In the Humble Opinion of LittleBill, Socialist, Atheist, and Humanist
Vietnam and Iraq Through the Eyes of Hagel and McCain

Janny Scott has written a very interesting article,Different Paths From Vietnam to War in Iraq , in the New York Times comparing the reactions to the Vietnam War by Sen. Chuck Hagel who served then as an ordinary soldier, and Sen. John McCain, who served as an Air Force officer and was imprisoned under terrible circumstances for 5 years.

In looking back on those times, Hagel’s reaction is that “he had been used,” while McCain’s reaction is that the war could have been won had mistakes not been made by the higher ups.

Sen. Hagel’s experience as a grunt with close encouunters with death and dismemberment has had a distinct influence upon his thinking in the years that have followed. Sen. McCain, oddly, says that the Vietnam War has had little effect upon his thinking about the current war.

Now, as then, the two men disagree about what should be done regarding the Iraq War. Hagel believes that our forces should be phased out, while McCain believes that we must continue because losing a war is the worst thing that can happen to us.

There is something here, in my view, that is missing, at least as far as Sen. McCain is concerned, and which I have written about before. And that is that just because you enter into a war, you must win it, even if you entered it based upon lies and for less than noble purposes. Our attack upon Iraq was motivated by the self-interest of the White House. The American people and, most importantly, our armed forces were rallied to support it through lies and deception.

If you were God and you were looking down on what is happening now, would you believe that winning was everything, and that in this case we have earned the right to win?

What we should be doing from this day forward is begging the foregiveness of our armed forces and the people of Iraq for what we have done to them. The American people, duped though we were, are almost as responsible as the Bush crowd, since we supported the war through our Congress. And, unlike in the days following the Vietnam War, we had better make it clear to our troops that we have been totally in support of them for doing what they were ordered to do.

14 comments:

Vigilante said...

Excellent!

Vigilante said...

By following your link I found an video clip of Janny Scott's where she describes her thinking that went into doing this research.

pekka said...

There are quite a few of us, non Americans, who are wondering if somehow you, the Americans, are not capable of learning lessons from your past. That devastating experience in Vietnam is, in historical terms, just yesterday's news but seemingly ignored and forgotten by so many of you. The most of us, however, agree that this time the damage is beyond anything that Vietnam brought along.

I like the last and brutally honest paragraph, which insists on not using the prevailing cop-out that this fiasco happened solely because of Bush and his ideological brothers. How could all that happen in the democracy such as yours if only a handfull of people were behind it. The failures must be faced and regonized by many more than is the case now or this war will be repeated just as the Vietnam war was before.

Vigilante said...

Pekka, I am glad you raised this point.

While the depth of the national despair and the cynical political depravity involved in defending them both is the same, they are different. I mean, different besides the fact that one was hot and wet and the other is hot and dry.

The genesis of this invasion of Iraq was clearly hatched in Bush's mind, before 9-11, even before his election as has been documented. You can blame thousands of core Republicans who promoted and nominated this enfant terrible to be president and millions of undiscriminating Americans to vote for him, if you want. The responsibility for all of this is diffused, so you have a point, Pekka.

But the point is, this crap started with Bush.

Messenger said...

Good answer.

pekka said...

Vigil, if my memory serves me right, this issue is the one that made us to settle our slight disagreement using knees to the groin and couging each other's eyes out? Therefore, I am so glad that you found capacity to put up with my irritaiting opinion with tackt.

Unfortunately, just like before, even if you and the others with wisdom enough not to have been seduced by the "war time president" and not to have voted him in in the first place, it still must have taken more than just some right-wing weirdos to make it possible for these lunatics to behave in the manner that they have.

I hope, that you wouldn't take it so personally and, that you would be able to see that this adventure has been mishandled by your representatives regardless of the party affiliations. Let's not even dwelve with your media which did it's cheerleading without any uprising by the vast majority of Americans. Granted, that the Republicans and, especially, the brand that this administration represents, are the ones that should be saddled with the major responsibility for this fiasco, but it is, in my mind, less than honest not to examine the attitudes and sloppiness of the rest of the society.

American people, like it or not, are judged by your administrations and what their policies are even at the best of times. When thigs go this wrong and when they needlessly hurt so many, the judgment becomes even more critical. Like I keep repeating, in democracies, fairly or not, all sins of the nation cannot be loaded solely on the shoulders of the leaders. If lessons can be learned, they must be learned by the whole society, not just some.

Messenger said...

Pekka says:

. . . .less than honest not to examine the attitudes and sloppiness of the rest of the society.

. . . .When things go this wrong and when they needlessly hurt so many, the judgment becomes even more critical. . . in democracies, fairly or not, all sins of the nation cannot be loaded solely on the shoulders of the leaders. If lessons can be learned, they must be learned by the whole society, not just some.


Vigilante, harsh as his judgment is, I think he has a point. Americans, as citizens of the world's greatest power - indeed, the greatest power the world has ever known - have not taken their responsibilities as citizens nearly seriously enough.

Vigilante said...

All I have attempted to establish is that the United States America used to be the most powerful country the world has ever known. This was true only seven short years ago. We have since been occupied by an anti-American militarist gang. When I say anti-American, I mean guided by impulses and armed by rationales that are ALIEN, to traditional American political culture and thought. All Pekka has attempted to establish is that these crooks are legal aliens. If he wants to argue that these outlaws have misruled with the assistance of a mendacious Weimar Republican party with its flanks protected by complicit media, I have no dispute to pick with him.

And many millions of people voted for this proven war-starter in 2004. In 1945 the Germans said 'we were just following orders'; in 2009, Americans will say 'we were lied to'. I agree with Pekka's descriptive word 'sloppiness'; if Americans had been living up to their responsibilities of citizenship in the world's greatest democracy & leader of the free world, they would have turned away this feckless Neo-Con (Manchurian) candidate the first time around in 2000.

As a result, America is now the once-great world power, now an emasculated, over-spent, exhausted, demoralized, second-tier has-been with a broken military.

If political civil strife and political sectarian violence now erupts in this country, it will not have been because al Qaeda imported it; it will be seen as a natural consequence of this self-inflicted wound to the American psyche.

Such strife should be understood as a laudable and overdue attempt to correct the course of our stricken ship of state before it founders further on the rocks of I-Wreck.

Yellow Dog said...

Brobdingnag & Lilliput = USA & I-Wreck

Lilliput and Blefuscu are two fictional island nations that appear in the 1726 novel Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift. Both are portrayed as being in the South Indian Ocean and are inhabited by tiny people who are "not six inches high". The two are separated by a channel eight hundred yards wide. The tiny people of Lilliput and Blefuscu contrast with the giants of Brobdingnag whom Gulliver also met.

In the novel, Gulliver washes up on the shore of Lilliput and is 'captured' by the inhabitants while asleep. He discovers that Lilliput and Blefuscu are permanently at war because of differences over the correct way to eat a boiled egg – from the rounded end according to the Blefuscudians, or from the sharp end according to the Lilliputians. The supporters of the differing views were called "Big-endians" and "Little-endians."

pekka said...

When I made my first comment, it was done partially with the belief that my off and on again friend, Vigil, would come charging down on me. That he didn't and that he truly understood my point, was a considerable relief to me. But nothing prepared me for the well thought and fair comment Vigil made, which was simply marvelous. If this wasn't well enough, Messenger joined the party in, what must be hardest thing for us humans to do, selfcritisism.

Non-Partisàn said...

Vigilante, is it I-Wreck or I-Rack?

Beach Bum said...

From my time in the military I had noticed several times a huge divergence in the way grunts and flyboys think of war. One of my best friends I ever made became an army warrant officer flying Apaches and the smaller Kiowa helicopters for the South Carolina National Guard. While I stayed a NCO we still at times hung out together and I met a bunch of his fellow flyboys who had not ever served in the enlisted ranks. While I'm speaking of my Guard time here the same holds for the pilots I met while on active duty.

Training to them was a mission and at the close of the day they planned on drinking at the officers club or something akin to it having a hot meal. Given the training they were scheduled for they could even look forward to sleeping in their own bed beside mama or girlfriend.
Enlisted and NCO types like me could most of the time expect to be sleeping in the dirt and the mud eating MRE's or some other god awful food from a mobile field mess. The only thing warm we could look forward to was a smelly sleeping bag.

I never served in combat but just magnify the misery by a million for the enlisted but keep about the same level of comfort for the pilots in such a situation at the close of the day.
My point in all this is that McCain, while having gone through hell as a POW, may still suffer from the Glorious War mindset that many of the pilots I met seemed to suffer from. While Hagel, who was a grunt, went through the day in and out misery of living like an animal along with the unspeakable stress of having someone at times trying to kill you. So this may explain to some degree the differences between the two men.

Honestly, I just don't see political or sectarian strife erupting here in America by Americans. Blame for the "lost cause" along with labeling those that opposed the war as hating the troops has begun by the extreme right that view is not widespread even here in South Carolina. (The anti-war groups do need to address this to prevent the propaganda from spreading though.) My biggest fear though is that our enemies around the world will smell the proverbial blood in the water and come after us in several different ways beside terrorism. Chavez and his fellow travelers want to hurt us as badly as they can. And Chavez has a great deal of oil.
This is far too long, sorry, stopping now.

Vigilante said...

Pekka, I'm warning you. Don't go back to Finland. Stay in Canada. But remember, whatever happens, I am not responsible. I voted - legally - three times against Bush.

Pekka said...

Thanks Vigil, you are a true friend! I had a good laugh.

Unfortunately, my foolish, Canadian wife has given me the marching orders and since she over ranks me.... Besides, there is still a plenty of fresh water and oil around here, so, maybe Dick and George will come and hunt Osama here in Canada? Anything goes as far as these guys are concerned.