Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Their Lips are Moving (Part One)

You've all no doubt heard the one about how you tell if a lawyer is lying.  Check to see if their lips are moving, right?  I can tell that one because I'm a recovering lawyer. 

But now that we've got troops in Israel and ships off Iran, and all that, I thought the time was ripe to say the same thing about the American government.  So, for the next couple of posts, I'll be telling you why--at least as long as I'm not designated an enemy of the state under the new NDAA that our President gave us for a New Years' present. 

So, here we go.  Let's review a few times when our government's "creativity" has gotten, shall we say, a bit out of hand, beginning with The Gulf of Tonkin Incident
For anyone who is either too young to remember, or who hasn't read about it sometime in the last few years,  the Gulf of Tonkin Incident was the thing that got the U.S. "all in" to the Vietnam War, and it was actually a pair of "incidents."  The first occurred when the USS Maddox, a US destroyer, was piddling around in the waters off  North Vietnam on August 2, 1964.  Of course, at the time, North Vietnam had been in hostilities with South Vietnam for some time, and France and the U.S. had been meddling in these hostilities for quite a while as well (remember?  Our troops were called "advisors").  Anyway, the story went that three North Vietnamese torpedo boats "attacked" the Maddox.   At the time, the government claimed that this attack was unprovoked, and occurred while the wholly innocent Maddox was on "routine patrol" in international waters--those rotten, bloodthirsty commies  attacked us for no reason at all.   Fortunately, there were no casualties, and little damage on the Maddox. 

The second "incident" was said to have occurred two days later on August 4, when the Maddox, out innocently in the Gulf again, fired for two hours on radar targets that were said to be attacking North Vietnamese torpedo boats.   Then-President Johnson went on  TV on August 5 and delivered an eloquent little humdinger of a speech in which he assured everyone that the US didn't want war, but that we just had to get over there and protect those poor South Vietnamese from the irrational aggression of the North.  It worked, and the Congress overwhelmingly passed the Gulf of Tonkin resolution on August 7, beginning the US' major involvement in the war, which raged on for a decade and cost the lives of over 58,000 young men. 

Now, as they say, the rest of the story...  In 2005, documents were declassified that proved conclusively that the Gulf of Tonkin Incident was mullarkey--a pretext for war.   And it had virtually certainly been known as such at the time.  The first incident, on August 2, hadn't been an unprovoked attack on an innocent ship.  The Maddox had been conducting spying operations on North Vietnam, specifically trying to find openings for attacks on the North by South Vietnam.  So, basically, three tiny little PT boats buzzed a great big destroyer and fired at it to run it off from its spying maneuvers.  The Maddox clobbered them.  Not terribly surprising, right?  If someone sent a ship to our coast and was spying, we'd probably attack that ship too, wouldn't we?  And that would make perfect sense, and not make us bloodthirsty anythings.  So, while the President and his crew were portraying the Gulf of Tonkin as an act of unprovoked hostility and dragging America into a war that wound up killing and wounding MILLIONS of people, they knew--FOR CERTAIN--that the Maddox had been there spying, and that the reaction of the North Vietnamese was reasonable and not unduly hostile. 

And amazingly,  the second "incident"  never occurred at all.  The Maddox was sent back out to continue spying, this time with orders to go even closer to the North Vietnamese coast (translation:  to further provoke the North Vietnamese), but it turns out that the Navy fired on nothing, or perhaps on some sonar "ghosts."   According to records, well before Johnson had ever gone on TV to drum up support for the war, the commander of the Maddox, Captain John Herrick, had cabled to his command that there might have been no attack or enemy contact at all.    That there were no North Vietnamese ships is now accepted fact

Of course, there's always another side to things.  So let's take a moment to find some of the things that came to us as a result of the Vietnam War, which it appears we were manipulated into fighting by a lying government.   There was Agent Orange.  Dioxin.  Coining of the term Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  The My-Lai Massacre.  Napalm.  And the 'killing machine on testosterone high' atmosphere and culture that turned somebody's little boy into this ... 

photo imported from here

Suppose we should start being just a tad more critical?

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