Monday, December 24, 2007


When the Author was a sophomore in high school (1972-73), the War in Vietnam was well into the process of “Vietnamization”. American combat troops were no longer being sent to Vietnam and major US ground combat activities had been suspended. (That’s what they told us, anyway.)

However, around Christmas of 1972, then-President Nixon launched the “Christmas Bombings”, a massive aerial bombardment of Hanoi, Haiphong, and certain other targets. It was a mission to “bomb” North Vietnam back to the Peace Table, as the Author recalls.

One of the most pressing issues of the day was the return of the American POWs being held by the North Vietnamese. Popular at the time were POW bracelets. Each bracelet had the name of a POW engraved upon it. The Author recalls the name on his POW bracelet was “Captain Rockett”. He is not sure, though. This was 35 years ago.

The POW on the bracelet, Captain Rockett, or whomever, did return in 1973. The Author does remember reading in the list of POWs returning that his POW did return.

There was a hope at that time that the lives of young Americans would not be squandered for geopolitical gain. Regrettably, subsequent generations have been sent to kill and be killed for narrow political and geopolitical gain. Until greed, raw ambition, nationalism and fundamentalism have been excised from the human species, conquest, death and destruction are the human lot.


Men born between 1956 and sometime in 1959 did not have to register for the draft. And the Author, and people born in the mid-to-late 1950s, have not faced conscription. And no one since, as the military is a volunteer force. And a mercenary force.

Others, around the world, have not been so lucky. While only a few Americans have died in foreign conflicts, many hundreds of thousands have died in conflicts since Vietnam. Combatants and many more civilians.

It is likely that the Author will never know war, at least personally. He is past the age of military eligibility and it is doubtful that the nation will be physically invaded in his lifetime. It is possible, although highly unlikely, that the US would suffer a massive nuclear exchange. It is more likely, however, that another nation or nations may face limited nuclear exchanges.

It is almost a certainty that many thousands of people will yet die in conflicts in the Author’s lifetime. The US has asserted itself as an expansionist military power and other nations and leaders will follow its lead. And even despite changes in leadership, it seems unlikely that the US will restrain its appetite for occasionally taking the wealth and territory of other nations by force. As Napoleon reportedly said, “you can do anything with a bayonet except not use it.”



At 7:12 AM , Blogger CTZNKNE said...

One slight correction and an observation.

The "Christmas bombings" were secret, only brought to the attention of the public, months after they began; that was the free-wheeling, halcyon, heyday of an independent fourth estate.

But I digress. Back then, during the Vietnam conflict, we Americans, were arrogant and ballsy enough to pay for everything ourselves. Today, however, like everything else, even the Iraqi conflict (it's not a war, only Congress has the authority to declare war, and by conventional wisdom, the words, "declaration of war" must be included in the statement), is "made in China".

I think that "made in China" label is overused, little understood, and now quoted with cavalier cynicism. However, like most subjects pertaining to economics -- read the housing catastrophe -- Americans, as a people, have a very difficult time grasping (really, no pun intended) basic, mathematical concepts such as, $600 - $1100 will always fall in the negative realm, no matter how much you jiggle with the numbers.

Finally (my point, at last), while we post-baby boomers may not know armed conflict directly, we should feel a sense of responsibility for the forthcoming generations of children that will continue to be slaughtered in foreign lands for the expansion of (our) economic markets. Why? Well, we allowed the current state of political affairs to come to be. The warning signs were there for us to read; a less than honest or even passably intelligent federal government administration, a Congress that gleefully raided the treasury to satisfy any whimsical bidding; yet we ignored the signs. We deluded ourselves into believing that moral outrage in itself would be an effective tool to deter irresponsible foreign adventures. Why, by gum, didn't that successfully work for us during the 80's and '90's?

We had the ability to, "just say no." Instead we just said, "eh."


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