High Crimes As Misdemeanors
by Bruce Patterson, May 10, 2017
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
— Martin Luther King
I was eleven years old when I decided I’d rather be Dead than Red. Since it seemed everybody in the neighborhood, and everybody on TV, was getting with the program, why not me? I mean, after all we’d done for Cuba and the Cubans, now they’d not just gone all Commie on us, they were stealing our property. They were rioting, too, and burning American Flags and refusing to pay back the money they owe us. And who could tolerate Cuba’s provocations now that they’ve snuck Russian atom bombs onto their island and have them aimed at us? Since one nuke getting fired means all nukes get fired (Massive Retaliation equals Deterrence), they say it’ll be the End of the World as we know it.
“We’re sure enough dead as doornails.” The ghostly fellah pretends to hurl a fastball but his arm snaps off and sails skyward like a B-213 Stealth Bomber catapulted from the Mother of All Aircraft Carriers. “But thank God Almighty, we sure ain’t Red.”
But one thing I was sure of: when the Air Raid Siren atop its towering steel cylinder across the street started screaming and wailing like the passengers packed inside an elevated Tokyo subway train getting accosted by Godzilla, I wasn’t ducking under my school desk and covering my ears. Not when I could run the five blocks home in less than four minutes to die in my momma’s arms. Not when I could act manly by reassuring her that all’s well that ends well. You know, like Davy Crockett at the Alamo.
Six years later, I joined the US Army Infantry and volunteered to fight the Commies in Vietnam. Like with the drunken Mojave Desert buckaroo who’d picked a moonlight fight with a Jumping Cholla cactus, it seemed like a good idea at the time. When, a decade or two after I’d returned from the war, and thanks to the now gelded, blinkered and soon to be, with Extreme Prejudice, expunged Freedom of Information Act, I read that the infamous “Communist Sneak Attack” on the virgin-pure US Navy in the Gulf of Tonkin never happened, I laughed out loud. What everybody reporting the story missed was that, even if an attack had taken place and American blood had been spilled, still it’d be absolutely no justification for what we did over there. Not even close.
If I’ve learned anything, it’s that wars are fought for domestic political consumption. In practice, war is a mercenary racket specializing in, among other things, serial child molestation seeing how non-combatant children and child soldiers always suffer the most. And there’s only one way to abolish the Warfare State and reclaim our birthrights and future. The cure for ignorance is education.
Warmongers need a boogieman the way demagogues need scapegoats, and while the homebodies in the Mother Country could sincerely believe we GI bush bunnies were busy massacring Commies (no-counts) in Indochina, we knew we were killing Indochinese (getting misled by a bamboozled LBJ didn’t strike us GIs blind, deaf and dumb). The same as, if somebody nukes an American city with a suitcase bomb (“the perfect crime impossible to trace”), they’ll be massacring Americans and not Republicans and Democrats, Greens and Libertarians, Know-Nothings and Could-Give-Ah-Shits. In this crisis called 2017, if all we Americans want is to go to our graves with peace of mind, we should hold our breath until we are dead. Death does wonders for one’s peace of mind.
Without provocation or justification, in Indochina we ran our battle flags through the blood and guts of millions of innocent people. Then there’s the American casualties and the ripples their deaths and mutilations made all across our society: the losses to families, lovers and communities, the ruthlessly stoked political divisions, the endless and contradictory excuses and alibis, the promises, secrets and lies and, seemingly without end, the mass killings concealed behind the lines.
Seen in retrospect, American’s almost Great Society getting ruthlessly looted in order to partially finance our Imperial Army’s Great Nation Building Crusade was a national disaster we’ve never come to grips with, much less learned from. Having after thirty-five years in Indochina achieved the total military defeat they so richly deserved, America’s God and Country Militarist shills for the Military-Industrial Complex were so unhinged by their public humiliation that they’ve been leading our country into losing overseas wars ever since. In fact, in order to hide their shame, they created an American version of the Nazi’s old Stab in the Back Theory to explain why Saigon is no longer Saigon, and why today China doesn’t obey American orders, or the North Koreans follow our shining example as Good Neighbors. As if during the last half century of our relentlessly mindless Military Buildup, our “pivotal role” in world affairs is like a hotdog eating contest getting played for keeps and with nobody watching. Like we’ve been stuffed into an Alt-Right White reality wherein Nixon was just as weak-kneed as Truman and Obama is the most weak-kneed of them all (he and Hillary are the real foreign agents).
In 1954, with the US covering 80% of their war costs, our French Colonialist proxies in Vietnam were finally checkmated on the battlefield and then shown to the door. The Mandate of Heaven had passed to Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Minh, and from then on only Vietnamese would rule in Vietnam. Seeing how, during WW2, the Viet Minh (with American arms and ammunition) had kept eight Japanese infantry divisions busy—think of a pampered house dog walking into a new house and instantly getting infested with dehydrated fleas—way back in 1946 the French should’ve known better than to try’n reclaim what had never been theirs in the first place.
Also, back in ’46, the US never should have done so much to facilitate the French in their enterprise. Needless to say, America’s full-scale military invasion of Vietnam in April of ’65 was, from a strategic standpoint and in light of the facts known at the time, about as stupid as stupid gets. General Giap had the Japanese for breakfast and the French for lunch; now he’d have the Americans for supper and, pardon my pun, rich deserts. The Vietnamese are Nationalists. They are Nationalist the way we Americans are Nationalist.
Didn’t these 4-Star DC politicians and generals know that the Vietnamese people knew we’d sided with the French during their 8-year-long scorched earth attempt at re-conquest? More importantly from my point of view—we Paratroopers didn’t get paid for guarding things—during our training how could they promise us that we would be greeted by the Vietnamese with roses?
The more acquainted I became with that particular World of Hurt, the more convinced I became that chunks of American brains hanging in the bushes are, in their physicality, identical to Vietnamese brains. This wasn’t politics; this was butchery. All along “The Communists” had been my boogieman and the war hawk’s excuse. I’d been deceived in the worst way possible. That I was far from alone only made it worse.
Just once during my post-war life have I wanted my old infantry soulmates to go and kill somebody, and that was after Sept. 11th, 2001, and that somebody was Osama bin Laden. I couldn’t imagine any American grunt who wouldn’t gladly chase that rotten bunch through the Gates of Hell if need be. So I wanted the US to go into Afghanistan for a “police action” and only to insure that these pricks didn’t get away with it. Them captured dead or alive was, to my mind, the only appropriate counter-punch. Nothing less would do; nothing more was required. That the Bushites failed to achieve that simple objective and no heads rolled as a result makes me suspect that their real long-term objective was to create a specter of “Global Terrorism” to replace “Global Communism” as boogieman.
And what was this business about going to war against the Afghani Taliban tribesmen? These guys gone crazy? And these so-called journalists pounding the War Drums—they’re like an octopus: all ink and no ass. We helped build the Taliban, remember? Besides, there wasn’t a single Afghani who knew that their Arabian Wahhabi guests hiding out in their country were going to so horribly attack the USA—the Afghani people were absolutely blameless. Moreover, doesn’t anybody remember what happened to the Soviets when they tried to “pacify” Afghanistan? Now look at a globe of the world. See how little old Afghanistan butts up against the Soviet Union? If the Soviets couldn’t “pacify” the natives next door, how are we supposed to do it with supply lines reaching halfway around the world? What are we, made of money? Well, as a matter of fact, we act like we are.
Now, sixteen years later and after—crazy is as crazy does—our unprovoked and disastrous invasion and occupation of Iraq, we’ve finally learned how to stop losing wars. We just refuse to leave is all. We can’t be defeated when we ain’t budging, right? And how can we be defeated when none of our soldiers are dying? And how can we run out of money when we’re playing with blank checks? Face it: our collection of brushfire wars are win, win, and win. War’s our perpetual motion machine issuing tiny cuts of everything that changes hands. As one former Commandant of the US Marine’s (Smedley Butler) put it: “War is a racket.”
So what happens when a genuine racketeer becomes Commander-in-Chief and instantly gets trapped in the web of his own pathological lies? What happens when racketeer playing God feels a federal noose slowly getting cinched around his neck? Can a self-styled Messiah imagine himself twisting in the wind? What can he do to avoid such an indignity? How many lies can he tell himself to justify keeping himself in power by any means necessary?
One of my old buddies (he lives in northern Michigan, but we keep touch) did a year stationed in a high-tech pillbox facing north on the southern edge of Korea’s DMZ. Like America’s NATO troops stationed in West Germany in those days, they were called “trip wires.” If the Warsaw Pact military decided to make an armored thrust westward through Germany, they’d hafta kill plenty of Americans first thing. It wouldn’t be easy but still very doable. Yet doing so would bring down on them the full force of the American war machine and that was the real deterrent.
Naturally, folks back home had no idea how dangerous their position was there on Korean DMZ. Folks forget there’s never been a peace agreement and there were plenty of truce violations. So while such “trip wires” might seem to make sense to the folks back home, you won’t often hear a GI say he wants to die just to help get a whole a lot more GIs killed in someplace they belong and have no particular fondness for. You’ve pretty much got to have your native soil under you boots before making that kind of commitment.
The 21st Century wasn’t supposed to start out this way but it has. Without the need to go to a Quisling Republican Congress to logically and honestly make the case for war, now we’ve got this venal zillionaire cabal unilaterally risking war with North Korea and a bunch of other persons, places and things. Opening shot in Korea, worst-case scenario: thousands of dead American GIs and tens of thousands of dead South Koreans, riots in the streets of the Fatherland, a declaration of Martial Law, multiple kicks from an Iron Boot and—voila—the hounds are off your scent and you’re Emperor for Life. You wanted to Make Amerika Great Again, right? Now we can go head on with no muss and no fuss.
“Another American war on the mainland of Asia? Sure, why not? Times have changed; what we got to lose? Here, have another vodka cocktail compliments of Club Perros Mas Malos. Oh, are you current with your dues? Come on, I’m just kidding. I’m feeling generous tonight. But think about it: why even have the most powerful military on earth if you’re afraid to use it? What good is it being the World’s Cop if you can’t enforce your version of the law? China won’t stand in our way; neither will Russia. Not with Donald J. Trump performing the Art of the Deal—come on, stop worrying.
“Besides, everything is very simple over there in Asia, you know? I’ve been over there many, many times—excellent fish; you’ve gotta order the fish. But life is very cheap over there. Especially cheap, dirt cheap, fabulously cheap if you know what I mean. But you knew that already. . .”
Just a worst case scenario, just the past as future. Not that our past is all that much to brag about. If it was, we wouldn’t hafta lie so much.