One for the Good Guys

The Cold War Warrior studies the legacy of the Cold War through many lenses;

Ohio State Garden of Constants

Ohio State Garden of Constants

memories of uniformed and non-uniformed participants, historic events, and through various government bureaucracies.  A high-profile legacy is today’s global Islamist terrorism (NOT all Muslims).  There is an indirect thread that links this class of terrorism to WWII.  However, a strong and unbroken chain manacles the current terrorist activity directly to the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and Western Civilization’s response.  Without diving into the murky waters of the Soviet Invasion, suffice it to say the U.S. and other Western countries failed to understand the Islamic and tribal cultures into which they were diving.  Thus, the diplomatic and subsequent warfighting efforts were and are disastrous.

Investigators work around the scene Monday afternoon on the campus of Ohio State University after an attacker allegedly drove a car into a group of students near Watts Hall and then got out of the car and attacked them. (David Petkiewicz, cleveland.com)

Investigators work around the scene Monday afternoon on the campus of Ohio State University after an attacker allegedly drove a car into a group of students near Watts Hall and then got out of the car and attacked them. (David Petkiewicz, cleveland.com)

On November 28, 2016, the Monday after the U.S.’s Thanksgiving holiday, the University of Ohio was attacked by a lone Somali refugee, a legal resident of the United States.  Cleveland.com’s Karen Farkas reported, “Eleven people were injured during a car and knife attack at Ohio State University early Monday and the suspect was then killed by police, authorities said. An hourlong (sic) campus lockdown was lifted at 11:14 a.m. All classes were canceled for the day…”

Terrorism isn’t the only legacy in this story.  There is another, far more proud, American legacy and its story lies behind the closed doors of the hour-long lockdown.  Written by journalist John Gray, it is a tale of duty, honor, and country.

“Lost in all the chaos at Ohio State University today was something that most people probably missed. About an hour into it, when everyone was “sheltering in place” all over campus, CNN took a phone call from a young woman who was locked inside a classroom right near where the suspect was hurting people. She said she was a graduate student and she and many others were huddled together scared and not sure what was happening outside. Then she said something made me tear up.
She said casually to the TV anchor over the phone, “But we happened to have a few ‘military guys’ in my class and the minute we got the text message alert of an ‘active shooter on campus’ they moved the rest of us away from the door and then all of them stood guard right by the door.” She said they were standing there as she spoke making certain if a shooter or someone with a knife or whatever calamity tried to come through that door, they would be the first thing he’d see and they’d stop it and protect the other students or die trying.
These guys weren’t armed, I’m guessing they weren’t in uniform, they were just students who happened to have military training. Those “military guys” instantly put themselves on the clock and assumed the position to protect those unarmed, vulnerable students.
I thought that was impressive. I thought that was brave. I thought that was oh so very American.
I also thought you’d want to know.”
John Gray

There will be other posts that examine U.S. Foreign Policy legacy and the terrible price we pay when policy fails. For tonight, I am once again proud to be an American and thrilled to share the military legacy that serves to protect the people, the nation and what we, the United States represents. We are a good people. The men and women who wear and wore the uniform are good the ‘Good guys’.

 

About John Gray:

John Gray graduated with honors from LaSalle Institute, Hudson Valley Community

John Gray

John Gray

College and SUNY Oswego.

Celebrating his 25th year on television John has covered many big stories including the terrorist attacks of September 11th, the Pope’s visit to America and has reported on a number of Presidential campaigns. However, his favorite stories involve helping people right here at home. John volunteers with a dozen local charities including, ALS, M.S., Special Olympics, Juvenile Diabetes, Hospice, and Big Brothers/Big Sisters to name a few.

He has won numerous awards for his television work and writing, most recently winning a prestigious Emmy Award. He has been awarded “Columnist of the Year” honors from both the Associated Press and New York News Publishers Association and received the Business Reviews 40 Under 40 Award and H.V.C.C.’s ‘Most Distinguished Alumni’ award.

John’s passion is writing and for nearly twenty years his Wednesday column in The Record and Saratogian newspapers has become a local favorite. He also writes a popular monthly column in Capital Region Living Magazine. John has three children and a German shepherd named ‘Max’. In his spare time John enjoys rollerblading, golf and travel.

Cold War II

“Out on the road today I saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac.  A little voice inside mydeadhead head said ‘Don’t look back, you can never look back…’”

“America can never be conquered.  It can only be brought down from within.”

“…Keep on rockin’ in the free world…”

The Cold War started before the guns of World War II had cooled.  All of us served in one capacity or another in that forty-four year non-conflict.  Many served when the war heated up nearly to the boiling point in faraway Korea and Vietnam.  Many lost life or limb and came home with unseen wounds and scars.  Many served with Army and Air Force units in Europe. Many served in the Marines and Navy around the world.  We won that war.  We thought it was over and we were right, but now it’s come round again.

For hundreds of years Russia has cast a covetous eye to the west and south.  While she has abundant natural resources one she has always lacked is warm water ports.

Murmansk Port

Murmansk Port

Much of Russia’s western ports (Murmansk) are located above the Arctic Circle and are iced in much of the year.  Vladivostok is on the Pacific coast and off the beaten track.  She has a major naval base on the Crimean Peninsula at Sevastopol but her Black Sea Fleet would have to force its way through both the Bosphorus Strait and the Dardanelles Strait to get to the Mediterranean Sea and ultimately the Atlantic.

For much of the nineteenth century Great Britain and Russia engaged in what was then called the Great Game.  Russia took and annexed Central Asia with the goal of moving on India which was then the greatest jewel in Britain’s colonial crown.  Great Britain moved an army into  Afghanistan to block Russia.  Unfortunately for Britain, the Afghans didn’t (and still don’t) appreciate foreigners on their soil with guns in their hands.  Britain lost an entire army.  One doctor managed to make it back to India to tell the tale.

In October, 1917, the government of the Romanov Czars fell to the Bolsheviks.  Russia morphed into the Union of Soviet Socialists.  Once the Bolshevik (Communist) party had assumed control of the country they continued the programs the Czars had started with an additional goal of taking the Baltic states.  Regardless of who holds power in Russia the goal always remains the same.  In 1939 the Stalin government signed a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany.  Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June, 1942.

By the Spring of 1945 the Soviet Union and the Western Allies (the United States and Great Britain) had driven the German Wehrmacht back into Germany and had captured Berlin.  The war had cost the lives of millions of Russian citizens.  The Soviets had overrun the Balkan States, Eastern Europe and roughly half of Germany.    Stalin occupied the Eastern Europe.  He installed puppet Communist governments in each.  They would serve as a buffer zone for the Soviet Union in the event Germany tried to invade again.  This coalition was known as the Warsaw Pact. Western European countries led by the United States and Great Britain set up their own alliance known as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). This is where many of us came in.  NATO and the Warsaw Pact maintained a state of watchfulness on each other for more than forty years.    Many of us were there.

To make a long and complicated story short, the Warsaw Pact came apart and the Communist government of the Soviet Union fell in 1991.  Democracy was tried, but after

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin 2015

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin 2015

generations of strict Communist governance the Russian population wasn’t comfortable with freedom.  Many yearned for a strong leader.  That leader appeared in the person of one Vladimir Putin on December 31, 1999.

Putin had served the Soviet Union as a KGB operative in East Germany (he speaks fluent German).  With the fall of the Soviet Union he resigned (rank: lieutenant colonel) and entered politics in Saint Petersburg.  He very quickly worked his way up to become Prime Minister and President Boris Yeltsin’s hand-picked successor.  On 31 December, 1999 Yeltsin resigned as president.  Putin stepped up to replace him and has never looked back.

Putin has shown himself to be the reincarnation of a combination of the Czars and the Communist Party premiers.  Political opponents have been tried for various crimes and imprisoned.  Ditto political dissidents.  Reporters that have been critical of Putin’s activities have been murdered and the crimes remain unsolved.  While he hasn’t (yet?) gone to the genocidal extremes of Stalin, Putin obviously intends to not only maintain power in Russia, but he also plans to extend Russian hegemony.

“So, what does any of this have to do with a Cold War that’s long over?” I hear you ask.

I’m glad you brought that up.  In 1941 Imperial Japan knew that they couldn’t fight and defeat the United States.  They did know that if they could strike and defeat the U.S. Pacific Fleet in a surprise attack that the United States would be unable to rebuild and strike back before Japan had attained her strategic goals.  They obviously misread and underestimated the political will of America’s leadership and the ability of her people to build the war machine that would ultimately crush them and turn two of her cities into radioactive rubble piles.

Putin is thinking along the same lines, I think.  He wants to reestablish the East European buffer zone against NATO. He also wants to reestablish the old Russian empire.  He knows he doesn’t have to strike the United States or NATO militarily to attain his goals.  He’s judged the leadership of both and found them weak.  He’s already seized the Crimea from Ukraine and sponsored a revolt for roughly a third of that country to secede and reattach itself to Russia.  The Russian (I very nearly typed ‘Soviet’, old habits die hard, I guess) air force is busy bombing rebel and civilian targets in Syria to help prop up the Assad regime.   He has, in fact reignited the Cold War.

Putin knows he can never conquer, much less invade, the United States.  He also knows that to accomplish his short term and long term strategic goals the United States must be kept out of his way.  The best way for him to do this is to divide the United States politically and to keep us divided.  Up until this election cycle he’s only had to sit back and watch us divide ourselves.  For the last eight years we’ve become expert at doing just that.  Since Barack Obama was elected president in 2008 we’ve become every bit as divided as we were in 1860. The one big difference is that we’re not divided geographically as we are politically.  I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not.

Until Obama was elected I had never heard of demands that an elected president show his birth certificate.  Did I miss something in the forty-eight years that I’ve been eligible to vote?  I had never heard of demands for any president before Jimmy Carter to show proof of their citizenship. I’ve been a life-long Republican.  These days I’m referred to as a RINO (Republican in Name Only) by people that haven’t been voting nearly as long as I have.  I learned in the Army that when we saluted an officer we saluted the rank, not the man.  I believe that the office of President is owed a certain amount of respect whether one agrees with his politics or not.  Although I didn’t (and wouldn’t) vote for him I believe that Barack H. Obama is the legally elected president of the United States.

The “Birther” Movement that tried (and still tries) to prove that Obama can’t be the legally elected president because he is ‘technically’ an American citizen.  The ‘Birthers’ believe that Obama was born in Kenya.  Apparently there was a conspiracy when he was born to some day make him the president so that he could drag the country to Hell.  They also believe that he’s Muslim. I haven’t read in the Constitution that any particular religion disqualifies a person from holding office, but I digress. One of the leaders of the ‘Birther’ movement has been one Donald J. Trump. He has kept pouring small amounts of gasoline on the birther fire since it’s conception although he denies it in spite of video and audio evidence to the contrary (“Who you gonna believe?  Me? Or that lying video?”)

Now Trump is the Republican candidate for president.  Against all expectations he managed to defeat a very qualified GOP field of primary candidates.  He made every possible mistake that a candidate could possibly make and still won the nomination.  The only insult that he hasn’t thrown at his opponents is to accuse any of them of bigamy (see Andrew Jackson’s wife, Rachel) but I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if he did.  To say that Trump has run a very unconventional campaign would be the understatement of the millennium.  Trump has proved time and again that he is not qualified to hold the office of president (Nuclear Triad? Why can’t we just nuke ISIS?) yet his supporters don’t care.  They claim that during his campaign rants that Trump says what they’re thinking.  That thought alone makes me very nervous.

One of the few people that Trump has not insulted (besides his supporters) is Vladimir Putin.  Trump claims that he has never met Putin (depending on which Trump interview you believe) but that Putin has said nice things about him so he believes that Putin must be a nice guy.  Trump even defended Putin during the third presidential debate with Hillary Clinton.  Evidently, Putin is a very nice guy.  He’s done more to advance Trump’s presidential hopes than probably anyone else.

Russian intelligence services have hacked Democratic Party computers as well as those of Clinton’s campaign staff.  They’ve passed hacked emails to Wikileaks which has posted them on the internet for the world to see.  Trump has read these emails to the crowds at his rallies.  I’m pretty sure that he doesn’t care that they’re stolen goods.

So, we have a foreign power openly interfering in American politics during a presidential election year.  I have to wonder why.  My theory is that Putin wants an American president that he can not only manipulate but can possibly push around using whatever tricks he learned in the KGB.  Trump thinks he’s a lady’s man.  He believes that rich as he is he’s entitled to any woman he wants.  He took the Miss Universe pageant to Moscow.  According to Russian intelligence sources, they have plenty of dirt on Trump.  A possible honey trap wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility; the Russians are masters at that.

Before any of this information came out Trump had publicly announced that the United States pays too much into NATO.  He said that in the event of a war in that region he would have to check the balance sheet of the affected countries to see if they’d payed their dues before we would come to their assistance.  Possibly he didn’t realize that we have ground units in Poland?  Would he at least try to get them out of harm’s way or would he sacrifice them to ‘Nice Guy’ Putin?  I believe that if Trump is elected president he would leave the door to Eastern Europe wide open to Putin’s strategic ambitions.  Eastern Europe would be on its own and some of the blood shed would be American.

I’m obviously not a Trump supporter.  I haven’t been since I listened to his announcement that he was tossing his hat into the presidential ring.  The man disgusts me to be perfectly honest.  There are many more reasons that I don’t want to see him sitting in the Oval Office, but for the purposes of this blog I’ll stick to the cold war that’s been reignited.  I believe that if/when Trump takes office his butt won’t even have time to warm his chair in the Oval Office before Putin starts making his moves.

Perturbation-1992 The Last Election of the Cold War

Perturbation: a disturbance of motion, course, arrangement, or state of equilibrium; especially:  a disturbance of the regular and usually elliptical course of motion of a celestial body that is produced by some force additional to that which causes its regular motion” Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Binary Star system

Binary Star system

Today, November 1, 2016, President Obama’s approval rating is 54% per Gallup. Without a doubt, President Obama is a very popular president.  In comparison, George H.W. Bush basked in the glow of the successful prosecution of the Persian Gulf War with an 89% approval rating at the beginning of the 1992 election season. At the time Bush was so popular that Democratic top tier contenders like Mario Cuomo waved off the opportunity to run and, in the vacuum, Democrats Jerry Brown (California Governor and reformer), Bill Clinton (Arkansas governor and centrist or New Democrat), Tom Harkin (Iowa Senator and populist), Bob Kerrey (Nebraska Senator with a business and military background), Paul Tsongas (Former Massachusetts Senator and fiscal conservative) , and L. Douglas Wilder (Virginia Governor L. Douglas Wilder, African-American)  signed up for the Democratic primary battles.

Perturbation in the Democrat-Republican binary star system appeared when Ross Perot, a cheeky, independent, Texas billionaire who eventually drew about 19% of the popular vote entered the race. If anyone had cared to listen, Ross Perot was playing to a large portion of America’s working class population afraid that the trade impact of NAFTA, the North America free Trade Agreement, would result in loss of American manufacturing jobs and the secondary fear of increasing national debt.  Although on the ballot in all 50 states, Perot eventually sunk himself by withdrawing, then re-entering the race.

The Democrat-Republican binary star system was further vexed by an asteroid belt of candidates from the: Libertarian Party, New Alliance Party, Natural Law Party, U.S. Taxpayers’ Party, Populist Party, Lyndon LaRouche’s candidacy, Socialist Workers’ Party, Ron Daniels candidacy, the Workers League, the National Rainbow Coalition and a host of twelve others with party names like “Looking Back” and “Apathy” who had ballot access in one or more states. Continue reading

Wilson’s Contribution to the Cold War

“To love truth for truth’s sake is the principal part of human perfection in this world, and the

John Locke published in Popular Science Monthly Volume 66 1904 or 1905

John Locke published in Popular Science Monthly Volume 66 1904 or 1905

seed-plot of all other virtues.” — John Locke

Oft quoted in my youth, I lost contact with John Locke’s advice over the years.  Ricochet’s Daily Shot and a strong ‘cuppa’ re-awakened Locke’s view of truth in an explosive burst of energy that rocked my head and dragged me to the dreaded keyboard.  Loving truth and finding it in the labyrinth of life are two entirely separate actions tangled together in a Gordian knot suspended above each individual’s ‘La Vida Loca’.  President Woodrow Wilson’s contribution to a future, unforeseen Cold War is a leading example of my search for truth in the political rabbit warrens of war and peace.  Actions, ego, and being “the smartest guy in the room” have consequences—good and bad.

Was there a line of people eagerly awaiting support and ‘lessons learned’ about ditching colonial yokes, freedom, self-determination, and the rights of individuals from the United States? Although difficult to say with any certainty, the U.S. was, at that time, admired for its triumph following a bitter fight with its colonial master, England.  We know that the U.S. commitment to trade rather than conquest as a prime directive was a new, novel, and successful model.  We also know that the WWI Paris Peace talks in 1919 attracted

Council of Four at the WWI Paris peace conference, May 27, 1919 (candid photo) (L - R) Prime Minister David Lloyd George (Great Britian) Premier Vittorio Orlando, Italy, French Premier Georges Clemenceau, President Woodrow Wilson Edward N. Jackson (US Army Signal Corps) - U.S. Signal Corps photo

Council of Four at the WWI Paris peace conference, May 27, 1919 (candid photo) (L – R) Prime Minister David Lloyd George (Great Britian) Premier Vittorio Orlando, Italy, French Premier Georges Clemenceau, President Woodrow Wilson
Edward N. Jackson (US Army Signal Corps) – U.S. Signal Corps photo

slightly fewer than twelve present and future leaders from various colonies testing independence and sloughing their colonial bonds. Some, including Nguyễn Sinh Cung (Hồ Chí Minh) from Vietnam, attempted to meet with Wilson.[1]   It had, after all, been a mere 136 years since representatives from the rebellious colonies in North America and England gathered in Paris to sign the 1783 treaty with England to end the American Revolutionary War.  The United States had been tested by a great Civil War and found wanting.  It’s model, however, provided for growth and society to take cyclical steps toward a more perfect union. The new model was battle tested and  tough.  How quickly we forgot. Continue reading

Orlando Ramblings

Stumbling through the profound predawn darkness of the modern house, I managed to coffeegrab a cup of cold coffee and initiate the false dawn of the local news markets in one fluid motion born of years of practice.  News mongers hawking their wares with the staccato of an 8 mm film fills the screen. The streets of Orlando and its victims are showing live and on various stage sets; each accompanied by an inlay of experts who know exactly zero facts other than what we’ve all been briefed. Political candidates running for offices and those in office from president to lamp tender welcome interviews in mind-numbing succession.  Each has an opinion: it’s hate, it’s ideology, it’s guns, it’s policy, it’s white privilege, it’s his fault, her fault, the government’s fault. News crews and their tethered experts lecture, salve or throw salt into the wounds of the grieving populace in the wake of the June 12th terrorist attack at Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub that left forty-nine dead and at least half that number in a hospital cleaving to life.  Even my President lectures me against painting groups with a broad brush that exists only in his imagination. I know the difference and I suspect most of my 330 million fellow Americans know the difference.  The bitterness of cold coffee yields a longed-for reassurance and I return the room to its predawn gloom.  Enough!

The porch is better for these thoughts. Somewhere in the Atlantic the sun rises and reassuring humanity of its return as cirrus clouds turn pink and salmon.  On the porch heat and humidity stifle breathing yet birds call, racers rustle leaves on the wee forest’s floor looking for squirrels beginning their ceaseless struggle for food, and tree frogs chat.  Life’s cycle continues undeterred.

The Pulse began welcoming Orlando’s robust GLBTQ (the ‘Q’ stands for Questioning)

Antonio Brown, a Florida A&M University graduate who died at Pulse night club in Orlando after a shooter opened fire on June 12, 2016.(Photo: Facebook)

Antonio Brown, a Florida A&M University graduate who died at Pulse night club in Orlando after a shooter opened fire on June 12, 2016.(Photo: Facebook)

community in 2004. The venue was legendary and extended far beyond Orlando. The club welcomed people from across the country and all walks of life.  People like Army Officer LT Antonio Brown who came to relax and, perhaps, spend some time on the dance floor or laugh with old friends met the same fate as those who frequented the club regularly. The roll call of the dead and wounded in the early Sunday morning attack reflects the diversity of the club’s appeal. First and foremost, they were and are Americans attacked in the United States based on a specific, extreme ideology.  Similar ideologically based attacks have erupted like boils across the United States since the 9/11 attacks of 2001.  Instead of confronting the ideological abyss, the nation, it seems, is committed to rubbing snake oil on the abscesses then blaming whomever is in the room during the next violent eruption.

The United States, you see, is not very adept at handling gaping ideological divides that are an anathema to Western culture.  The last one, the Cold War, wherein the United States and its Western allies fought Communism, continued for 70 years and saw millions die.  The Soviet Union was bankrupted, but Communism was not defeated. The Cold War ended by Presidential decree in 1991 when President Clinton said it was over. Not much had been resolved and a great deal was destroyed.

I would like to believe the Navy’s take-away message from its commercial graphically

To get to you, they'd have to get through us.

To get to you, they’d have to get through us.

spotlighting a family is surrounded by concentric circles of Naval personnel from all disciplines: “To get to you, they’d have to get through us.”  Not true in today’s United States of confused culture.  The United States is sliced and diced along racial, income, sexual, belief system, age, and professional boundaries. We are not one nation. We are hyphenated and arguing over whose lives matter.  We argue over immigration rather than the expectation that all immigrants want to and will become Americans.  Last week, the administration issued a directive:

Its latest policy statement, issued jointly late last week by the departments of Education and Health and Human Services, advises states to instruct early childhood students in home languages different from English, and to help them retain separate cultural attachments.

The administration warns that “not recognizing children’s cultures and languages as assets” may be hurting them with school work. “Over half the world’s population is estimated to be bilingual or multilingual,” the statement lectures almost plaintively.

My head and my heart scream “NO, we are Americans who have signed onto rule by a Constitution let us begin to act as such.”  Let parents teach the old cultures and languages as part of their children’s heritage.  As the children assimilate into the culture, let them introduce what is good about the old ways to the rest of us. Let schools welcome immigrants as Americans and as a wonderful infusion to an unbridled future based on a proven system.

And so, like Ishmael in Melville’s Moby Dick, I find myself following a procession that may lead me to the world. For Ismael the procession was a funeral and the world was the whaling ship, Pequod.  I find myself in a procession that leads to employers that can transport me back to a world where maybe I can make a difference, even if only a tiny one…a country manager in Turkey perhaps. The effort beats back this restless feeling of sitting on a hot porch of a Tuesday morning feeling powerless, useless.

[Editor’s Note: We, at the Cold War Warrior, grieve with our fellow citizens in Orlando.  Our condolences go out to the families of those who lost loved ones and our hope for complete recovery to those who were so injured by this terrible act of terrorism.]

Searching for “e”

Posited by Leif Smith as a replacement for the thought disrupting he/she—she/he

The Evolution of e - http://ilovetypography.com/2010/08/07/where-does-the-alphabet-come-from/

The Evolution of e – http://ilovetypography.com/2010/08/07/where-does-the-alphabet-come-from/

construct of political correctness; e is for ego, the individual within.  The possessive, er, eliminates his/hers—hers/his (we must take care to avoid the micro-aggressions that send college students fleeing to safe spaces filled with stuffed animals and puppies).  I like it and we’re going to test drive the concept in this post.

The Cold War Warrior celebrates the legacy of ordinary individuals enmeshed in an extraordinary fifty-three-year undeclared clash between the ideas of collectivism and those of individualism.  By its very nature, the Cold War had a propensity to turn hot at the drop of a political hat.

Collectivism defines one extreme of a pendulum’s arc and individualism the other extreme. Human political history is written along the arc described by that pendulum.  In the late 1700s the United States codified individualism into its founding documents inserting enormous creative energy into the pendulum.  The struggles, donnybrooks, fits and starts of individualism were humorous and horrifying as the experiment proceeded in whether or not a nation composed of individuals could exist.  Great things happened; roads, rail systems, bridges manufacturing opened the land, the middle class burgeoned, farmers fed themselves and a country took shape. Horrific things also happened; wars, takings, and social struggle.

In the 20th Century science and philosophy injected another burst of creative energy into the system. Einstein, Bohr, Picasso, Santayana, Bertrand Russel, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, Karl Popper, Wells and myriad others released a critical mass of ideas that spurred the pendulum of human history to swing through its prescribed arc with more speed than ever before. Collectivism grabbed Russia by the coattails and tossed it headlong into collectivism.  Another great experiment began and spread.

Continue reading

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.

Continue

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