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2018 History Lessons Distorted: McCain Eulogies Echo Ken Burns' Misrepresentations of the Vietnam War

By       Message JACK DRESSER       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   7 comments

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Enough time has now elapsed since the death of Senator John McCain for those of us who care deeply about world peace and deplore our nation's contribution to its absence to strongly dissent from the John McCain eulogies and instead seize this as a teachable moment on realities of American history. However traditionally respectful of the dead, the outpouring of gushing praise for Senator McCain reflects typical denials of hard truths in our retrospectives about America's brutal imperialism. Instead, as a duty of citizenship, I urge us to face these truths starting with the sacrilegious suggestion that John McCain was no hero.

McCain flew ground attack aircraft bombing helpless Vietnamese villages into oblivion. Considered a reckless and incompetent flyer who had wrecked three previous aircraft in crashes blamed by Navy investigators on poor pilot judgment, he was nevertheless allowed to continue flying. This indulgence with taxpayer assets probably owed to his lineage from a distinguished military bloodline. His father and grandfather were 4-star admirals. African-Americans have also noted his descent from a slave-owning Mississippi family.

McCain remained an unrepentant imperial warhawk corrupted by big money. Like John Kerry, he married into America's financial royalty, further enabling his political ambitions. He then used his positions of political power to aggressively support the mass killing of hundreds of thousands by our imperial war machine and its politically powerful weapons industry in repeated, flagrant violations of international law.

Offering neither acknowledgment, apology nor restitution for our war crimes in Vietnam, McCain posed instead as a war hero and exploited this invented status for political advantage. Ironically, his terminal illness coincided with Ken Burns' whitewash of the Vietnam War, preserving the mythic McCain version about this two-decade war of choice - illegal under the UN Charter - that killed three million Vietnamese.

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Despite a $30 million budget, 10 years, and 18 hours of broadcast time, Burns' documentary managed to leave almost everything of crucial educational importance unmentioned. Considering its David Koch, Ford Foundation, and Bank of America sponsors, disturbing revelations would not be expected.

Burns' conspicuous omissions included the war's fomenting agents, CIA director Allen Dulles and his brother, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, who during the Eisenhower administration chose Ho Chi Minh for elimination along with Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz Guzman, Congo Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, and Indonesian President Sukarno (Javanese use only one name). Only Ho Chi Minh survived. This fraternal coalition destroyed the firewall between our diplomatic corps and covert military operations, a corruption and poisoning of our foreign relations that has continued to expand exponentially. Seymour Hersch recently reported on Democracy Now! that we are currently conducting covert military operations in 76 countries. Diplomatic protection is a key strategic component of such operations. For example, our ambassador posted to Syria in 2010, Robert Stephen Ford, actively encouraged and facilitated the jihaddist mercenary operations against President Assad that initiated that monstrous 7-year war, relentlessly misrepresented by Western propaganda as a civil war.

General Edward Lansdale's duplicitous, culture-divisive cancellation of the 1956 unification election, outrageous propaganda terrorizing Vietnamese Christians into fleeing south, transformation of a temporary partition of convenience into a pseudo-national boundary, and war-inflaming installation of Catholic President Diem were also left undisclosed, as were CIA station chief Ted Shackley's secret war in Laos smuggling opium to support our covert operations and his Phoenix Program of infiltration, abductions, torture, rape and assassinations "neutralizing" 82,000 suspected Viet Cong, a template for US "special operations" ever since.

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This entire war deeply dishonored America, but McCain neither questioned it publicly nor expressed remorse. He knew he was bombing simple villages, not identifiable military targets, on over two dozen ground attack missions in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Did he know or care who was beneath those bombs? Was he aware at the time of facts described above?

If not, did he care enough to learn these facts subsequently exposed by many historians and investigators over the next half-century? Having engaged in the worst of our war crimes - the relentless and genocidal carpet bombing of Southeast Asian communities including use of Agent Orange leaving monstrous birth defects, cancers and neurodevelopmental disorders in the surviving population ever since - did McCain not have a duty to read, learn, reflect, regret and reveal the ugly truth to the public he accepted responsibility to represent? Instead, he used his Senate position to block congressional investigation, permanently seal classified information that might refute his POW claims, and manipulate a largely incurious and racist public willing to accept dehumanization of the non-white people we killed simply to deny them free choice of their own government.

Real Vietnam War heroes were the helicopter pilot - Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson - who intervened to stop the My Lai massacre, and soldiers who rebelled, refused combat, and sabotaged our bombing campaign, documented in the film, "Sir, No Sir!" and the book, Soldiers in Revolt. These, not Ken Burns' whitewashed film or whitewashed memorials to John McCain, belong in every high school library and American history curriculum.

(Article changed on November 11, 2018 at 04:44)

 

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BA, Pomona College. Ph.D., clinical psychology. Army psychologist during VN War. Private practice 15 years, specializing in transactional analysis and family systems. Developed ego state psychodrama method. Developed numerous school-based (more...)
 

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3 people are discussing this page, with 7 comments  Post Comment


JACK DRESSER

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Deconstruction of America's mythology of exceptionalism is an indispensable element in bringing our murderous imperial state to a close. The truth of US history must be unveiled in our media and taught in our schools before our society and political system can be transformed. This is no small mission, but another teaching opportunity is provided by Trump, who is not an aberration but simply America with the mask off. It needs to be emphasized that Trump simply says out loud what our country has been doing since our 18th-19th centuries extermination of indigenous peoples of North America through an unbroken series of international aggressions laying waste to other societies while dehumanizing our victims with racism.

Submitted on Saturday, Nov 10, 2018 at 5:33:28 PM

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John Lawrence Ré

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On this Veterans Day weekend, all americans who remain disturbed by the US invasion of Vietnam -- veteran and non-veteran alike -- thank you for maintaining a critical focus on the establishment generated junk from Ken Burns and the remarkably un-heroic life of the delinquent poseur, John McCain. As you suggest, they embody the fake narrative that has somehow survived the best efforts of the anti-war movement in the 60s and 70s to establish the truth. Unfortunately, since then it has been a morally regressed period of two steps forward, four steps backward. I'm hoping a fellow veteran like the Hawaiin, Tulsi Gabbard, can provide the anti-imperialist leadership that's so sorely needed at the executive level.

Submitted on Saturday, Nov 10, 2018 at 7:07:23 PM

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Lois Gagnon

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Unfortunately John, she called McCain a war hero. I don't think we are going to vote our way out of this. It's up to the people to form movements that will form coalitions and bring enough pressure to bear on the ruling elites to force them to acquiesce to our demands. The Women's March on the Pentagon is about doing exactly that. Look for more actions after the first of the year.

Submitted on Saturday, Nov 10, 2018 at 10:12:35 PM

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JACK DRESSER

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Reply to Lois Gagnon:   New Content

Uruguay provides an example of what you suggest that's worth studying. What was once an imaginative, Robin-Hood populist insurgency (see Costa-Gavros film, State of Siege), the Tupamaros, was crushed by the dictatorship early in the Operation Condor period and its leaders imprisoned more than a decade. Upon release when the dictatorship was overthrown in 1985, they joined a coalition of other progressive parties and movements in a composite national party, the Broad Front. Former Tupamaros leader Jose Mujica who had been imprisoned 14 years was elected President in 2010, famously retaining a modest, familiar lifestyle and leaving office in 2015 as simple in lifestyle as ever.

There are such principled, incorruptible people in our society as well, who I believe will only be elevated to national leadership through a similar coalition/composite party including, inter alia, the Green Party, Movement for Black Lives (c. 50 organizations), 350.org and other renewable energy advocates, Our Revolution, medicare for all advocates, Veterans for Peace and other anti-war organizations, 911 Truth, We the People (opposing Citizens United), labor unions advocating the Mondragon model of worker ownership, GMO opponents and proponents of localized ecoagriculture, advocates of public funding for higher education, disenchanted Democrats, and freedom defenders opposing government surveillance and censorship including some libertarians. Each organization could continue work in its particular area of interest while joining forces for electoral purposes.

During the 2016 election season, only 21% of voters identified as GOP and ony 29% as Dems, leaving half up for grabs. I suspect a well-constructed "broad front" could capture enough of those to become the dominant party and stage a bloodless revolution that human survival requires. Deeply reducing the Pentagon, special forces, CIA and other military/imperial budgets and renegotiating or canceling the national debt to the "Federal Reserve" banksters, would easily pay for everything else we actually need, including a nationwide network of high-speed rail electrified by renewables.

Our immense weapons industry could retool and reapply its monumental, flexible, transferable skills and resources to alternative energy and diversified agricultural technology, just as we rapidly adapted from civilian to war economies for two world wars. With increasingly efficient renewable energy technologies these will be able to underprice fossil fuels, which are becoming ever more costly to extract and refine, and put them out of business without awaiting awakened corporate awareness and conscience.

We need but the will.

Submitted on Sunday, Nov 11, 2018 at 6:48:38 AM

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Lois Gagnon

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Thanks Jack. Sounds like a plan.


As this system of illegitimate corporate neoliberalism turns to outright fascism to maintain itself, I think more and more people will be forced to see the necessity of building coalitions to survive. The sooner the better however. The challenge is to get the process rolling now.

Submitted on Sunday, Nov 11, 2018 at 7:21:27 PM

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John Lawrence Ré

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Reply to JACK DRESSER:   New Content

Jack, I'm in complete agreement with almost every point you are making (as usual), but must reference the historical record to suggest that none of it will reach fruition without a leader. From Thomas Paine to Ho Chi Minh, and from Lenin to Allende movements are galvanized by leaders. Evo Morales, Lula Da Silva and as you mentioned, Jose Mujica are perfect recent examples. So it's less a question of which comes first than an understanding that the recipe for succeeding requires both a movement and a leader. Trying to fit our present pampered and insulated American reality into a context with the Tupamoros or MIR or FLN is a bit of a stretch that is unnecessary and futile. The closest any American group ever came to operating on that level of sacrifice and discipline was the Black Panther Party of the 1960/70s. In the context of the looming 2020 American crossroads, nothing good will happen without a sympathetic chief executive with palpale integrity and none of the possible contenders for that position have the slightest intention of prioritizing the transformation of the disgraceful 73 year old war economy into the retooled civilian economy you correctly call for, except Tulsi Gabbard.

Submitted on Tuesday, Nov 13, 2018 at 5:06:00 AM

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Reply to Lois Gagnon:   New Content

Sorry Lois, though we're on the same page 99% of the time, I can't agree with you here. Gabbard has loudly opposed McCain on every single opportunity afforded her. Trying to dismiss her for eulogizing the bastard after he died is as out of context as the other attacks on her -- like rebuking her for meeting with Assad to discuss PEACE! Please see: click here

When Rob Kall responded to my comment in his article, "The Good News for 2020" that Gabbard can't win because she's a Hindu, I replied:

"Here we go again. Now that a candidate like Gabbard with an easily perceptible sense of integrity finally appears, liberals will find away to steal defeat from the jaws of success. She hasn't even announced she's running and already the chorus has begun creating reasons out of the ether on how it will fail: too leftist, too rightist, too young, wrong religion, wears blue dresses with brown shoes. For one thing, the rural Americans that only she among non-republicans can resonate with could give a sh*t about her religion. Most wouldn't know a Hindu from a Shinto. Bernie Sanders slapped the road map right in our faces and yet it remains invisible. And he's Jewish. Believe me if Appalachians could vote for a Jew, a Hindu is a shoe-in. The out of touch sense of reality behind the strategy for those on the left guarantees it will fail again as it has every year since WWII: no understanding of marketing, no recognition of who their allies really are, false sense of their own importance -- they live in a bubble."

Submitted on Tuesday, Nov 13, 2018 at 5:25:33 AM

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