How to Tell War Stories

Here’s how I met Nick Turse.  I have a friend who’s a professor of public health and one day in 2003 he asked me if I’d be willing to spend a little time with one of his graduate students who was doing some curious work on the Vietnam War.  This student had read my book The … Continue reading “How to Tell War Stories”

‘They All Looked Alike’

Review: Kill Anything That Moves by Nick Turse Metropolitan Books, 2013, 320 pages On August 18, 1980, Republican candidate for president Ronald Reagan addressed the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. In his speech, Reagan identified a disease plaguing America: "the Vietnam Syndrome." Infected by North Vietnamese propaganda, the Gipper argued, Americans had … Continue reading “‘They All Looked Alike’”

Nick Turse: Exhuming Vietnam

Conventional wisdom insists that war crimes and atrocities by U.S forces in Vietnam were isolated, committed by a "few bad apples" and "rogue units." In fact, for 40 years the American public has been collectively assuring the veterans of that war that no one considers them "baby killers" nor believes that the My Lai massacre … Continue reading “Nick Turse: Exhuming Vietnam”

Seeing the Reality of the Vietnam War, 50 Years Late

Forty-six years ago, in January 1966, Jonathan Schell, a 23-year-old not-quite-journalist found himself at the farming village of Ben Suc, 30 miles from the South Vietnamese capital, Saigon.  It had long been supportive of the Vietcong.  Now, in what was dubbed Operation Cedar Falls, the U.S. military (with Schell in tow) launched an operation to … Continue reading “Seeing the Reality of the Vietnam War, 50 Years Late”

Colin Powell: Another War Criminal Cashes In

One could be forgiven for thinking there’s anything honorable or honest about Colin Powell. For more than two decades now the Washington media has portrayed the former secretary of state as something of a real-life action hero, a reluctant warrior whose greatest fault — should they deign to mention any — was just being too … Continue reading “Colin Powell: Another War Criminal Cashes In”

Memory Failure at the Pentagon

Call it a mantra, a litany, or a to-don’t list, but the drip, drip, drip of Afghan disaster and the gross-out acts accompanying it have already resulted in one of those classic fill-you-in paragraphs that reporters hang onto for whenever the next little catastrophe rears its ugly head. Here’s how that list typically went after … Continue reading “Memory Failure at the Pentagon”

The Afghan Syndrome

Take off your hat. Taps is playing. Almost four decades late, the Vietnam War and its postwar spawn, the Vietnam Syndrome, are finally heading for their American grave. It may qualify as the longest attempted burial in history. Last words — both eulogies and curses — have been offered too many times to mention, and … Continue reading “The Afghan Syndrome”

Light at End of Afghan Tunnel Recedes

“Now we can see [success in Vietnam] clearly, like the light at the end of a tunnel.” – Gen. Henri Navarre, commander French forces in Vietnam, May 20, 1953 “A new phase is starting … we have reached an important point when the end begins to come into view … there is a light at … Continue reading “Light at End of Afghan Tunnel Recedes”

Lemmingly, We Roll Along

When soldiers die, the politicians who sent them to their deaths typically use euphemisms and circumlocutions — like “lost,” “fallen,” or “ultimate sacrifice.” On one level, the avoidance of blunt language can be seen as a sign of respect, but on another, it is just one more evasion of responsibility for the snuffing out of … Continue reading “Lemmingly, We Roll Along”

Like Nixon, Obama Will Waste Lives to Get Reelected

No one needs to tell the public that politicians are slick — and the ones who get elected are the oiliest. President Obama, in a recent speech announcing the phased withdraw of 33,000 U.S. surge forces from Afghanistan by September 2012, told the country that the United States had largely achieved its goals in Afghanistan … Continue reading “Like Nixon, Obama Will Waste Lives to Get Reelected”