By Carolyn Baker

Nixon had no readiness at all to see Saigon under a Vietcong flag after a “decent interval” of two or three years—or ever….And so it meant that the war would essentially never end. His campaign promise of ending the war was a hoax. Daniel Ellsberg, Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and The Pentagon Papers

On Friday, George W. Bush arrived in Vietnam with the intention of strengthening business ties with that nation and used his photo op to make one of the most jaw-dropping statements of his presidency regarding the subject of history. “History has a long march to it,” he banally proclaimed as we all yawned, recalling that his major at Yale, where he barely managed to maintain a 2.3 average, was history. Then came the clincher as Bush was asked if any lessons from Vietnam apply to the war in Iraq: “One lesson,” he babbled, “is that we tend to want there to be instant success in the world, and the task in Iraq is going to take awhile. It’s just going to take a long time for the ideology that is hopeful, and that is an ideology of freedom, to overcome an ideology of hate. We’ll succeed unless we quit.”

Oh really, the “lesson” of Vietnam is that we shouldn’t “quit”? There it is again, that Orwellian mindset that has pervaded this administration; war is peace, and evil is good. No one should be shocked that Bush has no sense of history, that he has never read anything beyond the Reader’s Digest version of it, and that he willfully ignores the genuine lessons of the Vietnam era, but every American should be outraged by this statement, but one of the myriad reasons the vast majority of Americans have allowed the most criminal administration in the history of this nation to continue unabated, with nary a peep of indignation, is that they themselves have so little knowledge of their history.

Listen further to Daniel Ellsberg: “What I was hearing was not just that the war was going to go on, indefinitely, but that it would get larger, eventually larger than it had ever been.” In his memoir, Secrets, we are shown incontrovertible evidence that what drove the former Rand Corporation economic analyst to hide top-secret, classified documents, which became the Pentagon Papers, in his brief case upon leaving the Defense Department every night and thereby risk serving decades in prison, was moral outrage over the appalling reality that the Nixon administration had no intention whatsoever of ending the Vietnam War, but in fact, was actively engaged in continuing it for as long as possible. Are we shocked that the Bush administration lied us into war? Almost all U.S. presidential administrations have lied into war, but never as blatantly as this one has.

As noted in my new book U.S. HISTORY UNCENSORED: What Your High School Textbook Didn’t Tell You, in the early 1960s, a decade prior to Ellsberg’s employment at the Defense Department, Air Force Colonel, L. Fletcher Prouty worked in the Pentagon as chief of special operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Kennedy administration. His experience corroborates seamlessly with Ellsberg’s as Prouty observed that in the early days of the Vietnam conflict, the U.S. was not only financing the French against the North Vietnamese, but was also financing the North Vietnamese. Why? Because the military-industrial complex is amoral and doesn’t quibble over “sides” but how to most effectively bloat the profits of war. “War is the best business in town,” opines Prouty, echoing the words of the World War I hero, General Smedley Butler and his famous indictment that “War is a racket.”

In my book I recount the story of an attempt by pro-fascist corporate capitalists in the 1930s to enlist Butler into leading a coup against Franklin Roosevelt in order to implement a fascist government. Pretending to go along with the coup, Butler later disclosed its details to Congress, but no action was taken against the coup plotters.

Lest my inbox become glutted with emails reminding me that Prouty was a Scientologist, I hasten to add that his religious beliefs pale by comparison with the documentation he provided us regarding the JFK assassination and the Pentagon’s Vietnam policies. My point is that we can pick an administration—any administration, Democratic or Republican, since the end of World War II, and despite its rhetoric, it will upon investigation, reveal itself as subservient to the war machine, doing whatever it takes to feed that mechanism, either during the infinite wars it has fueled or in between them.

Moreover, another lesson of history that the Bush administration ignores is that asymmetric wars cannot be “won” but merely endured, and while that serves the strategy of infinite war, history is replete with examples of how it decimates a citizenry and its resources. Stan Goff, Ret. U.S. Army Special Forces, former West Point instructor, and author of Full Spectrum Disorder, describes asymmetric warfare as “When they retreat, pursue. When they attack, retreat. Match your strengths to their weakness.”

A stunning example of asymmetric warfare is Hezbollah’s victory over the Israeli occupation forces in Lebanon in the summer of 2006. Asymmetric warfare is a gradual wearing down of the enemy and his resources and morale. Furthermore, Goff writes, “The U.S. inflicted a terrible empirical toll on Southeast Asia and ultimately lost the Vietnam War. The U.S. never grasped the political character of that war.” Nor did the U.S. grasp the will of traditional peoples to use non-conventional means to fight conventional wars. For example, even though the U.S. military had highly sophisticated weapons technology in the Vietnam War, hundreds of Vietnamese people were willing to rip up railroad tracks with their bare hands, dealing strategic blows to American forces as sectarian violence in Iraq, a textbook example of asymmetric warfare, is now doing.

Try as you may, Mr. President, you cannot “pretzelize” history to fit your political and war machine agenda. Distort it however you wish, it will have the last word. Goff said it best in his recent article, “Reflecting On Rumsfeld:

The United States is not suffering from some collective personality disorder called compassion fatigue. We are suffering from the most well-funded thought-control experiment in history, more sophisticated and deadly by many orders of magnitude than anything contrived by Kim Jong Il—the latest bete noir of American public discourse, and we are suffering from the complicity of journalistic hacks like Judith Miller and the anodyne intellectual narcotics of policy think tanks. It is our empathy that is under attack, because if it is aroused to a point where Iraqis or Afghans or even our own imperial soldiers become real people (and not a yellow-ribbon magnet), the jig is up. So here is a simple reminder. This war is wanton cruelty in our name; there is no rationalization that can mitigate or excuse it; “we” will not win it and somehow transmogrify a swine into a swan … and it is not over.

What Vietnam teaches us, Mr. President, is that war is the “health of the state” as described by World War I progressive Randolph Bourne, and as long as the American people allow you or any other president to lie us into wars, you will do so, perpetuating the Iraq War as long as possible—as long as the Nixon administration attempted to perpetuate Vietnam: forever. And, in order to justify your crimes against the world and the American people, you and your military industrial complex must turn history into chopped liver.

Carolyn Baker, Ph.D. is author of U.S. HISTORY UNCENSORED: What Your High School Textbook Didn’t Tell You which can be ordered at her website www.carolynbaker.org  where she may also be contacted.



  1. bill55 Says:

    war has been a mans domain for eternity and will unfortunatly continue until the world is destroyed, and presidents like Bush are just rushing this unfortunate prosess along. The trillions spent on senseless war machines would go a long way in feeding the worlds hungry and destitute. It can be achieved but will depent on all of us in the northern hemisphere to press for this.

  2. unitedcats Says:

    Most of the civilized world now regards slavery as an abomination, an institution that was a legal part and parcel of most human civilisations until a few centuries ago. If people can come to regard slavery this way, perhaps someday we can outgrow war as an instrument of national policy. Nice article, certainly agrees with what I know. WW2 was so mind numbingly profitable for American industry and government that for the first time in Amerucan history we didn’t demobilize after the war. It’s been downhill since then as the war machine cancer has spread thoughout the American political and economic system. Granted I don’t see a way out of this mess, especially since the “free” press is little better than a corporate shill these days, but I can hope, can’t I? 🙂


    PS I can still remember my high school teacher telling us that Japan attacked Pearl Harbour because they wanted to “take over the world.”

  3. revmanny Says:

    I found it really interesting to visit the IAVA (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America). It’s amazing what lessons Bush has learned from the War in Iraq and what lessons the veterans have learned.

    More astounding is that the word “impeachment” is utter anathema in Washington. Huh? How can that be? The lying, the pilfering, the profiteering, the racketeering and the sheer mass murder of it all are mind-boggling. War is far more than foreign policy to the extreme. It is a the violent destruction of other humans.

  4. Alan Says:

    This is how you can discover what the truth “IS”. First, turn the tv off, its called the idiot box for a reason. Second, research a topic on line, make sure you check out several sites, stay away for the sites that are goverment funded, those provide the political line trash. So, lets briekly look at why the American goverment works against the people and always in favor of the distructive elements.
    This is it in a nut shell, in 1911 Wilson signed into law the Federal Reserve, this bank in privately owned and prints all our currency to this day. The Fed loans the goverment credit at interest, the goverment issues the fed bonds as collateral, this scheme was created so the goverment spend beyond its means, thus you have deficit spending. You and I pay the interest on the money the fed loans the goverment, money the goverment could have printed it’s self for pennies, see its a racket. This goes beyond goverment, we all pay alot of interest for all loans, homes,cars etc. If I borrow 100 bucks at 10% interest I owe the bank 110 dollars. The 10 extra dollars doesnt actually exist, when there is more money in circulation than actually exists its called inflation, so your money buys less. Its a scam that has been in existence for centuries. S now the private banks own the nation, remember everything requires collatoral, a bank can call in a load when it sees fit, they own our asses, our entire nation is owned by corporate banking that owns the corporate media that own our defense companies that lobby the crooks in DC, we are all surfs.

  5. carolynbaker Says:

    Alan, I couldn’t agree with you more. Everyone needs to run, not walk, to http://www.freedomtofascism.com/ and purchase a copy of the AMERICA FROM FREEDOM TO FASCISM DVD, by Aaron Russo. Not only does this documentary cover the Federal Reserve and the IRS in depth, but will convince you that you are living in a fascist empire in which all previous options for effecting change have become meaningless.

  6. Randell Says:

    It seems to me that the one thing we can do if anything, is to make sure that our social services remain at the quality that we are accustomed to in this country.Police protection, healthcare and decent houseing are what we need to hang on to for dear life if we are to offer any resistance at all. let these things get away from us and we will be too busy fighting among ourselves to have any say at all. Third world capitalism is no political atmosphere in which to try and have a say in world events.

  7. carolynbaker Says:

    Randell: You are now living in a fascist empire. Those services you mentioned will gradually continue to evaporate. It will be up to conscious activists in small communities to create their own services based on relocalization efforts. Websites to study on this are: http://www.energybulletin.net; http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net; http://www.postcarbon.org

  8. Randell Says:

    I think we have been living in a facist empire certainly since the industrial revolution, maybe even much earlier. It has been a benevolent facism due to the need to have calm within the throneland. This calm is what allowed the rulers a base economy from which to draw the abillity for imperial expansion. Due to the need for continued calm, I would say we have time to focus if we chose to do so, and keep our exsisting locations in tact.

  9. unitedcats Says:

    LOL @ benevolent fascism. Fur-lined designer jackboots? The knock on the door in the middle of the night is soft so as not to wake the neighbours? Posters of our leader feature him smiling and wearing a party hat? (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.) 🙂 —Doug

  10. carolynbaker Says:

    Your sarcasm is greatly appreciated, as is your use of the term “benevolent fascism.”

  11. Randell Says:

    LOL @ benevolent facism if you will,but so far I have not had anybody in fur-lined designer jackboots knock on my door in the middle of the night, and I must admit that up to this point in time I have been living like a king. So I find it very difficult to speak negatively about the existing circumstances in America. Freedom as people would like to desribe it- in my opinion has never existed. So what could you call it other than benevolent facism? I’m open for suggestions.

  12. mike Says:

    I’ve been looking at coverups and scandle that has happened over the last 50 yr’s and then i read the article on the top of this page and the comments that follow. I just want to say that we are like frogs in water if you turn up the temp slowly the frog wont jump out but if you turn up the tem fast the frog will jump right out. See the goverment has been turning up the temp for quite a long time and it will continue until they reach the goal that they have set for themselves witch in the end i believe is to get rid of most of the worlds population.

  13. unitedcats Says:

    Actually, the frog thing is an urban legend. I agree though, we don’t seem to be living in a fascist state yet, but a lot of the groundwork has been laid. I fear what might happen though if there were another 911 or someone with a truly fascist agenda gets into the White House. JMO —Dou

  14. mike Says:

    Well we may not see the true agenda that is really laid before us but i do believe that Bush does infact have a plan, what that plan is i dont know, but this i do know, he does have mass ties with the Binladins i mean they run our home land sucerity, and i also believe that we have known Binladins location this whole time. Now i’m not one to believe everything i hear on documentries but i do believe that where there is smoke there is fire, and this fire is just growing. I do think bush is in fact a fasict and i also think that before it’s all over there will be many 911’s in fact i believe that the first 911 was the Oklahoma city bombing. maybe Bush wasn’t the president at the time but the goverment officals have always been impowered and always will be until we the people take a stand. Shoot, Bush was just a plus on thier behalf. I mean come on Bush is a moron do you or anyone else think that a man of his statue should be in charge of our nation. When 911 hit Bush was in a kindergarten class room reading a book and when he was informed about what has happened he just sat there like a fool. I dont know, all im saying is that we are all screwed if we don’t address the true issues that we are facing i mean does anyone remember all those bills that where passed that there was so much controversy over, that stated that christians,gun owners, freerights activist, are in fact terrorist to the us goverment? also do you know that there are concentration camps set up here in the us, and another bill that was passed also states that if a state of emergency is ever declared that citizens can be placed in these camps and that elder women may be youthanized in order to make room. All im lookin for is to be heard and get some feedback. I also could go on forever about things i have found, heard, or discovered, i would just like to see what people have to say about my opinions. I just feel that this country could be so much more if only we could come together and made a stand. I know many people have felt this and or even tried to change things with some success but things still need to change now more then ever because our rights are flying out the window along with a number of benifits.

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