America’s Costliest Wars Unjustified and ‘Stupid’

The decision by the US to fight both of those “stupid” wars was made by powerful people in government and industry for their own selfish economic and political purposes.
The little people who actually had to do the fighting and dying had no say in the matter and either went because they had to, or volunteered because they had been lied to and convinced that it was the patriotic thing to do.
These US soldier testimonies educational, heartbreaking and valuable.


In the latest scandal precipitated by Commander in Chief Donald Trump — a man who notoriously got a doctor to lie for him about his having debilitating “bone spurs” so he wouldn’t have to serve in the military during the Vietnam War — we have a president who is the leader of the military but who, it is reliably confirmed, has disparaged the people who fought in those wars.

He has called them “losers” for being killed or captured in battle. He has declined to memorialize them.

He has had wounded veterans kept out of military parades because he felt vets in wheelchairs and on walkers or crutches or missing limbs “are not a good look.”

He has called soldiers who served in Vietnam “losers and suckers” for going and fighting and dying there, since, as he knew from his own experience, the draft was “easy to get out of.” 

And he has declined to visit the graves in France of US dead from WWI, calling them “losers” for getting killed. 

It’s all pretty outrageous, particularly for a man who as president of the US, has for four years been sending American military personnel into battle or keeping them in battle zones in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and elsewhere around the globe, creating more dead “losers” in the process.

But let’s also at least acknowledge that, whether by accident or not, the president did say two correct things, for which he should not be criticized.

One was that Vietnam was a “stupid” war.  The other was that, in the case of World War I, it was hard to know “Who were the good guys in this war?” 

Braindead US pundits have reflexively attacked the president for saying these things about these two wars as though that is a sacrilege and somehow an insult to American veterans, but they’re wrong.

Those wars were indeed both stupid and unnecessary.

There are two issues to be raised here. One is the national policies and leadership that have historically sent Americans abroad into battle to kill, fight, be maimed for life and even to die.

The other is the behavior in battle of those soldiers who have been dispatched to fight America’s wars.

And let me be clear: Trump’s dismissal of WWI and Vietnam as “stupid” wars is not indication that he is anti-war.

His unilateral abrogation of the multi-national agreement with Iran on limiting its nuclear power program, his pull-out from the Reagan-Gorbachev Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty, his continuation of President Obama’s trillion-dollar nuclear-weapons “modernization” and development program, his creation of a US Space Force, officially militarizing outer space, and his record expansion of the US military budget make it clear that he is as much a warmonger as most of his predecessors.

That still doesn’t mean we should criticize the two valid criticism he has made about two of America’s major wars.

Trump’s problem, as a man of supreme self-importance with a complete lack of human empathy, is that he cannot see the difference between criticizing a war, and criticizing the soldiers who had to fight in it.

To Trump, a man who casually used his father’s money and connections to escape a draft that less wealthy and powerful young men couldn’t avoid, those who ended up in the “stupid” Vietnam War probably deserved whatever happened to them.

They were to Trump “losers and suckers” for ending up in Nam. The same for the soldiers and marines who ended up being chewed up on the front line trenches in France during World War I.

I happen to know a bit about World War I and the sacrifices US fighting men made. My maternal grandfather, a gifted athlete who had a potential Olympic opportunity as a sprinter that was forfeited because of the war, was hit with mustard gas on the front which left his lungs scarred for life, ending his athletic career.

He wound up being a coach and head of the athletic program for the school system in Greensboro, NC.  My other grandfather on my father’s side earned a silver star for heroically driving an ambulance on the front lines in France through that war, rescuing allied and German wounded.

It was an experience so horrible that my father, a Marine in WWII, said his dad never once spoke of it to his children.

My silver-star grandfather, the son of two German immigrants to this country, who died in his 40s of colon cancer, probably had no idea why he was fighting soldiers from the nation of his parents; origin. Trump is right that there was no real moral issue in that most bloody of wars.

It was simply a war of competing empires — the old British and French and Italian ones on one side, and the rising German and Austria-Hungarian one, aided by the declining Ottoman Empire on the other. 

(The picture was complicated by the convergent timing of the Russian Revolution which ousted the Tsar and eventually led to the Communist government which sued for peace and left the field of battle, only to become the target of the WWI victors, including the US, after the so called Great War ended in 1918.)

I know a bit about the Vietnam War too, as a war resister who decided before my 18th birthday that the US invasion of Vietnam was a criminal enterprise against a nation simply seeking independence and that I would not allow myself to be drafted to fight in it.   

Trump, certainly not for any intellectual or moral reason (which would be beyond him),  is nonetheless correct that both wars were stupid and never should have been fought.

But that doesn’t make the men who fought and died in those wars “stupid” or “losers.”

First of all, most of the people who fought for the United States in those wars were drafted into the military. They went because they had little alternative.

Those who enlisted “voluntarily” were often driven to do so by the promise of a job or out of a sense of patriotism —  itself the response to massive government and media propaganda.

In the case of WWI, the target of that propaganda was the “evil Germans” while with Vietnam, it was about an imagined “Communist menace” that we were warned would sweep the globe if Vietnam, half a world away, were to “fall” under the sway of that alien ideology of worker revolution against the rich.

We can say that American military enlistees were brainwashed or deluded in volunteering to fight such wars, but that doesn’t make them “losers” or “suckers.” 

In fact many American soldiers, sailors and marines have shown themselves in battle to be courageous, selfless in defending their comrades in arms, often noble in extending compassion and generosity to those that they have captured or defeated, and heroism in risking or sacrificing their own lives in order to save others. 

(Of course there are plenty of examples of US soldiers, just as with soldiers of other countries, behaving criminally and brutally, but that too, is not a reflection on soldiers in general.)

The point is, as Commander in Chief, President Trump, himself a draft-dodging liar, has demeaned, as a class of people, American soldiers for whom he, as their commander and chief policy maker when it comes to sending them into battler or ending the battles they are engaged in, has exhibited a reprehensible disrespect for their service and their sacrifice.

But at the same time, let’s not condemn the president for the two truthful things he has said in this latest Trump scandal:  that the Vietnam War and World War I should never have been fought. 

It’s no dishonor to those who fought, died or were gravely injured in those wars that they fought in them.

The decision by the US to fight both of those “stupid” wars was made by powerful people in government and industry for their own selfish economic and political purposes.

The little people who actually had to do the fighting and dying had no say in the matter and either went because they had to, or volunteered because they had been lied to and convinced that it was the patriotic thing to do. 

They deserve to be honored for doing their duty or for going beyond the call of duty for what they at least thought was right, and Trump should be tossed out of the White House and his role as Commander in Chief for mocking them and dishonoring them.

At the same time, let’s also acknowledge that this nation still has a great reckoning that is overdue. We all need to recognize too the honor, courage and heroism of those brave people who, when the war drums were beating in the early days of World War I, and during the late 1950s and early 1960s as US involvement in the Vietnam War grew and through the course of those two wars, struggled to oppose them, who refused to fight them, and who as a result lost jobs, went to jail, left the country, were deported, and were condemned by the more deluded of their fellow citizens.

We especially need to honor those servicemen and women who, once in the military, realized the true nature of the wars they were being sent to fight, and who refused to continue, either deserting or simply refusing to fight, facing arrest and prison, a life of struggle with a dishonorable discharge, exile and public disrespect.

Vietnam to Venezuela: US Interventionism

im·pe·ri·al·ism.The definition of imperialism is the practice of a larger country or government growing stronger by taking over poorer or weaker countries that have important resources.

Venezuela’s Maduro to Trump: ‘Why would you want a repeat of Vietnam?’



President Maduro inaugurated the Simón Bolívar Institute

International unity based on popular struggles for emancipation will be the objective to be realized by the Simón Bolívar Institute for Peace and Solidarity, inaugurated this Sunday in connection with the 205th anniversary of the Jamaica Charter.

LATIN AMERICA. U.S. FREE TRADE IMPERIALISM. The natural resources of the Latin American republics made them targets for a form of economic dependence called free-trade imperialism.

In a videoconference that summoned the presence of 106 international leaders, he stressed that this solidarity platform will allow the dissemination of the truth of Venezuela in the face of discrediting campaigns that threaten peace and national stability.

“I ask for all the support of the solidarity movements to bring the truth of Venezuela and with the truth win peace, sovereignty, independence and respect for our peoples,” he emphasized.

From the “Antonio José de Sucre” Yellow House, located in Caracas, the Foreign Minister of the Republic, Jorge Arreaza, indicated that the Simón Bolívar Institute will also promote “the solidarity of the peoples with all the struggles”.

Fotografía del Comandante Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías y Fidel Castro Ruz juntos. | Politica

Anti-Imperialism

He explained that the first day of debate addressed the validity of the thought of the Liberator Simón Bolívar “at this time of recomposition of the struggles” and of the attempts of capitalism to restore itself in the face of the structural failures that it evidenced in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic .

Colombian paramilitaries were trained by Tel Aviv

In this sense, the vice minister for North America, Carlos Ron, pointed out that “in a world where the capitalist model is exhausted, what remains for us is to go back to our roots of struggle for the peoples and emancipation.”

Israeli forces’ involvement in El Salvador runs deep

“We are making a call for solidarity to all the peoples of the world and, at the same time, receiving solidarity in turn because together we will be able to advance and create a new model whose base is solidarity and its most important principle is the construction of peace. ”, He stressed. / Presidential Press.

The Phoenix Program Comes Home to Roost

The system was tested in Vietnam thirty years ago, and perfected in Israel on the Palestinians, and is ready for application here and now.

The Usual Suspects

During the Vietnam War, under the CIA’s Phoenix Program –which is the model for the Homeland Security Office — a terrorist suspect was anyone accused by one anonymous source. Just one.

The suspect was then arrested, indefinitely detained in a CIA interrogation center, and tortured until he or she (or in some cases children as young as twelve) confessed, informed on others, died, or was brought before a military tribunal (such as Bush is proposing) for disposition.

In thousands of cases, innocent people were imprisoned and tortured based on the word of an anonymous informer who had a personal grudge, or was actually a Viet Cong double agent feeding the names of loyal citizens into the Phoenix blacklist.

At no point in the process did suspects have access to due process or lawyers, and thus, in 1971, four US Congresspersons stated their belief that the Phoenix Program violated that part of the Geneva Conventions guaranteeing protection to civilians in time of war. I repeat, in time of war.

Recommended reading for all Americans and those who do not believe that it will not happen again.

But those sorts of abuses can’t happen here, during Bush’s newly declared war on terrorism, right?

Yeah, right.

Symbolically, the terror attacks of 11 September wiped the psychological slate clean.

All the moral prohibitions on the reactionary right wing have been lifted.

The same thing happened in the Fatherland after the First World War — and that is the real threat of anti-terrorism we’re facing in America today.

In the name of anti-terrorism, all of the nation’s pent-up anger and frustration over Vietnam, and a host of other “cultural” issues, is poised to be unleashed on the Enemy Within.

And the Bush Administration and its propagandists have already defined the Enemy Within in very clear terms: “We’re all Israelis now,” they say, adding that, “You’re with us or you’re against us,” in the declared war against terrorism.

And being “against us” is a dangerous proposition. As noted, Bush is considerating the formation of Phoenix-style military tribunals that operate beyond due process of law.

The system was tested in Vietnam thirty years ago, and perfected in Israel on the Palestinians, and is ready for application here and now.

The New Psywar As stated twelve years ago in the October 1989, Marine Corps Gazette (p 22-26a), Bush’s New War will be “widely dispersed and largely undefined; the distinction between war and peace will be blurred to the vanishing point.”

There will be no “definable battlefields or fronts,” and the distinction between “civilian” and “military” will disappear.

“Success will depend heavily on effectiveness in joint operations (such as Bush proposes between Ridge at Homeland Security and Downing at the Pentagon) as lines between responsibility and mission become very blurred.”

According to the Gazette article, success in the New War against undefined suspects will also depend on “psychological operations” manifest “in the form of media/information intervention.”

One must be “adept at manipulating the media to alter domestic and world opinion….”

On the psywar battlefield, “Television news may become a more powerful operational weapon than armored divisions.”

The TV “hawks” love to blame the anti-war movement for Americas defeat in Vietnam, and they assert in these do-or-die times that dissent promotes terrorism.

In terms of the psywar strategy outlined above, this is exactly how nationalists and even pacifists became equated with terrorists in Vietnam, and thus subject to indefinite detention and torture in an interrogation center, and — in the case of some 40,000 plus individuals — assassination under the CIA’s Phoenix Program.

The Bush Administration claims that a war against terrorism requires different justice.

The strategy is working in Israel, but in Vietnam it turned an entire population against its government and engendered a tragedy of epic proportions.

One can only wonder how Americans will react if due process is abandoned through the Office of Homeland Security, under the direction of the Pentagon. CP

Douglas Valentine writes frequently for CounterPunch. He is the author of The Phoenix Program, the only comprehensive account of the CIA’s torture and assassination operation in Vietnam, as well as TDY a chilling novel about the CIA and the drug trade.