I’ve watched the first three episodes of the Ken Burns/Lynn Novick series on the Vietnam War, which take us from the French colonial period beginning in the 19th century to the end of 1965 and a mushrooming U.S. military commitment. The narrative thread, it seems to me, is the notion of the war as a tragic mistake, most especially for the United States.
The series begins with a voice-over that suggests the war was begun in good faith by America, even as other American voices in the series suggest otherwise. I kept a notebook handy and jotted down the following notes and thoughts as the series progressed:
There were divisions among the Vietnamese people, but they were more or less united by one idea: resist the foreign invaders/occupiers, whether that foreign presence was French, Japanese, the French again, American, or (both earlier and later) Chinese. And there’s no doubt Ho Chi Minh would have won a democratic election, as promised at Geneva. Which is exactly why that election never came. Continue reading “The Vietnam War: A Tragic Mistake?”
Donald Trump denounced North Korea and its president Kim Jong-un as "depraved" before the United Nations Sept. 19, saying the nation "threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of life." Of course North Korea can barely feed itself, and yet has to defend itself against an onslaught of Western hostility, UN sanctions, and ongoing US/South Korean war games which are rehearsals for an invasion of the North. It tests rockets and bombs to be sure, just as the US and its allies and adversaries do all year round. It’s big business.
Trump’s claim that North Korea is threatening is preposterous since it has no deliverable nuclear weapons at all. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said last week that North Korea is no danger to the United States. In June 2016, the Institute for Science and International Security reported that Pyongyang may have between 13 and 21 warheads. The CIA, whose job it is find hostile weapons (even where they don’t exist) says Pyongyang has at most about 21. US intelligence agencies’ combined estimates are that while it may have miniaturized a nuclear warhead, North Korea has no missile that can drop them on the United States. The Federation of American Scientists is more skeptical and estimates it has "potentially produce[d] 10-20 nuclear warheads."
Defense Secretary Mattis is worried about the military budget. No, he’s not worried that spending a total of more than a trillion dollars a year on the military might bankrupt the country and thus make us more vulnerable to outside forces with ill intent. He’s worried that our very survival depends on even more money for the military and no more yearly budget “fights” on funding the military. Even though Congress gave him even more than he requested, he’s worried. But what about the policy? What is the proper US role in the world a quarter of a century after the end of the Cold War? Some “realists” are longing for the days of the Cold War, where America ruled the roost. Today in the Ron Paul Liberty Report:
President Trump’s speech yesterday at the United Nations got rave reviews from neocons like John Bolton and Elliot Abrams. The US president threatened North Korea, Venezuela, Syria, Yemen, and Iran. At the same time he claimed that the US is the one country to lead by example rather than by violating the sovereignty of others. Are the neocons on a roll as they push for more war? Have they “won” Trump?
I just got of the phone with Josep Maria Sole Sabaté, my friend and a leading Catalan historian and public intellectual. He was nothing short of breathless as he described the helicopters flying overhead stated flatly that he was in the the midst of a coup being carried out by the Spanish State.
He wanted to get in touch with me and others "out there" because he was not sure how much longer free communication would be available to him and other out in the street protesting against he Spanish central government’s arrest of members of the Catalan Autonomous government.
As of this writing at least six agencies of the Catalan Government have been the object of forced police searches and thirteen, mostly mid-level members of the Catalan government have been arrested.
The homes of two the leading architects of the incipient Catalan state, Carles Viver Pi i Sunyer and ex Spanish judge Santi Vidal, have been searched by police. The headquarters of the far-left CUP, part of the pro-vote coalition in the Catalan Parliament, has been surrounded by police.
It’s not only “the generals” that President Trump defers to when it comes to war overseas. He’s also planning to defer to Mike Pompeo and the CIA when it comes to operating killer drones in the “theaters” of military operations. Where President Obama toward the end of his term was phasing out the CIA drone program – partly because of the high civilian casualties – President Trump is seeking to ramp up the program and loosen the terms of engagement. Count on many more civilian casualties, which creates many more terrorists, which fuels the perceived need for US military action abroad, and so on…