The war in Vietnam sometimes seemed so alien to American experience and expectations that it might have been happening on some other planet, and it had its own special vocabulary whose words and rhythm were native to its ordered lunacy….The rules were clear but flexible, adapting readily to shifts of mood that might be subtle or sudden, and might move from a mode in which the deployment of genocidal violence was so direct and so absurdly motivated that it seemed almost playful.
Extract from: The Fatal Environment – The Myth of the Frontier in an Age of Industrialization 1800-1890, by Richard Slotkin © 1986
We shoot the sick, the young, the lame, We do our best to kill & maim, Because the kills count all the same….Napalm sticks to kids….
Ox cart rolling down the road, Peasants with a heavy load, They’re all VC when the bombs explode….Napalm sticks to kids.
Song composed/sung by soldiers of the US Army’s 1st Cavalry, the first full Army Dvn. deployed on this day (Sept. 11) in 1965 to Vietnam.
(Source: Jan Barry [ed.] Peace Is Our Profession)
In Memoriam: Neil Davis, Australian cameraman, the only Western newsman to film the Vietnam war from the Vietnamese viewpoint. Davis died in 1985 from shrapnel wounds sustained in the line of duty.
In Brief: Given the present geopolitical turmoil the result of America’s ongoing foreign policy machinations in support of global peace, stability and security, it may be timely to ransack history given the anniversaries this year of two pivotal events in U.S. military history—neither of which are being loudly celebrated, at least outside the Pentagon and the Washington Beltway. In the second part of a two-parter, we reflect further on Uncle Sam’s foray into Vietnam and South-east Asia in general, and the implications for the here and now.*
— (In the Jungle) Playing Cowboys and Indians —
In his book The Fatal Environment, the second instalment in his epic trilogy exploring how the archetypes, myths, symbols and tropes of the Wild West(ern) legacy and frontier heritage of America—especially those associated with Manifest Destiny infused expansionism, exploitation, conquest and dispossession, along with the concomitant tendencies toward ethnic and social conflict, violence, racism, material and economic deprivation, political oppression, murder and genocide—contribute to the national identity and national character of the U.S., Richard Slotkin relates an anecdote that indelibly underscores just how the ‘Vietnam experience’ in particular manifested these tropes.
A US Army Captain, about to take his company out on a search and destroy mission against the Viet-Cong (VC)—one hundred infantrymen in full pack, with rifles, heavy automatics, and a helicopter gunship flying hover-cover—said to [an accompanying embedded] reporter, ‘Come on….we’ll take you out to play Cowboys and Indians’.
‘Even in that language the reporter knew what the Captain meant, because they’d played that game as children and knew how the rules worked…”The Indian idea”, one veteran said [was that], “the only good gook [Indian] is a dead gook [Indian].” Taking the ears of a dead VC was “like [taking] scalps…from Indians. Some people were on an Indian trip over there.”‘
Even as early as 1965, the Vietnam War had already begun to reveal its ‘incongruities and inconsistencies’ in the most ‘terrible way’, with the conflict assuming a character reminiscent of ‘the last and greatest Indian War’, albeit a modern, more destructive variant thereof. In language which eerily echoes current events in the war on terror—whose own “incongruities and inconsistencies” continue to expose themselves at every turn—Vietnam, Slotkin noted, ‘invoked the Frontier Myth’s dark side of racism, false pride, and the profligate waste of lives, cultures and resources.’
Moreover, the invocation of the Indian War and Custer’s Last Stand was a ‘mythological way’ of answering the question of “Why are we in Vietnam?”
‘The answer implicit in the myth was,”We are there because our ancestors were heroes who fought the Indians, and died (rightly or wrongly) as sacrifices for the nation”…..
There is “no logic” to the connection Slotkin noted, only the ‘powerful force of tradition, and habits of feeling and thought.’
For the duration of the Vietnam/Southeast Asian war then, it is instructive to bear in mind that whether from the air or sea or on the ground, the American military machine created mayhem and misery on a scale that was as unprecedented as it was indiscriminate as it was reprehensible, with the civilian populations of the three countries affected generally suffering the most.
That much of this carnage took place in secret at the time is now of course no secret, thanks to revelations by intrepid investigative journalists such as Seymour Hersh and courageous leakers like Daniel Ellsberg (the Edward Snowden of his day), both of whom are still active chroniclers of the consequences (blowback) of their country’s foreign and national security policies. On a micro level, it was the infamous My Lai Massacre revealed by Hersh in 1969 that for the American public attracted the most attention to the way their own troops conducted the war on the ground, if not how they were officially expected by their commanders to carry out operations. There can be little doubt that the My Lai revelations were a key turning point in how ordinary Americans themselves—and many others in the broader global community who had hitherto more or less supported America’s commitment to the war—viewed both the war and themselves.
What wasn’t revealed at the time was that My Lai wasn’t an aberration, as many war supporters and the vested interests attempted to portray it; to this day this probably remains the case for the war’s apologists, despite evidence to the contrary. As David Hackworth, a former US veteran of three wars and military journalist noted,
‘Vietnam was an atrocity from the get-go……[There] were hundreds of My Lais. You got your card punched by the numbers of bodies you counted.’
Such insight was not known at the time of course. But we now know that the US Army knew much more than it was letting on at the time. Indeed, according to one report, a young Army officer by the name of Colin Powell—future Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, US Secretary of State, Republican icon, ostensible national hero, and last but not least, the Man who Sold the World on the Iraq Invasion—was reportedly party to ‘deep-sixing’ at least one case brought against a fellow senior Army officer for My Lai-type war crimes.
And it’s with My Lai that we might again (See Part One) look to Slotkin’s trilogy. In Gunfighter Nation – The Myth of the Frontier in Twentieth-century America, the author continues to explore—again through the prism of the Vietnam experience, a seemingly recurring referent as it turns out in his work—how the myths and tropes of America’s past permeate the contemporary mindscape of empire and the dehumanising violence and senseless destruction that accompanies its pursuit. These archetypes and symbols ‘infiltrate’ everything from ideological expression, political discourse and policy formulation, to executive decision making and action and right through into popular culture and even mainstream media analysis.
More than any other single event Slotkin says—again providing us with an unmistakeable, disturbing, contemporary resonance—the revelation [of My Lai],
‘transformed the ideological and political debate on the war, lending authority to the idea that American society was in the grip of a “madness” whose sources might be endemic to the “national character”‘.
Such is the prevalence of these tropes both then and now, whether re-presented in fiction or in reality, we only need recall the character of Colonel Bill Kilgore in Francis Ford Coppola‘s Apocalypse Now suitably adorned in an iconic ‘Fort Apache’-style Cavalry hat—itself an unmissable symbol of a bygone, albeit no less imperially inspired era—evincing neo-Wild West macho nonchalance and swagger in declaring how much he loves “the smell of napalm in the morning”.
Whilst Kilgore is engaging in this mordantly whimsical musing (equating the smell of napalm and charred bodies with the ‘smell of victory’), in the background a Vietnamese village is being decimated on his orders and its utterly defenceless inhabitants (savages?)—‘playing’ the role of the “Indians” in this war of obliteration—mercilessly annihilated like it was Wounded Knee or Sand Creek all over again. Indeed, to venture into Viet-Cong territory was, in the lingo of the GIs and their ‘gook’ body-count obsessed commanders, akin to “being in ‘Injun’ territory”.
After Slotkin observes [that], the military escalation in ‘Nam ‘was an expression and instrument of our culture’s belief in the efficacy and worthiness of violence as a means to power, progress, and moral regeneration’—suggesting along with that one imagines the Vietnam engagement and subsequent escalation was both premised on and justified by some ill-conceived mission civilisatrice upon the part of U.S leaders and war planners—he underscores it with the following, whilst at the same time infusing it with additional resonance for the here and now:
‘[The U.S. Army’s] effectiveness as an instrument was vitiated when the men who constituted it (or a preponderance of them) could no longer see a clear and valid connection between the “reasons” and symbols of the “mission” and what was demanded of them as soldiers…’ As Slotkin notes, this inevitably led to ‘military and civilian demoralisation, [Which] the administration attempted to deal with…by revising [unsuccessfully as it turned out] the symbolism and objectives of the mission’.
In the final analysis Slotkin says, My Lai ‘turned on its head one of the primary symbolic rationales by which the administration justified the war and its manner of prosecuting it.’
For his part Ron Ridenhour was one of many GIs greatly unsettled by the wanton slaughter. He was in fact the man who originally exposed the My Lai massacre based on accounts he collected from fellow soldiers, and witnessed his share of atrocities up close and personal while serving as a helicopter door gunner in one province. On his first combat mission, Ridenhour recalled seeing his fellow gunner, who had been instructed to fire ahead of a fleeing and unarmed Vietnamese, shoot the man instead. The pilot radioed an officer on the ground to check out the wounded man. As Ridenhour explained to Turse:
‘The officer gets there, runs up to him, stops, leans down, looks at him, stands up, pulls out his .45, cocks it, BOOM! He shoots [him] in the head…..’
Another day, another dead ‘dink’ one supposes. It is difficult to imagine the effect this would have had on a raw recruit on his first mission!
And of course Ellsberg’s 1971 leaking of the Pentagon Papers blew the lid off any notion that the war was winnable and/or that it was the noble cause the conflict’s architects and champions were still shilling when all objective prior evidence pointed to the opposite. These revelations provided enormous momentum for the anti-war movement, and it’s easy to see how it might have dragged on longer without them.
In an article published in The Guardian in 2011, Ellsberg reflects on the significance of the leaking of the Papers, and their uncanny relevance to more recent developments and events, and reflects also with some regret on the outcome if he’d released the documents earlier.
— Over Cambodia and Laos (Bombs ‘n B-52s) —
Any discussion of the Vietnam conflict would be incomplete without some reference to the spillover apocalypse that exploded in neighbouring Cambodia and Laos. The bombing campaigns in both North and South Vietnam were bad enough, but for sheer destruction it is to ‘Nam’s neighbours we must look for a sense of scale, if only because neither country represented the main game.
To be sure the most recognised and officially acknowledged of the “collateral damage” of the whole Indo-China debacle was the massive aerial bombing of these hitherto peaceful, serene countries—ones that America was not even at war with. In Cambodia alone—more ordnance was dropped than by all the Allies in World War Two, which was just over 2 million tons. As historians Taylor Owen and Ben Kiernan note in their revealing 2006 article “Bombs over Cambodia”, the US Air Force dropped around 2,756,941 tons of bombs on Cambodia throughout the ‘Nam era; in their view, Cambodia may just be “the most heavily bombed country in history”.
Interestingly, they reveal it was president Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ), not his much-reviled successor Richard Nixon and his ‘Grand Vizier’ Henry Kissinger, who ordered the first bombing sorties in that country. By their reckoning, this was three years earlier than originally thought or even presently acknowledged! Although these sorties were extremely modest compared to what transpired later under Nixon, it seems clear that the Madman Theory of War—long associated with Nixon and Kissinger—may have been ‘inspired’ by LBJ, the man as we have already noted, was the one who started it all, and a man we’ve all since come to know for his own deranged, deluded, diabolical impulses.
And the untold numbers of dead killed by the bombing did not include the more verifiable numbers of the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot’s Cambodian genocide of between 1.5-2.5 million, itself one of the most significant examples of blowback to be had anywhere in the US foreign policy playbook, along with the disablement and displacement of millions more. That much of this unleashed maelstrom was calculating and premeditated is something that America has not fully contemplated much less come to terms with. Nor does it appear it ever will. That it was totally avoidable is a conclusion that in itself is unavoidable.
Although the nature and the conduct of the Cambodian war is well documented—both from the perspective of America’s initial intervention, how that facilitated the rise of the Pol Pot regime and the events that took place in between 1975-1979 throughout the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror—a significant go-to book here in understanding the whole shooting match is William Shawcross‘ Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon & the Destruction of Cambodia. As one perceptive reviewer—two years after 9/11 and with the Iraq invasion underway—noted in response to his reading of Shawcross’ classic,
‘[‘Sideshow’ is]…[A]n excellent summary of the events that overtook Cambodia, [and] has much more to offer us today as we try to figure out how we reached this turning point in our history and recall how badly things can go wrong whenever we deviate from the principles upon which our nation was founded.’
Yet as destructive as the spillover Cambodian ‘sideshow’ was, to say nothing of the genocidal blowback in the form of Khmer Rouge, the so-called ‘Secret War’ in Laos was no less devastating. Although estimates vary, it actually vies with its ‘neutral’ neighbour for the dubious distinction being the most heavily bombed country in history.
Like Vietnam, the Americans had their ample footprints all over the Laotian landscape from the mid-fifties onwards, supplying local anti-Communist groups with materiel, training and logistical support in a proxy war that was as vicious as any fought under the banner of the containment policy—itself the objective of which was to stop all the South East Asian dominoes falling. In fact it was Laos who first aroused the concern of US political leaders and national security people even before and possibly moreso than Vietnam. It is instructive to note that in his briefing of the incoming president John F Kennedy in 1961, Dwight Eisenhower accorded more national security significance to Laos than to Vietnam, which in Ike’s view hardly rated a mention.
As Shawcross’ book is essential reading in order to understand the war in Cambodia and its impact, so then might be Jerry Redfern and Karen Coate‘s book Eternal Harvest – The Legacy of American Bombing in Laos, or better still, simply visit the website. Because this is a photo-journalistic account of both the aftermath and long-term effects of the sheer devastation wrought by America’s indiscriminate bombing of the Laotian countryside, the site and accompanying text does not make for easy consumption.
Yet some ‘simple’ stats tell a mind-numbing narrative. As noted by Mother Jones journalist Fatima Bhojani,
‘Between 1964 and 1973, the United States dropped around 2.5 million tons of bombs on Laos. While the American public was focused on the war in neighboring Vietnam, the US military was waging a devastating covert campaign to cut off North Vietnamese supply lines through the small Southeast Asian country.’
The nearly 600,000 bombing runs delivered a staggering amount of explosives: The equivalent of a planeload of bombs every eight minutes for nine years, or a ton of bombs for every person in the country—more than what American planes unloaded on Germany and Japan combined during World War II. Laos remains, per capita, the most heavily bombed country on earth. Again, like with Cambodia, the people in the country two generations later are still being killed and maimed by unexploded ordnance, a reality as already noted that the “Eternal Harvest” site/book brings home indelibly. And some more context and perspective is as always crucial in such matters. As the Legacy of War organisation reported last year, they were successful in procuring from the US Congress $12 million for the 2014 fiscal year ‘to [fund] various groups in Laos working to improve clearance efficiency, lower casualty rates and support current victims.’
Yet as Bhojani noted grimly, the bombing actually cost the United States $17 million a day in inflation-adjusted dollars, thereby placing the belated contribution to cleaning up the Laotian countryside in its proper perspective, albeit one that gives us all serious pause for some head-shaking incredulity and somber reflection. [My emphasis].
— When Will the Blood be Dry? —
It is further instructive to note here that the “sideshows” of Cambodia and Laos were recently placed into startling context both in respect of the overarching Vietnam disaster and in relation to what’s happening now in Syria and Iraq with ISIS/ISIL.
In a recent essay, John Pilger, veteran Australian journalist, filmmaker and perennial thorn in the side of the demonic hegemons of the Anglo-American (and not infrequently Australian) power elites, offered a persuasive—indeed, irresistible—comparative analysis of the rise of Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge rabble with that of the ISIS “rabble”. The only difference seemed to be that the Khmer Rouge weren’t directly armed, funded and trained by the Americans! They were much more a ‘home-grown’, grassroots entity.
But like ISIS, the rise of the Khmer Rouge was a direct result of American militarism and interventionist tendencies and the power vacuum that inevitably result. Of this there can be little doubt. And in his op-ed piece, Pilger as usual doesn’t pull any punches. After observing that ‘the Nixon-Kissinger bombing of Cambodia unleashed a torrent of suffering from which that country has never recovered’, he adds,
‘…[T]he same is true of the Blair-Bush crime in Iraq. With impeccable timing, Henry Kissinger’s latest self-serving tome has just been released with its satirical title, “World Order”. In one fawning review, Kissinger is described as a “key shaper of a world order that remained stable for a quarter of a century“. Tell that to the people of Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Chile, East Timor and all the other victims of his “statecraft”. Only when “we” recognise the war criminals in our midst will the blood begin to dry.’ [My Emphasis]
Notwithstanding the terror, horror and tragedy of Cambodia and Laos, insofar as America’s boots on the ground involvement was concerned, it was after all a war whose epicentre was and remained Vietnam. For its part, Valentine’s book catalogues an altogether different face of the Vietnam reality, although no less merciless, brutal and shocking than the one Nick Turse showcases (see Part One).
Interestingly, the book was unavailable for quite some time and was recently republished as part of Open Road Media’s Forbidden Bookshelf program. And after reading ‘Phoenix’, it becomes clear why successive US governments, the CIA, the US State Department and the Pentagon especially did not want this story ever to see the light of day; this was presumably because it might have given too many people a real insight into what the US is capable of when it puts its mind to it and what may be happening behind the scenes now in various hotspots of the world where the US has a stake, a point to which we’ll return soon.
Said to be the brainchild of the enigmatic William Colby, a high level officer at the CIA station in Saigon during the late 60s and early 70s who later became the CIA director in 1973, Phoenix was nothing less than a systematic assassination, terrorism, kidnapping, psyops and torture program, planned and orchestrated from start to finish. Between 1965 and 1972 then, an estimated eighty thousand civilians were “pacified” or “neutralized” under the program. All up, very few subjected to the mortal vicissitudes of Phoenix rose from the ashes of destruction it unleashed, so much so one wonders if there was not some dark, macabre intentional irony at play with those who conceived of and named this diabolical, dehumanising exercise in ‘winning hearts and minds’.
(Although a story for another time, Colby himself died under what many people consider to be highly suspicious circumstances in 1996. There are numerous reasons provided for why someone might have been motivated to dispatch the former CIA chief, including his revelations before Congress in 1975 of the organisation’s so-called “Family Jewels”, Phoenix of course being one of the “jewels” in said crown.)
— The Lord Giveth and the M-16 Taketh Away —
In short, it is difficult to see how what happened with Phoenix as being anything different from what the Islamic State (or ISIS) is apparently perpetrating in Syria and Iraq. One suspects that Phoenix represents even now something far, far more insidious than anything the various ISIS factions could ever hope to achieve. In any event, one can assume the ISIS leaders have plenty of precedents upon which to draw inspiration for their terrorist/counter-terrorist agenda, with the following providing something of a sampler:
‘[Phoenix] was an instrument of counter-terror—the psychological warfare tactic in which members of the VCI were brutally murdered along with their families or neighbors as a means of terrorizing the entire population into a state of submission. Such horrendous acts were often made to look as if they had been committed by the enemy.’
By 1973, by some accounts the program had generated some 300,000 political prisoners in South Vietnam. On the flimsiest of pretexts, men, women and even children alike were subjected by CIA operatives and special forces and their specially trained South Vietnamese cadres to indefinite incarceration without trial, inhuman psychological and physical torture, sadistically vicious rape, genital mutilation, and in countless cases, summary execution. As relentlessly brutal as the grunts portrayed in Turse’s book were, in Valentine’s narrative the Company’s operatives and their cohort were no less so.
Much in the same way that anyone familiar with NATO’s and the CIA’s infamous Operation Gladio in Europe would I suspect appreciate, for those who do read Valentine’s book, the next time you hear any official from the USG, the CIA, the US Military or NATO for that matter talking about “terrorism” or “terrorist groups” or “vicious Jihadists”, “sadistic”, “nihilistic” Islamists, you may find it hard to take them seriously or understand how they can do so and keep a straight face. As we have seen more recently, when it comes to maintaining—or for that matter expanding—the American ‘Caliphate’, the prevailing mindset of the US National Security State for its part is no stranger to ‘jihad’, it being a particularly unwavering, peculiarly righteous brand thereof.
Yet that “jihad” has a long, bloody and sorry history to be sure. Despite being an unmitigated foreign policy and military disaster, Vietnam it could be safely argued was the ‘model’ proving ground, an imperial experiment that although a failure on every measurable level, did nothing it appears to deter the demonic hegemons of the US National Security State then and now from pushing the envelope as far as they could for as long as they could. It provides us with “perspective” in spades and shovels, at least for those folks looking anyway!
Put simply it is difficult to walk away from either of these books—and the whole Vietnam experience in general—and not reflect on America’s place in the world, both in the context of what was happening then, and with respect to what is happening now. The perspective alone should stop most in their tracks, with or without the context.
In the process then of ostensibly defending and preserving freedom, democracy, liberty, human rights and the rule of law, and upholding the principles of its much fabled Constitution and the Bill of Rights and all the fruit that notionally comes on the platter, America had to—paraphrased herein from the reportage of noted Vietnam era journalist Peter Arnett—’destroy the village in order to save it.’ Although there is some suggestion Arnett misrepresented for the purposes of journalistic ‘propagandising’ or hyperbole the source of his indelible maxim, there can be no doubt literally hundreds of villages, hamlets and towns were destroyed in ‘Nam. Given that metaphorically at least, America seems hell bent in a ‘larger’ context and over the longer haul on destroying its own ‘village’ in order to save it, regardless of the veracity or genesis of Arnett’s line, the reference is still apposite.
Curiously, Arnett himself was later accused by the first Bush administration of “propagandising” against the First Gulf War in Iraq in 1991, a war that we all now know US president George HW Bush manipulatively sold to the world with a tried ‘n true a la Gulf of Tonkin-type ruse, using propaganda of the most devious kind. Moreover, Arnett was sacked in 2003 by CNN for ‘negative’ reporting on the invasion of Iraq in the aftermath of 9/11—by credible accounts at the urging of Bush Junior’s administration—at a time when it was not fashionable to critique Dubya’s War on Terror in any form or forum. So a little context and perspective is appropriate here as well on both counts.
Which is to say, sound like a familiar scenario? Context and perspective then! What’s not to like?
As for the much vaunted ‘falling dominoes’ in South-east Asia during the Vietnam period—itself the pseudo-philosophical bedrock underpinning US geopolitical strategy for most of the Cold War—the last time I looked, like Henry Kissinger they were all still standing tall and ‘Johnny Walker’ strong. Funny about that! Although not necessarily “funny” ha ha.
(Although a perspective for another time, America may have actually won the war in the final analysis. As Mary Scully reports, the ‘scourge’ of neoliberalism and the ‘shock doctrine‘ of the free markets has truly arrived in modern ‘Nam. Space limits us herein but considering America’s foreign policy objectives are as much—if not moreso—about global economic hegemony as military dominion, this “perspective” qualifies as one eminently worthy of further exploration.)
— The Phoenix Had Landed Again —
And for one more dose of “context” and “perspective” for good measure, the final word here should go to Valentine himself. In the author’s introduction in the original edition of the book published in 1990, he made it clear he wanted to ‘[Scrutinize] the program and the people who participated in it, [and by] employing the program as a symbol of the dark side of the human psyche, to articulate the subtle ways in which the Vietnam War changed how Americans think about themselves’.
In short he was attempting to show way back then how a nation that purports to be one ‘ruled by laws and an ethic of fair play, could create a program like Phoenix’. He further added:
‘This book is about terror and its role in political warfare. It will show how, as successive American governments sink deeper and deeper into the vortex of covert operation–ostensibly to combat….. terrorism and [assorted] insurgencies–the American people gradually lose touch with the democratic ideals that once defined their national self-concept. This book asks what happens when Phoenix comes home to roost.’
Of course his intention then one presumes remains the same, and the following extract appears to support that. Taken from his introduction of the book in its latest edition, published in February 2014, it provides an even more chilling and disturbing perspective on the reality of the here-and-now and the history that preceded and spawned that reality.
‘The Phoenix has landed. The ultimate fusion of bureaucracy and psychological warfare, it serves as the model for America’s homeland security apparatus, as well as its global war on terror. This is not a theory. In a paper published in [the] Small Wars Journal in September 2004, [Australian-born] Lt. Col. David Kilcullen called for a “global Phoenix program”.’
And whilst Valentine notes somewhat resignedly that Kilcullen himself would become one of the US Government’s top counterinsurgency advisors, he also adds that, ‘[Phoenix] terms like “high-value target” and “neutralization” are now as common as Phoenix strategies and tactics. And the process of institutionalizing Phoenix, conceptually and programmatically, is just beginning.’
Sound like another (never-ending) amorality tale from the Land of Hope and Dreams? Something like that. We can all but hope that he is wrong.
To reiterate, none of this is likely to dampen the celebratory hubris of the warmongers in Washington, and their compatriots in the Pentagon in particular. More’s the pity I say. Uncle Sam’s version of that recurring trope of Empire, the ‘civilising mission’—spreading peace, love, understanding, freedom, democracy and liberty to all and sundry—appears like it will go on till the end of empire or until they complete the mission.
Whichever comes first!
So, maybe not so “never ending” after all then?
© Greg Maybury, 2014-2015
End Part Two
* This is an updated and revised version of an article first published on Op Ed News in 2014.
For additional reference:
Nixon’s Nuclear Specter: The Secret Alert of 1969, Madman Diplomacy, and the Vietnam War, by Jeffrey Kimball & William Burr