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George Hoffman

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  • The Second Iran-Iraq War and the American Switch
    • The largest tank battles ever fought in the history of warfare , at that time, happened during the First Iraq-Iran War. I don't think those battles made it on the front pages of the NYT and WSJ at the time. If they were reported on at all, these battles were probably buried way in the back among incidental news stories. There was a special brigade of Iranian teenage boys, anointed, blessed by whoever or "whatever" would be a better word, that walked out into minefields so they could detonate them and clear paths for the tanks and soldiers. Now, holy horse hockey, Batman, that's taking religion, any religion, way too seriously for me. The bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut happened on Ronald Reagan's watch. 241 marine dead, 60 wounded. Worst terrorist attack prior to 9/11, worst day for Marines since the Battle of Iwo Jima and worst week since the Tet Offensive of 1968. Wow, that should be in the Guinness Book of World Records. And despite the intelligence reports Reagan had that Iran was behind the Hezbollah operation, he had no moral qualms, none what so ever, arming Iranians with those weapons that Professor Cole mentioned in his post. Imagine what a field day all these Rambos in the GOP would have had if the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut happened during Barack Obama's watch? Also, Reagan allowed the CIA spooks to share satellite photos of the Iraqi deployments of tanks and troops that proved vital for Iranians to plan their battles against them. It turned the tide in the war, and Saddam Hussein sued for peace soon afterwards. But that's what friends are for. Right? Win one for the Gipper, Saddam. (Writing my comments right now I felt like I did when I read Joseph Heller's Catch-22 while serving in Vietnam.) Professor Cole mention the WSJ In his post. It has an editorial today and now terms the events in Iraq as a debacle. Oh really? But I thought the Iraq War would be a debacle during the propaganda campaign. Of course everyone on the left condemned George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and their cohorts for that war. But they conveniently forget Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Chuck Hagel also voted for that war. Imagine that. That's when in the pages of The New Republic, the phrase "liberal hawk" came into vogue with all the policy wonks inside the beltway bubble. How do I really feel about the debacle unfolding now in Iraq? Well, to all the Shiite and Sunni militiamen, to all the soldiers in the Peshmerga, and let's not forget -my favorite - to all those zany and whacky jihadists in the ISIS, remember guys: location, location, location, location, as they say in the real estate business. And of course, guys, please keep your AK-47s clean and in good working order. Your weapon is your only real friend in war. And, last but not least, shoot first and ask questions later. I know, it's rude. But you'll be still alive.

  • Iraq: Looming War of Shiite, Kurdish, Extremist-Sunni Militias
    • Thanks, Professor Cole, for once again analyzing this crisis and putting it in perspective. But I just wonder if Iraq will be able to survive as a nation at this point or it will eventually break apart into three partitioned states of Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. Hope you'll address this question soon in one of your future articles.

  • US Military Fail: Long Asian Land Wars a Route to Disaster since 1963
    • Well, even if the American military is still the finest fighting force in the war, what really has that to do with the topic at hand? I served as a medical corpsman in Vietnam. I read a story in The Washington Post about how former grunts felt about the third battle of Fallujah when it fell to the ISIS jihadists. They had fought in the second battle of Fallujah during the American occupation. Well, right there, taking the same real estate over and over again tells you a great deal about the Iraq War. Anyway, I digress as usual. One former army captain asked the reporter an excellent and incisive rhetorical question, and I am paraphrasing it, Would somebody so smart tell me that the black flag of Al Qaeda flying above Fallujah isn't like the fall of Saigon? I served during the Tet Offensive of.1968. So the fall of Fallujah to these jihadists reminded me of the Battle of Hue. That is, if the NVA soldiers had somehow beaten back the Marine grunts. But I really thought PM Nouri Al-Maliki had some time left to get his act together. But now with this stunning reversal of fortune for his regime when these same ISIS jihadists commenced a mini-blitzkrieg, captured Mosul and his Iraqi army collapsed, well, now I think this former army captain seems prophetic. And I thought nothing could top the fall of Saigon. Boy, was I wrong. So I'm sitting here typing away on my iPad on the kitchen countertop and drinking a cup of tea. And I'm asking myself, how can I be witnessing two foreign policy debacles in one lifetime? Being a Vietnam veteran is getting stranger and stranger all the time. And I am asking myself, how can this be happening to our country once again? There is this concept called historical repetition by the German philosopher Georg Hegel. Actually, I read about it in an article Slavoj Zizek published in The London Review of Books. He gave this example of Hegel's concept of historical repetition. Napoleon lost at the battle of Leipzig. OK, he was having a bad day as a general. But then a couple of years later he lost again at the Battle of Waterloo. Historical repetition. It's a very bad sign for a general or a nation. It addresses a systemic flaw in our military strategy and it also tells us many unpleasant truths about our fearless leaders inside the beltway bubble. About all the war hawks who voted for the Iraq War resolution. That includes Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Chuck Hagel by the way. I excluded John McCain, well, because just tell me one war or intervention he hasn't been for? He's the oldest drummer boy currently serving in the Senate. He's an epic embarrassment to me. And even though he went through living hell as a POW in the Hanoi Hilton, he borders on being a buffoon. Funny but ha ha scary funny. And I really try to censor myself what I say about fellow Vietnam veterans. This is a watershed moment in our nation's history. Hopefully, when the dust settles, Iraq will break apart into three, partitioned mini-states along the Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish fault lines. But since I've apparently misinterpreted the fall of Fallujah to the ISIS jihadists, I just don't know - especially if Iran starts sending its Republican Guards. All bets are off. And now these war hawks who got us into that quagmire in the desert, they want President Obama do something for PM al-Maliki. How about if he starts walking on water? They'd probably say, "He can't swim!" Are these war hawks acting in a bizarre farce from the theater of the absurd? And Hillary Clinton finally admitted she made a mistake. She wants to become the first woman in the White House. Shatter the glass ceiling in the Oval Office. Yet she loves to mimic the male war hawks and voted for the war. And Secretary John Kerry is closely monitoring the situation in Iraq. But he voted for the war. And Secretary Hagel is deeply concerned about the developments in Iraq. And he voted for the war. They are all starting to remind me of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 and his main character, Montag, that firefighter, who used his flame thrower to burn books. I told everyone who was for the invasion of Iraq, even early in the propaganda campaign, this is going to be such a disaster for our country. Just wait and see like Vietnam was. But they told me Vietnam has nothing to do with Iraq. And then they told me to shut up already. Civilians can be so touchy and sensitive when you present them with an alternative interpretation of reality? But I shut my trap after awhile. And i just read an op-ed piece in Slate from some professor at Georgetown. He has all this dire musings. But he's acting like Condoleezza Rice did when she saw that mushroom cloud billowing from that barrel of a smoking gun. Now he's obviously an educated professor, has a keen grasp of facts and writes an op-ed worthy of all policy wonk. But he lost me, because he essentially manipulates all the facts and wants to go back to the scene of the crime in Iraq. Historical repetition rears it's ugly head. And you don't have to be a far left loon and president of the local chapter of the Noam Chomsky Fan Club. Just read former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft's op-ed in the WJS published on August 15, 2002, entitled "Don't Attack Saddam." If this warmongering continues in this country, they just might decide to bring back the draft. Then watch the proverbial "merde" hit the fan.

  • The Fall of Mosul and the False Promises of Modern History
    • George Hoffman 06/11/2014 at 9:17 pm

      There was a series of articles in the NYT today covering the fall of Mosul. Reporters interviewed civilians who said they saw Iraqi soldiers abandon their vehicles, drop their weapons, change into street clothes, then mingle into the street scene with civilians. Scared soldiers readily admitted to reporters that they have deserted the army, One deserter called the ISIS fighters "ferocious" and he said snipers killed some of his comrades as soon as they came within range of the rebels' assault rifles.. An ISIS fighter may be a nasty piece of work, as Professor Cole has noted, but he definitely gets the job done. There were also three YouTube videos accompanying these stories. In one of them ISIS fighters are shown setting fire to an abandoned Humvee left in the middle of the street. In another, teenage boys and even little kids are throwing rocks at a Iraqi soldiers in an armored vehicle that is trying to back up into bumper-to-bumper traffic. A soldier manned a machine gun and therefore exposed outside so this poor guy id bobbing and weaving getting the brunt of these volleys. Then he fired short bursts with the machine gun pointed up toward the sky. The boys duck and retreat but soon hurry back and give him another volley. Finally, the driver forces the armored vehicle backing up into the street and barrels away as these boys run after it and throw a couple more volleys. It was bizarre yet funny to watch. I assume these boys must be Sunnis and the soldiers must be Shiites. I may be mistaken. But what really struck me was it reminded me of those stock news reels from the intifada where Palestinians are throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers.

      Sir John Falstaff once said, discretion is the better part of valor. I agree. Hope those deserters never get caught by army officials and have long and fruitful lives. Why die in a battle over Mosul?

  • Top 3 White Terrorist Attacks in America this Week
    • George Hoffman 06/10/2014 at 7:03 pm

      OK, Jack, thanks for the feedback. I was stationed at Edwards AFB for two years after I came back from Vietnam, and to this day, I remember how hot it got in the Mojave Desert.

    • They're probably also psychotics who use their far-right ideology as an excuse to act out their psychoses. Note: that couple who shot and killed two policemen while eating pizza on a break reminds me Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers. I think it's rare for a woman, said Amanda Miller, to be a shooter. Acting out violently in public usually is still a time-honored male prerogative.

      A lot of these shooters are meth addicts. It really pumps up the primal urge and ratchets up the good old paranoia when they are on crank. But thankfully, the addiction usually takes over their political activities before they can let their weapons do their talking about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness: and they probably forget where they put their assault rifles or stashed their ammo. Who says drug addiction only has bad side effects? These psychos should start smoking dope and chill out.

  • Student Debt: Blame Law-Makers, Tax-Shirking Rich, War on Drugs, not Universities
    • George Hoffman 06/09/2014 at 6:42 pm

      I agree with you, Professor Cole. I attended OSU on the GI Bill in the early 1970s when I went back to college after my military discharge. I did work part-time than full when I dropped out for a quarter. But I got my undergraduate degree than went on to graduate school though I did receive a monthly stipend as a teaching assistant. I used all of the money allotted to me under the GI Bill. For both degrees. About ten thousand dollars rounding it off.

      I read a headline, I think in Salon, that OSU is now the most expensive public university in the country. But I must admit I didn't read the article. Quite frankly, seeing that headline just turned me off from reading the article.

  • Dear Sen. McCain: No, the Taliban Prisoners didn't Carry out 9/11; but you Supported Muslim Radicals
    • I've given up on Sen. McCain. Actually, I've never gotten over the fact we are both Vietnam veterans. Though I was just a medical corpsman, an significant cog in the vast , well-oiled machinery of war. Have you seen Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times? That scene in which he becomes entangled in the gears and then circles up, down and around the gears and then the machine spits him out? That's my tour of duty. And having been a POW who finally won release after behind-the-scenes negotiations, one would think he would have at least a bit of compassion for Bowe Bergdahl, his mother and father and their ordeal. If you've been a civilian all your life and find Sen. McCain rather bizarre, well, you are just reacting normally in my opinion. What's really odd about him is that he's still trying to be very hardcore and it's my way or the highway when it comes to this swap deal, but he's just another victim of war to me.

  • How Reagan subverted the meaning of D-Day & the New Deal of the Greatest Generation
    • George Hoffman 06/07/2014 at 2:21 am

      Being a Vietnam veteran, I never got Ronald Reagan. He was a decent man. But I felt I was living in a parallel universe during his tenure at the White House. And I never got all the working class Democrats who voted for him. But before we condemn Reagan, let's at least acknowledge how the Democrats lost the trust and goodwill of the American people when LBJ passed his specious Gulf of Tonkin resolution, escalated the Vietnam War and clearly crossed his own constitutional Rubicon in the Mekong Delta as an imperial president. It was the worst foreign policy debacle in our nation's history. It left a bitter taste in the mouth and a hangover of disillusionment which Reagan exploited so deftly and astutely. It was all downhill from there with the start of the hollowing out of good-paying union jobs being shipped overseas and the other crucial events you mention in this excerpt about President Jimmy Carter who was quite inept though sincere and well-meaning. Reagan used all these historical turning points against the Democrat Party. He wasn't called "the Great Communicator" for nothing. He was our first evangelical orator in the White House who so fondly loved to invoke that shining city on the hill at the end of his speeches. It was his greatest role as an actor. The American people bought it. And he was tough taking a round to,the chest when Hickley tried to assassinate him. Of course, it was ironic he spent the Second World War back on the home front in Tinseltown dressed up in his military uniform touring the country and selling war bonds for FDR. He's probably the most influential president in a cultural sense to occupy the Oval Office. I must concede him that though I am far to left of his politics. But Americans view the Second World War through the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia. And they call it the last "good war" that was fought by the "Greatest Generation." I put those phrases in quotation marks, because from what I saw in Vietnam there are no good wars but only necessary wars; and how could the Greatest Generation allow FDR to take away the civil rights of around 110,000 Japanese Americans, confiscate their property and imprison them in concentration camps? Despite the cards life has dealt, and despite how poorly I played my hand sometimes, I love this country as much as Reagan did and feel blessed having been born here. So I'm going to take a trip down memory lane this weekend. I rented Apocalypse Now and Full Metal Jacket from the local video store across the street from my apartment. It's not a D-Day celebration but it's the best I can do.

  • Georgia Courthouse is shot up by Sovereign Citizen after GOP backs Bundy, Open Carry
    • George Hoffman 06/07/2014 at 8:50 am

      The 'Josef Goebbels Commemorative Propaganda Division of the American Right Wing?' Professor Cole, lol, I think you even topped your photo gallery in the hirsute hall of fame that you included in your recent story, "Facial Hair, Patriotism.and the Enemy in American History." You should take a chance and go try your act out during an open mike session at your local comedy improv club. What's going on here? Did you by chance secretly accompany Maureen Dowd of the NYT when she went out to Colorado and tried some marijuana brownies to get her Rocky Mountain High story?

  • Facial Hair, Patriotism and the Enemy in American History
    • George Hoffman 06/05/2014 at 5:08 am

      Professor Cole, lol, you are definitely on a roll here with this post. You remind me of George Carlin doing a routine on our foreign policy.. And you even included Uncle Ho in your hall of hirsute fame. Very funny. You're obviously an intellectual but you have a great sense of humor. Have you ever considered getting a side gig doing stand-up comedy?

  • Is the Prisoner Swap Hysteria a sign of GOP War withdrawal Symptoms?
    • George Hoffman 06/04/2014 at 6:13 pm

      One more thing ( here I go again back on my soap box, sorry, Professor Cole ) on this swap deal. This kind of holy horse hockey always happens with any war that turns into a military misadventure or foreign policy blunder. I remember the same kind of childish behavior from the right to the the left in the aftermath of our defeat in the Vietnam War. It reminds me of my kids actually when they were young. I'd tell them to go to bed when I just couldn't deal with them and they would start acting up and making more noise. I'd go upstairs asking them who's making all the noise and they would just point at each other. JFK said it all long ago after the fiasco of the Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba. Victory has many fathers but defeat is an orphan. Well, the American people know an orphan when they see one. And no elected politicians on either side of the aisle that voted for this war nor officials in the Bush administration are volunteering to take a DNA test to establish who the parents are. Imagine that.

    • I agree, Professor Cole, with your humorous characterization of the GOP going through withdrawal from the war on terror and hysterically acting-out in the MSM over the prisoner swap. They have been living in Fat City when it came to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they are showing all the classic symptoms of war junkies jonesing shamelessly in public. In fact, they remind me of a classic John Lennon song "Cold Turkey" in which he acts outs in vivid details his own experiences with heroin withdrawal. One minor point when you alluded to the big bucks being made in the military/industrial complex off the war on terror. It has also been a bonanza for the manufacturers of drones. I read an article that the United States has over 7,000 drones in its various fleets spread throughout the branches of the armed forces and the CIA. That's not chump change. Drone manufacturers even have their own trade show now which was held the last time in Washington, D.C. The United States is the largest manufacturer of drones in the world, and Israel is close behind it in second place.

  • Dear GOP: The US has negotiated with Terrorists and Amnestied Them all through History
    • Very well said, Professor Cole. I would like to add a side bar to your historical reference to our negotiations with VC guerrillas during the Vietnam War. Being a Vietnam veteran, I'm sensitive to the political gambit of using Vietnam veterans as pawns to score points with voters. It recalls the toxic atmosphere during the Vietnam War. So it is ironic that while waving the flag the Republicans again trying to muddle the waters and condemn President Obama for the release of this young soldier who was held as a POW by the Taliban. The Taliban reminded me of the VC guerrillas in their organization, military tactics and resolve if one would obviously substitute communist ideology for their Islamic faith. And as a medical corpsman, we treated wounded VC guerrillas at the base hospital where I served my tour of duty. Does that make me a communist sympathizer? Of course not. But we have definitely left political discourse and entered the theater of the absurd.

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  • Republicans Attack Obama For Negotiations Leading To Release Of American POW
    • George Hoffman 06/02/2014 at 1:38 am

      Will we ever learn? Tragically, once again, as in the era of the Vietnam War, politicians wanting to score points back home with their base of voters are using the young men and women serving in the military as convenient political pawns. As Tip O'Neill was always sating when he was the Speaker of the House, "All politics is local." But I think he meant more than just the bread-and-butter financial issues.. The politicians also love to manipulate foreign policy issues to score those points back home in their districts and states.

  • What Does Sgt. Bergdahl's Release tell us about Afghanistan, Pakistan & the Taliban today?
    • George Hoffman 06/02/2014 at 1:23 am

      I'm going with Professor Cole's take on this hostage exchange, and I have my fingers crossed that this deal offers a slim glimmer of hope amid all the dark clouds on the horizon. Even though I was against the war, it would be beneficial for us and all the people in Afghanistan, including the insurgents, that this deal is a good omen, and perhaps, just perhaps, these hardcore insurgents are gradually becoming less rigid and dogmatic in their political strategy once the American troops leave except for that contingent of - what? - 9,800 soldiers Obama wants to leave in place during a gradual draw down. Maybe we can salvage something good after all the blunders and carnage.

  • Mr. Kerry: Why Snowden can't "Make his Case" in "Our System of Justice"
    • George Hoffman 05/31/2014 at 4:00 am

      As a fellow Vietnam veteran, I find John Kerry to be completely out of his depths as our secretary of state. But I stopped taking him seriously when as a senator he voted for George W. Bush's resolution to war against Iraq which eerily reminded me in its hysterical propaganda campaign of the specious arguments LBJ made to ram through the Senate his Gulf of Tonkin resolution. Now you would have thought as a Vietnam veteran that Kerry had already learned or at least faintly remembered the painful lessons of the Vietnam War. He's unfortunately the limousine liberal version of George W. Bush, namely, he doesn't do "nuisance" when it comes to either our foreign policy or our wars. So when Kerry said that Snowden should "man up" and face the music here, he's once again showing how he loves to grandstand with his faux machismo. Or as they say down in Texas, he's all hat and no cattle. And of course, what does that really say about President Obama in his choice of an important cabinet position in his administration? Snowden has a true moral compass. Kerry also once had a true moral compass when he testified before Congress as a prominent leader of the Vietnam veterans against the war. He become famous in the media when he asked during his testimony, Would you want to be the last soldier to die in Vietnam. And now look what he has turned into? Rather sad and tragic.

  • On Memorial Day, Let's do right by our Veterans
    • War is a beast with an insatiable appetite for human flesh. That's what I learned as a medical corpsman in Vietnam. So I just don't get Memorial Day.

  • Donald Sterling's Illiberal Zionism Part of Racism Controversy with Magic Johnson
    • George Hoffman 05/16/2014 at 5:03 pm

      Donald Sterling reminds me of growing up a really confused child with my extended family of origin in the late fifties and early sixties. But I have to admit one caveat, They were quite anti-Semitic besides being racists. They were working-class immigrants trapped within their fears having never recovered from the Great Depression. And they always talked about going back to the "old country." Sterling may be a wealthy Jew beyond all their wildest dreams of avarice but he would fit right in at the dinner table among the adult males. They would be called today, given the pervasive influence of the recovery movements on our culture, functioning adult alcoholics. They were characters one would find in one of the novels written by Louis Ferdinand Cline, a French author from the thirties, who is the literary father of the modern black comedy. I thought I had to be an orphan because I just couldn't be related to them,

  • Did the GOP Obsession with Monica Lewinsky contribute to 9/11? Is the Benghazi hysteria deja vu?
    • A very good point, rbtl, about how the generation that fought the Cold War got us into Vietnam. But they endured the Great Depression and then they had to fight the Second World War.

      Studs Terkel called it the last "good war." I served as a medical corpsman in Vietnam. And there are no "good wars." Yet I will concede it was our last necessary war.

      That was the mindset that motivated the Cold War, the Korean War and the last big proxy war of that era in Vietnam. I'm over simplifying of course. But we were trying to preserve Western democracy and stop the communist regimes in Red China and old Soviet Union from subverting countries throughout the world. Or dominoes would fall like that scene in "The Fog of War" in Errol Morris' documentary about Robert S. McNamara, architect of the Vietnam War, as secretary of defense.

      The road to hell in Vietnam was paved with good intentions at the time. But it was the worst foreign policy debacle in our nation's history. Now at this point in my life, I don't hold any grudges against the boomers who stayed behind and protested against the war. But baby boomers in both parties had no moral qualms about them sending our young men and women overseas to fight in Afghanistan and then Iraq. Bush fought the war on the cheap off the books with no increased taxes to pay for the wars. At least, LBJ caved eventually and signed into law a bill for a surcharge tax to pay for the Vietnam War. The boomers have completely forgotten the lessons of Vietnam. The army has been hollowed out once again as in the Vietnam War by the soldiers doing multiple tours of duty overseas and many are permanently disabled costing us around $50 billion for care through the VA. Then the Great Recession bought about by greedy CEOs, mostly boomers, in too big to fail banks and brokerage firms on Wall Street. They got bailed out by TARP, still make big bonuses and complained how hurt they fell by their fellow Americans.

    • I genuinely feel sorry for Monica Lewinsky. She has to know that when she dies what certain historical facts will obviously be in the lead paragraph of her obit. But Monica-gate will have little traction in the presidential election when Hillary makes her second run for the office. And likewise with the Benghazi attacks. President Ronald Reagan resoundingly won a second term in the office despite the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut. And though I'm a Vietnam veteran, I had no animus against Bill Clinton and voted for him as president during his first run. That was despite the GOP's smear campaign that he was a "draft dodger." Quite honestly, if I could get into a time machine and travel back to the sixties, I would probably have avoided serving in the military. But I've had a lot of therapy at the local VA clinic. And I never bought into this "wag the dog" meme that Professor Cole brings up in his essay. And I could care less that George W. Bush hid out in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War. But that said, I am still amazed that only an unrecovered alcoholic would actually invade the wrong country to cause the worst foreign policy debacle since the Vietnam War. Now that's classic behavior from a fellow baby boomer. And Newt Gingrich hounding Bill Clinton for impeachment while he is carrying on an affair with an aide on his staff who would become his wife after he divorces his current wife, well, that also classic behavior from a fellow baby boomer. And Bill Clinton being a serial womanizer is also classic behavior from a baby boomer. But having been to divorce court twice, I know I live in a glass house and avoid the urge to throw bricks at anyone. I'm also a classic baby boomer. Somehow this country will survive all us baby boomers. I have almost a blind and naive faith in the resilience of the American people which was last seen in one of Frank Capra's films from the thirties.

      But the main point to me is the GOP's going through a profound identity crisis since it signed a deal with the devil and became a hostage to the far right wing represented in the ranting and raving of the members of the Tea Party. It really seems to be having a slow-motion nervous breakdown. It's publicly acting out its frustrations with itself. think. I think Freud called it the repetition compulsion in neurotic behavior. And athough I'm a sucker when it comes to cheap entertainment, even I'm getting a little bored with the GOP's schtick. Professor Cole brought up Seinfeld, and I still remember that episode when Jerry and George Constanza pitch to TV executives their concept for a new comedy series and tell the suits it will be about nothing. That's the rut the GOP is in. But the fun has worn off. As George loved to say when he got frustrated, yadda, yadda this and yadda, yadda that. That's pretty much how I see the GOP.

  • Top 10 Reasons GOP Benghazi Witch Hunt is just a Campaign Fundraising Ploy
    • George Hoffman 05/10/2014 at 4:54 am

      I read those two articles by Seymour Hersh in The London Book of Review why Obama did a volte-face on an intervention in the Syrian civil war and CIA and Nato funding the jihadists during the Libyan civil war. And those articles really didn't seem that crazy to me. But whether they are crazy or not, Hersh said in an interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now that the New Yorker and the Washington Post turned down those articles for publication. But the MSM had no problem swallowing hook, line and sinker all that garbage about Saddam having WMDs during President George W. Bush's specious propaganda campaign for the Iraq War. And the New York Times had no problem with Judith Miller's articles that Saddam had an active biological and chemical weapons program. Now that the MSM will publish. That's why I subscribe to The London Book of Reviews. It's a genuine leftist publication with real cajones. The MSM represents the herd of independent minds and apologists for the war mongers.

  • Is Fall of Homs a turning point in Regime's Quest to Retake Syria?
    • George Hoffman 05/08/2014 at 8:57 pm

      BTW, Professor Cole, I read yesterday? a couple of days ago? - whatever - in a NYT editorial that updated in a survey all of President Obama's foreign policy decisions since he became president that the percentage of destroyed poisonous gas stocks is 90%. And we all know the NYT is never wrong having been decreed long ago the liberal version of papal infallibility.
      But all kidding aside, whichever percentage it actually is, it was accomplished without dropping one bomb or firing off one cruise missile and of course killing innocent civilians.

  • Condoleezza Rice, Charged with War Crimes at Rutgers, withdraws as Commencement Speaker
    • George Hoffman 05/05/2014 at 8:21 am

      Bravo, once again, to you, Professor Cole for this news article about Condi Rice status as a genuine war criminal. You've hit a bull-s eye with this news story.

      ( And I would also have to note that even though I'm a Vietnam veteran, Colin Powell's sad charade at the UN Security Council meetings as a voice of reason has clearly tarnished his historical legacy in public service for our country. And let's remember our current Secretary of State, John Kerry, also voted for the Junior the Boy Emperor's resolution for a war in Iraq.)

      I was against the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq from day one. Even I could see by early autumn of 2002 that this war would eventually rival the foreign policy debacle I experienced as a young and naive medical corpsman during my tour of duty. And even Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser in Papa Bush's administration and far to the right of Professor Noam Chomsky, wrote a prophetic op-ed piece in the WSJ entitled "Don't Attack Saddam" which was published on August 15, 2002. He predicted this war would be a major foreign policy blunder for our country.

  • US sent CIA Director as Ambassador to Tehran after CIA overthrew Iran's Democratic gov't (US now Complaining about Hostage-Taker Amb.)
    • Professor Cole, it seems to me from the video clip you provided to accompany this story that President Obama is hedging its bets on the passage of the resolution ( the press secretary said the administration will be investigating the constitutionality and utility of this resolution in the press conference).

  • Poof! John Kerry Blames Israeli Squatting in E. Jerusalem for breakdown in Peace Talks; Bennett: It's Just Zionism
    • George Hoffman 04/09/2014 at 6:45 am

      That was a very interesting video clip, Professor Cole, with that heated exchange between Secretary of State John Kerry and Senator John McCain. So bravo to you for providing it to us.

      Let me briefly preface my reactions and thoughts with some personal information. I served as a a medical corpsman in Vietnam. I have stated this countless times here when I post a comment on your blog. But that one year was the watershed moment in my life, and it remains the prism through which I view the world around me. I wish I could change that or come to terms with that, but I seem to be powerless over how the experience of war has profoundly changed me.

      I hate to state this but Senator McCain is an embarrassment to me as a fellow Vietnam veteran. He is always beating his little tin drum for war. And after what I saw at the base hospital that actually scares me. I know that is not too macho. But that's my subjective truth when it comes to the issue of war. And I am getting bored to tears with this appeasement in Munich analogy that conservative politicians such as Senator McCain are always invoking when it comes to any foreign policy crisis.
      And Teddy Roosevelt's "Speak softly and carry a big stick" runs a close second in cliches just behind the Munich appeasement. And I would also note that John Adams is the author of Senator McCain's quote, "facts are stubborn things," rather than former President Ronald Reagan, who did use that John Adams quote during a speech, in his address to the 1998 Republican National Convention. But to be fair, President Reagan did attribute this quote to John Adams in his speech. (By the way, I attributed that John Adams quote once or twice on other blogs to Ralph Waldo Emerson. But I finally googled it and found out I was wrong. So you can teach an old dog new tricks.)

      And even Secretary John Kerry bothers me, though I side with him in his exchange with Senator McCain. I am still a bit taken back and deeply disappointed he voted for former President George W. Bush's resolution to go to war in Iraq. But I was glad when he stumbled into the peace talks in Geneva. We avoided another potential crisis with an intervention in the Syrian civil war. So as gauche and out of his depths he can appear to be, when he blurted out at that London press conference about how we could end the crisis in Syria if President Bashar al Assad gave up his chemical weapons and the Russians ran with it, at least we have negotiations over Syria rather than yet another military misadventure. So we got to the negotiating table in Geneva. Even though it wasn't pretty. And that's all that counts to me.

      Yet I understand how Senator McCain can be so pessimistic and negative and angry toward Secretary John Kerry. I learned when I was in therapy at the local VA clinic that Vietnam veterans are suffering from what is called "catastrophic thinking" when they view the world around them. It's the residual affects of suffering from PTSD. I thankfully only have a mild case. But I've always thought that Senator McCain has a much worse case of PTSD. And who can blame him given what he had to endure as a POW at the Hotel Hilton? But that in no way excuses him always falling in on the side of the war hawks. But as I said many times to myself on the hospital ward when I saw how deeply were the physical and mental wounds on the grunts, There but for the grace of God go I.

  • Is Rand Paul right that Cheney invaded Iraq for Halliburton Profits?
    • Papa Bush was the last president who came from the so-called "Greatest Generation." ( I put that phrase in quotation marks for a reason. How could the "Greatest Generation" imprison 110,000 of our fellow citizens in concentration camps, confiscate their property and then go overseas to incinerate hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in Japan with a massive firebombing campaign and then cap that wonderful and glaring war crime off with by dropping two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Orwellian interpretation of history to the nth degree. Way to go, Tom Brokaw. )

      But as least Papa Bush really believed in the principle of political consensus, as most of his generation did and still do. But they endured the Great Depression and then the Second World War through their consensus, a real existential threat to our national security and survival as a nation. America was still operating as a community of fellow citizens, had a sense of shared sacrifice and the phrase, citizen/soldier, actually had genuine validity in the society. Papa Bush knew he was only authorized by the UN and our Congress in recapturing Kuwait. He honored the political consensus of his limited mandate as Commander-in-Chief. Typical behavior for his generation.

      But Junior, the Boy Emperor, is from the baby boomer generation, and like most boomers, he rejects any political consensus, if it violates his need for instant gratification with whatever lame idea that suddenly comes into his cranium. So after the shock of the 9/11 attacks, running around in the White House like Henny Penny ( "I'm a war president!" )' to quote that phrase Rummy did from Errol Morris' great documentary, The Unknown Known, and being all over the geopolitical map with blinders in his surreal game of pin the tail on the donkey, he finally decided to prosecute his war in Iraq. So the mantra for boomers could be: Hey, it's all about me! Typical boomer.

      And Junior, who safely hid out in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War, had zany Uncle Dick, who just happened to have "other priorities" also at the time. Cheney was the family retainer as Vice President and Enabler-in-Chief, for the military misadventure in Iraq. Of course, Uncle Dick saw a great chance to make some big bucks off this illegal war and went along with all the other neocons, who were also boomers, to commit the worst foreign policy debacle in our nation's history since...well...since the Vietnam War. Talk about a bum trip when it comes to déjà vu.

      Only Secretary of State Colin Powell, who actually served as a grunt in Vietnam, who actually saw the beast up close and personal during his tour of duty, had deep reservations about this war for imperial plunder. But unfortunately he played the role of "the good soldier" like Senators John Kerry, Chuck Hagel and my personal favorite, John McCain, for cheap entertainment, in this dysfunctional, twisted family drama that reminds me of the satire Arrested Development by way of the theater of the absurd.

      And Senator Rand Paul is just another boomer, though a late one ( he just made it just under the wire having been born on January 7, 1963) so he can bend his political convictions into a pretzel to justify all position he wants to take on any given issue at any given moment. Again typical boomer.

      So I guess what I'm trying to say in my usual convoluted and eccentric take on politics during discussion here is that the personages Professor Cole alluded to and discussed in this article are by and large prominent and the powerful baby boomers inside the beltway bubble. Their historical legacy seems to be how they all have really screwed up this country. And all these labels along the political spectrum - neoconservative, liberal, libertarian, etc - have lost their meaning when it comes to the boomers, because they have subverted the language in the marketplace of ideas.

      All they really believe in like typical boomers is: It's all about me!

  • Top 7 Surprising pieces of Good news in Afghanistan Presidential Election
    • George Hoffman 04/06/2014 at 7:12 am

      I have to agree with Professor Cole's assessment and analysis of the recent election in Afghanistan. It really took me by surprise. But the professor is an optimist by nature and nurture, and he always looks for even a faint glimmer of a silver lining in our foreign policy. Whereas I am a pessimist and defeatist having served in Vietnam. But of course. that's my problem and not his. Bravo to all the citizens in Afghanistan who voted in this recent election and demonstrated their faith for a democracy in their country.

  • Ft. Hood & the True Cost of Iraq & Afghanistan Wars: Nearly 1 mn traumatized: PTSD by the Numbers
    • In the First World War, it was called shell shock; in the Second World War, it was called battle fatigue; and after the Vietnam War it was called post traumatic stress disorder.

      And even Homer, the Greek classical poet, begins The Illiad with Achilles mourning in his tent over the death of his comrade, Patroclus. Achilles had PTSD. That's why he goes berserk later when he rejoins his comrades in their battle against the Trojans and desecrates the corpse of Hector by dragging it with his chariot around the walled fortress of Troy. So PTSD has been around for quite a long time. Just as war has. But as the Greeks say, tragically, war is the father of all things.

      There's a great documentary John Huston, the legendary film director, made about veterans of the Second World War. It is entitled "Let There Be Light." It's about patients suffering from what was called back then battle fatigue. But when the brass in the Pentagon saw it, they quickly suppressed the film. it showed the unpleasant truth about what war does to the those who fight them. If you get a chance, surf over to YouTube and watch it. And ironically, the Department of Defense only allowed it to be shown to the public toward the end of the Vietnam War in the early 1970s.

      You are certainly entitled to your opinion. Who would deny you your own point of view on this issue? But to me at least, you confuse the nature of war with a mental state of being to score some political points in your diatribe.. And I hate the military/industrial complex and the war profiteers as much as you do. But you obviously have a condescending attitude toward military service. It's an honorable profession, but it's not for me. I'm a hardcore civilian and served only as a medical corpsman in Vietnam. But to this day I know I have a mild case of PTSD. To this day, weapons scare me. Not too macho, but it's the truth.

      And quite frankly, you state the obvious when you call wars "militaristic nightmares." That's just the nature of the beast. You can't change the nature of war. Nor how some of those such as this young man come back. And his mental illness was severely compounded when his mother and one of his grandparents died soon after he rotated back to the world. So he won the trifecta of human misery.

      I was against the war in Iraq. It was a war of choice but not one of necessity. I wouldn't wish war on my worst enemy. And when I got out of the service in March, 1970, I felt like I was getting out of prison and had received a reprieve from the governor for good behavior. So I'm by nature no big fan of military service.

      By the way, his suicide wasn't an act of power. It was a bizarre cry for help. And the only hero I ever met in Vietnam was a fictional character named Captain Yorsarrian when I read Joseph Heller's Catch-22 during my tour of duty. He really knew the score when it comes to war: everyone is trying their best to get you killed starting with your commanding officers.

    • George Hoffman 04/03/2014 at 2:14 pm

      I served as a medical corpsman in Vietnam ( 31 May 1967 - 31 May 1968 ) and have PTSD from all the horrific things I saw during my tour of duty. But fortunately in my late fifties, I gave up realizing I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown and finally sought help at a local VA clinic for my PTSD.

      That was just one of the reasons I was opposed to the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq. All wars have unforeseen consequences even what is called our last supposedly "good war," the Second World War. I bracketed that Orwellian phrase, good war, in quotation marks, because there are no good wars. There are only necessary wars based upon a real and legitimate threat to our national security.

      That was just one of the reasons I opposed former President George W. Bush's resolution for the illegal invasion and occupation in Iraq. But this is beyond partisan politics or ideology. Yet even prominent Vietnam veterans such as John Kerry, Chuck Hagel and John McCain in the Senate and Colin Powell in George W. Bush's administration supported this war, which to this day I find amazing. I often wonder how they can live with themselves or even look at themselves in the bathroom mirror. In the morning. All Vietnam veterans have a special obligation to speak out against these wars of choice.

      And I also reject all this mud-slinging about who is or isn't a chicken hawk or a neocon hawk or a liberal hawk or who had other priorities to avoid military service during our last national draft. or the cultural divide among boomers who went away or those who stayed behind during the Vietnam War. There was simply no reason to go to war in Iraq.

      I know this may seem strange to state but soldiers are victims of war just as much as the innocent civilians caught in the crossfire. This latest massacre was a cry for help by this mentally ill young man who committed these crimes. And the VA hospitals and clinics are clearly overwhelmed tryin to help younger veterans from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and also dealing with all the aging boomers such as myself from the Vietnam Wars.

  • Crimea Vote provokes fear of Domino Effect in Eurasia: Turkish FM
    • Give me a break, Ahmet. Please cut me some slack. Invoking the old "domino theory" in foreign policy again? After the Vietnam War? Have you been talking to neocon and liberal hawks here? They are using a similar political ploy trying to breathe life into the ghost of the Cold War. It's back to the future in international affairs I guess. Michael J. Fox will hopefully star as the president in this sequel. Now if Hollywood producers could just find a DeLorean in mint condition for him to tool around inside the beltway bubble. Make the terrorists Kurds. It would do big box office as a political satire on current events. Ahmet, I think what you really need a good therapist as an adviser on your foreign policy team.

  • Four Reasons Syria Refugees are a Bigger Story than Malaysian Air MH 370
    • Unfortunately, Professor Cole, even though I agree with you, the raison d'etre of television is only to make profits for the corporations that own them. A TV news editor has little choice over what constitutes the "news." They're just hired gun so to speak. And as A.J. Leibling, a famous alumni and writer from the old days at The New Yorker, cynically observed: freedom of the press belongs to the guy who owes the press. If an editor would show some moral fortitude and actually balk to the corporate suits in the offices above the newsroom about all this sensationalism being pandered to viewers about this hijacking, he would probably be told to clear out his desk, allowed one hour to accomplish that task while security guards hovered near him and advised by them not to let the revolving door hit his backside as he exited the building. And given that the 9/11 attacks were also the result of hijackings, news channels will be pushing the fear button on their viewers for quite a long time with this story. And the more viewers watching their broadcasts, the higher will be the advertising rates these corporations can charge. Capitalism reins supreme in our country. Imagine that. ( "I'm shocked, shocked there's gambling at Rick's Cafe.")
      A common trope in the MSM has been stating how war-weary Americans have become. Even the MSM eventually catches on to the obvious in our country. Americans could care less about or even identify with the tragedy of being a Syrian war refugee. It's just so far from their everyday world and consciousness. Even in the best of times. Americans are quite myopic about the world beyond their shores - despite all this chatter about the Internet making the world a global village - and really have such a short attention span when it comes to what constitutes news. The news travels through those fiber optics at the speed of light. But it also disappears just as quickly.
      It's just the way things are here in America and generally in what academic call the postmodern condition..
      So profits trump an informed public. That's unless you're an afficionado of warching PBS when it comes to getting your news.. And that cherished notion about the marketplace of ideas necessary for an informed public and electorate? Well. it has been just another marketplace for corporate profits for quite a long time.. Or a propaganda tool that would probably make Goebbels salivate if he were still alive today.. Look at how slickly the neocons sold the Big Con to the marks about invading Iraq because it has weapons of mass destruction.

  • When it is Feinstein being Spied on, Suddenly she Squawks
    • Feinstein has always been a hawk when it comes to the war on terror and an apologist when it comes to the abuse of power committed by intelligence agencies. Bur rather engage in a mutual love fest of unbridled schadenfreude here, which I've had a hard time trying to avoid, maybe she will finally provide the leadership needed in the Senate to reform rogue intelligence agencies and institute the necessary oversight with them. Now I'm not expecting the reincarnation of Sen. Frank Church. But even a modicum of reform would get the ball rolling in the Senate and back on track given how supine and passive the Senate has been in the past. But I must admit I got a real charge out of her display of moral outrage when she found out her civil liberties and those on her staff were being violated by the CIA. Now if she cans just get over it and move on to address the issue of how all of our civil liberties were violated. And Edward Snowden has once again been vindicated by leaking the illegal activities at the NSA. He deserves a Congressional Medal of Honor for public service to our country rather than being considered a traitor by President Obama and supposedly liberal journalists in the MSM such as Jeffrey Toobin, who writes a column on constitutional issues at The New Yorker.

  • Can the Neoconservatives make a comeback via the Ukraine Crisis?
    • George Hoffman 03/09/2014 at 9:50 am

      The neocons are beating a dead horse when it comes to the crisis in the Ukraine. The average American voter has had it with any kind of intervention, diplomatic or military, overseas. The marks were conned mercilessly to support two military misadventures in Afghanistan and Iraq by the neocon and liberal war hawks inside the beltway bubble and in the MSM. But even the marks have finally woken up to the big con. Issues in foreign affairs are way down on their list of concerns in the upcoming mid-term elections except for the usual couch-potato Rambos, that is, fellow citizens who love war yet always avoid fighting in them. But what else is new?

  • Will Russell Crowe as Noah help Egypt Separate Religion and State?
    • George Hoffman 03/09/2014 at 4:47 pm

      I've never been a big fan of these religions who have bellicose sky gods and the usual fanatics on earth who worship wars against infidels, namely, all us poor mortals who are just trying to get on with our lives; and that includes not only Islam, Judaism and Christianity but also all those classic Greek and Roman gods who are used by the ruling elites to justify killing fellow human beings for imperial gain and plunder. I rejected my Roman Catholic faith way back when I returned to the world from my tour of duty in Vietnam and I've never gone to church since then. I already knew by then I was just another working class, blue-collar stiff, basically a garden-variety, passive-aggressive hypocrite, when it comes to any sense of morality. I enlisted in the Air Force because so many of my high school friends got drafted into the infantry and were used as cannon fodder and came back in coffins. But why should I attend the weekly meetings on Sundays and pay dues to be a member of the club? So a Biblical plague of locusts on all their houses.
      What really upsets me about this news item is, What the hell has happened to the film career of Darren Aronofski? He's made some really interesting and quirky independent films. He could have been a genuine film auteur. But a commercial biopic about Noah starring Russell Crow? Give me a break. I saw the trailer for this movie on YouTube. It seems rather mediocre even when judged against the commercial crap Hollywood puts out for consumption like so many tubes of toothpaste. That's what really upsets: another promising film auteur has sold his soul to Tinseltown to make big bucks. Oh well, everyone can't be like Martin Scorsese has been in their film careers.

  • Bill O'Reilly says Muslims will Diss Hillary; but 8 Muslim Countries Chose Female Leaders
    • My problem with Hillary Clinton has nothing to do with her gender. I'm disappointed she voted for the Boy Emperor's resolution for the Iraq War. But being a Vietnam veteran, I'm just as taken back that fellow Vietnam veterans such as John Kerry, Chuck Hagel and John McCain also voted for Junior's illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq in the Senate. The historical analogies to LBJ's specious Gulf of Tonkin resolution were quite striking, at least to me, and they should have known better.

  • Ukraine Crisis Shows Urgency of Green Energy: Russian Nat'l Gas Blackmail
    • I'lll say one thing, the GOP didn't waste any time in exploiting this crisis for propaganda purposes to score some points in the upcoming mid-term elections against the Democrats. But I doubt average voters really care that much one way or the other about this issue. They've simply had it with war. Period.
      And this military drawdown, which Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is proposing, always happens after a big war winds down just as it did starting in the early 1970s when we were bringing back all the troops from Vietnam . It's just a standard operating procedure to save some money at the DoD.
      What I find absurdly funny is that the GOP is accusing Obama of losing the Ukraine as it did against Harry Truman who was also criticized by the Republicans for losing China to the communists.
      The more things change, the more things remain the same.

  • Kerry on Invading other Countries on a Trumped Up Pretext (Editorial Cartoon)
    • Even though I'm a fellow Vietnam veteran, Kerry has been an embarrassing disappointment when he voted for Junior the Boy Emperor's resolution to illegally invade and occupy Iraq. It eerily reminded me of LBJ's specious Gulf of Tonkin resolution to escalate the American involvement into the Vietnamese civil war for national liberation. And Kerry's been completely out of his depths as Secretary of State.

  • What today's GOP gets Wrong about Leadership: Obama & Eisenhower, Russian & Israeli Recklessness
    • Having served in Vietnam, I abhor this antiquated, liberal belief in nation building whether the specific country is Afghanistan, Iraq or now the Ukraine.

      Obama is shooting blanks, and Putin knows it. But George W. Bush was also shooting blanks, and Putin also knew it. It just simply amazes me that after the foreign policy debacle during the Vietnam War prosecuted by JFK, LBJ and Richard Nixon, we committed the same mistakes in the long war on terror as we did during that war.

      So my observations and opinions, cynical as they may be, are beyond partisan politics. But as the late Gore Vidal loved to observe in his essays and interviews, we live in the United States of Amnesia.

      Putin appears to be well on his way in scoring another PR victory as he did when he played his cards so astutely against Kerry and Obama in averting an intervention in the Syrian civil war. They came off as rank amateurs. And I voted for Obama, being a liberal in my politics, so I'm not one of these crazy neocon trolls Professor Cole inveighed against in one of his previous essay awhile back.

      Putin is a pragmatic nationalist from the realpolitik school of thought, clearly amoral and cold-blooded, when it comes to the game of exercising power in international affairs. He chooses his battles carefully, and he has an intuitive, uncanny sense to smell weakness in his prey as all first-class predators do on the world stage we call foreign affairs. And again we underestimated him. Is that his fault? I don't think so.

  • A New Crimean War? (Update: Stuff's Getting Real)
    • Really great comment, Bill. As a Vietnam veteran, I find both John Kerry and John McCain pathetically disappointing having forgotten or perhaps never having learned the painful lessons I experienced as a medical corpsman in Vietnam.

  • Top 10 Reasons Rand Paul's Lewinsky Gambit Can't Obscure GOP War on Women
    • I'm a Vietnam veteran. But I voted for Bill Clinton as president and rejected the GOP mud-slinging against him as a "draft dodger." It was the usual red herring. And he turned out to be a pretty good president when one considers the onslaught of an obstructionist Congress.
      I always thought the Monica Lewinsky affair was a tempest in a teapot. His impeachment trail was the theater of the absurd. A constitutional crisis over a blotched blowjob? Please, give me a break. That was between Hill and Bill. It was their marriage. And Newt Gingrich, who led the attack against Clinton, was at the time cheating on his second wife and also having an affair with a woman who would become his third wife.
      This attempt by Sen. Rand to bring back the Lewinsky scandal will have no effect whatsoever on Hillary Clinton's run for the presidency. My bone of contention with her is she voted for Junior's resolution to go to war with Iraq. She should have known better. And I think she did know better. She caved into political expediency. I just don't trust her as a leader who would be forced to make tough decisions on national security issues in the Oval Office.

  • A $9 Trillion War? Top 10 Reasons Americans will Regret it if GOP Derails Iran Negotiations
    • Professor Cole, I really hate to sound like a broken record ( that simile really dates me ), but after having served in Vietnam I knew the war in Iraq would be another foreign policy debacle. What astounds me though is that the war hawks were as clueless as they were. Ant that includes all the Vietnam veterans serving in Congress at the time when they voted for Bush's resolution And by the way, Professor, thanks for labeling the drum beaters in one of your sentences in parenthesis as war criminals. That's telling it like it is. So it really doesn't surprise me now the hawks are again beating their little tin drums for a war with Iran by sabotaging the negotiations with Iran in Geneva. They never learn. They never will. ( Why did I learn? Well, serving as a medical corpsman was a painful experience. But I digress as usual. ) They are as rigid in their ideology as the advisers, those New Frontiersmen from JFK's administration who decided to stay on after his death and serve under LBJ, were about the Cold War and saw Vietnam as a proxy war with the old Soviet Union and what used to be called "Red"China. ( And if you surf over to the website for Foreign Affairs, it has a promotional ad that offers you a free copy of Samuel Huntington's The Clash of Civilizations with a paid, one-year subscription. They never learned either.) Critics loved to make fun of President George W. Bush when he infamously said, "I don't do nuisance." But he's really quite representative how many of our elected officials and fellow citizens view the war on terror as just another Cold War. Of course, even the average American is now so disgusted and gun-shy when it comes to another war that the hawks are all on their own inside the beltway bubble about the issues you raised in your list. And ever since the U.S. has had a volunteer armed forces there was been a dramatic cultural disconnect between the leaders who want war and those who actually have to fight in the war. And then we have all the average citizens in the middle who have given up on the democratic process and are just fighting their economic war after the 2008 meltdown. So it's really a battle between the political and ideological elites.

  • "The Iranians are Coming!" Derangement Syndrome over 1 Destroyer in Atlantic
    • George Hoffman 02/09/2014 at 4:20 pm

      Yeah, it's definitely a bizarre story. But watch it with the yucks, Professor Cole. The war hawks have been handed a perfect scenario to re-enact the Gulf of Tonkin incident on the high seas of the Atlantic. It's too bad Peter Sellers and Stanley Kubrick have passed away. This is right up their alley as an absurd satire. Sellers could have played multiple roles.as he performed so brilliantly in Dr. Strangelove.
      But seriously, it's the MSM acting as the court stenographer for the powers-that-be inside the bowels of the military.industrial complex and the halls of Congress. Sen. John McCain now must give his standard stump speech and beat his little tin drum for war on the floor of the Senate. After all, he has recently been labeled as a "liberal" by some GOP operatives back in Arizona.. That is just as bizarre as this story you highlighted on your blog.

  • McKibben: Crunch Time for Obama on Keystone XL
    • I think President Obama will probably approve the Keystone XL pipeline maybe toward the end of his second term. He wants to wait because he knows that he will be excoriated by the protesters. And that white paper recently issued from the state department cited there would be no catastrophic danger to the environment. But the environmentalists have been rather naive when it comes to how politics work in the halls of Congress and in the Oval Office.

  • Turkey's Ruling Party enacts "Orwellian" Web Censorship
    • Well, I would have to say the EU made a correct decision when it tabled the motion that would have allowed Turkey to join them as member nation after reading this article. But I must admit this Erdogan character is a very wily and cunning politician. Even though he has demonstrated again and again just how authoritarian he can be when it comes to wielding political power.

  • Congress to CIA: Provide US Drone Victim Count
    • The long war on terror is, for all practical purposes, over and done. We are in the end-game phrase of the war. But The drone war was a military tactic, ill-conceived and poorly prosecuted, that only enraged Muslims because of collateral damage to innocent civilians. Just as in the Vietnam War, we have once again in strategic terms lost their hearts and minds. So this latest news item is more window dressing, a cynical yet slick and savvy government disinformation campaign, to gloss over what a foreign policy debacle we have caused when we rushed off to war after the 9/11 attacks.
      But former President George W. Bush set the tone for the prosecution of this war. A reporter asked him why he only saw things in black and white, them against us, the evil doers against lily white Americans, etc. Wasn't this war really more nuanced? the reporter then asked him. "I don't do nuance," he replied.
      And President Barack Obama must be cited for equal blame. He choose to give into political expediency and ratcheted up his drone war. I understand why he did it. It avoided that tragic spectacle of all those flag-draped coffins being unloaded off the back ramp of a cargo plane in the middle of the night in a hangar at Dover Air Base in Delaware.
      That says a great deal about the war on terror right there, doesn't it?
      He knew how war weary the nation was even before American voiced their opposition to an intervention in the Syrian civil war. So there just may be something to Seymour Hersh's recent article in the London Review of Books that the real reason Obama backed off so quickly from his plan for an intervention in Syria wasn't the opinion polls but how the intelligence agencies were cherry-picking the data on who exactly was responsible for that sarin attack against civilians. Hersh thinks Obama wised up and realized he was being played by them.
      I know Professor Cole has written already and believed the chances of the rebel forces being culprits has around a ten percentage chance of being correct. But Hersh brought the My Lai massacre to the American public during the Vietnam War. So he may be on to something. I think both the rebel forces and al Assad have committed war crimes using sarin gas on civilians. But I have no real proof to back up my contention. It's more of a gut feeling.
      What I do find interesting is that both The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books rejected Hersh's article and he had to shop it around until the LBR decided to publish it, which was a gutsy editorial decision. But the LRB, based in England and a genuine leftist journal, isn't beholden to the war hawk lobby as most of the supposedly liberal magazines are in this country. That's why I think these designations such as conservative and liberal, has lost their meaning. By the way, The New Yorker for the first time in its history published an editorial for Bush's resolution to go to war in Iraq. And there was a spate of op-ed blogs and articles over the last several months in the NYRB that clearly were editorializing for an intervention in the Syrian civil war. So if these journals are genuinely "liberal" magazines, I'm really Muhammad Ali in an incognito mode on my iPad as I surf the Internet and post my comments online.

  • Broken Democracy: Republicans poised to take Senate, Americans Reject their Platform
    • George Hoffman 02/05/2014 at 7:13 am

      Broken Democracy? The late George Carlin cynically observed in one of his comedy routines that Americans really have only two choices to consider as options in their daily lives, Do they want paper or plastic when their food items are being bagged at the check-out line in the local grocery store? The only time average Americans really are part of the political process is when their sons and daughters are being conned into joining the armed forces and becoming cannon folder for the elites to prosecute their next meaningless war overseas for the military/industrial complex. The elites in both parties don't send their sons and daughters to Afghanistan and Iraq. They send them to Princeton, Harvard or Yale. And after the debacles in Afghanistan and Iraq, the country may just have to bring back the draft. Even average Americans have finally wised up to how they've been conned in their overwhelming opposition to an intervention in the Syrian civil war. My generation of baby boomers have really screwed the country up, which is highly ironic, given they were the generation that came of age during the Vietnam War and protested against it. But now they've become just as corrupted and shamelessly expedient as the fearless leaders in Washington D.C. that had no moral qualms about marching us into the quagmire of Vietnam. Just look at Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Chuck Hagel or even John McCain, though he's a bit too old to be considered a boomer. They all voted for the resolution to go to war in Iraq. They're no better than George W. Bush or Dick Cheney. I wonder from time to time, How can they look at themselves in the mirror in the bathroom when they get up in the morning? They have so much blood on their hands. So at least from my disheartened perspective as a Vietnam veteran, the political process has definitely crossed over the red line - of course not to be confused with Barry's or Bibi's red line.

  • Billionaire Victimology is the Worst
    • Well, I guess one could characterize Tom Perkins' rant as "tasteless" and "narcissistic." But being a sucker for cheap entertainment, I got a real change out of his routine of the billionaire as victim.
      Perhaps, he should form his own recovery group, BA, Billionaires Anonymous.
      Step One: We admitted we were powerless over all the poor workers in America wanting a fair share in the profits of our economy.
      Of course, I'm being facetious about him. But it's rather odd yet interesting that despite all his wealth, fame and power he was acting just a regular tea bagger without ant money.

  • Islamic State of Iraq & Levant too Extreme for al-Qaeda (Not the Onion)
    • Yeah, thanks for the reply. I served as a medical corpsman at the 12th USAF Hospital at Cam Ranh Bay and worked as an orderly on the orthopedic ward. My tour of duty was from 31 May 1967 to 31 May 1967. It could get pretty bad on the ward, because it specialized in grunt who had fractures from mostly the flying shrapnel. That's why I refer to war as a beast. It describes it graphically enough without being too blunt. We also got guys, who unfortunately would have to have an amputations, or even worse became paraplegics. But it was mostly your usual minor gunshot or shrapnel wounds.
      But what was unusual was the fact that we got a lot of grunts from up north in Eye Corps, mostly Marine grunts. There were flights, I think,, from Danang down to us. So we got casualties from the Siege at Con Thien, the battle at DakTo, and in Tet from Phu Bai, Dong Ha, Camp Carroll, and of course, the Siege at Hue. And I also was a litter bearer when the dustoff helicopters would fly in casualties from battles near the base, who were usuallSouth Korean ROK Marines, White House Division, that guarded out base.
      So even though I was in the rear with the gear I saw the human face of war on the wounded grunts and also the wounded Vietnamese civilians. We even got a couple of wounded VC guerrillas, which really pissed off the grunts. But who could blame them? I'm sure you know what I mean.
      We did got rocketed and mortared a couple of times in Tet, but like I say Cam Ranh Bay was almost liken State side duty. By that time I was so deeply disillusioned I viewed all the casualties on the ward as just victims, even those poor scared VC guerrillas. It really took the wind out of my sails, and to this day I don't trust the brass or the suits in Washington D.C.
      Like you did, I volunteered and specifically got the MOS I wanted and went to medical corpsman school after basic training. I almost volunteered to enlist in the Navy. I dodged a bullet by going into the Air Force instead. Then when I got to Vietnam, I was really shocked at all the wounded Navy corpsmen that came through the hospital. I didn't know Navy corpsman went with the Marines out on patrol in the boonies. So like I said I was about as clueless as the proverbial village idiot.
      For better or worse, Vietnam remains the defining experience of my life. It's the prism through which I view the world around me. So I was experiencing déjà vu when the country went off to two wars after the 9/11 attacks. I think you get my drift. I'm even shaking my head from side to side (lol) as I write these sentences.
      It's so sad what has happened to this country. It's really worthy of a Greek tragedy where the sins of the father are visited onto the sons. It breaks my heart just thinking about all those young and women who have done multiple tours of duty, three, four times, in Afghanistan and in Iraq., I mean that guy who President Obama honored at his State of the Union got wounded by an IED on his 10th tour of duty! Unbelievable.
      I only have a mild case of PTSD. But I did finally get a modest disability from the VA in September, 2010, because my type of heart disease was linked to my exposure to Agent Orange. I've had two minor heart attacks, but I really feel blessed when I go to the local VA clinic and see how badly other guys have who were also exposed To Agent Orange. Or they were wounded in Vietnam by shrapnel or a round. So I'm basically a happy camper though I'm also a confirmed cynic when it comes to the brass and the suits.
      I agree with you about there aren't any winners in war expect the brass and the professional politicians and the military contractors who are making a ton of money off this so-called long war on terror.
      Take care of yourself. It meant a great deal to me that you decided to write me. You've really made my day. Honestly, I really mean that. Later, Brother.

    • George Hoffman 02/05/2014 at 1:28 pm

      To be diplomatic, you are entitled to your own opinion in this topic. But I served as a medical corpsman in Vietnam. So I saw this war movie before, and I didn't like the plot the first time around. All I learned in Vietnam was never trust the brass and even more so the suits thar sent us there. As far as the morality of going to war, I get the impression that you've been a civilian all your life. Only a civilian would search the literature on war to find some moral principle to kill a fellow human being. That's the first illusion I discarded when i saw severely wounded grunts.
      There is no morality in war. It's just a beast with an insatiable appetite for human flesh. And it never gets tired. And it's always on the prowl growling for some fresh game.
      I have nothing against the generals you mentioned in your post, other that the fact that they're just brass.
      And I've already told you how I felt about the brass. They're like CEOs in a corporation, and they're only punching their ticket for the next promotion in their career. Only the geography changes: Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc. And they had an adage in Vietnam: "F**k up and move up." It's not exactly something you would find reading Von Clausewitz's "On War." But even he was a failure in war just as Thucydides was. But both were great writers. Unfortunately, book-learning just doesn't hack it when it comes to winning wars. It's the romantic psychopaths like Patton who do win battles. But that unique generation of military commanders, they're are all gone and faded into the mist of history.
      I'm just blessed that all my appendages are attached to my torso, if you get my drift, and I live in the Midwest not the Mideast. Take care. And pray for peace in between reading those books on warfare. OK?
      .

    • Interesting post, Mark, so thanks. But in war the big fish always eat the little fish. That's just the nature of war.
      And, ironically, we can also thank all the neocon and liberal war hawks, who voted for Bush's resolution to go to in Iraq. As you pointed out many of these hardcore jihadists got their on-the-job training fighting in Iraq. On-the-job training always beats book-learning.
      So they're skilled and savvy practitioners of the tactics one employs in urban guerrilla warfare,. That had to be one of the decisive factors in them defeating PM al Maliki's government troops in Fallujah. Maliki'soldiers seem to be only hanging around for a steady paycheck.

    • But the ISIS scored a very important and decisive victory against PM al Maliki's troops in Fallujah. I read an article recently in The Washington Post where a news reporter surveyed the reactions of former American grunts who fought during the second battle for Fallujah in November-December of 2004 and finally regaining control of the city in early 2005. One of the grunts, a former army captain, rhetorically asked if the black flag of Al Qaeda flying in Fallujah doesn't harken back to when Saigon fell to the NVA in April of 1975. Well, I would compare the fall of Fallujah more to if the NVA had actually won the battle at Hue during the Tet Offensive of 1968. But we were both in the same ballpark. Of course, all that Professor Cole wrote in his post about the brutal nature of the ISIS and the hypocrisy of Al Qaeda is, as he usually is with his astute analysis, right on the money. But that's just the nature of the beast called war and the players acting out in this grand and tragic narrative. But I agree with that former infantry captain in the news article, we seem to be approaching a watershed moment in Iraq. PM al Maliki has definitely better get his act together. Now he's throwing money once again to the Sunni tribal leaders to fight against the ISIS jihadist in Anbar province, and he got Kerry to send him Hellfire missiles and a small fleet of unarmed drone missiles. Now if he could only get his troops to march toward the enemy rather than beat a hasty retreat out of the city limits of Fallujah, he just might have a chance to stay the PM. Boots on the ground win or lost wars. And the ISIS jihadists are definitely hardcore to the nth degree even if they are also brutal killers and take no prisoners. They remind me of the NVA soldiers in Vietnam if you substitute their religious fanaticism for the NVA's doctrine communist ideology in their war of liberation against Western imperialism. And they could care less what the old hardine leaders of al Qaeda think, who are probably jealous of their success more than anything else. We live in interesting times.

  • The Cheapening of American Politics: Why did Obama reward O'Reilly with an Interview?
    • George Hoffman 02/04/2014 at 1:38 am

      This commenter reminds me of all those tea baggers that said President al Assad got his chemical weapons from Saddam Hussein, who shipped them to Syria just before the invasion of Iraq to avoid detection.

  • Christie, Clapper and other Officials who should be in Jail instead of Snowden
    • "We are back to a system of aristocratic privilege."
      Actually the riff-raffmof the usual suspects to which Professor Cole alluded to in his prep walk give even the narcissistic aristocracy a bad rap.
      You could find more decent and humane citizens in a homeless shelter.
      But the president, the commander-in-chief, sets the tone for the executive branch. So I think the professor is letting my main man Barry off with a mild slap on on the wrist.
      Obama is just another imperial president during wars - Afghanistan, Iraq and his drone wars - which had already gone south during the previous administration of former President George W. Bush.
      The long war on terror even after only a decade will probably be viewed by historians as the worst foreign policy debacle since the era of the Vietnam War, which undoubtedly as the dearly departed Saddam Hussein would say is "the mother of all foreign policy debacles."
      So America continues its decline as a nation and a moral compass for the world since the sad denouncement when Saigon fell to the NVA on April 30, 1975.
      That's really when our country crossed its constitutional Rubicon In the Mekong Delta. And it is still deeply lost in the triple-canopy of its grand delusions.
      As the wounded grunts used to say on the ward where I served as a medical corpsman, when you get eight miles into the jungle and finally realize what a terrible mistake you've made, it's still eight miles you have to march back through to get out. So it looks rather grim and disheartening to say the least how far the country has drifted when our fearless leaders in both parties really thought we could somehow remain a republic when we became a military empire. There seems to be little prospect for optimism where all this will eventually end given how the war hawks are still beating their little tin drums for a war with Iran.

  • US Scam: Give the Rich Money & and they might Make us Slightly Less Poor (David "The Wire" Simon)
    • But the systematic and persistent hollowing out of good-paying jobs for the working class has been going on since the early nineties in this country. I lived in Lakewood, Ohio, during this time and I still remember how many jobs - in the hundreds of thousands - we're lost in the Greater Cleveland Metro Area anD shipped overseas. So I'm completely underwhelmed by all this sudden "strum und drang" going on right now. The handwriting was on the wall even back then.

  • American Public Pushes back against AIPAC Senators seeking Iran Conflict
    • These war hawks, and I mean in both the Democratic and Republican parties, are a mirror reflection of the ideologues among the New Frontiersmen, the can-do intellectuals that thought debating the Cold War was rather an effete exercise, who stayed on in LBJ's administration after JFK's assassination and prosecuted the war in Vietnam as a proxy war between western democracy and the heathen communist in the old Soviet Union and Red China. What's all this parsing among the academics and intellectuals on the college campuses and viewing the war in Vietnam as a "civil war."
      As former President George W. Bush once replied why he sees the world in black and white without nuisance in an interview after his famous or infamous "Axis of Evil" State of the Union speech before Congress, he said he "doesn't do nuisance."
      Well, they also don't do nuisance. And this is despite the fact that we have had two wars after the 9/11 attacks that seem even only after one decade to be foreign policy debacles like the Vietnam War was. Now these wars no where near match the ferocity, magnitude and scope of the destruction and human carnage we inflicted on the Vietnamese, the Cambodians and the Laotians.
      But to engage in nuisance, of any kind just as in the era of the Vietnam War, is a defeatist attitude. A potential war in Iran if they walk away from the negotiating table, well just open your eye for once, is just part of the overall long war on terrorism as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were.
      There no parsing of words here. You want to parse words? Well, go back to college. That's where you belong.

  • The Ruling that Endangers the Internet as we Know It
    • George Hoffman 01/15/2014 at 7:53 am

      I agree. If you control the information highway, you control the traffic. And the corporations in their infinite kindness, wisdom and sense of public service want to volunteer to be the cops. Isn't that big of them?
      Of course, forget even about having a free exchange of ideas about politics as we have here. It would be a homogenized, white-bread world of Ozzie-and-Harriet Land, which I never really understood as a kid, growing up with a dysfunctional family of immigrants that spoke Croatian around the dinner table where they pounded on the table and argued politics with each other. I wasn't surprised when Yugoslavia broke apart In the 1990s. Or if you're too young for that reference, how about that satirical film, Pleasantville? It's a retro Fifties burg where all the citizens and the landscape is in black and white. It's America on Prozac and Zoloft. I'd rather just go shopping at the local Target store if I want to go on a nostalgia trip in my old age.
      And these corporations in the media industry, especially those like Murdoch's Fox News, hate blogs and websites that lean to the left of the political spectrum. They prefer their kind of shows which remind me of that scene in George Orwell's 1984 where the workers at the propaganda ministry would scream and shout at the screen. Wasn't that the Hate Minute?
      But it seems like with this ruling against the FCC, this federal panel wants to give the robber barons permission to break in through the back door and take away the modicum of freedom we have on the Internet. Theywill pick up the slack from NSA where it comes to invading our privacy.
      This country has titled so far to the right since I grew up in the Sixties. With each new and improved war of choice that is being sold to the American people, the country just keeps on titling a little more to the right.
      The Internet is a great forum for grass roots politics. And I even love how zany and whacky some of the websites can be. You really don't need a ton of money like the Koch brothers have. And the way they feel about environmentalists, given their business interests, they are probably ecstatic about the prospects of a coup d'état in cyberspace.
      Deep Throat of Watergate fame knew really politics in this country. Just follow the money.

  • False Nostalgia: The Original Fallujah Campaign Destabilized Iraq
    • George Hoffman 01/14/2014 at 6:50 pm

      Opps. Sorry about that last post, please just disregard it. I agree with Professor Cole. The Spin Doctors are working overtime on the Fall of Fallujah. But that also happened in Vietnam too. Everyone and their grandmother got into the usual manipulation to make their point about the war. That's just what happens when wars, both Vietnam and Iraq, are heading toward their third act in this farce. There was an article in the WashPo where a reporter got the reactions from a group of grunt that fought there in November and December of 2004. A former infantry captain compared it to the fall of Saigon. But it reminds me more of the battle for Hue in the Tet offensive of 1968. But the handwriting is on the wall. We are approaching the end game. And the people who supported,this war are getting rather antsy. There was an op-ed also in th

  • Did Ariel Sharon get a pass on War Crimes because he was White?
    • Professor Cole is engaging in political correctness asserting that a white dude automatically gets a free Get Out Of Jail card when he plays Monopoly. Commentators have of course mentioned the usual suspects, such as Ratko Mladic and Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia, as prime candidates for the nasty white dude award of the year. But that's rather pedestrian. We have so many home grown criminals right here that exceeds their war crimes. How about LBJ, Tricky Dick or Robert McNamara when it comes to the Vietnam War? Or for that matter even JFK, our fallen King of Camelot? He signed an executive order on November 21, 1961, National Security Action Memorandum #111. It authorized the use of napalm and Agent Orange in The Republic of South Vietnam. And how about the war crimes President Barack Obama has committed in office with his illegal drone wars in Pakistan, Yemen, Somali, etc,? He has violated the national sovereignty of more nations than Dick Tricky even ever fantasized about in his wildest alcoholic stupors?And there's
      Nixon's partner in crime and main bro,' Henry the K, who was able to leap tall international covenants in a single bound. He got the Nobel Prize for Peace! Though his co-recipient, Le Duc Tho of North Vietnam, had the honesty to refuse the award. And after the Second World War when the U.S. and our allies tried Nazis as war criminals, they still gave themselves free Get Out Of Jail card when it came to the allied bombing with white phosphorus ordnance they dropped over Germany and Japan. These campaigns killed many more civilians than even the atomic bombs did on Hiroshima and Nagasaki including the survivors who died of radiation poisoning. Yet we still used willy peter rounds in the Siege of Fallujah when American and British troops finally recaptured the city in November and December of 2004. No, professor, Ariel Sharon is a definitely a real slacker when it comes to our own war criminals inside the beltway bubble. We grow them faster than a gardener does orchids in a hothouse. The ugly truth is the victor dictates what is a war crime is to the vanquished. General Curtis LeMay made that observation to a young officer working under him, Colonel Robert McNamara,. Curtis said that if the Japanese somehow could have won the war, he would be hanging from a noose instead of Tojo. And in Vietnam as a medical corpsman, I did dressing changes on a few, I emphasize that adjective "few," wounded grunts who had obviously committed war crimes when they opened up to me and casually talked about what they did to the "gooks." There's really no morality in this world. It's just another big con for the marks.

  • Top 5 US Government Decisions that put Troops more at Risk than Snowden Did
    • America crossed its Rubicon in the Mekong Delta over four decades ago. We had a slim chance during the 1970s to take back our government and our civil liberties. Sen. Frank Church made a valiant effort, bless his soul, when he chaired his Senate committee hearing that investigated abuses by the CIA and the FBI. That unique historical moment has passed and faded into the mists of history. So Snowden's revelations about spooks at the NSA spying on us and the world was bound to happen in the future. Our fearless leaders inside the beltway bubble had to wait for the high tech revolution with smart cell phones and super fast computers to kick in during this age of the Internet, and of course the revolution in robotic warfare that brought about our current fleet of 7,000 drones for these air strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, etc..Then like manna from heaven - Hallelujah! Oh Happy Day! Mein Furher, I can valk!- came the 9/11 attacks. Out flew paranoia, xenophobia, war hysteria, etc. They have been exploiting these demons in their propaganda campaign since then for their long war on terror. Whatever that is. Professor Marshall McLuhan was this leftist guru from the ivy halls of academia. And he predicted way back in the good old hippy dippy days of the Sixties, when a lid was really a lid, we would all be living in a global village. But he unfortunately had a serious flaw in his character. Besides being a professor. Just kidding, Professor Cole. He never realized how dark the human heart really is. Nor how corrupt and depraved our politicians really are with their craving for absolute power.And his global village has turned into their global panopticon. Now William Burroughs, gentleman junkie and famous author of Naked Lunch, observed right about the same time McLuhan became a celebrity, that in a true police state citizens never really see the police who are spying on them. He understood power is the ultimate addiction. Well of course, he would? Wouldn't he? He was a junkie all his life. So I tend to lean more toward his dystopian school of thought. Snowden really scares the living hell out of these politicians, because they are definitely hooked on power. And the prospect, though even as slim as it may seem to be, there might be a legal reformation of their abuses to our civil liberties must conjure up nightmares of withdrawal and detox. What a trippy scene that would be! I csn then now.They would be jonesing in the streets, frothing at their mouths, shaking with wild abandon, speaking in tongues and babbling about the apocalypse like evangelicals do at those big-tent revival meeting. I'm getting carried away with my fantasy. And I'm looking around my computer desk right now for my nitroglycerin tablets. Please excuse me. I'd better leave.

  • Gatesgate: Why Obama was right to Distrust his Generals on Afghanistan
    • I served as a medical corpsman in Vietnam, and though I was only a non-combatant, I have to agree with Bill Bodden's reply to you. Powell did a great disservice to his historical legacy and his country when he performed his "good soldier" routine at the U.N. Security Council and testified that Saddam Hussein actually had WMDs. He has learned little from his days as an army infantry officer sending young men and women into combat in Iraq. And having seen the human face of war in wounded grunts at the base hospital during my tour of duty, I wonder how he can live with himself. Iraq presented no real threat to our nations security. It was a war of choice rather than necessity just as the war in Vietnam was.

    • George Hoffman 01/10/2014 at 4:19 pm

      President Obama has avoided - at least so far and honestly I have my fingers crossed here for my main man Barry - the disastrous policy decisions made by the last liberal president from the Democratic party who sat in the oval office. Of course I'm referring here to poor old LBJ. It tarnished his historical legacy and it drove him out of the White House. He died four years later, I think, a sadly broken man.
      General Petraeus is just the warrior as corporate CEO with the gloss finish of a policy wonk on testosterone thrown in for PR value. But he actually showed himself to have a rather pedestrian mindset. He tried to dress up the failed policies, strategies, tactics. etc. we used in the Vietnam War sprinkled with the fairy dust, a heady lexicon of buzz words, to curry favor and impress news reporters. The guy should write for The New Republic.
      I hate to state the obvious here. And I hope nobody thinks I'm talking down to her or him here in the comments section.
      But if I would slap some red lipstick on a pig, then name her Sweet Gertrude, my sexy girlfriend, it would still be a pig.
      I learned during my tour of Vietnam you never trust the brass and even more so the suits back in the world who sent you there. And our fearless military leaders, well, I'm really sad to inform you, that up close and personal, they are as clueless as you are and probably even more scared..
      Sure. you can call "search and destroy" now "take, clear and hold." You can change with a wave of your magic wand "escalation" into "surge." You grab a bull horn and proclaim to one and all "nation building" will now be known as "social engineering."
      But when you come back to reality. you're still stuck with this damn pig you named Sweet Gertrude. It's rather embarrassing, especially, when people start snickering and pointing their fingers at you.
      But Sweet Gertrude? She won't mind one bit. She's only a pig. And actually kind of cute.

  • Top Ten Things Bob Gates was Wrong about, Some Criminal
    • After the Bay of Pigs, JFK stated victory has many fathers but defeat is an orphan. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the drone wars in Pakistan, Yemen, Somali, etc. are all orphans. No elected politician in Congress, the Senate or the White House wants to volunteer, step up and take a paternity test. They're pretty much all deadbeat parents inside the beltway bubble when it comes to these wars..
      That's the prism through which I view this latest crisis du jour when it comes to the radioactive fallout from Robert Gates' memoir. It's just par for the course as it becomes more and more evident what a failure this long war on terror has been. By the way, that includes both administrations since the 9/11 attacks. This is beyond partisan politics.
      And this kind of childish finger pointing happened during and after the presidencies of LBJ and Richard Nixon. But the war in Vietnam holds the grand prize as the mother of all orphans in our nation's history. As the dearly departed Saddam Hussein might say. If he were still alive.
      All major players in this farce will be judged rather unkindly, I think even now, by most historians in the future. But to be honest, you have to realize that I'm just a deeply cynical Vietnam veteran. And I've seen this all before.
      Gates is the first horse from the Obama administration out of the gate galloping toward the finish line. He wants that shiny trophy. It's his historical legacy. But I wouldn't bet the house on that tired old nag if I were you.
      But to be serious for a moment, Is he really a war criminal as Professor Cole somewhat asserts in this essay? Well, Professor, there all pretty much war criminals. And that's really not a moral judgment on my part. It's just a job description one would might on a resume, you know, for the next gig in the military/industrial complex. They're all hired guns for the empire.
      It's like the role Richard Boone used to play as Paladin, an old TV Western i black and white, that I loved to watch as a kid growing up in the late Fifties. Paladin dressed completely in black - a black cowboy outfit with a black hat. Killing a fellow human being is serious business. He looked like an undertaker. On business cards that Paladin handed out to clients was the name of the TV show: "Have Gun - Will Travel."
      Gates is just another hired gun, though a minor one, way down on the career ladder. Actually, I kind of like the guy. He has a really dark sense of humor just like me.

  • Kurds increase their Autonomy amid chaos in Arab Iraq
    • Kurdistan is the only silver lining among the dark clouds gathering on the horizon for the fictitious country known as Iraq. Iraq's clearly devolved into a civil war.
      By the way the ISIS are definitely hardcore, and they are on a roll having decisively beaten and kicked PM Nouri al-Malaki's government troops out of Fallujah. Despite all their military hardware such as abandoning tanks and armored personnel carriers in the battles, Malaki's troops have either lost the will to fight for their own regime. Or they never really had it. Think the ARVN forces of another fictitious country our fearless leaders inside the beltway bubble called The Republic of South Vietnam.
      And Secretary of State John Kerry promising Malaki more war materiel such as Hellfire missiles and drones just won't cut the mustard. Wars are won or lost by boots on the ground. But those boots have to be marching toward the enemy to engage them in combat rather advancing toward the rear out of the city's limits. Being a fellow Vietnam veteran, I wonder what Secretary Kerry really thinks now having been one of the prominent "liberal hawks," who voted for the war in Iraq, as one of the senators from Massachusetts. He's witnessing another foreign policy debacle just as he did when he served in Vietnam and became a virtual rock star of returning veterans against the Vietnam War. (By the way, a recent U.N. Report I read yesterday stated there were 8, 868 Iraqis killed last year in sectarian violence rather than the statistic of 6, 818 reported by Agence-France Presse and cited in this article.)

  • 17% of Americans Support Afghanistan War: CNN (Video of the Day)
    • George Hoffman 01/02/2014 at 2:56 pm

      The Sixties have long been gone, Ann, and branding the young men and women in the volunteer armed forces as "trained killers coming home with no paycheck " does a great disservice to the sacrifices they and their family members have made serving their country. I served as a medical corpsman in Vietnam and saw the human face of war on the wounded grunts and the wounded Vietnamese civilians. War is a tragedy, and the soldiers who fight these wars are just as much victims as the innocent civilians. And we have a volunteer armed forces now,because President Richard Nixon instituted a lottery to replace the draft to defuse the anti-war movement back in the States during the Vietnam War . What is really ironic is that the men and women in Congress and the Senate were mostly the very baby boomers who avoided the draft yet had no moral qualms about sending someone else's sons and and daughters off to two military misadventures in Afghanistan and Iraq. And that includes even fellow Vietnam veterans such as former Senator John Kerry, former Senator Chuck Hagel and Senator John McCain, who seemed to have forgotten the painful lessons of the Vietnam War. And let's not forgot other war hawks such as former President George W. Bush, who hid out in the Texas Air National Guard, and former Vice President Dick Cheney, who had "other priorities" and got four or five deferments during the Vietnam War. And let's not forget former Senator Hillary Clinton, who is a war hawk even though her husband also avoided the draft in his youth. So once again using tying the military to the political whipping post, as you clearly have in your comment, really overlooks the vacuum of moral leadership inside the Beltway Bubble after the 9/11 attacks.

  • Sec. Hagel threatens to cut $1.6 bn Pakistan aid b/c Drone Protests Blocking NATO Convoys
    • Having served as a medical corpsman in Vietnam, I can see why Pakistani civilians are so enraged about these drone attacks in their country. Besides treating wounded American grunts on the ward where I worked, we also treated wounded Vietnamese civilians. Now these civilians were citizens with political connections to the Thieu regimes. They weren't the average poor Vietnamese peasants. So they were the very type of Vietnamese civilians who we wanted to win over to our side; it was called back them "winning the hearts and minds." But having been wounded in indiscriminate military operations, of course, it had exactly the opposite effect on them. So these drone attacks are, once again, losing the hearts and minds of the average Pakistani civilian. It seems we never learn.

  • Dear Pres. Obama: Dissent isn't Possible in a Surveillance State
    • George Hoffman 12/11/2013 at 4:26 am

      He seems to have been seduced by the immense powers he has as chief of the executive branch and become just another in a long line of imperial presidents since 1947 when President Harry Truman signed The National Security Act.

  • Uygur: Bush Targetting of Juan Cole proves that NSA can't be trusted with our Personal Data
    • George Hoffman 12/09/2013 at 2:22 am

      Professor Cole, I agree with everything in this essay expect one minor point, that is, your description of yourself as "an obscure Midwest college college professor with a blog." Your blog is providing a valuable service to your readership and the wider general public with your insights that the MSM clearly fails to do.

  • Solar would be Cheaper: US Pentagon has spent $8 Trillion to Guard Gulf Oil
    • I'm retired, living on a modest fixed income, so I really don't have the money to buy a a hybrid car. But fortunately where I live, the greater Akron, Ohio Metro Area, has great public transportation. So I take the bus during the winter months. But I bought a Trek bicycle a coupe of years back, which I ride around on, when it warms up, to do minor chores. I also actually do something that the other senior citizens in my apartment building think is quite radical, namely, I walk a lot.. Yes, you heard me correctly. In the warm months, I actually use my legs walk to and from the local grocery store. Or I bike there with my backpack in which I put my groceries. Of course, I have to make more trips, whether I walk or bike, because you can only carry at most two smaller bags of groceries. But it's great exercise at my age, and in my own humble way I am doing my part to break our country's dependency on fossil fuels. And, believe or not, my daily life goes on quite well for me. Yes, there is life without a car. And riding a bus, you get to know and interact with other fellow citizens.

  • Interview with Jeremy Scahill Questions "War on Terror"
    • George Hoffman 12/07/2013 at 9:06 pm

      Unfortunately, America crossed its constitutional Rubicon long ago in the Mekong Delta. And all these other wars and drone attacks are merely endgames toward a tragic denouement as our current commander-in-chief helms the ship of state from one foreign policy debacle to another since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
      I served as a medical corpsman in Vietnam. It was during that war when the CIA instituted its infamous Phoenix Program, a brutal and clandestine operation, of targeted assassinations against the VC infrastructure of cadres and guerrillas fighting against us in South Vietnam.
      President Barack Obama's drone program is a high-tech and updated Phoenix Program in the age of the internet using the latest weapons, drones, created during the robotic revolution in warfare.
      It's a smart though cynical political maneuver by him given how Americans have become so weary of the long wao on terror a decade after two ill-conceived and poorly prosecuted wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
      But just as in the Phoenix Program, each innocent civilian killed in one of these drone attacks becomes a recruiting poster for the Taliban. We are losing the hearts and minds just as surely we did in the Vietnam War.
      But as Breaker Morant said in that classic war film about the Boer War in South Africa, the first modern guerrilla war, to young Georgie when guards were leading him away to his death by firing squad, "This is what comes from empire building."

  • On the 80th Anniversary of Repeal of Prohibition, Why isn't Marijuana Legal?
    • George Hoffman 12/05/2013 at 6:04 pm

      Smoking a little grass back at the hooch and listening to music on the stereo after I got off duty from the base hospital really calmed me down and helped me deal with and get through all the horrific things I saw as a medical corpsman in Vietnam. But I haven't smoked a joint in many years. It just doesn't interest me anymore. But grass should have been legalized many decades ago. Yet we are still living in the dark ages.

  • John F. Kennedy's Thanksgiving Ideals, 1962-- How different they are from Ours
    • Professor Cole, I really enjoyed your essay about JFK in light of our national holiday on this Thanksgiving Day. As with many baby boomers of a certain age, I still remember that fateful day when I was a junior in high school and how I reacted with shock and dismay to his assassination. He offered such promise and hope for our nation.

      But I feel compelled to offer to you a reasonable dissent on JFK's historical legacy, because several years as a rather naive and young working-class guy, I was caught up in out last national draft and ended up serving as a medical corpsman in Vietnam.

      Of course, one of the big questions concerning his presidency was, Would JFK have actually started his gradual withdrawal of the 16,000 troops stationed in the Republic of South Vietnam had he not been killed? And therefore would the United States have avoided the worst foreign policy debacles in out nation's history? At the time, he ststed he would have begun our withdrawal from Vietnam with a 1.000 soldiers. But we will never know the answer to this question.

      But what I do know is on November 21, 1961, JFK signed an executive order, National Security Action Memorandum #111 (as David Halberstam noted in his classic critique of the war, "The Best and the Brightest"), in which he authorized the military use of napalm and Agent Orange in the war. LBJ used this executive order to prosecute the war against the VC guerrillas and NVA soldiers starting in 1964 or 1965.

      In September, 2010, the VA finally awarded me a modest disability compensation for my specific heart disease due to my exposure to Agent Orange during my tour of duty. But I actually dodged a bullet. I see other Vietnam veterans at the local VA clinic who were exposed to Agent Orange and have far more severe health concerns from their exposure. So despite my personal situation, I am in relatively good health.

      Therefore, my thoughts and feelings this Thanksgiving Day toward JFK as our fallen King of Camelot are tempered by that fateful day when he signed that executive order as a Vietnam veteran. That old adage,the pen is mightier than the sword, holds true in his case.

      This highly personal and ironical observation on my perspective in no ways diminishes JFK stature in our collective national memory. And perhaps I will have to admit he had no idea how the widespread spraying of Agent Orange would affect so may people involved in that war many years later.

      There are around 100,000 other Vietnam veterans who also have my specific type of heart disease of which 68,000 are still alive who qualify for disability compensation.

      And I read several months ago in an article in The Washington Post that over 3 million Vietnamese were also exposed to the effects of Agent Orange and around 150,000 Vietnamese children were born with serious birth defects.

      I seriously doubt these innocent victims of that war will ever get any king of compensation or reparation from the United States for their exposure to this herbicide. But according to this article, joint American and Vietnamese teams are presently supervising the clean-up of the worst toxic sites in the country, which is progress.

      So, let us remember JFK and honor his historical legacy. But let us also be honest with ourselves and take off our rose-colored glasses of nostalgia about him. That's what really disturbs me about this canonization of JFK and the myth surrounding his presidency. I categorically reject this cult of personality on the 50th anniversary of his assassination.

  • US tries to Censor British Report on Secret Bush-Blair Push for Iraq War (Lazare)
    • I also hope that "the Syria vote was the start of it," as an American. And I was pleasantly surprised here when the people in opinion polls rejected an intervention in the Syrian civil war. This was at the time President Obama was running for political cover and he tried to get the Congress to approve his intervention.

  • Is the White House Right that More Iran Sanctions put US on "Path to War?"
    • I agree. Our fearless leaders in the Congress are civilians. And civilians are clueless when it comes to unforeseen things that can happen when we go to war.

  • Will Avigdor Lieberman's return as Israeli Foreign Minister scupper Talks with Palestinians?
    • George Hoffman 11/12/2013 at 6:18 am

      "Avigador Lieberman, the Moldovan night club bouncer,..." Oh, Professor Cole, you have a wicked sense of humor. But I really got a charge out of that biographical tidbit. And I didn't even know Moldova had any night club. So you take teach an old dog new tricks.

      But to be serious for a moment, I have a question for you: How do you interpret the French Minister Laurent Fabius's rationale and complaint about the negotiations with Iran in Geneva that the proposed deal on the table was "a fool's game?"

  • Top 10 Ways to Really Honor our Veterans
  • US loses UNESCO Voting Rights: How Kow-Towing to Israeli Policy Weakens America
    • George Hoffman 11/09/2013 at 6:00 pm

      In an odd sort of way, now that I think of it, the U.S.'s "childish behavior" reminds me a bit of Saudi Arabia's temper tantrum when the ruing king recently overrode his diplomats at the UN and refused that seat on the UN Security Council. So Saudi Arabia played the same ploy, grabbed its marbles and went home to sulk.

  • How American Troops in Afghanistan became Unreal (Jones)
    • George Hoffman 11/08/2013 at 9:52 am

      Great report, Ann, bravo, I could really relate to your experiences since a long tine ago, in a a galaxy far, far away, I served as a medical corpsman in Vietnam. I still remember after the 9/11 attacks, this crescendo of war hysteria building up in volume like a symphony in this country for a war. Of course, having seen this syndrome before, namely the Vietnam syndrome, in the Sixties, I kept my mouth shut out of respect to the fallen and their loved ones. But I said to myself, "Well, George, here comes the bullshit war." The civilians want a little payback, they want to get some, as the grunts used to say, and they're going to be manipulated by the vast and well-oiled machinery of the military/industrial complex and their paid help in the Congress and Senate, in a specious propaganda campaign orchestrated by the Bush administration and all these hardcore neocons and liberal hawks - liberal hawks - "well, that's a new wrinkle, George," they may be war hawks but at least they're "liberal" war hawks like the executive editor at the time of The New Republic, Peter Beinart, who looked so young, looked like a teenager that hadn't begun to shave - and send these soldiers off so they can be killed or even worse maimed for life and also kill a lot of innocent civilians whose only sin is being in the wrong place at the wrong time, which is probably the worst sin you can commit. Fast forward this DVD to the tenth anniversary of the war in Iraq. Well, well, well. The very same magazine, The New Republic, has a piece on a symposium held- yes, I kid you not, they actually had the nerve to call it a symposium" - with some policy wonks inside the beltway bubble, who supported this useless war. But now they are trying to explain to themselves just what the hell went wrong. Onward rode the five hundred into the valley of death. Someone had blundered. These policy wonks now? They have a lot of egg on their faces, because they justified this war this way: "You can't make an omelet without breaking some eggs." Wonderful, a culinary analogy. I fell much better. That's what the generals tell the actual "eggs," the soldiers that go off to fight these wars. And generals die in battle but not on the battlefield. Have you ever considered how delicate and fragile an egg really is? Think about that the next time you are making an omelet in the morning for breakfast. That's what war really is like.

  • The American Genocide Against Iraq: 4% of Population Dead as result of US sanctions, wars
    • In "The Fog of War," former defense secretary Robert McNamara said 3.4 million Vietnamese were killed during the war, and transposing that percentage to the population in Vietnam to the U.S., he said if the war had been fought here 27 million Americans would have been killed. So it's really business as usual when it comes to how America treats civilians as Professor Cole pointed out when it comes to Iraq. But what got me was when McNamara talked about the firebombing of major Japanese cities toward the end of the Second World War. 100,000 civilians were killed just in the firebombing of Tokyo. So he asked rhetorically why was it moral to kill all these civilians in the Second World War and yet immoral in the Vietnam war? So even in old age - he was 85 at the time the documentary was filmed - he was in denial when it comes to dealing with the issue of genocide in wars the U.S. has fought.

  • Top Ten Ways the US and Iran could avoid a Catastrophic War
    • Very well stated as usual by Professor Cole and also very balanced and reasoned. And, of course, he's right on target (please excuse my metaphor) that if the right-wing war hawks in the U.S. and Israel somehow push President Obama into a war with Iran, well, it's probably all over for America with a third quagmire after the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Forget the moral and legal arguments. We can't financially afford another war. It's that simple. Also our armed forces are approaching the tipping point of being hollowed out as they were after the Vietnam War. And if Americans were opposed to an a potential intervention in Syria, they will be even more gun shy marching into a war with Iran. It is on a much higher level in the military sense with a much larger population for soldiers. And the Iranian people will put down their political differences and rally around the flag. But I doubt President Obama would make such a blunder in his second term after he ran so quickly to the Congress when he was desperately trying to build a consensus in the country that would support an intervention in Syria. Hopefully that recent crisis was the beginning of the end for the seemingly endless "long war on terror." And good riddance to it given our financial dilemma right here with the tea baggers and their enablers, the GOP establishment, holding us hostage.

  • Club Dead: EU immigration laws turning Mediterranean into Graveyard- Malta PM
    • George Hoffman 10/13/2013 at 6:09 pm

      Europeans are probably just scared to change the immigration rules since like us they are going through the worst economic recession after the meltdown in 2008 and trying to hold on to their jobs. It's sad what happening with all these drownings at sea. But how would you feel if you were a European and just really worried about holding on to your job?

  • US Drone strikes Continue in Pakistan despite PM Nawaz Sharif's UN Protest (Serle)
    • George Hoffman 10/13/2013 at 2:39 am

      President Obama's drone war is an exercise in futility. I was a medical corpsman in Vietnam, and the US military lost the hearts and minds of Vietnamese civilians with indiscriminate air strikes and artillery barrages just as these drone attacks are losing the hearts and minds of the Muslim civilians.

      All we are doing is helping the Taliban recruit more civilians to their cause and destabilizing the country even more than is is already. It just doesn't even work as a military tactic.

      And I frankly doubt that statistic at the end of the post that those 16 - 24 KIAs killed were all Taliban insurgents. And where are the statistics for the WIAs? There are WIAs in any kind of air strike. It just doesn't gel given what I saw as a medical corpsman in Vietnam. Sounds rather fishy to me.

  • Sakharov Prize-winner Malala Yousafazai Calls on US Gov't to Conduct talks with Taliban (Queally)
    • George Hoffman 10/11/2013 at 5:23 pm

      Having served as a medical corpsman in Vietnam, I feel I am experiencing in the aftermath of two military misadventures in Afghanistan and Iraq, what Yogi Berra once said to sports reporters, after losing again the second game in a Sunday double-header, "Guys, it's deja vu all over again."
      After the fall of Saigon, Americans went through the shock of the worst foreign policy debacle in their nation's history, and they then went into a state of collective amnesia when it came to any news from Southeast Asia. They had their eyes wide shut to the Cambodian Holocaust, which was caused in part by the secret bombing campaign of President Richard Nixon, that destabilized the country and brought about the rise of the Khmer Rouge. So trying to erase the war in Afghanistan from their consciousness seems par for the course, especially, since they have had an epiphany of Biblical proportions on the road to Damascus. They have just had it with war - period. They know they were conned. But even marks wise up sooner or later.
      It's very painful for average Americans to deal with failure of any kind. This is the land founded upon the endless and wonderful pursuit of happiness. That's our real national religion next to professional football. And we are always reading on the op-ed pages and hearing from the talking heads on TV of that strange creature called American exceptionalism. By the way, these opinions expressed about American exceptionalism are by and large by civilians who have never seen the beast of war up close and personal.
      We are Americans. We love winners. And these opinion makers avoid disturbing references or unpleasant truths from the usual suspects: Professor Chomsky, the late Gore Vidal or Chris Hedges in their op-eds. They're on the fringe. exiled from the MSM and are usually labeled as malcontents of the American dream and, worse of all, deeply suspect because they are intellectuals. Their moral compasses are out of whack to the MSM.
      After all, we award the Vince Lombardi Award to the football team who wins the Super Bowl rather than the one who shows really good sportsmanship and knows how to lose with grace. And to many in a sports-obsessed culture, war's just an away game on the high school football schedule. It was termed as a "cakewalk" as Ken Adeleman, a neocon who worked for Rumsfeld at the Pentagon ginning up the specious intelligence for the war in Iraq. Forty-three months later after his falling out with Rummy, he called it "the debacle that was Iraq."
      And as JFK observed after the fiasco at the Bay of Pigs victory has many fathers but defeat is an orphan. Well, I don't see any of the politicians on both sides of the aisle in Congress, who voted for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, offering to take a paternity test and accept those two orphans into their tender, loving care and parental custody. And it led to that sad charade of politicians finger-pointing at each other when it was reported the death benefits to family members for our fallen soldiers from Afghanistan would be temporarily suspended due to the federal shutdown.
      It was a very painful experience for me as a naive and young man to witness war. That's probably way I am so sensitive to this issue and was so leery of the collective war hysteria used by the Bush administration and liberal hawks in the Democratic Party after the 9/11 attacks. I mean, I don't exactly qualify to be a member of the Mensa Society. But from my experiences as a medical corpsman, I assure you I definitely know the pain and disillusionment I went through during my tour of duty. But being a Vietnam veteran in this country is just ancient history. I might as well be talking about the Pelopennesian War between Athens and Sparta. History offers no lessons to us any more to learn from our past mistakes. Besides, it sinks of intellectualism and we all know where that leads. The road to perdition. But Gore Vidal has said all this before and much better than I could ever do.
      But we seem to be sinking once again into this collective state of amnesia because we are all so war-weary. That's a bad omen.

  • Dear Tea Party: The Gov't Shutdown is Hurting White People, Too
    • Great essay, Professor Cole, I agree with your analysis. I'm a Vietnam veteran who served as a medical corpsman, and the VA awarded me a service-connected disability in September, 2010, because my heart condition was due in part to my exposure to Agent Orange. I had to take an early retirement, because I had two minor attacks before being awarding this compensation for this disability. So the disability check makes up for the reduced pension I receive from social security each month because I retired early at 62. I'm not looking for a hand-out from the federal government, but I am pleased that after four decades the government that sent me to Vietnam recognized its obligation to me. And I can thank President Obama and his secretary of veteran affairs. retired army General Eric Shinseki, for getting the VA bureaucracy to recognize my heart condition based upon clinical tests as a legitimate claim for this compensation. And there are also around a 100,000 to 150,000 (?) other Vietnam veterans like me who also qualify due to their exposure to Agent Orange. I think around 68,000 are still alive. And I'm not really bitter about my circumstances. I see fellow Vietnam veterans at the local VA clinic where I go for my care who have it a lot worse than me with more serious and grave health issues. So despite my own heart condition, I'm in relatively good health for my age with a roof over my head and food on the table.

  • Day of Division in Middle East: Bloody Clashes in Egypt, Iraq
    • Farhad, I totally agree with you. Having served when I was a naive and young man as a medical corpsman in Vietnam, I saw first-hand how many innocent Vietnamese civilians were indiscriminately wounded by American forces during battles and firefights. That's how we lost "the hearts and minds" of the Vietnamese civilians whom we said we wanted to give them our wonderful gift of "American democracy" and to supposedly "protect" them from the communist VC guerrillas just as President Obama has lost "the hearts and minds" of the average Muslim civilians with his drone wars in Pakistan, Yemen, Somali, etc. But most U.S. civilians are clueless and have never really seen how we treat innocent civilians in our war overseas. And you're also right that these drones will probably be used in this country if we have another economic meltdown in this country as we did in 2008 and if society breaks down into lawlessness and anarchy and rioting this time.

  • The World after the Kerry-Lavrov accord on Syria
    • George Hoffman 09/15/2013 at 4:18 pm

      I agree. But it's refreshing that Professor Cole, a noted academic and scholar on the Middle East, has all the human emotions we all have and sometimes in his passion gives into them. He's human as we all are. All I've learned so much since I have been coming to his website. But I agree with you. You made a valid point.

  • 7 Million Displaced Syrians, Bayda Massacre, & other Reports you Didn't see on American TV
    • Well, unfortunately, Americans have had it with war, all wars, after the ones in Afghanistan and Iraq. So media coverage of the carnage and destruction will be avoided by them at all cost even if there were news stories on American TV such a Professor Cole has noted in his post. But war has unforeseen consequences and not just on the battlefield. Americans had their eyes wide shut to the Holocaust in Cambodia after our defeat in the Vietnam War, even though that war in part destabilized that country and set in motion the rise of the Khmer Rouge. I remember it well as a Vietnam Veteran who served as a medical corpsman. They seem to be in a similar mood of disillusionment with their rejection of an intervention in the Syrian civil war, they will probably just look the other way to these graphic images from Syria. I'm not endorsing this moral indifference but merely noting how history seems to be repeating itself.

  • President Obama's Doubtful Grounds for Military Action against Syria
    • George Hoffman 09/12/2013 at 9:32 am

      I served as a medical corpsman in Vietnam. So I am disturbed and yet amused that civilians here and on other websites when they argue about a "limited, tailored" airstrikes either for or against have no idea about basic physics and what really happens when a bomb or a cruise missile does when it explodes. Shrapnel from the blast area flies through the air the length of several football fields and can kill or injure innocent civilians. In fact, it was from the Vietnam War that the military coined the Orwellian term "collateral damage" for the death and injury of innocent civilians. This bloodless term is only used as a defense mechanism to make the people dropping the bombs or firing the cruise missiles feel better about it and allow them to sleep at night. So the underlying premise of "limited, tailored" or "surgical" air strikes is basically an act of denial when discussing the issue.

  • How US Grand Strategy in Syria led to the idea of Missile Strikes
    • Professor Cole has recently come under criticism from readers, because he believes the chemical attack came from troops loyal to Assad. They have brought up the possibility that the rebels could have been the instigators. While I share their doubts, I would have to say that there is only a one in ten chance this scenario of events on the ground could be taken seriously. I say there is a one in ten chance, because I served as a medical corpsman in Vietnam. And that's my estimate, totally subjective from my limited perspective, of how many grunts were wounded by friendly fire. So the odds are on Professor Cole's stand.

  • Congress Could now Alter our Militarized approach to the Middle East-- But likely Won't (Bacevich)
    • George Hoffman 09/09/2013 at 3:47 am

      Very astute and detail analysis, Mr. Basevich. Though I only served as a medical corpsman in Vietnam (31 May 1967 - 31 May 1968), I saw the human face of war on the wounded grunts. It left an indelible impression on me for I was stamped in the crucible of that experience. And I find historical analogies to the dilemma facing both President Obama and the Congress as both branches did before the passage of LBJ's Gulf of Tonkin resolution. So it quite amazing and ironic to me that so much hinges on those four fatal words,"crossing s red line," in our foreign policy options and the use of force in the region. This may be a watershed event in many ways for our country as you have pointed out in this essay
      There is just one point in your history lesson which I think could have been at least briefly mentioned. Soon after Harry Truman signed into law the National Security Act of 1947, George C. Marshall, then secretary of state, said to him, "Mr. President, I fear we have militarized the decision-making process." It was prophetic statement, how far into the future he saw the political influence of that law in our present crisis.
      I oppose intervention in the Syria. It just simply fails to meet the litmus test as a real existential threat to our nation security despite the horrific nature of the sectarian violence there.
      The real crisis, and this is what baffles me, is in the oval office and in the halls of Congress. And after what I saw as a naive and young man at the base hospital in Vietnam, I learned a painful lesson through I view the world around me even after four decades. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. I hope and pray Congress will vote down Obama's resolution.

  • On Obama's attack on Syria: Donohue/ Bacevich
    • Ironically the US has a rather checkered past when it comes to chemical warfare.

      The WP had an article several weeks ago on the use of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. It was called Operation Ranch Hand (1962 - 1971), and it was an extensive and widespread spraying from converted cargo planes over South Vietnam. The planes dumped around 20 million gallons indiscriminately on the Vietnamese civilians and crop lands, rice paddies, forests and jungles surrounding the air bases along the coast.
      .
      The clinical study noted this program effected the health and longevity of 3 million Vietnamese civilians and caused 150,000 children to be born with birth defects, because the toxin is passed genetically to the children through the DNA of the infected parents' during conception. Joint teams of American and Vietnamese officials are supervising the clean-up right now of the worst sites.

      More recently. in 2004 in the Iraq War, American and British troops used white phosphorus mortar and artillery rounds in the Battle of Fallujah, a densely populated city, against the insurgents that was reported by journalists embedded with the soldiers. Of course, the insurgents were in close proximity to the innocent civilians caught in the crossfire.

      And having served as a medical corpsman in Vietnam, I know how nasty and horrific "Willy Peter," slang used by the wounded grunts, can be. It burns down to the bone because the chemical reaction is fueled by the oxygen in the air. It also creates a toxic white cloud after it explodes that drifts through the breeze. That's why many innocent Iraqi civilians, who were killed, in Fallujah had no visible shrapnel wounds. They inhaled the cloud, it burnt their lungs, and as the body reacts to it, it sends bodily fluid to the lungs and the civilians literally drowned in their own body fluids.

      In fact, here's another bitter irony, photos of those dead Iraqi civilians in Fallujah reminded me of the photos of those dead Syrian civilians in Damascus - they seem just sleeping in their death - that Obama and Kerry have cited with self-righteous indignation as a crime against humanity. But, of course, it's just a cynical manipulation in their propaganda campaign to emotionally tug at the heartstrings of Americans to justify an intervention in the Syrian civil war.

      "Nothing is true, everything is permitted." - the Creed of the Assassins that William Burroughs loved to quote in his writings to wise up the marks how the world really works.

  • Obama Isolated at G20 on Syria, No 'Coalition of the Willing'
    • But, Bill, you are discounting the horrific legacy European nations experienced during the Second World War. They have been through literally hundreds of attacks that would equal our 9/11 attacks. I'm not offering this point as an apology for what you interpret as their usual hand wringing. But it would help to understand them better if you could nurture at least a modicum of empathy for them. Despite the Pearl Harbor and 9/11 attacks Americans have avoided the massive death and destruction reined down upon the Europeans in the Second World War.

    • George Hoffman 09/06/2013 at 9:20 pm

      Christiane, I agree with you and I am equally disappointed as you are with President Obama, whom I voted for in the last election based on the naive assumption he would somehow avoid another war in the region. But he has become another imperial president in his second term just as LBJ,a fellow liberal Democrat, did during the Vietnam War.
      It seems Obama wants Hollande on board after the British ministers in parliament voted Cameron down in his plea where he failed to convince them join the US in this war. Syria was under French occupation from 1920 to 1946. There are strong cultural ties between the French and the Syrians. French is the required second language taught in schools, and many Syrians among the elites are Christians and feel just as threatened as the Alawite minority does when it comes to the Sunni rebels taking over the government if the Assad regime collapses. And to the victors go the spoils for France as an American ally. It could increase its business with Syria. After all, France had been working with Saddam Hussein to construct a nuclear reactor in Iraq which Israeli jet fighters bombed on 7 June 1981.

    • Professor Cole,

      Having served as a medical corpsman in Vietnam, I have my fingers crossed Congress defeats President Obama's tragic resolution to intervene in the Syrian civil war.

      And I would also like to tell you and compliment you that you really hit the nail on the head when in a previous post you compared the real dynamics of the Syrian civil war to the civil war in Vietnam. You were one of only a few bloggers that made such an astute historical allusion.

      And America has already had a proxy war with Russia in Vietnam. And as I distinctly remember, even after four decades, it didn't turn out so well for us.

  • Obama goes to Congress on Syria as his International Support Collapses
    • George Hoffman 09/01/2013 at 2:41 pm

      Hopefully, and I am crossing my fingers here, when Congress does reconvene on September 9th, it will vote down President Obama's military strike against the Assad regime just as the British parliament did against PM David Cameron. The brittle bipartisan coalition between the Democrats and Republicans in the so-called long war on terror has been crumbling ever since Edward Snowden dropped his bomb on them and revealed the extent of NSA's spying on us and citizens throughout the world. And more importantly, Paul Rand's filibuster has shown just how out of touch traditional war hawks, such as Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, are even within the GOP. So there has been a gradual but real sea change in the mood of the country as the foreign policy debacle of the Iraq War sinks into the consciousness of the average American voter. They have had it, and our fearless leaders in Washington D.C. know it. They love being gainfully employed and want to be re-elected for another term. And I agree with Professor Cole in his astute analysis that President Obama has been seduced by his war powers as commander-in-chief and has, unfortunately and tragically. become just another imperial president. In fact, he eerily reminds me of LBJ's fall from grace during the Vietnam War. But I served as a medical corpsman in Vietnam and saw the human face of war. As Dick Cheney might sat, I was introduced to "the dark side" of our foreign policy at an early age. Most liberals are suffering from cognitive dissonance when it comes to President Obama. How could a liberal Democrat, who ran in his first election on ending the Iraq War, have changed so dramatically in his second term? seems to be the relevant question. Well, a liberal Democrat can be an imperial president just as well as a conservative Republican as his predecessor, President George Bush, while he was in office. In fact, President Obama has violated the national sovereignty of more nations with his drone wars than President Richard Nixon ever did. But as the late Gore Vidal sarcastically observed once we live in the Unites States of Amnesia. And I have to say that I voted for President Obama and I am basically a liberal on most issues. So I am against any involvement or escalation in the Syrian civil war. But I learned a very painful lesson during my tour of duty ( 31 May 1967 - 31 May 1968)in Vietnam that the hell to hell is paved with good intentions.

    • George Hoffman 09/01/2013 at 1:58 pm

      Having served as a medical corpsman in Vietnam, it could have happened. I was surprised early in my tour of duty there that perhaps around ten percent of the grunts were wounded by friendly fire during the heat of battle or an ambush. And remember the extensive and widespread spraying of Agent Orange in the war, which was chemical warfare and has effected the health of three million Vietnamese civilians and caused around 150,000 birth defects in Vietnamese children. In fact, in September, 2010, I was finally awarded a service-connected disability having been exposed to Agent Orange, which cause in part my heart condition. And there were around 100,000 other Vietnam veterans who were eligible for compensation. You have to remember that in the fog of war, mistakes will be made by colonels and even chemists. Wars are fought by human beings, who are under great emotional stress.

  • The Ghost of Iraq haunts Obama on Syria as British Parliament Defects
    • Professor Cole,
      Having served as a medical corpsman in Vietnam (31 May 1967 - 31 May 1968), I saw the human face of war on the wounded grunts and, just as importantly, the wounded Vietnamese civilians at the base hospital. So Vietnam was the crucible which stamped me for the rest of my life, and it is the prism through which I view our foreign policy decisions.
      I totally agree with your astute analysis that the Syrian civil war eerily reminds one of the civil war in Vietnam. It was undoubtedly the worst foreign policy debacle in our nation's history and deeply scarred even now the body politic's consensus on foreign policy decisions in our country.
      Somehow, despite two military misadventures in Afghanistan and Iraq, our country had been blessed that it has avoided igniting the tinderbox in the Middle East. Perhaps, our country is historically approaching a tragic reckoning with history. That is what really worries me as a Vietnam veteran.
      As the diplomat George Ball, the lone dove in LBJ's cabinet, warned that president over and over again as he contemplated an escalation in the civil war in Vietnam, Events are in the saddle and ride mankind. He told LBJ it would be quite easy to jump on the back of that tiger. But he asked LBJ rhetorically, when and how do you dismount that tiger?

  • Obama should Resist the Clintons & Europe on Syria
    • Having served in Vietnam. I agree with your analogy to that war you made in your post.

  • Its the Corporations, Stupid: Why we are 2nd Amendment Fundamentalists but the 4th Amendment doesn't Count
    • George Hoffman 06/10/2013 at 5:56 pm

      I agree with how you interpret the fundamental differences between the 2nd and 4th amendments. But there are just too many fellow citizens who have this obsessive and mad love affair with weapons in this country.
      I served as a medical corpsman in Vietnam. And I still after four decades remember how shocked and dismayed I was when I saw a wounded grunt with a thur-and-thru gunshot wound from an AK-47 assault rifle. That was the weapon used by VC guerrillas and NVA soldiers.
      And even though I had to qualify on an M-16 rifle in order to get through basic training, No hospital were allowed to carry a weapon in Vietnam. And I have never fired a weapon since basic training nor want to own one. It just brings back too many bad memories for me of my tour of duty,
      There's something terribly wrong with this country. War after war oversea: massacre after massacre back home.
      Sorry I'm so discouraged when it a comes to gun control. Just wanted to share my experiences as a young man confronting what a violent society we all live in.

  • We Misunderstood Barack: He only wanted the Domestic Surveillance to be Made Legal, not to End It
    • I'm pretty much cynical and disillusioned by all politicians at this point in my advanced age. I voted for President Obama in the last election.
      Why? Purely out of self-interest. He and his secretary of veteran affairs, retired army general Eric Sinseki, got the VA officially to approve my heart condition as a legitimate claim for disability compensation. Bush #43 just sat on the clinical evidence in the last year or so if his tenure that my heart condition was caused in part due to my exposure to Agent Orange when I served as a naive and gullible young man in Vietnam as a medical corpsman.
      Yes, President Obama is lying through his teeth. But please tell me what else is new when it comes to a skilled and savvy politician? A politician lies to his dog when he takes it out for an evening stroll around the block.
      And why would anyone believe that a liberal politician is somehow immune from abusing his powers and eroding our civil rights? Especially a liberal politician in the midst of a terrible dilemma, namely, the Long War on Terror. He's lashing out at the Fourth Estate and now his own fellow citizens in his growing frustration how two bad wars have become foreign policy debacles.
      But LBJ, another liberal president, acted out too, siccing the FBI and the CIA on the anti-war activists.
      But this political blowback always happens when wars go bad. It did in Vietnam: and it's happening once again in the age of the Internet.
      As Gore Vidal entitled one of his last pamphlets before he passed away: Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace. But the promise of peace never comes. All military empires are this way. And ours is no different.

  • NSA-Verizon Surveillance: Welcome to the United States of Total Information Awareness
    • Actually, this news story reminds me a great deal of growing up in the Sixties and early Seventies, when FBI and CIA were spying on activists in the anti-war and civil rights movements during the administrations of LBJ and then Tricky Dick.
      The Bush #43 and now the Obama administration have merely updated this violation of our right to privacy with the same kind of surveillance. But we now have mobile cell phones and the Internet of the global village.
      And I think if you take s broader objective perspective and look at the historical context, it makes a great deal of sense to me why the federal government is reacting this way.
      What do these two eras have in common? Both had wars that had gone bad, and the federal government in its frustration to control the prosecution of these wars was engaged in an absurd exercise in futility.
      It's what the late historian Chalmers Johnson first called in one of his books "political blowback," that CIA term for a covert operation conducted overseas that has far-reaching domestic and unforeseen implications and results in America.
      But this always happens when America engages in one its manic fits of empire building in wars of choice rather than necessity.
      As the French love to say, "Ca plus change la plus la meme chose."
      But when have our fearless leaders ever listened to the friendly advice of the French?
      We certainly didn't during the Vietnam War nor have we in the Iraq War. Our fearless leaders are once again suffering from the the feverish delusion of American exceptionalism, and we never listen to any good advice when we are on a mission from God.

  • Will New Pakistani Government Ban US Drone Strikes in Light of Court Ruling? (Ross)
    • George Hoffman 05/12/2013 at 9:01 pm

      Professor Cole,

      I hope the first order of business for the newly elected officials is getting President Obama to stop his drone program in Pakistan.

      I served as a medical corpsman in Vietnam during the time when the CIA was running its Phoenix program, the targeted assassination of VC guerrillas and cadres in South Vietnam. It really turned the average Vietnamese peasants and civilians against the Americans, because there was so much collateral damage.

      What a sinister, Orwellian phrase. A little story I heard through the grapevine illustrates how you lose the heart and minds of the people you are trying to win over to your side. Once a Vietnamese farmer walked a couple of miles all the way to our base hospital carrying his dead little daughter in his arms. He wanted our help. But he was in shock and hadn't realized she was beyond help. When I heard about the story, though I was a non-combatant, I felt such profound shame for what we were doing to these innocent people.

      And President Obama has merely updated the old Phoenix program with his high-tech use of drones. It has to be, once again, turning the Pakistani hearts and minds against the Americans and is also a threat to their chances for a transition toward democracy. It's a recruiting poster for alienated and angry Pakistani to join the Taliban insurgents.

      Plus ca, plus c'est la meme chose, as the French would say.

  • Col. Wilkerson on Romney's Chickenhawk Advisors: They "make me sick"
    • George Hoffman 10/10/2012 at 2:46 pm

      Professor Cole,
      Thanks for retired Colonel Lawrence Wilkinson's honest comment on the neocon chickenhawks such as Cheney and Romney who love to send other citizens sons and daughters so quickly off to war.
      Having served as a medical corpsman in Vietnam, I saw the human face of war on the wounded American grunts and the wounded Vietnamese civilians.
      So it's great when the brass like Wilkerson just tell it like it is. They are destroying our country with all their unnecessary wars and turning our democracy into the last days of the Weimar Republic.

      George Hoffman

  • The Little Iran Nuclear Report that Couldn't
    • George Hoffman 11/11/2011 at 4:44 am

      Professor Cole,
      One would think that after the debacle in Iraq based by false information of weapons of mass destruction, our government would proceed with deliberate caution about a possible air strike against these so-called "nuclear facilities" in Iran. And I have just read an article in David Remnick's blgg at The New Yorker that states Israeli jet fighter pilots are practicing for a possible air strike around the holiday season or in early January. Have your heard anything about these possible air strike. How creditable is this rumor or allegation?

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