POLLIWOG (Tadpole): the early stage of an animal that will eventually become a frog, hoping to be kissed by a princess, turning into a prince! POLIBLOG (Political Blog): the early stage of a center-right political blog that may eventually become a full blown blog of the center-right. Join in if you find any merit in the comments. If you are on the left and disagree, feel free to straighten me out! Who knows, with effort from all of us this blog may turn into a prince!

Location: San Diego, California, United States

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Americans under the age of 50 please note:

Mark Steyn, in a review of a Christopher Dickey article in Newsweek titles "War and Deliverance" makes the following point of what our culture is becoming:

"But the third and bigger point is that, enjoyable as they are, pop-culture metaphors aren't really of much use, especially when you're up against cultures where life is still defined by how you live as opposed to what you experience via media. It seems to me, for example, that when anti-war types bemoan Iraq as this generation's Vietnam "quagmire," older folks are thinking of the real Vietnam – the Gulf of Tonkin resolution and whatnot – but most anybody under 50 is thinking of Vietnam movies: some vague video-store mélange of "The Full Metal Deer Apocalypse."

Take the Scott Thomas Beauchamp debacle at the New Republic, in which the magazine ran an atrocity-a-go-go Baghdad diary piece by a serving soldier about dehumanized troops desecrating graves, abusing disfigured women, etc. It smelled phony from the get-go – except to the professional media class from whose ranks the New Republic's editors are drawn: To them, it smelled great, because it aligned reality with the movie looping endlessly through the windmills of their mind, a nonstop Coppola-Stone retrospective in which ill-educated conscripts are the dupes of a nutso officer class. "
(my emphasis)

There is a real world out there, with real goodness and REAL evil. Life is not a movie, and the sooner we all wake up to that fact the sooner we will resolve the many problems we have.

Read the whole article!



Blogger Curt said...

It's an interesting point - we absorb so much material from movies and TV, it is easy to develop very warped views about how things are in the world.

As a twist to this, note that for many people who have never been to the US, their image is frequently based on Los Angeles and environs (along with New York City, I imagine). It's not terribly representative.

If anything, I suspect that most filmed stories that we see tend to simplify things into simple good vs. evil, when the reality is typically a lot more nuanced.

2:16 PM  
Blogger Jim said...


You being under the age of 50, and all your knowledge of Vietnam being second hand, I am very interested in your self-analysis of your perception of Vietnam.

Do you perceive it as an "honorable" war on the part of the participants (regardless of your perception of its correctness or the dishonorable things that happen in all wars), or a dishonorable war with the "bloodthirsty" American armies exercising their desires (this is what much of Hollywood has protrayed for the last 40 years)?

8:33 AM  
Blogger Curt said...

That's a good question, and I'll give a shot at an answer...

I have vague memories of Vietnam from the nightly news, and of course growing up in Berkeley one could not avoid the social upheaval around the war. But here's my sense of it now.

I think the 'domino theory' had some basis in reality, and that if numerous countries had turned to a communist model, it clearly would have had a big world impact. Whether Vietnam was itself a key 'domino' is a more open question.

As far as the war goes, my sense is that we got into a situation that we didn't understand very well, in terms of the civil conflict. We seemed to keep trying to prop up leadership in South Vietnam that did not really have much support among the population. I think in large part the soldiers were trying to do the right thing in a very difficult situation. (Unfortunately I think much of the above paragraph applies in Iraq as well, but that's another story).

I know there are those who feel that we would have won in Vietnam if we had just 'let loose' all the military might we had (i.e. the generals had one arm tied behind their back). But even if that is the case, the U.S. still did plenty; napalming forests, bombing, etc. with civilian casualties over a million (conservatively).

Do I think the troops were some bloodthirsty hordes rampaging over the country? No. But the US did unleash a pretty lethal level of destruction which I'd say is one reason why there is lingering discontent about how it played out (for some; others are discontented that the US did not achieve its objectives and pulled out).

So bottom line I'd say the initial intentions were fairly honorable, but the execution as it played out was more problematic.

10:20 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

Your analysis is a good one. Very little disagreement with it from me except in one area: if we had "let loose" the military, perhaps we would have "won" the war more cleanly and saved many of those million deaths. Once you decide to go to war, holding back may be doing a disservice to all of those involved.

Trumans bombing of Japan with the atomic bombs is the best example of this. It cost many lives, but it is agreed that it saved hundreds of thousands of lives versus an invasion of Japan.

We are holding back in Iraq now, and I believe it may be having the same results, that is costing many more lives than if we had gone in there more aggressively. We will never have a good answer, but the logic of aggressive war seems pretty solid to me.

The domino theory was a real concern to most people at the time of Vietnam. I think many of us really thought the Soviet Union might grow large enought to threaten our way of life! May sound quaint now, but was a real concern prioe to 1989 and their collapse.

6:27 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home