Friday, November 27, 2009

Post No. 140: Lest We Forget Who the Real Parties in Interest Are

© 2009, the Institute for Applied Common Sense

“Mother, mother, there’s too many of you crying
Brother, brother, brother, there’s far too many of you dying
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today, hey”

“Father, father, we don’t need to escalate
War is not the answer, for only love can conquer hate
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today, hey”

-- Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, recorded June 1, 1970

The History Channel recently aired a documentary about the Woodstock Festival held on August 15 – 18, 1969, originally billed as “An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace and Music.”

The anti-war sentiment in this country concerning Vietnam was at a fever pitch.

A significant portion of the population was affected in some manner by our involvement in that “conflict.”

College campuses served as battlegrounds and stages on many levels. Whether due to the draft, the protests, the status of ROTC units, or the interrupted lives, every college student was affected in some way.

And so were their relatives, and neighbors, and church members, and co-workers, and friends….

However, on college campuses today, there is far less concern about our involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq, one way or the other. (Some would suggest that is the way it should be; like a building super, when things are going well and he is doing the dirty work, one never sees him, nor has the need to contact him - personally.)

Plus, there is little concern about having one’s education interrupted to visit a foreign land.

My, how times have changed.

Doris Kearns Goodwin is a noted presidential historian who appears regularly on TV. Earlier this week, she and her twenty-something son, Joey, spoke with Charlie Rose, about Joey’s two tours, one in Afghanistan, and one in Iraq.

Fortunately, he returned in one piece and was remarkably philosophical about the experience. As for his Mom, it was clear that she breathed one massive sigh of relief upon his return.

All of us living during WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, knew someone personally affected. Now, primarily because of our volunteer military and the use of sophisticated technological weapons, we have transitioned to a place where relatively few of us personally know someone involved, or even personally affected, for that matter.

And that may not be a good thing, no matter where one stands on the wars.

While in a grocery store recently, we observed a very sharp, well-groomed young man speaking to a customer. His name tag revealed that he was the Store Manager.

We inquired as to how long he had been with the chain, to which he responded a surprising 7 months. He laughed and explained that he had previously been with the chain for a number of years, and that he had over 15 years of retail experience.

He also mentioned that he had served in Iraq.

But he was a stranger in a grocery store with whom a random conversation was held.

And although a human being, not a parent, or a child, or a neighbor, or a church member, or a co-worker, or a personal friend of ours.

My, how things have changed. What should concern us all are the consequences associated with this change or multiple changes.

Our nation’s involvement in the Vietnam conflict profoundly influenced the worldview of millions of American college students for almost two decades.

One obvious change is in America’s view of the military. During Vietnam, returning soldiers were frequently held in contempt, as if they were responsible for the conflict. A frightening number of them found themselves on the streets.

Today, we view the returning troops as akin to heroes, having purportedly protected us from another terrorist attack on our home soil. Interestingly, very few of them, thus far, appear to have wound up on the streets – at least not yet.

That we as a society have not fully examined, with any degree of real seriousness, the long-term ramifications of placing the burden of this battle, whether justified or not, on so few shoulders and so unevenly distributed, should cause us to pause.

When things get personal, issues take on a whole different complexion and complexity. When it’s some other guy’s issue, who we really don’t know, it’s far easier for us to ….

Is there any lesson to be learned from Vietnam? Kearns Goodwin suggests there may be. If a pullout is dramatic, it may signal weakness and be perceived as a loss of the investment of the lives lost thus far. If an increase in resources and equipment is dramatic, more lives will be expended and the definition of success will become murkier.

What Kearns Goodwin regards as potentially problematic is the route taken by then President Lyndon Johnson - the intermediate approach.

Our fear is that without that personal connection, neither side will be prompted to make the real difficult decisions.

With a volunteer fighting force, it is even more important to constantly remind ourselves who the real players are.


  1. The difference between Vietnam and this war is that the expeditionary forces in Vietnam had mostly been dragooned into service. Their lives were "wasted," in many cases, against their wills. Today, although every life lost is equally wasted, thrown away to protect the investements of the plutocrats in foreign oil, it is an all-volunteer army. So they have nobody to blame but themselves.
    Btw, I am of the Vietnam generation--a Boomer. Although I was a Conscientious Objector, I knew many returning vets of that war, some of whom were among my best friends. And never did I see, and never was I told of, any survivor of that fiasco being despised, mocked, spat upon, or blamed. That is propaganda and disinformation, now morphed into Urban Legend, fostered by the forces of reaction to discredit the anti-war movement.

  2. Wow, Rodak, where were you after the Vietnam war? To say that it is propaganda that returning vets were mocked, despised and spat upon can only show that you were under a rock somewhere. I do know of some of those vets who still suffer from the trauma caused by our abuse of them by blaming them for the war. We don't like failure in this country and we are often quick to find a scapegoat. Too bad that it is also true that the scapegoat is rarely the cause of the failure. I think it is time to acknowledge the failure lies in the lack of leadership. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars are embarrasing for the lack of leadership by the Bush/Cheney administration and we will pay the price for this debacle for years to come.

  3. Rodak wrote: "Btw, I am of the Vietnam generation--a Boomer. Although I was a Conscientious Objector, I knew many returning vets of that war, some of whom were among my best friends. And never did I see, and never was I told of, any survivor of that fiasco being despised, mocked, spat upon, or blamed. That is propaganda and disinformation, now morphed into Urban Legend, fostered by the forces of reaction to discredit the anti-war movement."

    "Urban legend?" That's absolutely wild. With all due respect Rodak, although we may be willing to concede that YOU may not have seen it where you happened to be located, and you may not have been told of it personally by persons with whom YOU communicated, it is absolutely untrue, in the abstract and the concrete, that that servicemen were not subjected to this conduct. Just plain not true.

    We know from personal experience. Without getting into lots of specifics, if you were a serviceman on leave in New York City during 1969 - 1971, you would never be so stupid to wear your uniform other than was necessary to gain the military travel rate on the bus, train, or plane. And the short haircut always gave you away even when you tried to wear the platform shoes and double knit three pleated baggy pants. And you would have been a real fool to go into the Village.

    And that wasn't the only big city....

    We are also willing to concede that there was a lot of misinformation and propaganda disseminated during that period by both sides of the debate. However, servicemen did not need to make up these incidents

  4. Dan: Thank you for your less acerbic response to Rodak's comment about the treatment of service people during Vietnam. We wish that we had read your response before providing ours, which was not cloaked in our usual garments of civility.

    We suspect that it is one of those things where, "You had to be there."

  5. While I concede that there were idiots who abused and disrespected the Vietnam veterans, I also know that many of us who saw such behavior were apalled. I am a few years younger than those that served, but my peer group seemed to be more compassionate towards the men that were forced to be in a situation of futility. I would say that those who protested did so because of what the soldiers represented, not against the individual. Still, the men were forced and not everyone had the resources to be conscience objects. Many believed the rhetoric fed to the masses, that America was fighting communism that would spread like a plague. If anything good came from Vietnam, I would say it was that the nation grew out of an adolesence and realized we had a fallible government. We now know that our leaders lie and we should seek the truth.
    As to not knowing anyone in Iraq or Afghanistan - I say, look a bit harder. People touched by the war are all around us but they aren't tattooed on the forehead! As I walked through the store the other day, I overheard a conversation between two woman - one's comments related to her husband's deployment.
    Interesting, too, is the number of "volunteers" the government is turning away - - 75 percent of potential recruits are not up to standards. I say, it they are willing, make the square peg fit the round hole. After basic training, they WILL be ready!

  6. During the Vietnam war I was in Ann Arbor, a hotbed of anti-war activity, and then, beginning in 1971, I was in New York City. I was then, as now, a news addict. I was married to a dancer, had many friends in the world of the arts, and was often in the Village, on the upper Westside, and was generally in the midst of people who were against the war. I repeat that I never saw anybody abuse a returning vet, either in Ann Arbor, or in New York City. Nor do I recall constant news stories of vets being harassed either during, or after the war. I defy anybody to do a search that turns up evidence of reportage that will prove my anecdotal experience to have been anomalous.
    There were incidents of Marines and other gung-ho types acting aggressively towards pacifists and demonstrators. I don't deny that these types were called "baby-killers," etc. in response. But I never saw or heard of any returning vet who was minding his own business being abused. I personally served as a pall-bearer for my roommate's younger brother, who was killed in 'Nam right before Christmas in 1968. Several of my best friends in the Bronx neighborhood I lived in for over ten years were Vietnam vets. And I was a C.O. as I said above.
    I'm sticking to my contention that notions of widespread abuse of Vietnam vets are bogus, and invite anybody to present contemporaneous evidence from the media to prove me wrong.
    I will say that I met guys coming back from Nam on leave who were ashamed to be identified as service personal. They knew what was going on over there, after all, better than anyone over here.

  7. Thanks much for commenting Iris. You wrote: "As to not knowing anyone in Iraq or Afghanistan - I say, look a bit harder." We're not suggesting that we do not "see" them, just that we do not "know" them. If the burden were more evenly and uniformly borne by all segments and members of society, we wouldn't have to look for them. They'd be our friends, relatives, neighbors, co-workers, and in our face.

  8. And, of course, I don't for a minute deny that plenty of abuse, verbal and otherwise, was directed at the National Guard troops sent out to break up peaceful demonstations against the war in plain violation of the U.S. constitution and human decency. But draftees, returning after spending two or more years in hell being abused? Didn't happen.


    Go ahead: just google "spitting on vietnam vets" and see what you come up with.

  10. The other thing, of course, is that the whole notion of spitting on Vietnam vets defies common sense.
    Imagine little skinny, pacifist, hippie me walking up to a Vietnam combat vet and spitting on him and surviving to tell about it.
    If protesters had been spitting on vets, what you would have had in the news is lots of stories about prostesters being stomped into a red paste by enraged veterans. Get real.

  11. rodak saw what he wanted to see, heard what he wanted to hear, and believed (and still believes) what he wished to believe. He supports his belief though the propaganda of a group who call themselves Vietnam Vets Against War. A strongly biased group who engaged in the demonizing of returning vets. Why? Perhaps feelings of guilt or because they felt alienated by society and wanted to "fit in" with the common mood of society. I saw many like this during my time in the service. Yes, during those early Vietnam days. I felt the exclusion, the ridicule, the open hostility that was, indeed, rampant in those days. You met with either pity or hatred but only family (and not always all of them) offered support or sympathy.

    It was amazing how many CO's existed in the days of the draft and Vietnam. Where did they all go?

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  13. Show me the contemporaneous articles about veterna abuse, Douglas; prove me wrong with facts. Don't waste everybody's time with ad hominem attacks.
    Where did all the C.O.s go? Nowhere. Here I am--in your face with the truth--just like I was forty years ago.

  14. Typical hippie crap - people who actually served say that they were personally treated a certain way and this guy calls them liars, and demands that they produce news media coverage as proof. Nothing more needs to be said.

  15. "More?" You haven't said anything yet, you nameless wonder.

  16. rodak, I made no ad hominem attack. The COs went away. They left with the draft. Oh sure, a few remained. Those that were truly conscientious objectors and not simply looking for a way not to be drafted are still around. But they aren't angry and confrontational. They, the real ones, never got in anyone's face. And the only truth they had, the only truth that mattered, was their own. Most of the CO's of the 60s weren't opposed to war, just that war. Because that war was one in which they might have to participate, one in which they might have to slog around in a jungle and get shot at. Once that danger went away, they put away the peace signs, packed up the tie-dyed T-shirts, slipped on the polyester suit and learned to boogie at the disco. But some also just were politicized and radicalized. They shifted their focus from the war to politics in general. Always on the Left, it seemed, conveniently forgetting Kennedy's and Johnson's initial escalation of the Vietnam War. I never saw them protest Russia's invasion of Afghanistan, how odd. Or China's forced annexation of Tibet. Or Cuba's expeditions in support of Angola's Marxist regime.

    I'm not saying that was what you were (or are), rodak, for all I know you were/are a True Believer and are really opposed to war in any form or for any reason. That you protested any war anywhere, not just ones your own country got involved in.

    But you do seem to express a lot of anger for a man of peace.

  17. rodak saw what he wanted to see, heard what he wanted to hear, and believed (and still believes) what he wished to believe.

    That, Douglas, is an ad hominem attack.

    I must say, also, that you have a very distorted idea of what it took to become a Conscientious Objector. Believe me, it was not just a matter of making a declaration. For instance, I got my classification on my second, and final, appeal. One needed to display a very convincing level of sincerity--including the intention to go to prison, rather than to serve--in order to become a C.O. Now, if you were using the term "draft dodger," rather than "C.O." I would have no argument with what you're saying. Maybe you don't realize that "Conscientious Objector" is an official Selective Service classification, and not just a subjective self-designation?

  18. As for a man of peace displaying anger, if you ever read the Bible, you might note that Jesus displayed anger on more than one occasion. There is no contradiction in a man of peace displaying anger. Violence, yes; anger, no.

  19. Finally, Douglas, a couple of days now after my challenge, neither you, nor anybody else who shares your opinion about returning Vietnam vets being spit upon, etc., has bothered (or been able) to provide any evidence for the validity of your position.
    I, on the other hand, provided you with a link to an article which showed that the question has been researched, and that books, or sections of books, have been written on it which support my contentions.
    Typically, you merely attacked the source, rather than the substance of the argument.
    That link I provided was merely the first hit of God knows how many others that came up when I googled "spitting on Vietnam vets."
    The point is, Douglas, that you don't argue--you present no case--you merely react in attack mode. And what you say has no demonstrated basis in reality; it is simply what you've been led to believe by parties with an ideological axe to grind against the peace movements, historical and contemporary.

  20. Rodak, let's make sure that we understand what your challenge is. You originally wrote:

    "And never did I see, and never was I told of, any survivor of that fiasco being despised, mocked, spat upon, or blamed. That is propaganda and disinformation, now morphed into Urban Legend, fostered by the forces of reaction to discredit the anti-war movement."

    "...despised, mocked, spat upon, or blamed...."
    Would you like to limit your challenge to spitting alone, or any conduct which might be covered by the other three characterizations?

  21. rodak, you do not know what an ad hominem attack is if you think what I wrote was one. We "all "see what [we] want to see, hear what [we] want to hear, bellieve what [we] want to believe." Some of us realize it, some of us do not.

    Read Bob Greene's book Homecoming for research into spitting (and other) incidents. Or you could accept what I wrote about what I saw and what I experienced. I don't expect you to but I offer it.

    You offered me a link to what I consider an unreliable source. You should have looked for something that challenged your pre-conceived idea. In other words, you shouldn't have stopped when you found something that fit "what [you] wished to believe".

    You didn't serve, you have no idea what returning soldiers, sailors, and airmen felt or experienced. You chose your side and nothing I, or anyone else, will say will change your mind.

    I once said I know who you are, what you are. That I was once like you. I wasn't, not nearly as committed as you seem to have been (and still are). I just fooled myself into believing it for awhile.

    I knew a few true CO's. They were medics. The CO's who got that SS classification and avoided service were, for the most part, as I described them. The SS boards got pretty loose with that particular classification. Like I said, you may have been a True C.O. I don't know, I didn't know you personally back then.

    Did you protest against the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 1980? Did you protest the war between Iraq and Iran? Or just Reagan's involvement? Did you protest China's takeover of Tibet?

    How about answering those questions? I notice you did not in your replies. I think you should ask yourself those questions.

    I think you were quite selective in your protests. I think you still are.

    I also think I hit a nerve. That might explain the number of replies and the level of hostility in them. And why you thought my remark was an ad hominem attack. It wasn't, it was just a statement on human behavior.

  22. I agree that military members are not to blame for policy, but they ARE complicit. They decided to participate. In fact, all Americans are complicit for allowing their government to carry out these wars in OUR names, as Americans, using our tax dollars, with little to no complaint. If you agree with what is happening, fine. If you don't, what are you going to do about it?

    Given that you mention contempt toward U.S. soldiers, the broader Anti-American hatred that U.S. military actions are inspiring in Iraq and Afghanistan will also have long-lasting effects. Through poor strategy, civilian deaths, torture of detainees, etc. human rights abuses, and little to show for it, the U.S. is adding fire to the same Anti-American causes and ideologies it hoped to counter through the war.

    I think this quote from Afghan anthropologist M. Jamil Hanifi summarizes the attitude especially well:

    "These bloody flash points in the physical and cultural cleansing project of the United States and its criminal partners in Afghanistan become permanent open wounds in the memory fields of the people of Afghanistan. Every instance of a massacre opens up a fresh bottomless well of hatred, contempt, and disrespect for everything that is Western, especially American. Anyone familiar with the cultural make-up of Muslim Afghanistan will know that the Afghans will offer badal (revenge) at the first available opportunity.

    The minute the Afghan army and national police are given grenades, they will toss them at Americans—soldiers and civilians. A fully equipped Afghan army will first unload on American targets. That is why the Afghan police and army, now being “trained” by NATO, will be never trusted with anything more than a Kalashnikov. The imperial, dark-minded American killing machine is doomed to always watch its back in Afghanistan. Always! Americans will never trust Afghans. Afghans will never trust Americans. For the sake of helpless, defenseless, and poor sub-industrial Afghanistan, we hope the imperial beast is able to process this stark prospect which is the direct political and cultural outcome of its reckless interference in the affairs of South Asia and the Middle East over the past sixty years."


  23. Some of us realize it, some of us do not.

    Speak for yourself. I'm awake. It is you, btw, who apparently don't understand what "ad hominem" means. Look it up. Even if your response to what I quoted wasn't meant as an "attack," it was still an ad hominem response, since you directed it at me personally, rather than on the substance of what I had said. And later you implied that anything said by any Vietnam Veteran Against the War was automatically a lie. Same thing.

    Like I said, you may have been a True C.O. I don't know, I didn't know you personally back then.

    Now you're calling me a liar. Rock on.

    What I'm asking you to produce is even one contemporaneous news report of wide-spread abuse of returning vets. I'm not saying that there may not have been an isolated incident, here and there. I'm not saying that the fact that I don't personally know of any, although I knew quite a large number of Vietnam vets, some of them extremely well, and lived in either Ann Arbor or New York City (where such things would be likely to occur if they were happening) during the entire war, proves that there were none. I'm saying is that I don't believe that it was widespread. And you haven't shown me one shred of evidence that it was.
    The individual in the anti-war movement had contempt for the war; we had contempt for the politicians who engineered the war; we had contempt for the "domino theory" upon which the war was founded (Vietnam's version of the "Weapons of Mass Destruction" meme); but we did not have contempt for the G.I.s, the vast majority of whom were draftees and were seen as victims themselves. As for Vietnam veterans against the war; you will note that there was no comparable organization after WWII. How you have the gall to heap your contempt on men who had the courage to admit that they were wrong to have served an evil cause and came home resolved to work against it, is astounding. So far as I know, you were on neither side of this issue, but just hunkered down somewhere hooting at the participants from a warm, dry place--as you are doing now. You have no dog in this hunt, cuz.

    Inspector: I meant it as I wrote it. And I reaffirm it here and now.

    Stacie: you also are awake. Brava!

  24. Staci Gilmore: Welcome to our forum, and pls accept our thanks you for your very well-articulated comment.

    You raised a number of salient issues. The one which struck us most was the issue of complicity through volunteerism. Hmmm.

    Any soldier is expected to follow orders even if he or she disagrees with the order. We suspect that some of the older soldiers did not expect to end up in Iraq or Afghanistan, but that the more recent volunteers did.

    Very interesting issue which you raised about volunteering when one KNOWS the policy ahead of time.

    Do visit often.

  25. Rodak, with all due respect, you have substantially changed the tenor of the exchange by restricting the issue to the lack of "widespread" contempt for the returning vets, a quantification of which might be difficult to perform because of its subjectivity and intangibility.

    Be that as it may, we do not have an argument with you as your issue is currently framed.

  26. Inspector--
    It would seem that if returning Vietnam vets were being routinely subjected to any kind of harassment, at any time during the conduct of that war, it would have been widely reported in the press. If it was widely reported in the press, it should be quite easy to find such citations online. That would establish quantification quite adequately.
    My first comment on this topic thread implied that I was talking about "widespread" abuse; my second specified it:

    "I'm sticking to my contention that notions of widespread abuse of Vietnam vets are bogus, and invite anybody to present contemporaneous evidence from the media to prove me wrong."

    The invitation stands.

  27. We suspect that some of the older soldiers did not expect to end up in Iraq or Afghanistan

    That's an interesting notion. Then you are implying that these older, peace-time, soldiers were just using the military as a kind of "jobs program,"--to procure for themselves on-the-job training and/or future benefits--and that the notion of "service" is, in actuality, more about "self-service" than it is about putting one's life on the line to protect those abstractions (liberty, freedom, etc.) which the recruitment commercials urge inviduals to enlist in order to protect?
    Those folks got a rude surprise, then, eh?
    As for the other set--the ones who signed up because they wanted to fight (of which group Pat Tillman has become the patron saint)--they must take full personal responsibility for whatever they do, and for whatever happens to them: they chose it.
    Soldiers are under orders. Soldiers are, nonetheless, moral beings with free will; soldiers should never follow orders that they know, in their hearts, to be immoral. The winning side hangs the captives of the losing side for having followed such orders.

  28. rodak, thank you for illustrating two things:

    1. an ad hominem attack (by attacking me)
    2. the ability to confuse "infer" with "imply" (you inferred my intent, I implied nothing)

    I addressed your challenge with my own experiences in my initial response. You refused to accept it. (Thereby, in a similar perception to your own, calling me a "liar")

    I really don't care what you think, rodak, you are incredibly unimportant to me. You do annoy me, however, with your arrogance. People like you are now running the country and I think that is a very bad thing.

    Have a nice, though perhaps bitter, life.

  29. He supports his belief though the propaganda of a group who call themselves Vietnam Vets Against War. A strongly biased group who engaged in the demonizing of returning vets.

    The IMPLICATION there, Douglas, is that any Vietnam Vet Against the War is a liar, who is spreading false propaganda, based on his "bias." Whether one calls it an implication, or an inference, one ends up at the same place: you are again attempting to refute a stated position by attacking the source, rather than the substance of the argument.

  30. Unfortunately, although try to examine at least 27 ways of looking at any issue, the issue which we consider to be the most important one (with long range ramifications) was not fully fleshed out, that being the "volunteer military."

    That we have a certain segment of society ready and willing to fight certain battles "on our behalf," and others not, is just a real fascinating issue in our minds. Is this truly "American?"

  31. I'm not sure that I understand the question. It seems quite normal and acceptable to me that the largest segment of the population has no interest in killing and dying to protect American corporate investments around the world. Most people aren't that stupid.
    What is wrong, to my way of thinking, is being a "chicken hawk" (like Dick Cheney, for example.)
    If one is going to beat the war drums, one should be willing to go fight in the war that one is promoting.

  32. Following President Obama's speech on Afghanistan last evening, it appears that 30,000 of our military volunteers will be deployed.

    We'd be curious whether any of our readers would be willing to personally volunteer to serve in Afghanistan in a combat position, assuming that you could meet the age and physical requirements?

  33. My recollection as a protestor of the US war in Vietnam was the role of vets and military personnel as one of many vanguards in the anti-war movement. At the time, I was unaware of any public revulsion of vets, but I have since been aware, through connections to the medical community, of abandonment at all levels of the US government, including the VA, of vets since the US war in Korea. There are veterans who served in Iraq living on the streets of the US right now.
    I believe your tweet link may have come about as the result of my opposition to the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and their continued funding both of military and contractors. Furthermore, I did protest US funding of the mujahideen and the Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan as well as imperialist incursions into sovereign countries in the Americas.
    I think most US residents do oppose these wars and believed candidate Obama would act to stop them. We are all paying the war's price in the demise of our economy, and many understand these links.
    It is easy to romanticize the opposition to the Vietnam war: there were actually fewer folks on the streets then than the millions who opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2002 and 2003. The war powers have developed new strategies to stifle dissent, including using contractors instead of the draft. Or, as in a local case, Ft. Lewis sent spies to the anti port militarization groups blocking Stryker materiel shipments through publicly funded "commercial" ports of Olympia, Tacoma, and Greys Harbor. Now the US is sending 10,000 troops to Haiti: for an invasion? The anti-war sentiment in the US may appear to need galvanizing and leadership: I believe resistance needs not merely push-back, but creativity, flexibility, persistence and activism FOR peace. Thanks for your thinking on this subject.

  34. Following President Obama's speech on Afghanistan last evening, it appears that 30,000 of our military volunteers will be deployed.

    We'd be curious whether any of our readers would be willing to personally volunteer to serve in Afghanistan in a combat position, assuming that you could meet the age and physical requirements?

  35. The History Channel is currently airing a series, "Vietnam in HD." Although all of the Fellows of the Institute served in the military during the Vietnam Era Conflict, we are continually amazed about how little we knew and appreciated at the time. Check out the comments of our readers above, and compare them to the comments of our soldiers about who they were and what they endured, both in Vietnam and here at home.

  36. Check out Lisa Ling and Ken Burns, the documentary film maker, on MSNBC right now, discuss a documentary about Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome in our soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

  37. Without leaving troops or bases behind from which to project our power in the future, one could easily perceive that the lives lost in Iraq and Afghanistan will have been for less than if we stayed in some capacity. We still have troops in over 70 countries world wide, including those we defeated in WWII, which is a much more realistic and practical end game. Vietnam and Korea were examples of limited warfare, where our full commitment to victory was not in play for political reasons. The same is unfortunately true for the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Without a full commitment to victory how are we supposed to build trusting relationships along side those with whom we fight, and those we fight for?

  38. Thanks much Montgomery for taking the time to visit our forum and leaving a comment which provides food for thought. You focused on the issue raised by Kearns Goodwin, which is a complicated one.We are 51% in agreement with what we perceive to be your position. We don't think that there is any practical alternative but to continue to have some presence.

    As for trusting relationships with foreign powers, those change over time, like those between partners in a marriage.And forces change within the foreign land over which we have no control.

    You mentioned the limited nature of our commitment in certain theaters. We're just suggesting that more of our citizens should bear the burden of whatever goals were are pursuing, and that the politics here at home might be different if the burden were more evenly and widely distributed.

    Thanks again and do visit often.


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