American Thinkers

Short, Sweet Story of the Simple …

Posted on April 25, 2019. Filed under: American Thinkers |

Ronald James Read (1921 – 2014). worked as a gas station attendant and mechanic for 25 years.and then took a part-time janitor job where he worked for 17 years.

He grew up in an impoverished farming household. He walked or hitchhiked four miles daily to high school and was the first high school graduate in his family.

He died bequeathing US $1.2 million to a Library and $4.8 million to a Hospital.

He had amassed a $8 million fortune by investing in stocks, avoiding the stock of companies he did not understand, living very frugally and being a buy and hold investor in blue chip companies.

Surely a Full Life. Brings to mind Duke Ellington’s Quote when his friend Louis Armstrong, passed away, “He was born Poor and died Rich and in between hurt Nobody on the Way” …

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Alcatraz – Possible Escape Story? …

Posted on March 14, 2019. Filed under: American Thinkers |

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A Tree …

Posted on January 25, 2019. Filed under: American Thinkers |

3200 YEARS IN ONE PHOTOGRAPH~ AT SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK ~ 

Thankfully, no loggers took it down, nor forest fires or earthquakes!  Just a quiet life in a California forest for all these years … 3,200! 

Not every tree has a nickname, but ‘The President’ has earned it. This giant sequoia stands at 247 feet tall & is estimated to be over 3,200 years old.  

Imagine, this tree was already 700 years old during the height of ancient Greece’s civilization and 1200 years old when Jesus lived while Rome was well into its rule of most of the western world and points beyond.  

The trunk of The President measures 27 feet across, with 2 needles from base to top. Because of its unbelievable size, this tree has never been photographed in its entirety, until now.National Geographic photographers have worked along with scientists to try and create the firstphoto that shows The President in all its glory. 

They had to climb the tree with pulleys and levers and took thousands of photos. Of those, they selected 126 and stitched them together to get this incredible portrait of The President. 

And here it is: The man standing near the trunk of the tree is a good indicator of the tree’s size. Incredible, isn’t it?

https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-f2pzpWWYXzc/U0tLCN7rUTI/AAAAAAAAMfk/1ORa53OUBFk/s1600/last.jpg










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Response to a Protester …

Posted on July 13, 2018. Filed under: American Thinkers, Guide Posts |

They say the US Lost the Viet Nam War courtesy their Free Press …. Here is One Response to one such Protester …

On a rainy afternoon, a group of protesters were gathered outside the grocery store handing out pamphlets on “T he  evils  of America . ”   I politely declined to take one.

There was an elderly woman behind me and a young (20-ish) female protester offered her a pamphlet, which she politely declined.

The young protester gently put her hand on the old woman’s shoulder and in a patronizing voice said, “Don’t you care about the children of Iraq?”

The old woman looked up at her and said: “Honey, my father died in France during World War II, I lost my husband in Korea, and a son in Vietnam.

All three died so a naive, ignorant, self-centered bimbo like you could have the right to stand here and badmouth our country … and if you touch me again, I’ll shove this umbrella up your ass and open it.”

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Trump, Cambridge ‘Analytica’ and FB …

Posted on March 27, 2018. Filed under: American Thinkers |

From ‘Mother Jones’ –  “The phenomenon Donald Trump”

The Cruz campaign was still in the process of unwinding when Cambridge, following the lead of its investors, the Mercers, offered its services to the Trump campaign.

As Nix courted the Trump campaign, he came up with an idea to boost the GOP nominee-in-waiting — one that was more in line with the political dirty tricks he and his colleagues would later discuss with Channel 4’s undercover reporter.

WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange had recently told a British TV station that he had come into possession of internal emails belonging to senior Clinton campaign officials — the result of a cyberattack later revealed to be the work of Russian hackers.

Nix reached out to Assange via his speaking agency, seeking a meeting. Nix reportedly hoped to get access to the emails and help Assange share them with the public — that is, he wanted to weaponize the information. According to both Nix and Assange, the WikiLeaks founder passed on his offer.

Nevertheless, by late June Nix had landed a contract with the Trump team. At first, a handful of Cambridge employees set up shop in San Antonio, where Parscale was running Trump’s digital operation out of his marketing firm’s offices. But Matt Oczkowski, Cambridge’s head of product, was eventually put in charge of the San Antonio office after Parscale relocated to campaign headquarters in Trump Tower.

What exactly Cambridge Analytica did for Trump remains murky, though in the days after the election, Nix’s firm blasted out one press release after another touting the “integral” and “pivotal” role it played in Trump’s shocking upset.

Nix later told Channel 4’s undercover reporter that Cambridge deserved much of the credit for Trump’s win. “We did all the research, all the data, all the analytics, all the targeting. We ran all the digital campaign, the television campaign, and our data informed all the strategy,” he said.

Another Cambridge executive suggested the firm had delivered Trump victories in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin — states crucial to his ultimate win. “When you think about the fact that Donald Trump lost the popular vote by 3 million votes but won the Electoral College vote, that’s down to the data and the research.”

Cambridge helped run an anti – Hillary Clinton online ad campaign for a Mercer-funded super-PAC that paid the company $1.2 million. The ads stated that Clinton “might be the first president to go to jail” and echoed conspiracy theories about her health.

But according to multiple Republican sources familiar with Cambridge’s work for Trump, the firm played at best a minor role in Trump’s victory. Parscale has said that $5 million of the $5.9 million the Trump campaign paid Cambridge was for a large TV ad buy.

During an interview with 60 Minutes last fall, Parscale dismissed the company’s psychographic methods: “I just don’t think it works.”

Trump’s secret strategy, he said, wasn’t secret at all: The campaign went all-in on Facebook, making full use of the platform’s advertising tools. “Donald Trump won,” Parscale said, “but I think Facebook was the method.”

Nix, however, seemed determined to capitalize on Trump’s victory. Cambridge opened a new office a few blocks from the White House, where Bannon would soon take on his new role as Trump’s chief political strategist. (Bannon retained his stake in the firm, valued between $1 million and $5 million, until April 2017, months after Trump took office.)

SCL, its UK-based affiliate, eventually relocated its global headquarters from London to Arlington, Virginia, and began chasing government work, quickly landing a $500,000 State Department contract to monitor the impact of foreign propaganda.

SCL briefly signed on Lt. General Michael Flynn as an adviser and later hired a former Flynn associate to run its DC office.

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Trump vs Stormy Daniels …

Posted on March 26, 2018. Filed under: American Thinkers, Personalities |

From The New Yorker –

A running gag in political journalism is that all the bombshells drop late on a Friday, by the time most reporters are done for the week and our public servants and institutions are expected to be done making news.

And sure enough, last week the Trump administration sent shockwaves through Washington with the late-Friday firing of Andrew McCabe, a former deputy of dismissed FBI director James Comey, mere days before he was set to enjoy what he calls his “long-planned, earned retirement.”

Planned or not, the upheaval that followed McCabe’s dismissal effectively buried what could soon become the most significant arbitration dispute in all of American history.

That same evening, Donald Trump — through Charles Harder, the lawyer best known for helping Peter Thiel put Gawker out of business — attached his name to a court filing that, for the first time, linked him to Stephanie Clifford – the woman, better known in the adult-film industry and now the world of politics as Stormy Daniels, was fighting for her right to be ungagged — to speak freely and publicly about an affair she had with Trump over a decade ago, while he and his third wife Melania were awaiting the birth of their son Barron.

But before Harder filed that document in federal court last week, Trump was nowhere to be seen. The White House had denied any sexual encounters ever happened, the president was uncharacteristically silent about Clifford on Twitter, and his other lawyer and perennial fixer, Michael Cohen, had repeatedly denied that his client had anything to do with her.

No more: “Mr. Trump intends to pursue his rights to the fullest extent permitted by law,” Harder wrote. By which he meant that Trump intended to seek enforcement of a non-disclosure agreement, to the tune of $20 million, that Cohen had made Clifford sign less than two weeks before the 2016 presidential election.

In exchange for her silence, Clifford accepted $130,000 from Cohen, who reportedly took out a home-equity loan to execute the payoff. Because who amongst us hasn’t done that at some point.

A cruel irony of this “hush agreement,” as Clifford put it in her own lawsuit seeking to free herself from it, is that it was signed on October 28, 2016 — the same day Comey, in a letter to Congress, may have cost Hillary Clinton the presidential election.

The volatility of that political moment lends credence to Clifford’s charge that Cohen, in concert with Trump and his campaign, “aggressively sought to silence Ms. Clifford as part of an effort to avoid her telling her truth, thus helping to ensure he won” the presidency, according to court papers her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, filed in a Los Angeles county court.

That opens up another front for the already legally beleaguered Trump: If there’s any truth to this coordination, and the Federal Election Commission substantiates it, the unreported hush money may have well violated campaign finance laws.

Cohen, for his part, has insisted that he just did this to help out a longtime client, benefactor, and friend. “People are mistaking this for a thing about the campaign,” Cohen told Vanity Fair this week. “What I did defensively for my personal client, and my friend, is what attorneys do for their high-profile clients. I would have done it in 2006. I would have done it in 2011. I truly care about him and the family — more than just as an employee and an attorney.”

But do friends really take out home-equity loans, create shell companies in Delaware, use fake names, and draw up legally dubious, if not wholly unenforceable, NDAs to force someone else’s silence? For all we know, Cohen could even lose his New York law license for engaging in such shady tactics.

The brilliance of Clifford’s legal and public-relations moves, including this Sunday’s long-awaited interview with Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes, is that they outmaneuver Trump at every turn — which may explain his own reticence about the whole thing since the Wall Street Journal blew the lid off it in January.

In a wide-ranging article exploring the seven-year saga, there’s a fantastic quote attributed to Cohen, whom Clifford is accusing of breaching the hush agreement because he himself confirmed its existence to the press. “I didn’t fucking breach it!” Cohen is said to have yelled, according to the Journal, sounding every bit like any concerned friend would.

Clifford has got her share of friends, too. Men and women of good conscience are coming forward to her aid. In a crowdfunding page she set up to help offset her legal fees, nearly 9,000 people have pledged close to $286,000 to support her cause — what she deems a quest “to speak honestly and openly to the American people about my relationship with now President Donald Trump and the intimidation and tactics used against me.”

Perhaps to assuage concerned family men who may be worried her name may appear on their credit card statements, Clifford clarified that only the name of the crowdfunding site would appear: “There is no reference to Stormy Daniels or Stephanie Clifford.”

When all is said and done, Avenatti may even agree, if he hasn’t already, to do this pro bono. The media-friendly lawyer has become a celebrity of sorts since the scandal broke — late on Thursday, he teased his client’s upcoming cable appearance by tweeting out a mysterious image of a CD, as if to suggest that there’s documentary evidence of Trump’s tryst with Stormy.

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words is this worth?????” Avenatti wrote on Trump’s favorite medium.

In a quick call with New York on Friday, Avenatti said Clifford’s 60 Minutes interview will help to dispel many misconceptions about the woman he represents. “I hope the American people will know a lot about my client,” he said. “How smart she is. How comfortable in her own skin she is. And how credible she is.”

Unable to bury the story any longer, Trump may even tune in himself.

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Viet Nam – the ‘Why’ …

Posted on March 17, 2018. Filed under: American Thinkers, Personalities |

Edwin O. Reischauer – By Paul M. Bourke –  The Man Who Knew too Much About Vietnam —- Paul M. Bourke was a Japan specialist with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The article is based on a paper he wrote while studying for a master in international affairs at Columbia University.

Few Americans viewed the Vietnam War in hindsight at the time, even after several years of fighting. People worried about where it was headed and whether it could be won. Few people were asking, yet, how it happened. Except Edwin O. Reischauer.

Throughout 1967, Reischauer, a professor of East Asian studies at Harvard and a former American ambassador to Japan, offered a rare and alternative analysis of Vietnam, the United States and Asia that has stood the test of time. Reischauer’s congressional testimony in 1967 and subsequent book, “Beyond Vietnam: The United States and Asia,” were all the more remarkable for being able to point to warnings he had made himself in the 1950s, about American involvement in Indochina, which had become a reality by 1967.

Born in Japan to Presbyterian missionary parents in 1910, Reischauer lived there until he was 16, and spoke Japanese fluently. He earned a doctorate in Asian studies from Harvard, where he subsequently taught Far East history and languages. From 1942 to 1945, he served in military intelligence at the War Department, and after the war with the Office of Far Eastern Affairs at the State Department.

He eventually went back to teaching at Harvard, but President John Kennedy pulled him back into government service as his ambassador to Japan,  a job he held from 1961 to 1966 — a rare instance of placing an expert, rather than a political appointee, in a high-profile embassy.

While still at Harvard, Reischauer was openly critical of the Manichean dualism of communism versus the free world promoted fervently by Eisenhower’s Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles. In 1955, he published “Wanted: An Asian Policy,” in which he argued that the American stand against Communism in Korea could not be replicated across the rest of Asia. In fact, he wrote, the United States was already making the mistake of exporting that model to Southeast Asia, where it was supporting the French effort to reimpose colonial rule. “Indochina shows how absurdly wrong we are to battle Asian nationalism instead of aiding it,” he wrote. “The French failure to relinquish Indochina has put a heavy burden on the United States financially and could end by costing us dearly in lives.”

As ambassador, he also saw how America’s ill-conceived war in Vietnam was poisoning relations elsewhere in Asia, especially Japan. The Japanese public identified with the North Vietnamese as the subjects of American bombing and were concerned about Japan being drawn into a widening conflict between the United States and China.

Due in part to his increasing unwillingness to argue the case for America’s involvement in Vietnam to the Japanese, Reischauer resigned his post as ambassador in August 1966 and returned to Harvard, where he was free to express his misgivings about the Vietnam War in speeches and papers.

Reischauer was called to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January 1967, just as its members were starting to voice their skepticism about the optimistic reports they received on Vietnam from the State Department and from the ambassador to South Vietnam, Ellsworth Bunker. Chaired by Senator J. William Fulbright, the committee was increasingly of the view that a negotiated settlement between North and South Vietnam, not an American military victory over North Vietnam, would be the most likely way for the country to end its military involvement.

As he was in “Wanted: An Asian Policy,” in his opening statement to the committee, the scholar and diplomat was unequivocal that the United States could and should have avoided getting bogged down in Vietnam. It should never have backed French attempts to reimpose colonial rule in Vietnam. It should never have assumed the French mantle in Vietnam after France was defeated by the Viet Minh in 1954. It should never have assumed that the political strategies used against Communism in Europe would work in developing countries in Asia.

“We have failed sometimes to understand the deeply rooted historic forces at work in Asia — anticolonialism, nationalism, the eagerness to wipe out past humiliations and the determination to advance rapidly without losing national identity,” Reischauer said, reading from his statement. This was a theme he developed more fully in his book “Beyond Vietnam,” restating his view that the United States had failed to harness Asian nationalism as the means of countering the Communists, who did harness nationalism to their ends in Vietnam and elsewhere in Asia.

Reischauer was not the only person in the political establishment making this point in 1967, but he was the only one who had been making it consistently for over a decade. It was a conclusion he had made in 1955, in “Wanted: An Asian Policy”: “Indochina is the classic case in which the Communists have utilized nationalism effectively against us.” It should have been the other way around. Looking back on the lessons of the Korean War and the danger signs he pointed to in 1955, Reischauer wrote in 1967: “Storm warnings might be up in Vietnam, but we were not prepared to recognize them. We continued to drift toward new catastrophes.”

Reischauer maintained that the United States should not be the agent of political, social or economic change in Asia but should provide economic support to those countries seeking self-determination and to develop themselves. As for the imposition of Communism across Asia by China or the Soviet Union, Reischauer did not see the project succeeding. He pointed to the Vietnamese as the people least likely to yield to the control of Communist China, with Vietnam’s long history of resisting Chinese domination likely to reassert itself if the Vietnamese nationalists won the war.

Surprisingly, Reischauer did not advocate a negotiated settlement or rapid withdrawal, at least not yet. The former was unrealistic; the latter would cause immense damage to American credibility. Having entered the fight and shaped it in its interest, America now had no choice but to see it through. In “Beyond Vietnam,” he argued that a negotiated settlement would be possible only if the Communists came to understand that the United States would stay the course in Vietnam. At the same time, the South Vietnamese government had to become better at serving the interests of its people. “It should be made clear that Saigon is in the process of achieving the very things for which some Viet Cong supporters feel they are fighting,” he suggested.

By early 1968, Reischauer had abandoned his belief that the United States should continue in Vietnam. Just before the Tet offensive, he joined with 10 other Harvard scholars in a telegram to President Lyndon Johnson urging that he enter into negotiations toward a settlement including the Vietcong. He also appeared again in front of Congress, before the House Asia and Pacific Affairs Subcommittee, in February 1968. In keeping with the views he expressed in 1955 and 1967, he told the subcommittee: “We have imagined ourselves as building a military dike against an on-rushing Communist wave. But there has been no wave. The real problem has proved to be the swampy economic and political terrain behind the dike we were attempting to raise. It was the local ground water that was undermining political structures. When this threatened to happen in Vietnam, the heavy machines we brought in to heighten the military dikes proved unmaneuverable in the swampy land and, by breaking through the thin crust of the bog, made it even less capable of maintaining the sagging political structure.”

Reischauer was about as far from the culture of the antiwar movement as one could get, and yet his scholarly and professional insights did much to complement the multitudes filling the streets. Senator Fulbright, among others, listened to him closely; in March 1968, he read a statement from Reischauer and other Harvard scholars arguing against escalation during the televised testimony of Secretary of State Dean Rusk.

Reischauer was the rare breed of academic, one who, when the moment called, brought his estimable intellect to bear on the most important issue of the day. It says much about the state of American politics at the time that, until it was too late, too few people listened.

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With Words we Rule Men …

Posted on October 3, 2017. Filed under: American Thinkers, Public Speaking |

In the Bible, reticence is a virtue. “Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent,” we are told in Proverbs 17:28. “With their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.”

An Americanized version of this saying, often misattributed to Abraham Lincoln or Mark Twain, is that it is better to remain silent and appear foolish than to speak and remove all doubt.

Or as Winston Churchill purportedly said, “We are masters of the unsaid words, but slaves of those we let slip out.”

Kori Schake, a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution who served in key policy roles at the White House, Pentagon and Foggy Bottom during George W. Bush’s presidency, explained Trump’s “fire and fury” threat. This is the key paragraph:

“In 1949, the United States withdrew its military forces from the Korean Peninsula. Secretary of State Dean Acheson then gave an important speech defining American national-security interests — which notably excluded Korea.

‘It’s not the drawing down of U.S. forces but rather Acheson’s speech that is commonly cited as the signal of American abandonment of South Korea. Words matter: Acheson didn’t cause the Korean war, but his words are remembered as the provocation.

‘Words especially matter between societies that poorly understand each other’s motivations and intentions, as do North Korea and the U.S. We can afford to be sloppy in our formulations among friends, where cultural similarity or exposure give context, but neither of those circumstances pertain with North Korea.”

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Viet Nam War – What Americans did Wrong …

Posted on September 22, 2017. Filed under: American Thinkers |

George C. Herring, an emeritus professor of history at the University of Kentucky, is the author of “America’s Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975.”

From the early stages of the Vietnam War, American officials insisted that winning the hearts and Minds (WHAM) of the South Vietnamese people was the key to victory.

But the Americans tasked with carrying out that strategy were ill equipped, linguistically and culturally, to make it work. And in the end, that deficit destroyed whatever good will might have existed on either side and doomed America’s foray into Vietnam to failure.

Bui Diem, South Vietnam’s ambassador to Washington from 1965 to 1972, once called the two countries “peoples quite apart.” And indeed, American and Vietnamese culture had little contact before 1950. Americans understanding of the country’s language, history, religious traditions, etiquette or politics was abysmal.

The cultural disjunction was exacerbated by a strategic one: While the two nations agreed on the fundamental goal of preserving an independent, non-Communist South Vietnam, the stakes of the war for each were grossly disproportionate. The United States sought merely to uphold its credibility – South Vietnam fought for its existence.

Theirs was a patron-client relationship. The United States, the world’s strongest country and still riding high off its victory in World War II, was confident in its power — and its virtue. It expected to lead and to be followed. In contrast, the South Vietnamese, citizens of a fragile state newly freed from colonial rule and threatened by internal insurgency and external invasion, recognized their desperate need for American help but they were also acutely sensitive to dominance by an outside power. They struggled to uphold their dignity and autonomy.

Between 1950 and 1965, America’s role in the region, while significant in terms of money and matériel, occupied a limited footprint in the lives of everyday Vietnamese. That changed between 1965 and 1967, when the Americanization of the war brought hundreds of thousands of troops and civilians into the country and put an American face on the increasingly widespread destruction wrought by both sides.

Bui Diem noted the absence of communication between the two peoples during the major escalation in 1965, the “un-self-conscious arrogance” of the Americans and the impotence of the South Vietnamese. “The Americans came in like bulldozers and the South Vietnamese followed their lead without a thought of dissent.”

After 1965, the United States took on the burden of defeating the enemy militarily. It declined to establish a combined command structure with the South Vietnamese – as it had in Korea. It relegated the Army of the Republic of Vietnam to pacification, a task many Vietnamese considered demeaning. Americanization of the war also produced among South Vietnamese a “takeover effect,” by letting the Americans fight the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese.

Tragically, American actions encouraged dependency in a nation whose independence it sought to sustain.

As the American presence swelled, tensions between the two peoples grew. Vietnamese resented the way their visitors looked down on them and imposed their ways on a presumably inferior people. They were annoyed by American impatience.

Some envied the opulent lifestyle of the Americans, with their enormous bases equipped with all the conveniences of home, including air conditioning, shopping centers and movie houses. Others protested that the troops acted “despicably” toward them, speeding their trucks and cars through traffic at life-threatening speeds.

Some claimed that America dispensed aid as though it were being “given to a beggar.”

Most of all, many South Vietnamese resented their dependence on their ally and its suffocating presence in their lives. Some labeled the “American occupation” a “demoralizing scourge.”

Vietnamese recognized that the Americans were not “colonialists,” the journalist Robert Shaplen observed, but he perceptively added, “there has evolved here a colonial ambience that can sometimes be worse than colonialism itself.”

In the bonanza atmosphere that followed Americanization, South Vietnam’s economy centered upon serving the needs of the new arrivals. Prostitution became a special problem. As the number of Americans in Saigon surged into the tens of thousands, the number of houses of ill repute expanded proportionally, provoking criticism in the United States and South Vietnam.

Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas fumed that Saigon had become an “American brothel.” South Vietnamese Catholics and President Nguyen Van Thieu were especially concerned about prostitution and pleaded with American officials to do something about the suffocating presence of so many troops.

The result was Operation Moose (Move Out of Saigon Expeditiously), implemented mostly during 1967. Thousands of G.I.s moved to base camps outside the city (where the prostitutes soon followed), some joking that they had been “Moosed.” Saigon was also declared off limits for R & R. The pace was sufficiently slow that the operation was unofficially tagged Goose (Get Out of Saigon Eventually).

The exodus left around 7,900 American soldiers in the city. Moose did not satisfy President Thieu and it provided no more than a partial solution to the prostitution problem. It also left Saigon more vulnerable to the urban attacks launched by the Viet Cong during the 1968 Tet offensive.

The American way of war also inflicted a huge toll on village life in South Vietnam. To limit its own casualties and cope with unfamiliar and often inhospitable terrain, the United States unleashed extraordinary firepower on the country it was trying to save. Areas of suspected enemy strength were bombed and shelled and burned with napalm, often with little consideration of its impact on civilians. Defoliants were used to deny the enemy food and cover, with horrific short- and long-term consequences for Vietnamese.

American firepower destroyed homes, villages and crops and alienated those whose hearts and minds were to be won. American commanders declared entire areas free-fire zones.

Troops would round up villagers, burn their hooches and relocate them from their ancestral lands into squalid refugee camps. The area would then be bombed and shelled.

During Operation Cedar Falls in 1967, Americans forcibly relocated some 6,000 civilians from the village of Ben Suc. Caught between the Viet Cong and the Americans, villagers who wanted only to be left alone became sullen or outright hostile. By early 1967, over 1.5 million refugees had drifted into urban slums, where they were susceptible to Viet Cong propaganda.

To be sure, many Americans developed close ties with Vietnamese. Many also committed acts of kindness such as providing medical care and food to people in need. Especially in the early years and in remote areas, American advisers formed attachments with Vietnamese soldiers and villagers. Thousands of troops married Vietnamese women.

Still, most Americans arrived in the country without knowledge of the land and the people. “My time in Vietnam is the memory of ignorance,” one soldier later wrote. Not knowing the language or culture, the Americans did not know what the people felt, or even at times how to tell friend from foe. “What we need is some kind of litmus paper than turns red when it’s near a Communist,” one officer half-jokingly told a journalist.

Relations with South Vietnamese soldiers were likewise strained. Unaware of the difficulties their counterparts labored under, American troops disparaged their fighting qualities. The newcomers expected the people they were defending to offer the sort of gratitude they believed their fathers had gained for liberating France in World War II. When instead they encountered indifference or even hostility, they grew resentful.

For many Americans, the South Vietnamese became an object of contempt, even hatred. “The people were treacherous,” one soldier later recalled. “They say ‘G.I. No. 1’ when we’re in the village, but at night the dirty little rats are V.C.” The ability of the villagers to step around mines and booby traps that killed and maimed Americans provoked suspicion of collusion — and anger.

Americans also brought with them deeply entrenched racist attitudes that prompted the use of slurs such as “gook” and “dink,” which they applied to enemy and friend alike.

Contempt could quickly change to a rage that might be turned on Vietnamese civilians. During the summer and fall of 1967, the notorious Tiger Force, an elite commando unit, was assigned to remove civilians from the Song Ve River Valley, suspected to be a source of rice for Viet Cong units. The very name of the mission, Operation Rawhide, suggested a cattle roundup, which had a dehumanizing effect.

When the civilians resisted, the Tigers vented their rage by burning their villages. Unhappy with the assignment and under constant fire from enemy snipers, the Americans declared the area a free-fire zone and shot anything that moved, resulting in the brutal killing of numerous civilians.

Nevertheless, the Tigers were assigned another, similar mission, to remove civilians from Quang Tin province. Early in the operation, they were caught in a deadly ambush and suffered heavy losses. After that, all restraints came off. Commanders abetted their vengeance by setting a body count goal of 327 kills (to match the number of the 327th Infantry Regiment, of which the Tigers were a part).

The Tigers proceeded to kill hundreds of civilians and compounded their crime by mutilating the bodies of victims, including old women and even babies. The carnage stopped only when the operation ended in November.

The actions of the Tiger Force were replicated with even more savage results at My Lai, in Quang Ngai province, in February 1968, where American soldiers killed hundreds of Vietnamese civilians. Such atrocities were not typical of American behavior, and even at My Lai there were soldiers who pushed back against their commanders’ orders to kill.

Nevertheless, the atrocious violence reflected attitudes toward Vietnamese that divided the two peoples and made the Vietnamese subservient to Americans. Given the frustrations and failures and mounting casualties of the American war effort, atrocities were perhaps only a matter of time.

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The BBC on TRUMP …

Posted on August 24, 2017. Filed under: American Thinkers, Personalities |

From Katty Kay, BBC –

There’s been some speculation recently that Donald Trump’s luck is finally running out and his support among Republicans is about to collapse. I don’t buy it.
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There is almost no indication in a slew of post-Charlottesville polls that President Trump’s supporters are on the verge of abandoning him.
Indeed, I was told by a Wisconsin-based reporter this week that his support among Republicans has increased there. That makes total sense to me.
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To understand why somewhere between 35-38% of Americans consistently approve of the job Mr Trump is doing, you need to reframe the way you look at his voters.
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It’s not what they are for that matters, it’s what they are against. So it’s not that a third of US voters are fervently on the side of Donald Trump – what’s more relevant is that they are adamantly on the opposing side of a culture war that’s been brewing here since the 1980s.
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Look at it like that and you can see why it doesn’t really matter what Mr Trump achieves or doesn’t achieve. He defies the normal metrics for success because his voters don’t so much support him for what he does as they adore him for what he’s against.
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Mr Trump is against the political establishment (the media, the Republican Party, political grandees like the Bushes and the Clintons) and change (which encompasses everything you had but fear you are losing) and he’s against the world (which has taken jobs and sent immigrants to take over America).
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You can trace the roots of this culture war back to Ronald Reagan’s moral majority. Historians may even go back to the civic explosions of the 1960s.
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If you believe America is engaged in a life-or-death battle over its identity, in which the past looks golden and the future looks, well, brown-ish, then Mr Trump sounds like he’s on your side.
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If you believe the forces driving that unwelcome change are the media and immigration, then Mr Trump’s Arizona speech is music to your ears. It explains why every long minute spent trashing the press makes perfect political sense.
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Conservatives in the American heartland have long believed, with some justification, that they can’t get a fair hearing in America’s mainstream press, which they see as overwhelmingly coastal and liberal. They believe the press has made it impossible for them to win elections.
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In a poll out today by Quinnipiac University, 80% of Republicans say they trust Mr Trump more than the media.
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No wonder his favourite enemy is the fake news. What this also means is that if Mr Trump continues to fail to rack up any major legislative achievements that would actually help his supporters, he, and they, have a built-in excuse.
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In fact I’m hearing about three different scapegoats. Jerry, I’ll call him that, is a mild-mannered African American in his early 70s from West Virginia. He grew up under segregation and it was to his family’s deep dismay that he voted for Mr Trump last year.
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He believes Mr Trump understands that America needs more discipline: no more young men walking round with their jeans halfway down their butts showing off their boxers, was how he described it to me. Jerry hankers for a time when young men dressed well, behaved well and didn’t answer back to their elders.
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When I asked him if he’d be disappointed if Mr Trump failed to live up to his campaign promises of healthcare reform, tax reform and making American manufacturing great again, Jerry was clear. Mr Trump, he said, would probably never achieve any of those things for three reasons – the media, the Russia investigation and the Republican Party.
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But he didn’t even really care – those are details, he said. What matters is that the president understands what America should be like. Mr Trump himself has understood this, viscerally, all along. He realised the power of tapping into cultural anger. Remember back in January 2016 during the campaign when he said: “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”
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He knew he had no limits.
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Today’s Quinnipiac poll isn’t good news for the president. By almost every metric, his overall support is ticking down. But on issues of trust, leadership, strength, values, he still has the support of a majority of Republicans. And his base is more solid still. I’m not saying Donald Trump will win again in 2020 but, given the complicated formula of American electoral maths, it’s certainly not impossible.
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He won by just tens of thousands of votes in three key states. If those votes are still there as he runs for a second term, what’s to say he can’t win again?

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