Friday, March 13, 2015

The Second Coming Of Richard Milhous Nixon

Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists
US President George W. Bush, to Congress,  20 Sept 2001

It became necessary to destroy the town to save it

We had to destroy the town.

So we could save it.

That statement, often paraphrased as “we had to destroy the village in order to save it,” was attributed to an unnamed US major by AP war correspondent Peter Arnett following the US strategic bombing of Ben Tre, Vietnam, in 1968.

In the years since, the veracity of that unattributed quote has been frequently questioned, but what is not in dispute is that on February 7th, 1968 at the height of the war, the south Vietnamese town of Ben Tre was destroyed by heavy bombardment. 

The logic behind the assault was that the village had been infiltrated by communist forces and the only way to root them out was to level the place.

Much of the village (a small city in actuality) was obliterated by bombs and napalm.

Hundreds of civilians were killed, thousands were wounded and maimed. Some of the destruction was inflicted by the occupying communist forces, but the vast majority was from American airstrikes and artillery.

In the grim aftermath, Arnett interviewed US military officers and questioned the necessity of the carnage:

“It became necessary to destroy the town to save it,” a U.S. major said Wednesday.

He was talking about the grim decision that allied commanders made when Viet Cong attackers overran most of this Mekong Delta city 45 miles southwest of Saigon. They decided that regardless of civilian casualties they must bomb and shell the once placid river city of 35,000 to rout the Viet Cong forces.

A day later, Arnett’s story appeared in newspapers around the world and that statement, verbatim or otherwise, became one of the most infamous military quotes in modern history and an enduring testament to the brutal absurdity that was the United States’ military and political strategy in Vietnam.

U.S. advisers said the heavy allied firepower hurled on the city to drive out the Viet Cong probably contributed largely to the deaths of at least 500 civilians and possibly 1,000. South Vietnamese officials say the enemy dead totaled 451. About 50 Vietnamese soldiers died, along with more than 20 Americans...Lt. Col James Dare of Chicago, commander of U.S. Advisory Team 93, said “we will never know for sure” the number of civilians who died…Maj. Chester L. Brown of Erie, Pa., spent hours over the city as an Air Force forward air controller directing helicopter and fighter-bomber attacks. “It is always a pity about the civilians,” he said.

That ridiculous moment, the obliteration of Ben Tre and the horror of what we had wrought, for the first time brought the absolute insanity of the Vietnam War into focus for many Americans – even those who had previously supported it out of ignorance, apathy, or kneejerk patriotism.

It was at that moment, February 8th, 1968, when for the first time many Americans began to question the absurd idea that we were somehow saving people by killing them.

The bombing of Ben Tre, what was supposed to be a decisive victory, became instead the foundation for defeat and a moment in history that many Americans would like to pretend never happened. Of course Ben Tre wasn’t the only reason Americans became disillusioned with Vietnam, but the battle was a significant turning point and public support for America’s military involvement in Southeast Asia, never high to begin with, rapidly declined from that point forward. 

When the bombs fell on Ben Tre the United States had been engaged in active combat in Southeast Asia for better than six years and more than 30,000 Americans had died in the jungles and rice paddies – and uncounted hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese. The conflict had slopped over into the surrounding nations and it was tearing America itself apart at the seams. Faced with an unwinnable war abroad, widespread unrest at home, and a surprisingly strong anti-war challenge from within his own party, Lyndon Johnson declined to run for reelection and was stumping instead for his Vice President, Hubert Humphrey. 

As President, Johnson decided that it was in the best interest of America to get the hell out of Vietnam.

And so, by presidential order, a month later, in March, 1968, the US ceased active bombing over parts of northern Vietnam and attempted to engage Hanoi in negotiation towards ending the conflict. 

Both sides met on May 10th in Paris.

It took five months of intense wrangling to reach a point where both sides could even talk to each other.  Jingoistic chest beating and bombast, accusations and outrages ruled the day. Both sides refused to recognize the legitimacy of the other. They argued bitterly over every aspect, no matter how minute or ridiculous up to and including the shape of the table where the negotiations were to be held. 

But eventually the framework for a ceasefire was hammered out and by the end of 1968 with US Presidential elections looming, it looked like President Johnson had brokered an end to the conflict – one that would allow both North and South Vietnam to continue on as separate and distinct nations, much like North and South Korea.

Sadly however the tide of history often turns on the actions of a ruthless and selfish few.

A peaceful end to the war and a triumphant return of American troops would hand Johnson, and by extension Hubert Humphrey and the Democrats, an enormous political victory and most likely the election.

And how different would our world be today if that had been the case?

Instead, Republican presidential candidate and senator from California, Richard Nixon, faced with likely defeat in the coming election, ordered his liaison to the South Vietnam government, Anna Chennault, to sabotage the pending deal.

Johnson’s and Nixon’s records, made public 40 years after the events of 1968, show irrefutably that as a presidential candidate Nixon attempted to directly influence the outcome of the peace process. Additionally, Nixon’s interference was confirmed by FBI wiretaps which recorded, among other conversations, a call from Chennault to Nixon describing how she had informed the South Vietnamese ambassador, “Hold on. We’re gonna win.”  Moreover, those same records reveal that Nixon had an ace in the hole, Johnson’s advisor to the peace talks, Henry Kissinger.  Kissinger was feeding Nixon information on the talks and on the Johnson administration – though the exact degree of his duplicity is yet to be fully determined.

Kissinger, for obvious reasons, isn’t exactly forthcoming.  

Nixon attempted to sabotage the peace process solely in order to further his own political ambitions.

He didn’t do it because he believed it was bad for America, or bad for the world, or even bad for Vietnam.

He did it because he was a selfish, criminal, partisan son of a bitch. 

And even George Will, the famously conservative columnist and pundit, agrees that Nixon’s actions clearly violate the 1797 Logan Act and are tantamount to outright treason – as did members of Nixon’s own party at the time, such as Republican Senate Minority Leader, Everett Dirksen (off the record of course, in a phone call to Lyndon Johnson, as revealed by the opening of presidential and senate records 40 years later).  

It is impossible to say if Nixon’s attempted sabotage was the ultimate reason South Vietnam pulled out of the peace agreement at the last second, but pull out they did.

Faced with the embarrassing failure of the peace talks, the democrats lost their lead in the polls and Richard Milhous Nixon narrowly won the White House in November of 1968.

And the war continued on for another seven terrible years.

In that seven years another 20,000 US troops died – bringing the total US dead to 58,220. No one knows how many Vietnamese died.

In that seven years more than 100,000 US troops were wounded. No one knows how many Vietnamese were wounded  – and continued to be killed, maimed, and terribly injured for decades afterward by the unexploded ordnance and toxins left buried beneath the former battlefields.  

In 1968 the Vietnam war cost the United States 2.3% of the GDP.  The war cost Americans more than $686 billion (adjusted to FY2008 dollars, the most recent year of accounting available from the GAO per the annual CRS report to Congress, 2008. Back of the napkin figures indicate the cost at well over a trillion dollars when adjusted to 2015 rates, which would put it on an even footing with current conflicts), with the lion’s share of that total coming between 1968 (the height of the war) and 1975 (the official end of US involvement). As of 2013, the U.S. government pays more than $22 billion to Vietnam veterans and their families or their survivors in war related claims. That’s twenty-two billion dollars per year that American taxpayers are still forking over forty years later.

There is no way to even begin to measure the toll on Vietnam veterans, in mental illness, in lingering and persistent injury, in homelessness, in alcoholism, in drug use, in domestic violence, in suicide, in the lost potential and lost opportunity of an entire generation.

War, my shiny electronic friends, is goddamned costly – for a very, very long time – and in many, many ways beyond mere money.

America’s part in the war officially ended in 1972 and Nixon won himself a second term, due in large measure for bringing about the end of the conflict – which undercut a critical plank in his opponent George McGovern’s campaign.  And now you know why Nixon was so concerned about what his opposition knew and why he was willing to do damned near anything to keep his actions a secret – up to and including resigning the White House to avoid the scrutiny and disclosure of impeachment proceedings.

In an example of simply staggering irony, in 1973 Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating the Paris Peace Accords – the very same process he directly helped sabotage four years before.

Over the next two years the United States pulled out of Southeast Asia and left our erstwhile allies to their own devices, a process Nixon called “Vietnamization.”

In April of 1975 North Vietnamese forces and Vietcong entered Saigon and the war was finally over.

North and South Vietnam became the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

In the end, destroying the village accomplished nothing.


Forty relentless years of endless war since, four decades of increasingly partisan insanity, and it’s the second coming of the same old cavalry.


We had to destroy the village in order to save it.

Forty years on and today’s fanatically partisan sons of bitches are still willing to sabotage peace talks solely in order to further their own selfish political agendas. 

Four decades of continuous war later, of the same failed strategy, and they still think freedom and liberty can be delivered in the belly of a B-52. This despite the blunt and abject lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention the terrible lesson of Vietnam itself.

Four decades later and these same people still prefer war to peace, violence to talk, ideology to pragmatism, insanity to reason. 

We had to destroy the village in order to save it.

Only this time, the country they intend to destroy is the United States of America.

And they don’t care how many innocents are killed and maimed in the process, just so long as they get what they want, just so long as they win the White House and the country. They sincerely believe that they are the masters of the universe and the only true Americans. And because they have come to sincerely believe that the rest of us are either enemies or cannon fodder and therefore beneath consideration.

They’re not willing to share the world with anybody else or to compromise even if it means the total destruction of the very nation they claim to love.

Forty years ago, on May 15, 1969, Bloody Thursday, these same sons of bitches under the command of none other than Ronald Reagan were perfectly willing to turn shotguns on Americans they saw as not American enough and they’re perfectly willing to do the same today – as evidenced by their fanatical love of their personal arsenals which are amassed solely for use against their fellow Americans.

Four decades later and it’s still the same diseased strategy and the same cast of characters – and when you see Henry Kissinger and John McCain sitting heads together in the same room, you can goddamned well believe it.

I am, of course, ultimately talking about forty-seven US Senators, backed by their conservative masters, who attempted to sabotage the P5+1 talks with Iran and that country’s nuclear program solely, solely, in order to embarrass and insult Barack Obama.

These people are so blinded with partisan fanaticism that they actually believe Iran is a greater threat to Western civilization than a bitterly divided United States. 

These fanatics are so utterly consumed by their madness, that they actually believe a preemptive war with Iran is not only a solution, but the only solution.

And they are determined to have that war come hell or high water.

Even if they have to tear America apart to get it.

“We cannot allow them to have a nuclear weapon, if that means military action, that’s what we’ll end up taking,”

That was Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson, a signatory to the now infamous letter, last Sunday on Fox News.

If that means military action, that’s what we’ll end up taking.

We haven’t lost enough of America’s future in the Middle East.

We haven’t bled enough.

It’s never enough for these sons of bitches.

People like Senator Johnson, they walk past those 58,220 names inscribed on the cold black granite of the Vietnam Memorial, they can see it, they can touch it, they argue over the endless appropriations for war and its terrible aftermath, trillions in blood and treasure, bills they can not afford to pay and that they have mortgaged our children’s future for, they have their noses rubbed in the futility and the utter criminal waste of it all every single goddamned day and it’s still not enough for these insane fuckers.  

It will never be enough. Never.

Johnson bases his position not on the actual deal (which is still incomplete, by definition) but on various leaks and rumors – which, for modern Republicans is more than enough reason to declare war, Quod Erat Demonstrandum.

Johnson argued that the Administration should give up negotiations and instead impose “some severe sanctions” on Iran, specifically a policy similar to the one instituted by George W. Bush.

Johnson for some odd reason failed to mention that Iran has complied with the interim agreement which paved the way for the current round of talks – as verified by the US, among other reliable international sources – and its capability has remained static during the Obama Administration. 

And even more disingenuously, Johnson failed to mention that despite the Bush Administration’s “severe sanctions,” Iran’s enrichment capability, specially its uranium enrichment centrifuges grew from 164 in 2003 to more than 19,000 during that same exact period.

Those sanctions did no more to stop Iran than they did Fidel Castro.

What Senator Johnson demands is nothing less than abandonment of a working diplomatic solution and a return to the very situation which allowed Iran to increase its nuclear capability by more than 11,500%.

Which will lead, inevitably to war.

Which is exactly what these Netanyahu puppets want.

When asked, twice, what he would recommend in place of the rumored P5+1 deal, Johnson could provide nothing. Instead he declared,

“If Israel believes it’s threatened and it takes military action, the United States has got to back our strong ally.”

Actually, Senator, no we don’t have to back Israel, should they decide to go to war.

But then again, I realize I’m pissing into the wind here since a significant fraction of American conservatives seem to believe that their loyalty is to Israel and not to their own goddamned (literally, I guess) country. 

Ironically, these are the very same people who think the Pledge of Allegiance should be mandatory. 

But then again, these are the same people who got themselves publicly schooled on the Constitution and the roles of the various branches of the US government by Iranians, so make of it what you will.

For Johnson, it’s war or nothing.

And Johnson isn’t the only Republican who can’t offer any alternative.

Matt Lauer asked Rand Paul how, as president, he would respond if a group of Senators undermined his hypothetical administration.

"I'm kinda one of the Senators who's in favor of negotiations with Iran, I want there to be a peaceful outcome. But I want to strengthen the president's hand. I want to strengthen his hand by saying, you know what, we've got a lot of hardliners, and we're going to have to get this agreement by Congress and by doing so maybe the president will negotiate a more appropriate deal..."

Incredibly, presidential hopeful Paul thinks that the letter to Iran’s leaders undercutting President Obama actually made the president look better. To Iranians (Which to be fair, it probably did. In comparison, I mean). And apparently, as president, Paul would be okay with democrats pulling a similar stunt.

In a city of goddamned things, Rand Paul is about the goddamnest thing I’ve seen yet.

Lauer, obviously boggled, asked incredulously,

"You really think by signing that letter you strengthen the president's hand?"

Paul replied,

“Well I have also reiterated what the Constitution says, that the powers are separated, and when legislation is passed by Congress. Congress passed most of the sanctions, they can't be taken back without Congress passing new legislation. So I think this is a law no matter whether there is a letter, no matter whether the Corker Bill passes or not, I think the law is that the sanctions can only be removed by Congress and by reiterating that, we send a message that this has got to be a good deal.

Except, of course, the letter Paul signed says no such thing.

And again, you’ll note Paul offers no alternative to the current negotiations – he just wants a “better” deal, but he can’t define what that is.

In fact, none of the 47 Senators who signed Tom Cotton’s letter can produce a coherent counter to the current deal. Well, other than “bomb ‘em!” I mean. 

Meanwhile, another shining example of the Republican Party, Arizona Republican Senator John McCain – a guy who considers himself an expert on foreign affairs and national security – admitted that he was in a hurry to get out of Washington ahead of an impending snowstorm and that he didn’t really read the letter before adding his John Hancock.  What? Screw Obama? Sure, where do I sign?

“It was kind of a very rapid process. Everybody was looking forward to getting out of town because of the snowstorm. I think we probably should have had more discussion about it, given the blowback that there is.”

That’s right, they were sending a letter to Iran’s Government, maybe even in violation of US law and certainly in violation of long established diplomatic protocol, an action that might derail more than a decade of negotiations and could lead directly to war in the most unstable and strategic region of the world, a war that might be nuclear(!) and would no matter what have dire and immediate economic consequences worldwide, and “it was kind of a very rapid process” and maybe, you know, um, “we could probably should have had more discussion about it.”

Should have thought about it some more? Geez, I dunno, Senator, ya fucking think?

Just like Richard Nixon, these people are perfectly willing to risk the lives of millions in mindless pursuit of their own selfish goals.  They are perfectly willing to destroy the village – and if they forget how, Henry Kissinger and John McCain can draw them a map. Unless it’s snowing, I guess.

And despite the feeble protests of the rest of the Republican Party, you’ll note not one of these partisan hacks has been censured by their fellows. 

If there is anything that more abjectly demonstrates the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the modern GOP than this idiotic stunt, I don’t know what it is – unless they actually do manage to start a nuclear war.  

And just like Nixon, they’re either oblivious to or simply don’t care about the long term consequences of their actions.

And just like Vietnam what’s very likely to happen should they sabotage the P5+1 talks is that the United States’ role in the final deal, whatever it may be, will then become moot.  Iran will go on to make a deal with China, Russia, and the European powers and we will have no say in the outcome.

What it boils down to is that Republicans want to dictate surrender terms to Iran, with or without an actual war, and nothing less.

Which isn’t surprising given that’s been their exact same approach to Obama for the last five years.

Cotton, Johnson, and their allies, these people are fanatics in the most extreme sense. They are more fanatical in point of fact than Iran’s Ayatollahs given that those hardline Islamists are at least willing to meet the Obama administration halfway.

This agreement, the one being negotiated by the P5+1 isn’t a deal between the United States and Iran.

It is vastly, vastly, more complicated than that.

If, if, a deal is struck, it will be the culmination of more than a decade of diplomacy and will be an agreement between China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, and Iran.

Now, take a minute, think – really think – about that. Think about what it took to hammer out a working agreement between communist China, Putin’s Russia, the US, the UK, France, Germany, and Iran.

The fact that there’s even the possibility of a workable deal of any kind is mind boggling.

And not only did republicans attempt nothing less than a Nixonesque sabotage of the deal to further their presidential ambitions, no, what these forty-seven short-sighted selfish sons of bitches have done is even worse. These fanatics have sent a message to not only our enemies, but our strongest allies and largest economic trading partners (and rivals) that any agreement with the US is not to be taken seriously and could, in fact, dissolve at any moment based on the unpredictable whims of American partisan politics – not to mention America’s increasing religious fanaticism and stated willingness to sacrifice our own children for Israel’s political goals.

At this point, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever for any nation, friend or foe, to trust the United States of America. Republicans have made it clear that when you deal with America, you’re not dealing with a country or a government but with whoever happens to answer the goddamned phone. You’d have to be crazy to enter into any agreement with us.  

In point of fact, if you’re really worried about a nuclear armed rogue state, you don’t really have to go looking very far from home.

Iran’s best option at the moment is to strike a deal with China and Russia and go full on Castro.

Republicans have made it very clear that there’s no reason to strike a deal with us.


Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists
US President George W. Bush, to Congress,  20 Sept 2001

Only a Sith deals in absolutes
- Obi Wan Kenobi to Anakin Skywalker,  Star Wars Ep. III


I’ll end this with an open letter of my own:

To the United States Senate, Attention: Tom Cotton, David Perdue, Joni Ernst, James Inhofe, John Cornyn, Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio, Roger Wicker, John Hoeven, Richard Shelby, Thom Tillis, Richard Burr, Steve Daines, Jeff Sessions, John Boozman, Cory Gardner, Shelley Moore Capito, Ron Johnson, Mark Kirk, James Lankford, Chuck Grassley, Roy Blunt, John Thune, Mike Enzi, Pat Toomey, Bill Cassidy, John Barrasso, Ted Cruz, Jim Risch, Mike Crapo, Deb Fischer, Ben Sasse, Orrin Hatch, Dean Heller, Pat Roberts, John McCain, Rand Paul, Rob Portman, Lindsey Graham, Mike Lee, Mike Rounds, and Dan Sullivan


Now might be a good time to rethink the road you’re on.

Your partisan fanaticism  and your self-admitted ill-considered actions make the Iranian government seem sane, sympathetic, reasoned and moderate in comparison. 

You have measurably damaged the reputation of the United States and risked open war, the lives of millions, and the world economy, solely to further your own selfish goals. You have placed partisanship and loyalty to party above your own country and the lives of your fellows.

At this point, whatever the final outcome of your actions, history will very likely remember you in the same light as your fellow Republican, Richard Nixon – and potentially far worse.

Were I you, I’d give that some very, very serious thought.

Your oath, the oath you swore with your right hand upraised before your God, was to the United States of America.

The Pledge of Allegiance you swear is to the American flag, not the Israeli one.

Your legal, moral, and sacred obligation is to the citizens of the United States of America first, ALL OF THEM NOT JUST THE ONES WHO VOTED FOR YOU, and second to all of our allies and partners –  not just Israel.  Your duty extends far, far beyond the small and selfish interests of your religion and/or your political party and it is long past time for you to remember that.

I won’t presume to say you should be ashamed of your recent actions, since many of you obviously lack the capacity, but I will say it is NOT necessary to destroy the village in order to save it – and your fellow Senator John McCain should know the moral bankruptcy of that particular strategy better than anyone.  What will save our nation and our world, the only thing that will ultimately save civilization itself, is that we work together, all of us  - and that’s something else Captain John McCain USN(ret) and the veterans among your number should know as well. Perhaps they could explain it to the rest of you.

Respect is earned, Senators.

For people and likewise for nations, respect is earned – or lost – by every action, by every word.

Now might be a good time to consider yours.



James Wright
Chief Warrant Officer, United States Navy (ret)
Citizen of the United States of America


Editorial Note:

I initially misspelled Nixon’s middle name as “Millhouse.”

It wasn’t a typo or an autocorrect, it was entirely my fault.  I’ve fixed the mistake in the title and in the text, however, because of the way my blogging software works the original title was converted into the underlying link code complete with the misspelling.  The only way to fix that would be to delete the post and republish it as a new article – and lose all the comments and associated social media links, comments, and forwards in the process. 

As such, it stays as it lays and I’ll just live with the shame. At this point, however, I figure there's not much I could do to embarrass myself more than Congress, so, you know, at least I have that going for me.

I’ll be sure to double check my work more carefully in the future. Thanks to all of you who pointed it out, I do appreciate it // Jim


  1. I don't sign many petitions, but I signed the one asking for these so called Senators to be charged under the Logan Act. I sent a letter to our brand new, US Marine, lawyer, Senator telling him he ought to be ashamed and should be charged. (But your letter said it so much better than mine.)

    Cynical me, not holding my breathe waiting for it to happen either.

    1. I signed the petition, too. I tweeted it a gazillion times. I don't expect that the petition will cause these #47Traitors a night without sleep, but at least the White House knows that over 270,000 of us are paying attention.

      Sign the petition

      And...I have got to tweet this statement...I hope it's okay.

      " Republicans have made it clear that when you deal with America, you’re not dealing with a country or a government but with whoever happens to answer the goddamned phone".

    2. Looks like a mix of new knee-jerk neo-cons, with hard-line neo-cons!

      Now they are stimulated by ascendancy of Scott Walker.

      Maybe they can put in Billy Kristol for SOS!
      S. Addelson for Amabassasdor to you know where.

    3. Intelligent and helpful. Thank you for putting in the time to write this. If I taught high school or undergraduate politics, history, sociology, psychology, current events, math...etc., I certainly would find a way to require this as text in the course. Again, thank you.

  2. You're much better at saying what was needed said. Thank You.
    (I would've been insulting them by the third line. With, "Time to grow up children, the adults need to fix the world now.")

  3. Sir, thank you. I did not know about Nixon's actions extending the Vietnam War. I'd actually had a good opinion of Nixon and felt he'd made some bad decisions due to Kissinger's reaction to the Pentagon Papers (which really were less-than-positive for Kennedy's former administration rather than Nixon's)... but this? Yes. Nixon was a traitor. And I suppose now the last Republican President I'll admire is Eisenhower. Though most Republicans would consider him a RINO, I'm sure.

  4. Wish I could sign
    that letter with you Jim

    Wish i could sign the letter with you Jim. Once again ty.

  5. "Your partisan fanaticism and your self-admitted ill-consider ill-consider(ed)"

    1. Also, I think there's a missing R in Quod Erat DemonstRandum.

      Regardless of that, wonderful essay. Applause!
      Gretchen in KS

    2. From what u wrote, it's pretty obvious that u didn't bother to read what was written ; or, u have a brain that is incapable of retaining +/ digesting this information. U made ABSOLUTELY NO attempt to counter his thesis with any kind of reasoned argument. The ONLY thing that u did do was to keep ur comment "clean " ; but it is STILL typical of the non-thinkers that seem to populate the Republican Party + its supporters - name-calling" + making the assumption that if u label ur opponent in a negative manner , that this somehow "magically" succeeds in logically countering his theses . This approach to making conclusions is riddled with logical fallacies + can NEVER prove or even support YOUR position. It is known as "ad hominum " + forms the basis for all negative advertising. If this all you've got in the way of debate or discussion, then u will lose EVERY time . Maybe if u had really understood what the author was saying , u might have had a more sensible response. I suggest that u re-read the article , B4 u attempt to argue its merits in any thought provoking way .

    3. Joyce, it's pretty obvious that Anonymous did indeed read what I wrote and did indeed fully understand it. Anonymous was not engaged in an ad hominum attack, though you are.

      Anonymous was pointing out that I made a couple of typos - which is encouraged here on Stonekettle Station. I'd rather the errors were called out so that I can correct them.

      Regular readers are fully aware of this and often help out. Which I appreciate.

      I'm perfectly capable of defending myself. Just saying. // Jim

    4. In the whole calling out errors vein: It's actually "ad hominEm."

  6. That was amazing. Thank you.

  7. Speechless. In a good way.

  8. As a Vietnam Veteran, I can tell you that you are spot on about the Vietnam War. Sadly, you are also right about our governments failure to learn from it. That was becoming more obvious even as I was winding down my tour.

  9. There were only three or four comments on FB when i started reading this. I can't imagine how many there are now. Thank you , man . Good job.

  10. Great history lesson. Amazing how it takes so long for the proper story to actually be told! But sadly some never learn.

    1. Its not that they can't/won't learn: rather they and only they know the "TRUTH". And that truth is not founded in any reality I'm familiar with.


  11. Thank you for this. I knew that Nixon was evil but commiting treason to get elected, this I did not know. He was the beginning of the end of the Republican party

    1. Rewatch Warren Beatty's "Shampoo" for a truthful take on the Nixon campaign. Eye opening believe it or not.


  12. Well said. I've written my Senator, Kirk, expressing my anger and disappointment with him signing this letter. I made it clear that I am a veteran and that I have a long memory.

  13. I hope that your letter, along with the rest of the post, does reach everyone that it is directed toward.
    I also hope, against belief, that they are somehow capable of understanding it.

  14. Did you miss listing some of the Senators, like Dan Sullivan, (R) AK? http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/10/politics/republican-senators-who-support-iran-letter/index.html
    As always, well written in you distinctive style. I plan to send it to Sullivan and thank Murkowski for NOT signing this missive of stupidity.

  15. Unlike Nixon who had his lackeys secretly and covertly sabotage Johnson's peace deal, these 47 yahoos loudly and overtly try to sabotage the multination effort for the Iranian nuclear deal in some 4th grade snotty letter to the ayatollahs. How childish and hateful can they get? I don't think we've seen the worst from them yet and that scares the hell out of me.

    1. If this is what they're up to publicly, I shudder to think of what's happening unseen. Is there a Kissinger working to derail things unnoticed while all attention is on these public idiots?

    2. No telling what any of them are up to. I feel what ever it is, it's gotta be pretty damned nefarious.

    3. Ma'am, if you have to ask "how childish and hateful can they get?", I'm afraid you may not want to know the answer to that.

      Because every time I have wondered that or something similar, they do something far worse.

      As for it being 4th grade? Judging by their "but the president made me do it!" and "we were only trying to help!" behaviour, 4th graders are more mature than they are. But that is IMO.

  16. I just want to thank you for another wonderful essay. I will definitely be working AGAINST Mark Kirk when he comes up for re-election.

  17. It amazes me that the GOP continually undermines our nation and never pays a price. I knew some of the Nixon saga, Reagan undermining the release of the Iranian hostages until he had taken the oath of office and also Nixon delaying the peace in Vietnam. I was so angry at the 47+ letter that I too signed the WH petition. I believe your letter (while it will miss its mark with the mental midgets who wrote/signed it) is one of best responses and I thank you for expressing the truth so well. Thank you Jim. A proud supporter of peace and diplomacy as the first line of a strong nation. Marlene

  18. Thank you! I've been sputtering unintelligibly in disbelief and anger ever since they pulled this insane thing with the letter...thanks for giving me words to wrap my brain around.

  19. It seems to me that there is an increasing number of Iraqi war veterans running for and being elected to Congress--people like Tom Cotton and Joni Ernst, people who are hyper-patriotic and can take orders. Not only that, evangelical Christians, with their apocalyptic theology, are taking over our military academies and indoctrinating our future commanders. And then you have potential presidential candidate Lindsey Graham, a reserve Army officer, who threatened, if elected, to use the military to force Congress to vote for increased funding for defense and intelligence.

    There are articles floating around implicating Bill Kristol and AIPAC in drafting the Iran letter, and stating that Cotton has gotten a lot of financial backing from the Israel lobby. One article claimed that a large portion of the money funding Republican Party nominees is from the same sources who are trying to defeat Obama’s negotiations with Iran, and that "the combined giving of Adelson, Klarman, Marcus and Singer accounted for over 10 percent of all pro-Republican independent spending in the past two election cycles."

    Are we looking at the prospect of a military coup, backed by Israel and the American Israeli lobby? I mean, can you seriously say that it couldn't happen here?

    1. These are the same NeoCons who have always been well funded by the AIPAC gang. They only care about Israel and don't care what happens in the USA which is why they are willing to back the most evil of Republicans imaginable.

      Hubert Humphrey was a good man who would have advanced Johnson's domestic social policies.

    2. From all of the things I keep hearing about the Air Force being essentially an evangelical breeding ground, this is starting to make me wonder whether the other armed forces are also being similarly brainwashed and it will essentially be close to the country that committed the attempted genocide of people who were not "Aryan" enough. (I'm trying not to use any direct references, but the more I hear the more it sounds very much like that)

    3. You'd think that Tom Cotton and Joni Ernst, having served in Iraq, would have gained some understanding of the people of that area, but apparently they didn't.

    4. Search for Smedley Butler General USMC ret.


  20. Bravo Jim. Thank you!


  21. One quibble and one comment, if you please, sir, some Americans did not support the war in Vietnam because "ignorance, apathy, or kneejerk patriotism," but because their sons, daughters, parents, siblings, and other loved ones were "over there." Also, a biting comment by the fabulous Christine Lavin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhDc_EEDKaQ

    1. We must bring back the Draft.It helps keep the was-hawks in check.

    2. As if. The chicken hawks, and their children, rarely end up going.

  22. Ah, worth the wait! Great writing, as usual, and a valuable history lesson, to boot. Every time I think the Republican party can't sink lower, they manage. Thanks for being a voice of sanity.

  23. Jim: Thank you for this. I saw this letter Sunday night when it first came out and I was in a state of disbelief. It was a sad contrast to the President's beautiful message in Selma, trying (still) to bring us together.

    I posted similar thoughts to a NYT article which I am posting again below. But mine lacks the history of yours. Some day we simply have to learn from our past mistakes.
    My previous post:
    This still angers me beyond belief. Having lived through Viet Nam, Afghanistan and Iraq, I have seen enough war for this country in my lifetime. It is absolutely critical if the talks fail that Iran, rather than the US and the West, be blamed in order to maintain sanctions. This stunt has made that nearly impossible. The Iranians are not hurt nearly as much by our sanctions as they are by the ones the President convinced Europe, Russia and China to impose. If our senators are the reason this fails, does anyone believe these countries will continue sanctions?

    The longer term consequences are potentially even more dire. If you're Myanmar trying to decide to sign on with China or the US for trade purposes, would you go with a country where half the Senators have said that the US can't be trusted to keep its agreements? I think not. For supposedly smart people, these 47 senators have done immeasurable harm to our country. I can only hope the electorate does NOT forget when they are up for reelection.

  24. So, let's review...
    Of the last five Republican presidents, we have:

    1.) Nixon, who sabotaged the Paris peace talks and extended the Vietnam war by years and many, many thousands of lives on both sides (not to mention that whole "third-rate burglary" incident).

    2.) Ford, who pardoned Nixon.

    3.) Reagan, who ignored Congress and sold weapons to Iran (irony alert!) to fund an illegal war in Central America. Hey, at least if Republicans do successfully instigate hostilities with Iran, they'll have a good idea of what weapons the Iranians will use, having the receipts for them and all.

    4.) Bush Senior, who pardoned and/or swept under the rug all the detritus and criminality of the Reagan administration.

    5.) Bush Junior, and do I really have to elaborate more than that?

    That's not a bunch of exceptions to the rule, that's a pattern of behaviour. This is who Republicans are. Deep down, bone deep, soul deep. They are people who believe negotiations are only valid if they are conducted via high explosives and surrender terms. They are people who can stand up and cheer when former Vice President Cheney goes on internationally broadcast television and not only admits that prisoners were tortured on his instructions, but is proud of that fact, while simultaneously decrying the state of human rights in Cuba. And they will never, ever stop acting like this. It's who they are, and they have learned, over the decades, that nobody will stand up to them. Not really. There'll be hemming and hawing and chiding, but that can be ignored. Muted. Paid away. Who's going to stop them? The media? I'd laugh, but it's not funny anymore. Democrats? Please, they're too busy "looking forward and not back" because indicting people for these disgusting acts would touch off a political crap typhoon that might interfere with next election cycle's campaign contributions. Citizens? Go ahead, peasants, scream at the top of your carbon monoxide-caked lungs. they enjoy hearing you bellow in outrage -- it's funny to them.

    They will keep doing these things. War, torture, dismantling society, marginalizing political opponents and anyone else they don't like, torpedoing the world economy... they will do these things until. They. Are. Stopped. Until indictments are handed down, and prison sentences and fines that aren't symbolic wrist-slaps are issued. They will keep on as they are until they are given a reason, in ten thousand meter high burning letters written in the sky, that they can't continue as they have been. Until they are made to understand that "consequences" are not "unfortunate events that happen to unimportant people."

    Until and unless they are held responsible, they will never, ever, ever stop acting as they are. I just wish I knew what it will take for people to finally, en masse, stop putting up with their nonsense and calling it out for what it is, and for people who are actually in positions of authority to take such matters seriously, as opposed to hand-waving all of it away as too damned inconvenient to handle. Somebody Else's Problem, as Douglas Adams would put it. It's always Somebody Else's Problem. Until it isn't. And I really don't want to see what happens at that point.

    1. I agree with you, but don't know what the answer is. Unfortunately, there is no valid basis for prosecution for this act, or for so many others. And there will not be one for the foreseeable future with the Republican controlled Congress. So we come back to the voters, who have less and less say particularly since the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United. The apathy, however, drives me insane. Just think what could happen if the 68% of eligible voters who stayed home in the last election had bothered to vote. THAT is our power, but the vast majority of the electorate simply throws it away.

    2. Others have noted the pattern, too, e.g., Thom Hartman. He seems to gloss over Bush I, though.




    3. I want to know who is responsible for overseeing the behavior of Congress? Congressional Sergent at Arms or something like that right? Isn't it his job to see that these Senators are at least sanctioned if not brought up on actual charges? I certainly don't think the Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell will be much help here - he's a signatory too.

    4. The senators had every right to demend to be involved in the process. Obama is intentionally trying to ensure that Iran gets nuclear weapons. How much planer must it get that Obama sides with the Muslim at every turn. I'm proud of the Senators, finally they are speaking up against this absolutely atrocious president we have that wants to destroy America as we know it.

    5. Obama is intentionally trying to ensure that Iran gets nuclear weapons.

      Riiiiiiight, and Obama the Magic Negro is so nefarious he what? Tricked China, Russia, the UK, France, and Germany into his secret scheme?

      Obama sides with the Muslim at every turn? Tell it to bin Laden, Jackass.

      If you're not on medication, Anonymous, you should be. If you are, try doubling up on the dosage.

    6. Thank you Jim, again. But your assertions are based on "facts" and for far too many in this country Faux News is the source of their "facts". Your piece truly is brilliant, and is being spread far and wide. I can only hope that continues. Thank you for taking the time to remind all of us of our sad history.

    7. Sadly, Jim, I don't think ANY amount of medication will fix people like that.

  25. Thank you. Remarkable essay. Heartbreaking.

  26. Thank you. Remarkable essay. Heartbreaking.

  27. Thank you so much for this perfectly stated essay.

  28. You are right on as to the result of that quote about 'the only way to save the village was to bomb it.' I was on an American Destroyer on Yankee Station when that line came out in the press. Every sailor who could use words of more than one syllable gathered in the helicopter hangar that night and did we ever have a talk with each other. We had come off of a recent stint of rather ugly duty in North Vietnamese waters and felt like we were fighting God's Holy War until we read that. If nothing else, it got us all to thinking about what we were doing, and just why the hell were we doing it?

  29. Thank you Jim, for your marvelous writing, for teaching us the history never found in the media. I have already written my letter to Sen. Portman, Ohio's Shame, but it is nowhere near as eloquent as yours. I'll share the link to your essay. Hope it goes viral.

  30. Far be it from me to correct a retired CWO on military matters, but isn't it "ordnance" rather than "ordinance"?

  31. Well said. I have little to add but will do so anyway.
    War is the most destructive of human endeavors and should always be the last choice when dealing with other nations. Sadly, it is not so in the minds of far too many political leaders of ours and other nations.
    I was in the Army medical corps from 1968 to 1975 and treated far too many soldiers with devastating wounds for my taste. After an interlude, I reentered and among my assignments served in Desert Storm where I once again saw and cared for devastated bodies. The biggest change that time was that we received many children maimed from instruments of war. In addition, we saw children dieing of diarrhea due to the destruction of infrastructure. I was never a proponent of war despite being a soldier. However, that made more clear in my mind just what the cost of war is. The price is too high.

  32. My humble thanks for your article and letter to the 47 criminals.

  33. This is probably the most brilliant thing you have ever written, Jim.

  34. This is probably the most brilliant thing you have ever written, Jim.

  35. Wonderful essay. I was only in my teens during Vietnam, so was politically naive, but I have a friend whose brother came home from there, got a job, and three months later, blew his brains out. My friend found him. War is horrible, and the cavalier way the GOP throws it out there as an option is insane. I thought they were all about Jesus and the Bible? No,they are about killing and not giving it a second thought (unless it's a four week old deformed embryo, and then it MUST be carried to term, or until it dies and infects the mother.) Utah brought back firing squads when they couldn't get drugs to kill inmates. I guess it never occurred to them that they could just do away with the death penalty? How do we get so immune to hate and evil? How do people look at other people and just see enemies, not potential friends? How does the GOP still think 'we' are better than anyone else when we killed hundreds of thousands over the years, and are still killing people? Torture is just as bad a beheading guys, and just because you do it behind closed doors instead of for YouTube doesn't make it moral. I hope those 47 unpatriotic men and women are thrown out of the Senate and fined. And Ernst should be court martialed.

  36. "Now, Therefore, I, Gerald R. Ford, President of the United States, pursuant to the pardon power conferred upon me by Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution, have granted and by these presents do grant a full, free, and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon for all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from January 20, 1969 through August 9, 1974."

    - http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=4696

    So Nixon could still be tried for treason for attempting to scuttle the Paris peace talks in '68.


    1. He could if he weren't dead . . . .

    2. Very interesting. Someone should indict Nixon and see where it leads.

    3. Now, I feel really out of touch for not noticing that Tricky Dick had actually kicked the bucket. Oops.

    4. I had planned to go to Yorba Linda the day of his funeral and get as close as I could to the festivities wearing Victorian garb, carrying a mallet and a stake. However, it rained like a motherfucker that day and I didn't want to sit several hours in a holding cell wearing wet wool.

  37. I have been checking your blog every day, anticipating your essay on this subject. All I can say is that I was not disappointed!

  38. Yes, absolutely. But let's stretch even further back, before Eisenhower. We had the lead up to WWII when some of FDR's "malefactors of great wealth" (Prescott Bush and, sorry, Joseph Kennedy, and hundreds more) were canoodling with Nazis, preceded by the crash of the Gilded Age and the Great Depression. Fast-forward to the never-set-aside goal of destroying Social Security, then Medicare, then the ACA. Recall the Great Recession. They're not just greedy for power and the death of others, they want absolute economic control, too. All the wealth. War-mongering Republican Christian apocalyptic heartless greedy racists — it has become idiotic and very dangerous to pretend otherwise. The good ones feel bad about parts of the program, but they'll vote as they're told.

  39. This essay should be taught in every junior high school and high school in every civics and American history class. Thank you for writing one of your best.

    1. Really doubt Civics is still taught in high school; easier to control little minds that haven't been taught how our government really works.


  40. I wrote to the senator from my state who signed it (could not bring myself to write "my senator," since he is clearly not interested in representing my views). Told him he should be ashamed and that I hoped he'd be sanctioned under the Logan Act. Received back a form letter from his office saying how important he thought the Iran negotiations were and how closely he was monitoring things. Jim, you are a sorely needed voice of reason in an insane political landscape; keep up the good work.

    1. I found myself unable to write to either of "my" senators because neither of them have shown themselves to be at all trustworthy.

      One declared that the PPACA would "pull the plug on granma".

      The other lied and said that her opponent in the Senate election just finished would take away a woman's right to chooose, when it was *SHE* (yes, I'm giving away her gender) who is opposed to a woman's right to choose, and even opposing birth control. As well as claiming to have been so poor that she wore breadbags for shoes.

      I'm pretty sure you know by now which state I live in and who "my" 2 senators are.

      Neither of them would likely listen to me at all because I'm not one of them.

  41. jim, every time i think you cannot write a better column than the last one, there you go, topping what i was sure was untoppable. thank you for this. it is perfect.

  42. I've never read an essay that so powerfully ranges from the hell of Vietnam to the poisonous halls of partisan politics. It's quite a journey, from the first sentence to the last. By the time you finish reading, you are simply blown away by the sheer scope of the politics of war, the malevolence of it and the abyssmal stupidity of those 47 malignant senators.

    D. Jackson

  43. Thank you. Perhaps the most important piece to date you have written. Again Thank you!

  44. MASTERPIECE! Highly anticipated and worth waiting for. Link should be forwarded to all members of congress.

  45. I'm one of those people that saw the light after growing up in a right wing house. I'm also one of the people that was howling against invading Iraq. I also never thought I'd live to see the day that the Jewish people allowed their government to do to others what was done to them. Thank you Jim. Yet again. - Norma (NJ)

  46. Thank you so much. I've been saying the same thing to the two senators from my state who signed the letter. Not nearly as eloquently as you have.

  47. How do we break these fanatics grip upon our nation? They lie, cheat, commit treason and still they have power, in fact increase their power. Only two ideas( policies) would stop their deluded descent into what will probably become another American civil war. First, Return our countries military back to a mostly civilian military. That would mean no volunteer military but mostly a drafted one and Second, the public financing of all federal political campaigns. Our military is the most trained and skilled in the world yet active duty personnel account for less than one percent of our population. If the families of the military personnel are included maybe 2 percent. Include all Veterans maybe 4 to 5 percent ( not certain of this number but it would make sense). Our veterans in active duty and out of service are some of the bravest and self sacrificing members of our American society but they are willing warriors. Who shoulder the burdens real or created by our policy makers. They do not quit or go on strike if ordered to do something that they should not be told to do. Many Americans thank veterans for their service but pay little heed to their responsibility to make sure that we - the citizens of The United States - are not wasting the service and lives of these eager, brave ,young (mostly) people. Most Americans have no connection to the costs of the sacrifices made in their name. With a mostly (70-80%) drafted force everyone would have skin in the game. It would be harder to send everyone's children into an unnecessary conflict and there would be real political blow back to an unpopular war( or military action). The professional military has made it easy for politicians to use that military at will with little consequences. It is time for this republic to make it harder for politicians to use our military. Military conflict should be the last option not the first or second. Hell all war is failure and breaks far more than it fixes. Only when the blood spilled or lives broken impact all of us will America break its addiction to war. Public financing of all Federal political campaigns is the only way to reduce the absolute corruption in American Federal politics. The bought and paid for Senator Cotton probably did not write the letter but someone from AIPAC or Bill Kristol's PAC. Kristol's PAC financed Cotton's run for the senate to the tune of over $900,000 and this stupid ploy was probably Kristol's idea. Cotton's a dumb ass and will end up taking all the heat for this lame stunt. Cotton would not be Senator if all that outside his state's money did not get dumped in his lap. Federal politicians are nothing more than whores anymore. they spend twice as much time begging for campaign contributions than doing their elected jobs. the congress is literally a Ponzi scheme with all members of congress( both parties) having to pony up money for the campaigns of other members of their party once they get into office. The whole system makes it impossible to get an honest person to run for Federal office. Get the money out and we might have a chance to get rid of these lame asses in our federal government. I put forth ideas for fixes because America's broken and we better fix before it breaks and we can never put it back together. Mike Enos from Central CA ( I sign it because I still can not figure out how to post as any thing other than Anonymous).

    1. I hand this commenter a box of paragraph breaks.

  48. Thank you for the history lesson. I never heard of Ben Tre until I read your blog. Kissinger is hated figure in many countries in Latin America and after reading about his backstabbing move against President Johnson I do not know why his Nobel peace prize has not been taken away.

    1. And, to think, there are people on the GOP and even some liberals who think that President Obama's peace prize should be taken away.

      I would say Kissinger is far worse than Obama.

  49. Didn't Saint Ronnie do also too, with the Iranian hostages ?

    1. This is the only conspiracy that I buy. Bush was missing for several days and never accounted for them, the Iranians kept the hostages until Reagan was inaugurated, and Iran got their weapons. All of the pieces are there, only a few people were involved, so little chance of leakage.

  50. Jim, correct me if I was misinformed on this, didn't RayGun to the same thing regarding the Iran Hostage Negotiations? I heard President Carter had a deal worked out but RayGun's lackeys sabatoged that deal.
    John Cunningham

    1. John - I remember reading about this, too, but it was a long time ago and I don't remember the sources. I'm pretty sure you are right.

  51. This is a masterpiece of capturing facts and expressing the outrage of the choir! Thank you for the thought, effort and word craft that puts it together so comprehensively.

    At the risk of being a real jerk, I would like to make an addition:

    We may rail against these actions, but it does not negate our culpability for having allowed such unscrupulous individuals to be elected. Moderate Conservatives, Unaffiliated Voters, Progressives and Liberals who failed to vote in the 2010 and 2014 Mid-Term Elections are just as responsible for the actions of the irresponsible members of the 114th Congress as if they had invited Netanyahu or signed the reprehensible letter to Iran themselves!

    1. Absolutely. After carrying petitions door-to-door (the olden days) to get 18-year-olds the right to vote, I turned 18 just in time (1972) to vote against Richard Nixon. I vote in every Democratic primary and every general, every year. I once even showed up to the polls when there were no races in my district. Everyone, register and VOTE.

  52. Thank you for this, Jim. As always, you're right on point. Maybe your eloquence will help inspire me when I take my senior Senator, McCain, to task for his part in this despicable event. I sure hope so.

    I've already written my junior Senator, Jeff Flake, to thank him for having the maturity to refuse to sign, but it's a sad commentary on the republican party that merely showing up and occasionally acting like an adult is somehow praiseworthy.

    Pete Moulton

    1. "...it's a sad commentary on the republican party that merely showing up and occasionally acting like an adult is somehow praiseworthy."

      I hope that is something that you included in your letter to him.

  53. The phrase "Faced with an unwinnable war aboard" should read "Faced with an unwinnable war abroad" I find it amusing my spellchecker flags unwinnable as misspelled. No, I think that's a word.

  54. .

    "What will save our nation and our world, the only thing that will ultimately save civilization itself, is that we work together, all of us - and that’s something else Captain John McCain USN(ret) and the veterans among your number should know as well."

    Ema Nymton will sign Stonekettle's open letter without reservation!


    But keep in mind; Republican'Ts _HATE_ President Obama absolutely. Nothing, _NOTHING_ is beyond Republican'T's hate-filled scorched-earth desire to destroy President Obama and his accomplishment. One can be assured that the 'Letter To Iran' is not an isolated incident nor an end to Republican'Ts' efforts.

    Ema Nymton

  55. Thank you, Jim. This was a great posting and a much needed history lesson. I appreciate you.

  56. Thank you, Jim, for putting words to my anger at these blind and willfully ignorant fools.

  57. Almost perfect. Bloody Thursday would have been 46 years ago not 40 and it might be made more clear that Reagan was Governor at the time (Edwin Meese, what a fine upstanding henchman he was). Minor quibbles at best but since this will be shared far and wide it should be dead solid perfect. Thanks for a tremendous piece of writing.

  58. Well said Jim. My Canadian brother served in the Marines in the late sixties and still suffers from the impact. It was a well-written history lesson for me. Thank you.

  59. Thank you for serving our country and for speaking out for it.

  60. Thanks Jim, I actually called Cotton's office, and politely asked that he withdraw the letter and apologize from the Floor of the Senate...I can only imagine the giggling going on after I hung up...

  61. Thank you once again. Is there some way we can make your letter to the 47 idiots an open letter and viral? If so, please either do it or show us how.
    I'm more afraid than ever for the future of our country.
    Sara W.

  62. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. Thank you for this important history lesson.

    One small edit: you're missing an r in the third word of QED: quod erat demonstrandum

  63. Here is a bit more of the history of republicans and their election thievery. It's a nice complement to your, as usual, fantastic essay.

  64. JIm, thanks for your passion and work. I was a Marine in Nam 66-67 and then with the Embassy and Peace Talks in Paris 68-71. I watched all of that with an eagle eye and open ears. It was difficult to do my job with the consternation going on inside me. Regards...

  65. Sir, aside from my replies to other commenters, I read this entry becoming more and more horrified as the things I knew were then added to with things I had not known previously.

    My best friend's father is a Viet Nam vet with heavy exposure to Agent Orange. He has a lot of health problems. So does she. There appears to be genetic damage that he passed on to her, and her health is definitely not what it should be.

    I always felt that Richard Nixon was a bad man, not to be trusted, despite some of the good things he did. This cements it.

    I just wish there was a way to break the brainwashing that FoxNews and the fundamentalist evangelical Christians (I specify the religion because there are fundamentalist evangelicals of different religions) have on a majority of the people and GOP politicians in this country. Because we are heading down a very long and very bad road and we may end up taking the entire planet with us.

    Those folks will likely not care until they realize that they will NOT be "raptured" and instead will face the hell hole that they created. There is a reason why "you made your bed, now you have to lie in it" is a saying.

  66. You are my god AND I cried. This blog post is a painful history lesson that does not really surprise me. I don't know how you do everything you do, but keep on, even if it means pissing in the wind. I hope the wind will change thanks to true patriots like you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  67. Not entirely sure why, but I had the opening theme from M*A*S*H going through my head repeatedly while I was reading this.

  68. Thanks for another thoughtful article. The treasonous 47 arrogantly act as if the US and Iran are the only nations involved. Can you just imagine the the level noise erupting from Congress had a similar note have been written by say, the British Parliament? Those senators may well have raised their hands to God while taking their oath to the US, but they must have had fingers crossed on the other.

  69. Jim, complete and well thought, as always. But one nit to pick. This time around, it is definitely not to be fought by our children, but by those children. The all volunteer military guarantees their children will not be subject unless they choose - and the Romney boys are a perfect example of those who find "service" is defined differently for them then for "us." Sure, W "served" (heck, going AWOL to get involved in a campaign, that's service, isn't it)? Yes, the plutocrats and neocons may be risking some riches, but they got theirs. They will continue to find ways for "not us" to pay for everything, in time, in treasure, in lives.

    1. Bring back the Draft.

    2. I would advance one solution. Every time military action is taken ever single member of Congress must give the name of a close family member who will represent them on the front line. Not someone in an office behind the lines or stateside but someone within the immediate family volunteering for front line duty. If they don't volunteer someone they cannot vote for military action. Marlene

  70. “Bravo Jim!” and might I add, “Encore, Encore, Encore!” This essay is, by far, your best work, I have had the pleasure of reading, to date. I was hoping that you were working on something phenomenal, while posting all those cat pictures, and you, my fellow American, delivered in spades. Thank you for your heartfelt call to action. United we stand and together we can make a difference. The fight for peace, waged in words, is often the most difficult. Your words spoke volumes today. Peace be with you, Jim.

  71. Wow. So much of your work is brilliant, but this takes the cake. Just wow.
    Karin (I am apparently only allowed to sign on as anon.)

  72. Nixon was why I studied politics! He was a portrait of political ambition gone horribly wrong. When Conservatards compare the Clintons to evil I always remind them, "Hey, Nixon was one of yours."

  73. As soon as news of that letter came out I immediately thought "Here comes a Jim Wright essay in 5..4..3....." and Jim's response does not disappoint. Fascinating, troubling and saddening all at once. As Jim relates, there are single tipping points in US and international interaction that in the 20/20 hindsight of time, we all wish might have gone differently.

    In late 1945 Ho Chi Minh had penned his country's "Declaration of Independence" from France, heavily influenced and based on our own. As a Vietnamese nationalist first and socialist second (and US ally vs Japanese occupation in Indochina), he thought the USA might throw its influence against pre-WW 2 colonial powers and actually support Vietnam over return to French colonialism. However, the US needed French support vs a growing Soviet dominated bloc in a new Cold War. If only................

    In 1959 a young Fidel Castro, fresh from leading a nationalist, popular rebellion in Cuba, arrived in New York (invited by the US press). He was an impressive and vital representative of a youthful, naive and unformed eagerness for change in Latin America. President Eisenhower spurned meeting with him but sent his VP to check out Castro (cuz the kid might be amenable to inviting US industry back in Cuba for the cheap labor and cigars). VP Richard Nixon met Castro, shook his hand and came away effectively labeling him a "communist" (which at the time was the equivalent of today calling any Arab or Persian a radical Islamic terrorist). If only..........

    Other examples of course include what if two aircraft had not collided at Desert One outside Teheran in April 1980; the Marine sentries at the Beirut airport had shot that bearded fucker before he drove into the BLT HQ in 1983; and if SCOTUS had let Florida election officials finish counting hanging chads in 2000. If only........

    After watching the slow motion screaming clown show of the 2000 election, directly resulting in the wholesale rape of our economy and invasion/occupation of Iraq and the last 6 years of growing racist lunacy of our government vs a Negro POTUS, there is no surprise at all at this Senate letter. We can only wait and see where fate takes us now (with a heavy dose of billionaire driven, Christian Taliban stupid). Semper Fi - Tommy D

    1. you forgot: If only the Bushies had listened to Richard Clarke when he said " you will spend most of your time on Al Qaida" instead of trying to re-light the cold war. They might have prevented 9/11 in the first place. Gore would also have been more inclined to listen to Clarke.

    2. Actually Stuart - There is very little that occurred during the Cheney/Bush years that I do not remember. Clarke's handover terror threat briefing was ignored because the incoming admin had a pre-planned multi-pronged agenda from the start to implement as soon as possible before anyone noticed. Objective, experience based advice was actively ignored and debased because truth seldom jibed with or supported the national rape that Cheney/Bush supporters had been planning for years. The Bush "mandate" that the GOP Justices had shoved up our collective hind ends was seen as their due, and nothing was going to stop them.

      I was speaking of 'tipping points' where a different response to events would/might have resulted in massive changes in the future and the world today. Ignoring Clarke and everyone else not contributing to the Cheney/Bush "new reality" was a feature, not a bug of those times. As such, I do not consider it a tipping or decision point in history.

      As for 9/11, that day was also preordained by active decisions by Cheney/Bush. By late Summer 2001 the shine and wheels had come off the new admin, and the public was starting to question whether SCOTUS had made the right call in December. The Cheney/Bush admin was starting to flounder and we saw Bush for the man-child that he is. Despite FBI warnings of Egyptian flight school students only interested in taking off, screaming red Intel warnings and the 6 August PDB predicting the attack - Bush and Co laid back and let 9/11 happen to provide the national emergency to get them back on track to push through their agenda. (I do not think that in their wildest dreams that the twin towers would be brought down and the Pentagon wrecked. But, it still worked to their advantage.)

      Remember that Bush was pleased that he had "hit the trifecta" on 9/11 as an excuse to drain the SSA trust fund for subsequent privatization. And they could attack Iraq sooner than intended to, whether Saddam had any involvement with 9/11. Who cared whether it was true, it was all part of the plan. Not a tipping point.

      The primary difference I see between the GOP then and now is that the single minded reversal of established governing practices and rules that the Cheney/Bush admin committed had been fully planned out years ahead, and today the children of the Bush years have no plan at all to follow in wrecking the country. They just say NO to anything Obama or the Dems support.

      We are in for a long and bumpy ride my friends. Tommy D

    3. Minor point, Tommy D. The pilots in flight school weren't Egyptians, but (mostly) Saudi Arabian. You know, the country with long-standing ties to the Bush family.

    4. Oh SNAP howdid! I stand corrected and frankly embarrassed. That is the kinda rookie error that would have us invade the wrong country. Now I have to hand in my Junior G-Man Terror Alert ring, my commemorative George Tenet 'Slam Dunk' shot glass and do volunteer work at the Carlyle Group. Damnit! A shame faced Tommy D slinks away.......

  74. Jim, I fear for my country and you have articulated perfectly the reasons why. I don't understand why these criminals keep getting elected and why their constituencies stand by them. Will it take nuclear war with Iran, and perhaps another draft, for folks to come to their senses? I just don't know. The hyper-partisan Christian extremism is the worst I have ever seen in my 46 years. It seems each subsequent Republican administration has further pushed the boundaries of what we will tolerate from our leaders. This letter to Iran is so far beyond the pale. Will it finally wake people up? The damage done goes so far beyond just the Iran situation. They have damaged this country, the Presidency, Congress. They have forever changed how politics is done in the United States. They have altered our position globally. All for the worse. They are playing with fire, nuclear war to be specific. And they claim they were just being "cheeky?" That they were STRENGTHENING the President? That they were in too much of a hurry to really think it through? They will get away with these excuses, just like they got away with having Netanyahu here. When are our citizens going to wake up and say no more? Sign the petition. Let's not let these traitors off the hook.

    1. It is all part of the "end times" scenario. Israel is destroyed, wars/rumors of wars continue and all those wonderful "Christians" get to go to heaven. The problem is, none of those advocating the end times scenario are the types that Jesus wants to be next to him in heaven. But don't tell the Christianists that.

    2. "perhaps another draft"? The draft made most people more involved with the waging of war because their sons (at the time only males were drafted) were going to be to fodder of the war-hawks. It made everyone a little more careful about supporting war.

  75. I tried to copy and paste your letter to Dan Sullivan's (the carpetbagger from Ohio) Facebook page, but it wouldn't let me, and he has no official website where I could send it to him. Hiding from the blowback to his treasonous act no doubt. Bastard! (Another Koch whore who bought his way into Alaska politics).

  76. Why is the US such a collection of chickenshit war mongers?

    I think the simple reason is this: we haven't had war beaten out of us yet.

    We have not known what it is like to live with our capital cities bombed to shit. We do not know what it is like to be on the brink of starvation. And I am talking about the kind of starvation where you are going out and finding cat tails and boiling pine needles, not the kind of "I can't afford a bag of Cheetos" starvation.

    We think war is a video game. Something to throw other people's children at. Something to watch on TV and go "oooh, that bomb nailed it."

    We have not yet had our treasury so depleted that roads are impossible to fix, power grids fail at regular intervals nation wide, tornadoes and hurricanes devastate and there is no money to fix it and bridges collapse and there is no money to fix any of this.

    The Soviet Union was so depleted at the end that it took 15 years to install a phone. Those long lines that Soviets used to stand in? It was for bread and cheese, otherwise too many people were not getting any thing to eat that day.

    9/11 was only a tiny taste of what European counties have gone through for the last 2000 years. It was just a smidgen of the devastation that war could wring.

    We are full of bluster. Because we just haven't had the snot kicked out of us enough. Europe went through endless wars before the twin gut punch of World War I and World War II.

    Those two wars on top of hundreds of wars before them was it. They had their fill. Enough.

    Does the US have to go through this too? Do we have to crank the heat on this boiling frog?

    Are we going to fucking learn before this happens and we are in the throes of another z Middle Eastern civil war that makes the last one look like a backyard brawl?

    Are we going to learn not to poke at Iran? Because Iran is NOT Iraq.

    Iran is a very well financed, young and well armed country. They've got the backing of Russia and China. China needs their energy, Russia does not want Iran destabilized because of the Caucasus region. There are 60 ethnic groups in the Caucasus region and they all hate each other.

    Anybody who thinks that Bosnia was a terrible war, you haven't seen sectarian strife until you look at the Caucasus region.

    Saddam Hussein was called "the cork" because he kept the tribalism in check in Iraq. We foolishly eliminated him and it has devolved into the terrifying shit we have now?

    ISIS? Yeah, John McCain wanted to arm them just two years ago. So the fact the the signed that dumb, fucking Letter To Iran was just part of his dementia continuum.


    1. We aren't chickenshit warmongers, mostly. We're scared—we have been scared—and we've lost control of our government.

      And, damn, losing wars doesn't help. We have so many examples of countries that have been bombed to hell and are just as bellicose after as before. Heck, look at Russia. What makes countries peaceful is peace, peace and prosperity, and that is why the USA was the one left standing at the end of the 20th century.

      You mention the Caucasus. Did you know that some of the best and fiercest leaders of ISIL are Chechens? A people who have never known peace, not in centuries.

    2. Yes. This. Chickenshit warmongers with a remote in our hands. Nailed it.

    3. Well, the South kinda got beat down a bit. Bunch of misfit racist Jesustan assholes and likely a quorum of the 47 at this point. I can say that since I live in the south. Well, Texas, which brings up a whole nuther set of issues. Interesting theory though, keep after it.

    4. One cannot "have war beat out of 'em".
      It is the pervassive everyday fear we must reject for ourselves and the children.
      Help someone today - help them to realize we are joined at the heart and need not be fearful.
      Stonekettle is fearless and Is therefore effective
      Thankyou, Jim.

  77. I would like this letter to be sent to every one of those traitors, and am so mad I can hardly type. For the record my husband is a Vietnam veteran with multiple agent orange related health problems.

  78. I think that may be the angriest post I've ever seen from you, Jim Wright. Thank you.

    To the issue, this is a sad end to the conservative dream that began with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. I am reminded of that administration's Iran-Contra scandal. Same country, same political faction, and junior officials of that administration are still active in politics.

    Publishing that letter was a stunningly disloyal act. Is this perhaps the overreach that either leads the conservatives to dictatorial power, or begins the end of their movement? I am discouraged that all their depredations against the public did not end the movement, but this blatant disloyalty is probably too much even for most conservatives, for whom loyalty is a strongly-held value.

    Diplomatically countries do foolish things all the time. Usually they are forgiven. There is no international world order or law which most governments will not break at convenience. When one gets down to it, most states are rogue states. So the treaty negotiations may survive this.

  79. Here's a link to a very good open letter to Cotton & 47 rethuglicians. The author from VA explains quite succinctly why the 47 need to take a course in American Government, among other things.

    He, Stetson, gives permission to forward his letter. There are some interesting comments, too. May be a bit long for some attention spans.


    Sorry, won't let me sign as usual, but you nailed it again! Best, Lady Di

  80. Because of Nixon, prolonging the Viet War, our nephew was killed.

  81. Thank You for a great essay. Many, many great comments, also. Gives me hope. USAF-64-70

  82. I agree that this stunt the republicans pulled is bullshit, but did you write a letter like this when the Dems pulled the same crap not once but many times?

    1. Be more specific. Give three examples.

    2. The Dems letter to Ortega in 1984, Pelosi's visit to Assad in 2007, the Dems visit to Iraq in 2002, and Sen. Tunney's visit to Moscow in 1983 on behalf of Kennedy.

    3. That's what I figured, right off Breitbart.

      To answer your question, no.

    4. Pelosi's meeting: NBC nNews

      Letter to Ortega: New York Times

      Dems visit to Iraq: sfgate

      Tunney's visit to Moscow: Forbes

      I don't read Breitbart. Maybe you shouldn't read media Matters.

    5. Dude, c'mon. Every one of those examples and the associated links are right out of the Breitbart article.

      And I answered your question.

    6. My point was they didn't start there. Breitbart just culled them all together for one of their hit pieces. Now if you have any evidence they didn't happen show it.

    7. Oh, was that your point?

      Anonymous, for the second time: I answered your question.

      As always, you attempt to move the goalposts. I won't allow you to do so and you should know that by now.

      I did you the courtesy of answering your question, I don't see that I owe you anything else. You're done now.

  83. Oh, geeze . . . oh so specific. A little advice here Anon, better that you cite some examples than just dump here.

  84. Brilliant! And thank you! You stated so much unknown history, and I call myself a historybuff. This essay is definitely a (another) keeper.

  85. So, if you're going to talk historic examples, it might also be educational to look at the North Korean Agreed Framework... which would be the last time we tried to talk a nascent nuclear weapons state back from that particular decision.

    It worked so well that they've shot 3 test nukes of increasing size and complexity. Great job there, getting them to not develop a nuclear weapons capability.

    I don't get the impression that that particular example has been pondered by most commentators who are as upset as they are about the Republican Senatorial intervention.

    It's also worth noting that the _content_ of the letter is correct - that if this is done as a sole-executive agreement, without congressional approval, then it's purely a "convenience" agreement, and open to modification at any time by either side. Surely not the kind of binding agreement one would want for something this serious.

    1. So, if you're going to talk historic examples, it might also be educational to look at the North Korean Agreed Framework... which would be the last time we tried to talk a nascent nuclear weapons state back from that particular decision.

      And if that example had any relevance to the point of the article, I would have happily used it. It didn't, so I didn't.

  86. Vietnam was traumatic enough for the US to have had lasting effect on our military thinking. Has it? I don't know. I think that we as a nation are deluged with images of war, and every other pic and video that TV execs think will bring in $$. So, we know what it looks like and I don't think we want more of it. However, the scare tactics act on the mind in a primal way and they may just work again. We have a whole storehouse of issues right here at home with which to deal. Continue to hold Congress accountable. Write you Reps and Senators don't just tweet. Don't vote stupid. Ignore Fox News and the babbling heads.

  87. Our boy Tom Cotton had it all figured out in December - Give Israel some B-52"s and MOP's and they take care of Iran. The guy's f$#&-ing brilliant, I sez.

  88. Jim, one nit to pick with your excellent, excellent essay:

    Nixon was not the senator from California at the time. He was senator much earlier -- unless that's what you meant.

  89. Nixon was not the only Republican traitor. Reagan made a deal with Iran to keep the hostages till Carter's term was over. Reagan then sold weapons to Iran in thanks and to fund the Contras in breach of US law. At least this time it was done in the open but we should keep an eye on them in the lead up to the next election. Who knows who they will make a deal with next. ISIS?

  90. Superbly done! This essay and your letter deserve to be widely shared. I will do my part.

    Ben Tre happened while I was on active duty USN 67-73, WestPac. It was the first of several obscene incidents that helped me understand both the inhumanity and futility of police-action wars, even while my duty was to conduct such a war. "Conflicted" does not adequately describe the inner turmoil.

    With regard to the 47 non-patriot war-mongers, I unfortunately sent a letter of outrage to my senator-signatory too early. That would be John McCain, and it was before his claim that due to a snowstorm he didn't read it before signing and that maybe it should have been discussed more. If I had waited until now, I would have been able dish on him about his lame excuses and, with your permission, used your wonderful line:

    "Should have thought about it some more? Geez, I dunno, Senator, ya fucking think?"


  91. .
    I sent your piece to 60 of my closest friends with this note:

    "I’ve sent a couple of things to you from Stonekettle Station before. The author is a retired service man from Alaska. This piece is on The 47. It is The Best thing I’ve read in any category in years.

    "Jim Wright places today’s political actions in context, educating me about things I’ve lived through. Mr. Wright weaves a report – spins a yarn – tells a tale and when he is done there are few questions. Jim tells you the situation and then he takes action. He’s good.

    "I heartily encourage you to bookmark him, subscribe to his page and contribute to his efforts. Going to his page affords you the chance to see the comments of others. His reader group is large, the remarks valuable."

    Here are some replies:

    “Excellent piece”

    ‘"...the lost potential and lost opportunity of an entire generation."
    ‘This accurately describes the ultimate tragedy of Viet Nam to our generation.
    ‘Thanks for a great post.
    ‘Pray for peace.’

    “I agree. This is very well written. Very readable and enlightening. I hope all of your readers appreciate the great lengths you go to, to educate us. :-)”

    And I thank you,

  92. Newsman Josh Marshall: "Even after everything we've seen, I was surprised that Tom Cotton was able to get almost the entire Republican Senate caucus to sign on to his letter advising Iranian hardliners to walk away from a bargain with President Obama and the other world leaders involved in the Iranian nuclear negotiations. But it's almost more amazing to me how many of them are surprised this may not have been a good idea.…why did they all sign?"—Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo.

    I suspect the reason's name is Adelson.

    BTW, the anti-semites are having a field day with this. The diplomats involved in the negotiation are (diplomatically) spitting mad.

  93. That does it. I'm adding you to my little "hey read this" list on my own little blog. It's a big tree and our axes may be small but there are more and more of them.

  94. As usual, spot on. I am hoping, however, that they are held accountable for their treasonous acts. They need to answer for this. Unlike Benghazi, this is an actual nationally embarrassing scandal.

  95. Well said, sir! I'm glad I found this thread, albeit backwards (lol), from your comments on the goalpost mover.

  96. I found your essay, and the open letter, brilliant. No question. Please keep writing, please keep being a voice of sanity.

    I also found the actions of these Senators the most cogent argument for Congressional term limits I have yet seen. They threatened the heads of a foreign government with their presumed "office for life". Therefore, they cannot be trusted to remain in office and serve any interests but their own.

    Never mind the Logan Act or the "T" word, I want a Constitutional Convention.

    In case this posts as "Anonymous",

    Dyanna Flynn

  97. Well said Jim; similar to my thoughts but expressed far better than I ever could.
    Your description of these events is even more enlightening as you report them in context. Many of my generation, some of them my friends, were permanently damaged by the Viet Nam war and those extra years only increased the numbers.

    With respect to George Santayana; "Those who cannot remember the past [not the FOX News version of history] are condemned to repeat it [and subject the rest of us to the devastating results]"

  98. Thank you for your words. I have been looking for them all week as I was sure you would state the case well. I don't think the senators can be prosecuted for treason or sedition however I hope they will be subject to widespread condemnation. It was in that spirit that I sent one of the #47Traitors tweets.

  99. Excellent piece! I couldn't agree more.

    As an aside, Pakistan and India have had nuclear weapons since 1998 and nobody is freaked out about that at all.

    As if Muslim Pakistan were the most stable place on earth. It's crazy.

    The Iranians are not stupid. They can find Iran on a map and see who is surrounding it. I would want a nuke too if i were in that spot.

  100. I do not think those in question are childish or stupid. I think they are calculating in their deceptions and their profit projections. These days, it seems the right seeks to acquire higher value, measured in dollars. The party has changed. The labels have changed. The goal remains the same. The scale is now global. What is at stake is the globe, literally.

    Pentagon Report “The impacts of climate change may cause instability in other countries by impairing access to food and water, damaging infrastructure, spreading disease, uprooting and displacing large numbers of people, compelling mass migration, interrupting commercial activity, or restricting electricity availability. These developments could undermine already-fragile governments that are unable to respond effectively or challenge currently-stable governments, as well as increasing competition and tension between countries vying for limited resources. These gaps in governance can create an avenue for extremist ideologies and conditions that foster terrorism.”

    Isfet, Ma’at

    I’m sick of antiquated systems,
    And tired of faltering methodologies,
    Old money’s time has come.
    Be still and listen.
    The winter winds whisper.
    We must adapt or perish.

    I’m sick of scrambling to
    Patch, patch, patch the crack.
    Why struggle through this exercise in futility?
    One cannot roll back the tides.
    The water will find its way,
    With insurmountable force.
    It will wind, and twist, and flow
    Past every barrier placed in its path.

    Stop and feel its force,
    As energy builds,
    Behind the walls, built by man,
    Unnatural to the landscape
    That eternity has crafted,
    With its infinite wisdom,
    And insurmountable power.

    The levy, the levy, the levy is breaking.
    The water is rising.
    Its power is surging.
    Its force is penetrating.
    Nature will concur once more
    What is hers and hers alone.

    While they sit in scandal,
    Contemplating ways to consolidate conspiracy,
    Clinging to old money,
    Not earned, but stolen,
    Seeking to preserve their fortune,
    While massacring the unfortunate,
    It amasses, the despair of the downtrodden.

    Feel the power brewing beneath your boot.
    Nature’s force is growing,
    With every life force, they stomp out.
    The tides are rising,
    Capitulating beneath your bootstrap,
    Her force will seize your system.

    The levy, the levy, the levy is breaking.
    The water is rising.
    Stand. Revere her mastery.
    We must adapt or perish.
    Do not tremble before her majesty.
    Concede in awe of her power.
    The rightful ruler has come to claim her throne
    And restore balance to our squanderers lot.


  101. Last typo alert: "As of 2013, the U.S. government pays more that $22 billion to Vietnam veterans. . . " Suspect that 'that' should be 'than.' Amazed nobody's noticed this already. ;-)

  102. I always learn so much from reading your articles/essays!! Thank you

  103. Naïve, lefty isolationists, such as the author of the above, were responsible for much of the carnage of WWII, thanks to their keeping the U.S. out of the war for so long. Their ilk is still alive and unwell, obviously. Those supporting Iran over Israel are hopelessly ignorant and naïve re international politics.

    1. Uh huh.

      1. Quote the part where I support Iran. Verbatim, quote the part of my essay that supports Iran.

      2. Quote the part that makes me an Isolationist. Again verbatim.

      3. Since you brought up the WWII comparison, demonstrate that Iran is preparing to or already has conquered Poland and/or China or is currently marching across Europe.

      4. As a military intelligence officer, I spent a hell of a lot of time in the Middle East in close proximity to Iran. I happen to know a great deal about the area. However, since you refer to me as naive, how about you shuck the Anonymous label and the IP blocker and put your credentials on the table? If I'm naive and hopelessly ignorant of international politics, tell me specifically why you aren't via verifiable proof. Real name, profession, and experience.

      No moving the goalposts. No more personal attacks. Answer the questions.

    2. So, nothing, eh? Just an another anonymous coward, that's about what I figured.

      Speaking of naive and ignorant:

      Naïve, lefty isolationists, such as the author of the above, were responsible for much of the carnage of WWII, thanks to their keeping the U.S. out of the war for so long.

      Might want to double-check that bit of history, Anonymous, it's as accurate as your assumptions regarding me.

      Specifically look up the Nye Commission: Senator Gerald P. Nye (Conservative Republican, ND), William Edgar Borah (Conservative Republican, ID), and Arthur H. Vandenberg (Conservative Republican, MI). The commission was responsible for what became the Neutrality Acts of 1935 and 1936 and kept the US out of WWII until Dec 7th, 1941.

      Also, while you're at it, look up Charles A. Lindbergh. American hero. Famed pilot. Staunch conservative. Republican. And loudly outspoken Isolationist, who vehemently opposed any involvement in WWII, including support to our allies of any kind. And who used his fame to effectively rally America against involvement in Europe or Asia - right up until the attack on Pearl Harbor.

      In fact, it was the President, "Lefty" Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who kept urging Americans to get involved as early as 1935 and who opposed the Neutrality Acts and isolationism because "it would prevent the United States from supporting its allies abroad." It was "lefties" who pushed through the Lend Lease Act - against stiff opposition from conservatives like Lindbergh.

      Jump forward 60 years. "Lefty" President Obama urged involvement in Libya and Syria. Remind me again who it was that opposed such action?

      Isolationism is a conservative trait, Anonymous. By definition. That's what "conservative" means.

      Some friendly advice, in the future, were I you, I'd be a lot more careful tossing around labels such as "naive" and "ignorant" ... and then demonstrating both. Pretty much makes you look like a fucking idiot. Just saying.

    3. Jim,

      Obviously, Anon. has never been reminded of the maxim:

      It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it. (Maurice Switzer, “Mrs. Goose, Her Book,” 1907)

      Either that or Anon. is just another tough talking pussy.

      Chris in S. Jersey

    4. I just want to reinforce Jim Wright's remark, because "Anonymous" is spreading such a disingenuous tale about World War II that it cannot be left unanswered. The opposition to American involvement in World War II came almost entirely from Republicans and their friends in the business world. This is a fact that is so well known, that it is hard to credit Anonymous' comment as anything less than a piece of miserable propaganda.

  104. "These fanatics have sent a message to not only our enemies, but our strongest allies and largest economic trading partners (and rivals) that any agreement with the US is not to be taken seriously and could, in fact, dissolve at any moment based on the unpredictable whims of American partisan politics "

    I thought that ship had sailed long ago. Bush's decision to abandon the Kyoto Protocol is the example that immediately comes to mind, but I suspect there are other examples of the United States backing out of its commitments.

    What the senators did was foolish, unhelpful, and possibly illegal, but there's been ample evidence before this how unreliable America can be.

  105. Thank you so much for writing about Nixon's treachery during the 1968 campaign. The Reagan campaign did something similar in the 1980 Presidential campaign (regarding the release of the hostages). Wasn't it coincidental that the hostages were released the same day as Reagan's inauguration? Robert Parry (www.consortiumnews.com) has reported at length about both of these incidents. But "both sides", dontcha you know, so "it doesn't matter who you vote for".

  106. Thanks Jim. I really needed this, especially after reading Dick Cheney's rant published in Playboy. The man is a genuine sociopath and I find extremely discouraging that so many in this country still treat him as somehow worthy of attention. Regarding Vietnam, when I returned in 1972, I began reading all I could find about the history of that country and our involvement in that debacle. The more I read the angrier I became, especially the part about the Paris peace accords and Nixon's treasonous actions. Given the current state of our country, I cannot help but be saddened and discouraged that there doesn't seem to be anything we can do. Lessons were not learned, and we are allowing the very ones that have deftly avoided military service draw up the rules. I vote and I write. What else is there?

  107. Thanks Jim. I really needed this, especially after reading Dick Cheney's rant published in Playboy. The man is a genuine sociopath and I find extremely discouraging that so many in this country still treat him as somehow worthy of attention. Regarding Vietnam, when I returned in 1972, I began reading all I could find about the history of that country and our involvement in that debacle. The more I read the angrier I became, especially the part about the Paris peace accords and Nixon's treasonous actions. Given the current state of our country, I cannot help but be saddened and discouraged that there doesn't seem to be anything we can do. Lessons were not learned, and we are allowing the very ones that have deftly avoided military service draw up the rules. I vote and I write. What else is there?

  108. Several other commenters have already called this post a "masterpiece". I heartily agree, it's one of your all-time best and I thank you for it. I also thank my fellow commenters for their collective observations- Jim, you clearly have some of the most educated, well-informed and politically savvy followers on the Internets and you damn well deserve them.

    Re: Nixon. I had been unaware of Nixon's Viet Nam treachery but don't find it surprising at all. I clearly remember the day I heard the first news report about the Watergate break-in over the radio while at work and my first thought was "It's about time they nailed that sonofabitch Nixon's hide to the wall". What a shame that it took another couple of years to remove him from the office he so disgraced.

    Someone far more clever than me once wrote that "Irony died the day that Kissinger was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize".

    I'll finish by reminding all those who don't vote why voting is so damned important. I can boil it down to four words: Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, Alito.

  109. I was totally with you until you brought up Netanyahu. You gave a wonderful summary of the American madness in Vietnam, and then all of a sudden it turns out that today's problems are not about what caused Vietnam at all, but about Israel. Netanyahu was 18 years old in 1967, and really didn't have anything to do with the Vietnam war, which was indeed the precursor of the Republicans' war madness today.

    In fact, you have things exactly backwards. It is a great mistake to forget that, after his Israeli military service, Netanyahu returned to the United States, where he worked with and formed lifelong relationships with Republican politicians- before he ever had any involvement in Israeli politics. In fact, the truth is, Netanyahu is not an Israeli who has infected Republicans with his craziness, he is a Republican who has infected Israel. That's why he is so much more transparent to us than he is to Israelis. If you want a real comparison to Netanyahu, you will not find it in Begin or Sharon or Shamir; you will find it in Newt Gingrich.

    1. Netanyahu was 18 years old in 1967, and really didn't have anything to do with the Vietnam war,

      Good point. I probably shouldn't have said that then ... oh, wait, I didn't.

      I've had people completely miss the point before, but you take fail to whole new level, Eagle.

  110. You're absolutely right you know. You really are. -- David

  111. War with Iran is foolish under any circumstances. No, Iran's crazy Ayatollahs won't launch a holy war on Israel. Israel has 300 nukes. Iran would be a sea of glass. So let Iran have a bomb. The reason Iran wants a bomb is as a bargaining chip to keep the US from invading. It worked for North Korea. They talk crazy and threaten to nuke the South, so we have to give them space. They would never actually do it. Neither would Iran.

    Best foreign policy on Iran would be to let the huge <25 demographic that just wants to dance and wear hip clothes defang the hard-liners. They were on their way to doing just that when GW made that awful axis-of-evil speech and scared them into the arms of the hard-liners.

    As for the negotiations, any agreement Kerry negotiates and Obama signs without congressional approval will only be in effect until Obama's term is up in less than two years and, like Rand Paul said, Obama cannot remove sanctions applied by congress. Maybe the Iranians already knew this. Maybe not.

    FDR explained it like this: "The Constitution did not explicitly give me power to bring about the necessary agreement with Santo Domingo. But the Constitution did not forbid my doing what I did. I put the agreement into effect, and I continued its execution for two years before the Senate acted; and I would have continued it until the end of my term, if necessary, without any action by Congress. But it was far preferable that there should be action by Congress, so that we might be proceeding under a treaty which was the law of the land and not merely by a direction of the Chief Executive which would lapse when that particular executive left office. I therefore did my best to get the Senate to ratify what I had done."

    Typical Obama, he is going to ignore congress in violation of the Constitution and Supreme Court. Yes, I know congress isn't going to pass any agreements he signs as punishment for all the other times he gave them the finger. That's his own fault for being a dictator instead of a leader.

    1. First, let's get this clear: That quote sure didn't sound like FDR to me, so I checked. It is actually from Teddy Roosevelt, a very different kind of President. Those who are interested in what really happened in this incident might look here:


      where they will discover an interesting foreshadowing of how a (Republican) President was forced to act in the face of a recalcitrant and irresponsible Congress. Luckily for Roosevelt, that Congress was nowhere near as disloyal to the country as our current Republicans are, so the incident was resolved and has remained a minor incident in our history.

      Now, on to Obama. What I find amusing about Anonymous' remark is that the Roosevelt quote actually states very clearly that the President can do what the Constitution does not deny him the power to do- the exact opposite of Anonymous' interpretation that it is illegal for the President to do things that are not explicitly enumerated in the Constitution. I guess he thought nobody would notice that. In any event, Obama's behavior as President remains consistent with that of every President at least since Teddy Roosevelt.

      What Anonymous is really petrified about is that the Iran deal will work, denying him and his kind the chance to entangle the United States in another gigantic military blunder. So he threatens to have his insane war in a couple of years, if the American people are stupid enough to elect another Republican President, in the process destroying the ability of the United States to conduct any kind of diplomacy (another benefit in Republican eyes) and further reducing our status in the eyes of the world.

  112. "Forty years ago, on May 15, 1969, Bloody Thursday, these same sons of bitches under the command of none other than Ronald Reagan . . ."

    Forty years ago was 1975. Ronald Reagan was president from Jan 1981 to Jan 1989. So, are you mistakenly referring to Nixon instead of Reagan? I'm confused. I thought you were referring to the Kent State shootings which occurred on May4, 1970, but would like clarification.

    Other than the above, this was an excellent article and I have posted it on Facebook and another website. Keep up the good work. These SOBs need to be exposed for what they really are.

    My name is Linda. I was an adult during the Viet Nam War. Our nation is in more peril now than it has ever been in my adult life - and not from without, but from within. I really fear for the future of my grandchildren.

    1. The "forty years" was a general statement. Like "Four decades ago" or "a half century ago." Given that I provided the exact date, the people involved, and the name of the event I thought a general statement was more than sufficient since you're obviously capable of doing the math and you have access to Google.

      May 15, 1969, Bloody Thursday, was the day that California governor, Ronald Reagan, ordered the the California Highway Patrol and Berkeley police officers into People's Park on the University of California, Berkeley, campus, to uproot the park, install a fence, and remove anti-war protesters, which sparked a protest, which led to police turning shotguns on the crowd. Fleeing protesters were pursued by police for several blocks and shot in the back with 00 buckshot. More than 130 civilians were injured, many by gunshot wounds or beaten by police. One student was killed by shotgun fire - and he wasn't a protester but rather a student watching from the roof of a building.

  113. bonefish (Nancy Tatum Wood)March 22, 2015 at 1:32 PM

    Welladay, sir, I am posting a link everywhere I can, notifying friends and family. Your piece needs to be read.

  114. Add my name to your letter!
    Robert W. Terleski, HMC(SS/FMF), USN-RET
    Another PO'd Citizen of the United States of America


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