The U.S. keeps getting in wars, and the government keeps lying about them.
A deep, rich tradition of lying
There is an old saying that “the first casualty of war is the truth.” The older I get, the more I believe it. When we were in school, we read about Woodrow Wilson and his pledge that World War I was the “war to end all wars.” We gave him the benefit of the doubt because he tried his best to create the League of Nations.
Fighting Bob La Follette was having none of that BS. He maintained that WWI was more for war profiteers rather than a plan to end war. Sure enough, World War II was just around the corner. That war created “the greatest generation.” Soon after that we lived through a police action in Korea, where thousands of our young people died.
During the Vietnam disaster, I was on active duty, noncombat, for two years. We watched our country bomb North Vietnam with reckless abandon. We even tried to flood the North. We had to do it, said the "truth tellers" — we had to win in Vietnam to stop the dominoes from falling. Remember Henry Kissinger warning that if Vietnam fell many countries, including Indonesia, Cambodia and Singapore would surely fall into Communist hands? Anti-war protesters chanted, “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?” And President Nixon had a secret plan to end the war.
Remember the green berets? Our special forces wore them apparently to send a message to America that we would fight even smarter in Vietnam, as if the Vietcong gave a hoot what Americans put on their heads. Don’t you wonder who thinks up this crap? Our military leaders were desperate to persuade Americans that victory was just around the corner.
Remember Robert McNamara and his whiz kids? I guess President Kennedy thought that if a guy could build a Ford and figure out a body count, he could win a war. Unfortunately the Ford was an Edsel and the body count was a lie. That daily Vietnamese body count was somebody’s idea of persuading Americans that we were winning.
We lost 58,000 soldiers. We learned about Agent Orange and its devastating impact on the health of thousands of our soldiers, not to mention Vietnamese civilians. Why were we using Agent Orange? President Johnson decided that if we could defoliate the jungles where the Vietcong were hiding, we could see them and kill them. C’mon!
After George W. Bush became president, we were told that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and could use them at any moment. So we had better attack. Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Perle and Vice President Dick Cheney urged a “shock and awe” campaign. Recall that the military said an attack on Iraq would be a slam dunk and inexpensive. We would knock them out, take their oil as payment to reimburse us, and move on.
Ten years, thousands of deaths and a trillion dollars later, we left Iraq and moved on to more madness. One reason we left was that we were going broke.
And then there’s the war in Afghanistan, or, as they like to call it at the Pentagon, “Operation Enduring Freedom.” President Obama, we applaud your efforts domestically but get out of Afghanistan now. No one believes that the Afghan army will be self-sufficient in two years or 200 years. Our soldiers continue to die and sustain horrific injuries. For what?
(A version of this article originally appeared in the opinion section of the Capital Times.)
May 15, 2012
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Ed Garvey is editor and publisher of FightingBob.com.