[Marxism] The ghost of Viet Nam appears in the US

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Fri May 28 21:42:21 MDT 2004

(Thanks to Robert Sandels for this translation.
The article by Carl Bernstein referred to may
be read at the CubaNews website. It originally
appeared at the website of LA JORNADA, Mexico’s
mass circulation left-wing daily newspaper:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CubaNews/message/26432 )

May 24 2004
The ghost of Viet Nam appears in the US
Correspondents for La Jornada



In the 1960s, Bob Dylan, who will be 63 this week, sang,
"The answer is blowing in the wind."

The past began to invade the present with the inevitable
comparisons with the Viet Nam and Watergate era: political
polarization, dead soldiers, demands for impeachment of the
president, and even nostalgia for the 1960s in advertising
campaigns by transnational businesses.

US antiwar protestors hung 800 pairs of boots very close to
the Capitol as a symbol of soldiers killed in an unjust and
illegal war in Iraq.

Perhaps the only difference is the official enemy.

Before, it was communism, now it's terrorism.

In recent days, with some radio programs celebrating
Dylan's music as background, there is a wide rage of events
and news to mark the return of the Viet Nam and Watergate

First, the ghost of the Viet Nam war begins to haunt the

To date 800 caskets covered with United States flags have
come from a country that a majority of Americans probably
could not find on a world map. They begin to stir doubts
about a conflict out of control. Another intervention and
invasion to "defend liberty," and once more revelations of
atrocities committed by US forces in the name of "human

The same reporter who broke the story of the My Lai
massacre, Seymour Hersh, now reveals the US atrocities in
Iraq. The investigations begin to force a turnabout in
public opinion - before solidly in support of the official
propaganda, today doubting its truthfulness, the same as
happened more than three decades ago.

As in the late 1970s and early 1980s a series of lies and
deceptions relating to the war, to national politics and to
the cover-up of these actions, provoked an open debate over
the necessity to remove the president. Journalist Carl
Bernstein - who, along with Bob Woodward, revealed the
events that finally led to the resignation of Richard Nixon
over the Watergate scandal - wrote this week that 30 years
ago a president "was obliged to resign for unprecedented
crimes that he and his assistants committed against the
Constitution and the people of the United States."

The famous question from that time is again relevant, says
Bernstein: What did the president know and when he know it?

In an article published this week in the national newspaper
USA Today, Bernstein writes, "Today, the United States is
confronted with another ill-considered war, conceived with
ideological fervor, developed with disdain for the truth,
with inattention to history and with an arrogant assertion
of US power that has astonished and alienated a great part
of the world, including traditional allies. At a time in
history when the United Status needs a president to lead an
international campaign against terrorism and its causes in
an intelligent and firm manner, Bush decided unilaterally
to declare war against a totalitarian state that never
represented a terrorist threat; to declare exemption from
international law on treatment of prisoners; to suspended
constitutional guarantees even for non combatants at home
and abroad.."

In this case, says Bernstein, the charge would not be "high
crimes and misdemeanors" - the constitutional phrase
referring to the power to remove a president that was
employed in the case against Nixon - "but rather the
failure of Bush, or his inability to be a competent and
honest leader."

Ralph Nader, leader in the defense of citizens' and
consumers' rights and now an independent presidential
candidate, described Bush as a "messianic militarist" who
should be removed for taking the country to war against
Iraq "under false pretenses."

In a speech before the prestigious Council on Foreign
Relations, Nader - another veteran of the struggles to the
1960s - said that Bush had exceeded his authority by
ordering the invasion in the face of considerable
opposition inside and outside this country, something that
he believes rises to the level of "high crimes and
misdemeanors" as provided in the Constitution.

Meanwhile, the war continues provoking anxiety and concern
as in the last years of Viet Nam. This Sunday, the famous
cartoonist Garry Trudeau, author of the comic strip
Doonesbury that appears in thousands of US and foreign
periodicals and who has been censured for his open
criticism of the war, published in his strip all the names
of US soldiers killed in Iraq, according to the Guardian
newspaper in the UK. The newspaper said that just one month
later, the ABC news program Nightline dedicated its program
to a reading of the list of all the Americans who died in
that conflict.

Another veteran of the Viet Nam war is the Democratic
presidential candidate, and he will face another
contemporary of that epoch who did everything to evade
going to that war, but who today leads and glorifies war.

Nevertheless, in the political debate between these two
veterans of the 1960s, no one dares to denounce this war,
since it would be antipatriotic to do so and "disloyal" to
the soldiers that were risking their lives there.

As Lewis Black commented, "The Democratic Party is the
party without ideas; the Republican is the one with bad
idea.. There is nothing worse than a Democrat and a
Republican when they decide to work together."

The faraway wars from which only selected images reach us
and the worst and most intolerable ones almost always
hidden with the cooperation of the mass media, have the
effect of imposing limits on traditional political debate
in the United States.

As in the long years of Viet Nam, proofs of the lies and
official cover-ups of the abuses and the justifications for
the war are emerging every day. That is, the elements of
the word Watergate, used to denote the violations of law,
the official lies, and cover-ups, are also present.

The political implications of the Viet Nam and Watergate
ghosts will manifest themselves during the next five months
culminating in the presidential election.

A veteran reporter in Washington recalls that, although
Nixon committed a series of crimes and deceptions before
the election, he was able to be overwhelmingly re-elected.
Nevertheless, he had to abandon the presidency halfway
through his second term when destiny caught up with him.


Meanwhile, with so much nostalgia for the 1960s,
transnational businesses have decided to employ some
elements of the opposition of those years to sell their
products. The energy company Shell has an advertisement in
which a woman remembers the hippie times, saying something
to the effect that in that summer everyone thought that all
that was needed was love, "that a flower could stop a
bullet," and that solar energy could meet all our needs.
The ex-hippie is now an engineer with Shell and affirms
that realizing one of the three things is not bad, now that
Shell is the principal producer of solar energy.

The automaker KIA invites us in its new advertisements to a
"summer festival of peace, love, and savings." Others use
rock music from the 1960s to promote their products.
Obviously, they understand that a sector of consumers they
want to attract is the "Viet Nam generation."

But, as the national columnist and La Jornada contributor
Molly Ivins says, the Iraq abuse scandals, the revelations
of secret orders that violate the Geneva Conventions, and
the effort to cover it all up offer proof that the highest
levels of government are deceiving the public over what is
happening in that war. "One can read all the memos and
documents one wants," she wrote this week in reference to
the recent revelations. "It's important to know how fascism

Or, perhaps it's time to sing Dylan's Masters of War one
more time.

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