House Passes Deceptive Bills Attacking Science Statement by Dr. Andrew A. Rosenberg, Union of Concerned Scientists
WASHINGTON (March 18, 2015) — This week, the House passed two bills, H.R. 1029 (the EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act of 2015) and H.R. 1030 (the Secret Science Reform Act of 2015). These bills would severely undermine the role of science in protecting public health and the environment, according to experts at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
Below is a statement by Dr. Andrew A. Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at UCS.
“Just as they were the last time they were introduced, these bills are a clear threat to long-standing, bipartisan laws that protect Americans. The EPA’s mission, set by law, is to use the best available science to defend public health, safety and the environment — but these two bills make it nearly impossible for the EPA to do its job.
“The titles and text of these bills are cleverly designed to conceal their purpose, which is to protect industry from any oversight and any limits on their ability to pollute. They introduce unreasonable requirements, new delays and added levels of bureaucracy, and increase the power of corporations to interfere with laws meant to protect us. It’s deceptive and cynical to promote these bills with claims about reform and transparency.
“House leaders and their allies in industry don’t like the answers science is giving — so they’ve written these bills to attack the process. Taken together, these bills are a direct attack on our ability to use science to inform policy.”
The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet’s most pressing problems. Joining with citizens across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.
WASHINGTON (February 17, 2015) — Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the chair of the House Science Committee, recently wrote, “No, the GOP is not at war with science.”
But actions speak louder than words. Some in Congress may say science is important, but the truth is we have seen sustained attempts to undermine the use of science in making policy.
The debate about science in this Congress isn’t about carefully selecting which scientific endeavors are worthy of support. The debate is about whether we should use science to protect public health and the environment.
Paul and Smith’s op-ed focuses on a few small-scale research grants called “wasteful” and unworthy of funding. “Scrutinizing science funding isn’t the same as attacking science,” they say. While that’s true, picking out grants with funny-sounding names distracts from what’s actually going on in Congress: preventing federal agencies from using science to do their jobs and protect the American people.
Americans want laws that protect their health, safety and environment, and they expect that their implementation will be based on science, not ideology. Laws like the Clean Air Act are big, bipartisan success stories and perfect examples of how we can use science to improve lives. But they’re too popular to take on directly. Instead, Congress has experienced attacks on individual research grants as a way to discredit the robust body of scientific evidence behind the regulations that protect our communities.
Science helps us understand the most effective and efficient way to create policies that are good for people and the planet. Without science, we cannot effectively protect our environment or Americans, leading to negative impacts on our water, air, land, and human health.
For example, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funds vital environmental issues in the Great Lakes, such as cleaning up contaminated sediments, mitigating habitat degradation and loss, addressing invasive species, such as Asian carp, and protecting drinking water.
Furthermore, funding organizations such as National Institute of Health (NIH), the world’s preeminent medical research institution, is our best hope for finding cures, improving treatments, and gaining a better understanding of the complex causes of diseases that affect millions of people. These funding dollars don’t go to â€˜wasteful projects’ but are crucial to the wellbeing of our society.
Rather than supporting science, many in Congress are advocating for bills that would nullify vital laws that protect American communities by making it next to impossible for the government to use science to implement them. These deceptively named bills are described using vague terms like “reform,” “transparency,” and “accountability” but would radically overhaul our science-based regulatory system.
Take the “EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act,” a cleverly-named bill that passed the House last year. Under the cover of “reforming” the science advisory board of the EPA, this legislation would have prevented scientists from giving advice to agencies based on their own research — the topics they’re the most qualified to weigh in on.
At the same time, it would have allowed industry-paid “experts” more input and more chances to derail new rules. Scientists were left shaking their heads.
Or consider the “Regulatory Accountability Act,” which passed by the House earlier this year. It would make science-based policymaking next to impossible by introducing at least 70 new procedural requirements and giving corporations and special interests more power to interfere.
It would require extensive analysis of potential costs of new rules with no commensurate requirement to look at the benefits — like the 230,000 lives that the Clean Air Act will save by 2020. It’s designed to prevent agencies from doing the job that, by law, they’re supposed to do. That’s the opposite of “accountability” — and make no mistake, it’s an attack on science.
Special interests might see some short-term gain from congressional interference with science-based policy, but in the long term, we will all pay the price. Science matters, and the attacks on science-based policies are real. We certainly shouldn’t let ourselves be distracted from that fact.
Quigley has represented Illinois’ 5th Congressional District since 2009. He sits on the Appropriations and the Intelligence committees. Rosenberg is a director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
(January 28, 2015) — It’s no secret that Republicans aren’t fans of the Obama administration’s environmental and energy agenda. Republicans have continually called for reining in what they say are burdensome regulations that are hurting the economy. Now, newly in control of both chambers of Congress, Republicans have vowed go after high-profile Obama regulations such as limits on carbon-dioxide and mercury emissions from power plants and tougher ozone standards.
But now, Republicans want to go a step further by going after future regulations. They want to reform the scientific procedures and assessments that agencies — especially the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — use to determine how tough their policies should be.
Agencies draw on scientific data and the advice of outside scientists all the time to answer policy-related questions. To determine whether to protect a creature under the Endangered Species Act, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) might need data on the species’ population trends, habitat and vulnerability to environmental threats.
To determine whether a pollutant, cosmetic or pesticide is risky enough to be regulated, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and EPA might need toxicology data from substances’ manufacturers and peer-reviewed studies. Agencies also usually seek to estimate policies’ benefits and costs in dollar terms.
There’s nothing particularly new about the bills, as they were introduced in previous Congresses. But they didn’t receive much attention, not only because they concern some highly wonky and obscure procedures, but also because they never came up in the Democratic-held Senate.
Now, though, Republicans can put more pressure on President Obama by trying to send these measures through both chambers of Congress and to his desk. So you can expect to hear about these bills a lot more.
Take, for instance, Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s (R-Va.) Regulatory Accountability Act, which the House approved earlier this month on a mostly party-line vote. In addition to toughening up requirements for agencies’ cost-benefit analyses and data disclosure, the bill would also boost public comment opportunities. Proponents say those provisions would mean more transparent and cost-effective regulations.
Then there’s the EPA Secret Science Reform Act, sponsored in the last Congress by Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.). Republicans routinely accuse the EPA of not operating transparently with its data.
This bill, which the House hasn’t brought up yet this session, would bar EPA from making policies or doing analyses with data that is not “transparent” or “reproducible.” Its GOP proponents argue, quite simply, that public policy should use public data.
Republicans could also bring up EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act, sponsored in the last Congress by Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah). The bill would require that advisory panels be “fairly balanced,” and more transparent with public comments, which would result in sounder advice to the EPA, proponents say.
On the surface, these bills — one of which would affect all agencies and two of which target the EPA — seem well-intentioned. Who wouldn’t want more transparency? Indeed, the EPA in particular hasn’t exactly been a beacon of transparency during the Obama administration, especially in its handling of the press.
And who wouldn’t want agencies to use sounder science? Business and energy lobbying groups have made those arguments in supporting these bills, suggesting that the measures would yield less costly, more scientifically sound regulations.
But agencies like the EPA already struggle to finish regulations and risk assessments on time, if at all, and industry may already be flexing a lot of lobbying muscle. In the Obama administration, “the final versions of many of the most controversial rules were made less stringent,” as the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service noted.
And not only do many regulations take years just to propose, but years more to finalize, especially at the EPA: “Virtually all major EPA regulatory actions are subjected to court challenge, frequently delaying implementation for years,” the CRS report said. And, as many Democrats and public-interest groups worry, these bills could simply slow down agencies further and actually reduce their ability to use science.
For starters, already most rules — and virtually all major ones — involve one or more public comment periods, in which stakeholders can submit their own data or air complaints. Sometimes agencies take public comment on scientific and economic analyses themselves.
But Regulatory Accountability Act opponents are worried about a provision requiring agencies to calculate the “direct” and “indirect” costs of every possible version of a policy, and another provision letting outside groups request hearings to challenge the data and science behind certain rules. Those provisions could grind agencies to a halt with more hearings and virtually endless analyses, bill opponents argue.
Meanwhile, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has suggested that the secret-science bill might also bog down the EPA. The EPA uses about 50,000 studies each year, according to CBO, but under the bill, the agency would need obtain each study’s raw data.
Not only would that cost $10,000-$30,000 per study, CBO found, but it would also take time. Absent a budget boost, the EPA “would probably cut the number of studies it relies on by about one-half,” CBO said.
The secret-science bill’s data requirements also might spur time-consuming lawsuits, public-interest groups worry. Many studies use health or business information that are legally confidential. While the bill states that it wouldn’t require the disclosure of any legally protected data, the EPA would need to decide which data actually are protected, and its decisions could be challenged in court.
Then there’s the science advisory bill. Opponents are alarmed at a provision allowing scientists with potential conflicts of interest (say, from industry) to serve on advisory panels as long as they disclose their conflict. Another provision barring panelists from advising the agency on matters “directly” or “indirectly” involving their own work has also raised eyebrows.
As Elizabeth Grossman pointed out, the bill “does not clearly define what indirect involvement means,” potentially deeming top experts on a subject ineligible to advise the EPA on it. And a provision requiring advisory panels to respond to all public comments could encourage stakeholders to bombard panels with comments just to slow them down, opponents worry.
Republicans such as Goodlatte insist that bills such as his Regulatory Accountability Act would cut regulations’ costs, “all without stopping a single needed regulation from being issued,” as he said on the House floor. But if bill opponents’ concerns hold true, the measures are a recipe not for sounder regulations, but for weaker regulations and fewer of them.
As Christopher Flavelle argues in the case of the secret-science bill, maybe that’s the point: “It would, in other words, weaken the agency. Of course it would. That’s the purpose of the bill.” Not only would agencies need more time, but they might be scared off from making new regulations to begin with.
That’s not to say that every Obama policy (or any other president’s, for that matter) has drawn on the highest-quality science possible. But regardless of whether these bills genuinely seek to improve executive branch policies, they could easily have another, diametrically opposed set of consequences: to halt many future regulations before they can even get off the ground, whether the benefits exceed the costs or not.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
(April 29, 2015) — Amid all the talk about a new Cold War, here’s one hard, cold fact: Nearly 25 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Washington and Moscow still have nearly 2,000 atomic bombs ready to fly at a moment’s notice to destroy each other.
And that so-called hair-trigger alert is now sparking new concerns that deepening distrust between the former foes significantly raises the risk of a miscalculation and nuclear disaster.
On Thursday the American general who recently commanded US nuclear forces will lead a group of ex-Russian officers and other national security leaders in an appeal for the United States and Russia to take immediate steps to “de-alert” their respective arsenals.
Their proposal starkly warns that the current dismal state of relations — combined with other new factors such as the threat of cyberattacks — demands leaders on both sides be given more time to respond to potential provocations before ordering the unthinkable.
“Tension between Russia and the West over the Ukraine crisis has brought the parties one step closer to the precipice of nuclear brinksmanship, the point at which nuclear risk skyrockets,” according to the findings of the commission convened by the disarmament group Global Zero, which will be delivered at the United Nations. “This tension is uncharacteristic of their post-Cold War partnership, but it has flared to the point that it is producing dangerous misunderstandings and action-reaction cycles with strong escalatory updrafts.”
The group, led by retired four-star General James Cartwright, who oversaw the US nuclear arsenal before leaving the military in 2011, says the United States and Russia are at serious risk of an accidental nuclear confrontation, spurred by flawed intelligence or a misreading of the other side’s intentions.
The primary reason: Fully half of their large arsenals remain designed to respond within minutes, what is known as launch-on-warning. As the report points out, “the go-code comes as a message that is the length of a tweet.” And “Minuteman missiles are so named for a reason.”
By requiring more steps be taken to prepare the weapons for launch, Russia and the United States would have hours — if not several days — to develop better information before reacting, while still maintaining a strong deterrent force, Cartwright told POLITICO.
“These weapons that are on alert are particularly vulnerable to being hijacked or [the systems] indicate something that is not true in a situation where you only have a few minutes to make a decision,” said Cartwright, who was head of the US Strategic Command before becoming vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“In a tense military-political situation, like the one that exists currently as a result of the crisis in Ukraine, the probability of making erroneous decisions increases,” added retired Russian Major General Vladimir Dvorkin, former director of Research Institute No. 4 in the Russian Ministry of Defense. “That is why at the present time it would be necessary for the presidents of Russia and the US to formally renounce the launch-on-warning form.”
Neither side is believed to have plans to launch a surprise attack on the other, which would likely result in a full retaliation and the destruction of both countries. But the warnings come against the backdrop of new confrontations, both military and diplomatic, between the former adversaries.
Close encounters between US and Russian warplanes have recently escalated. NATO fighters have intercepted Russian aircraft hundreds of times this year. A US spy plane recently fled into Swedish airspace after it was closely trailed by Russian fighters. And the head of the North American Aerospace Defense Command has said that Russian bombers — some capable of carrying nuclear weapons — have made more forays out of Russian territory “than in any year since the Cold War.”
The new level of nuclear bluster coming from Moscow is also deeply worrisome. Last year a senior Russian general raised the prospect of using nuclear weapons to preempt aggressive moves from the NATO military alliance. Russian officials have also reportedly threatened to use nuclear weapons in the Ukrainian conflict.
“I think that startled people both in Europe and the United States,” said Ambassador Richard Burt, who was the US negotiator for the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia and participated in the new study, which is backed by more than 75 global leaders on nuclear security issues.
What isn’t new is that each day military personnel in early warning centers around the world monitor the heavens for missile or air threats. They rely on radars and satellites to assess whether satellite launches, missile tests, or even volcanic eruptions or flocks of geese are an attack.
US early warning crews have just three minutes to make an initial assessment before the process begins of alerting the president he may have to decide to retaliate. Once or twice a week, according to a congressional report cited in the new study, “the phenomena appear to pose a possible nuclear missile threat requiring a second, closer look.”
There have also been a number of close calls reported over the years.
In 1995, a Norwegian weather rocket was nearly mistaken for a US nuclear attack. Then-Russian President Boris Yeltsin had four minutes to respond and opted not to retaliate. In 2010, American missile crews lost contact for an entire hour with a field of 50 Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missiles in Wyoming, an incident in which “the normally firewalled command and control systems for these missiles were likely breached,” according to the report.
Meanwhile, most cooperation between Washington and Moscow on nuclear weapons issues has been a casualty of the Ukraine crisis. For example, the two countries have halted a series of cooperative efforts aimed at reducing the spread of nuclear weapons or materials around the globe and have refrained from pursuing any new arms control treaties aimed at further reducing the size of their nuclear arsenals.
“The traditional reductions approach seems at least for now not very viable,” said Burt. “Putin has not sounded very interested in this. Finding ways to stabilize the existing nuclear balance perhaps could be more promising.”
But renewed US-Russian tensions are not the only reason for action, the former military officers, national security leaders and diplomats warn.
For one, all the world’s nuclear powers are upgrading their nuclear arsenals and shrinking the time needed to deploy them. “Warning and decision timelines are getting shorter, and consequently the potential for fateful human error in nuclear control systems is growing larger,” the report states.
At the same time, cyberattacks increasingly threaten the integrity of nuclear command and control systems, further raising the risk of misunderstanding. “Could such hackers break firewalls, the air gaps, and transmit launch orders to launch crews or even to the weapons themselves?” the co-authors of the report ask.
Cartwright said the prospect is particularly scary “when you associate [it] with 1960s, 70s and 80s technology for [nuclear] communications” still in wide use.
An electronic onslaught against such systems, the report adds, “degrades the coherence and rationality of decision-making” — especially if hackers have insider help with passwords or launch codes. The threat of a terrorist group stealing nuclear weapons is also greater when the weapons are moved regularly in order to be ready for use.
The high-alert status maintained by both sides was a bedrock of Cold War nuclear strategy — namely, the only sure-fire way to deter the enemy from launching a surprise attack was the knowledge that as soon as the missiles or bombers were detected there would be a counter-strike.
But that approach is increasingly seen as an anachronism — and one that does not address the pressing security threats of today, such as nuclear proliferation, terrorism or cyber warfare.
“The current strategy of mutual assured destruction perpetuates nuclear stockpiles that are much larger than required for deterrence and that have scant efficacy in dealing with these contemporary threats,” the new proposal states.
Cartwright and dozens of other officials who held high positions in Russia, the United States and other nuclear powers like India and Pakistan are proposing a schedule for Moscow and Washington to de-alert: Twenty percent of their weapons in the first year, or about 170 weapons on each side; 50 percent within three years; and 80 percent within six years.
“Within ten years, 100 percent (850 weapons on each side) could be off alert if US-Russian relations have returned to normal and their security cooperation has deepened,” according to the report.
Similar proposals have been made in the past. Indeed, then-Sen. Barack Obama said in 2007 that if elected president he would “work with Russia to take US and Russian ballistic missiles off hair-trigger alert,” saying that the American arsenal was “focused on deterring the Soviet Union — a country that doesn’t exist.” President George W. Bush similarly expressed support for de-alerting the arsenals. In each case, the two sides never took steps to begin the discussions.
China is seen as a model, according to the new proposal: All its weapons are believed to be de-alerted and would have to be transported considerable distances by rail, road or air to be mated with the missiles designed to launch them.
But there are differences of opinion on whether the Russian government, which blessed the participation in the commission of three retired generals, would be open to taking similar steps.
“Whether this will get resonance in the Kremlin is a mystery,” said Burt. “But it is at least worth raising.”
Steve Andreasen, who served as director for defense policy and arms control on the US National Security Council from 1993 to 2001, said he believes there is considerable support from key Russians.
“At the expert level in Russia and former Russian military there is a recognition of the risk and support for taking steps to reduce the risk,” he said.
The potential risks are just too great to do otherwise, maintains Stephen Schwartz, an expert in nuclear strategy at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.
In the event of a warning of a potential attack, “there would be enormous pressure on leaders from their military advisers to act fast,” he said. “It would take an extraordinary leader — someone like Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis — to push back on that. De-alerting would remove that option and the pressure to act quickly and keep things from spiraling out of control.”
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
There are still around 16,000 nuclear weapons on the planetâ€”most of them much more destructive than those that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki nearly 70 years ago. And around 1,800 US and Russian nuclear weapons are still on hair-trigger alertâ€”ready to launch in a matter of minutes.
The Forgotten Power of the Vietnam Protest Movement, 1965-1975 Tom Hayden / Tom Hayden.com
Submitted to the conference on the “Vietnam War: Then and Now, Assessing the Critical Lessons”
WASHINGTON DC (April 29-May 1, 1975) — The era of protest against Vietnam — 1965-1975 — was unique as the emergence of a nationwide peace movement on a scale not seen before in American history. There were previous war resisters, for example, the Society of Friends, the opponents of the Mexican War and the Indian wars, critics of the imperial taking of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines, and opponents of World War I, numbering in the many thousands. But no peace movement was as large-scale, long lasting, intense, and threatening to the status quo as the protests against the Vietnam War.
The roots of the Vietnam peace movement were in the civil rights, student, and women’s movements of the early Sixties. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Students for a Democratic Society, the Free Speech Movement and the National Organization for Women all were asserting domestic demands just as the US draft and troop escalation took place in 1965.
SNCC’s Mississippi Summer Project and Freedom Democrats’ convention challenge occurred at the time of the August 1964 Tonkin Gulf “incident” and war authorization. SDS supported “part of the way” with LBJ in late 1964 while planning the first peace march in April 1965 in case Johnson broke his pledge of no ground troops. The Free Speech Movement of September 1964 set the stage for the Vietnam Day Committee and Berkeley’s first teach-in.
The civil rights movement and also Womenâ€™s Strike inspired the National Organization of Women for Peace, which opposed Strontium-90 and pushed for President Kennedy’s 1963 arms treaty with the Soviet Union. Together these movements were demanding a shift from Cold War priorities to “jobs and justice”, the banner of the 1963 March on Washington, and were deeply shocked by the assassination of Kennedy and subsequent escalation in Vietnam.
During the Vietnam peace movement era between 1965-1975, Americans took to the streets in numbers exceeding one hundred thousand on at least a dozen occasions, sometimes half-million. At least 29 young Americans were murdered while protesting the war. Tens of thousands were arrested.
The greatest student strikes in American history shut down campuses for weeks. Black people rose in hundreds of “urban rebellions” partly against the shift from the War on Poverty to the Vietnam War. GIs rebelled on scores of bases and ships, refused orders, threw their medals at the Congress, and often attacked their superior officers, prompting warnings about the “collapse” of the armed forces by the Seventies. Peace candidates appeared in Congressional races by 1966 and became a serious presence in presidential politics by 1968.
President Lyndon B. Johnson was forced to resign because of a revolt within his own party in 1968, and Richard Nixon resigned after escalating a secret war and unleashing spies and provocateurs against dissenters at home.
The 1965-75 peace movement reached a scale which threatened the foundations of the American social order, making it an inspirational model for future social movements and a nightmare which elites ever since have hoped to wipe from memory. It’s far simpler, after all, to incorporate into the American Story a chapter about a social movement overcoming discrimination than the saga of a failed war in which tens of thousands of Americans died while killing others.
The events of those ten years (1965-75) can be compared to the “general strike” — or non-cooperation â€“ of the slaves on southern plantations that undermined the Confederacy, according to the classic study by W. E. B. Dubois, Black Reconstruction.
Dubois wrote that, “The slave entered upon a general strike against slavery by the same methods that he had used during the period of the fugitive slave. He ran away to the first place of safety and offered his services to the Federal Army . . . and so it was true that this withdrawal and bestowal of his labor decided the war.” 
In the case of Vietnam, the Vietnamese peasantry demanding land reform were the equivalent of the African slaves who resisted slavery and demanded “40 acres and a mule” the century before. The fundamental role of the Vietnamese resistance to the French and American occupiers will be discussed below. But their resistance awakened and triggered the eventual “general strike” in America that paralyzed campuses, cities, and barracks, forced a realignment to American politics, and brought the war to its end.
The first strand of the American resistance began in campus communities. Starting with polite dissent and educational teach-ins, by 1969-1970 there was a wave of student strikes that shuttered hundreds of campuses, involved four million in protests  and forced closures of those key institutions through the spring semester in 1970. Second, at the same time, 1964-71, there were seven hundred “civil disturbances” with more than one hundred deaths in Watts, Newark, and Detroit alone.
Those “riots” were in protest against budgets that favored war spending over social programs, and they included many returning Vietnam veterans or their family members at home. Third, there came a GI revolt that included over 500 fraggings of officers in 1969-70, scores of â€œriots” on military bases, forty thousand desertions to Canada and Sweden, and official reports that the army was “approaching collapse.” ”From 1970 on, the fight against the war was moving from the campus to the barracks,”  wrote one historian.
Amidst this general collapse, the peace movement was able to generate a political constituency that attracted peace candidates who threatened the Cold War consensus. The political revolt began in 1966 with the Robert Scheer and Stanley Sheinbaum candidacies in Democratic primaries, and grew into the national campaigns of Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy in 1968 and George McGovern in 1972. The McCarthy campaign was driven almost entirely by student volunteers who later created the Vietnam moratoriums.
The military draft was ended by January 1973 as, “an effective political weapon against the burgeoning antiwar movement.” A possible victory for peace was denied when Robert Kennedy was assassinated in June 1968 shortly after the killing of Martin Luther King Jr. By 1972, the Democratic Party had adopted a platform calling for complete and immediate withdrawal from Vietnam.
American politics would be changed for decades by the Vietnam generation, much as the Abolitionists and Radical Republicans were allies of the Underground Railroad and the “general strike” in which slaves turned the tide of war. The deaths of King and the Kennedys, like the murder of Lincoln, undermined the transformative possibilities of a Second Reconstruction.
A cautionary conceptual note: thus “general strike” was not in any sense a planned or coordinated campaign, nor one led by radical vanguards. Rather, it was a continuous series of populist reactions that took place because of a vacuum of leadership by mainstream institutions. Activist peace and justice groups gave inspiration and support to this Great Refusal to conform, but massive desperation was the motor force. The alternative was submission, and that was not the character of the times.
The general strike forced a systemic crisis, “As deep as the civil war (and caused a prediction that) the very survival of the nation will be threatened,” according to the Scranton Commission appointed by President Nixon after Kent State. It was a, “Crisis as deep as the civil war (and) the very survival of the nation will be threatened,” in the words of the 1970 Scranton Commission.
The crisis threatened the very stability of the economic system too; as early as 1967, “New York’s financial community and the interests it represented were seriously worried about the war.” Business executives for peace started placing full-page ads in the New York Times that year.
There was no light at either end of the tunnel, from Berkeley to Saigon. The great rethinking was symbolized by the private consultations held between the president and a select group of business and military “wise men”, who at first backed the war but reversed themselves in a March 1968 White House discussion, shocking Johnson with their advice to cut his losses and disengage.
The war and the growing crisis at home had split the unity of the Cold War establishment, revealed most sharply in the Watergate crisis where Nixon chose to circumvent the Constitution in order to prolong the war. It was in this context that the hawkish ex-Marine Daniel Ellsberg chose to release the secret Pentagon Papers and face treason charges. His co-conspirator, Anthony Russo, was changed by face-to-face interrogations with Vietcong detainees, whom he came to respect. (Their action was the model for recent whistleblowers like Julian Assange and Edward Snowden.)
When the new doves in the ruling institutions began to demand disengagement, their views converged with the more radical demands of the anti-war movement to erode all remaining support for the Vietnam policy. The pillars of the Vietnam policy had been undermined by people power.
The democratic process had prevailed over the “cancer on the presidency,” as John Dean described the Watergate scandal. In the eyes of many establishment figures who originally endorsed the war, it had become unwinnable, unaffordable, and a threat to domestic tranquility.
Instead of blurry images of chaos, the peace movement should be seen as a shaving unfolded with an inner logic: at first, from the margins of society among young people who could be drafted but could not vote; from the inner cities where they were drafted in great numbers; from the poets and intellectuals; and finally spreading into mainstream sectors considered centrist.
The trajectory was rapid, from 1964 to 1967. The peace constituency was large enough to polarize American politics, with the Democratic Party realigning between 1966 and 1968. The counter-movement was severe, ranging from police repression, to Nixon’s “dirty tricks” campaign, to false promises of peace to sway voters, and finally to the withdrawal of US ground troops combined with an invisible air war. The war ended nonetheless, both on the battlefield with the fall of Saigon, and the fall of Nixon at Watergate.
A second observation about the Vietnam peace movement is that it was so divided — a movement of movements, which it was impossible to cohere into a unified national force like the AFL-CIO or NAACP. There were internal divisions along the lines of class, race, and gender; civilian resisters and rebels within the military; street protestors and politicians; advocates of nonviolence, electoral politics, disruption, and resistance.
These different factions often quarreled bitterly, some at the instigation of the FBI but also due to ego sectarian and ideological rivalries. But in the end they interacted in cumulative ways that brought the war to an end, and with it the various internal movements themselves. For example, the students pushed their professors to call teach-ins, considered a moderate alternative to campus strikes, but which reached a much larger base of fence sitters.
Similarly, the growing street resistance encouraged political leaders like McCarthy and RFK to define their campaigns as alternatives to the radical outside confrontations (even using phrases like “Clean for Gene” to distinguish themselves from the hippies.) In the end, as argued above, moderate sectors of the establishment joined with the moderate wing of the movement to disengage from Vietnam in order to save the American system as a whole.
The tragedy of the anti-war movement is that the whole never lasted as greater than its parts. It might have been unified from 1968 onward if Martin Luther King had lived, Robert Kennedy was elected president, and the war terminated in 1969. That possibility was destroyed by their assassinations, leaving a disoriented, scarred and scattered generation of â€œmight-have-beens.”
When the war did end in 1975, many of its opponents already had drifted away, moved on with their lives, or taken up more promising agendas. The peace movement had exhausted its historic role. So fractious were its groupings that there never was a reunion or convention to explore its meaning.
The peace movement is losing on the battlefield of memory. The Pentagon is winning the war in the American mind, which it lost on the actual battlefield.
As long ago as 1980, the award-winning journalist Frances Fitzgerald warned that the anti-war movement was disappearing from history textbooks which, she wrote, “Contain no reference, or almost none, to the peace movement or to any of the political turmoil of the late sixties and early seventies . . . in the future, this slate may be wiped clean.” That danger of historical cleansing has only increased, despite excellent histories. As Fitzgerald predicted, the mainstream impression is that, “The war stopped because President Nixon and Secretary Kissinger decided that it should.”
The Vietnam protestors may never achieve the recognition given other movements from the same era — civil rights, women’s rights, farmworkers, the environmental movement, and more recent struggles like that for LGBT rights. Earlier struggles for workers’ rights were recognized, institutionalized, and legitimized in American politics in ways the peace movement has not been.
The hawks who conceived and carried out a war in which 3 million Indochinese and 58,000 Americans were killed, and which ended in an American failure, have lived on to enjoy comfortable roles in successive administrations and the dubious wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Virtually none of them have apologized or resigned. Instead they rose in the ranks of the national security establishment while carrying out military follies based on many of the same assumptions that led to the Vietnam quagmire.
Those who predicted and opposed the Vietnam debacle were rarely included in mainstream national security debates up to the present, thus narrowing and tilting the spectrum of “legitimate” policy options far to the right, while American public opinion evolved to become more skeptical towards foreign adventures and secret wars.
The so-called “Vietnam syndrome,” defined as popular norms against “policing the world” and the “imperial presidency” reflected in public preferences for “no more Vietnams,” were treated by the national elite has an infection which had to be purged from the body politic.
The trivializing of the peace movement’s history has even affected the public memory of Martin Luther King Jr., at whose Washington monument we gather for a vigil on May 2. Dr. King opposed the Vietnam War in a public speech as early as June 1965, just after the first March on Washington sponsored by SDS. His most important anti-war speech, in April 1967, was met by angry editorials in the New York Times, The Washington Post, and condemnations by the Johnson White House, and the leaders of labor and most civil rights organizations.
It was inappropriate, they claimed, for a “Negro spokesman” to stray into the territory of foreign policy. And though King’s anti-war message is included today on the plaque at the King memorial, he is generally remembered as a civil rights leader and not a figure who opposed the Vietnam War and who was organizing a Poor People’s Campaign until his last breath. The myth is preserved that freedom can be expanded at home while bombings escalate abroad. Few remember that after Dr. King’s death, amidst the police brutality and street battles at the 1968 Democratic convention, a mule train of civil rights workers from Dr. King’s organization were there in silent tribute to what might have been.
We will vigil at Dr. King’s monument to pay thanks to him as a peace and justice leader who resisted the Vietnam War and whose work for peace, civil rights, and economic equality remains unfinished. We were part of the cause he led, and he was part of us. History has shown that he was right, for the full realization of his justice agenda is blocked by the permanent war economy and national surveillance state.
One can only guess at why many in the elites hope to forget the Vietnam peace movement, why public memories have atrophied, and why there are few if any memorials to peace. The denial of our very impact, the caricatures of who we really were, the questioning of our patriotism, the snide suggestions that we offered no alternative but surrender to the external threat, has cast a pall of illegitimacy over our memory and a chilling effect among many peace dissenters.
One reason for this forgetting is that the Vietnam war was lost, a historical fact which representatives of a self-proclaimed superpower can hardly acknowledge.
Rather than admit that their war was a failure, it is more convenient to lay the blame on the peace movement, the mainstream media, the dovish politicians at home, and the so-called enemies within. For if the war rested on false assumptions, the deaths of 58,000 Americans and millions of Indochinese people would be blamed on a whole generation of American policy makers, intellectuals, and generals. Those at fault could never look the families of the dead in their eyes. Mass resignations would be required. Instead, the war critics have been ignored or scapegoated while those at fault have enjoyed decades of immunity from blame.
Since the Vietnam war-makers will never accept responsibility or acknowledge the full truth, those who opposed the war are needed more than ever to prevent history from repeating.
We must write our own history, tell our own story, hold these commemorations, and teach the lessons of Vietnam. One of those lessons is that peace and justice movements can make a difference.
The power of the past peace movement is fading from memory partly because the movement itself was deeply fragmented and rarely unified. It is not accidental that the Sixties peace movement has never gathered for a reunion. Our differences were too great to reunite. The anti-war movement reproduced many of the racial, class, gender, and cultural divides of the society from which we came.
On top of those differences there was the infection of sectarian power struggles that afflicts social movements in general. Thousands of informants and COINTELPRO provocateurs did their best to spread the poisons of distrust and division. In the end there were overlapping but uncoordinated insurgencies that could not be unified as a common organized force. Without that unity, how could a common story be told to future generations?
It is not too late. The Vietnam War is not even fully over. The soil of Vietnam is contaminated with Agent Orange. Unexploded ordinance covers the landscape. Those deformed by our defoliants will transmit their disabilities to their children for generations. Each generation has a responsibility to help mitigate this permanent damage.
Many of the worst aspects of the Vietnam policy are being recycled instead of reconsidered. For example, the current Army-Marine Counterinsurgency Manual describes the 1969-70 Phoenix Program in Vietnam as a misunderstood “success” that was forced to a premature end due to anti-war movement propaganda.
The Phoenix Program — complete with informants, interrogations, and assassinations — was revived in Iraq in 2006, where the top counterinsurgency adviser to General David Petraeus even called for a “global Phoenix program.” Indeed, under the banner of counterterrorism such programs are being carried out in many countries.
The original Pentagon propaganda refrain that Vietnam was a case of “aggression from the North” is repeated in popular culture, most recently in Rory Kennedy’s documentary, “Last Days of Vietnam,” with an image of a sharp dagger pointing from Hanoi to Saigon.
This “northern aggression” thesis, which originated with the State Department’s 1965 White Paper, was debunked in the early teach-ins in Ann Arbor and Berkeley, as noted below. Blaming “outside agitators” for every ill has been a staple of law enforcement and military thinking for decades.
THE SCALE OF THE PEACE MOVEMENT RECALLED
In our early twenties, we were required intellectually to learn about Vietnam on our own, and construct an alternative to the dominant paradigm over our lives; the notion that the Cold War was necessary to stop a monolithic international communism from knocking over the so-called “dominoes” of the Free World, one by one.
In our teach-ins, our research, and texts by Carl Oglesby, Robert Scheer, and others, we drew the conclusion that it was revolutionary nationalism (led by communists) that the United States was trying to oppose with military force and client dictatorships the world over, under the facade of the “Free World”. With respect to the 1965 State Department White Paper, “Aggression from the North,” we countered that Vietnam was a single nation that had been divided temporarily by the West at the 1954 Geneva Conference, and been denied the guarantee of a nationwide election which Ho Chi Minh would have won.
As I.F. Stone reported, 80 percent of the southern Vietcong’s weapons were captured from the US or Saigon militaries, and the Pentagon’s own charts showed only 179 communist-made weapons were found among 15,100 captured by Saigon between 1962-64.
The teach-ins were the participatory method of our exploration. The March 24 1965 teach-in on the Ann Arbor campus of University of Michigan drew together several thousand students and faculty leaders in all-night discussions and lectures. The Ann Arbor event was carried by radio hookup nationally for 12 hours, and reached 122 campuses. The May 21-22 Berkeley teach-in included 35,000 participants over 36 hours.
The April 17 1965 March on Washington was the largest march against a war in American history. That fall there were 40,000 marching in Washington, 20,000 in New York City, and 15,000 at the Oakland induction center. Thousands more marched in 80 other cities.
From zero draft protests in 1964, by 1967 there were anti-draft actions on half of all public university campuses. 3,000 young men signed “We Won’t Go” petitions in spring 1967. 5,000 turned in their draft cards and some 10-25,000 “delinquent cases” were reported to the Department of Justice between 1966-69. Ramsey Clark’s Justice Department was prosecuting 1,500 draft refusal cases by 1968.
The November 1969 Moratorium was again the “largest peace march ever,” with a half-million in Washington alone. During that decade as a whole there were at least two national protests per year involving over tens of thousands on each occasion.
Public opinion shifted against the war as early as 1966 when Robert Scheer and Stanley Sheinbaum won over 40 percent of the Democratic vote in insurgent primaries in California against Johnson Democrats. The percentage of Americans viewing Vietnam as a “mistake” jumped from 28 percent (1966) to 51 percent by October 1967. In 1969 alone, one hundred peace candidates ran in twenty states. 
Senator William Fulbright mesmerized the interested public with critical hearings on Vietnam, faulting an “arrogance of power” as the root cause. The path was opened to electing peace candidates in future Congressional races, among them (Bella Abzug , Bob Kastenmeier , Ron Dellums , Pat Shroeder , Tom Harkin , and presidential primaries [Robert Kennedy, George McGovern, Eugene McCarthy]. By 1968 Lyndon Johnson was surrendering the presidency and the peace forces were remaking the Democratic Party.
The assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, coupled with sharp divisions between organized labor, Cold War Democrats and the new peace and justice movements, made a presidential victory impossible in 1968. 30 million Americans voted for the flawed campaign of George McGovern in 1972, a total that was inconceivable at the time of the first march only seven years before. Both the movement and the peace candidates that grew out of the movement have to be considered together in weighing the immense impact that was generated from the margins to the mainstream between 1965 and 1968.
In the language of the Left, a domestic and global insurgency had driven open a “split in the ruling class” between those who favored “victory” at any cost and those who believed in cutting military, economic and political losses in order to restore stability at home.
This even took a conspiratorial form as when the so-called “Wise Men” met with LBJ in early 1968 and advised him to disengage, a shock which resulted in his dropping out of the presidential race a few weeks later.  It was a fracturing of the institutional order that took place, not simply an argument among the powerful. If not a “pre-revolutionary situation,” it was the greatest domestic conflict since the Civil War or Great Depression. Again, as the Scranton Report concluded, “If this trend continues, if this crisis of understanding endures, the very survival of the nation will be threatened.”
Hopefully, future conferences will reflect in depth and detail on the late 60s — early 70s when the growth and radicalization of the movement continued at a rapid pace not seen since the populist and radical labor movements of the century before.
Many universities were exposed by student research as being complicit in the war machine; the Voice student party in Ann Arbor, for example, discovered that the University was developing infrared sensors for jungle warfare. Protests against Dow Chemical’s use of napalm erupted on more than one hundred campuses. 
Universities began calling in the police, “Marking the first time that outside force had ever been used on college campuses on such a large scale”.  The use of the epithet “pig” appeared in New Left Notes for the first time on September 25, 1967.  Escalation of the war caused an escalation of resistance.
There were 41 cases of bombing and arson in fall 1968, mainly against draft boards and ROTC buildings, quadruple the number of the spring before. By spring 1969 there were at least 84 bombing, attempted bombings or arson attacks in the first six months alone. The numbers rose — 169 cases of bombing and arson in May 1969, four ROTC buildings per day during a single week.
We must remember the severe lengths to which the state went to prosecute a war, which a majority of Americans thought to be a mistake.
Police, troopers, guardsmen or vigilantes while protesting against the war killed at least 29 Americans. Four died at Kent State, four in the Chicano Moratorium, two at Jackson State. That doesn’t include the hundreds killed in black urban insurrections during those years, as black youth were conscripted for the front lines in Vietnam while funding for the war on poverty was scaled back.
The numbers must include at least eight Americans who took their own lives by self-immolation in protest of the war.
In evaluating the scale of the revolt, we must remember the counterinsurgency programs we faced at home. Deputy Attorney General Richard Kleindienst recommended in 1969 that we be “rounded up and put in detention camps.”  The FBI assigned 20,000 full-time agents and “at least an equal number of informers.” 
Twenty federal agencies including the US Army gathered “political dossiers on 18 million civilians.”  Lewis Powell, then head of the Virginia board of education, advocated mass expulsions, saying, “The only language student extremists understand is force.”  During Chicago 1968, the FBI alone assigned 320 agents. The Pentagon established a Civil Disturbance Directorate to suppress campuses and ghettos. Prosecutors and grand juries went after twenty “conspiracy” cases against anti-war defendants in Chicago, Seattle, Harrisburg, Gainesville, Boston and beyond. 
Drug arrests of American teenagers jumped 774 percent from 1960 levels.  The liberal New York Times editorialized in 1968 that, “The line has to be drawn somewhere if an orderly society is to survive.”  Having lectured Dr. King to stay in his place, the Times was calling for the suppression of an activist generation, in which an estimated one million students described themselves as “revolutionaries” in a national survey in 1970.
All this is dimly remembered in this time, and mostly through images of disorder and mayhem. Indeed, chaos is the chief cultural memory of the Sixties, but not the actual “Operation Chaos” unleashed by our intelligence agencies against thousands of youthful resisters, including such major icons as Muhammad Ali, Dr. Benjamin Spock and John Lennon.
The image of chaos smothers the logical sequence of domestic radicalization and repression that could have been prevented at any time by a policy of de-escalation, negotiation and American withdrawal, if Johnson and Nixon had been sincere in their promises of sending no American ground troops (1964) or that peace was “at hand” (1972). In the end, the democratic process did not override the will of the war makers until the Saigon regime collapsed and Richard Nixon was driven out of office.
As Thomas Powers summarized in his classic 1973 study The War at Home, “The anti-war movement in the United States created the necessary conditions for the shift in official policy from escalation to disengagement.” 
THE DEEP MOVEMENT:
THE VIETNAMESE RESISTANCE, CIVIL RIGHTS AND THE GI REVOLTS
Neglected in most Vietnam narratives are three threads of resistance that underlay the growth of the larger peace movement phenomenon from 1965-75.
The first was Vietnam’s anti-colonial, nationalist resistance after World War 2, which arose long before there was a peace movement on the horizon. In the conventional narrative, the role of the Vietnamese on political, military and diplomatic battlefronts is rarely mentioned.
The Vietminh decided to take up prolonged armed struggle in relative isolation, but in the belief that their resistance eventually would provoke war-weariness and an anti-war movement in France. They made a key distinction between “the French government” and “the French people” that would carry over to the American war.
Whether Confucian or Marxist, this Vietnamese approach meant fighting fiercely on the battlefield while framing the struggle in terms that the French people eventually might understand, i.e., the rights of self-determination and national independence, harking back to the French Revolution. This same nationalist, patriotic approach attempted to unify Vietnamese of nearly all backgrounds in opposition to foreign colonial intervention.
The same framing would be applied to the American war. From the beginning, then, theirs was a military struggle with core political and diplomatic dimensions. (By comparison, ISIS, or the Islamic State, relies on a “management of savagery” strategy, which categorizes their enemy as “infidel” Zionists and Christians, as described in Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger’s ISIS, The State of Terror (2015).
After World War 2, the US government had a fateful choice to make. They could have tried coexistence with Vietnam’s communist-led nationalist front (the Vietminh led by Ho Chi Minh), or intervened with weapons and funds to restore white French colonial rule.
For a brief period in 1945, OSS operatives on the ground advised cooperating with the popular Vietminh forces. Ho Chi Minh encouraged non-intervention by declaring Vietnam’s national independence in language that cited the US Declaration of Independence. But having chosen a Cold War against the Soviet Union, in which Vietnam would be a proxy, the US chose the path of shoring up the French.
Since the majority of the Vietnamese population sympathized with Ho and the Vietminh, the French-US strategy inevitably became a dirty war with torture, mass detentions, civilian casualties and iron-fisted rule, which gradually alienated much of the French population with their republican tradition.
The Vietminh defeated the French militarily on the battlefield at Dienbienphu in 1954, not in the salons or streets of France. But the war, “Created the necessary conditions for the shift in official policy from escalation to disengagement,” as Powers later wrote about the American war.
The government of Pierre Mendes-France negotiated a political settlement at Geneva in 1955, including French troop withdrawals, a temporary partition of the country at the 17th parallel, and a plan for nationwide elections and reunification two years later. The Eisenhower administration intervened to prevent elections and reunification, choosing instead to adopt the Korean War model of permanent partition into two Vietnams. That guaranteed the gradual escalation of the US war and the invention of a client regime in Saigon.
It also cemented a dark assumption that immoral means were necessary to defeat communism and preserve the option of pro-Western market economies under friendly regimes. The immoral means were justified in part by a racial superiority complex towards Orientals as inherently inferior savages who placed no value on individual life.
As Kennedy’s air force secretary, Gen. Curtis LeMay, expressed this reasoning, “We ought to nuke the chinks.”  And as a character in Joseph Conrad’s novel foreshadowing Vietnam, Heart of Darkness, declared, “Exterminate the brutes!” 
An early exposition of the “necessity” of dirty wars was contained in the 1960 novel, The Centurions by Jean Larteguy, re-released in May 2015. Extolling the professional warrior class of ancient Rome, The Centurians became a favorite work of later generals like David Petraeus, the US Special Forces, and neo-conservative hawks like Robert Kaplan, who penned the introduction to the 2015 edition. 
The premise of The Centurions was that civilian populations (back on the home front) had little tolerance or understanding of the need for repressive and repugnant measures in wartime. Torture was rationalized, according to one of Larteguy’s characters, because the Vietminh enemy would, “Go to any lengths . . . beyond the conventional notion of good and evil.” 
Kaplan, updating the novel 55 years later, writes that, “Vietnam, like Iraq, represented a war of frustrating half-measures against an enemy that respected no limits,” and was, “Not limited by Western notions of war.”  The first corollary of this sensibility was the dropping of far greater tons of bombs on Indochina than on the white Axis powers in World War II.
The US dropped 7.8 million tons of bombs on Indochina in comparison with 2.7 million tons dropped by Allied forces . Frequent references to the Vietnamese or Chinese as “ants” or other insects suggested extermination as a solution. The second result was that the new centurions — our Special Operations forces — become a detached fraternal of professional warriors harboring disdain towards civilian voters, journalists and politicians, and thus towards democracy itself. In their view, wars are lost on the home front, which leads to thinking of the public as a potential enemy and democracy a process to be tolerated at best — and circumvented when necessary.
NO VIETCONG EVER CALLED ME A NIGGER â€“
RACE AND THE PEACE MOVEMENT
The second strand of the deep anti-war movement was the growing resistance from communities of color who linked their civil rights struggles to the cause of peace.
This Vietnam comic book by the young civil rights leader Julian Bond, published in 1967, shows the advanced perspective of African American students in the early years of the Vietnam war.
Bond wrote this early people’s history, with illustrations by T. G. Lewis, in 1967, the year after the Georgia legislature expelled him from elected office because he opposed the draft and the war. He is an honored elder of our generation these days, but public memory of his unified stance on civil rights and the Vietnam War is often forgotten, as is the price he paid for his beliefs.
The same brutal and racist politicians he fought at home were busy drafting young black and brown men to die in Vietnam. These officials were not simply old-style southern segregationist like Eastland and Stennis of Mississippi, but liberal Democrats like Robert McNamara.
In those days McNamara announced his “Project 100,000” to induct thousands of young men into the military from the inner cities program as part of the Great Society. These youngsters, illiterate and unemployed, were not qualified for the military draft until McNamara implemented his “liberal” solution. The Pentagon drafted thousands who failed to meet the standards on the Armed Forces Qualifications Test, which McNamara explained by saying that: “The poor of America have not had the opportunity to earn their fair share of the wealth of this nation’s abundance, but they can be given an opportunity to serve in their country’s defense and they can be given an opportunity to return to civilian life with skills and aptitudes which, for them, and their families, will reverse the downward spiral of human decay.” 
More than half the American soldiers killed in Vietnam were African-American, Puerto Rican, Mexican-American, Native American, and Asian-American, sending them to early graves instead of the jobs and training programs they were promised. In 1967, a presidential commission found that a â€œdisproportionate” 22.4% killed in action the previous year were African-American.
At the time, no figures were kept for Mexican-Americans, but their percentage of those dying on the front lines was similar.  Puerto Ricans were listed as fourth in Vietnam combat deaths while their island was twenty-sixth in population ranking in the US. 
That’s why Julian Bond wrote his history at the height of the civil rights movement, because his Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) believed that every person had a right to debate, decide and vote on the policies that would affect their lives. “Let the people decide”, the slogan on a 1965 SDS button, was unsettling to those in power, especially when it was being demanded from the Selma bridge to the Oakland Induction Center.
John Lewis, now an honored member of Congress and then the chairman of SNCC, asked the question, “I don’t see how President Johnson can send troops to Vietnam and can’t send troops to Selma, Alabama.”
It spread from there, a peace movement out of the early days of the student civil rights movement. In 1966, Muhammad Ali, refusing the draft and preparing for prison, sent this message to the world:
“My conscious won’t let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America. And shoot them for what? They never called me nigger, they never lynched me, they didn’t put no dogs on me, they didn’t rob me of my nationality, rape and kill my mother and father . . . Shoot them for what? . . . How can I shoot them poor people, Just take me to jail.”
Another SNCC leader, Bob Moses, made this observation at seeing a photo of a Vietnamese child:
He saw, â€œa little colored boy, standing against a wire fence, with a big, huge white marine with a gun at his back. But what I knew was that the people in this country saw a communist rebel. And that we travel in different realities and that the problem in working for peace in Vietnam is how to change the isolated sense of reality this country has.
At the first national protest against the Vietnam War, organized by Students for a Democratic Society in April 1965, SDS President Paul Potter issued these memorable words:
“The real lever for change in America is a domestic social movement . . . ”
Paul and SDS were part of a new peace upsurge, triggered by a new consciousness that the Vietnam War was about the same problems we were facing at home: racism, discrimination, poverty, voteless sharecroppers from the Mississippi Delta to the Mekong Delta. We all hoped that students would awaken (as they did), that liberals would awaken (as they did), that rank-and-file Democrats would awaken (as they did), but the outcome of the American war would be decided in large part by people of color from America’s inner cities whose children were drafted into a war they didn’t see as in their interest.
The political establishment worried about this. The liberals at the New York Times revealed their paternal bias when they denounced Dr. King for taking a stand against Vietnam in April 1967, the time when the Julian Bond pamphlet was circulating.
An African American preacher, they thought, was no more “qualified” to decide about Vietnam than the hundred thousand uneducated black and brown youth they were sending to the front lines. The Times’ worries were amplified greatly as ghetto after ghetto was burned in uprisings, which began as the war escalated.
The immediate causes were police violence, racial divisions and jobs, but it looked like, felt like, and was like Vietnam, a kind of internal colonialism that mirrored the invasion and occupation in Saigon. A massive surveillance and suppression system known as COINTELPRO was erected in America while Vietnamese dissidents were subjected a harsher version of the same “pacification.”
The space for peaceful political reform seemed to be shrinking by the day. The Pentagon established a Civil Disturbances Directorate for both campuses and ghettos. As noted, in 1969 an assistant Attorney General, Richard Kleindienst, recommended that anti-war activists be, “Rounded up and put in detention camps.”
The grievous losses in 1968 included Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, the first who had become our leading voice against Vietnam while the second suffered white hatred for his stance on race and the war. Malcolm X, the leading voice from the streets condemning racism and colonialism, was gunned down earlier, just before the 1965 March on Washington.
The Black Panther Party emerged on the Oakland streets at the same moment as Stop the Draft Week. Bombings and arson by students, a mirror of the black uprisings, began to rise in 1968. The New York Times declared that “the line has to be drawn somewhere if an orderly society is to survive.”
Sometimes the struggles were directly linked. For example, in August 1968, mostly black troops from the First Armored Division called an all-night protest against orders to move into Chicago with live ammunition to quell the demonstrations at the Democratic convention. 43 of them were court-martialed at Fort Hood.
In Los Angeles in August 1969, a massive Chicano Moratorium grew out of the earlier student, labor and civil rights struggles. The Moratorium was the largest Chicano outpouring of anti-war sentiment in history. Four were shot and killed that day, including the LA Times writer Ruben Salazar, all by county sheriffs.
Salazar, a frequent critic of police brutality and racism, died from a tear gas canister fired through his skull while he sat inside a restaurant to avoid the gas. The recovered notes for his next day’s column included this: “Chicano Moratorium. 8,000 died. Ya Basta!'
THE GI REVOLT: NO TROOPS, NO WAR
The third strand of the deep anti-war movement was a widespread dissent by the troops themselves, sometimes bordering on “mutiny.” As the war ground on, the Pentagon found it virtually impossible to raise the morale of its own troops and conscript sufficient numbers of committed soldiers.
Missing in most histories of Vietnam is the clear pattern of rising dissent in the US military which nearly destroyed the capacity of the armed forces to wage war by the mid-seventies. After 1970 it was truly like Dubois’s description of slaves walking away from their plantations as the tide turned.
The underlying dilemma for the US military was how to build and sustain a killing machine out of conscripts from a civilian society in which there was rising dissent. Despite heavy Pentagon discipline, dissent began to rise in the armed forces by the mid-sixties just as it did before on campuses and in ghettos.
One of the great myths about Vietnam concerns an unbridgeable “divide” between the peace movement and the troops. Indeed there were class and ideological differences, but everyone came from the same generation, watched the same television news, and began to question the official propaganda against perceptions on the ground.
Everyone was lied to equally. Like the movement to support civil rights in the South, peace activists established “GI coffee houses” adjacent to US military bases by 1967, as centers for dissent, dialogue and community-building. Underground GI newspapers began appearing the same year, and would number in the hundreds.
Jane Fonda, seen in conservative histories as an “enemy” of the American troops, began her work in the peace movement with “FTA” rallies on military bases worldwide, attended by thousands of cheering troops. Clandestine networks were built to protect deserters or ferry them to Sweden or Canada.
Open dissent in the military came early. As early as February 1966, Special Forces sergeant Donald Duncan published a sensational article in Ramparts titled “The Whole Thing Was a Lie.” That same year three soldiers at Fort Hood, James Johnson, Paul Mora, and David Samas, publicly announced their intention to refuse orders for Vietnam, and Dr. Howard Levy refused to train Green Beret medics.
300 veterans held a peace rally at Independence Hall in Philadelphia on the Fourth of July, 1967. By 1967, the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) declared themselves by unfurling a banner at the giant march in New York City. The VVAW would lead a historic “Dewey Canyon” protest on Memorial Day weekend in 1975, with 485 arrested at the old revolutionary battleground of Concord, Massachusetts, and hundreds encamped in Washington DC and threw their medals over the Capitol fence. Among them was John Kerry, who challenged the Congressional hearing with the famous question, “Who would want to be the last to die for a mistake?”
In addition to organized veterans for peace, there were over thirty events classified as “riots” on military bases from 1965-70, from Ft. Hood and the Presidio to Long Binh and Binh Duc, South Vietnam. And that was before the war turned ugly in the years 1971-75.
Between 1968 and 1975, 93,000 desertions were reported; triple the scale during the Korean War.
Fragging, literally, attacks by soldiers against their own officers using grenades, grew rapidly after 1970. By official estimates there were 800-1,000 attempted fraggings during 1970-72, and 368 court-martials brought. There were 1.5 million AWOL “incidents”, 550,000 deserter “incidents”, 10,000 soldiers underground.  As for those facing the draft, there were 3,250 who went to prison, 5,500 who received suspended sentences or probation, 197, 750 whose cases were dropped, and 171,700 conscientious objectors. 
Soldiers were withdrawing from the war just as the slaves had withdrawn from the grip of the Confederacy, by means small and large, direct and indirect. In 1970 an article in the Naval War College Review warned that, “Negro civil rights action has introduced definite constraints on the military capability of the United States . . . The factor of morale is extremely important, and a low morale on the part of Negro personnel lessens their effectiveness and that of the forces to which they are assigned.” 
The article noted how many troops were deployed “to quell civil disturbances” which diverted them from their overseas mission. During FY 1968 alone, 104,665 National Guardsmen were used to suppress civil disorders from Washington DC to the Madison campus, “The first case in which Guardsmen were used to restore order on campus.” The Detroit “disturbance” alone took 5,547 active Army personnel and 10,399 active duty Guardsmen to occupy the streets.
As the Armed Forces Journal noted in a June 1971 article by Marine Corps historian Robert Heinl, “Our army that now remains in Vietnam is in a state approaching collapse, with individual units avoiding or having refused combat, murdering their officers and NCOs, drug-ridden and dispirited where not near mutinous.” Heinl compared the army’s collapse to the French army’s Nivelle mutinies in 1917 and that of the Tsar’s armies in Russia in the same year.
Without reliable ground troops, the only military options left to the US were an escalating air war and the deployment of an ineffective Saigon army. In the period 1965-1975, the Saigon army was similar to the later Afghan and Iraqi armies, or the earlier Cuban Bay of Pigs invaders, simply unable could match their revolutionary nationalist adversaries.
The policy lesson for the US should have been to avoid any involvement in sectarian-religious wars on the side of traditional colonial clients. The primary interest group lobbying for the Vietnam War was the Catholic Church, which protected a small population of Vietnamese Catholics who were colonized by the French.
In addition, US Special Forces recruited a Montagnard tribal minority to fight on the American side. It was folly from the first to believe that the US could win by rallying Catholics and Montagnards to convert a 90 percent Buddhist country fresh from a triumph over the French.
The second lesson is that forcing the end of the military draft in 1975 — a great victory for the peace movement — was a sign that the establishment feared the specter of a civilian army, one of our country’s great democratic traditions. Ending the draft meant ending a reliance on soldiers drawn from the rainbow of civic society.
The option was to end unpopular, unaffordable wars like Vietnam, which was out of the question for the elite. In place of a diverse, multi-racial and often unruly civilian army came the shift to the New Centurians, described as a “professional” force. The concern over the reliability of a civilian army was accompanied by equal worries about the trustworthiness of the democratically-elected Congress and the independent mass media.
In essence, the American failure in Vietnam led directly to the increased reliance on a Big Brother-style surveillance state and secret wars using mercenary troops in remote locations. The threat to democracy signified by Watergate, after a brief democratic thaw, accelerated during the Central American wars and the Iran-Contra scandal, then became a “full-spectrum” military strategy emphasizing Special Operations, drone attacks, cyber-warfare, and a doctrine of “information war” aimed at manipulating and deceiving public opinion.
By the third Iraq War (2014-) the single greatest legislative achievement of the Vietnam protest era, the 1973 War Powers Act, was in shreds. When President Obama himself asked Congress to “rein him in,” the Congress seemed ready to hand all war-making powers back to the secret units of the executive branch.
Today’s escalation of secret wars and surveillance originated in the Vietnam era when government and the military became fearful of relying on public opinion, that is, on democracy itself. Voters became objects of official suspicion, and democracy was placed in their emergency care. Ending wars in the future depends on the coming of new movements for democracy and social justice at home.
 Dubois, “The General Strike”, https://facultystaff.richmond.edu/=aholton/121readings_html/generalstrike.htm
 Kirkpatrick Sale, SDS, p. 636. Sale says that 536 schools were, “Shut down completely for some period of time,” 51 of them for the entire year.
 Lawrence Baskir and William Strauss, “Chance and Circumstance: The Draft, The War and the Vietnam Generation,” Vintage Books, 1978.
 Jonathan Neale, A People’s History of the Vietnam War”, The New Press, p. 163, 2001.
 Andrew Glass, in Politico, January 27, 2012
 Powers, p. 197
 See the diagrams of these dynamics in The Long Sixties, especially the chapter on “Movements against Machiavellians”, Paradigm, 2009.
 Frances Fizgerald, America Revised: History Schoolbooks in the Twentieth Century, Vintage, 1980, p. 127. see also Keith Beattie, “The Scar That Binds: American Culture and the Vietnam War,” 2000
 Thomas Powers, The War at Home, Grossman, 1973, p. 58
 Kirkpatrick Sale, SDS, p. 186; Melvin Small, The Anti-Warriors, “The largest antiwar demonstration in American history to that point.” p. 26
 Staughton Lynd, Michael Ferber, The Resistance, p. 423
 Sale, p. 618
 Powers, p. 121
 First elected in 1958, received strongest mandate in 1964.
 Walter Isaacson, Evan Thomas. The Wise Men: Six Friends and The World They Made, 1986.
 Sale, p. 380
 Sale, p. 382
 Sale, p. 381
 Sale, p. 374
 Sale, p. 550. Sale doesn’t include the four killed during the Chicano moratorium, and limits his list to students only.
 Elizabeth Drew, Atlantic, May 1969
 Sale, p. 543
 Sale, p. 543
 Sale, p. 498
 Gerald Nicosia, Home to War, Carroll and Graf, 2001. Medsgerâ€™s The Burglary, Knopf, 2014, and Bruce Dancis’ Resister, Cornell, 2014.
 Sale, p. 500
 Sale, p. 443
 Powers, p. 318
 Stern and Berger, p. 23. The “management of savagery” was written in 2004 in Arabic, translated into English in 2006. Radical Islamic movements have generally characterized the enemy as crusaders, Christians and Zionists. In some of his writings, Osama Bin Laden attempted to make a distinction between American war-makers and American public opinion, offering coexistence. But the distinction was not pursued, and the 9/11 attacks clearly targeted civilians in the main.
 Powers, p. 40
 Joseph Conrad, The Heart of Darkness, 1899.
 Petraeus’ father-in-law, William Knowlton, was involved in the Vietnam Phoenix Program, formally known as CORDS (Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support), which implemented the “strategic hamlets” program which, in turn, was based on the model of controlling Native Americans on military reservations. Petraeus “devoured” The Centurions as; “One of his favorite books, period,” even modeling his battalion’s uniforms after a French officer in the book. Fred Kaplan, The Insurgents, Simon and Shuster, 2013, pp. 15-17
 Kaplan introduction to Larteguy, p. xii.
 Kaplan introduction to Larteguy, pp. xiii-xiv.
 The bombing data is from James Harrison, “History’s Heaviest Bombing”, Jayne Werner and Luu Doanh Huynh, The Vietnam War: Vietnamese and American Perspectives, Routledge, 2015.
 Jorge Mariscal, Aztlan and Viet Nam, Chicano and Chicana Experiences of the War, University of California, 1999, p. 20
 Jorge Mariscal, Atzlan and Vietnam, University of California, 1999.
 Mariscal, p. 2
 James T. Patterson, The Eve of Destruction, 2012, p. 79
 Bob Moses
 Sale, p. 500.
 Richard Kleindeinst, in Elizabeth Drew article, The Atlantic, May 1969.
 Sale, p. 427
 Neale, A People’s History of the Vietnam War, 2000.
 Steve Lopez, LA Times.
 James Lewes, Protest and Survive, Underground GI Newspapers During the Vietnam War, Praeger, 2003.
 James Lewes, p. 158
 Lawrence Baskir and William Strauss, Chance and Circumstance: the Draft, the War and the Vietnam Generation, Vintage, 1978. See also David Cortright, Soldiers in Revolt: GI Resistance during the Vietnam War, Haymarket, 1975.
 Baskir and Strauss. Over 500,000 received dishonorable discharges, 164,000 faced court-martials, and 34,000 were placed in military incarceration.
 Commander George L. Jackson, Constraints of the Negro Civil Rights Movement on American Military Effectiveness, Naval War College Review, Jan. 1970.
 Jackson article cited, 1970.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam (April 30, 2015) — Pham Quoc Hung felt calm when the end finally came. It was the morning of April 30, 1975, and North Vietnamese tanks were rumbling towards their final military objective: Saigon.
Those tanks were a sign that the war in Vietnam was finally over, said Hung, recounting the last hours, 40 years ago today, of the country once known as the Republic of Vietnam, and the fall of its former capital, Saigon, to North Vietnamese forces.
“I felt calm because I could expect the result,” said the 75-year-old Hung, who was a battlefield photographer with the defeated South Vietnamese army at that time.
After years covering the war that brought so much death and destruction on his country, Hung said he wasn’t filled with dread at the prospect of a Communist victory. He was just relieved that peace would finally arrive.
“I wasn’t afraid because I never had a gun. I was a reporter,” he said. “I had nothing to regret.”
When the last American helicopter flew out of Saigon on the morning of April 30, 1975, more than 58,000 US military personnel had been killed in the war. So many more Vietnamese had died that it is difficult to calculate. Estimates range from 1.5 million to more than 3.5 million Vietnamese killed in fighting from the mid-1950s until the war’s end in 1975.
Predictions of a bloodbath after the fall of Saigon proved entirely false. Hung and other low-ranking soldiers of the defeated South Vietnam spent time undergoing “hoc tap”, or re-education.
Hung spent just a few days undergoing re-education. Senior officers and other officials of the defeated South would have to spend longer in hoc tap, and in harsh conditions. Some never returned.
The war seems like a very distant memory among the gleaming high-rise buildings in downtown Ho Chi Minh City, the new name for the old Saigon. High-end stores sell Hugo Boss, Chanel, and Chopard to the city’s nouveau riche, and McDonald’s caters to the aspiring middle class.
Old symbols still have their place in this one-party state though.
In preparation for what is officially called Reunification Day, the city’s streets were awash in newly made hammer and sickle flags and rousing billboards and posters, featuring tanks and soldiers with AK-47 rifles, extolled the military victory of four decades ago and the glory of the Communist Party.
A huge digital screen on the front of the luxury, twin-towered Vincom shopping mall beamed the same propaganda messages across the city’s skyline: Marxist slogans with capitalist spending power never looked so good.
Embracing the free market, Vietnam’s economy has gone from one of the worst to one of the hottest in Southeast Asia in the past 20 years.
Vietnam’s foreign relations have taken the same 180-degree route. The United States is no longer the enemy, and Americana culture appears to be winning the “hearts and minds” of a new generation of young Vietnamese peacefully.
“To say that Vietnamese love American culture is an understatement,” the state-run Thanh Nien newspaper declared in a recent article.
The article featured a Vietnamese author whose autobiography about marrying an American man and living the “American dream” has become a bestseller in Vietnam. Since publication, young Vietnamese women have contacted the author seeking her advice on how to “land an American husband”, Thanh Nien reported.
“This is a country where young people often queue in long lines for a new Hollywood blockbuster, or a new Starbucks store. On busy streets in Ho Chi Minh City, it is easy to find teenage girls wearing American outfits, humming a Miley Cyrus song,” Thanh Nien added.
On the foreign relations and defence fronts, the once bitter enemies, Washington and Hanoi, have found common cause in bolstering ties to counterbalance emerging China and its claims to territory in the South China Sea.
Winners and Losers
Closer to home, post-war reconciliation is still a fraught subject among the Vietnamese themselves, and not everyone will be celebrating today’s anniversary.
“No one invited me,” Hung, the former combat photographer, says jokingly of the April 30th festivities, which he views as a celebration dedicated to the winner.
Others interviewed said they felt the same way, recounting instances of discrimination in education and employment opportunities over the years because of their family links to the vanquished South Vietnam.
Reconciliation is still a work in progress, wrote Tran Huu Quang, a leading Vietnamese sociologist, in a 2013 essay on the subject.
“Old wounds continue to bleed unnecessarily,” Quang wrote, because of “excessive propaganda” focused on “one side’s achievements in warfare and victory”.
Quang suggests that the Vietnamese government could foster reconciliation by reducing the “symbols and discourses celebrating the 1975 warfare victory in mass media, especially at traditional national festivals”.
“It is only then that all people, including children of families whose fathers were on the other side, could truly recognise that this country, this nation, is theirs,” he wrote.
On the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City, there are two symbols of Vietnam’s slow progress towards reconciling with the past.
A short drive beyond the luxury condominiums that line the new, multilane highway on the northern suburbs of the city, there is a tranquil place of remembrance for fallen soldiers.
Symbols of Reconciliation
Frangipani trees shade the narrow, grass-fringed paths between the thousands of immaculately kept graves at the Ho Chi Minh City Martyrs’ Cemetery. Here, friends and family leave flowers and burn incense for their dead. Veterans who survived leave lighted cigarettes at the headstone of their old comrades.
“Mother Vietnam”, a 30m-tall stone monument of a woman holding a draped Vietnamese flag, is the centrepiece of this cemetery, which is reserved for “liberation” forces who were killed fighting the French, Americans, the South Vietnamese, and Pol Pot’s forces in neighbouring Cambodia. Tourists are free to roam here without questions.
A short drive away on a winding side-road and hidden behind a high brick wall topped by rusted barbed wire, there is another soldiers’ cemetery. This is the former cemetery for officers and soldiers of the defeated Saigon regime.
The cemetery was a military zone and off-limits for many years after 1975.
In 2006, in the spirit of belated reconciliation, the cemetery was turned over to civilian control. Yet, almost a decade later and the cemetery still wears its years of neglect badly. Workers at the cemetery are not used to visitors, and they keep a close watch on those who venture here.
Harsh sun and rain has washed the names off many of the concrete headstones. Some graves are nothing but mounds of raised earth surrounded by fallen leaves in which chickens scratched for food on a recent morning. Dotted here and there, a renovated grave stood out, making the neglected graves nearby seem all the sadder.
The soldiers buried here were once enemies of those in the pristine Martyrs’ cemetery. But, take a moment, and you notice something both sides now have in common: the young age at which these men and women fought and died. Many were in their early 20s.
Carrying a small bunch of incense sticks, a lone visitor stepped carefully among the unkempt graves, stopping briefly to place a single stick at each grave.
Asked if he had family buried here, the young man said no. He didn’t know to whom he was making his small offering of incense. But, each April, he said, he made the trip to this graveyard to offer a small memorial to the forgotten soldiers that are buried here.
“They are not my family,” he said, using a lighter to ignite another bunch of incense sticks before moving off to another row of graves.
“But, I must do this,” he said. “They died for their ideals.”
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
(MARCH 27, 2015) — The establishment media’s reaction to the upcoming Jade Helm military exercise has characterized concerns about the drill as being founded in nothing more than “right-wing paranoia,” but the exhaustive history of how the federal government and the US Army have made preparations for martial law in America is beyond denial.
Jade Helm, a “realistic” military training exercise which will involve the Green Berets, Navy Seals, and the 82nd Airborne Division, is set to take place from July 15-Sepember 15 and will cover at least nine US states.
As we reported yesterday, the exercise will involve soldiers operating “undetected amongst civilian populations,” to see if they can infiltrate without being noticed.
The drill stoked concerns after Texas and Utah were labeled “hostile” territory in documents related to the exercise. However, when Infowars drew attention to the issue, numerous mainstream news outlets reacted by regurgitating Army talking points about how the drill was solely focused on preparing US troops for overseas missions. Those same outlets also demonized anyone who questioned that narrative as engaging in alarmism and paranoia.
The history of the federal government and the US military’s preparations for martial law in America is manifestly provable. That is not to say that a military takeover is imminent, but to dismiss the militarization of law enforcement and verifiable plans for using troops to deal with domestic unrest as “alarmist” or mere “conspiracy theory” is completely erroneous.
Despite assurances by the Army that Jade Helm is to prepare troops for overseas missions, Army documents in the past have made clear that plans for martial law are in place for within the Continental United States (CONUS).
* A leaked 2012 US Army Military Police training manual, entitled “Civil Disturbance Operations,” described how soldiers would be ordered to confiscate firearms and kill American “dissidents.”
The manual also revealed that prisoners would be detained in temporary internment camps and “re-educated” to gain a new appreciation of “US policies,” in accordance with US Army FM 3-19.40 Internment/Resettlement Operations.
As we exhaustively documented, the training manual explicitly states in numerous places that these programs are for both overseas and domestically “within the United States or US territories during civil support operations”.
* In 2009 it was revealed how the National Guard posted a number of job listings looking for “Internment/Resettlement Specialists” to work in “civilian internee camps” within the United States.
* Jade Helm has also drawn comparisons to a 2012 scenario outlined by retired Army colonel Kevin Benson, in which the US Military is used to crush an insurgent rebellion overseen by Tea Party militia members who take over the city of Darlington, South Carolina.
Preparations for using troops to deal with mass civil unrest on US soil, in addition to interning American citizens, have been in the works for decades.
* In the late 1990’s, Alex Jones attended numerous urban warfare training drills where US troops were trained to raid, arrest and imprison US citizens in detention camps as well as taking over public buildings and running checkpoints. During role playing exercises, actors playing prisoners would scream “I’m an American citizen, I have rights” as they were being dragged away by troops.
* In 1999, San Antonio Chief of Police Al Philipus told Alex Jones that officials tried to bribe him to allow Army Delta Force to conduct training exercises in the town which had caused consternation amongst residents in other areas of Texas. “Offers were made to give money, cash money to elected officials’ charities if they could get us to change our minds. As one of my deputy chiefs said, in some circles, that’s called bribery,” said Philipus.
* In 2006 we exclusively exposed a nationwide FEMA program which was training pastors and other religious representatives to become secret police enforcers who teach their congregations to “obey the government” in preparation for a declaration of martial law, property and firearm seizures, and forced relocation.
Over a year later, a KSLA news report confirmed that that Clergy Response Teams are being trained by the federal government to “quell dissent” and pacify citizens to obey the government in the event of a declaration of martial law.
* Back in 2008, US troops returning from Iraq were earmarked for “homeland patrols” with one of their roles including helping with “civil unrest and crowd control”.
â€¢ In December 2008, the Washington Post reported on plans to station 20,000 more US troops inside America for purposes of “domestic security” from September 2011 onwards, an expansion of Northcom’s militarization of the country in preparation for potential civil unrest following a total economic collapse or a mass terror attack.
* A report produced that same year by the US Army War College’s Strategic Institute warned that the United States may experience massive civil unrest in the wake of a series of crises which it termed “strategic shock.”
“Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security,” stated the report, authored by [Ret.] Lt. Col. Nathan Freir, adding that the military may be needed to quell “purposeful domestic resistance”.
* In an article published in the May/June 2012 issue of Foreign Affairs, the mouthpiece for the influential Council on Foreign Relations, Chief of Staff of the US Army, General Raymond T. Odierno, advocated the army be “transitioned” into a more “flexible force” by deploying in situations normally reserved for domestic law enforcement officials. He argued that by doing so, troops will be better equipped to deal with conflict elsewhere.
* A February 2013 Department of Defense instruction altered the US code applying to the military’s involvement in domestic law enforcement by allowing US troops to quell “civil disturbances” domestically without any Presidential authorization, greasing the skids for a de facto military coup in America along with the wholesale abolition of Posse Comitatus.
* Rex 84, short for Readiness Exercise 1984, was established under the pretext of a “mass exodus” of illegal aliens crossing the Mexican/US border. During the Iran-Contra hearings in 1987, however, it was revealed that the program was a secretive “scenario and drill” developed by the federal government to suspend the Constitution, declare martial law, assign military commanders to take over state and local governments, and detain large numbers of American citizens determined by the government to be “national security threats.”
* In December 2011 it was revealed that Halliburton subsidiary KBR was seeking sub-contractors to staff and outfit “emergency environment” camps located in five regions of the United States.
In 2006, KBR was contracted by Homeland Security to build detention centers designed to deal with “an emergency influx of immigrants into the US,” or the rapid development of unspecified “new programs” that would require large numbers of people to be interned.
While preparations for martial law continued behind the scenes, the Department of Homeland Security was busy characterizing conservatives and libertarians as domestic extremists or even terrorists.
* A study which leaked in 2012 that was funded by the Department of Homeland Security characterized Americans who are “suspicious of centralized federal authority,” and “reverent of individual liberty” as “extreme right-wing” terrorists.
* The infamous 2009 MIAC report, published by the Missouri Information Analysis Center and first revealed by Infowars, framed Ron Paul supporters, libertarians, people who display bumper stickers, people who own gold, or even people who fly a US flag, as potential terrorists.
* Over the last eight years, the DHS has also released a series of videos to promote the See Something, Say Something campaign in which almost all of the terrorists portrayed in the PSAs were white Americans.
* Police departments across the country have also identified returning veterans as a major domestic terror threat and are “armed for war” to combat them with military-style vehicles and weaponry.
* An April 2009 DHS intelligence assessment listed returning vets as likely domestic terrorists. Just a month later, the New York Times reported on how Boy Scout Explorers were being trained by the DHS to kill “disgruntled Iraq war veterans” in terrorist drills.
* The FBI has also repeatedly characterized returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan as a major domestic terrorist threat.
* During a New Hampshire city council meeting in 2013, former Marine Corps Colonel Peter Martino, who was stationed in Fallujah and trained Iraqi soldiers, asserted that the Department of Homeland Security was working with law enforcement to build a “domestic army,” because the federal government is afraid of its own citizens.
Martino was responding to the city’s Police Chief, who justified the necessity for the acquisition of an armored â€˜Bearcat’ vehicle by citing the “threat” posed by libertarians, sovereign citizen adherents, and Occupy activists in the region.
* Fort Hood soldiers are also being taught by their superiors that Christians, Tea Party supporters and anti-abortion activists represent a radical terror threat, mirroring DHS rhetoric.
In 2013, former Navy SEAL Ben Smith warned that the Obama administration is asking top brass in the military if they would be comfortable with disarming US citizens, a litmus test that includes gauging whether they would be prepared to order NCOs to fire on Americans.
* During a 2014 Ohio National Guard exercise, second amendment proponents were portrayed as domestic terrorists as part of a mock disaster drill.
The sight of US troops, National Guard, military vehicles and helicopters patrolling residential areas in America is becoming normalized as a result of urban warfare training drills like Jade Helm.
* In 2012, a photo showing fully armed US National Guard troops patrolling a quiet residential street in Crookston, Minnesota went viral. Guard troops from the local Crookston Armory routinely take part in off-base exercises which train the local population to accept the sight of armed soldiers patrolling their neighborhoods as normal.
* A May 2012 joint drill between military and police in South Florida involving troops storming a building in the middle of the night, unannounced to local residents, was characterized by local media coverage not as a frightening example of how Americans are being acclimatized to accept a state of martial law but as a â€˜cool tourist story’.
* During a 2012 US Army exercise, St Louis City residents were told not be alarmed at the sight of US Army tanks rolling down residential neighborhoods after sightings of the vehicles provoked fears of martial law. Local news media channels featured interviews with residents who praised the sight of troops on the streets as a valuable crime-fighting tool similar to that used in foreign countries.
* In March 2014, the Department of Defense conducted military training in Broward County, with exercises involving low-flying helicopters designed to ‘scare the crap out of people’, according to one local reporter. Residents were shocked to see Navy SEALS practicing storming a university building from a Black Hawk chopper.
* Last year we reported on how the US Army has built a 300-acre â€˜fake city’ in Virginia complete with a sports stadium, bank, school, and an underground subway in order to train for unspecified future combat scenarios. As the Telegraph reported, “The subway carriages even carry the same logo as the carriages in Washington DC,” suggesting that the site was built to double both as a foreign city and a mock domestic town.
* Alarmed residents who reported low-flying black helicopters with their lights turned off buzzing downtown Dallas last December were witnessing US Special Forces drills intended to allow troops to get a feel for “realistic urban sites”. The maneuvers were part of preparedness training for US Special Operations Forces.
* Blacked out helicopters also buzzed Kentucky and Cincinnati residents in May 2014 as part of an unannounced military drill, with one eyewitness telling Infowars the maneuvers resembled something out of a “war zone”.
* As preparations for martial law continue, the DHS, the Army and other federal agencies have been acquiring huge amounts of riot gear in preparation for “public demonstration(s)” and “civil disturbances”.
* Weeks before the Mike Brown shooting that sparked the Ferguson riots, we reported on a promotional video touting FEMA’s emergency response capabilities which showed US Army and National Guard troops training to detain unruly African-American citizens in prison camps before handing them over to police.
* Despite innumerable indications that the federal government is making preparations for riots, the Department of Homeland Security denied last year that it was gearing up for domestic disorder.
In 2011, DHS chief Janet Napolitano directed ICE to prepare for a mass influx of immigrants into the United States, calling for the plan to deal with the “shelter” and “processing” of large numbers of people.
As the deluge of evidence presented in this article clearly demonstrates, the notion that the US Army and the federal government do not at least have plans in place to deal with civil unrest in America is beyond naive.
Training exercises like Jade Helm are clearly designed to be dual purpose in nature, both for overseas combat and for the potential that martial law may be declared domestically in the aftermath of a massive economic collapse of other national emergency.
Paul Joseph Watson is the editor at large of Infowars.com and Prison Planet.com.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
(April 28, 2015) — It is the last year of the Second World War. American bombers drop napalm canisters on Kobe, Japan, setting the picturesque city of wood, canvas, and paper alight.
A young mother is caught in the conflagration, suffers greatly, then succumbs to her disfiguring burns. With the father fighting at sea, her adolescent son Seita must fend for himself and for his 5-year old sister Setsuko as famine stalks the country. In spite of all his efforts, Seita must watch as Setsuko, an imaginative, fun-loving child, becomes emaciated, sickens, weakens, and eventually dies of malnutrition.
This is the story told in Studio Ghibli’s 1988 animated film Grave of the Fireflies, and it is no less harrowing and haunting for being a “cartoon.” As Roger Ebert wrote in his 4-star review:
“‘Grave of the Fireflies‘ is an emotional experience so powerful that it forces a rethinking of animation. (. . . ) ‘Grave of the Fireflies‘ is a powerful dramatic film that happens to be animated, and I know what the critic Ernest Rister means when he compares it to Schindler’s List and says, ‘It is the most profoundly human animated film I’ve ever seen.’ (. . . )
Yes, it’s a cartoon, and the kids have eyes like saucers, but it belongs on any list of the greatest war films ever made.”
The director Isao Takahata has denied its characterization as an anti-war film. But as Clint Eastwood has said, “any war told realistically is an anti-war movie.” And Fireflies is unsparing in its portrayal of the realities of war, especially for being based on a semi-autobiographical novel, whose author lost his adoptive father to the firebombing of Kobe and afterward had to watch his baby sister Keiko die of hunger.
Kobe was only one of the 67 Japanese cities burned by the United States Air Force, under the direction of Curtis LeMay. Nicknamed, “the Demon,” LeMay was instrumental in the US shift from high-altitude bombing with general purpose explosives to the low-altitude incendiary bombing of Japanese cities that resulted in hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths and the famine-inducing ruination of the economy.
He later became a tireless advocate for bombing Vietnam, as he put it, “back to the Stone Age,” and for bombing the whole world back to the Ice Age by launching a nuclear first strike against the Soviet Union.
LeMay also oversaw and championed the enforcement of the total blockade of Japan by filling the waters around its port cities with aerial-dropped mines, which, for example, caused shipping through Kobe to plummet by 85%. This campaign was dubbed, with a refreshing lack of hypocrisy, “Operation Starvation.” Thus, the starvation of little Setsuko/Keiko was not “collateral damage,” but a premeditated murder.
When Leslie Stahl asked Madeline Albright about the half-million Iraqi children deprived to death by US sanctions (“more children than died in Hiroshima”), the then Secretary of State famously answered: “We think the price is worth it.” Of course elite war-bringers like LeMay and Albright do not themselves pay the “prices” they decide are acceptable. The costs of their decisions are externalized onto the victims of their economic and shooting wars.
Fireflies tells the story of two children who actually paid the “price.” That is why it is such a powerfully anti-war film regardless of the director’s intentions. It tells the story of war realistically from the perspective of its most vulnerable victims, as opposed to just the “derring-do” of fighters. And that is more than enough to inspire any decent human being to curse the name of war upon watching it.
More specifically, it will move any heart not corrupted and hardened by nationalism to look on policies like the Israeli blockade of Gaza and US sanctions on Iran as the infanticidal atrocities they are.
Takahata co-founded Studio Ghibli with Hayao Miyazaki, and the anti-war message in Miyazaki’s work is more subtle, yet also much more deliberate.
In western fantasy, wars are traditionally depicted as worthy struggles between unalloyed good and pure evil, with the protagonist firmly on the side of the angels and against the devils. Even The Lord of the Rings trilogy falls victim to this tendency, as George R.R. Martin has pointed out.
In Miyazaki’s fantasies, however, wars are portrayed as senseless and horrible. The heroes are generally not on either side of the war, but are caught between the two. And their struggle is not to win the war, but to defuse it.
The characters who pursue warâ€Š — generally government officialsâ€Š — are portrayed as vainglorious and arrogant schemers who rashly court cataclysm for the sake of their grandiose ambitions.
Yet even these antagonists are not treated as devils, but as deeply flawed human beings. The heroes do not harbor vendettas and thirst for vengeance against them, as the typical western action hero does. Rather, the heroes try to convince them to abandon their disastrous plans, while also striving to foil those plans directly.
The climax of the film comes not with the hero impaling or detonating his foe, as in so many Hollywood movies, or in the villain falling to his doom, as in so many Disney animated films. Miyazaki’s heroes achieve victory, not through the destruction of their enemies, but by foiling their plans enough such that the belligerents finally relent. The loving and forgiving attitude of the hero sometimes even prevails to the point of converting villains into friends.
Miyazaki’s first and most paradigmatic masterpiece was initially written by him as a comic (manga) and then scripted and directed by him as an animated film (anime) shortly before Studio Ghibli was founded.
In NausicaÃ¤ of the Valley of the Wind (1984), two post-apocalyptic kingdoms, Tolumekia and Pejite, are locked in an existential struggle over control of an ancient weapon of mass destruction called a “Giant Warrior.” The struggle becomes so desperate that one side is even willing to almost completely destroy itself for the sake of completely destroying the other side.
Here we see a portrayal of the Dr. Strangelovean logic of men like LeMay, written by a man from the only country that has thus far been attacked with nuclear weapons. One of the characters even defends the mad ploy by saying, “It’s to protect the world. Please understand.”
Another factor in the war is the Ohmu: a race of giant, nigh-invulnerable semi-sentient bugs. The Ohmu are herd creatures that lethally stampede when enraged by violence perpetrated against their own kind.
As Randolph Bourne taught, this is basically what happens to human beings as well when they develop war fever, especially when provoked by atrocity stories (whether real or manufactured).
For more on this, see my essay ” The Herd Mind.” At one point, this characteristic of the Ohmu is deliberately stimulated and exploited by the government of one of the warring kingdoms, just as real-life governments and other terrorist organizations exploit and engineer atrocities so as to induce war fever. For more on this, see my essay “The Symbiosis of Savagery.”
NausicaÃ¤ is an earnest, peace-loving young princess who becomes embroiled in the war between the two kingdoms when the Giant Warrior crash lands in her little country, which is then brought under the brutal military occupation of the imperial Tolumekians for the purpose of securing the WMD.
Even after her homeland is attacked by both kingdoms, she strives for peace and understanding, going so far as to save the lives of members of both royal houses. And rather than try to destroy the rampaging Ohmu, she endeavors to stop the crime against their young that is provoking their violent rage (blowback) in the first place.
The first official Studio Ghibli production was Miyazaki’s Castle in the Sky (1986). As in NausicaÃ¤, the chief villains are agents and soldiers of an imperial government, hellbent on rediscovering and exploiting an ancient weapon of mass destruction. And like Princess NausicaÃ¤, the young heroes of Castle in the Sky, Princess Sheeta and Pazu, seek to avert war, in this case by destroying the WMD.
In Princess Mononoke, the chief hero is Prince Ashitaka, who, like NausicaÃ¤, is thrust into world affairs when his little country is impacted by the spillover effects of a war abroad. And like NausicaÃ¤, he strives to defuse the conflict instead of taking a side in it. At one point, one character asks in bafflement, “Whose side is he on?”
The most representative image of this characteristic of the Miyazaki hero is the moment when Ashitaka steps between the main figures of both sides of the war, and prevents them from killing each other, even at the cost of grievous injury to himself.
Throughout the film, warlike hatred is portrayed as a mystical, contagious, fatal disease that materializes as a black “ectoplasm” and turns rational beings into rampaging, brute beasts. Again, think of Bourne’s “Herd Mind” concept.
Miyazaki was so angered by the Iraq War that for a time he boycotted travel to America. He said that his outrage over the war had a major influence on his Howl’s Moving Castle (2004). That film centers around a war between two neighboring countries (repeatedly referred to as “this stupid war”) in which even magicians have been enlisted.
Howl is a draft-dodging renegade magician who stays free by roving from place to place in an ambulating, teleporting magico-mechanical castle and by keeping multiple identities. When asked by his beloved Sophie how many aliases he has, he answers, “as many as I need to keep my freedom.”
One side of the war is masterminded by a Palpatine/Dick Cheney-like sorceress who had originally trained Howl. Now, she wants her errant “Sith” disciple either conscripted, drained of his powers, or dead. She serves as sort of a magical prime minister to the country’s king, a ridiculous figure who boyishly exults over his war and fancies himself a brilliant strategist. I strongly suspect Miyazaki had George W. Bush in mind when creating this character.
When Howl finally does intervene in the war, he does so, not by partaking in the slaughter of civilians perpetrated by both sides, but by wrecking the weapons of war being used for that slaughter.
The film’s most glorious moment is when Howl and Sophie see a flying battleship appear and violate the beautiful serenity of his long-time refuge: a lovely little cottage amid a field of flowers.
Howl: “What is that thing doing out here?”
Sophie: “A battleship?”
Howl: “Looking for more cities to burn.”
Sophie: “Is it the enemy’s or one of ours?”
Howl: “What difference does it make? Those stupid murderers.”
Then, with a wave of his hand, Howl disables the ship by magically disconnecting its wiring.
This is Miyazaki at his finest. The bombing of cities is mass murder, regardless of whether it is done by our government in our name or by “the enemy.”
In Howl, as in both NausicaÃ¤ and Mononoke, true victory comes, not from the conquest of one war belligerent by another, but by both simply choosing to cease to fight, having seen the futility of the war, thanks to the exploits of the heroes.
A similarly anti-military, anti-nationalist, and anti-conscription note is struck in Porco Rosso (1992), a story about a former World War I Italian fighter pilot who is transformed into a humanoid pig, foreswears military flying and war profiteering, and embarks on a career in private security.
My favorite scene in this movie involves a surreptitious meeting Porco has with an old friend in a movie theater in Fascist Italy.
Porco Rosso: You’re a major, eh? You’ve come up in the world, Fierrali.
Fierrali: You fool. Why did you come back?
Porco Rosso: I make it a rule to go wherever I want to.
Fierrali: The authorities aren’t going to let you go this time. Did somebody tail you?
Porco Rosso: I gave them the slip.
Fierrali: A warrant for your arrest is being issued for refusal to cooperate
with the state, illegal coming and going, decadent thoughts, being a lazy pig, and display of indecent materials. . .
Porco Rosso: Ha ha ha ha
Fierrali: You idiot, this is no time to laugh. They’re threatening to
confiscate your fighter.
Porco Rosso: This is a terrible film.
Fierrali: Marco, come back to the Air Force. We’ll use our influence to work
something out for you.
Porco Rosso: I’d rather be a pig than a fascist.
Fierrali: The age of daredevil aviators is over. Now we can only fly in the
service of worthless causes like “country” or “nation”.
Porco Rosso: I only fly for myself.
Bretigne Shaffer has written an excellent appreciation of the film, in which she wrote: When he makes a large cash withdrawal from the bank, the teller asks him if he wants to make a contribution “to the people” with a Patriot Bond.
“I’m not a person,” is Porco’s terse reply.
Later, when his arms merchant warns him that the government may pass laws against what he does, he replies “laws don’t apply to pigs.” (After Porco leaves, the merchant’s son asks “how’s war different from bounty hunting?” His father replies “war profiteers are villains. Bounty hunters are just stupid.”)
Anti-fascist, renegade, capitalist, pig. Porco Rosso is one of Miyazaki’s greatest characters: a veritable Malcolm Reynolds with a snout.
Miyazaki is now retired. His final film, The Wind Rises, while not his greatest, is a beautifully fitting swan song in two ways. For one, it is perhaps his most expressly anti-war film. For another, it is his most clearly expressed paean to the splendor and tragedy of human flight.
The film is a fictionalized telling of the life of Jiro Horikoshi, the inventor of the Japanese World War II dogfighter the Mitsubishi A5M and its successor the A6M “Zero.” Miyazaki was inspired to make Wind Rises when he read that Horikoshi had allegedly once muttered, “All I wanted to do was to make something beautiful.”
The exhilarating beauty and freedom of human flight is a theme that pervades Miyazaki’s entire corpus, including his films that do not address war.
One such film, My Neighbor Totoro was released simultaneously with Grave of the Fireflies. It is Studio Ghibli’s and Miyazaki’s signature film. It tells of hope and joy in the face of childhood adversity just as movingly as its counterpart tells of despair and grief. Satsuki, a girl about Seita’s age, and her sister Mei, a girl about Setsuko’s age, both struggle with their mother’s serious illness and long absence.
Like Setsuko, Mei comes into peril in spite of her older sibling’s efforts to protect her. But since this story is 20th century fantasy, and not a biographical tale set in the actual history of that grim century, things play out very differently. Rather than “aid” from a wicked and incompetent government (like the rice dole in Fireflies), the children receive saving help from forest spirits, including especially the giant, furry Totoro.
At one point, the Totoro takes the two girls flying through the air on its magic, spinning top. As they soar unseen over their neighbors, and rustle crops in the field as they pass, Satsuki exclaims in delight, “Mei, we’re the wind!”
Similarly exhilarating moments can be found in Miyazaki’s Kiki’s Delivery Service (flying on a broom), Whisper of the Heart (riding the wind with a humanoid cat), and Spirited Away (a flying dragon). When Howl first meets Sophie they walk on air together. NausicaÃ¤, Sheeta, and Pazu ride the wind on gliders. And of course Porco Rosso soars through the air in his plane.
Miyazaki is clearly enchanted with flight and the wind. He generously shares that enchantment with us by translating it into beautiful films. In The Wind Rises, he portrays Jiro Horikoshi as similarly enchanted with the beauty of aircraft. He has Jiro meet, in a shared dreams, his hero, the Italian aircraft designer Giovanni Battista Caproni. Caproni teaches him that “Airplanes are beautiful dreams,” but warns him that they are also “cursed dreams.”
Nobody is more familiar with what a curse airplanes can be when deployed for evil than the Japanese. Airplanes dropped the canisters that burned their cities, the mines that starved their children, and the nukes that instantly made vast irradiated graveyards out of Hiroshima and Nagasakiâ€Š — for the first time in history visiting solar-temperature hell upon human habitations, and hinting at mankind’s full capacity for suicidal madness.
But their intimate familiarity with the “cursed dream” of airplanes also stems from the Japanese state’s own misuse of the great invention for its imperial dreams. This truth is intimated throughout The Wind Rises in the tension between the desire of several of the characters to simply build graceful, well-designed aircraft and the knowledge that their beautiful creations will be used to perpetrate the hideous horrors of war.
When Jiro first meets Caproni in their shared dream space, Jiro is just a boy and Caproni’s Italy is embroiled in World War I. They look up at Italian biplanes departing into the sky. A gunner salutes them. Caproni continues: “Look at them. They will bomb an enemy city. Most of them will never return. Well, it will all be over soon.”
The scene cuts to an image of one of the planes crashing into a burning city. But Caproni insists that “airplanes are not tools for war,” They board another plane, and take off.
“This is my true dream. When the war is over, I will build this. What do you think? Magnificent, isn’t she? Instead of bombs, she’ll carry passengers.”
They climb out onto the wing, where Caproni shows Jiro an even grander plane, filled with happy tourists.
“She is beautiful, yes? She will carry 100 people across the Atlantic, both ways!”
Jiro is dazzled and deeply affected. Years later, Mitsubishi sends Jiro and his friend Honjo to study Nazi Germany’s G38 passenger plane, which the company plans to purchase and convert into a bomber. Echoing Caproni’s sentiment, Jiro remarks: “Look, passengers sit in the wings. It’d be a shame to bombs there.”
In another dream-meeting in the middle of Jiro’s career, Caproni says: “Humanity has always dreamed of flying. But the dream is cursed. My aircraft are destined to become tools for slaughter and destruction.”
The fictional Jiro then echoes his historical counterpart, saying: “I just want to create beautiful airplanes.”
Later, during a planning meeting with his design team attended by his bosses, he discusses how weight is a big problem for one of the possible designs. He half-jokingly, half-hopefully proposes: “One solution could be: we could leave out the guns.”
Of course, everyone bursts into laughter, and Jiro moves on to the next design.
Before World War II even began, Japan was already using its new planes to try to crush a Chinese rebellion against its imperial yoke by terror bombing all of China’s major cities. Then, goaded by the American-led embargo of its islands, the planes were used to attack Pearl Harbor, as well as British and Dutch colonial holdings in Asia.
Taking the American bait, and thinking that inflicting such a blow would induce Washington to negotiate was a spectacularly disastrous miscalculation. The Japanese policy makers fatally underestimated both America’s industrial capacity and its political class’s appetite for blood and empire.
Now Washington had just the excuse it needed to overwhelm domestic opposition and visit hell upon Japan for the sake of establishing its hegemony over East Asia. The real-life Horikoshi himself wrote in his diary:
“When we awoke on the morning of December 8, 1941, we found ourselvesâ€Š — without any foreknowledgeâ€Š — to be embroiled in war. . . Since then, the majority of us who had truly understood the awesome industrial strength of the United States never really believed that Japan would win this war. We were convinced that surely our government had in mind some diplomatic measures, which would bring the conflict to a halt before the situation became catastrophic for Japan.
But now, bereft of any strong government move to seek a diplomatic way out, we are being driven to doom. Japan is being destroyed. I cannot do [anything] other but to blame the military hierarchy and the blind politicians in power for dragging Japan into this hellish cauldron of defeat.”
The Empire of Japan’s imminent use of their advanced planes in foolish aggression and its disastrous consequences are continually foreshadowed throughout the film.
A friendly German expatriate named Castorp warns Jiro: “Make the world your enemy? Forget it. Japan will blow up. Germany will blow up, too.”
Later, Honjo shares with Jiro his frustrations over his work designing Japan’s first advanced bomber. Jiro asks, “And who are they going to bomb with it?” Honjo answers wearily, “China, Russia, Britain, the Netherlands, America.” Jiro echoes Castorp, darkly predicting, “Japan will blow up.”
After much of Japan does blow up, Jiro and Caproni meet one last time. After walking through the wreckage of his planes amid a bombed-out city, he mourns that his “kingdom of dreams” has become a “land of the dead.”
They look up together as a squadron of Jiro’s planes ascend into the sky. Caproni congratulates Jiro for finally completing his masterpiece of graceful flight. In a moment that bookends their first meeting, one of the pilots salutes Jiro.
“Not a single one returned,” Jiro says. “There was nothing to return to,” Caproni responds, referring to the devastation of Japan. “Airplanes are beautiful cursed dreams, waiting for the sky to swallow them up.”
The beautiful/cursed dream of flight dichotomy can be found throughout the Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli catalog. In NausicaÃ¤, there are graceful gliders but also lumbering warships and Zero-like dogfighters. In Castle in the Sky, the characters fly in wondrous bug-wing aircraft, but are also strafed by warship cannons. And it turns out that the “Castle in the Sky” itself is a massive suborbital Death Star that deploys an entire armada of killer drones.
Just as Fireflies vividly showed what World War II air raids did to the lovely cities of Japan, Howl’s Moving Castle visually referenced the fate of the beautiful old European cities, like Dresden and Hamburg, that were firebombed in that war. The movie begins with the pomp and circumstance of nationalist war preparation.
This nationalist virus lives amid the prosperity, activity, and commerce of a beautiful and bustling European port town. Tragically the virus kills its lovely host, as later we see the bombers that Howl worked to sabotage turn this jewel of civilization into a lake of fire. The human toll is not displayed nearly as graphically as in Fireflies, but the message is clear.
The horrors of firebombing are given a reverse image in another scene in Howl, in which falling stars (dying fire spirits) create a beautifully illuminated display.
A similar contrast can be found in Fireflies. As Ebert wrote of the napalm canisters at the beginning of the film:
“These bombs, longer than a tin can but about as big around, fall to earth trailing cloth tails that flutter behind them; they are almost a beautiful sight. After they hit, there is a moment’s silence, and then they detonate, spraying their surroundings with flames.”
This film’s reverse image of firebombs are the Fireflies that so enchant Setsuko. In a beautiful moment amid their tribulations, the brother and sister gather Fireflies to dazzlingly illuminate the cave they are living in. Setsuko’s look of wonder is heart-piercing.
But the magic disappears the next morning when she finds that the Fireflies are all dead. This memento mori causes her to think of her mother. She buries the Fireflies in a grave as she thinks her mother was buried, and asks her brother, “Why do Fireflies die so soon?”
The question foreshadows her own unbearably untimely death and the flickering brevity of her life. Life indeed is already so brief, which makes it all the more a crime for war bringers to make it even shorter for so many, and so painful in the duration.
Studio Ghibli is often called the Japanese Disney. Yet nothing in American animation can compare with it: not Disney, not even Pixar. The Miyazaki heroine, for example, is much more worthy of emulation than the Disney Princess. More than that, even most western fantasy cinema and literature in general pales in comparison, including much that we consider great.
For example, as much as Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings is a profound meditation on the corruption of power, its treatment of war and peace is crudely Manichean. Yet on this subject, and so many others, the fantasy of Studio Ghibliâ€Š — especially the work of the creative genius Hayao Miyazakiâ€Š — is wise and deeply moral, as well as exhilarating and achingly beautiful. It is a cultural treasure that stands and soars in a class of its own.
Dan Sanchez runs the Mises Academy, an e-learning program for Austrian economics and libertarian political philosophy. You can find all of his essays, lectures, and interviews at DanSanchez.me, you can follow him via Twitter, Facebook, TinyLetter, and Medium. Email: email@example.com.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
Saudis Bomb Yemen Airport, Assuring End to Aid Flights Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(April 28, 2015) — Calamitous shortages of basic goods have fueled a crisis across much of Yemen, particularly the capital city of Sanaa, where Saudi airstrikes are already putting pressure on hospitals. The Saudis have also harshly limited aid shipments into Sanaa.
Today, they assured that there will be no future air shipments to Sanaa, destroying the runway at the Sanaa International Airport in a bombing run.
Saudi officials insist that the bombings prevented an Iranian cargo plane, that might conceivably have weapons on board, from landing in Sanaa. It did that, surely, but also eliminated any hope for humanitarian relief to the city of two million.
Iran said the plane was carrying humanitarian aid, and considered the Saudi order to not deliver it illegal. Yemeni television reported the plane was also to carry some seriously wounded civilians back to Iran for medical treatment. With both takeoff and landing runways now destroyed, there’s no getting out for those civilians.
Aid groups reported they were going to try to route their shipments, which are being seriously limited by the Saudis at any rate, to the airport in Hodeidah, though that airport too was bombed today, and its status is unclear.
(April 27, 2015) — The poorest country in the Middle East, and one that has to import some 90 percent of its food from abroad, Yemen obviously wasn’t in great shape ahead of the Saudi war. Tack of a month-long naval blockade, and the situation is increasingly dire.
Hospitals in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, out of fuel for their ambulances, are begging anyone who still has fuel to pick up the injured from Saudi airstrikes to bring them in for treatment. Once there, shortages of key medications make the treatment hit-or-miss.
The big story, increasingly, is food however. The naval blockade has been holding up cargo ships off the coast for protracted amounts of time, and entry is far from assured. This has led many of the companies that traditionally ship food to Yemen that they can’t take the jobs until the war is resolved.
The Saudi and Egyptian navies have been aggressive about limiting ships reaching the Yemeni coast, and even aid groups have struggled to get permission to deliver humanitarian aid. In this environment private shippers with a cargo of wheat don’t stand a chance.
The UN World Food Program warned of price increases and said it is using its own stocks in the country to try to keep the situation calm. Locals reported a bag of flour that pre-war would’ve cost 6,000 Rials ($28 US) quickly rose to 10,000 Rials when the blockade began. Now, finding flour for sale at all is virtually impossible.
Warnings that a humanitarian crisis could rapidly become an outright calamity are increasingly common, and with the war looking increasingly like it’s a long one, mass starvation increasingly looks like an inevitability for those on the ground.
Saudi-backed officials from the former Hadi government also declared a state of emergency in some southern cities of Yemen, though notably they did not mention the blockade, instead complaining about the Houthis resisting their attempts to seize those cities.
ADEN (April 27, 2015) — Aircraft from the Saudi-led coalition pounded Iran-allied Houthi militiamen and rebel army units in central Yemen and the capital Sanaa on Monday, as the humanitarian crisis worsened with hold-ups in the delivery of aid .
Residents said warplanes flew between 15 and 20 sorties against groups of Houthi fighters and arms depots in the Dhalea provincial capital, Dhale, and the nearby city of Qa’ataba, in the morning, setting off a chain of explosions that lasted for two more hours.
Fighting intensified on Sunday, after a lull following an announcement by Riyadh last week that it was ending its nearly five-week-old bombing campaign except in places where the Houthis were advancing.
The foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and the five other GCC countries will discuss the war in Yemen at a meeting in Riyadh on Thursday, the bloc’s chief said.
The meeting in the Saudi capital Riyadh would cover “issues vital to the operations of the Gulf Cooperation Council and developments in the region, including the crisis in Yemen,” GCC secretary general Abdullatif Zayani said on Monday.
All members of the GCC except Oman are taking part in the Saudi-led coalition.
The coalition of Arab countries is trying to stop Houthi fighters and loyalists of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh taking control of Yemen after forcing the internationally recognised president, Abdrabu Mansur Hadi, to flee the country.
The coalition has been backed by the United States, and the US secretary of state John Kerry on Monday said he would use a meeting with the Iranian foreign minister in New York later in the day to urge Tehran push the Houthi rebels back to the negotiating table.
An escalation in fighting in late March has created a humanitarian crisis in Yemen, and vital aid was reportedly being held up by both sides. Houthis were stopping convoys of trucks reaching Aden and an arms blockade by the coalition navies searching ships for weapons was holding up food deliveries by sea.
Telecommunications within Yemen and with the outside world could be cut within days due to a shortage of fuel, the state-run news agency Saba quoted the director of telecommunications as saying. Fuel shortages were also preventing traders from moving food to market, the United Nations’ World Food Programme said.
Saudi-led warplanes struck the area around the presidential compound in Sanaa for a second day on Monday, while heavy street fighting was under way in the strategically important city of Taez in central Yemen, according to residents and the Red Cross.
On the ground, Saudi Arabia has started to deploy National Guard troops in the Najran region on its border with Yemen, the kingdom’s official media reported late on Sunday.
They were joining members of the Saudi border guard and army who have reinforced the frontier since late March.
The UN security council was in closed-door consultations on Monday over the crisis in Yemen and to hear former envoy Jamal Benomar give a final report.
The Moroccan diplomat resigned earlier this month after losing the support of Gulf countries.
Mr Benomar will be replaced by Mauritanian diplomat Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, who worked as the UN humanitarian coordinator in Yemen from 2012 to 2014.
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How to Turn a Nightmare into a Fairy Tale:
From the Fall of Saigon to Our Fallen Empire Nick Turse / TomDispatch and AntiWar.com
(April 26, 2015) — “It just started out as a simple goodbye song,” James Douglas Morrison told reporter Jerry Hopkins. “Probably just to a girl, but I could see how it could be goodbye to a kind of childhood. . . . I think it’s sufficiently complex and universal in its imagery that it could be almost anything you want it to be.”
To me, the song always was and always will be about the Vietnam War. If you know it — and you will the instant you hear the first notes and the shivering tambourine — you know it as “The End.” And if you know the man who sang that song, it’s probably not as James Douglas but simply Jim.
What you may not know about the Doors’ lead singer is that his father, George Morrison, commanded the US Naval fleet during the August 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, an event fraught with missteps, distortions, and deceptions that precipitated an escalation of the American War in Vietnam ultimately ending in millions of casualties and almost unimaginable suffering.
Jim Morrison’s father is not, however, the reason I think of the Vietnam War when I hear that song. I owe that instead to Francis Ford Coppolaâ€™s 1979 film Apocalypse Now, which begins with “The End” and ends with it, too. When people write about it, they often remark on the naked Oedipal imagery — “Father? Yes son. I want to kill you. Mother? I want toâ€¦,” howls Morrison.
But whoever selected “The End” as the theme music for Apocalypse Now must have heard what I heard. It begins like bad poetry, mutates into a furious, profanity-laced tirade, only to glide into a creamy, dream-like ending. A smattering of lyrics along the way seem to capture the nightmare atmosphere of the American War in Vietnam.
“This is the end, beautiful friend
This is the end, my only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the endâ€¦”
Forged in the fading afterglow of World War II, America’s plans for a righteous nation to save a backward people were elaborate indeed. To Washington, the Vietnamese seemed to be
“Desperately in need of some strangerâ€™s hand
In a desperate landâ€¦”
America’s moral superiority, its ingenuity, its technological know-how, its military might were unstoppable; with a requisite number of quislings in tow, the fall of those Southeast Asian dominos would be arrested, communism would be stopped, and a Cold War battle won.
“The West is the best, the West is the best
Get here, and we’ll do the restâ€¦”
It turned out that the West wasnâ€™t the best, that all those Pentagon computers and statistical analyses and bombs and artillery shells and napalm and tanks and airplanes and helicopters and rifles and Swift boats and the generals who, as younger men, had defeated Germany and Japan during World War II, and the boys of the milk-and-honey baby boom toting those rifles and driving those tanks and dropping that napalm couldnâ€™t actually do “the rest.”
It turned out that Americans never won over more than a minority of the Vietnamese and, despite years of some of the most destructive warfare the world had ever seen, could not defeat the majority of them.
“It hurts to set you free,
But youâ€™ll never follow me,
The end of laughter and soft lies,
The end of nights we tried to die,
This is the end.”
America’s grand plans later revealed themselves to be bankrupt. Bombing millions into slums and refugee camps didnâ€™t necessarily mean those people would follow you. Soft lies mouthed by the military at 5 p.m. each evening were no substitute for actual victories.
Laughter and glad-handing and talk of easy triumph were repeatedly blown apart. By the time it was all over, by the time the end had come, the entire American effort had hemorrhaged and bled out in a million hamlets across South Vietnam.
Jim Morrison recorded “The End” in 1966, when the American project in Vietnam still had life in it. Unlike his father, who passed away in 2008, he never saw the end of the Vietnam War, though the writing was already on the wall. He died in France — the country whose war in Vietnam the Americans had bankrolled and then taken over — in 1971.
Today, as TomDispatch regular Christian Appy notes, the end of that war — a time of devastating defeat for the United States and relief, if not liberation, for most Vietnamese — has been rebranded to suit American tastes and so offers a hint of what may come when other ends arrive in our present crash-and-burn conflicts in the Greater Middle East.
As in his magisterial new book, American Reckoning: The Vietnam War and Our National Identity, — rightly termed “required reading” by the Huffington Post — Appy examines the lasting impact of the Vietnam War on American foreign policy, culture, and national identity and draws attention to the lessons it offers for today and the many tomorrows to come.
In a 1969 interview, Jim Morrison said that he was once approached by an attractive young woman “on leave” from UCLAâ€™s Neuropsychiatric Institute. She said “The End” was a favorite of the kids in her ward. The woman had puzzled over the lyrics, trying to divine the song’s meaning, trying to break it down and piece it together. “I didnâ€™t realize people took songs so seriously and it made me wonder whether I ought to consider the consequences,” Morrison observed.
Not considering the consequences turns out to be a very American trait, as Appy explains today, and so does refashioning history to make up for it. When the end finally comes in Iraq and Afghanistan, soft lies, willful amnesia, and rampant revisionism are bound to follow fast and furious; where the truth will be found remains to be seen. Sadly enough, a song already almost 50 years old may be as good a place to start as any.
How to Turn a Nightmare into a Fairy Tale
40 Years Later, Will the End Games in Iraq and Afghanistan Follow the Vietnam Playbook? Christian Appy / TomDispatch
(April 26, 2015) — If our wars in the Greater Middle East ever end, itâ€™s a pretty safe bet that they will end badly — and it won’t be the first time. The “fall of Saigon” in 1975 was the quintessential bitter end to a war. Oddly enough, however, weâ€™ve since found ways to reimagine that denouement which miraculously transformed a failed and brutal war of American aggression into a tragic humanitarian rescue mission.
Our most popular Vietnam end-stories bury the long, ghastly history that preceded the “fall,” while managing to absolve us of our primary responsibility for creating the disaster. Think of them as silver-lining tributes to good intentions and last-ditch heroism that may come in handy in the years ahead.
The trick, it turned out, was to separate the final act from the rest of the play. To be sure, the ending in Vietnam was not a happy one, at least not for many Americans and their South Vietnamese allies.
This week we mark the 40th anniversary of those final days of the war. We will once again surely see the searing images of terrified refugees, desperate evacuations, and final defeat. But even that grim tale offers a lesson to those who will someday memorialize our present round of disastrous wars: toss out the historical background and you can recast any US mission as a flawed but honorable, if not noble, effort by good-guy rescuers to save innocents from the rampaging forces of aggression.
In the Vietnamese case, of course, the rescue was so incomplete and the defeat so total that many Americans concluded their country had “abandoned” its cause and “betrayed” its allies. By focusing on the gloomy conclusion, however, you could at least stop dwelling on the far more incriminating tale of the war’s origins and expansion, and the ruthless way the US waged it.
Hereâ€™s another way to feel better about America’s role in starting and fighting bad wars: make sure US troops leave the stage for a decent interval before the final debacle. That way, in the last act, they can swoop back in with a new and less objectionable mission. Instead of once again waging brutal counterinsurgencies on behalf of despised governments, American troops can concentrate on a humanitarian effort most war-weary citizens and soldiers would welcome: evacuation and escape.
Phony Endings and Actual Ones
An American president announces an honorable end to our longest war. The last US troops are headed for home. Media executives shut down their war zone bureaus. The faraway country where the war took place, once a synonym for slaughter, disappears from TV screens and public consciousness. Attention shifts to home-front scandals and sensations. So it was in the United States in 1973 and 1974, years when most Americans mistakenly believed that the Vietnam War was over.
In many ways, eerily enough, this could be a story from our own time. After all, a few years ago, we had reason to hope that our seemingly endless wars — this time in distant Iraq and Afghanistan — were finally over or soon would be. In December 2011, in front of US troops at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, President Obama proclaimed an end to the American war in Iraq.
“We’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq,” he said proudly. “This is an extraordinary achievement.” In a similar fashion, last December the president announced that in Afghanistan “the longest war in American history is coming to a responsible conclusion.”
If only. Instead, warfare, strife, and suffering of every kind continue in both countries, while spreading across ever more of the Greater Middle East. American troops are still dying in Afghanistan and in Iraq the US military is back, once again bombing and advising, this time against the Islamic State (or Daesh), an extremist spin-off from its predecessor al-Qaeda in Iraq, an organization that only came to life well after (and in reaction to) the US invasion and occupation of that country. It now seems likely that the nightmare of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, which began decades ago, will simply drag on with no end in sight.
The Vietnam War, long as it was, did finally come to a decisive conclusion. When Vietnam screamed back into the headlines in early 1975, 14 North Vietnamese divisions were racing toward Saigon, virtually unopposed. Tens of thousands of South Vietnamese troops (shades of the Iraqi army in 2014) were stripping off their military uniforms, abandoning their American equipment, and fleeing.
With the massive US military presence gone, what had once been a brutal stalemate was now a rout, stunning evidence that “nation-building” by the US military in South Vietnam had utterly failed (as it would in the twenty-first century in Iraq and Afghanistan).
On April 30, 1975, a Communist tank crashed through the gates of Independence Palace in the southern capital of Saigon, a dramatic and triumphant conclusion to a 30-year-long Vietnamese struggle to achieve national independence and reunification. The blood-soaked American effort to construct a permanent non-Communist nation called South Vietnam ended in humiliating defeat.
It’s hard now to imagine such a climactic conclusion in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unlike Vietnam, where the Communists successfully tapped a deep vein of nationalist and revolutionary fervor throughout the country, in neither Iraq nor Afghanistan has any faction, party, or government had such success or the kind of appeal that might lead it to gain full and uncontested control of the country.
Yet in Iraq, there have at least been a series of mass evacuations and displacements reminiscent of the final days in Vietnam. In fact, the region, including Syria, is now engulfed in a refugee crisis of staggering proportions with millions seeking sanctuary across national boundaries and millions more homeless and displaced internally.
Last August, US forces returned to Iraq (as in Vietnam four decades earlier) on the basis of a “humanitarian” mission. Some 40,000 Iraqis of the Yazidi sect, threatened with slaughter, had been stranded on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq surrounded by Islamic State militants. While most of the Yazidi were, in fact, successfully evacuated by Kurdish fighters via ground trails, small groups were flown out on helicopters by the Iraqi military with US help.
When one of those choppers went down wounding many of its passengers but killing only the pilot, General Majid Ahmed Saadi, New York Times reporter Alissa Rubin, injured in the crash, praised his heroism. Before his death, he had told her that the evacuation missions were “the most important thing he had done in his life, the most significant thing he had done in his 35 years of flying.”
In this way, a tortured history inconceivable without the American invasion of 2003 and almost a decade of excesses, including the torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib, as well as counterinsurgency warfare, finally produced a heroic tale of American humanitarian intervention to rescue victims of murderous extremists. The model for that kind of story had been well established in 1975.
Stripping the Fall of Saigon of Historical Context
Defeat in Vietnam might have been the occasion for a full-scale reckoning on the entire horrific war, but we preferred stories that sought to salvage some faith in American virtue amid the wreckage.
For the most riveting recent example, we need look no further than Rory Kennedy’s 2014 Academy Award-nominated documentary Last Days in Vietnam. The film focuses on a handful of Americans and a few Vietnamese who, in defiance of orders, helped expedite and expand a belated and inadequate evacuation of South Vietnamese who had hitched their lives to the American cause.
The film’s cast of humanitarian heroes felt obligated to carry out their ad hoc rescue missions because the US ambassador in Saigon, Graham Martin, refused to believe that defeat was inevitable. Whenever aides begged him to initiate an evacuation, he responded with comments like, “Itâ€™s not so bleak. I won’t have this negative talk.” Only when North Vietnamese tanks reached the outskirts of Saigon did he order the grandiloquently titled Operation Frequent Wind — the helicopter evacuation of the city — to begin.
By that time, Army Captain Stuart Herrington and others like him had already led secret “black ops” missions to help South Vietnamese army officers and their families get aboard outgoing aircraft and ships. Prior to the official evacuation, the US government explicitly forbade the evacuation of South Vietnamese military personnel who were under orders to remain in the country and continue fighting.
But, as Herrington puts it in the film, “sometimes there’s an issue not of legal and illegal, but right and wrong.” Although the war itself failed to provide US troops with a compelling moral cause, Last Days in Vietnam produces one. The film’s heroic rescuers are willing to risk their careers for the just cause of evacuating their allies.
The drama and danger are amped up by the filmâ€™s insistence that all Vietnamese linked to the Americans were in mortal peril. Several of the witnesses invoke the specter of a Communist “bloodbath,” a staple of pro-war propaganda since the 1960s. (President Richard Nixon, for instance, once warned that the Communists would massacre civilians “by the millions” if the US pulled out.)
Herrington refers to the South Vietnamese officers he helped evacuate as “dead men walking.” Another of the American rescuers, Paul Jacobs, used his Navy ship without authorization to escort dozens of South Vietnamese vessels, crammed with some 30,000 people, to the Philippines. Had he ordered the ships back to Vietnam, he claims in the film, the Communists “woulda killed ’em all.”
The Communist victors were certainly not merciful. They imprisoned hundreds of thousands of people in “re-education camps” and subjected them to brutal treatment. The predicted bloodbath, however, was a figment of the American imagination. No program of systematic execution of significant numbers of people who had collaborated with the Americans ever happened.
Following another script that first emerged in US wartime propaganda, the film implies that South Vietnam was vehemently anti-communist. To illustrate, we are shown a map in which North Vietnamese red ink floods ever downward over an all-white South — as if the war were a Communist invasion instead of a countrywide struggle that began in the South in opposition to an American-backed government.
Had the South been uniformly and fervently anti-Communist, the war might well have had a different outcome, but the Saigon regime was vulnerable primarily because many southern Vietnamese fought tooth and nail to defeat it and many others were unwilling to put their lives on the line to defend it. In truth, significant parts of the South had been “red” since the 1940s.
The US blocked reunification elections in 1956 exactly because it feared that southerners might vote in Communist leader Ho Chi Minh as president. Put another way, the US betrayed the people of Vietnam and their right to self-determination not by pulling out of the country, but by going in.
Last Days in Vietnam may be the best silver-lining story of the fall of Saigon ever told, but it is by no means the first. Well before the end of April 1975, when crowds of terrified Vietnamese surrounded the US embassy in Saigon begging for admission or trying to scale its fences, the media was on the lookout for feel-good stories that might take some of the sting out of the unremitting tableaus of fear and failure.
They thought they found just the thing in Operation Babylift. A month before ordering the final evacuation of Vietnam, Ambassador Martin approved an airlift of thousands of South Vietnamese orphans to the United States where they were to be adopted by Americans.
Although he stubbornly refused to accept that the end was near, he hoped the sight of all those children embraced by their new American parents might move Congress to allocate additional funds to support the crumbling South Vietnamese government.
Commenting on Operation Babylift, pro-war political scientist Lucien Pye said, “We want to know we’re still good, we’re still decent.” It did not go as planned. The first plane full of children and aid workers crashed and 138 of its passengers died.
And while thousands of children did eventually make it to the US, a significant portion of them were not orphans. In war-ravaged South Vietnam some parents placed their children in orphanages for protection, fully intending to reclaim them in safer times. Critics claimed the operation was tantamount to kidnapping.
Nor did Operation Babylift move Congress to send additional aid, which was hardly surprising since virtually no one in the United States wanted to continue to fight the war. Indeed, the most prevalent emotion was stunned resignation. But there did remain a pervasive need to salvage some sense of national virtue as the house of cards collapsed and the story of those “babies,” no matter how tarnished, nonetheless proved helpful in the process.
Putting the Fall of Saigon Back in Context
For most Vietnamese — in the South as well as the North — the end was not a time of fear and flight, but joy and relief. Finally, the much-reviled, American-backed government in Saigon had been overthrown and the country reunited.
After three decades of turmoil and war, peace had come at last. The South was not united in accepting the Communist victory as an unambiguous “liberation,” but there did remain broad and bitter revulsion over the wreckage the Americans had brought to their land.
Indeed, throughout the South and particularly in the countryside, most people viewed the Americans not as saviors but as destroyers. And with good reason. The US military dropped four million tons of bombs on South Vietnam, the very land it claimed to be saving, making it by far the most bombed country in history. Much of that bombing was indiscriminate.
Though policymakers blathered on about the necessity of “winning the hearts and minds” of the Vietnamese, the ruthlessness of their war-making drove many southerners into the arms of the Viet Cong, the local revolutionaries. It wasn’t Communist hordes from the North that such Vietnamese feared, but the Americans and their South Vietnamese military allies.
The many refugees who fled Vietnam at war’s end and after, ultimately a million or more of them, not only lost a war, they lost their home, and their traumatic experiences are not to be minimized. Yet we should also remember the suffering of the far greater number of South Vietnamese who were driven off their land by US wartime policies.
Because many southern peasants supported the Communist-led insurgency with food, shelter, intelligence, and recruits, the US military decided that it had to deprive the Viet Cong of its rural base. What followed was a long series of forced relocations designed to remove peasants en masse from their lands and relocate them to places where they could more easily be controlled and indoctrinated.
The most conservative estimate of internal refugees created by such policies (with anodyne names like the “strategic hamlet program” or “Operation Cedar Falls”) is 5 million, but the real figure may have been 10 million or more in a country of less than 20 million. Keep in mind that, in these years, the US military listed “refugees generated” — that is, Vietnamese purposely forced off their lands — as a metric of “progress,” a sign of declining support for the enemy.
Our vivid collective memories are of Vietnamese refugees fleeing their homeland at warâ€™s end. Gone is any broad awareness of how the US burned down, plowed under, or bombed into oblivion thousands of Vietnamese villages, and herded survivors into refugee camps. The destroyed villages were then declared “free fire zones” where Americans claimed the right to kill anything that moved.
In 1967, Jim Soular was a flight chief on a gigantic Chinook helicopter. One of his main missions was the forced relocation of Vietnamese peasants. Here’s the sort of memory that you wonâ€™t find in Miss Saigon, Last Days in Vietnam, or much of anything else that purports to let us know about the war that ended in 1975. This is not the sort of thing youâ€™re likely to see much of this week in any 40th anniversary media musings.
“On one mission where we were depopulating a village we packed about sixty people into my Chinook. They’d never been near this kind of machine and were really scared but they had people forcing them in with M-16s. Even at that time I felt within myself that the forced dislocation of these people was a real tragedy. I never flew refugees back in. It was always out.
Quite often, they would find their own way back into those free-fire zones. We didn’t understand that their ancestors were buried there, that it was very important to their culture and religion to be with their ancestors. They had no say in what was happening. I could see the terror in their faces. They were defecating and urinating and completely freaked out.
It was horrible. Everything I’d been raised to believe in was contrary to what I saw in Vietnam. We might have learned so much from them instead of learning nothing and doing so much damage.”
What Will We Forget If Baghdad “Falls”?
The time may come, if it hasnâ€™t already, when many of us will forget, Vietnam-style, that our leaders sent us to war in Iraq falsely claiming that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction he intended to use against us; that he had a “sinister nexus” with the al-Qaeda terrorists who attacked on 9/11; that the war would essentially pay for itself; that it would be over in “weeks rather than months”; that the Iraqis would greet us as liberators; or that we would build an Iraqi democracy that would be a model for the entire region.
And will we also forget that in the process nearly 4,500 Americans were killed along with perhaps 500,000 Iraqis, that millions of Iraqis were displaced from their homes into internal exile or forced from the country itself, and that by almost every measure civil society has failed to return to pre-war levels of stability and security?
The picture is no less grim in Afghanistan. What silver linings can possibly emerge from our endless wars? If history is any guide, I’m sure weâ€™ll think of something.
Christian Appy, TomDispatch regular and professor of history at the University of Massachusetts, is the author of three books about the Vietnam War, including the just-published American Reckoning: The Vietnam War and Our National Identity (Viking). Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Nick Turseâ€™s Tomorrowâ€™s Battlefield: US Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa, and Tom Engelhardtâ€™s latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.
Copyright 2015 Christian Appy
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April 29, 1975: ‘Saigon Has Fallen’ Associated Press
(April 25, 2015) — More than two decades of war in Vietnam, first involving the French and then the Americans, ended with the last days of April 1975. Peter Arnett, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of combat for The Associated Press and later gained fame as a CNN correspondent, has written a new memoir, “Saigon Has Fallen,” about his dozen-plus years reporting on Vietnam.
Arnett has recounted this period before but approaches it with a fresh perspective for the 40th anniversary of the war’s end. The book is published by RosettaBooks in partnership with The Associated Press (www.ap.org/books). This is an edited excerpt, focused on the war’s final throes.
‘Saigon Has Fallen’ —
A Reporter’s View of Vietnam War’s End Peter Arnett / Associated Press
Artillery explosions sound a fearsome 4 a.m. wake-up call, but I’m already awake. The attackers waiting at the gates of a vanquished Saigon have been warning they would act, and now with each thump of the Soviet-made 130mm guns, sound waves rustle the curtains of my open seventh floor hotel window. As I reach for my water glass, it trembles, and me with it. The last full day of the Vietnam War is beginning.
Street lights shine below as I look out toward Tan Son Nhut airport, once described as the busiest in the world when America was waging war here. Now it is burning from one end to the other, the flames brilliantly lighting up the sky.
There will be two more hours of darkness, but this seems like a new dawn rising, an appropriate description, I think later, of the intentions of those wreaking havoc on the airport this morning, April 29, 1975.
The commanders of North Vietnam’s military juggernaut, pressing for victory after a 50-day rout of their South Vietnamese opponents, are pushing open the gates of the capital. They will force a new dawn on South Vietnam, America’s once favored ally, as it loses its 20-year struggle to remain an independent, pro-western state.
After watching the destruction of the airport, I phone the Associated Press office a few blocks away, and my colleague Ed White answers. He and George Esper, the bureau chief, have been up all night working the telex communications link with our New York headquarters.
White tells me the American embassy confirms major damage at the airport with the runways probably unusable. American planners have been intending to airlift out of the country several thousand more vulnerable Vietnamese allies today, but what can they do now?
Soon afterward, from an upstairs hotel balcony as daylight approaches I can clearly see thick black smoke hanging over the airport like a funeral shroud. I’m joined by a few news colleagues, all of us knowing we are watching momentous history unfold right before our eyes.
As the sky brightens we see a Vietnamese air force transport plane, a de Havilland Caribou, rise sharply above the airport. Suddenly, it seems to break in half, bursting into flames and falling in pieces to the ground.
Stricken silent by this horrifying spectacle, we see a second aircraft following the same path and suffering the same fate, like the first undoubtedly a victim of ground fire. It seems there’ll be no escape for anyone from the airport today.
At the American Embassy, Ambassador Graham Martin is in disbelief, committed as he is to evacuating as many vulnerable Vietnamese as possible before the communists arrive. He insists on personally checking the airport tarmac.
After the war, Martin would tell me, “It didn’t make sense to me that we couldn’t physically come in with transport planes. I wanted to check it for myself, to make my own judgment. It would have made a difference. We could have gotten five or ten thousand more people out. ”
Reaching the airport, Martin finds a usable runway amidst the still-burning buildings, but little security. He worries about a repeat of the earlier airport panics in Danang and Nhatrang that had hundreds of desperate people fighting with soldiers and police to get on departing rescue aircraft.
He tells me, “I decided it was not worth the risk. I picked up the phone and I told Secretary (of State Henry) Kissinger to inform the president that we have go to Option Four immediately, to the helicopter airlift for the remaining Americans, and as many Vietnamese as we can take.” But Martin’s urgent instruction is lost somewhere down the line. The airlift does not begin for several hours.
Option Four is code for Operation Frequent Wind, planned as a large-scale evacuation of people to American Navy ships off the coast. Most of the passengers for the final helicopter lifts have been chosen in advance, alerted to keep listening to Armed Forces Radio for a signal.
Thirteen helicopter pickup points have been selected around Saigon, using the small UH-1 Huey ships for the tops of tall buildings and the much bigger CH-53 Sea Knights for the American Defense Department compound at the airport and the embassy grounds.
Those waiting to depart include the large contingent of international journalists covering the story. During the past week some have considered the possibility of remaining behind and seeing what transpires, but their home offices expect them to leave with the last Americans because of the uncertainty of the future.
I know that Esper wants to stay. He’s been here too long to miss the final moments of his most important story. Me too, and I message AP president Wes Gallagher, explaining that because I was here at the war’s beginnings it’s worth the risk to document the final hours. With us is Matt Franjola, an AP reporter in the region for several years. Esper sends a message to his boss, “Request you please reconsider . . .” Gallagher does. The three of us will stay.
As I drive through the city, I see crowds gathering at intersections and arguing. Several million people are now estimated to be living in Saigon, many of them recent refugees from the countryside. Not everyone wants to leave, but several hundred thousand believe their lives have been compromised in the eyes of the communists by their association with America and its policies, and are desperate to get out. I drive by Saigon’s port and see small ships crowded with people setting off down the river.
The former CIA analyst Frank Snepp remembered that time in an interview with me after the war: “The city was holding its breath. We had always feared that the Vietnamese would mob us if we ever tried to leave. But they realized on that last day that we were their last hope. If they turned against us, there was no way out of the country.”
No one is killed in the shameful melees that are to follow, but the mad scrambles to go anywhere but Vietnam remain today an ignominious coda to the already bleak history of America’s last years in Vietnam. The main crisis unfolds in and around the U.S. Embassy, a six-story building with a concrete lattice facade that serves to keep the building cool and deflect incoming missiles.
When the helicopters start emerging from the leaden afternoon skies to pick up the chosen few, a stampede begins. By late afternoon an estimated 10,000 desperate Vietnamese have advanced on the embassy, shoving to get close to the iron gates and the high walls, and when they do get there, endeavoring to claw themselves over. The U.S. Marine security force strives to get control, only to meet with shouted protests and insults.
That evening, I write a story for the AP that begins: “Ten years ago I watched the first U.S. Marines arrive to help Vietnam. They were greeted on the beaches by pretty Vietnamese girls in white silken robes who draped flower garlands about their necks. A decade has passed, and on Tuesday I watched the U.S. Marines shepherding Americans out of South Vietnam.
“They were the same clean-cut looking young men of a decade ago. But the Vietnamese were different. Those who didn’t have a place for them on the last helicopters — and there were thousands left behind — hooted, booed and scuffled with the Marines trying to secure the landing zones. Some Vietnamese threw themselves over walls and wire fences, only to be thrown back by Marines.
“Bloodshed was avoided seemingly only by good luck and bad aim on the part of some angry Vietnamese who shot at a few departing buses and helicopters.”
There are mixed signals and questionable decisions. By evening, there is a growing awareness that some of the 13 designated pickup points have not been visited by any helicopters, leaving some of the most vulnerable Vietnamese, many of them CIA workers, to the mercy of the arriving communists.
Snepp is inside the embassy that night, and tells me later, “Americans have been criticized that day in Saigon for their sins of omission, but the heroes that day were the embassy officers who pursued their way through the crowds and risked their lives to get their friends on those helicopters.
If the Americans salvage anything of their honor from the last day of the war it is due to the young men who did the legwork during the evacuation while the ambassador and his aides sat back in the embassy trying to figure out what went wrong.”
The monsoon is coming to Saigon, arriving along with the North Vietnamese who from the beginning of this offensive have been in a race against the weather. They know the heavy tanks and artillery pieces they use to support their overwhelming conventional attacks can easily bog down in the mud. From the slippery roof of the Eden Building where the AP office is located, I watch through the rainy mist as the dark shapes of helicopters come and go.
At 2 the following morning, April 30, the U.S. embassy needs to destroy all its communications equipment in preparation for final departure.
Martin refuses to leave until all the people he feels responsible for are evacuated. Around 5 a.m., a young helicopter crewman comes into his office and hands him a note scrawled on the back of a pad. Martin tells me later: “I will never forget it . . . The message says, ‘The president of the United States directs that Ambassador Martin come out on this helicopter.'”
Around 7:30 a.m., another helicopter, a Sea Knight, swoops low over John F. Kennedy Square (soon to be renamed) and settles on the roof of the embassy. Through binoculars I see a group of Marines running to the open doors of the big ship. It zooms across the city on its way to its carrier offshore. I eventually learn the Marines were part of a security group commanded by Maj. James Kean, and were temporarily forgotten in the confusion of the evacuation.
Eventually, the sounds of the helicopters are replaced by human voices. Hearing angry shouting, I spot a dozen people in the middle of Lam Son Square arguing over possession of a king-sized bed. The looting of America’s abandoned buildings has begun.
Franjola and I walk up toward the American Embassy. We see a few bodies on the streets, maybe thieves killed by angry citizens, or the thieves’ victims. We see a crowd outside the embassy in a mood opposite the anger of the previous day. They are laughing, comparing looted stuff they’ve dragged out. Inside, smiling locals are trying to smash open a heavy safe with a sledgehammer.
On a pile of wet documents and broken furniture on the back lawn we find the bronze plaque engraved with the names of the five American servicemen who died in the attack on the building in the opening hours of the Tet Offensive in 1968. Together, we carry it back to the AP office.
Esper insists on manning the office, just as he has done for most of the previous 10 years. He is listening to Saigon Radio in the monitoring room with our interpreter who soon shouts, “Surrender, it’s surrender!” President Duong Van Minh is announcing complete capitulation; it’s now official. Esper rushes to message New York.
Esper is looking gaunt, his eyes burning with exhaustion. He hasn’t left the office in days, and now he decides to take a walk around outside. Within a few minutes he is back, pale and disturbed. Esper explains that while strolling across Lam Son Square he was approached by a distraught Vietnamese police lieutenant colonel in full uniform, a man he later identifies as Nguyen Van Long, who mutters to him, “It’s finished.”
The officer then walks away about 10 feet, makes a sharp about face, salutes a nearby statue commemorating Vietnamese infantrymen, and raises a .45-caliber pistol. He blows his brains out. For a second, George thought he was to be the target. He writes the story with shaky hands.
Franjola has been doing the rounds. He returns and says he was nearly side-swiped by a jeep careening through the streets. It is packed with laughing, shouting young men in black pajamas and waving Russian rifles. I rush downstairs to Tu Do, the main street. I hear the roar of heavy engines and look toward the old French cathedral where a convoy of Russian Molotova trucks is approaching.
Each is loaded with young North Vietnamese soldiers in battle garb, their green pith helmets tilted back as they peer in wonder at the tall buildings they are passing, probably the first they have ever seen. A few local Vietnamese are standing near me. They are staring, speechless. I see a large Communist flag unfurl from a room at the nearby Caravelle Hotel.
I notice a group of South Vietnamese soldiers running down a side street, kicking off their uniforms, tossing their weapons into shop doorways. I run back to the AP office, my heart beating wildly as I scramble up the narrow stairways. In the hallway there are a dozen Vietnamese neighbors who clutch at my clothing and implore me to save them. I push into the office and look across to Esper.
“George,” I shout, “Saigon has fallen. Call New York.”
I check my watch. It’s 11:43 a.m. I type up a news bulletin about what I’ve just seen and hand it our Vietnamese telex operator, Tammy. He reads it and rises from his chair in alarm. He’s looking at the door. I push him down and order him to send my bulletin. He does, then bolts out of the office, and we never see him again.
Around noon, Franjola and I walk the city streets. Russian tanks are arriving in greater numbers now. Local people are spilling onto the sidewalks, their fears of catastrophe gone. I walk through the open gates of the defense ministry building.
A South Vietnamese officer is in consultation with several North Vietnamese. He turns to me and says, “No pictures,” and I continue shooting. After all, there are new sheriffs in town, and they don’t seem to mind.
I meet the Australian cameraman Neil Davis who is walking from the presidential palace. He’d watched North Vietnamese tanks crash through the palace gates. He says President Minh has been arrested and taken away. I return to the office, and soon afterward one of our stringer photographers walks in with a North Vietnamese officer and his aide, who are amiable, talkative and appreciative of the snacks we offer them.
Later that afternoon Esper suggests that with international communications still up, I write my reflections of the final day. I start punching a telex tape and it winds to the floor as I write. I feed the tape into the transmitter and it chugs its way through the machine. I write:
“In 13 years of covering the Vietnam War I never dreamed it would end as it did at noon today. I thought it might end with a political deal like in Laos. Even an Armageddon-type battle with the city left in ruins. But a total surrender followed a short two hours later with a cordial meeting in the AP office in Saigon with an armed and battle-garbed North Vietnamese officer with his aide — and over a warm Coke and stale pound cake at that? That is how the Vietnam War ended for me today.”
The tape stops running. I punch a few keys but the machine just coughs a couple of times. I try the key again, no response. The AP wire from Saigon to New York is down — and out. The new authorities have pulled the plug.
I call out to Esper, “That’s it, George. It’s over.”
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Russian Military General Says US, West
Wage First Phase of ‘Hybrid War’ on Russia TASS
MOSCOW (April 24, 2015) — The United States and its allies in the West are waging the first phase of hybrid warfare against Russia, the commander of Russia’s Western Military District, Colonel-General Anatoly Sidorov said on Friday. In doing this they use political and economic methods with the aim of destabilizing the situation in the country, he explained.
“The United States is using greater intensity of the Russian Armed Forces’ operative and combat training in the Western ‘strategic direction’, and also Crimea’s reunification with Russia in attempts to form the image of our country as an aggressor against European countries,” Sidorov said.
He recalled NATO had considerably stepped up its military presence in Eastern Europe.
“The anti-Russian policies of the Baltic countries’ political leadership have allowed for the forward deployment of 1,000 troops from the 3rd US infantry division in the territories of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania,” he said.
“Besides, the situation in the region is keynoted by a brainwashing campaign with the aim to foment steady anti-Russian sentiment in society,” Sidorov said.
Hybrid wars are main type of modern military conflicts
The general noted that hybrid wars are the main type of international conflicts these days, with the emphasis placed not on combat operations, but large-scale propaganda campaigns inside the potential enemy country.
“Central to modern wars are ever more often unconventional, hybrid types of operations, incorporating both military operations and activities without the use of military force,” he said. As an example of countries conducting the so-called hybrid wars Kartapolov mentioned the United States, which was trying “to shake loose the Russian economy with the blows of economic sanctions and to impair greater independence of the European Union and its main engines — Germany and France.”
In part, Kartapolov said, this is seen in the US Ukraine Freedom Support Act, adopted on December 19 last year, which called for using non-commercial political organizations in Russia “for the sake of attaining the US aims of disorganizing Russia’s national development,” Kartapolov said.
Lavrov: Russia Became Target of
Unprecedented Confrontation Campaign TASS
MOSCOW (April 27, 2015) — Attempts to achieve Russia’s isolation have failed, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday. “We have become a target of an unprecedented confrontation campaign aimed to pressure Russia,” Lavrov told the Rossiya 24 channel.
He said the campaign was “not only economic and financial but also informational and propagandist. Its purpose to isolate Russian was openly proclaimed. But it failed,” the minister said.
He said he saw Russia’s great achievement in “our patience, self-confidence, rejection of attempts to punish us for the truth, striving for justice and refusal to leave our compatriots in the lurch.”
Speaking about the recent successes of the Russian diplomacy, Lavrov said that Russia had succeeded in “drawing attention to the necessity to respect principles of the international law,” including people’ s right to self-determination.
(MOSCOW (April 16, 2015) — NATO expansion is a major US policy miscalculation, which has failed to resolve the issue of security in Europe, Russia’s Ambassador to NATO Alexander Grushko said on Thursday.
“The project of the NATO expansion has exhausted itself,” Grushko told reporters.
“Many renowned politicians directly state today that after the end of the cold war the US major blunder was a decision on resuming the so-called ‘open door’ policy. This is the US major miscalculation in the 20th century,” the Russian envoy said.
“Today we see that the process of the NATO expansion has not resolved any of the real problems of the European continent,” the diplomat said.
According to Grushko, NATO’s activity in the Balkans has led to numerous troubles in the region and the collapse of states.
“We know the results of NATO’s activity in Libya. Many NATO countries participated in intervention in Iraq and the situation, which has developed in the region, is largely the result of the activity of that organization,” the Russian envoy said.
NATO, US Missile Defense Plans Threaten
Russian Nuclear Forces â€” Chief of General Staff TASS
MOSCOW (April 16, 2015) — The number of cases of NATO non-Black Sea states’ ships entering the Black Sea area has increased four times and the number of flights of early radar warning planes has increased nine times.
The United States’ prompt global strike concept and the deployment of a global missile defence system poses a threat to Russian strategic forces and to global security, the chief of Russia’s General Staff, General of the Army Valery Gerasimov, has said.
“Alongside the creation and deployment of strategic missile defence systems certain fears are aroused by the United States’ implementation of the prompt global strike concept.
“It is universally known that within that concept non-nuclear high accuracy attack weapons of a global range are being developed,” Gerasimov told the 4th International Security Conference in Moscow.
Despite the considerable financial costs and technical problems research in that field is continuing. For that reason it should not be ruled out that non-nuclear global strike weapons will become a reality in the foreseeable future,” Gerasimov said.
“In combination with the implementation of ballistic missile defence plans this may create a risk of upsetting the strategic nuclear balance, which still remains a safeguard of world stability,” Gerasimov said.
These steps by the United States are solid reasons for Russia to take proportionate retaliatory measures, he warned.
NATO seeks to create hotbeds of tension on Russian borders
“As they seek to ‘put Russia in its place,’ Washington and its NATO partners show increasingly obvious interest in creating crisis situations in the regions bordering on the Russian Federation,” he said at the 4th Moscow conference on international security.
For this purpose, the tactic of color revolutions is used, the chief of the Russian General Staff said.
“The technology of these revolutions has become standard — manipulating outside with the population’s protest potential, using the information space combined with political, economic, humanitarian and other non-military measures,” he said.
The scenarios of state coups in the form of color revolutions in the post-Soviet space were successfully implemented in Ukraine, Georgia and Moldavia, he said. “As a result, basically pro-Western and anti-Russian forces were brought to power,” the general said.
Gerasimov said the North Atlantic Treaty Organization seeks to create new hotbeds of instability near Russian borders. He recalled that the admission of new members to the alliance was continuing non-stop.
“Montenegro, Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina are considered as the most likely aspirants. Also, the alliance keeps speculating about the prospects of Georgia’s and Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration,” Gerasimov said.
“It is characteristic that almost all new members of the alliance are former members of the Warsaw Treaty Organization or post-Soviet republics. In other words, since the 1990s NATO’s expansion has proceeded strictly to the east, towards Russia’s borders,” Gerasimov told the 4th International Security Conference in Moscow on Thursday.
“We are being told that the development of the North Atlantic Alliance is being carried out exclusively for defensive purposes and that it is not aimed against Russia. In the meantime, universally-known facts point to the opposite. Since 1999 the number of the alliance’s members has grown by twelve, while throughout the Cold War period only four new members were admitted,” Gerasimov said.
“Even regardless the political aspect of the NATO leadership’s policies the analysis of the situation entirely from the strategic viewpoint cannot but identify the negative influences of the emerging situation on Russia’s military security,” he said.
According to Gerasimov, the Russian Defense Ministry has recorded intensification of NATO military activity near Russia’s borders.
“Compared to 2013 [in 2014] the number of cases of NATO non-Black Sea states’ ships entering the Black Sea area has increased four times, the number of tactical and reconnaissance aircraft flights near the Russian borders has increased two times, and flights of early radar warning planes — nine times,” he said.
“Since the start of 2014, the number of NATO operations has drastically increased,” Gerasimov said.
According to the Russian General Staff Chief, the number of NATO exercises last year increased practically 1.8 times, compared to 2013.
The total number of military personnel of NATO countries has exceeded 3.7 million.
“The number of joint armed forces of NATO reaches 1.7 million people, and the overall number of regular armed forces of the alliance has exceeded 3.7 million people,” Gerasimov said.
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