Monday, April 13, 2009

Kent State Shooting



Few people today realize what we were doing in Viet Nam. We were fighting "the Great Red Hoard". It was the current thinking at the time of the Viet Nam war that any country that became communist would surely become part of the Soviet Union. The loss of Cuba to the Communist U.S.S.R. was fresh in peoples minds. The United States had a policy of containment:
"Under President Harry Truman, the United States had established a foreign policy doctrine called "containment." Originated by George Kennan, Dean Acheson, and other diplomats and policy advisers, the policy of "containment" aimed not to fight an all out war with the communist Soviet Union, but rather to confine communism and the Soviet Union to their existing boundaries." - Michael O'Malley

We lived in total fear of the Soviet Union, we feared to confront them directly. The fear of Communist expansion was justified, in part by statements from Nikita Khrushchev like: "We will bury you!" and “we will take you over without firing a shot”. The Soviet philosophy was one that kept it's people trembling with fear. We had every reason to fear the Soviet Union. It was well known as a harsh and brutal regime. Khrushchev was much like Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is today. He was openly contemptuous of the United States and was very up front about threatening us. The only difference between Khrushchev and Ahmadinejad is that Khrushchev was the leader of one of the most powerful nations in the world. The soviet military was every much as powerful as the United States military. And… They had nukes… And they were willing to use them if we were to show a chink in our armor.


My great grandmother was a Seventh Day Adventist. She thumped on the Bible and prophesized: “Get yourself right with the lord. The Bible says that the world is going to end in fire” and that, “The end of the world is going to come out of the east”. As far as she was concerned, Russia was east. I knew that there was no doubt that my Great-Grandmother loved us kids, and if she told us that the world was soon going to end, we believed her. Before we went to bed at night she had us recite the Lord’s Prayer and when I got to the part where we said, “and if I die before I wake, I pray the lord my soul to take”. I just knew that was a sign that I might even die that night. She called the atom bomb the “A-Tom bomb”. She knew how terrible the A-Tom bomb was, the two bombs dropped on Japan was still fresh in her old feeble mind. She was just doing what she thought that she needed to do to get us kids into heaven when the Russians dropped the A-tom bomb on us. Some day I'll tell you what I have against religion, but that's a post for another day.

Most of the kids in the fifties were terrified that they might die at any moment. They saw people building bomb shelters, and overheard the old folks talk endlessly about “The Commies” dropping bombs on us. We thought that it might happen at any minute. So, most of the older folks believed that we had to stop communist expansion at all costs.

We were in Viet Nam to make sure that the "commies" didn't take over. The old guard was adamant that we had to win the Viet Nam war no matter what it took to do. Not only did they not want to pull our troupes out, they felt that the war should be scaled up. They felt that we should move into Cambodia and any other place that it looked like the commies wanted to take over. That set the stage for the feelings that people had leading up to the Kent State shootings. The young people and the students didn't see the communist as being that much of a treat, and that we should stay within our borders, and the commies could have the rest of the world if they wanted it. They felt that we should only protect America against any "Direct Aggression". The idea was that, we should remain non-aggressive, and they would not harm us. The old soldiers were offended by such cowardice, and demanded our government do something about the cowards who objected to the Viet Nam war. It was much like the demonstrators of today, thinking that we should only answer direct threats, and that we should have stayed out of Iraq. Bushes actions were a lot like Nixon’s when he expanded the war.

In 1968 the students in Mexico were demonstrating against their government, demanding Democracy from the "Institutional Revolutionary Party" (PRI) had been in power since 1929. The Mexican government fired 15,000 bullets, they shot and killed from 150, to 350 students. The official number that the PRI admitted to was @40-50 students. "The Oct. 2, 1968 massacre of student demonstrators in Tlatelolco square in Mexico City have made it clear that the state was responsible. But not one person has been sentenced, and no one even knows exactly how many young protesters died." Ten days later Mexico City hosted the 1968 summer Olympics, which came off without a hitch. The student demonstrations were quelled, and there were no more demonstrations.

Many of the American Old-Guard pointed to the way that Mexico handled demonstrators, and asked if maybe the traitorous American students should be treated the same way. Some people seriously thought that maybe it would be a good solution to the student demonstrations. Others talked about how lucky Americans were that they were not treated like the Mexican students. At any way of thinking it was all fresh in everyone’s minds that the shooting of Mexican students solved "the problem".

It didn't help that politicians were jumping on the "Get Tough" band wagon and making wildly patriotic and threatening speeches about the demonstrations that were going on at Kent State.

On Thursday April 30th 1970. President Richard M. Nixon announced that the United States had launched an incursion into Cambodia.

On Friday May 1st , about 500 students demonstrated against the Viet Nam war, and Nixon’s incursion into Cambodia, on the grassy knoll at the center of the Kent State campus. One student buried a copy of the U.S. Constitution, another burned his draft card. These days that would go fairly unnoticed, but back then it was wildly unpatriotic and seriously offensive. The demonstration lasted well into the night. By midnight they were breaking windows and starting bonfires in the middle of the streets. Beer bottles were being thrown from bars, breaking windows and damaging cars.

On Saturday, May 2nd, a state of emergency was declared and Governor James A. Rhodes sent in the national Guard. When the guard got there, buildings were burning, and students were throwing rocks and preventing the firemen from putting the fires out. More than a thousand protestors were involved.

Sunday, May 3rd, Governor James A. Rhodes called the protesters un-American and referred to the protesters as revolutionaries set on destroying higher education in Ohio. "They're worse than the brown shirts and the communist element and also the night riders and the vigilantes," Rhodes said. "They're the worst type of people that we harbor in America. I think that we're up against the strongest, well-trained, militant, revolutionary group that has ever assembled in America." Those words were coming from someone with the stature of the Governor of Ohio!

Around 8:00 p.m., another rally was held on the campus Commons. By 8:45 p.m. the Guard used tear gas to disperse the crowd, and the students reassembled at the intersection of Lincoln and Main Streets, holding a sit-in in the hopes of gaining a meeting with Mayor Satrom and President White. At 11:00 p.m., the Guard announced that a curfew had gone into effect and began forcing the students back to their dorms. Ten Guardsmen were injured and a few students were bayoneted by Guardsmen.”

Monday, May 4th, 1970, In spite of the fact that 12,000 leaflets had been passed out canceling the demonstration, 2,000 folks showed up to protest the Viet Nam war, and the incursion into Cambodia.

“Shortly before noon, General Canterbury made the decision to order the demonstrators to disperse. A Kent State police officer standing by the Guard made an announcement using a bullhorn. When this had no effect, the officer was placed in a jeep along with several Guardsmen and driven across the Commons to tell the protestors that the rally was banned and that they must disperse. This was met with angry shouting and rocks, and the jeep retreated. Canterbury then ordered his men to load and lock their weapons, tear gas canisters were fired into the crowd around the Victory Bell, and the Guard began to march across the Commons to disperse the rally. The protestors moved up a steep hill, known as Blanket Hill, and then down the other side of the hill onto the Prentice Hall parking lot as well as an adjoining practice football field. Most of the Guardsmen followed the students directly and soon found themselves somewhat trapped on the practice football field because it was surrounded by a fence. Yelling and rock throwing reached a peak as the Guard remained on the field for about ten minutes. Several Guardsmen could be seen huddling together, and some Guardsmen knelt and pointed their guns, but no weapons were shot at this time. The Guard then began retracing their steps from the practice football field back up Blanket Hill. As they arrived at the top of the hill, twenty-eight of the more than seventy Guardsmen turned suddenly and fired their rifles and pistols. Many guardsmen fired into the air or the ground. However, a small portion fired directly into the crowd. Altogether between 61 and 67 shots were fired in a 13 second period.”

Four people died, Nine people were wounded. Many people feel that shock of the Kent State killings was directly related the ending of the Viet Nam War.

As with everything in America, we will never know why the Guard fired on the students. Was it truly in self defense, as they claim? Did they do it out of some warped sense of patriotism? Were they in anyway justified? We will never know, they details were buried forever in an out of court settlement in the amount of “$675,000 to the wounded students and the parents of the students who had been killed.” it was unclear to me if that was per each or altogether. But, the details will never come out.

Ohio
By Neil Young

Tin soldiers and Nixon's comin'.
We're finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drummin'.
Four dead in Ohio.

Gotta get down to it.
Soldiers are gunning us down.
Should have been done long ago.
What if you knew her and
Found her dead on the ground?
How can you run when you know?
.......
Four dead in Ohio.
Four dead in Ohio.
Four dead in Ohio.
Four dead in Ohio.



Tlatelolco Massacre - 40 Years of Impunity


Kent State Shooting

kent state chronological

Kent state sociology dept

49 comments:

Fred said...

A good book to read on this is Kent State by James Michener.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Thanks Fred, I haven't read it. Michener gets a little tedious for my schedule. But I'm going to try to fit it in.

I was trying to convey the feeling as to why we entered the war, and why we ended up getting out of it. Most people only know what happened. They don't understand how terrifying it was to be a child in the fifties. (and to have a slightly paranoid, very religious, and wacky Great Grandmother, in my case) They don’t know about the circumstances that lead up to the riot/shooting.

Fred said...

And many adults nowadays didn't have the pleasure of living through the duck and cover civil defense drills in elementary school, in preparation for nuclear attack.

I'm a bit younger than you, but I still experienced some of the red scare of the 50s and 60s.

Anonymous said...

While I do not agree with your interpretation of why we were protesting the Viet Nam war, I do think it is useful to remember those times. Kent State occurred 30miles away from me in my senior year of high school year and it rocked my world. Within a few days, I led a student council meeting walkout that was supposed to initiate a school wide lockout. My leadership ended at the door of the meeting room where a 250 lb wrestling coach taught me everything I needed to know about democracy...he blocked me with his belly at the door and yelled at me to sit down, which I did in shame. The asshole gave me my only high school B grade as punishment in Amerikan history.(am i still bitter?).
One month to the day after Kent State, CSN&Y premiered the 4 Dead in Ohio at a concert in Cleveland. We stood on the seats and sang that chorus for 15-20 minutes. Closing with 'Teach your Children' didn't calm the crowd a bit and they, not me, proceeded to riot in the downtown.
So killing US citizens protesting an immoral war was a great way to turn a generation against its government. It is said that the powers that be were so mad that hundreds of thousands of people marching for peace could thwart their grubby little military plans that by Reagan's time, they had the FEMA camp plan (thank you ollie north) ready to go. As it is today.
And yes, the bombshelter in my neighborhood and the duck and cover (WTF?) exercises made me think I had no future. Was it a real threat that Russia posed or were we, as the number 1 dog, needing an arms race to get the military industrial complex entrenched and in complete control. Note that Eisenhower, when he left office, did not mention the threat of the Russkies, but the threat of the concentration of power in the hands of the military industrial complex.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Anon
Thank-you for commenting. You said:“While I do not agree with your interpretation of why we were protesting the Viet Nam war,”I agree that not all people had the same reasons for protesting the war, and my interpretations of why we should have pulled out would have been different. If I had been sent to Viet Nam, (I wasn’t) I would have wanted total support to win, or get out. I saw our soldiers left over there as cannon fodder, with no real support or direction. Nixon tried to deepen the war effort; that caused the Kent State Riots. After the Kent State killings, It was obvious that we needed to get out. The U.S lost support of any war efforts .

The best qoute that I found on the pullout was the following, it’s from Wiki-answers:
"When the President ordered US troops into Cambodia and ordered more bombings, the result was a tremendous uproar at home with more marches and demonstrations. Congress reacted to the antiwar feeling and repealed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution which gave the President the authority to send troops and fight the war in Vietnam. The United States did not lose the Vietnam War. Although some may argue that by pulling out of South Vietnam we did just that. In 1972, North Vietnam finally realized that the war was a stalemate. The two sides met and arranged a cease fire. In January of 1973 the Paris Accords went into effect. The US agreed to withdraw all its troops from Vietnam in 60 days. Congress had stopped funding the war effort. The North Vietnamese government agreed to release all prisoners, which they never did. Free elections were to be held in Vietnam. The President of South Vietnam considered the agreement between North Vietnam and the US as a sell out. But it allowed President Nixon to save face and bring the soldiers home. By 1975, after US troops had been pulled out of South Vietnam, the ARVN (Army of the Republic of South Vietnam) collapsed and the North Vietnamese moved into Saigon, ending the war and finalizing the take over of the South by the North. Our purpose in the war is debated to this day."The words: "Our purpose in the war is debated to this day" being the salient sentence.

But I’m curious, what was your reasons for protesting the war?

Anonymous said...

War and killing are evil.
The Gulf of Tonkin incident was a manufactured lie.
Wars are fought over natural resources (oil fields in the S China sea) and to try out another generation our R&D weaponry.
Poisening a people (and our soldiers) with Dow defoliants was very wrong.
N. Vietnam won, we lost. Was there an increased threat to America? Nope.
Your cannon fodder argument works for me too.

Anonymous said...

What oil fields in the South China Sea ??

Anonymous said...

totally agree with anon at 1151--I was a Marine in 1967 in Vietnam and saw for myself the truth, the poor people we were fighting weren't a threat, it was for imperialism and oil. A study in the 1920's by future U.S. president Herbert Hoover said that one of the world's largest oil fields was discovered off the coast of what was then known as French Indo-China. General MacArthur supplied weapons to Ho Chi Minh in order to drive out the French, not the Chinese, and the war was just a coverup for a massive oil survey conducted by Rockefeller's Standard Oil company. After the war was over, various worldwide companies won bids for drilling, but Standard was the only one that actually struck oil. Only a deluded person would believe that was a coincidence.

Anonymous said...

Ernie, Michener's "Kent State" is exciting, thorough, and accurate.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Okay, I'll make it a "must read".

But, I'm glad that I did this post before reading it, because my intent was to convey the feeling of the time period that it all happened.

Anonymous said...

"U.S. leaders did not want a power hostile to the ideology of the country to control Southeast Asia. ... North Vietnam is rich in coal, and South Vietnam has large oil reserves."


elsewhere:
'In 1964, after Vietnam was divided into North and South, and the contrived Gulf of Tonkin incident, several U.S. aircraft carriers were stationed offshore of Vietnam and the 'war' was started. Every day jet planes would take off from the carriers, bomb locations in North and South Vietnam, and then using normal military procedure when returning would dump their unsafe or unused bombs in the ocean before landing back on the carriers. Safe ordnance drop zones were designated for this purpose away from the carriers.

Even close-up observers would only notice many small explosions occurring daily in the waters of the South China Sea and thought it was only part of the 'war.' The U.S. Navy carriers had begun Operation Linebacker One, and Standard Oil had begun its ten year oil survey of the seabed off of Vietnam. And the Vietnamese, Chinese and everybody else around, including the Americans, were none the wiser. The oil survey hardly cost Standard Oil a nickel, the U.S. taxpayers paid for it.'
source deleted

4 Dead in Ohio said...

the zeitgeist of that time was amazing... after kent state i got my first savings account and a free gift flag which i promptly turned into inserts for my jeans. that flag was a symbol of what was wrong with america, not what was right and it was no big deal, more of a fashion statement. my former navy officer father was horrified and insulted. it meant a great deal to him, as he had served under it. i was clueless about how it could mean that much to someone. i kept those red stripe inserted bellbottoms! in a small lock box and hid the key. if he had wanted to he could have taken the box out of my closet, but he didn't.
a conscientious objector status was my chosen, and supported, card to play, though my infirmities and a high draft number dictated my safety.
nevertheless, i burnt three draft cards and sent the ashes back to DC with a lecture, only to be sent another. personally, and culturally it was a huge anti-authorian period. nixon, the war, and the beginning awareness of the extent of our pollution made for a lot to protest.
and the drugs were like going from black and white('50's) to full kaleidescopic color.
everything seemed new!!!
i can't say that enough, there was an excitement and edge to countering the culture, and the best quickly headed out of the cities to the hills and a life away from society and into self-sufficiency. as you know. the Whole Earth Catalog was all you needed in a book, Mother Earth News was just getting going... $40/acre land was available. the oldtimey ways looked real good....

suzy blah blah said...
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suzy blah blah said...
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Anonymous said...

People often don't understand how it feels to have three liberal leaders assassinated in the space of five years ('63- '68) and many major race riots. It was a turbulent political decade after the quiet '50's.

spyrock said...

i knew a jenny who went through the kent state thing. not like forest gump's jenny, she was an earth mother type. her parents died when she was a teenager so she became an adult early on. she never did talk about kent state. but she did move to jerome, arizona and later taught school in montana.
lots of guys didn't go home when they came back from nam. they stayed in the city. roy, steve, and chipper were all from back east and wound up living with us before they went home. also, we had our own mash unit working out of letterman hospital who were dealing with the amputees and wounded every day. none of these guys ever talked about nam back then. never. they drew blood all day long so they didn't think it odd to shoot acid rather than injest it orally. talk about a contact high. dove's husband was a navy seal from 67-70 and he died mothers day 2002 when somebody ran over their boat in the delta down near rio vista.
he was a member of the board of directors of the world business academy which is an international business association basically striving for world peace. most of what i hear about those days ever since those days is bullshistory. and i don't recall anyone who actually went to viet nam ever want to talk about it. so that's all i know about that.

omr said...

Fred--thanks for that Michener recommendation too! I want to read that.

Ernie Branscomb said...

John Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, and Dr. Martin Luther King.
You've gotta' understand, some folks are not as old as us, and you have to fill in the blanks.

“the zeitgeist of that time was amazing”Most people probably picked up on that word, “Zeitgeist”, and understood that in means: “In the spirit of the times.”

Either that or “Four dead in Ohio” is a very sophisticated protester, and is a member of the “Zeitgeist Movement”. http://thezeitgeistmovement.com/ which is an anarchy group that only accepts nature as a ruling entity.

“The Zeitgeist Movement is not a political movement. It does not recognize nations, governments, races, religions, creeds or class. Our understandings conclude that these are false, outdated distinctions which are far from positive factors for true collective human growth and potential.”……

From there, their stated purpose descends into rhetorical blather that only someone with a great amount of time on their hands could ever understand.

So I’m assuming that the commenter meant “in the spirit of times”, but one cannot be too careful nowadays!

Ernie Branscomb said...

Spy, have you ever considered writing a book? You’ve seen a lot of things in your life. I think that the younger generation coming up now could get a lot out of it.

Zeitgeezer said...

Thank you for filling in some of my missing details of my 60's comments.
I did mean spirit of the time, but in my spare time I will check out that group...

Carson Park Ranger said...

Our leaders have learned little over the years. They didn't know that China and the USSR were enemies, because they never listened to anyone who did not have membership in their country clubs.

Now a younger generation of privileged golfers are in charge of our foreign policy, and they know as much about Afghanistan and Pakistan as their grandparents knew about the USSR and Asia.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Does anyone remember the Flip Wilson Show back in the seventies and "The Reverend Leroy and the Church of What’s happing Now."? Now that was “zeitgeist”.

Buff Oonery said...

"Flip Wilson tried to show what happens when black people don't have real access to the educational system through the character Reverend Leroy. The Reverend based on a real-life encounter Wilson had with a black minister when he was a child. Flip was "impressed" and "always amazed" by his expressiveness. However, Flip also noted that the Reverend wasn't "well-educated". He reaffirmed the belief that many black community leaders, who had strong influence among their own people, could not reach out to others because their social intelligence came in the wrong package. The audience laughed at the crazy ideas the Reverend said. Reverend Leroy would only engage issues that were non-threatening to the American public, the imaginative, escapist world of Christianity although he did not contribute to real issues facing the Black politic. Reverend Leroy became an image of a black person who posed no harm or threat to white society because he was a buffoon."

suzy blah blah said...
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suzy blah blah said...
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suzy blah blah said...
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Ernie Branscomb said...

I see anonyminity has moved to a new plane of existence. Not only does anonymous not want us to know who they are, they don't want us to know what they said, then they delete their comments.

Next, they won’t even be leaving any notice at all that they’ve been here.

Kym said...

Until Kent State, I was a child who thought the president guided by God. The killings opened my eyes and the eyes of many. I know the sister of Allison Krause who was killed there. What was a national tragedy for us was a personal tragedy for her family.

glad she's found an editor said...

It's not "anonymous" Ernie, it's that wing-nut "friend of yours", Ms. Blah Blah. I must admit though, it's an improvement from her usual tripe. You can see for yourself by clicking on the post's title and scrolling down to "comments".

suzy blah blah said...

sorry..Ernie..butihadtodeletemy
commentscuzBlogger'sbeendoingweirdthingstomypostslikeputting.mywords.
all.together.without.leaving.any.spaces.betweenbetweenthem
has.anyone.else.been.experiencing_this?...
its_a_reallyreally_strange_tripe!

omr said...

tripe is a by-product of offing pigs...sorry, offal pun.

needing ed said...

it must be those NSA listener suz, jest-playing with us. i have been losing prepositions to them for years. last week i reread my comment twice, and what was posted stuttered with repeat words and a few missing. i assumed (as have others) that my marble leakage has progressed.
good luck with the runonwords, and weird tripes.

Ernie Branscomb said...

“It's not "anonymous" Ernie, it's that wing-nut "friend of yours", Ms. Blah Blah.”You say that only because you don’t recognize a Savant when you come across one. Just because she is different doesn’t mean that she can’t be right. If you take the time to understand what she is saying, she is remarkably perceptive in the things that she says. Her comments are pure and uncontrived. She is seldom mean spirited.

It reminds me of a Twilight Zone episode, where a very beautiful young woman was upset that she couldn’t be like everybody else. She was in tears. Her family and friends were gathered around her, trying to console her in her misery. When the they turned around they were all hideously disfigured and they had faces like mud. As they left the room, they were saying “Poor girl, she was born like that.”

“love is always preferable to understanding anyway --- except sometimes I think maybe theyre close to the same thing…” Suzy Blah Blah Plus, I know that she is right about the spaces disappearing, because my comment at 9:57 did that. It ran several paragraphs together.

Ernie Branscomb said...

And.... It just did it again!

What's going on???

another rebolting winged nut said...

Technically, she would be a wing-nutless.

Anonymous said...

Black holes in the blogosphere sucking up space(s)!

Anonymous said...

back onto some post details... Ten days later Mexico City hosted the 1968 summer Olympics, which came off without a hitch.
In terms of quelling the riot energy, yes, but let's not forget the bruthers raising their fists on the medal stand: "The 1968 Olympics Black Power salute was a noted black civil rights protest and one of the most overtly political statements in the 110 year history of the modern Olympic Games."

Anonymous said...

Wow, it took forty years for those two to get acclaim. Good wiki-read.

anyone remember? said...

Wazzup with the young oldtimers here...nobody has mentioned the 1968 Chicago Demotcratic Convention riots? That epoch event preceded Kent State, and certainly fueled the "emotional mentalities" of both sides.
Chicago created an association of pig and cop for many of us, from the beating of so many innocents with "the whole world watching".

Robin Shelley said...

Careful there, 12:34! Suzy B.B. is the modern-day Aristotle here & she has some rabid fans. Trying to belittle her might say far more about you than it does about her.
(;

I Was There said...

Support for Peace was also found on some of the TV shows of that period...Laugh-In, the Smothers Brothers Show(down with CBS),...anyone remember George Carlin as the Hippy Dippy Mailman?
Moms Mabley was a favorite of mine... a toothchallenged outspoken baglady who appeared on Merv Griffin and elsewhere. One of her infamous on air lines: "No stems, no seeds that you don’t need,
Acapulco Gold is
Bad ass weed."

suzy blah blah said...

needling Ed, if you dont have a level floor on yr house you can easily find yr marbles... but Suzy knows what yuo mean abuot losing propositions due to NSA (no strings attached).. they always want commitment dont they --they dont listen when i tell em that Suzys not into commitment, Suzy wants it with NSA --and often. LOL! Thats why Ernie, whos obviously all educated all about French culture and all --calls Suzy a souvant..

Robin Shelley said...

Hippy Dippy WEATHERman... no relation to The Weathermen.
(-:

spyrock said...

i read gurgieff back in the day so i was somehow prepared for the madness. but looking back. how few were killed that said no. compared to all those who went willingly that died unwillingly. but it was the no people who ended the war. not everyone who was willing to die for this country right or wrong. they were ready to die. for us. those brave souls. god love um.
but what were we fighting for over there. a good surf break. i'm not sure. can someone splain it to me. all i can figure out is that someone knew that clint eastwood would make a film called grand torino someday and that they needed some fugitive ex southeast asians to star in it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the gentle correction Robin... though Carlin's jokes were the bomb, or bombed, he was not a member of that famous Weatherman group.

Fredy Champagne said...

I was an early combat infantyman in Viet Nam 65-66, serving with the 1st Inf Division. After my return home, I became a staunch anti-war protester. I saw the war from both sides. Kent State was happening all over the country. We shut down the campus at Univ of So Florida in Tampa many times during the late 60s and early 70s.
To explain the theory of containment simply as possible, in relation to Viet Nam, one simply must see the US created puppet regime of the Republic of South Viet Nam as one HUGE military base. Think of South Viet Nam and South Korea as giant aircraft carriers, bases for the invasion of mainland China in the advent of a future war with the aforementioned commies. Because a giant airbase, armybase and navalbase is what we made of that country. We imported a leader, (Ngo Dinh Diem) proped him up, hired his government and army, fought his battles for him, paid all his bills, ran his government and eliminated him when he was no longer useful. We fought the war till the North Vietnamese kicked our asses out of there, and we settled for a face-saving truce, so we could skedaddle with our tails between our legs. We left a dying carcass of a country in ruins behind us. Some legacy to be proud of.
It is important to see Viet Nam for it's lessons for today. We propped up Ahmed Chalabi in Iraq, and Karzai in Afghanistan. We have created artificial armies for them, with the mission of controlling the insurgencies in those countries, i.e. to make them safe for American imperialism to do business. We pay for the armies in Iraq and Afghanistan, we control their armies, direct their politics, we call all the shots. And eventually, like Viet Nam, we will declare victory and come home, disguising the fact that our tails have been kicked again. There is no way to win either of these current wars short of total war, and total occupation. It's not worth it. The Iraqi and Afghan people deserve better. They deserve for the USA to get the hell out of there and leave them to their own business.
Yes, I am one of those anti war protesters that believe in peace. You know, if your tactics and strategy does not work, change it. For example if our 300 plus years of USA history based on killing native people and stealing their lands, and stealing folk from foreign countries for slave labor, has not worked, maybe we could try a new tactic and strategy. Perhaps we could treat other countries as our equals, friends and partners rather than enemies and slaves to be exploited in the name of preserving our "American Way of Life". How many third world peoples have to die to preserve this? This what? What do we Americans have to be proud of? We invented the phrase "Ethnic Cleansing". Just ask the Cheyene, Arapaho, Creek, Iroquis, Blackfeet, Sioux, Wailaki. No Blood For Oil! Bring home all the troops!
Fredy Champagne
Veterans for Peace

Ernie Branscomb said...

Thanks Freddy, I read everything that you had to say and I'm going to read it again very carefully. It is good to get the opinion of someone who has been there. It gives the rest of us some new insight.

Thank-you for writing, and thank-you for your service to our country.

Dave Stancliff said...

Good post Ernie.
As for Cambodia, please consider checking my blog (yesterday) out for another perspective on why we went in to Cambodia.
To sum it up, we knew the NVA Command & Control was operating there (just within Cambodia's borders -without their permission)for years. The strike we made was to destroy the leadership and win the war.
Of course it can be easily argued that nothing we did in Southeast Asia in 1970 was right. We never should have been there. But we were. And some of us were naive 19-year-old boys doing what they thought was right at that time.
I'm not defending our actions, I'm just clarifying them so everyone can see another side to what was happening back in those dark days.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Required reading by Dave Stancliff, a Cambodian Veteran.