just like us but simply want us to go away.

The creatures that have planned and perpetuated these wars knew all about Viet Nam. Well maybe not Trump. Most were college / combatant age back then. A bunch probably served in Viet Nam. I don't think there are more than a handful of people now who think that war was anything but criminally insane. Yet the same script is being followed.

Our military was going to be greeted by throngs of grateful Iraqis for freeing them from their repressive dictator who was on our payroll a decade earlier. Of course they never asked for our help. The post-Saddam Hussein dictator we elected for them made life so difficult for the Sunni population – including the militias that helped our troops defeat Al Quaeda in Iraq – that ISIS was welcomed as a Sunni protector. Our attempts to provide Afghanistan with infrastructure development turned into a kleptocratic mess.

That winning Viet Nam War strategy of winning hearts and minds by collaterally damaging the population has been a hugely successful recruitment tool for the enemy.

Like Viet Nam, Afghanistan offers our troops a extremely difficult alien terrain that the enemy is at home with. And faced with an alien culture and guerilla warfare with ever-shifting tribal allegiances, our troops are never sure whether they’re encountering friend or foe. Anybody that resembles the pack that killed a bunch of their best friends is never safe.

As horrifying as the reports of civilian casualties are, in my adult form I can’t honestly blame our soldiers for wrongful killing in war zones. Most of them are testosterone-over-dosed males who haven’t reached the age when the pre-frontal cortex is fully developed; that glob of brain that reins in societally regpugnant impulses. But of course, military training – for all the necessary reasons – promotes the unleashing of those impulses.

I honestly can’t say for sure that if thrown into a combat situation – something I’ve made sure to avoid – I’d not become a killing machine. No, uh uh… that’s too easy. The truth is that I’d have to, and hope to, unleash those psychopathic murder impulses if I had any hope of returning home alive and functional. That’s what war does, as Burns and crew point out. It would turn me inside out – into the opposite of the person I think I am.

The perps are the people who invent pretexts for starting wars; maintain willful ignorance of the desires, histories, languages, cultures of the those we claim to defend and those we fight; continue the warfare knowing that victory is impossible but can’t bear the stain on their page in history.

So we’re back to keeping tens of thousands of “advisers” there to Vietnamize the incompetent Afghan forces which, like the South Vietnamese, lack the passion and mission of the enemy. Because we’re backing a failed, totally corrupt government that’s no more respected by it’s citizens than by its enemies. With no possibility of victory or even a pollibility of defining a victory, we’re sending in thousands more. The stated goal: preventing another Taliban rule that hosts terrorists. As though the planet lacks governments that resent the US foreign policy paradigm. There are millions of square miles of desert and forest beyond the borders of Afghanistan to fret about. Military footware on the sand is not the answer.

The main thing missing in the present situation is an active anti-war movement. Maybe it’s because there's currently no draft. If you're in the business of waging this war, the non-draft is a brilliant strategy. Just keep shipping that backwater, working class sliver of the population back again and again. Few college students in the past 16 years have had siblings or friends coming home in boxes. The news cycle is wrapped for dear life around Trump's Twitterings so there's no coverage whatsoever on what's going in those wars unless it's about ISIS.

 Now, that’s entertainment.

— Polar Levine, News Goo Dissection, Setpember 24, 2017

© Polar Levine 2017 content should not be reproduced elsewhere without prior permission

Polar Levine

working class college dropout who loves to learn, poke his biases and waste time looking around