FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Dwarves, Knives and Freedom

The similarities between the Iraq War and the Vietnam War have been pointed out again and again. But there is also an important difference, that between the rhetorical styles of two of the war presidents: faux Texan George W. Bush and died-in-the-wool Texan Lyndon B. Johnson. While Bush’s logic is impeccable

All freedom is good.
Democracy is freedom.
Let’s bomb the living shit out of Iraq

his arguments are less than compelling because they deal mostly in abstractions rather than the concrete images that give Texas-speak its distinctive power. Bush tries desperately to sound like a colorful Texan, but these efforts, like so much else he does, come across forced, self-conscious, inauthentic. “Wanted: Dead or Alive.” “Smoke ’em out.” Please, George, trying way too hard. Granted, “mushroom cloud” was a powerful image, but we haven’t heard that one in a while. Perhaps we will again in the run-up to the Iran War.

President Johnson, on the other hand, fully inhabited his Texasness, sprinkling his speech with colorful and vivid images such as the famous:

“Without superior air power America is a bound and throttled giant, impotent and easy prey to any yellow dwarf with a pocket knife.”

Johnson unbound the throttled giant, committing even more war crimes than Bush (so far), thus forfeiting his right to be known as the Thich Nhat Hanh of his generation. Just as well, since Thich Nhat Hanh is the Thich Nhat Hanh of his generation. For those suffering from memory loss or youth, Thich Nhat Hanh is the Vietnamese Bhuddist monk, poet and peace activist (“yellow dwarf” in presidential parlance) who in 1966 flew to Washington to plead with Secretary of Defense and uber-technocrat Robert McNamara to stop killing Vietnamese. This meeting, though not recorded, was later reconstructed through interviews with the participants:

McNamara: Systems analysis facilitates key decisions on force requirements and weapon systems.

Thich Nhat Hanh: Breathing in, I relax…

McNamara: Management tools developed to implement PPBS include the FYDP, the DPM and the DCP.

Thich Nhat Hanh: Breathing out, I smile…

McNamara: FYDP consists of tables projecting strategic forces, general purpose forces, intelligence and communications, airlift and sealift, guard and reserve forces, research”

At this point Thich Nhat Hanh took out a pocket knife and stabbed McNamara in the heart. McNamara continued:

McNamara: — and development, central supply and maintenance, training and medical services, force structure, military assistance

Thich Nhat Hanh realized his mission had failed. McNamara eventually felt he had killed enough Vietnamese, and retired. In later years he came to regret his role in the war and said he would have stopped it but couldn’t find his glasses.

HOWARD MEYERS lives in Los Angeles, where he is old and in the way (pace Jerry Garcia). He can be reached at: hn.meyers@verizon.net

 

 

More articles by:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
August 23, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Notes on Inauthenticity in a Creeping Fascist Nuthouse
Andrew Levine
Recession Now, Please
Rob Urie
Mr. Trump Goes to Kensington
Jeffrey St. Clair
Deep Time and the Green River, Floating
Robert Hunziker
Earth 4C Hotter
Kenneth Good
Congo’s Patrice Lumumba: The Winds of Reaction in Africa
Pete Dolack
The Realism and Unrealism of the Green New Deals
David Rosen
The White-Nationalist Great Fear
Kenn Orphan
The War on Indigenous People is a War on the Biosphere Itself
L. Michael Hager
What Netanyahu’s Travel Ban Has Revealed
Ramzy Baroud
Jewish Settlers Rule the Roost in Israel, But at What Price?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Is Environmental Protection Possible?
Josue De Luna Navarro
What It’s Like to Grow Up Hunted
Ralph Nader
They Don’t Make Republicans Like the Great Paul Findley Anymore!
Gary Olson
Whither the Resistance to our Capitalist Overlords?
Dean Baker
On Those Downward Jobs Revisions
Rev. William Alberts
Beware of the Gun-Lover-in-Chief
Helder F. do Vale
Brazil: From Global Leader to U.S. Lapdog
Laura Finley
Educators Actually Do “Work” in the Summer
Jim Goodman
Farmers Need a Bill of Rights
Tom Clifford
What China’s Leadership is Really Worried About: Rising Debt
Daphne Wysham
Saving the Planet Means Fighting Bipartisan Corruption
Tierra Curry
Amazon Fires Put the Planet at Risk
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir: Decentralize Power and Revive Regional Political Institutions
John W. Whitehead
American Apocalypse
George Wuerthner
How Agriculture and Ranching Subvert the Re-Wilding of America
Daniel Murphy
Capital in the 21st Century
Jessicah Pierre
400 Years After Slavery’s Start, No More Band-Aids
Kim C. Domenico
Finding the Comrades: Maintaining Precarious Sanity In Insane Times
Gary Leupp
“Based on the Fact She Won’t Sell Me Greenland, I’m Staying Home”
John Kendall Hawkins
The Chicago 8 Trial, Revisited
Rivera Sun
Tapping into People Power
Ted Rall
As Long as Enemies of the State Keep Dying Before Trial, No One Should Trust the State
Jesse Jackson
The Significance of the “1619 Project”
Thomas Knapp
“Nuance” in Politics and Public Policy? No Thanks
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and Endangered Species, Wildlife and Human
Mel Gurtov
China’s Hong Kong nightmare, and the US Response
Ron Forthofer
Sick of Being a Guinea Pig
Nicky Reid
Why I Stopped Being White (and You Should Too)
Jill Richardson
As the School Year Starts, I’m Grateful for the ADA
Seth Sandronsky
Rethinking the GDR
Adolf Alzuphar
Tears / Ayizan Velekete
Stephen Cooper
General Jah Mikey: “I Just Love That Microphone, Man”
Louis Proyect
Slaves to the Clock
David Yearsley
Moral Cantatas
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail