Chuck Hagel

English: Sen. Chuck Hagel speaks with servicem...

English: Sen. Chuck Hagel speaks with servicemembers during his visit to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, July 18. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

America: Our Next Chapter, Tough Questions, Straight Answers by Senator Chuck Hagel with Peter Kaminsky published in 2008. These are his words after listening to LBJ tapes about the Vietnam war.

“The cold political calculation I heard on those tapes made me vow that I would never–ever–remain silent when that kind of thinking put more American lives at risk in any conflict.That’s how an administration gets to a point where the American people and the Congress can no longer believe in it. When people stopped believing that the war was winnable, they stopped believing Johnson, and his days as a leader were numbered. In the heady times of the Great Society and the Voting Rights Act,he had been a true leader. He faced up to the power structure and said, ‘This is where I stand!’ People trusted him as a man of principle. When he debased his currency, he lost his connection to the people–and a leader is nothing without it.”

By this definition, Mitt Romney could not have led the US if he had been elected. Below are two additional quotations from the book that show why Chuck Hagel should be confirmed as Secretary of Defense. Both Hagel and the book are praised on the back of the dust jacket by these four leaders: Tom Brokaw, Alan Greenspan, Kofi A. Annan and Colin Powell.

“Having been a foot soldier in an ill-conceived, poorly prosecuted, and unsuccessful war, I believe we would do well to heed the words of one of our greatest warriors, Douglas MacArthur, who said, ‘The soldier above alll other people prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.’

“Having witnessed these hard truths firsthand, I am, like many veterans, changed forever by the experience of war. That is why I am so vocal and so fervent on the issues of war and peace and the well-being of our soldiers. It is the responsibility of every elected official, especially those who have seen combat, to assure that any policy that sends men and women into war is worthy of the sacrifices that we ask of them and their families. If it is not, then it is the wrong policy.”

While in a hospital in Vietnam recovering from wounds received in battle:

“From that day on, I was a changed person. I remember a strong resolve coming over me, as our chopper climbed over the glistening green canopy of the jungle and I watched the steam rise above it in the morning light. I made myself a promise that ever I got out of that place and was ever in a position to do something about war–so horrible, so filled with suffering–I would do whatever I could to stop it. I have never forgotten that promise. I made it to myself but also to everyone who answers the call to serve their country. I think of it every day, because once you set war in motion,its consequences are often the ones least intended and they are always uncontrollable.”

Please see What if?

Human ingenuity

English: Michigan's Upper Peninsula

English: Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Human ingenuity will defeat high-tech every time, well almost every time. Joseph Heywood, author of The Snowfly and several crime novels set in Michigan‘s upper peninsula was a tanker pilot during the Vietnam war. In his autobiography entitled Covered Waters, Tempests of a Nomadic Trouter, he has this to say about the ingenuity of the Viet Cong enemy:

“I talked to a Forward Air Controller (FAC) about interdiction packages. Usually the package consists of a huge mine, but to keep the enemy from exploding it prematurely, they seed the area with tiny antipersonnel mines. The enemy uses a rock tied to a string, throwing it ahead of him, then dragging it back to explode the CBUs. After he cleans a path, he pulls an ox in front of the main mine. With a rope the ox then pulls a plow or metal object like a garbage can lid by the big one, exploding it. The process, which takes us a day to put in place, and many thousands of dollars, is cleared by the enemy in 2-4 hours with a rock, a string, an ox, and a piece of metal. Simplicity can always best complexity.”

And then there is the home field advantage which applies in knowledge of the war zone as well as in sports. We lost in Vietnam, did poorly in Iraq and are losing in Afghanistan, at least in part, because the enemy knows the country better than we do. In our war for independence from Great Britain, the greatest military power of the time, we won in part because we had the home field advantage. And we might still be part of the British Commonwealth if we had not had the help of France.

Donald Rumsfeld believed that the US could and should rely on high tech to allow us to field a small military. The enemy responded with IEDs, improvised explosive devices, and suicide bombers. Rather than relying so much on high tech, I believe that we should out-think and out-improvise our enemies. Let’s start encouraging Yankee know-how to win hearts and minds rather than firepower to kill.

 

To Teach

Cover of "To Teach: The Journey of a Teac...

Cover of To Teach: The Journey of a Teacher

To Teach, The Journey of a Teacher by William Ayers; yes, that William, “Bill”, Ayers that Sarah Palin called a domestic terrorist and a pal of President Obama. Bill Ayers is now retired after spending his entire life as a teacher and later as a distinguished educator. He helped found the Weather Underground and was responsible for exploding small, symbolic bombs to protest the Vietnam war during his mid to late 20s. No one was injured by the explosions he detonated. He now regrets any acts of his terrorism, but he also regrets not doing more against the Vietnam war. This quotation is from the book:

“Crusading teachers are still needed–in fact we are needed now more than ever.

“And this, I believe, is finally the reason to teach. people are called to teaching because they love children and youth, or because they love being with them, watching them open up and grow and become more able, more competent, more powerful in the world. They may love what happens to themselves when they are with children, the ways in which they become better, more human, more generous. Or they become teachers because they love the world, or some piece of the world enough that they want to show that love to others. In eaither case, people teach as an act of construction and reconstruction, and as a gift of oneself to others. I teach in the hope of making the world a better place.”

Hoorah. I agree wholeheartedly. And I suspect most teachers do too. They work at the profession for the satifaction of teaching, not the money which in most cases is inadequate. So why is the Right so much against teachers? Because they unionize, work for the government and mostly vote Democratic. Big business also looks at teaching as another opportunity to make money by privatizing education.

Swiftboats

John Kerry - Caricature

John Kerry – Caricature (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

Swiftboats were small, power boats used in the Vietnam war by the US to combat the Viet Cong. The Democratic candidate in 2004, John Kerry, won three Purple Hearts for his actions during the Vietnam war, mostly on board a swiftboat. The George W. Bush campaign was able to turn a Kerry strength against him by means of the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth, a bogus group ginned together by the GOP for the purpose of defeating Kerry.

Now in 2012, the GOP is trying to swiftboat President Obama by using the death of Osama bin Laden, an Obama strength, against him. The GOP has gathered together a group that claims that the President is leaking national security information for political purposes. Don’t be deceived by the GOP’s false political attacks. Swiftboating in 2004 won the election for Bush. We cannot afford to allow a repeat of that tactic to elect Mitt Romney. The stakes this election are too high for us to allow deceit to be successful, again.

 

Nixon

Richard Milhous Nixon, 37th President of the U...

Richard Milhous Nixon, 37th President of the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I voted for Richard Nixon in 1968 and 1972. I would have voted for him in 1960 if I had been eligible to vote; I was too young at the time. The voting age then was 21 years and I was only 19 & 1/2. Knowing now what I do about Nixon, I regret that I ever voted for him. LBJ was engaged with North Vietnam in the Paris peace talks to end the Vietnam war. Nixon let the South Vietnamese know that they would get better terms with him if he were elected in 1968. Thus the peace talks failed and the war dragged on, Nixon was elected, and millions more Americans and Asians died or were wounded before the war finally ended in April, 1975. That was an act of treason on Nixon’s part. LBJ had the facts and chose not to act. He should have acted and ended Nixon’s career.

When Salvador Allende was elected President of Chile, Nixon ordered the CIA to create chaos in the Chilean economy to decrease Allende’s support by the Chilean people so that Allende could be more easily deposed. The Chilean generals took the bait and installed Pinochet as dictator in 1973. During Pinochet’s 17 years in power, thousands of Chileans were disappeared, tortured and murdered without a trace. Now here in the US, the GOP are using Nixon’s Chilean strategy to reduce President Obama’s support among American voters.

For the relatively minor crime, nobody died, of the Watergate break-in, Nixon was forced to resign. Nixon was never charged nor punished for his major crimes, the death and/or dismembership of millions. The Nixon case is similar to that of Al Capone. Capone went to prison for income tax evasion; the government was unable to prove the more serious charges of murder and extortion.