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Sir! No Sir!

Posted on 2006.06.22 at 12:24
Current Mood: impressedimpressed
Current Music: Hank Snow - I'll Bid My Blues Goodbye
Last night’s foray with Bill to the Brattle Theater yielded a really good new documentary called Sir! No Sir! which was about the surprisingly active anti-war movement among the troops during the Vietnam war. It was really amazing to see these people who had been peace activists and publishing underground subversive newspapers while actually being active duty soldiers. It really put things in perspective. This thing seems to have been much more widespread than is generally understood (at least by me), to the degree that they had people saying that Nixon’s policy of Vietnamization and the increased air war later on was due to the fact that the military brass literally couldn’t trust the ground troops to obey orders.
Also interesting was Jane Fonda, who recounted something I didn’t know at all, which was the fact that she and others put together these counter-Bob Hope shows called FTA tours (The Army’s slogan was ‘Fun, Travel, and Adventure- these tours made it stand for ‘Fuck The Army,’ or more officially, ‘Free The Army’) that played in Asian countries around military bases. Soldiers were forbidden to go, but they had footage of packed houses, with GIs giving peace signs and clenched fist salutes, and listening to songs and calls to resist orders.
The most interesting part, I thought, was just the whole idea that this history has vanished, and been replaced with something which turned out to be a total myth, the idea that the counterculture was against the GIs, and in particular that returning GIs were spat upon by protestors and called “baby killers.” A researcher could find no instance of that, and debunks it as an urban myth. In other words, there was NO time when people, including those who opposed the war, DIDN’T support the troops.

The web site above is much more explicit than the movie was in relating the Vietnam war and the movement against that to anything going on today. The movie was really a historical documentary. I think that is best, especially since to my mind there is a huge difference between any war fought with conscripts rather than volunteers. It is true that many of today’s volunteers were subjected to real economic pressures to join up, but still, there was a moment of free will exercised somewhere.
The ones whose tour is up and are being kept there by stop-loss programs are really conscripts, though, but that’s another story.


jonnymoon at 2006-06-22 20:58 (UTC) (Link)
I cannot say enough to accurately represent what a traitorous snake Jane Fonda is. If you genuinely read her words and assign any credibility to them...or you want to pick up and wave her banner and other lowlife like them...well, there simply is no hope for you. You are a lost cause. Take a look at how that "C yoU Next Tuesday" screwed over so many POW's in Vietnam.


Unfortunately, many have forgotten and still countless others have never known how Ms.Fonda betrayed not only the idea of our country, but specific men who served and sacrificed during Vietnam.

The first part of this is from an F-4E pilot. The pilot's name is Jerry Driscoll, a River Rat. In 1968, the former Commandant of the USAF Survival School was a POW in Ho Lo Prison the "Hanoi Hilton."

Dragged from a stinking cesspit of a cell, cleaned, fed, and dressed in clean PJ's, he was ordered to describe for a visiting American "Peace Activist" the "lenient and humane treatment" he'd received.

He spat at Ms. Fonda, was clubbed, and was dragged away. During the subsequent beating, he fell forward onto the camp Commandant's feet, which sent that officer berserk.

In 1978, the Air Force Colonel still suffered from double vision (which permanently ended his flying career) from the Commandant's frenzied application of a wooden baton.

From 1963-65, Col. Larry Carrigan was in the 47FW/DO (F-4E's). He spent 6 years in the "Hanoi Hilton",,, the first three of which his family only knew he was "missing in action". His wife lived on faith that he was still alive. His group, too, got the cleaned-up, fed and clothed routine in preparation for a "peace delegation" visit. They, however, had time and devised a plan to get word to the world that they were alive and still survived. Each man secreted a tiny piece of paper, with his Social Security Number on it, in the palm of his hand. When paraded before Ms. Fonda and a cameraman, she walked the line, shaking each man's hand and asking little encouraging snippets like: "Aren't you sorry you bombed babies?" and "Are you grateful for the humane treatment from your benevolent captors?" Believing this HAD to be an act, they each palmed her their sliver of paper. She took them all without missing a beat. At the end of the line and once the camera stopped rolling, to the shocked disbelief of the POWs, she turned to the officer in charge and handed him all the little pieces of paper.

Three men died from the subsequent beatings.

Colonel Carrigan was almost number four but he survived, which is the only reason we know of her actions that day. I was a civilian economic development advisor in Vietnam, and was captured by the North Vietnamese communists in South Vietnam in 1968, and held prisoner for over 5 years. I spent 27 months in solitary confinement; one year in a cage in Cambodia; and one year in a "black box" in Hanoi. My North Vietnamese captors deliberately poisoned and murdered a female missionary, a nurse in a leprosarium in Ban me Thuot, South Vietnam, whom I buried in the jungle near the Cambodian border. At one time, I weighed only about 90 lbs. (My normal weight is 170 lbs.) We were Jane Fonda's "war criminals."

When Jane Fonda was in Hanoi, I was asked by the camp communist political officer if I would be willing to meet with her. I said yes, for I wanted to tell her about the real treatment we POWs received ... and how different it was from the treatment purported by the North Vietnamese, and parroted by her as "humane and lenient."

Because of this, I spent three days on a rocky floor on my knees, with my arms outstretched with a large steel weights placed on my hands, and beaten with a bamboo cane.


theservant at 2006-06-22 23:13 (UTC) (Link)
She would have been tried for treason, if it had been a legal war. I agree with what you say, and I think that her trips to North Vietnam were completely wrong and caused a great deal of harm. No question about it. I think that she and all the other people in the anti-war movement who supported the North Vietnamese made the same mistake as the right did during the cold war: they chose sides, and signed up for one idealogy or another, forgetting that the US is supposed to stand for something. What I mean is that during the cold war the right was so paranoid about communism, that they became dedicated anti-communists. What's wrong with that? They forgot that they were supposed to be pro-freedom. They signed up with anyone who billed themselves as anti-communist no matter how repressive a regime they ran.
Of course, elements of the left did the same thing, being anti-anti-communist to the degree that they supported the Viet Cong, and numerous other groups who oppressed people as harshly and as thoroughly as anyone else. They forgot that they were supposed to be pro-freedom.
That legacy lives on mostly in the person of Noam Chomsky, and I think that perhaps our cozying up to repressive regimes in the Muslim world just because they make noises about being anti-terrorist may be a similar phenomenon. We have to remember that America ought to stand for something, not just be a power.
lilchiva at 2006-06-26 04:32 (UTC) (Link)
I gotta know; what's wrong with Chomsky?

I think that perhaps our cozying up to repressive regimes in the Muslim world just because they make noises about being anti-terrorist may be a similar phenomenon. We have to remember that America ought to stand for something, not just be a power.

The problem is that we, as a nation, have always done this; we have historically cozied up to less than honorable bed fellows in order to further our foreign policy and economic aims. While I agree, America ought to stand for something; I think we should also strive to not view ourselves with rose colored glasses.
jonnymoon at 2006-06-26 17:44 (UTC) (Link)
When you say, "What's wrong with Chomsky" I wonder if you're being facetious, or do you really not know? If not, look him up, it's fascinating (in a same twisted way a plane crash is--sort of way wrong and way off base).

I agree with your assertation tho...America's government is self-serving and hypocritical. We'd still be in bed with Saddam if he hadn't stepped on Kuwait.

I might ask, is it too far to go...to cozy up to brutal dictators in the interest of pushing our "freedom for the little people" agenda?
lilchiva at 2006-06-26 18:21 (UTC) (Link)
When you say, "What's wrong with Chomsky" I wonder if you're being facetious, or do you really not know?

Not to him no. I think NC has some great things to say and I also think he has some really stupid things to say. I think both of these are in direct porportion to what out of his statements one can verify.

I might ask, is it too far to go...to cozy up to brutal dictators in the interest of pushing our "freedom for the little people" agenda?

I think it might be wise to question if the interests of the world and democratic freedom are indeed served by this ideological agenda.

theservant at 2006-06-26 18:23 (UTC) (Link)
My gripe with Chomsky is that he uses several standards for behavior, and then seems to regard his judgements as infallible. So he regards certain nations as 'oppressors,' e.g. the U.S. and Israel, and others as 'oppressed,' e.g. Palestinians, Vietnamese. and in this black and white view, the U.S. can do no good, and the Vietnamese can do no evil. Israel has no right of self-defense (or even existance), but he says that Hamas' activities are legit. He fancies it up a lot, but that's what I hear from it.
lilchiva at 2006-06-26 18:35 (UTC) (Link)
I have not heard him on Hamas but I would tend to agree with your assessment. Also, I think that he tends to diagnose causes where there are none. In his Manufacturing Consent, he paints a picture of evil moneyed interests on a systematic campaign to control America’s consciousness. The issue of course is that people with money and power are generally never quite so visionary. While I do not deny the facts of his argument, the purpose that he asserts those facts serve are highly questionable. For what it is worth, I think the facts are disturbing enough on their own.

You got any links of him riffing about Hamas? I suspect it's the usual freedom fighter gig but I would like to read them none the less.
theservant at 2006-06-26 22:33 (UTC) (Link)
I just read an article somewhere about how he supported Hamas' right to conduct an armed struggle; it was quotes of him rather anything sustained by him.
lilchiva at 2006-06-26 22:46 (UTC) (Link)

whoops I mean this one.

theservant at 2006-06-27 02:48 (UTC) (Link)

Re: whoops I mean this one.

More nuanced than the quotes would have had me believed, but same bottom line, which is that some people get to do armed struggle and others don't.
lilchiva at 2006-06-27 04:24 (UTC) (Link)

Re: whoops I mean this one.

Do you mean Israel vs Palestine or just in general? Cause in general, everyone who isn't a strict Pacifist has sanctioned the violent acts of some group or another.
theservant at 2006-06-27 04:57 (UTC) (Link)

Re: whoops I mean this one.

That was my reaction to his position on Israel.
lilchiva at 2006-06-27 05:58 (UTC) (Link)

Great Icon.

Yeah that's because he looks at Israel solely as an invading force that has been given a great deal of support to further American Imperialism.
lilchiva at 2006-06-27 19:43 (UTC) (Link)

thought I should mention.

that's not exactly my POV though.
lilchiva at 2006-06-26 03:55 (UTC) (Link)

Well, history being written by the victors and all.

Robert Whul has an amusing comedy special called "Assume the Position”, in it he makes the point that when a myth becomes the popular consensus people only "print the myth". One of the things that has evolved in popular recreations of the Vietnam era is to never blame the soldiers. That is, the soldiers are nearly always depicted as sympathetically as possible and therefore devoid of any personal responsibility. Also, among public policy makers there has been a growing notion in the intervening years that public protest of foreign policy is never useful and always destructive. I think that anything that promotes things the FTA tour seems to undercut these two notions rather than support them and therefore since it doesn't fit the "myth" it gets thrown out in favor of a more palatable "truth".
jonnymoon at 2006-06-26 17:53 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well, history being written by the victors and all.

Ok, so wait...are you saying that since some soldiers did malicious things, that all soldiers no longer qualify for any sympathy? Or are you merely attempting to say, "Don't pay any attention to the anecdotes which shine an unfavorable light on Jane Fonda"?

Basically, what I get from this entry was...essentially...that you pooh-pooh'ed my entry while at the same time saying, "Oh, I'm sure some soldiers did bad things, so why bust on Jane Fonda?"

But to answer your implied question (and your attempt to defend/cover up her treachery)...

"Because she's a snake and she deserves to be thrown in jail, along with anyone else who was there with her and doing the things she did. This as opposed to any awards. She's worse than Dubya."

theservant at 2006-06-26 18:01 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well, history being written by the victors and all.

She was just used and confused. W. may be in the same position vis a vis the neocons, or he may actually be in charge, I don't know. The Vietnam war was wrong, but not because the North was right.
jonnymoon at 2006-06-26 18:41 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well, history being written by the victors and all.

I think you're right...she was used and confused. However, has she ever apologized or even acknowledged her culpability? Not to my knowledge.

"The Vietnam war was wrong, but not because the North was right."

Pardon? Are you implying that the North was right? I thought that the conflict was over who wanted to be communist and who wanted to be not-Communist? It seems to me that the North wasn't right if they were attempting overthrow the south by force of arms. I might state it,

"The Vietnam war was wrong, because it never should have happened."

Moreover, it seems to me that it was wrong for the north to have invaded, and if the south wanted our help that the only thing we could have done was to lend assistance against communism. Just like Korea.

I think the entire Iraq situation was George Bush Sr's idea, pushed down and made to happen by Dubya. I'm pretty sure that there were enough war hawks to make everything line up after Dubya and his cronys talked to some people...especially if he sold it on the oil angle. I also believe that it's durn near gotten out of his control at this point. Too many people were saying, "This ain't gonna fly" and were ignored, and that's coming back to bite him now.

On a side note, I think it's interesting how now that Iraq is so weakened, Iran has become quite the up and comer. Now that they don't have to worry about Iraq, they can pursue their own adgenda.

theservant at 2006-06-26 22:35 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well, history being written by the victors and all.

No, I wasn't saying that North Vietnam was right at all; my point was the opposite- that the fact that the Vietnam war was wrong did not make the North Vietnamese on the right side of anything, and supporting them as a form of protest against the war was a huge mistake.
lilchiva at 2006-06-26 22:40 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well, history being written by the victors and all.

However, has she ever apologized or even acknowledged her culpability? Not to my knowledge

Yes.In her apearence last year on NPR's the Diane Reame show.
theservant at 2006-06-26 22:42 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well, history being written by the victors and all.

according to the Wikipedia entry on Jane Fonda

In 1988, Fonda admitted to former American POWs and their families that she had some regrets, stating:
I would like to say something, not just to Vietnam veterans in New England, but to men who were in Vietnam, who I hurt, or whose pain I caused to deepen because of things that I said or did. I was trying to help end the killing and the war, but there were times when I was thoughtless and careless about it and I'm very sorry that I hurt them. And I want to apologize to them and their families. [...] I will go to my grave regretting the photograph of me in an anti-aircraft gun, which looks like I was trying to shoot at American planes. It hurt so many soldiers. It galvanized such hostility. It was the most horrible thing I could possibly have done. It was just thoughtless.
On the Charlie Rose program, Fonda noted that her regrets were limited to the photo appearance with the anti-aircraft gun, and that she was "proud" of her activism against "the bombing of the dikes".
In a 60 Minutes interview on March 31, 2005, Fonda reiterated that she had no regrets about her trip to North Vietnam in 1972, with the exception of the anti-aircraft gun photo. She stated that the incident was a "betrayal" of American forces and of the "country that gave me privilege". Fonda said, "The image of Jane Fonda, Barbarella, Henry Fonda's daughter ... sitting on an enemy aircraft gun was a betrayal ... the largest lapse of judgment that I can even imagine." She later distinguished between regret over the use of her image as propaganda and pride for her anti-war activism: "There are hundreds of American delegations that had met with the POWs. Both sides were using the POWs for propaganda... It's not something that I will apologize for." Fonda said she had no regrets about the broadcasts she made on Radio Hanoi, something she asked the North Vietnamese to do: "Our government was lying to us and men were dying because of it, and I felt I had to do anything that I could to expose the lies and help end the war."
lilchiva at 2006-06-26 18:16 (UTC) (Link)


I almost posted again in order to clarify my remarks but I figured that everyone here was, ya know, fairly educated and sensible.

Ok, so wait...are you saying that since some soldiers ....

No. Neither. I am saying that because of the myth of the "unquestioning dutiful soldier" it is now currently publicly inconceivable that Vietnam era soldiers attended or supported FTA events and still managed to do their job. In short, people and the media tend to reject the idea of complex and conflicted behavior from soldiers. Like wise with people like Fonda, whom politically I don't happen to really care for, there is absolutely no room to consider that they may as well have engaged in similar complex behavior. My initial comment was directed at the observation of "vanishing history" and purposing that the reason that it seems lost is because it no longer fits with our popular myths about that era. Personally, I think that this denial, of what are essentiality any displays of humanity, only serves to cut out light and generate heat. Additionally, I think we can see the ramifications of this today when people refuse or are unable to look critically at contemporary foreign policy or do anything but venerate or demonize a particular POV.

theservant at 2006-06-26 18:18 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Projection.

Nuance doesn't fit well into a sound bite or on a bumper sticker.
lilchiva at 2006-06-26 18:26 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Projection.

That's why we have LJ. :)
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