At The Nation, John Nichols reviews each of warmonger Dick Cheney’s four 2-S draft deferments that allowed him to not serve in Vietnam in the 1960′s. He explained himself decades later, but doesn’t even mention this aspect of his life in his new book, In My Times. Here is an excerpt from Nichol’s article:
Twenty-three years later, when Cheney appeared before the Senate to plead the case for his confirmation as George Herbert Walker Bush’s defense secretary, he was questioned about his failure to serve. Cheney responded that he “would have obviously been happy to serve had I been called.” In a more truthful moment that same year, Cheney admitted to a reporter, “I had other priorities in the ’60s than military service.” Cheney’s lie to the Senate has never caused much concern, but that “other priorities” line has dogged him. After he selected himself to serve on the 2000 Republican ticket, former Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jesse Brown, a Vietnam veteran disabled by a gunshot wound to his right arm, said, “As a former Marine who was wounded and nearly lost his life, I personally resent that comment. I resent that he had ‘other priorities,’ when 58,000 people died and over 300,000 returned wounded and disabled. In my mind there is no doubt that because he had ‘other priorities’ someone died or was injured in his place.”
On Friday’s show, Bill Moyers drew upon President Lyndon Johnson’s taped phone calls and commentary regarding the Vietnam war, before drawing the following conclusions:
Now in a different world, at a different time, and with a different president, we face the prospect of enlarging a different war. But once again we’re fighting in remote provinces against an enemy who can bleed us slowly and wait us out, because he will still be there when we are gone.
Once again, we are caught between warring factions in a country where other foreign powers fail before us. Once again, every setback brings a call for more troops, although no one can say how long they will be there or what it means to win. Once again, the government we are trying to help is hopelessly corrupt and incompetent.
And once again, a President pushing for critical change at home is being pressured to stop dithering, be tough, show he’s got the guts, by sending young people seven thousand miles from home to fight and die, while their own country is coming apart.
And once again, the loudest case for enlarging the war is being made by those who will not have to fight it, who will be safely in their beds while the war grinds on. And once again, a small circle of advisers debates the course of action, but one man will make the decision.
The conversations secretly taped by Lyndon Johnson are riveting. They demonstrate that Johnson consistently saw escalation to be a terrible option, yet he ordered it. The entire episode of Bill Moyers Journal can be viewed here.
Glenn Greenwald offers yet another column sharply critical of many of today’s so-called journalists. It is well worth reading the entire thing. Here’s an excerpt:
[M]edia stars will spend ample time flamboyantly commemorating Cronkite’s death as though he reflects well on what they do (though probably not nearly as much time as they spent dwelling on the death of Tim Russert, whose sycophantic servitude to Beltway power and “accommodating head waiter”-like, mindless stenography did indeed represent quite accurately what today’s media stars actually do). In fact, within Cronkite’s most[caption id="attachment_8158" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Image: public domain: Library of Congress"][/caption]
important moments one finds the essence of journalism that today’s modern media stars not only fail to exhibit, but explicitly disclaim as their responsibility.
Greenwald also quotes New York Magazine’s Yada Juan, quoting Harper‘s Lewis Lapham:
The new tradition is that the press speaks on behalf of the government.” An example? “Tim Russert was a spokesman for power, wealth, and privilege,” Lapham said. “That’s why 1,000 people came to his memorial service. Because essentially he was a shill for the government. It didn’t matter whether it was Democratic or Republican. It was for the status quo.” What about Russert’s rep for catching pols in lies? “That was bullshit,” he said.
Note:, Even Cronkite got caught up on the power and patriotism of war, a fact that is documented in the transcript of the excellent documentary, “War Made Easy,” which I reviewed here.
NORMAN SOLOMON: Every war, we have US news media that have praised the latest
in the state-of-the-art killing technology, from the present moment to the war in Vietnam.
WALTER CRONKITE: B-57s — the British call them Canberra jets — we’re using them
very effectively here in this war in Vietnam to dive-bomb the Vietcong in these jungles
beyond Da Nang here. Colonel, what’s our mission we’re about to embark on?
AIR FORCE COLONEL: Well, our mission today, sir, is to report down to the site of the
ambush seventy miles south of here and attempt to kill the VC.
WALTER CRONKITE: The colonel has just advised me that that is our target area right
over there. One, two, three, four, we dropped our bomb, but now a tremendous G-load as
we pull out of that dive. Oh, I know something of what those astronauts must go through.
AIR FORCE COLONEL: Yes, sir.
WALTER CRONKITE: It’s a great way to go to war.
You can watch the entire documentary here (1 hour and 10 mintes) .
The New Yorker has just published an interview of William Ayers. It humanizes him and clears up some misconceptions. It makes me wonder why Ayers didn’t speak up earlier, while he was being portrayed in a grotesque way that was pulling down the Obama campaign. Here’s an excerpt: Ayers said that he had never meant [...]
What happens when the executive branch is allowed to operate in secrecy and without constraint? This was answered in 1976, by the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, chaired by Senator Frank Church: The natural tendency of Government is toward abuse of power. Men entrusted with power, [...]
In 2006, Norman Solomon wrote War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. His book detailed the information tactics the American government uses to launch wars.
I was able to attend a viewing of “War Made Easy” last Saturday night at the National Conference for Media Reform in Minneapolis (NCMR2008). This crisply edited movie was narrated by Sean Penn. Much of what keeps this movie engaging are the dozens of carefully chosen news media clips generated during various American wars for the past 50 years, including large numbers of videos clips from the Vietnam war and the Iraq occupation. The magic of “War Made Easy” is that the directors carefully edited and arranged these clips to show us that nothing much has really changed: If an American president has decided that he wants to go to war, the watchdog American media is likely to become a lapdog and we will inevitably go to war.
Following the screening of “War Made Easy,” I attended a discussion of the movie led by media critic Norman Solomon and the co-director and producer of the movie, Loretta Alper. The following morning, Ms. Alper granted me the opportunity to interview her further regarding the making of “War Made Easy.”
Whenever we Americans go to war, we get there through a well-documented series of stages. As I watched “War Made Easy,” I saw better than ever that these stages are entirely predictable in the context of America’s warmongering ways.
Perhaps this characterization of America sounds too shrill, but just look around. The evidence is everywhere that war is a sport in America just as sports are warlike. Our TV shows and movies overflow with violence as a first-rate method of dealing with conflict. The toys we foist on our boys extol violence as the most obvious way of settling disputes. We challenge each other with statements like “support the troops,” no matter what those troops are doing (and see here ). We are all too ready to invoke the word “war,” because that word triggers a ready-made conceptual frame for freely and guiltlessly expressing ourselves with bullets, bombs and blood. In America, this frame of war is such an incredibly effective filter that we proceed to consider only the “benefits” of war and we ignore the massive damages inflicted on both war-zone civilians and upon millions of Americans (and see here).