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.

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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

Easter Offensive-A Parable from the Vietnam War

A buzzer sounds in my head every time I use the term ‘Vietnam war’.  That terrible forty-year

Map of Southeast Asia war

Map of Southeast Asia war

conflict savaged almost every part of Southeast Asia and many in the military refer to it as SEA or the ‘Southeast Asia war’.  In my youth I received a graphic correction to my misconception and I have been stuck with the buzzer that results in the conscious use of the term ‘Vietnam war’.   The Easter Offensive is definitely a Vietnam war story.

A General Giáp special, the Easter Offensive caught both the South Vietnamese and the American commands unprepared.  The plan very nearly worked. John Malch, an historian, archivist of this era, and in-country during the offensive, writes that a military officer told him “had it not been for the vast number of

Map of the Easter Offensive

Map of the Easter Offensive

U.S. Military combat troops and the massive capability of strategic bombing by air assets from Guam and Thailand, the battle would have turned in favor for the North Vietnamese Army (NVA).”  The troop strength in April 1972 was 158,000; many, many boots on the ground.

The Adversary

Võ Nguyên Giáp was an old-style Communist revolutionary and the best NVA general of the

General Võ Nguyên Giáp

General Võ Nguyên Giáp

Vietnam war era.   General Giáp was colorful, engaging and effective.  His campaigns drove France out of Vietnam.  For good measure, he fought the United States to a stalemate before ousting it as well.  Giáp was a merciless, albeit respected, adversary willing to take huge losses of life to achieve his objectives.  When he died in October 2013, the New York Times pointed out that in spite of his 102 years, “…he had not faded away. He was regarded as an elder statesman whose hard-line views had softened with the cessation of the war that unified Vietnam. He supported economic reform and closer relations with the United States while publicly warning of the spread of Chinese influence and the environmental costs of industrialization.”[1] Never forget that no matter how harmless the old man looked, General Giáp was responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of American service personnel and millions of Vietnamese. Continue reading

Johnson and the CIA

Lyndon Baines Johnson, the 36th President of the United States, was not an easy man.  Bill, a

Lyndon Baines Johnson, 36th President of the United States (November 22, 1963 – January 20, 1969)

Lyndon Baines Johnson, 36th President of the United States (November 22, 1963 – January 20, 1969)

colleague with whom I worked on Johnston Atoll in the 1980s, was on the Johnsons’ security detail during their Texas visits.  He spoke of loud, embarrassing, drunken fights between the Johnsons and crude behavior like throwing dishes of jelly beans and popcorn and expecting the security detail to pick it all up immediately.  Ronald Kessler’s book, In the President’s Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect, confirms much of what Bill told me then.  Regardless of his personal behavior, Johnson was a political sophisticate who understood power at a fundamental level.  By all accounts, Johnson’s rise to power was steady and ruthless.

The dichotomy among historians becomes apparent once Johnson assumes the presidency following President Kennedy’s assassination.  The gulf widens through the nine years of the Johnson presidency.  Was Johnson a model for business executives and a great progressive leader as portrayed by historian Robert A. Caro, who has studied Johnson for the better part of three decades?[1]  Or, at the other end of the spectrum, was Johnson a dangerous, paranoid individual?  According to former Kennedy speech writer and author Richard N. Goodwin in his 1988 book Remembering America: A Voice From the Sixties, Johnson’s behavior drove two presidential assistants to separately seek opinions on Johnson’s mental stability from psychiatrists.[2]

Dominican Republic 1965. U.S. troops patrolling the streets of Santo Domingo

Dominican Republic 1965. U.S. troops patrolling the streets of Santo Domingo

What can be said with certainty is that, as president, Johnson drove social engineering to new heights with his ‘War on Poverty’ and ‘Great Society’, which included legislation for public broadcasting, Medicare, Medicaid, environmental protection, and aid to education.  Johnson did not confine his activity to just the home front, though.  He was busy with the CIA, too; the U.S. Dominican Republic intervention in 1965, the Vietnam War, the Six-Day Arab-Israeli War in 1967, and efforts to reduce tension with the Soviet Union.

It took three tries to land a Director of Central Intelligence, DCI, he wanted, but Johnson finally got the job done.  Johnson inherited DCI John A. McCone from Kennedy.  Kennedy asked McCone to head up the CIA following Kennedy’s termination of Allen W. Dulles, a remnant of Wild Bill Donovan’s OSS, after the Bay of Pigs disaster.  McCone was reputed to be an excellent manager and returned balance to an agency enamored of covert activities and nation-building.  Under McCone, the CIA redistributed its organizational energy between analysis and science and technology in addition to its well-known covert actions.  Not everyone in the CIA was a happy camper with this intelligence outsider, but McCone earned his spurs during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Johnson and DCI McCone parted ways in 1965 over disagreements about the Vietnam build-up. Continue reading