Oscar Mejía Goes Quietly Into The Night

Oscar Mejía, one of Guatemala’s brutal Cold War dictators died on February 1st, 2016.

Lake Atitlán

Lake Atitlán

He died as he lived, without remorse for the torture, genocide, and brutality he inflicted on the long-suffering people he ruled. I visited Guatemala in 1959. The street tales of fierce fighters in the highlands who faced machine guns with machetes were frightening. Time spent at Lake Atitlán brought a different reality to bear. These short-statured, barrel-chested remnants of the Mayan civilization wanted only to be left alone.

The 1871 revolution bore Justo Rufino Barrios to power. He stole previously protected native lands to accelerate coffee production in Guatemala. Barrios wrote law that forced the native population work for low wages for the new landowners. It was the onset of an appalling tradition, which later saw the U.S. and John Foster Dulles propagating.

Throughout the decades the U.S. intervened in Guatemala’s politics. President Ronald Reagan privately doubted, but publicly supported the Oscar Mejía Víctores’ regime. Unredacted provides a detailed look at Oscar Mejía Víctores role in Guatemala’s history. It is a ‘must read’ for the Cold War legacy.

Reblogged

Oscar Mejía Víctores Dead at 85: Guatemalan dictator dies as human rights trials resume

February 8, 2016

by Kate Doyle

Oscar Mejía Víctores in 2011 (L), photo credit: Prensa Libre/EFE, and in 1983 (R).

Oscar Mejía Víctores in 2011 (L), photo credit: Prensa Libre/EFE, and in 1983 (R).

Oscar Mejía Víctores, Guatemalan army general and former head of state from 1983 to 1986 who presided over some of the most repressive periods in the country’s 36-year civil conflict – first as minister of defense and then as military dictator – died on Monday, February 1. He was 85.

Mejía Víctores was never brought to justice for his alleged connection to human rights abuses. Due to his failing health in the years prior to his death, public prosecutors were forced to drop an indictment they had brought against him for genocide and crimes against humanity, after government doctors declared him physically and mentally incompetent to stand trial in 2011.

But on the same day that the retired general died, two military men who served under him appeared in a Guatemalan courtroom for the opening day of the “Sepur Zarco” case, the world’s first criminal trial of persons accused of sexual violence and enslavement in the context of armed conflict to be heard by a national court. The trial is one of several human rights cases that have advanced in Guatemala since the beginning of this year, signaling a resumption of major human rights prosecutions by a justice system that in 2015 was largely focused on important corruption cases.

Throughout his career, Oscar Mejía Víctores cut a classic figure as a loyal military officer, brutal strongman, and untouchable human rights violator.

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Madmen in the White House

The Soviets were master chess players so what happens when the Mad Hatter takes a seat

The Mad Hatter Creative Commons

The Mad Hatter
Creative Commons

at the table? That was a question President Richard M. Nixon asked. By January 1969, finding a face-saving way out of the Vietnam War became a foreign policy priority for Nixon and Kissinger, and they had a plan. The Madman card played by Eisenhower during Korea was legend and Nixon, Eisenhower’s Vice President (1953 – 1961), was familiar with the ploy. Many arrows fill the foreign policy quiver; economic, trade, intelligence, diplomacy, and, of course, military. Foreign policy arrows combine forming customized solutions to particular interests or threats. The Madman game, played in one guise or another from 1969 to 1974, customized a bizarre and risky combination of foreign policy shafts.

The Eisenhower Madman policy appears founded in scuttlebutt, and documentation is hard to come by. Admiral Joy commanded the Naval Forces Far East, including all naval operations in Korean waters during the Korean War (1950-1953). Later the Admiral served

Vice Admiral C. Turner Joy, USN, Commander Naval Forces Far East Photographed 9 June 1951. Note his Nikon 35mm camera. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Vice Admiral C. Turner Joy, USN, Commander Naval Forces Far East
Photographed 9 June 1951. Note his Nikon 35mm camera.
Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

as chief negotiator during the truce negotiations at Kaesong until they broke down in 1952. Joy asserted that the Eisenhower administration’s nuclear threats in May 1953, reaped Soviet compromises during negotiations. The January 1956, issue of Life Magazine published a supporting story by James Shepley, “How Dulles Averted War” (pages 70 and 71). Secretary of State Allen Dulles detailed how he carried Eisenhower’s nuclear warning to Beijing in 1953 during a visit with Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Shepley reported that “…Dulles told Nehru that the U.S. desired to end the fighting in Korea honorably. He also said that if the war continued, the U.S. would lift the self-imposed restrictions on its actions and hold back no effort or weapon to win…” According to rumor, innuendo, and the tribal drums similar, clarified messages, on nuclear intent found their way to China through several different mechanisms. Continue reading

FEAR AND LOATHING IN AMERICA or a short, twisted history of immigration

Dear America and the State of Texas, I have some hard truths to tell you. Most of you

"... the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance...": FDR’s First Inaugural Address

“… the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance…”: FDR’s First Inaugural Address

won’t like what I have to say and I really don’t care. You are afraid. Yep, I said YOU ARE AFRAID. Someone needed to say it and I just did. You’re afraid of your government. You’re afraid of ISIS and Al Qaeda. You’re afraid of immigrants and immigration. You are one short step away from walking around with an aluminum foil

hat on your head. You’re afraid that Obama’s storm troopers are going to kick your door in some evening to confiscate your firearms. You are afraid of many things and that’s dangerous.

I’m frightened myself, but I think I’m afraid for different reasons than you. I’m not afraid of ISIS. I refuse to let a group of religious fundamentalists (Muslim or Christian) control my thinking. I’m not afraid of immigration, but I’ll go into that further down. I’m not afraid of my government. I think our government in its current state is too inept to do much of anything, but that’s a subject for another blog on another day. Ditto the United Nations. Continue reading

Happy New Year

Legacy is the Cold War Warrior lens. As the leaf of the calendar prepares to turn the oldHappyNewYear_col year new, what comes from our past? The tribes are vibrating in anticipation of a wild and woolly presidential election in the U.S.  Mongering fear is a rhetoric staple for the speechwriters. A new player in the political orchestra is playing discordant notes as if he is composing a new symphony in the middle of the presidential concert performance. The Cold War witnessed ten presidential elections, some more noteworthy than others.

The 1960s began with a bang when a young, attractive Democrat, John F. Kennedy, took Richard Nixon to task for the job of president. Richard Nixon was a known as a ‘red-baiter’, but Kennedy, a WWII veteran, was a hawk’s hawk. Both sides played the Cold War Soviet threat card, but Kennedy brought fear alive through words that painted a picture of thousands of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles destroying freedom’s cities, lost children, and hope’s demise for humanity’s future. The number of missiles Kennedy was attributing to the Soviet arsenal, compared to the U.S.’s paltry few, was ridiculous. President Eisenhower could have made short work of Kennedy’s vision of the apocalypse by pointing out the young candidate’s lie, but did not.

Kennedy’s short time in office did make a difference. He and Nikita Khrushchev found some common ground in between shoe poundings. They banned atmospheric and underwater nuclear testing. Together they formed a treaty framework, still in use, to reduce the stockpiles of nuclear weapons. Instead of both empires having enough nukes to destroy the world many times over, we each only have enough left to destroy the world once. Continue reading

Wreaths Across the Ages

It was an early and unseasonably warm day on December 12, 2015, day when we 293086LOGOarrived to begin our work with Wreaths Across America. It was the day I learned the meaning of Christmas, grief, sympathy, and humility.

Although I never served in the military, I come from a long line of proud soldiers and sailors on both sides of my family. In fact, I think we cover every branch except the Air Force. I am proud of, and honored to be related to such an amazing group of people and am so grateful for their service and the sacrifices they and their families have made. One of the people of whom I am most proud is my late grandfather Clayton Graybill. Until last weekend, I only knew that he served in the Army in the Pacific during World War II. I thought he was a member of a field artillery unit, but he died before I was old enough to know what questions to ask.

CEM45182_136317377067Pappy, as I always knew him, was a good man. He epitomized “The Greatest Generation”. He was a humble, hardworking, generous, loyal, kind man. He died when I was living out of state, and I was unable to return for his funeral. Never saying goodbye to him has haunted me throughout the years. As soon as I was able to get back, we went to visit his grave at Fort Indiantown Gap National Cemetery in Annville, PA. As I sat in the grass crying my eyes out, I looked up and right at the tree line was a huge deer, a buck, just standing there looking in our direction. At that moment, I knew my grandfather’s spirit was embodied in that majestic animal. Five seconds later, it was gone. It was Pappy’s way of saying, “I’m here, I know you are, thank you.” That’s the kind of man he was; simple and unassuming. Continue reading

No Man Left Behind

A value staple of military units for generations, the phrase “No man left behind” became,

John Phelps poses with his creation after an unveiling ceremony Nov. 12, 2014, at the Wounded Warrior Battalion, Camp Pendleton, Calif.. The sculpture is based on the Operation Phantom Fury photograph 'Hell House' of then 1st Sgt. Bradley Kasal being carried out of a house by two lance corporals after a firefight where Kasal sustained life-threatening injuries. Shaltiel Dominguez/U.S. Marine Corps

John Phelps poses with his creation after an unveiling ceremony Nov. 12, 2014, at the Wounded Warrior Battalion, Camp Pendleton, Calif.. The sculpture is based on the Operation Phantom Fury photograph ‘Hell House’ of then 1st Sgt. Bradley Kasal being carried out of a house by two lance corporals after a firefight where Kasal sustained life-threatening injuries.
Shaltiel Dominguez/U.S. Marine Corps

for the first time, a real possibility during the Korean War (June 25, 1950 – July 27, 1953) and a battle cry during the Vietnam War (November 1, 1955 – April 30, 1975). Until recently, the legacy goal of “No man left behind” drove the U.S. Military, the CIA, and the State Department. A utopian objective, as it is impossible to fully realize, it was and should remain an important core value to those on the battlefield and those who support the people who fight for us. It is a legacy worth having and it comes with great stories of daring to beat the odds.

The Korean War Legacy-That Others May Live

Forrest L. Marion’s monograph, That Others May Live: USAF Air Rescue in Korea, pinpoints the exact time when it became feasible to rescue large numbers of soldiers, wounded soldiers, and civilians from bloody chaos of an active battle. “When the Korean War began in June 1950, the United States Air Force’s Air Rescue Service was a fledgling organization possessing a variety of aircraft types, most having seen service during World War II. The concept of using helicopters and amphibious fixed-wing aircraft to rescue airmen downed behind enemy lines or in hostile waters had gained little consideration by the Air Force and was largely unproven. But by the fall of 1950, the 3d Air Rescue Squadron had begun to write a new chapter in the history of air power, and by July 1953, when the armistice was signed in Korea, air rescue had become established as an integral part of U.S. fighting forces. Although the H-5 and H-19 helicopters and SA-16 amphibians gained attention worldwide by virtue of countless daring rescues performed throughout the war, lesser known aircraft such as the L-5, SC-47, SB-17, and SB-29 also played important roles in building the U.S. Air Force’s overall air rescue capability in the Korean War theater.” Continue reading

The Sting

Cracks of sky color erupt through the dark night skies as Americans wake to the rustling

Syed Rizwan Farook

Syed Rizwan Farook

taffeta of the long con following the December 2, 2015, killings in San Bernadino, California. Word grenades chastising Republican candidates offering prayers to the victims’ and their families launch from newsprint, the endless battle over gun control at high volume is unabated, the Council on American-Islamic Relations marches out the suspects’ shell-shocked relatives, and countless talking heads posit expert knowledge on everything from id soup to terrorist nuts. American leaders, it seems, are writhing in agony as they search for a reason to say it is America’s fault this obscene massacre occurred. Only the police and FBI appear to be laser-focused on the madness’ method as they follow the breadcrumbs the perpetrators dropped while disarming suspected explosive devices left to obliterate the path.

As hearts break for the victims and their families and all those at that center, and its neighborhood, frog-marched through the trauma in San Bernadino, a neighbor of the two suspects is beset by guilt. She suspected something wicked was afoot and was caught in the suicidal clutches of political correctness. She could not separate herself from the ‘Gladys Kravitz’ nosy neighbor who calls police when a mother lets her child wander 120 feet from her; a sad commentary on the confusion between communicating information and extreme state nannyism.

How could Syed Farook, a fully-employed, middle-class, American citizen, perpetrate such treachery against colleagues who recently honored him with a baby shower? Syed Farook and his Saudi bride, Tashfeen Malik, are reported to have been devoted Muslims, the religion of peace. As the authorities conduct their investigation, it is time to review the concept of Taqiyya.

Taqiyya is foreign to most of Western Culture except for undercover officers, spies, politicians, and statesmen. Ingrained in most of us is a concept of honor and integrity based on a value or belief system that saw people as mostly good and encouraged trust. Muslim extremists, on the other hand, are taught that only Muslims, of their sect or tribe, are okay. Everyone else is expendable; their lives and property forfeit. To that end are two very foreign concepts to most in Western culture (except for politicians, of course): 1. Taqiyya, which is religious dissimulation-lying; and 2. War is forever.

First published in January 2015, The Endless War of Taqiyya explores the evolution and uses of Taqiyya. As the United States walks through the upcoming days, perhaps it will quit its efforts to self-flagellate and rip itself apart like a discordant machine and honestly address the intellectual and philosophical issues of how a republic born of Western values coexists with Political Islam, a theocracy based on Sharia Law. The reality that Syed Farook teamed with a woman (his wife), Tashfeen Malik, to massacre co-workers is a sea change. Women within Political Islam are assuming new roles.

FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND…

Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding-Elton John

Mike and memories. (Photo by Steve Traywick)

Mike and memories. (Photo by Steve Traywick)

“Check it out

Going to work on Monday

Check it out

Got yourself a family

Check it out

All utility bills have been paid, you can’t tell your best buddy that you love him…

So, check it out….” John Mellencamp

“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived”-George S. Patton

I did tell one of my best buddies that I love him today. He’s my friend. He was one of my mentors. He taught me how to be an effective NCO and how to be a decent Human Being. He taught me how to relax and have fun. He taught me how to take care of my troops by taking care of his “kids”. I watched him and learned. Now, he’s dying from a killer form of cancer. God, I’m going to miss him. I knew that as long as Mike was around that I had a friend in the world. I knew that there was someone I could go to for advice. Someone that would tell me I was being an idiot in a way that I couldn’t possibly get butthurt over it. Continue reading

A Soul Divided

Like Elvis, the United Sates has left the building. Citizens and politicians are heating up

US Navy 060417-N-8157C-162 The American flag flies prominently during the World Patriot Tour performance at Hickam Air Force Base By U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Dennis Cantrell [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

US Navy 060417-N-8157C-162 The American flag flies prominently during the World Patriot Tour performance at Hickam Air Force Base
By U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Dennis Cantrell [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Facebook, Twitter, and the airways with anger, acidity, and hatred of each other. The foil is refugees not even at its outer shores. The insanity is that these otherwise reasoned people, including President Obama, are attacking each other rather than face the reality of the world around them. Liberals, who last week were pleading for civility, are calling for the heads of conservatives and conservatives are screaming that leftist liberals are to blame. It is a madness attributed to the death throes of terminally ill dogs. Left untreated, dead and dying curs become a vultures’ feast and so will the culture that changed the world. As we sow the seeds of freedom, we must continuously pull the weeds of self-destruction.

The United States, a great experiment in freedom through rebirth, is considering its next renaissance. A country that chose to march to the beat of its unique drum with a history rife in human failings embedded in noble souls and reflected through its art. It is a country willing to evolve and improve. Renascence, a 1912 poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay, in many ways, reflects the soul of the United States through the decades and centuries as it coped with wars, natural disasters, and the pain of those less fortunate.

“…I saw at sea a great fog bank

Between two ships that struck and sank;

A thousand screams the heavens smote;

And every scream tore through my throat

No hurt I did not feel, no death

That was not mine; mine each last breath

That, crying, met an answering cry

From the compassion that was I.

All suffering mine, and mine its rod;

Mine, pity like the pity of God.

Ah, awful weight! Infinity

Pressed down upon the finite Me!

My anguished spirit, like a bird,

Beating against my lips I heard;

Yet lay the weight so close about

There was no room for it without.

And so beneath the weight lay I

And suffered death, but could not die….”

Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images

Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images

France is suffering as the United States suffered fourteen years ago. This may be a good time to stop and listen to the heartbeat of the world, read a poem, and listen to some music by Mendelssohn, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Vivaldi, Beethoven, or Rachmaninoff. We do not need to fear. It is only the echoes of the Cold War we hear.

Introspective peace corralled into learning yields understanding and productive dialog. Productive dialog excludes blaming and hatred while uniting those at odds and sets the stage for solutions. Solutions are in desperately short supply and high demand. You can and may change the world. ad1_imageDefining terms such as ‘counterinsurgency’ and exploring the legacy of the Cold War on the geopolitical stage is the focus of the next several posts. These posts may add to the dialog by adding ideas that achieve a desired outcome or identifying those that deserve dropping into a ‘failed’ box along with their enabling structures and bureaucracies.

Maintaining a ground, a frame of reference, is vital for our conversation. What is the historical and philosophical evolution of the great experiment called the United States of America?

 

The Enemy of My Enemy Illusion

“American blood tastes sweeter, and we are coming for you” paraphrases a battle cry

In honor of the people who died in France on November, 13, 2015.

In honor of the people who died in France on November, 13, 2015.

that rang through the streets of Paris on Friday, November 13, 2015. As shots and explosions rang out at Parisian symbols of Western culture, the people cried, and brutality unfolded. Make no mistake, this is a religious war. President Obama may dance around the words all he chooses, but the dance does not change the facts. ISIS and its allies have declared the war to be holy and just, based on its interpretation of Islam. It matters not that the religion is Dharmic faiths, Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Rastafarian, or even other Muslims. It matters only that Western Culture and Eastern Cultures exist. Dissenting with the ISIS interpreters of Islam lands even fellow Muslims on an uncomfortable enemies list alongside Western and Eastern Civilization. Denying the role of religion in this war is like sending firefighters to fight the smoke rather than attack the fire. The structure will burn, and the smoke will hang in the air unfettered.

America, The Great Satan

With the Cold War decisions to use the drug trade to help fund secret, off-the-radar CIA ‘low-intensity’ wars and to align with various political factions of Islam evolving america-great-satan-via irantheocratic states with Shariah Law, the United States left its moral high ground floating in the wake of its fear of Soviet Communist expansionism. The Cold War legacy of the U.S. government’s drug trading is evident in shattered families across the United States and in its streets and alleys lined drug hazed with lost souls. Making a case for the U.S.’s involvement in the growth of the second generation drug cartels we fight now would not be difficult. Why and how the U.S. lost its Constitutional soul to trading drugs leads back to the myriad proxy wars it fought at the height of the Cold War: Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Central and South America. The argument is made that proxy wars have been fought throughout history and, it particular, they kept the Cold War from becoming too hot. Whether or not you agree with the rationale, other peoples and their children died by the millions in proxy wars, and it was the first time the U.S. paid for proxy wars by trading drugs thereby bypassing Congress. In May 2009, Shunya published Namit Arora essay, America, the Cold War, and the Taliban pointed out that: Continue reading