Thursday, March 06, 2008

HOW DID IT USED TO BE IN AMERICA 30 YEARS AGO, Grandpa??? Marking 30 Years of Radical Rightwing Islamic movements in the Middle East and Right Wing Pa

HOW DID IT USED TO BE IN AMERICA 30 YEARS AGO, Grandpa??? Marking 30 Years of Radical Rightwing Islamic movements in the Middle East and Right Wing Patriotic Backwash in America

By Kevin A. Stoda, on-line candidate for Kansas U.S. Senate post

If your grandchild ever asks you about what life was like in America right after the U.S. forces pulled completely out of Vietnam so quickly in April 1975, tell him the truth next time.

I for one will never forget the sincere sadness on the face of my 7th grade instructor ( and a former helicopter pilot in Vietnam) who with the Fall of Saigon on that fateful day pronounced solemnly that no one would ever forget this date in American history when the U.S. lost its first war.

That was on, of course, the 30th of April. i.e. I still remember the date.

However, with a little more study I soon came to know that the U.S. had been kicked out of the Nicaragua by Augusto Sandino in the 1930s—i.e. after 20 years of the U.S. having forces there.

Moreover, I also learned that in the 1910s the U.S. had had to leave Mexico twice—the second time in 1916 after General Pershing’s failure to find Pancho Villa and his rag tag “terrorist forces”. (This was during Mexico’s Revolution—i.e. a 10-year long Civil War.)

I wonder when the U.S. will realize it is time to pull out of Iraq and/or Afghanistan.?? Or any other civil wars?

Moreover, how many other times have Americans had to suck up their pride and pull out of wars or other people’s civil wars?

Well, during the Reagan era, I recall the U.S. forces being pulled out of Beirut after heavy losses from a terrorist attack during the Lebanese Civil War.

Then in the 1990s, there was that high-tailing out of Somalia’s civil wars.

At least in the period between 1975 and 1980 when I went to high school, there was a historical reality of a phase in U.S. history when there was a majority of Americans who had a common sense of purpose.

We told ourselves time-and-again in those days in the post-Vietnam Quagmire period: NEVER AGAIN!


I remember the late 1970s, i.e. as the so-called political and spiritual post-Vietnam era malaise spread across America.

On the other hand, I recall there was a great joy and hope as a country bumpkin Baptist, named Jimmy Carter from Georgia walked between the Capitol and the White House on Inauguration Day in January 1976.

That idealist politician set in place the first and only U.S. foreign policy that was actually intended to really support human rights and democratic choice at the center. (Arabs and Muslims actually look fondly at the Carter-era these days. They see him as an honest broker in the White House—fairly rare in U.S. Middle East history.)

Similarly, there had been great relief in America and around the world when the U.S. Congress had actually had the backbone to tell the Executive Branch and the CIA to pull their plug on Angola, i.e. another covert U.S. supported war in Africa in 1975-1976. (George Bush, Sr. was CIA chief around that time, too, and he had had to apologize all over the capitol to help a lot of old spooks who were likely to lose their Cold War era jobs.)

I recall, too, how great it was to be in a Kansas high school (Sterling High School) and to remember clearly that in that time and place that American school district did not allow Army recruiters to wander the hallways shagging down students.

(In contrast, by the time, I myself was a high school instructor in Great Bend High School in Kansas in 1990, the Army, Navy, Air Force and Army-Reserve recruiters were allowed to wander not only the hallways--but were invited to sit down at lunch in the cafeteria recruiting students in the months leading up to the first Iraq War.)

In short, the immediate post-Vietnam Era in America was a relatively safe and secure era —even though the 1940s era of U.S. industrial dinosaurs were hurting and high oil prices were gutting many peoples’ short term hopes for easy money, i.e. as their parents had known so well through the late 1940s through the 1960s.

At least, land prices were high for the farmers in those days. (However, land prices would soon fall around 1982, leaving many in the Midwest agricultural sector worse off throughout the subsequent decade of the popular Reagan-era.)


1979 ended with a series of formative trends in full-swing.

Certain religious and conservative movements merged and painted the word “liberal” as a dirty word in the U.S. press as the Chicago School of Milton Friedman began to dominate MBA classrooms as Keynesians were kicked out right and left—although Keynesian principles would continue to propel economies & countries, like Japan, South Korea and Taiwan forward for another decade or more.

In the international arena, Carter’s policy on promoting real democracy and human rights sent shivers through Latin American and Middle Eastern oligarchies & hegemonies.

The Somoza regime collapsed under a popular movement --later co-opted by the Sandinistas to some degree.

In Iran, the Shah fell and the Saudis began to shake—as even Mecca was taken over by religious and political fanatics--following in name certain messianic figures.

Meanwhile, the Soviet Union decided to throw salt in America’s wounds by starting a small arms race and simultaneously invading Afghanistan.

By this time, the U.S. Embassy in Iran had been run over by out-of-control student groups cum-terrorists caught up in the euphoria of a so-called revolution—a movement which has proven to be totally counterrevolutionary in actual practice.

This Islamic revolution, led by some religious zealots, caught the Islamic world by storm in the weeks and years to come—eventually leading not only to the U.S. counterrevolutionary support for Saddam Hussein in a War of attrition with Iraq, but also lead the Saudis, Kuwaitis and others in the region to support that monster Hussein in his attempted war for oil property in Iran.


Finally, it was in January 1980 when Americans had to decide whether they would cooperate in the great U.S. Arms buildup of the 1980s (or not).

That month, Jimmy Carter reinstated draft registration as part of a fairly weak threat to the Soviets after their bungling into Afghanistan the year before.

1980 to 1983 was when the Anti-War movement in America had made its somewhat inadequate stand, encouraging thousands and thousands of young males to ignore the government’s regulations to sign their name on the dotted line, i.e. committing the newest 18-, 19-, and 20- year olds spiritually and mentally to future wars for the coming decades—whether these young men were actually drafted or not.

The anti-war movement actually did strike a cord in America—a land and people still weary of endless wars after being in major conflicts and arms buildups for nearly 35 years, i.e. between 1940 and 1974.

Despite the rah-rah-proud-to-be-red-white-and-blue of the Reagan era, it would take nearly a full decade for the U.S. military to feel secure of itself in the American system to take on an adversary any bigger than the tiny island of Grenada heads-on.

Meanwhile, draft-registration stayed fairly low until the U.S. Congress began threatening to take student loans and grants away from those thousands and millions of young Americans uninterested in encouraging American military journeys and forays into foreign wars once again.

In a way this anti-war movement was supported by war-weariness and inertia than by actual national leadership.

In short, despite the humongous spending on the U.S. military throughout the 1980s, it took until January 1991 before the U.S. actually participated again in a major war. (There was that war in when Bush, Sr. took over Panama in order to kill or arrest Manuel Noriega in 1989. However, that involved almost no U.S. military bloodshed at all.)

I was in the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. in January 1991 and heard the Senate debate whether to go to war or not-to-go-to-war. It was a relatively close call.


Despite the U.S. and its coalitions’ surprisingly quick victory in Kuwait in February 1991, I recall that there were continuing brisk quick sales of “Bring the Boys home!” t-shirts in Junction City, home to Ft. Riley until summer 1991 when U.S. forces did begin to trickle back.

In short, Americans were still not ready to return to the sad and strenuous period of American history, i.e. between 1939 and 1975 when every generation of American youth faced constant threats of continuous global deployment.

It wasn’t actually, though, until the combined leadership of the Neo-Liberal Clinton and the Neo-Con dominated Bush-Cheney administration when Americans surrendered their hard fought logic and aversion in the post-Vietnam War America to perpetually sending U.S. troops into harms way around the globe—even proudly calling for unending war against terrorism and a few selected despots.


Now, in 2008 America is in Recession but denial runs rampant—despite the legitimate and illegitimate costs of fighting unending high-cost high-tech wars for nearly 10 years.

This was the nightmare that those of us who refused to sign the selective service papers in the early 1980s had tried to oppose (or at least had tried to get the selective service act repealed-- and disrespected by all Americans in a continuous act of civil disobedience against war ventures).

2008-2009 is time to stop talking about the immediate post-Vietnam War-era as a malaise or the bad-old days as the religious right has historically tried to do and define it as an era of inequity or as “liberal” lost generation.

It is time to stop the 30-year counter-revolution and occupation of the American mindset by those losers of the Vietnam era who sought to replay the endless wars of old in this 21st Century.

Let’s take up where we left off in 1975 and get a U.S. Congress to tell the security regime to sit and heel when told. Vote all big war spenders out—start with Kansas Senator Pat Roberts.

Let’s be bold and redo our foreign policy and build up both an American economy that is (1) not run-Amok, (2) a domestic policy not ignorant of the masses of poor and long-term under-employed, and (3) a foreign policy that speaks carelessly of bombs and war at all costs rather than negotiating peace, respecting human rights, and real populist & democratic trends and forces on this planet.

We will need such a policy if we are to reduce global warming and learn to work well with other nations for the rest of the century.



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