Monday, May 25, 2015

PERSPECTIVE ON SACRIFICE

GUEST EDITORIAL BY GORDON DUFF, VETERAN 
 
America has a military today that has recently lost two wars, a military that has no respect for constitutional democracy, for human rights, for freedom of speech, a military steeped in hokey religion, bloated paychecks and easy life.

One of three meals that costs $200 each.

Is what I just wrote true?  Actually the answer is unclear, somewhat true, totally true some of the time, but sadly a legitimate way of examining how America has fallen so low and the role the military has played.  What is “genuinely American” is to realize that the military is our kids, our families, our people but that it is also a tyrannical and corrupt entity where our children and our families are ground into the dirt by thieves and criminals who hide behind manufactured conflicts and use our children and our families as hammers to enslave the world.

Is that part true?  You bet it is.

Glorification of war is a disease in America.  War has impoverished America, war has stripped America of her government, her people of their rights and freedoms and, moreover, of their critical thinking capability as well.  War has destroyed America as surely as Americans have destroyed Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, Palestine and Ukraine.  Oh, you didn’t know we took those nations down as well, perhaps this is part of the problem.


Tom Brokaw coined the term Greatest Generation.  To him and to so many of us, born during the war or soon thereafter, the Marines at Guadalcanal, the 101st Airborne at Bastogne, those who died on Omaha Beach or Tarawa or bombing Germany with the 8th Air Force typified everything good about America.

We were right about the people, just wrong about the war.  It took many of us over half a century to realize that even “the good war,” coined so because of endless hand wringing over the holocaust, had blinded so many of us to the realities of the Second World War, the criminal underbelly of geopolitics.

Germany and Japan weren’t the enemies we thought.  Efforts to dehumanize the enemy, something that had a huge backlash in the US during the first war, the US being a nation almost 40% German in origin, were mindless and destructive to the human soul.  But we don’t have to talk about that now.

We have illegal aliens, Muslims, homosexuals, Hispanics and African Americans to go after.  Blaming the Jews is becoming popular as well, after all, what good is it having a computer or a place to put a bumper sticker if you can’t blame someone for something?

Let’s take a minute and do some comparisons.  There is a reason for this, albeit a subjective one.  I am of the “not so greatest generation,” the one that fought in Vietnam.  Let’s discuss some realities of Vietnam.

Most of the fighting in Vietnam was during 3 years, 68 through 70.  Vietnam was a Marines war, jungle fighting, hand to hand, small units, mostly near the coastline.  Of those who served, Vietnam has the lowest percentage of those actually involved in combat, something under 10% but the highest levels of combat of any American war.

Thus, during 3 years, of 50,000 Marines who served, only 9000 served in combat and of that 9000, 15,000 of them died and 30,000 were wounded.  This gave the term “replacement” a whole new meaning.  Army units suffered substantially fewer casualties but still much higher than World War II.

Those who fought in Vietnam, Marines anyway, lived on 600 calories a day, had no body armor and few weapons, no medical care and largely lived off the land.  Today’s military lives on  6000 calories a day or more.  Combat troops are commonly overweight.  Marines in Vietnam earned around $100 a month, about a 6th the average lowest working wage.  Today troops get up to $14,000 per month, 5 times a typical low wage, or if you want to do the math, 30 times what those in Vietnam were paid.

What Americans serving in combat didn’t do is disrespect the enemy and, for the most part, were liked and sometimes admired by the local population.  Glaring exceptions existed and, with the Army, My Lai was one of these, a substandard unit led by amateurs and clowns, a shameful and murderous act.

For Marines, the enemy was the Marine Corps, or “crotch” as it was called.  Those who state otherwise are simply phonies or liars.  Marines have always and will always continue to bash the Marine Corps, a habit that began November 10, 1775 and continues, I am sure, to this day.

Several things came out of Vietnam involving the military that are worth discussing today.  
First of all, with most troops never seeing combat, those who took credit for service and spoke of the war, the vast majority, had no real experience with war.  Vietnam brought out millions of “phony vets” who pretended to serve and loved taking credit for absurd acts of imaginary bravery in order to receive recognition.

Were they around decades later, and some are, they would have become internet trolls living on comment boards, a Walter Mitty existence of imaginary empowerment and fatally rude behavior.

The other thing that came from Vietnam was necessitated by the nature of the conflict itself.  The film Platoon demonstrates this aptly.  Those arriving in the extreme climate of Vietnam, subjected to ground combat that entailed carrying heavy loads mile after mile in stifling heat, went through physical changes.  Blood chemistry altered, body weight disappeared.  Real combat troops threw away helmets and uniforms, wore no socks or underwear, often no shirts and carried irregular equipment and even enemy weapons.

Within weeks, often of absolute misery, vomiting, exhaustion and worse, a “boot” would come up to speed.  However, were one an officer or senior NCO, going through such a process would be humbling.  Because of this, few officers or NCOs ever went into combat.  They couldn’t as they could never handle the heat, were never in condition, no matter how they had trained in gyms or on tracks, that meant nothing in Vietnam.

They became “watchers” and no longer participants in war.  They might be killed by “friendly fire” or a rocket or even an attack on a remote base but the majority of combat, the vast majority was fought miles away from any officer or senior NCO.

Yet, when it came time to go home, the medals were given out by rank, not by combat experience, heroism or sacrifice.  And, in later years, those wearing medals from Vietnam became the focus of examination of the war.  So, when authors or some film makers turned to veterans for stories about the war, or it came time to glorify new heroes in order to justify a new war, these “watchers” became the “go to” sources.

The problem, of course, they knew nothing of the war.

To those of us who fought, day after day, and even I am overstating here as nobody fights “day after day,” these rear echelon loud mouths seem despicable.  We hated them during the war, not all but most, and after the war we hated them more.  Those officers who stayed in the military rose to the highest ranks based on lies.  They based their military experience and qualifications on their service in Vietnam, most of which was spent in relative ease with little or no operational experience in a war where the typical combat unit was less than 10 men.

Most had never actively commanded a combat unit for more than a few hours much less weeks or months.  All,however, were decorated for almost identical heroic actions, invariably invented by a company clerk tasked with justifying medals for officers who made coffee, played cards or read detective novels while their men, miles away, fought a hand to hand war with a deadly enemy.

This is the truth of it.  What has it cost?

Vietnam built the military we have today,led by phonies and bullshitters.  Uniforms loaded with obscure and meaningless decorations are the norm.  Worse still, it isn’t just the military that has failed.  Those of us who fought in the war, the “real deal,” too many of us failed to tell our kids that the military is a sick joke, a pack of uniformed janitors and idiots, who kiss each others asses, and can’t get real jobs.

Is this too harsh?  Not hardly!

Worse still, a generation of Americans who never served at all, a generation of Chickhawks, began to revere war like it was a video game.  Dead kids were collateral damage, entire populations, religions and ethnic groups could be wiped out based on the blitherings of talk radio idiots who also never served or fought.

The post-Vietnam generation failed and generations to come will know death and suffering because of it.  What we learned in Vietnam was to run away from the military, run away from politics, keep our heads down, cut our losses and survive.  There is a reason for this.

We had learned to hate the United States.  We dreamed of leaving, living in Paris, maybe returning to Vietnam or living in the Philippines or Mexico, anywhere we could find simple and genuine people.  But to do that, we had to leave everything we knew, including the dreams we once had but had long since given up on.

We simply no longer cared, those of us who fought, who saw death, who lived the reality of being the brother of those we fought and the blood enemy of those we served and murdered for.

What is clear today is that nobody is telling the truth.  Pat Tillman should be revered, not Chris Kyle.  He would have had his throat cut in Vietnam by those around him for murdering civilians, at least were he in a unit of experienced combat veterans.  He would have been picked out as a criminal psychopath rather quickly.  In Vietnam we didn’t have Navy SEALs babysitting for us.  Only 38 SEALS died in VIETNAM in a decade of fighting.  None of us ever met them.

Of course, as often pointed out on Saturday Night Live, this worship of Special Operations is nothing but Marine envy.

There is another sickness in today’s military and that’s special operations.  To explain this properly is simple; warfare is now dictated by the second generation of the REMF fatasses of Vietnam who knew nothing of war.  Thus, Special Operations warfare was invented by people who read about war in books or saw it on TV.

There are no secret missions, no mysterious terrorist leaders.  If you want to kill an enemy of America, look at a table in a 5 star restaurant, shoot someone getting on a private jet.  I am sure other ideas come to mind.  There hasn’t been a single  legitimate wartime death in a very long time.  America kills, other than women and children, freedom fighters defending their countries or former allies who are no longer of any use.

Simply put, American never had a legal right to be in Vietnam or Iraq or Afghanistan.  Sadly Pat Tillman, the real hero of the War on Terror, he and perhaps Bowe Berghdahl, are reviled while the American Sniper represents the values of a nation gone insane.

In Vietnam we knew that we were criminals just being there.  America was there illegally, we all knew it.  If we didn’t, we could see it around us, a corrupt and despicable puppet government shoved down the people’s through at American gunpoint, at our gunpoint.  It effected how we looked at what we did, we examined, at least some of us, the moral issues of the war, of what we did, who we were and that we were living an unreality in Vietnam, there either to pillage and destroy or do as little harm as possible, keeping ourselves whole in hopes of being able to live with our actions.

Little of such talk is heard today, not in film nor book, not within the military and certainly not in the media.  It endlessly goes on, painting one group after another as the evil empire, the subhuman enemy but in the end, the subhuman enemy is us.

It was my generation that came home and hid, tried to live in an insane nation and hoped to die quietly, perhaps not in prison or by our own hand.  When Saigon fell, whatever anti-war movement some of us involved ourselves in died away.  Activists were rare individuals while the real emotional rewards were in glorification of imaginary heroism, phony war and fantasy scenarios.

War is about human suffering.  It may well be, when and if history ever gets past where it is now, a systematic certification of collective delusion, that we can gauge our acts by the toll of suffering those acts cause.

We can assign numbers, to plowing down a house or uprooting an olive tree or raping a child.  If the collective acts our society seems to be designed for are to rack up the highest number possible on a suffering scale, what then does this say about who we are?

Weren’t religions supposed to, we are at least told from time to time, weigh in on such issues?  They certainly haven’t in America in a very long time.

We have a generation that was taught that kicking down a door and throwing a hand grenade into a room full of sleeping children is perfectly acceptable behavior because they are not christian.  Did we raise monsters or have so many veterans, now well over 100,000 killed themselves because the anti-depressants and mood altering drugs the military fed them year after year simply weren’t enough to let any but the pure American Sniper psychopath live with having caused so much horror.

Today we see it with police, the exact same thing, a closed society based entirely on psychopathic behavior, armed, above the law, an occupation force seeking the adrenaline rush that comes from kicking someone to death or shooting down a fleeing “suspect,” generally a panicked individual facing jail for parking fines or back child support, perhaps even unpaid student loans.

Our police are the enforcers of our slave labor society the same as our military is the enforcers for a global monstrosity.

Deal with it.” - GORDON DUFF

[Gordon Duff is a Marine combat veteran of the Vietnam War. He is a disabled veteran and has worked on veterans and POW issues for decades. Duff is an accredited diplomat and is generally accepted as one of the top global intelligence specialists. He manages the world's largest private intelligence organization and regularly consults with governments challenged by security issues. Duff has traveled extensively, is published around the world and is a regular guest on TV and radio in more than "several" countries. He is also a trained chef, wine enthusiast, avid motorcyclist and gunsmith specializing in historical weapons and restoration. Business experience and interests are in energy and defense technology.]

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