FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Déja Vu All Over Again

 

John Fogerty has it right. “It’s déjà vu all over again,” except with a difference.

In Vietnam, in the post-Tet period, when it had become clear to the soldiers on the ground that the war was a lost cause and that they were risking their lives and limbs just to provide cover to Richard Nixon and the other politicians in Washington, mutiny, desertion and “fragging”-the offing of overly aggressive officers who were trying to get you killed before your tour ended–not to mention the crazed and superstitious offing of the guys carrying the body bags into battle (if there were no body bags, nobody could get killed)-became epidemic.

This time around, as it becomes clear that the U.S. cannot win-whatever that even means-in Iraq, and is destined to be tossed summarily out of the country dragging its tail at some point, whether this year or five years from now, it’s a different army. Instead of angry and unwilling draftees, the military doing the fighting this time around is composed, at least nominally, of volunteers-people who either signed up as regular military, or who joined the reserves or the National Guard. Few of them, obviously, thought they’d be in this kind of endless guerrilla war in a country half a world away, but they still know that they did sign up.

Granted many of the grunts in the desert were either sold a bill of goods by conniving and dishonest recruiters, or were driven to join the military by a lack of any employment alternative, or they saw military service as a way to pay for a college education that for many poor Americans is financially out of reach any other way, but they still have a sense, most of them, that they asked for the uniform.

But this is also an older, more self-assured military, which became apparent when a group of National Guard soldiers in Kuwait, about to be sent into the battle zone, were given a chance to meet with Defense Secretary and war architect Donald Rumsfeld.

They didn’t frag the secretary, but if words could kill, that pompous gasbag would be pushing up daisies right now. The soldiers peppered him with hard questions about stop-loss orders that keep many of them on active duty long past their enlistment periods, about having to fight without body armor, about being given humvees and heavy trucks with no armor even as half or more of the casualties and fatalities of U.S. servicepeople in Iraq could have been prevented with better armor. In short, they let the shocked and befuddled secretary know that they are royally pissed at what they’re being asked to do. These soldiers dared to speak out in a way should shame the Washington and Pentagon press corps (if that overpaid and over groomed lot weren’t such shameless suckups to power).

We hear now too, that this army of 150,000 in Iraq has so far experienced 5000 desertions–an astonishing rate of 3.3 percent. That’s remarkable, considering how hard it must be to desert in that environment. In Vietnam, you could hide out in a Saigon brothel, or, as some soldiers did, melt into the jungle, turn yourself over to the VC, and get smuggled north to North Vietnam and eventually Russia or even Sweden. The options in Iraq aren’t so good, particularly with an insurgency that is far less organized and disciplined, and that is as likely to kill a wandering deserter as to give him or her shelter and sanctuary.

How much longer will it be before desertion and angry questioning, and the occasional mutiny like we saw in late October with the fuel convoy that refused orders because of a lack of guards and armor on its explosion-prone trucks, give way to the same kind of disorder, sabotage and mayhem that plagued the U.S. military in Vietnam descends on the U.S. war machine in Iraq?

My guess is that day isn’t that far off.

When soldiers believe in what they are doing-when what they’re actually doing jibes more or less with the propaganda they were fed in training-they can endure incredible risks and hardship. Remember, a lot of U.S. troops believed they were avenging the 9/11 attacks and protecting America from a madman with The Bomb. Now many are realizing they are fighting a nationalist resistance in a country that was never a threat to the U.S., and that had nothing to do with 9/11. As it becomes ever clearer that they are just cannon fodder, that they are being asked to do something less noble, or worse, that all they are doing is cleaning up a mess made by political hacks, ideologues and incompetents back home, all they will want to do is what anybody in that situation would want to do: get out and back home alive and in one piece.

What we’re seeing now are the first cracks.

It will only get worse.

As Fogerty sings in his powerful new song: “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled “This Can’t be Happening!” to be published this fall by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net.

He can be reached at: dlindorff@yahoo.com

 

 

More articles by:

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

July 16, 2020
Vijay Prashad
Laos Has Tackled COVID-19, But It Is Drowning in Debt to International Finance
Louisa Willcox
Charlie Russell, Grizzly Whisperer
John McMurtry – Jeffery Klaehn
Money Capital vs Life Capital: the War of Values We Live or Die By
Jesse Jackson
A New Generation of Protest Holds Great Promise for America
Robert Hunziker
The Inertia Bugaboo
Jyoti Saraswati
Seeing the World Through Touch During a Pandemic
Sam Bahour
Time’s Up Israel: Get Your Knee Off Palestine’s neck
Nick Licata
How Protester Occupations Can Succeed
Dean Baker
It’s Going to be a Long, Hard Recession
Mary Miller – Ariel Gold
The U.S. Struggle for Justice for Palestine Begins a New Chapter
Rajan Menon
How the Pandemic Hit Americans: Selective in Its Impact, the Virus Has Struck the Homeless Hard
Chuck Collins
Fair Tax Solutions for Cities Facing Covid-19 Budget Crises
George Ochenski
The Times They are a-Changin’
Neil Decenteceo
Small Island Countries Aren’t Waiting for Rich Countries to Act on Climate
Binoy Kampmark
Blue Steak on Lygon Street: The Mario Corniola Effect
Nan Levinson
Veterans Go to Washington: So What?
July 15, 2020
Jennifer Loewenstein
Forging Greater Israel: Annexation by Any Other Name
John Davis
This is No Way to Live
Melvin Goodman
Bolton’s Book is Not the “Bomb” as Advertised
Kenneth Surin
Boris Johnson’s “Blundering Brilliance”…Now Only the Blundering Remains
Daniel Warner
Audacity and Hope in the Summer of Discontent
Thomas Klikauer – Nadine Campbell
Propaganda Beyond Trump
Omar Ramahi
Hagia Sophia and the Catastrophe of Symbolism
Binoy Kampmark
The Yeezy Effect: Kanye West Joins the Presidential Race
Robin Wonsley – Ty Moore
Minneapolis Ballot Measure to Dismantle the Police Will Test the Strength of Our Movement
Robert Jensen
‘Cancel Culture’ Cannot Erase a Strong Argument
Tom Clifford
Jack Charlton, Soccer and Ireland’s Working Class
Elliot Sperber
Mother Goose in the End Times
July 14, 2020
Anthony DiMaggio
Canceling the Cancel Culture: Enriching Discourse or Dumbing it Down?
Patrick Cockburn
Boris Johnson Should not be Making New Global Enemies When His Country is in a Shambles
Frank Joyce
Lift From the Bottom? Yes.
Richard C. Gross
The Crackdown on Foreign Students
Steven Salaita
Should We Cancel “Cancel Culture”?
Paul Street
Sorry, the Chicago Blackhawks Need to Change Their Name and Logo
Jonathan Cook
‘Cancel Culture’ Letter is About Stifling Free Speech, Not Protecting It
John Feffer
The Global Rushmore of Autocrats
C. Douglas Lummis
Pillar of Sand in Okinawa
B. Nimri Aziz
Soft Power: Americans in Its Grip at Home Must Face the Mischief It Wields by BNimri Aziz July 11/2020
Cesar Chelala
What was lost when Ringling Bros. Left the Circus
Dan Bacher
California Regulators Approve 12 New Permits for Chevron to Frack in Kern County
George Wuerthner
Shrinking Wilderness in the Gallatin Range
Lawrence Davidson
Woodrow Wilson’s Racism: the Basis For His Support of Zionism
Binoy Kampmark
Mosques, Museums and Politics: the Fate of Hagia Sophia
Dean Baker
Propaganda on Government Action and Inequality from David Leonhardt
July 13, 2020
Gerald Sussman
The Russiagate Spectacle: Season 2?
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail