• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

ONE WEEK TO DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!

A generous CounterPuncher has offered a $25,000 matching grant. So for this week only, whatever you can donate will be doubled up to $25,000! If you have the means, please donate! If you already have done so, thank you for your support. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Korea, Vietnam, Iraq Syndrome

“Two, Three, Many Vietnams”! was Che Guevara’s famous call to arms. Today we remain in the throes of our third Vietnam, Iraq. This is the third time since World War II that hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops have been sent abroad in a neo-colonialist war (1).

The first “Vietnam” was in fact Korea. And it was the first war to be televised to the relatively few TV sets then in existence. Americans saw the bloody battles in black and white with American soldiers killed day after day. At the end of it all about 50,000 Americans and a million Asians were dead, at the hands of Harry S. Truman who was deeply reviled as the result of the war. Truman was unexpectedly defeated in the first New Hampshire primary and withdrew from the presidential race, which Eisenhower won on the promise of “going to Korea” and ending the war–which he did, much to his credit. Today we do not hear much about Eisenhower; but the bloodthirsty Truman, the only human being to order the incineration of hundreds of thousands with nuclear weapons of mass destruction, is hailed by the likes of Democrat neocon Peter Beinart and other Democratic neocons as a model for Democrats today. However, at the time of Korea organized, antiwar sentiment was miniscule and there was little to no protest over the draft.

Next was Vietnam itself where our historical memory often seems to begin when most pundits discuss war, apparently because their knowledge of history only springs from their own personal memories. Kennedy and the rest of “the best and the brightest” Democrats started this war and by its ending another 50,000 Americans and two million Southeast Asians, by Robert McNamara’s count, had been killed. Kennedy was another “tough” Democrat, decrying a supposed missile gap and promising to send troops anywhere in the world for “freedom.” But this time a massive opposition grew, slowly at first and then gaining in speed. By 1968, Johnson had suffered the same fate as Truman in New Hampshire and he was driven from office. By 1964 there were sizable campus and street demonstrations against the war, driven by Old Left and New, and by 1969 the demonstrations had grown to hundreds of thousands. The draft became untenable and was abolished. From now on the empire builders would have to make do with an “all-volunteer” army recruited mainly from the ranks of those who were strapped for cash or mesmerized by the culture of war.

Now we have Iraq. And in this last election, the President who brought it upon us was handed a resounding defeat–just as were Truman and Johnson before him. But this time millions in the U.S. marched against the war before it started, and 23 Senators refused to rubber stamp Bush’s call to arms. Even the military was reluctant, and it took enormous exertions of deception and manipulation, like calling for a vote a month before the 2002 elections, leading most politicians to vote their careers and ambitions instead of stopping the unnecessary slaughter that knew lay ahead. Once again the United States has left its signature in Iraq, killing around 500,000 so far and probably more than that due to the Clintonian sanctions leading up to the war. It seems that a consistent U.S. strategy, its signature, is to level any third world country and visit mass murder on its population if that country is considered an enemy. The hope is obviously that those who displease the American Empire will know that there is a great price to pay. Although American deaths have fallen far short of those in Korea and Vietnam, the tens of thousands of injuries would have been deaths in those earlier wars.

Vietnam generated more opposition than Korea and now Iraq has generated more opposition and earlier opposition than Vietnam–despite the absence of the draft, which did so much to mobilize opposition to the war on Vietnam. (Now we have Max Boot, resident neocon at the LA Times calling for an army of foreign-born mercenaries who can be rewarded for their fighting with U.S. citizenship.) And opposition to this war does not come mainly or principally from students but from all segments of the population. It was a grown-up opposition, symbolized by Lila Lipscomb and Cindy Sheehan, whose sons were taken from them by the machinations of the neocons. (The drawback to the lack of youth has been a dearth of militancy and radicalism and uncompromising idealism.) The opposition has sprung not only from the Left, but from Libertarians and the non neocon Right which has returned to its anti-imperial roots, largely abandoned after WWI(2). This stance is routinely smeared with the “isolationist” label to no avail, and I soon expect to see bumper stickers proclaiming “Isolationist, and Proud of It.”

The fact is that we have come a long way. The American people are increasingly dissatisfied with war and Empire–in fact we are sick to death of it. The Vietnam syndrome is no longer adequate to describe the phenomenon since it is now the product of three colonial wars. Properly it should be called the “Korea, Vietnam, Iraq Syndrome.” The masters of Empire, both Democrat and Republican, will try to “cure” us of this sentiment, and we must be wary of this, but in the end they will not succeed. They have lost the battle in Iraq, and they have lost the battle for the hearts and minds of Americans to sustain an empire.

So we stand on the threshold of a full-blown Anti-imperial movement if we can pull it off. We need to consolidate this now before the Empire decides that it must wage war on China–which was part of the motivation for Iraq in the first place and is now finding its way into the screed of the propagandists of empire (3). We have the forces, from Left and Right, to generate such a movement. We must do it–or with the advance of technology, we may all perish by accident if not by design.

JOHN V. WALSH can be reached at johnendwar@gmail.com.

This article is prepared from unprepared remarks at a demonstration of the Antiwar League (AntiwarLeague.org) in Boston on Veterans Day.

Notes

(1) The numerous imperial wars fought by proxy armies for the U.S. from Angola to El Salvador to Afghanistan to Iran, which killed untold millions, do not qualify as “Vietnams” in Che’s definition. No one has yet adequately tallied the toll in lives and destruction claimed by these cruel wars.

(2) Justin Raimondo. Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement.

(3) Thomas Friedman. “China: Scapegoat or Sputnik.” NYT, Nov. 10, 2006.

 

 

More articles by:

John V. Walsh can be reached at John.Endwar@gmail.com

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
October 16, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
How Turkey’s Invasion of Syria Backfired on Erdogan
Chitrangada Choudhury – Aniket Aga
How Cotton Became a Headache in the Age of Climate Chaos
Jack Rasmus
US-China Mini-Trade Deal: Trump Takes the Money and Runs
Michael Welton
Communist Dictatorship in Our Midst
Robert Hunziker
Extinction Rebellion Sweeps the World
Peter A. Coclanis
Donald Trump as Artist
Chris Floyd
Byzantium Now: Time-Warping From Justinian to Trump
Steve Klinger
In For a Dime, in For a Dollar
Gary Leupp
The Maria Ramirez Story
Kim C. Domenico
It Serves Us Right To Suffer: Breaking Down Neoliberal Complacency
Kiley Blackman
Wildlife Killing Contests are Unethical
Colin Todhunter
Bayer Shareholders: Put Health and Nature First and Stop Funding This Company!
Andrés Castro
Looking Normal in Kew Gardens
October 15, 2019
Victor Grossman
The Berlin Wall, Thirty Years Later
Raouf Halaby
Kurdish Massacres: One of Britain’s Many Original Sins
Robert Fisk
Trump and Erdogan have Much in Common – and the Kurds will be the Tragic Victims of Their Idiocy
Ron Jacobs
Betrayal in the Levant
Wilma Salgado
Ecuador: Lenin Moreno’s Government Sacrifices the Poor to Satisfy the IMF
Ralph Nader
The Congress Has to Draw the Line
William A. Cohn
The Don Fought the Law…
John W. Whitehead
One Man Against the Monster: John Lennon vs. the Deep State
Lara Merling – Leo Baunach
Sovereign Debt Restructuring: Not Falling Prey to Vultures
Norman Solomon
The More Joe Biden Stumbles, the More Corporate Democrats Freak Out
Jim Britell
The Problem With Partnerships and Roundtables
Howard Lisnoff
More Incitement to Violence by Trump’s Fellow Travelers
Binoy Kampmark
University Woes: the Managerial Class Gets Uppity
Joe Emersberger
Media Smears, Political Persecution Set the Stage for Austerity and the Backlash Against It in Ecuador
Thomas Mountain
Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed Wins Nobel Peace Prize, But It Takes Two to Make Peace
Wim Laven
Citizens Must Remove Trump From Office
October 14, 2019
Ann Robertson - Bill Leumer
Class Struggle is Still the Issue
Mike Miller
Global Climate Strike: From Protest To Power?
Patrick Cockburn
As Turkey Prepares to Slice Through Syria, the US has Cleared a New Breeding Ground for Isis
John Feffer
Trump’s Undeclared State of Emergency
Dean Baker
The Economics and Politics of Financial Transactions Taxes and Wealth Taxes
Jonah Raskin
What Evil Empire?
Nino Pagliccia
The Apotheosis of Emperors
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A Passion for Writing
Basav Sen
The Oil Despots
Brett Wilkins
‘No Friend But the Mountains’: A History of US Betrayal of the Kurds
John Kendall Hawkins
Assange: Enema of the State
Scott Owen
Truth, Justice and Life
Thomas Knapp
“The Grid” is the Problem, Not the Solution
Rob Kall
Republicans Are Going to Remove Trump Soon
Cesar Chelala
Lebanon, Dreamland
Weekend Edition
October 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Becky Grant
CounterPunch in Peril?
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail