FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Lies of Power and the Powerful

On January 15, 1973 Richard Nixon announced a halt to offensive operations by US forces in Vietnam. Twelve days later a peace agreement was signed in Paris between the United States, northern Vietnam, the US client regime in Saigon, and the Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG) of southern Vietnam. This agreement called for an immediate ceasefire and called for the Vietnamese to negotiate a political settlement regarding the fate of southern Vietnam.

The January 15th agreement was the same as one that Saigon had refused to sign three months earlier. It was also not that different from the agreement proposed by the PRG in 1969. The three month period before the January 15th date saw some of the heaviest bombing of the entire conflict by the United States Air Force. I vividly recall listening to the news broadcasts on Armed Forces Radio and watching the German telecasts reporting the bombing. Cynically called Operation Linebacker II by the Nixon administration, it is estimated that this particular round of carpet bombing killed more than 1600 northern Vietnamese civilians, including over 200 at Hanoi’s Bach Mai hospital alone. I personally attended two protests in Frankfurt am Main against the so-called Christmas bombings. Similar protests occurred around the world.

The peace agreement did not stop the war. It did provide Nixon and Kissinger with a way to complete their policy of Vietnamization. US troops began to be withdrawn at a greater pace and southern Vietnamese troops (ARVN) began to replace the withdrawing forces. US forces were officially only serving as advisors. As any GI, sailor, or Marine who was stationed in Vietnam after the peace agreement was signed, the war did not end. However, any will to fight that remained southern Vietnamese forces was rapidly fading. Friends of mine told me stories of outright refusal of orders by entire units. Others told me that their bosses told them to “just stay out of sight and stay alive.” The official word was that no US combat soldiers remained in Vietnam after March 1973. The truth is that US soldiers and Marines continued to get shipped off to Vietnam and many of them were involved in combat situations. Reflecting the mood among US voters, Congress cut off all official aid to the Saigon government in 1974.

A young man I know recently joined the US Marines.  While I do not know his actual reasoning, I assume (through conversations with his father and the young man), those reasons included a desire to prove his idea of manhood, a sense of patriotic duty, and a personal promise he made when his stepbrother was wounded in Afghanistan in 2006. Of course, his stepbrother was in the Marines himself for similar reasons. The dynamic is repeated around the world wherever an invasion force is required by the powers that be.

The world has been told repeatedly by military and political authorities that all US troops will be out of Afghanistan. Other foreign troops will also vacate the country. Yet, the young and new Marine I write of has been told he will most likely be in Afghanistan by the winter of 2014-2015. It seems unlikely he will be going there in a non-fighting role. He is, after all, infantry. The folly of the Great Game will continue to be visited on the people of those ravaged lands. Even if regular US troops are removed, thousands of Special Forces and Marines will continue to kick down doors in an elusive search for an enemy they risk creating every time a home is entered without invitation.

In Pakistan, which is the other officially recognized nation that the Pashtun people inhabit, the war crimes perpetrated by unmanned drones piloted by a uniformed human at a computer somewhere in the United States continue. We are both responsible for the tragedies and capable of demanding they end. Like the decade long armed occupation of Afghanistan, we in the West go about our business. Our defense budgets (which have little to do with defense and much to do with war and occupation), keep pace with the rate of profit in markets and bourses, while our economies stagnate for everyone else. The far right in many western nations, whether they parade under the banner of Greece’s Golden Dawn or the United States Tea Party, pretend to be populist and in favor of the rights of the individual property owner. In reality, their programs, like those of fascists in the past, are programs designed to enhance the economic and political power of a few corporations. In the West, these groups scapegoat non-whites and racial minorities. In other parts of the world, they take their rage out on religious and ethnic minorities. The result is the same.

Hundreds of people have been killed in sectarian violence over the past few months in Iraq. The carnage and its perpetrators involved are related to those who unleashed a similar bloodbath in the wake of the 2003 US invasion—a blood bath that reached gruesome proportions in terms of deaths and the nature of those deaths in 2006-2007. The primary difference between then and now is that the role played by Washington is less obvious or apparent. Make no mistake, though, some of the responsibility for the ongoing carnage can be placed on the men and women who engineered the invasion and occupation of that nation over the past decade. Like their cousins in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Iraqis continue to pay in blood and despair for the arrogance, hubris and wanton disregard for human life casually dismissed by those whose calculations perpetrated it.

Instead of justice for the victims of those calculations, the bureaucrats, generals, industrialists, and politicians responsible collect retirement checks, dividends and accolades from their countrymen. General Petraeus plays professor at a college in New York and, when protesters confront him with his deeds, the college closes down a student organizing center, prosecutes the protesting students and begins proceedings to ban any more protests on campus. Dick Cheney, perhaps the man most responsible for the butchery referred to above, has begun a speaking tour that includes not only his ravings justifying said butchery, but also further crazed speculation that “terrorists” were going to hijack his pacemaker and rig it to kill him. This paranoia is on par with that of Hamlet’s, yet it is without the Prince’s eloquence or majesty.

When Richard Nixon, one of history’s greatest mass murderers, finally left his temporal shell, opponents and friends, reporters and politicians; all came to sing his praises. He did not deserve any of them, yet the rulers always seem to circle their wagons in an attempt to maintain the myths they want us common folk to believe. I wonder what stories will be provided when Dick Cheney and those with whom he associated with pass on. My pen stands ready to rebuke them.

Ron Jacobs is the author of the just released novel All the Sinners, Saints. He is also the author of  The Way the Wind Blew: a History of the Weather Underground and Short Order Frame Up and The Co-Conspirator’s Tale. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden.  His third novel All the Sinners Saints is a companion to the previous two and is due out in April 2013.  He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press.  He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

More articles by:

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. His latest offering is a pamphlet titled Capitalism: Is the Problem.  He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

June 20, 2018
Bill Hackwell
Unprecedented Cruelty Against Immigrants and Their Children
Paul Atwood
“What? You Think We’re So Innocent?”
Nicola Perugini
The Palestinian Tipping Point
K.J. Noh
Destiny and Daring: South Korean President Moon Jae-In’s Impossible Journey Towards Peace
Gary Leupp
Jeff Sessions and St. Paul’s Clear and Wise Commands
M. G. Piety
On Speaking Small Truths to Power
Dave Lindorff
Some Straight Talk for Younger People on Social Security (and Medicare too)
George Wuerthner
The Public Value of Forests as Carbon Reserves
CJ Hopkins
Confession of a Putin-Nazi Denialist
David Schultz
Less Than Fundamental:  the Myth of Voting Rights in America
Rohullah Naderi
The West’s Over-Publicized Development Achievements in Afghanistan 
Dan Bacher
California Lacks Real Marine Protection as Offshore Drilling Expands in State Waters
Lori Hanson – Miguel Gomez
The Students of Nicaragua’s April Uprising
Russell Mokhiber
Are Corporations Are Behind Frivolous Lawsuits Against Corporations?
Michael Welton
Infusing Civil Society With Hope for a Better World
June 19, 2018
Ann Robertson - Bill Leumer
We Can Thank Top Union Officials for Trump
Lawrence Davidson
The Republican Party Falls Apart, the Democrats Get Stuck
Sheldon Richman
Trump, North Korea, and Iran
Richard Rubenstein
Trump the (Shakespearean) Fool: a New Look at the Dynamics of Trumpism
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Protect Immigrant Rights; End the Crises That Drive Migration
Gary Leupp
Norway: Just Withdraw From NATO
Kristine Mattis
Nerd Culture, Adultolescence, and the Abdication of Social Priorities
Mike Garrity
The Forest Service Should Not be Above the Law
Colin Todhunter
Pro-GMO Activism And Smears Masquerade As Journalism: From Seralini To Jairam Ramesh, Aruna Rodrigues Puts The Record Straight
Doug Rawlings
Does the Burns/Novick Vietnam Documentary Deserve an Emmy?
Kenneth Surin
2018 Electioneering in Appalachian Virginia
Nino Pagliccia
Chrystia Freeland Fails to See the Emerging Multipolar World
John Forte
Stuart Hall and Us
June 18, 2018
Paul Street
Denuclearize the United States? An Unthinkable Thought
John Pilger
Bring Julian Assange Home
Conn Hallinan
The Spanish Labyrinth
Patrick Cockburn
Attacking Hodeidah is a Deliberate Act of Cruelty by the Trump Administration
Gary Leupp
Trump Gives Bibi Whatever He Wants
Thomas Knapp
Child Abductions: A Conversation It’s Hard to Believe We’re Even Having
Robert Fisk
I Spoke to Palestinians Who Still Hold the Keys to Homes They Fled Decades Ago – Many are Still Determined to Return
Steve Early
Requiem for a Steelworker: Mon Valley Memories of Oil Can Eddie
Jim Scheff
Protect Our National Forests From an Increase in Logging
Adam Parsons
Reclaiming the UN’s Radical Vision of Global Economic Justice
Dean Baker
Manufacturing Production Falls in May and No One Notices
Laura Flanders
Bottom-Up Wins in Virginia’s Primaries
Binoy Kampmark
The Anguish for Lost Buildings: Embers and Death at the Victoria Park Hotel
Weekend Edition
June 15, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Dan Kovalik
The US & Nicaragua: a Case Study in Historical Amnesia & Blindness
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Yellow Journalism and the New Cold War
Charles Pierson
The Day the US Became an Empire
Jonathan Cook
How the Corporate Media Enslave Us to a World of Illusions
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail