Tuesday, September 16, 2008



By Kevin Anthony Stoda

During the Vietnam War era in the 1960s, several generals and military officers suggested to the President of the United States (and all Americans, including the military), “Let’s declare victory and go home!”

I have asked myself over the years whether (psychologically or) orally declaring a victory when there is not a clear victory is a good procedure for America to ever follow.


As I studied the Vietnam War in the early 1980s in college, I thought at times, “What if people in the mid-1960s had simply taken the advice of these particular military leaders and got out of Vietnam much earlier on?”

I had speculated as follows.

“On the surface level,” I saw, “It would seem to be a sign of maturity to clearly accept the facts when a nation lacked any further chances of great success. We had long overstayed our usefulness in Vietnam and its region in a series of battles that would leave two to four million people, mostly Southeast Asians, dead by 1975. A national acceptance of our needs (in America and abroad) to reduce future losses—i.e. in the mounting fruitless waste on energy, moneys and manpower—might be beneficial. Such a move seemed more mature than sticking it out simply because of hubris or misguided illusions of self.”

One would then be forced to work better internationally with all of ones neighbors and countries around the world. This would mean respecting the ballot over the bullet when even our so-called enemies elected someone who rubbed us the wrong way.

Certainly, in retrospect, America would not have had to come home from Vietnam in 1975 with its tail between its legs, if agreements had been made to end the conflict earlier on. It is quite possible that by working out a deal with North Vietnam, America may have been able to have helped keep Laos and Cambodia from going Communist.

As America finally high-tailed it out of South East Asia in the mid-1970s, a great national malaise hit many people in the American society. (Not that Jimmy Carter won any accolades for diagnosing this fact.)

Worse still, military America of 1979 was not ready to fight the Soviets and rising Middle Easter leaders’ various power plays at that time—i.e. without increasingly allying itself with thugs in Central America and despots or dictators in the Middle East throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

From 1975 onwards, America neither used the immediate postwar period to rebuild its military in a way to avoid allowing major wars to take place for decades to come nor revised its practices and self-images in a way that would lead many other nations and peoples to respect our foreign businesses and diplomatic practices in many post-colonial regions of the world, e.g. in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in Iran, in parts of Saudi Arabia, etc.

In short, throughout the last 70 years American leaders time and again have been fighting the last wars due to failure to recognize facts on the ground. This strategy has been filled with errors (as well as poor international intelligence) and has been one of national avoidance and denial at opportunities to try to learn from mistakes.

In short, declaring victory and moving out is a delusion. The fact is that America sometimes faces limits on its human and natural resources.

America today is not the America of the late 1940s when the U.S.A. possessed much of the world’s oil, gold and economic hegemony.

Nor was America of the 1960s that sort of America, either. This obvious fact was missing from the American psyche of the 1960s and was still not fully understood after the Soviet Union collapsed. This is why America, since NATO first began to expand 11 years ago, was simply waltzing its way to what we saw in Georgia this month.


In summary, in various ways, throughout the recent decades America has constantly failed to see the facts and has chosen image over substance.

When Ronald Reagan won the 1980 election for president, he had won only by less than the margin of votes handed out to independent presidential candidate, John Anderson—who had been a Republican.

Yet, upon entering the White House, Reagan and his supporters pretended that they had won a landslide of the popular vote and consistently marched a new revised American self-image forward in subsequent years. This quickly led to the first big post-Vietnam DOD spending spree without new taxes. This ballooning of the USA federal deficit would eventually help lead to a Wall Street collapse in the late 1980s--and the nation was in full recession again by the early 1990s.

NOTE: Back in 1986 to 1992, unlike politicians today, most people were not afraid to call a recession “a recession”. So, at least, some part of substance (naming recession as a recession) over image could still triumph back in the Reagan-Bush era—an era usually marked by rhetoric over substance at times.

Similarly, both George H.W. Bush and William Clinton, as U.S. presidents, claimed that NAFTA was an unequivocal success and denied the fact that parts of U.S. and Mexican economies would be hollowed out by NAFTA rules.

Finally, in March 2001, despite experiencing the closest presidential election in over 100 years, George W. Bush and Richard Cheney would claim a complete victory for the Republican party and shoved a Reagan-style you-are-either-with-us-or-against us series of bills through congress. These bills, which were signed into law, in 2001 and 2002 continued the process of tax-breaks for the wealthiest while failing to properly finance America’s largest DOD spending boom expansion in decades.

How did Bush and Cheney in 2001 “declare a victory and move on” like they had won a humongous mandate in 2000?
They were able to do this because of America’s penchant for image over substance. Americans love to embrace the idea of declaring a victory and moving on.

Psychologically, it is reassuring to believe that one is supported by a cast of 1000s or millions, when in fact one has a bare majority in the USA.

The same approach has been applied abroad in this decade to devastating washback on American image abroad.

When Bush declared victory in Iraq on May 1, 2003 on board an aircraft carrier in San Diego harbor, he was playing again to that reassuring imagery—the sign or claim of victory gives the one who claims victory the opportunity to move on.


This August there was an agreement signed by the U.S. and Iraqi leaders indicating that America will begin slowly bailing out Iraq during the next 5 years. However, this document doesn’t guarantee that a full-bail out from Iraq will be complete by 2013.

As a matter of fact, reductions of troop levels in Iraq should stay fairly stable until next spring or summer 2009.

Nonetheless, some political propagandists in America are already trying to paint this adventure in Iraq to be a victory—and an opportunity to move troops onward (or bring some home). They are attempting to claim victory in the run up to this presidential election. They may pull this off if most Americans are only focused on their jobs, lack of jobs, lack of housing, lack of health care, etc. this November 2008.

In a way, John McCain, Republican candidate for president of the USA, is playing indirectly on this image: “Now, we can declare victory and move on.”

McCain may even win the US election—if Americans accept the “We can now declare victory in Iraq” imagery and mentally tell themselves “the nightmare is over”.

NOTE: If Al-Qaida is planning an October Surprise, perhaps McCain will have to abandon such imagery. However, he may do well just growling at Iran and telling us lies, like Biden and Obama are doves or wimps.


Finally, most every single day in the mass communications world we now live in, Americans are constantly being subjected to some of the world’s greatest spin doctors and propagandists. These leaders and mind-manipulators love pithy phrases, like “It’s a done deal!”, “Whose cool-aid are you drinking?”, or “Declare Victory and Go home!”

America has the most powerful and wealthy political and image consultancy in the world. This is why we have to be vigilant and encourage our friends to ask the hard questions—especially the queries that wealthy media sources fail to shine their light on.

This autumn, as one of the most important presidential elections in world history is at our door, Americans must do better than our forefathers who have fallen time-and-again for pithy phrases and images of “victory is just round the corner”.

The American economy is in a mess. Over half of all Americans are either struggling financially or have no health insurance.

As a matter a fact, the world economy is now being hurt by business-as-usual in America.

NOTE: America still has a plethora of human and natural resources, though. So, there is certainly a way out of bad governance and economy.

All-in-all, my critique of the past is that the coziness between big business, big investors, banking interests, lobbyists, and those in Washington, D.C. leads to horrible banking laws and regulation, like the horrible Phil Graham legislation on investment banking and mortgages from a decade ago—which has led to the demise of many large mortgage lenders and investment lenders in recent decades.

Let’s stop calling bad bills good bills.

Let’s stop calling a recession a non-recession.

Let’s stop declaring victory when there is no victory.

Let’s be mature in our decision making.

Here is how:

(1) Support good local and regional banks as well as (or especially) credit unions.
(2) Demand legislation that doesn’t’ focus only on trickle down economics. Look for good bills that support all sectors of society.
(3) Look askance at politicians who see military spending as a sacred cow while failing to provide important support for social and humane infrastructure in America.
(4) Support those who support keeping education and training costs down.
(5) Support those politicians who seek to bring good jobs all over America.
(6) Support aware foreign policy and developmental policy that really improves foreign relations, i.e. not policies that look at the short-term interest of the few.
(7) Build a set of businesses in America that seek for the long-term interests of Americans, not just short term success for CEOs and a few stock holders or speculators.
(8) Support water and energy saving technologies, i.e. Don’t let T-Boon Pickens and his ilk hog the whole new market scene.
(9) Demand a more efficient and fairer tax system.
(10) Support energy policies that promote alternative energies more than nuclear power or imported fuels.
(11) Don’t shy from taxing windfall profits—and that includes CEOs who take huge profits and bonuses while working fro (or leaving) their corporations.
(12) Make sure every damn American is insured properly and has access to good health care and advice.

These are issues that go across the political spectrum. Demand congressmen and governors who work together to get these demands implemented in 2009. Elect only those people who are fully interested in these matters.

We need a lot of new renegades in office this year to shake up Washington, but they need to be the type who support the 12 steps I have outlined above.

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Blogger Kevin Anthony Stoda said...

Go to this YouTube linkhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rvuF7p2uwE
and watch all the Nader videos. He seems to be the angry speaker with dignity the country needs while bloodletting is occuring all over the place economically due to the status quo being misled.
Pass on contents of Naders speeches and ads to others.

7:22 PM  

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