With bin Laden, we’ve become a nation of voyeurs

Terry Garlock's picture

Am I the only one bothered by the aftermath of the Osama bin Laden mission? Don’t get me wrong, I’m pleased we seized the opportunity to kill him, and I’m proud to have the Special Ops team under the American flag.

But the White House, the news media and the American people have conducted themselves like children. I suppose some of us have always been unable to control our urges to gawk, insisting that we see the blood and guts, like rubberneckers slowly passing an auto wreck and urgently trying for a glimpse of the brains on the windshield, a broken bone poking through flesh or maybe the bonus of a severed limb awaiting discovery on the blacktop.

For the adults I know who have experienced the ugliness of war, it would have been quite enough for the President to announce the death of Bin Laden at the hand of our Special Ops team, details withheld to preserve security of our sources and methods and to protect the team’s personnel and families, never mind keeping from our enemies the details of how much about them we learned from the mission.

So I applaud the President’s decision not to release photos of bin Laden’s corpse as proof to doubters. I also applaud the burial at sea, eliminating the frenzy to examine the body or turn his grave into a shrine. Those decisions appear to me the sole brief moments of good judgment in the mission’s aftermath.

Many on the right are criticizing administration spokesmen for getting things wrong. First they said there was a 40-minute firefight in which bin Laden resisted and was killed after sacrificing women as human shields.

Holy smokes! In a firefight, 40 minutes is an eternity and suggests the surprise raid was stopped in its tracks.

They said bin Laden’s compound was a mansion without computers or TVs. Over time and many versions they said the firefight was brief against a single gunman, that bin Laden’s wife was shot in the leg when she lunged at one of our men, that bin Laden was shot while not armed, then that he may have been reaching for a weapon, that his compound was rustic but loaded with technology and intelligence on hard drives and thumb drives.

First it was a kill mission and then a capture mission with kill as an option. Each version seemed to be wrapped in the standard Washington, D.C., claim of “No blame here!”

I don’t fault them for getting it wrong at first. The fog of war makes initial reports understandably wrong; they usually are. The real fault lies in the rush to release salacious details that serve no purpose but to titillate the public and to toughen the image of a White House that had earned a reputation of being soft on terrorists.

The fault is also in pundits, reporters and citizens scrambling after every tiny bloody tidbit about the mission.

Spokesmen eagerly reported the examination of the intelligence gathered at bin Laden’s compound, as if al Qaeda operatives were not listening, and that we found for starters a plot to blow up trains in various cities.

I suppose politicians publicly patting themselves on the back for a “well-done” trumps the advantage we might have gained by revealing nothing of what we had learned of a national security nature. I wonder if there are any adults remaining in our nation’s capital?

The pinnacle of absurdity for me is lauding President Obama for his “courageous decision” to approve the mission. I suppose courage is supposedly required due to the political risk had the mission gone bad, but you’ll have to pardon my doubts for two reasons.

First, I don’t think any president, Republican or Democrat, could ever explain away passing up the chance to kill or capture bin Laden after 9/11. Second, any real leader would approve such a mission in a heartbeat no matter the political consequences simply because it is so unmistakably the right thing to do. Congratulating the President’s courage for making the “Go!” decision feels a little silly in contrast to the Special Ops team that did the deed.

I marvel at the things these men do to keep us safe in our blissful ignorance. They are called when the mission is nearly impossible, far too dangerous for line military units.

They are highly trained in close quarters battle, helicopter jumps to a combat dive, high-and-low altitude parachuting, infiltration, recon, intelligence, interrogation, high-speed drops and pickups, fast-rope descent, land navigation, mountain climbing, unconventional warfare, demolition techniques, structure penetration, sniper methods, advanced first aid, radio communications and dozens of other disciplines honed to a razor edge.

Long ago when I was at my physical peak, such as it was, on my best day I could never come close to achieving what these men do every day just to stay mission-ready, like capping off a day of physical training with a five-mile swim in cold surf.

We have no concept of life in their world, and the second-guessing by talking heads on TV raises stupid to new heights.

As I tell high school students when I guest-lecture one class each semester, we now seriously handicap our own ability to fight a war by wanting to send real-time video back home, to capture the excitement and maybe even catch someone doing something wrong.

I tell them the only way we can win a war these days is to get it over quick before the news media starts to root for the underdog, as is human nature. The real secret, I tell them, is that home life and the battlefield are two completely separate worlds that should never touch.

Combat is an evil that is sometimes necessary, a dirty, nasty business of bodies torn apart, ugly, sad, unforgiving, full of chaos and errors and snap decisions that can easily go wrong, killing fast and furious in a desperate attempt to get it done and survive.

The only glory in combat is in the movies and we should not sully the home life of America with the gruesome details of distant battle. And yet nowadays we do just that.

We sit in our living rooms in comfort and safety, watching talking heads on TV hold forth on combat in their makeup and coifed hair under lights in air conditioning as if they know all about it, serving it up for us to second-guess our own warriors on the battlefield and whether or not they properly applied all the rules of engagement.

Why is it those most eager to second-guess are least likely to realize the home world and combat world are vastly different, that you cannot measure in one by standards from the other?

It all gives me the urge to puke.

Maybe some day our nation will grow up and realize that when our armed forces pull off a tough mission, doing our dirty work while we safely sleep, we don’t need to know all the gory details, that it is sufficient that we give them a nod of gratitude and respect.

But I’m not holding my breath.

[Terry Garlock lives in Peachtree City and writes columns occasionally for The Citizen. He has authored a book, “Strength & Honor: America’s Best in Vietnam.” His email is tgarlock@mindspring.com.]

Ninja Guy
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Oh TG, BTW I Do Agree 100%

with your take on the Bin Laden take-down. Mission complete, he's dead, no more details needed.

Go Braves! McClouth playing like a real major leaguer this year!

bowser
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The real cloud in the silver lining

If you really want to find something to gripe about in the situation, why don't you start with how come we have yet to pay an un-borrowed dime for 10 years of wars?

The problem isn't that we're a nation of voyeurs, it's that we've become a nation of chest-pounding chickenhawks who like to send our all-vol military off on missions we refuse to pay for.

Davids mom
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neo-cons/oou and others

Is the current state of affairs too painful to discuss - that you have to regress to the 'past' for meaningful discussion? Birther issue is dead. Competency of POTUS is not being questioned by the majority of Americans. The issue before the American people now is SECURITY. On par with this issue is jobs, economy, etc. How our leaders work together in Congress to address these issues is tantamount to our survival as a nation. . .indivisible, etc., etc., etc. You and others have just about worn out the 'socialist', incompetent, weak, indecisive, rhetoric. We get it - you don't like Obama. We get it, you don't like Democrats. Well, the rest of the country is having difficulty with McCain, Romney, Palin, Paul, Cain, etc., etc., etc.

Observerofu
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???? Jibber jabber from Dmom????

What are you talking about?

The issue is the Economy.

The issue is illegal immigration.

Has been for awhile now sorry it took you awhile to catch up.

kevink
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There you go again, observerofu: Making stuff up again.

You think you *conservatives' issues are the economy and immigration? Oh really now. Where does this article by Terry mention either of those things? Did you even read it?

"The pinnacle of absurdity for me is lauding President Obama for his “courageous decision” to approve the mission."

That's what I got out of this article. It is a hate lauding Obama piece. Period. Nothing you make up will change the lack of focus on immigration or the economy in this disgruntled republican opinion piece.

How about the latest blog you "step and fetched it" to? An anti-union piece where you and your fellow *conservatives flocked like mosquitos to a blue light to gripe about U N I O N S.

Just cause you say it observer, don't make it true.

Catch up.

Observerofu
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kevin where was anything made up

or are you just throwing mudbombs?

My post was a response to Dmom not Terry do try to keep up.

kevink
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observyour creative avatar of u: Let me remind you .

You said this:

"The issue is the Economy.

The issue is illegal immigration.

Has been for awhile now sorry it took you awhile to catch up."

Now. Tell me where the focus of the last several blogs and or posts you have opined on was. Was it "the economy" that jokeawfi just blogged about? Is Terry Garlock talking about "immigration?"

*conservatives are busy attacking The President's character, unions, planned parenthood, and are absolutely not focusing on jobs or the economy.

I will give you this, Republican Governor Deal attacked immigration today almost as ferociously as he assaulted FREEDOM OF THE PRESS. Perhaps as my *conservativey friends here talk about gangster and thug government, they might look a little bit closer to their local glass house who would dare lock reporters out of a public event because he didn't like their reporting. Why are republicans often perfect examples of all things they claim to detest?

Observerofu
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Post #2 there kevin

Right above my post. You know the one where Dmom said Security is what most Americans are concerned with, that post kevin.

But why let facts interfere with your obfuscation tonight.

kevink
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So is that your answer to this question?

" Why are republicans often perfect examples of all things they claim to detest?"

Either way, I think neither you nor I know what your point is.

And, by the way: Davidsmom said security was "ON PAR WITH" the economy and jobs. No need to twist her words while reponding to me. Like you said, all we have to do is scroll up and see what you've changed.

halfdollarandlost
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Actually

kevin she said "The issue before the American people now is SECURITY." Seems you're doing a little twisting yourself.

kevink
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half a dollar. Are you okay? Did you stroke out before finishin

your sentence? I'll finish David's moms point as she stated it for you:

"On par with this issue is jobs, economy, etc."

Dude!

kevink
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a

v

Observerofu
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Semantics Kevin

but Nuances are lost on you sometimes. That was the point, security is NOT on par with the Economy. Americans are not driving up to the gas pump wondering if a terrorist is going to be filling up next to them. They are wondering if gas prices are ever going to go back down. They are wondering if their employer is going to lay them off. They are wondering if food prices are going to continue to climb. Not will I be safe on the train tomorrow.

That was and is the point. Hope that helps you. Odds are probably not.

btw-your question is a non-starter. I could easily ask you why do all progressives hate America? It presumes a negative and you can't prove a negative kevin.

kevink
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Having to "nuance" your point should tell you something OOU.

You are trying to say the issues are immigration and the economy. The focus of *conservative legislators and bloggers here have been much more about attacking the President, unions, planned parenthood, and protecting oil company profits. No matter what you state. All we have to do is look at the legislation republicans keep pushing, and the topics which you all flock to here on the boards.

As for "Why do progressives hate America?" Everyone knows that it is *conservatives who detest America. My guess is due to either their bell bottoms or love of California.

Observerofu
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Well I have been told that I need to talk to you guys

like I am talking to a 3rd grader. Nuance is lost on most.

I just don't see everyday Americans ***fearing*** like you and dmom state.

An issue yes but right now most have forgotten 9-11 and how it felt afterward. Americans are a resilient lot.

I do see us worrying over the Economy, Inflation, Immigration the illegal sort and our National debt.

Some of you might want to ignore that. I understand. If everyone forgets just who promised to cut the deficit by half but tripled it instead with more spending then Washington to Reagan combined I might want people that vote to forget that as well.

Davids mom
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Oou
Quote:

An issue yes but right now most have forgotten 9-11 and how it felt afterward.

Share that thought with the families who lost a loved one on 9/11. You are truly a thoughtless fool. Americans will never 'forget' 9/11. For this thought to be expressed for an election distraction - is disgusting.

Observerofu
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A thoughtless fool wow I thought you were quitting insults

I guess your good Christian philosophy only goes so far?

Dmom are you telling me the people of America are 9 twelvers really??

That they remember what it felt like on 9/12 still today. Lady you need to pull that head out of your rear end and smell something besides the bs your are shoveling.

I only wish it was true, but sadly it's not.

Davids mom
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Kevin

What Oou lacks is the ability to comprehend. In the world of Oou, nuance equals 'fact'. Thank heavens our leaders and most Americans can multitask in addressing the many challenges that we, as citizens, face today. NO ONE wants our leaders to put security on the back burner while facing our multitude of problems. The president exemplified the necessity
of handling more than one crisis situation at a time while handling security concerns. Our government is working. Our military is doing it's job. It takes all working together to keep us safe. We must not allow distraction initiated to win an election to confuse our focus- to preserve our country and its citizens.

kevink
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Davidsmom: OOU must not fly much.

I guess with the work I do I am constantly reminded of 9/11's impact on our lives. Having thousands and thousands and thousands of troops in Afghanistan, Iraq, untold secret locations, and off the coast of Libya fighting tonight as we blog reminds every person with family and friends serving of this battle's importance. And to think, our fellow *conservatives use to be security hawks, but now I guess the whole national security thing is just not as important as busting unions, because unions seem to be all that holds their attention. Well, that and anything and everything anti-Obama. That should help them win the White House back, shouldn't it (eyes a rollin)

Observerofu
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keven you know what happens when you assume?

You get the point I hope.
The rest is just not worth the effort.

Davids mom
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Oou

I will respond to you on the level of your expressed understanding. You have an interesting need to refer to 'rear end', your focus when you need to stop reasoned discussion. Sad. You are a limited person who is doing more to hurt your cause.

Observerofu
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Then dmom you have nothing to worry about

I was just referencing where you seem to get a lot of your facts from.

Observerofu
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Here are some facts for ya dmom.

No nuances involved just cold hard facts. You may be able to get the point this time.

1."Americans are focused like a laser on the economy," he said. "Reforming health care is important to them, but it doesn't trump the economy. People want the economy taken care of." Franklin-Marshall College poll

2. "CWA Poll: Congress 2011 Needs to Focus on Economy, Jobs, Morality
New poll suggests Americans are most concerned with the decline of the economy and morality and values"
A new poll co-commissioned by Concerned Women for America (CWA) and conducted by the polling company, inc./WomanTrend

3.Most Americans worry about ability to pay mortgage or rent, poll finds [Washington Post]
Washington Post Poll

4. Nearly three in four Americans (71%) say they worry about the economy "a great deal," more than worry about 13 other issues Gallup measured in a March 3-6 poll.

5. Most Americans are concerned about inflation as gas prices rise in response to turbulence in the Middle East and North Africa, according to a Rasmussen poll. Eighty-two percent of adults are at least somewhat concerned about inflation, and 52% are very concerned, the poll indicates.

There's the top 5 dmom. Where is Security in there?

Now think you can muddle through these?

Even MSNBS gets it:

Poll: Economy fears temper Obama's bin Laden bump

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42964113/ns/politics-white_house/

I can do this all night. Come on dmom shows us the data that backs up what you are saying. I will tell you like I tell bacon don't say it if you can't back it up.

kevink
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Of course you can do this all day and night oofu.

"I can do this all night. Come on dmom shows us the data that backs up what you are saying. I will tell you like I tell bacon don't say it if you can't back it up."

Any of us can. But don't lose the big picture mister "people want morality to come home."

Here is the cold reality you are ignoring. Attacks on unions in the midwest have already had negative effects on GOP candidates in the midwest.

The GOP has a horrible pick of Presidential candidates for 2012.

The President's overall approval is increasing, not diminishing.

OOfu, you guys have a tuff, tuff task if you want to take back America. I just don't see how you are gonna do it.... even if you stay up all night trying.

Observerofu
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Politics may be important to you kevin it just not worth my time

to worry as much as you and dmom does.

I am however very concerned over the route this Country is traveling right now. You see kevin unlike you and dmom I am very much aware of where this roads leads. We can not continue to spend and leave nothing to the future generations. Our politicians have kicked the can down the road so long that there is little left of the can.

Security is going to be made irrelevant if our Economy collapses.

btw- Since security is so important to you where are you on securing the border?

Davids mom
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Oou

If several wmd's destroy our country, will our
pesent economical status be #1? Have a nice day o' superior one. There are those who see a connection between our security and our future. And please stop posting other's opinions as facts.

Observerofu
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But where would the WMDs come from

You guys don't believe anyone hates us nor do you believe those non-existent extremist have them.

Care to back up that last statement?

But what if an Asteroid hits us and then Aliens invade then none of this matters.

Davids mom
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Where would WMD come from Oou ?

Remember McVeigh?

Chris P. Bacon
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Politics ....."not worth my time"? LOLOLOLOL!!

You've started FIFTY THREE political threads over on the National forum alone, probably that many again under your former ID of S.Lindsey, and you've replied on virtually every thread that had anything remotely positive to say about President Obama....

....but politics is just not worth your time.

Observerofu
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The difference is

Party politics vs. Political commentary.

I don't tote water for the Republican party - they suck. You do tote the water for the Democrat/Progressive party which means one of you suck. You can guess which.

Note I'm not the one who is focused on Nov 2012. That's you, Kevin, dmom and others. Personally I don't think we are going to make it to 2012.

kevink
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Chrispy: I had to read that several times to believe he had the

nerve to even type it. That's like jokeawfi saying he doesn't ever shoot his BB gun at pictures of President Obama. That's like Maximus saying he doesn't lie awake at night wondering who can win the GOP nomination. That's like me saying I don't much think about owning a car with 200MPH on the dash. In essence, that was a laughable comment.

As for security Mr. Ahem "politics is not worth my time," I say cracking down on EMPLOYERS of illegal immigrants and comprehensive immigration reform including sensible amnesty are the realistic steps towards solving the la migre problem. Not that Al Qaeda came across the Mexican border though.

Observerofu
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You two ideologues kevin and bacon are hilarious

Yes politics as in PARTY politics is not worth my time. You see, you two are constantly beating the drum for the Progressive party. If ANYTHING like what is happening was under McCain you two would be screaming NEO-CONS are taking over.

You see I think both party's stink on ice. They both have put us where we are at today.
Government taking over businesses.
Government telling businesses where they can operate.
Government becoming the nanny state telling us what's good for us.
Government telling us what and how to think.

Over and over and over you two clowns excoriated Bush and the Republicans for the Patriot Act, but yet are silent on Obama re-authorizing it.

Over and over and over you two clowns excoriated Bush and the Republicans for Gitmo, but yet are silent on Obama keeping it open.

Over and over and over you two clowns excoriated Bush and the Republicans for Rendition, but yet are silent on Obama continuing that practice.

Over and over and over you two clowns excoriated Bush and the Republicans for entering Iran, but yet are silent on Obama bombing Libya.

Over and over and over you two clowns excoriated Bush and the Republicans for their uncontrolled spending and debt, but yet are silent on Obama and the Democrat Congress increasing our debt by $4 trillion dollars a record.

Over and over and over you two clowns excoriated Bush and the Republicans for Military Tribunals, but yet are silent on Obama deciding to continue that as well.

You see Politics Kevin and bacon. You two are ideologues –noun a person who zealously advocates an ideology. You guys will back your progressive party no matter what it does, even if you really don't believe they are doing the right thing. But you two most likely agree with all of the above just not when the other party gets the credit for it right?

kevink
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But, but, but Bush 2.0

Good luck finding a third party. I'm a Democrat. A Very unapologetic one at that. Sorry if this wave of liberalism here in The Citizen stresses you. It's all politics in the end, and I do believe you and I could easily share a beer and rides in Mike King's cool car or on Mudcat's broom (gratuitous shout out, I know). As for you and Bacon, well, that's another matter. But hopefully you and I can keep it above the belt.

Bottom line. We have a two party system. I don't see a third party being viable any time soon.

I hate the patriot act. I've expressed dismay with it continuing under the current POTUS. But I sure am not looking for a tiny, ineffective govt used only to wage wars and keep gays from marrying and women from obtaining abortions. To that end, I vote how I vote and support who I support. Not too ideologuey. Just realistic.

Cheers

Observerofu
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Ok Bozo truce it is ;-)

I just wanted to make the point about some continuing to worry about who sits where in DC. That all stink and they all are to cowardly to actually fix the problem of Social Security and Medicaid/Care.

Not to leave out certain segments of our society that stands around with their hands out waiting for their entitlements. Oh no can't cut theirs.

halfdollarandlost
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kevink
kevink wrote:

"The pinnacle of absurdity for me is lauding President Obama for his “courageous decision” to approve the mission."

That's what I got out of this article. It is a hate lauding Obama piece. Period. Nothing you make up will change the lack of focus on immigration or the economy in this disgruntled republican opinion piece.

Well God forbid anyone have a different opinion then you.

kevink
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halfofwhoever you are...

Would you translate your reply into English for me. Might I suggest some online software for you?

Where is either "The economy" or "illegal immigration" mentioned in this Terry Garlock piece? Those are what Observerofu called "THE ISSUES." Are you a sentient being or just a vessel of echos?

halfdollarandlost
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kevink
Davids mom wrote:

Is the current state of affairs too painful to discuss - that you have to regress to the 'past' for meaningful discussion? Birther issue is dead. Competency of POTUS is not being questioned by the majority of Americans. The issue before the American people now is SECURITY. On par with this issue is jobs, economy, etc. How our leaders work together in Congress to address these issues is tantamount to our survival as a nation. . .indivisible, etc., etc., etc. You and others have just about worn out the 'socialist', incompetent, weak, indecisive, rhetoric. We get it - you don't like Obama. We get it, you don't like Democrats. Well, the rest of the country is having difficulty with McCain, Romney, Palin, Paul, Cain, etc., etc., etc.

Now you see this, but its me you reply to, not a word to Davids mom, So when you get consistent, get back to me.

kevink
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Half lost dollar: I consistently don't know what you are talking

about. Just got back to you. Hope we are clear now.

halfdollarandlost
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Well

it must be situational ignorance on your part then.

kevink
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Sure, half-baked dollar.

Let's go with that one and call it a night. I think I've developed a brain bleed from trying to understand you. Got to get my power drill and self medicate.

Davids mom
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Jibber jabber?

Fear of retaliation is on everyone's mind at this time. Unveiling of Osama's plans to inflict more harm on Americans and our country is on everyone's mind at this time. You're talking about issues for the next election. Come to the real world oou - and stop being used. You have the ability to think for yourself. The 80 dead in Pakistan in retaliation for Osama's death is on everyone's mind at this time. Thank heavens we have the intelligence department that is working 24/7 to protect us. The American people set the 'issues' - not the Tea Party or Karl Rove or Fox. Justice for killing and bragging about the killing of Americans on American soil has been achieved. You and yours can continue to try to denigrate that action - but you're in the minority on that side of the issue. Regardless of the 'election', Americans want to know that their security is tantamount / #1 on the list of 'must do' items of our leaders - Republican or Democrat. We both call 'em as we see 'em. You can't insult me - and I shouldn't be able to insult you. I know who and what I stand for. I hope you do also.

Observerofu
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Dmom I am sorry you are afraid

but I have to wonder why now?

We have been under the sword of Damocles for decades. The Middle East particularly the Islamic Extremist didn't just start hating us overnight.
So why now?

Is it perhaps a "don't watch the left hand" moment? I believe so where in this case the "left" hand is the out of control government and out of control debt that has been foisted upon us by the last two administrations. You guys want to make security an issue so maybe enough sheeple will forget about the economy and the massive expansion of Government.

I think you are going to be very unpleasantly surprised however as the thrill running up your collective legs subside and realize that the death of UBL doesn't affect not one whit the price of gas or food.

Then once that realization sets in the "Public" will once again turn to the "Man" in charge and say wtf. (Win The Future)

You are sort of right about one thing the American people attempts to set the agenda and we have been trying for some time unfortunately we still got Healthcare and $4 trillion more in debt. Nov 2010 took care of some of the problem hopefully Nov 2012 will take us the rest of the way.

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Davids Mom

The 80 dead in Pakistan may very well have happened without the guffaw regarding OBL, but that's my opinion. It's the media that declared it a retaliation, and it was the same media that the President used to pound his chest regarding the demise of OBL.

Now imagine that after the raid all was kept secret, and other than a few actually knew what took place, can you in good concience tell me that those 80 Pakistanis would be buried today? Or would they be enjoying life as we are?

Davids mom
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Mike

May well have been - but the perpetrators said it was in retaliation. - right?

Davids mom
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Pounding of chest

You may have 'heard' that - but most Americans heard the President praising the work of our intelligence officers, the planning/ training of our military and the exceptional execution of the plan by the Seals. International media has been covering terrorist activity throughout the world long before 9/11. We read almost weekly of bombings in other countries. Osama and his crew claimed credit for these murders. They are still at work, and their hatred for Americans and any who work with the US is recorded. Their targets are non-combatants - you and me, wherever we happen to be. This IMO is frightening - and they could care less about our 'election'.

T-Man
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Mike K No way to keep it secret

The crashed Helicopter and dead body on the steps. Not counting the women and children at the location. Something would be said.

How do we reduce government?

Economy
I feel we are giving away to much money with so many tax breaks. Rich, big business etc. We even provide the Oil Companies a tax break all while they enjoy their record profits made off the backs of Americans.

NUK_1
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"Security" not #1 issue with me

I would have flown on 9/12 without hesitation for that matter.

I'd like to see the Patriot Act seriously gutted and the security theater at airports brought more into line with common sense instead of the ridiculousness that it is presently.

For me, the #1 issue is the federal government and reducing its size and scope. Next, the economy. Next, the humongous deficit now and in the future. Pulling the military out of peacekeeping and nation-building roles would be next. Illegal immigration reform. I guess security would be after that.

I don't take security for granted but I am not getting up every day wondering how much "danger" American citizens are in or what the "threat level" might be.

Davids mom
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NUK_1

I applaud your insightful courage. The airports are not the only 'targets'. I also applaud the workers in our federal facilities and our embassies. You may consider our 'security' actions at our airports nonsence - but traveling to any of the worlds larger cities, other countries take the terrorist threat quite seriously. I hope our intelligence officials continue their successful vigilance in keeping us safe on American soil. It just takes one miscalculation/oversight to have another 9/11.

NUK_1
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DM

I figured immediately after 9/11 that airports/airplanes would not be the target again, especially considering the potential devastation and ease by which a terrorist attack could occur on a subway line in NY or other major city or way very leaky security at shipping ports and railroads. Or, the water supply. About anything besides hijacking airliners.

Terrorists may be insane murderers and about everything else disgusting, but their leaders who send these demented souls to do their evil schemes are not.

I'll never take for granted all the intel and sheer work that happens every day by a lot of people in preventing terrorist attacks as it's a helluva lot more than the public realizes or even wants to think about. Still, I don't get up in the morning and worry over it happening. Terrorists want people to live in fear and I refuse to do that.

Davids mom
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Nuk - an after thought
Quote:

I figured immediately after 9/11 that airports/airplanes would not be the target again, especially considering the potential devastation and ease by which a terrorist attack could occur on a subway line in NY or other major city or way very leaky security at shipping ports and railroads. Or, the water supply. About anything besides hijacking airliners

What about the 'shoe bomber'?

Davids mom
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Nuk

I think we're on the same page here - especially on such a beautiful day! I'd love to be a weather person - they can be wrong and not criticized!!!

Ninja Guy
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Hey, TG and MK

since ya'll where there, was Vietnam a winnable war? Do you buy into the story that we could have won had the politicians had the resolve to do what was needed to win? And by win, I mean turn the country into a working democracy and friend of the US similar to post-WWII Japan. If you have another definition of win, use that in your reply. I ask because I see parallels between Vietnam and Afghanistan, where some of my gaggle of my kids might wind up one day!

The Ninja seeks enlightenment here!

Ninja Guy
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'Was Vietnam Winnable' Essay Contest

Here is the list of entrants (and one-line summary of their answers) into the Ninja's 'Was Vietnam A Winnable War' essay contest! The overall winner is: See below!

MK - It was indeed winnable, but such things as Kent State, My Lai, and a condescending public who decided the effort was not worth the cost.

Crispy: Not winnable. Actually answered the question with supporting ideas! (see complete post--too long to summarize)-- Grand Prize WINNER!!!!

Roundy: Unwinnable as defined by WW2 standards--Actually answered the question in a roundabout way without mentioning the bowling alley!

RWM: No simple explanation for that war that we certainly lost.

PTCO: Memmmmooooorrrriessss, like the corners of my mind...

Tgarlock: Buy my book!

AHG: Beautiful country, nice people, great lobster!

BHH: Vietnam is why I became a fireman!

Gort: The real problem with the Vietnam War was allowing ourselves to get dragged into it in the first place!

Braves Moving Up?

BHH
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NG I'm sorry you misunderstood but

Vietnam is not why I became a firefighter.

Firefighting is it's own lure. I never flashed around the fact like many firefighters love to do. The same as some military guys can talk of nothing without interjecting their military connection.

It is however why I have been totally disinterested in the military for most of my adult life. And maybe why I'm not a sports fan too.

I just avoid anything that is over hyped. That includes most things in the media. It usually leads to foolishness.

If a subject is done to death then it is no longer worth my attention and I move on.

Ninja Guy
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BHH, You Might Be The Most

polite blogger on the Citizen! Thanks for clarifying my misinterpretation of the connection between your firefighting career and Vietnam! I agree with you about the media, that is why I gave up TV many years ago!

Go Braves! Take Another One From the Astros Today!

Robert W. Morgan
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If you have to pick one line - pick this one, my real point

"Plan. No, neither Johnson or Kennedy had a plan or a way to define victory. Nor did Eisenhower, who actually started our involvement."

The fools in Washington spent all their time playing "hide the war" and zero time figuring out how we would know if we won and what they were actually trying to accomplish in military terms. Ever hear of "Search and Destroy?" Know what that was? Send out a unit to get ambushed then ambush the ambushers with a different unit, then increase the body count by a factor of 5 or 10 and release that to the press. Now how does that make military or political sense? How do we know that we have won? When the other side runs out of ambushers?

No plan. No way to define victory.

tgarlock
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And your essay contest Ninja proves my

reason for not giving you a serious answer, which can only be done at some length, not the single-sentence responses you sought. To you the subject of the Vietnam War is a casual plaything, to me it is serious.

Ninja Guy
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Vietnam Not Casual Plaything, But

I thought some of the responses were amusing. MK gave a reasoned response based on his experience, but did not go into much detail about the geo-political circumstances of the region of the time, relying mainly on the lack of will on the part of the government and people argument. Roundabout tackled the subject and gave some supporting information relating to Vietnam's colonial past. Bacon took time out from his daily flogging of OOFU to build a solid case why Vietnam was not winnable under the circumstances, bringing in the China aspect and other major supporting points. You had an opportunity to present your views, but choose not to do so. As for your book, I have ready many first-hand account narratives over the years from the bravery, honor and valor perspective, so forgive me for foregoing the pleasure of another in your case. Bacon took the subject head on, presented his view, and supported it solidly. A+ whether you agree or not.

PTC Observer
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Ninja - Who cares

what you think.

I think Pope said it best:

"A blockhead rubs his skull, and thanks his stars he was not born a fool."

tgarlock
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Well, Ninja, please leave me out

of your contest, but I will share this brief clip from my book on the subject of your inquiry, but only to satisfy your curiosity since to convincingly substantiate the argument would take far more space here than I'm willing to fill up:

". . . Our politicians never did unshackle our military to win the war. I’ve heard arguments that we could have won because the enemy’s financial resources were limited, or that with China’s help the Vietnamese would have persisted endlessly. All I know for sure is that we continued fighting the enemy in South Vietnam and never strategically took the war to the north to defeat them. . ."

There is an argument that with a strong South Vietnamese Army in 1973 when we departed, the Viet Cong decimated and not a single North Vietnamese unit remaining in South Vietnam, the war was won with the peace agreement, North Vietnam's pledge not to attack and the US pledge to continue funding South Vietnam and pledge to intervene if the north did attack. It turns into an empty argument in my opinion since both sides broke their pledge - the US Congress stopped financial support when the Democrats took Congress, North Vietnam saw an opportunity and took it to attack, the US turned its back and all we worked for went up in the smoke of a communist victory. Even though it was our politicians who pulled those strings, it's all part of a piece and I don't know how we can call it anything but a loss for our country, never mind shame for betraying an ally.

lion
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Vietnam

I realize that there is no end to the arguments about Vietnam but I must make a few comments.

The argument that the war could have been won if American politicians would have "unshakled" our military rings hollow. America gave the military 8+ years, 500,000 troops in the battle, 55,000 Americans killed and countless more wounded and scarred for life, and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese killed. American politicians and the American people finally said enough is enough. This war was not worth any further sacrifice.

In my opinion there was nothing "noble" about the Vietnam War. I do not doubt the bravery, sacrifice, and courage of those who served in the war. But the war was engaged in a Cold War environment which created a fear that communism would spread worldwide if the United States did not act to deter it. Our leaders thought a North Vietnam over South Vietnam would expand communism throughout southeast Asia if the United States did not stop it.

With hindsight, this was a terribly wrong calculation. With the North Vietnam victory, Vietnam was united under a communist government. And 30 years later, Vietnam is at peace, the United States trades with Vietnam, and American tourists (many war veterans) visit there. So Americans may fairly ask "what was that war all about?"

And no history of the Vietnam War is complete unless it includes the impact of the "anti-war" protesters who actions helped bring the war to an end and saved the further loss of American lives.

opusman
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Your answer to why Vietnam was lost from the beginning

"Invincibility lies in the defense;
The possibility of victory in the
Attack."  SUN TZU
You cannot win a defensive conflict in order to achieve victory you must bring the conflict to your Enemie's home.
WWI. ..WWII

bladderq
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WW ONE ?

War went to who's home? Wherein lies many, many of recent problems. Creation of the Balkans: w/ lines drawn. The Middle East: w/ lines drawn. Lines drawn that any fool could see that any "Nation Building" in Iraq was folly. Even w/ SE Asia and a lone nationalist in a top hat & coat asking for an end to colonial rule in his homeland... Uncle Ho. Not a commie pinko but a nationalist hoping that the Great Democracy that had unshackled itself from a European yoke would lend a hand. Pray tell though, what would have been the point of taking the war to the North & occupying Hanoi? For how long? What cost in money & blood?

AtHomeGym
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Ninja & RVN Memories

You don't seem to be able to accept that some did not base comments on any political issues at all--in fact I responded to PTC-O's post about personal memories. The politics never entered my mind--my Country called and because some yrs before, I had raised my hand and sworn to "protect & defend" and "obey the orders of those appointed over me", I was duty-bound to answer that call. And I was there as part of a team, sent to accomplish whatever mission our Govt decided we were to udertake. The historical misunderstanding of it all by our citizenry does not resonate with me as it does Terry because our experiences were not the same, either before, during, or after. I will always contend that our military performed with distinction, our elected politicians did not.

Ninja Guy
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Apologies AHG!

I will take you out of the lobster column and put you under the government failed us column with MK. Sincerely speaking, you must have been a heck of a solider in the eyes of your superiors and a pleasure to have in the unit.

AtHomeGym
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Ninja & Stand-Up Apologies

Accepted with thanks for the compliment.

Chris P. Bacon
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Vietnam War Revisionism is HARD! >>frowny face<<

Tuck tail and scurry away then, little man.

Go peddle your vanity press revisionist memoirs to impressionable Coweta high school students....they're your target demographic, right?

Observerofu
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OMG could you be more of an A$$
Chris P. Bacon wrote:

Tuck tail and scurry away then, little man.

Go peddle your vanity press revisionist memoirs to impressionable Coweta high school students....they're your target demographic, right?

The man served honorably in service to our Country. Just because he wrote a book and is successful you have to insult not only his service but his honor as well.

What a JERK

roundabout
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Personality conflict?

Mr. Garlock wants to defend the Viet Nam war, primarily due to the loss of lives and other great sacrifices made by enormous quantities of soldiers.

Bacon wants it to go down in history as a large mistake and should never be repeated, He doesn't buy the "complex" explanation and one book by one solder. Bacon went too far with Mr. Garlock while telling him what to now do.

As to "Vanity Press," there is nothing wrong with that if it is truthful or entertaining. Writing is writing, some good, some bad!

Soldiers do a service for our country whether what they do was preventable, a mistake, or was lost. We should put the blame or credit to those who made the critical decisions, not to those who carried them out if they followed not orders so much, as their own conscience.

Observerofu
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Well I woulda never thunk it KUDOS to roundabout

well said. Nuff said.

Mike King
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Ninja

To answer your question about Viet Nam being winnable, one must decide that when they enter the fracas they'll pay any price to insure victory. That was done twice in 1945. In 1953 (Korea) this nation tired of war and the requisite number of men buried on that penninsula.

A case could be made for Viet Nam because neither Presidents Johnson nor Nixon was willing to gamble the political capital to see it through. I especially fault those advising President Johnson because after the events of 1968 both the NVA and VC were ready to capitulate Any student of warfare would tell you that when you have an adversary at such a disadvantage, the time is ripe to go for the jugular.

It was indeed winable, but such things as Kent State, My Lai, and a condescending public who decided the effort was not worth the cost.

Chris P. Bacon
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Vietnam was never "winnable"

I disagree with your notion that the war in Vietnam was "winnable". I know this shocks you.

First of all, the United States was constrained by geopolitics. We could not destroy the enemy's strategic arms production capabilities because North Vietnam got essentially all their war material from China. Escalating the war to China would have inevitably resulted in a nuclear showdown, a prospect neither country relished. So, we weren't there to "destroy" North Vietnam, but rather to "preserve and protect" South Vietnam.

The concept of "limited war", with the clarity of 20/20 hindsight, was a strategery bound for failure. The hidebound US military deserves some of this fault, insisting on fighting using conventional warfare tactics against a largely guerrilla resistance.

The misleadership of the US military was simply not up to the task, resulting in the complete breakdown of unit cohesion (ask a Nam veteran what a "short-timer" was), nebulous warfare doctrine such as "free fire zones" (anything that moves is considered enemy) and perhaps worst of all, the standard of individual glory: "body counts" (which could be anything from a body to a blood stained trail to a weapon left behind).

Americans had no stomach for prolonged conflicts, they never have and never will. World War Two was concluded in roughly three years once the Americans decided to show up (two years into the war). Read Band of Brothers or Citizen Soldiers to see how much grumbling was going on about the length of the war in 1944! Contrast that to Vietnam, where troops fought from essentially 1965 into 1973 with little to nothing to show for it: no captured cities, no destroyed armies, etc.

To claim that North Vietnam was on the ropes after the "failed" Tet offensive is a bit disingenious. The Vietnamese were adamantly and fervently anti-colonial, and they were in it for the long haul. They had had setbacks before, but were quite comfortable pushing their enemy into a bone-grinding war of attrition, a strategery copied by the Taliban today.

We were fighting alongside the corrupt Saigon government, which did not have widespread popular support.

I had hoped that we learned our lesson in Vietnam: go in with a clear cut mission objective, avoid mission-creep and nation building, avoid entanglements with politically unpopular governments and have a clearly defined standard of victory.

And yet, here we are in 2011, eight years into Bush's entirely voluntary war, fighting a bone-grinding war of attrition with the Taliban and no sense of victory in sight.

I had convinced myself that the war in Afghanistan was necessary because we needed to find and destroy Al Queda. Now that Bin Laden is dead, I see no further use in any involvement with Afghanistan. We should draw down troops immediately.

Feel free to disagree Mike!!

Mike King
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Chrispy

I would agree that there was no willingness to bring China or Russia into the war (history specifies that we took strides to do no harm to Russian ships docked in Haiphong Harbor). You made a point earlier in the week about political courage and it is my opinion that neither Kennedy, Johnson nor Nixon possessed enough to finish the job. Had Nixon had that courage, John Kerry would have been tried for treason due to his meetings with our adversaries at the time. Yes, he was a Naval Reservist.

I will surprise you and agree with you on Afghanistan in that the day Kabul fell should have been the day our troop withdrawal should have begun. To the dismay of those from your political lean, our military is ill designed for nation building as it is designed to destroy one.

roundabout
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Left when Kabul fell?

Cities falling in the middle-east mean little---never has.
These are "Tribal" countries and when the invaders leave the tribes will agree on a King or something to handle paperwork and go on about their business.

Therefore, if you invade you must stay.

Mike King
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Roundafool

"Cities falling in the middle-east mean little---never has" Cities such as Constantinople, Cairo, Jerusalem falling has never meant anything? You either need a lesson in history, your meds, or a brain!

A military is designed to destroy a country not build one.

roundabout
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MIKE< MIKE

I didn't say they had not fallen before, I said it made little difference for the future!

You can't believe Istanbul, Cairo, and Jerusalem are in any better shape than hundreds of years ago? They are not.(All three are fully monetarily supported by the USA) Istanbul still blows up people every week; Cairo is temporarily run by the army---which will be forever; and the Jews can't even have Jerusalem to themselves when they are constantly fighting for it.

Sure the Jews could take it---providing they want to deal with ALL
Muslims immediately!
Heroes were made conquering these places but what good did it do?

Why is most everyone a fool who can see true consequences when you can not?

We MUST learn from the results of history---not the great battles.

roundabout
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Why Viet Nam and current wars.......

.......were and are unwinnable as defined by WW2 standards. We did stalemate Korea but at a horrible price.

Civilized people who live mostly in cities jammed into small countries can be overwhelmed by our military if we invest enough into it.

In WW2 the British held on until we could decide to intervene with troops added to te weapons help we had been supplying. The French already had given up hoping to salvage their people and country. The Italians, well the Italians!

In order to decrease further losses for the whole war we dropped two nuclear bombs on Japan's cities. They understood that total destruction then would be easy. The Emperor saved his position by insisting on peace.

Now, just how does one win a war in a jungle, a large one, where the more trees you poison, the more there are to poison? And particularly where the enemy is the whole population, and the "uniformed" groups can slip out of the jungle and back in at will. We tried to destroy some jungle villages and kill all, but that didn't work either.

China also kept them well supplied and would have increased supply and troops no matter how much and how many we supplied!

We finally agreed to leave, took a few loyalists (to us) with us and left the rest with a "promise" that they would be humanely treated. They were pretty much---killed instantly.

The middle-east situation is the same as it was 7000 years ago. 60 or so tribes in 20 or so countries constantly fighting, primarily over religion.
Many great powers have tried to organize them many times and are basically ignored until they leave! They are, after all, heathens.

Ninja Guy
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Perhaps Hanoi Would Have

fallen in 68 as you say, but does that mean Vietnam was ripe for democracy, and was the US prepared for the long haul to ensure that it took root? I don't get the sense that Kennedy or Johnson had a plan for that.

I once talked to a guy tasked with sniping former French soldiers that had turned sides and stayed behind to aid the NVA.

roundabout
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Democracy in S. Vietnam?

My guess is that we expected no such result from the war.

The best we could hope for was a free S. Vietnam ran by the military who would be friendly to the US.
Of course we would support them with war weapons and cash money.

The Chinese knew this was our objective and fully supported N. Vietnam.
As in other places, we should have not have been there in force.

There is a big difference between our military organization and the politics of nation rule! We know better than to allow our own military to ever take control here. That is why we change military leaders constantly, just as we do civilian leaders! Do not ever need any more Caesars, Hitlers, Alexanders, Napoleons, etc.

Apply this theory to the middle-east and you can guess the outcome there.

Robert W. Morgan
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Bingo, ninja. You said the magic word

Plan. No, neither Johnson or Kennedy had a plan or a way to define victory. Nor did Eisenhower, who actually started our involvement. It was more about how much they could do with out anybody finding out. Nixon at least had the beginnings of a plan, but he had his own problems and a Congress that defunded him.

No simple explanation for that war that we certainly lost, but I do think it is better to have a plan when embarking on these adventures. Right Mr. Bush, Mr. Clinton, Mr. Bush, Mr. Obama? You all agree?

Mike King
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Ninja

The South was prepared, which explains the genocide that followed.

Sniping former soldiers sounds quite a bit like murder to me, perhaps you were misinformed.

tgarlock
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The unresolved issue

about the Vietnam War is NOT what might have been, but in removing the blinders to what actually happened. Political struggles about the war divided our country into two camps and the anti-war left version dominated conventional wisdom. Two generations have been raised to believe things about that war, and the Americans who fought it, that have never been true. Furthermore, the real lessons from the war remain hidden to most, including many who chatter about it on TV. Setting the history straight, however good or bad for you or me, that is what keeps this long ago war relevant even today.

PTC Observer
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Mr. Garlock - No

No truer words were ever written Mr. Garlock...we that are old enough to have our personal experiences with the war remember it much differently than today's young scholars.

Our memories will never be as analytical as those that "chatter about it" on TV or here on these pages. Our memories will simply be what they are, exceedingly personal and vivid after all these years. It is our young scholars that have the benefit of the moment, to pause and take notice of a long ago war, in safety and with self assured confidence that they actually know what they are talking about.

“In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.” - Jose Narosky

AtHomeGym
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PTC-O & Memories of Vietnam

Well said, PTC-O--I know the memories I have of 2 1/2 yrs in that country, though seen & experienced through the eyes of a career military person, are still with me, though not close to the surface. What I do remember is beautiful countryside & mountains, peaceful beaches & great lobster, a people who were generally quiet, polite, and only wanted their country to be free of occupation & strife, regardless of who the occupiers & strife-makers were or where they came from.

PTC Observer
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AHG - Yes

indeed At Home, and based on my recent experience there, those things you mention are still true. A beautiful people, beautiful country, and still a yearning to be free of oppression. At least in the South, in the North it is a different picture altogether.....they won and they know it.

The war there is just as much a vague memory with a very young country as it is here, it's only the old timers that still remember. I guess this is how all wars end up, old timers reminiscing their youth and memories of their brothers over a few beers. Bittersweet….

AtHomeGym
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NVN Citizen Opinion

I would opine that a majority of NVN citizens would not have chosen conflict with their SVN brethren, but, as in many other situations worldwide, governmental decisions took precedence and drove actions.

PTC Observer
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AHG - War

is the failure of leadership and always failure comes from both sides.

The fight is always left to those that in any other circumstance would simply enjoy the day with the other side in discussion and a few drinks.

BHH
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Mr. Garlock, it never interested me before now.

I grew up during the final years of this war and all I knew of it was the horror portrayed in the news and the young men continuously coming home maimed and dead from it.

As the result of this and the Kent State Massacre I wanted nothing to do with the military, the U. S. government or even college. I was continually begging my parents and all adults to end the madness. Thank God they finally did and I never had to deal with the military. As an adult looking back I probably should have joined for the extended benefits but did okay by joining the fire service.

I have done more research on this war today as a result of your writing than ever before. It never interested me before.

maximus
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I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, Ninja:

The United States "won the war and lost the peace." After Nixon forced Hanoi to accept the peace agreement through the use of B-52s, he promised the South Vietnamese that America would give all the aid necessary to enforce the agreement. Shortly thereafter congress voided the agreement and denied funding for any military purpose - an open invitation to the North, which they accepted.

I'm afraid you may be right about the parallels. The same sort of thing is likely in Afghanistan. Americans will grow tired of it and we’ll pull out leaving the Taliban to reassert itself on the people, and give sanctuary to terrorists.

Ninja Guy
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I'm Not Sure That

the agreement gained through the B52 drops actually constituted a victory in the war, regardless of whether Congress reneged on the promise to South Vietnam or not. Victory would have been complete occupation of the North and dismantlement of the communist party there to provide roots for democracy. We could probably get some kind of agreement with the Taliban(s) or other group that has the upper hand in Afghanistan, but unless there is a mechanism in place ala GHQ in Japan or the Allied Occupation in Germany after WWII, things will either go back to the way they were or worse.

Anyway, I was just curious as to whether, based on their up-close and personal experience, TG or MK thought that Vietnam was winnable (meaning transitioning Vietnam to a democracy) given the social, economic and political situation prevailing there post Dien Bien Phu until the pullout in 75.

Braves Win In Extra Innings!