Muddled Thinking on Korea, Iraq, Vietnam

Louis R Godena louisgodena at
Mon Sep 16 22:05:18 MDT 1996

Concerning my recent criticisms of Rakesh's view of domestic Vietnam war
dissent,   "Ang" is skeptical:

>...I'm not sure that Louis G's indication of what the polls 'consistently
showed' is accurate.

She then goes on to refer--secondhand-- to polls (unnamed) from 1982--ten
years after the war ended!     She quotes Chomsky (quoting someone else?):

>"There are good studies of this that show, with only the most marginal
>statistical error, that among the more educated parts of the population the
>government propaganda system was accepted unquestioningly.  On the other hand,
>after a long period of popular spontaneous opposition, dissent and
>organization, the general population got out of control.  As recently as 1982,
>according to the latest polls I've seen, over 70 percent of the population
>still was saying that the war was, quoting the wording of the Gallup poll,
>"fundamentally wrong and immoral," not "a mistake."  That is, the overwhelming
>majority of the population is neither hawks nor doves, but opposed to
>aggression.    On the other hand, the educated part of the population, they're
>in line....

This is heady stuff,  even by modern American academic standards.     In
1982,  two years after Ronald Reagan was appointed our Acting President,
"over 70 per cent" of Americans agreed with people like Noam Chomsky in
deeming the Vietnam War "'fundamentally wrong and immoral'",  all the while
abjuring obscure labels like "hawks and doves",   just "opposed" to
"aggression"!     And all this as "recently" as ten years after the war
ended!!    A much more profound poll--the results of  which our
head-shaking,  incredulous "Ang" and Rakesh may more easily find at the
public library,  occurred in 1968 and 1972,   while the Vietnam War still
raged (and not as "recently" as ten years after!).    In 1968,   Nixon and
Wallace won together nearly 64 per cent of the vote;  four years later,
Nixon,  already besieged by scandal  and still ensconced in the Vietnam
quagmire,   won a resounding victory over the candidate most closely
identified with the view that the war was "fundamentally wrong and immoral."
An examination of the demographics of American public opinion confirm that,
overwhelmingly,  the lower middle and working classes supported either
vigorously pursuing the war to victory (Wallace) or,  at the very least,
salvaging American "honor"  (with "peace",  of course,  as Dick himself
would tell us--if he only could) by "gradually" disengaging "our boys" from
the "our" Vietnam  "nightfmare."

These are not the actions of a populace convinced in any meaningful way of
the war's fundamental "immorality."

"Ang" (or is it Chomsky?) rambles on about the "educated" among us:

For them, it's just the tactical question of hawk vs. dove." (And on
>p. 63 his hawk and dove description -  "In the major media, the New York Times
>or CBS or whatever - in fact, all across the spectrum except at the very
>far-out periphery which reaches almost no one - in the major media which reach
>the overwhelming majority of the population, there was a lively debate.  It
>was between people called "doves" and people called "hawks."  The people
>called hawks said, 'If we keep at it we can win.'  The people called doves
>said, 'Even if we keep at it we probably can't win, and besides, it would
>probably be too costly for us ...")

I'm not sure what,  if anything,  this has to do with my original argument
that the antiwar movement had a much narrower base and was seen by most
people as being predicated more on the perceived self-interest of students,
intellectuals,  and other elites, than on any mass base.    This in spite of
the tattered lacunae of "human rights" and "moral" issues which were for a
time floated before an increasingly disinterested public.    FinalIy, I
would caution both "Ang" and Rakesh against accepting convoluted theories of
mass feeling and opinion which,  clearly,  fly in the face of common sense;
above all,  be skeptical of wishful thinking.

Even if it is all gussied up in books by notable and normally sensible scholars.

Louis Godena

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