As most of you know, I'm a Viet Nam (yes it used to be two words) era Veteran. As any of you who served in the 'Nam know, woo existed. The guys who were chosen as point on patrols were not chosen because they were cute, could hold their beer the best, or were hated by the Lieutenant. They were chosen because they had a sixth sense. They 'knew' where the trip wire was, the punji sticks were, where Charlie set up an ambush. Some of them got so they would get up in the morning and know who in their squad wouldn't live to go back to the World. It was a hard thing for those guys to live with. Whether you believe in the woo (woo-woo) or not, it existed, and probably still does. Talk to a Desert Storm or Afghan vet. And sometimes the broadcasted their sight half-way around the world.
On the night of 16 Dec 65, as a PFC, I attended the Christmas concert put on by the WAC Army Band at Ft McClellan, Alabama. Being a military band playing on a military base, they began with the Star Spangled Banner and of course, we all stood to attention. When they got to "...and the rocket's red glare..." for me, the stage and the band faded, and I was in 'Nam. I could smell it. I could taste it. And I saw a Green Beret Captain lead his squad into an ambush. I heard the gunfire, I heard men scream and moan as they died, I smelled the blood and death. When the Star Spangled Banner finished, the "vision" was gone, and I was back in the auditorium.
I know of two other women and one man in the audience who saw the same thing. One was LT Graham. She was the LT who taught us Military Customs and Courtesies in Basic Training and talked about the CPT to whom she was engaged. I don't know how I recognized him, but I did. After the program, I saw LT Graham in the lobby. By her color or lack thereof, I knew she had seen it. Lowly enlisted swine were not permitted to speak to officers, and as I tried to figure out what, if anything, to say, another LT came up, full of giggles and good cheer grabbed her by the arm and took off to the Officer's Club. LT Graham chose her 'cide that night, behind her quarters, alone with her Army issued .45.
Why am I telling you all this? Do you care that to this day I shake when I hear our national anthem? That I still have nightmares about that night? That I still have guilt no priest can ever absolve? No. I am telling you this because to quote William Tecumseh Sherman, "War is hell," and in my own pitiful way, I've been there, done that. And it was hell. As the old bumper sticker used to say, "War is not healthy for children and other living things."
Now we have a genuine bona fide Chickenhawk* behind the Big Desk in the oval office, with the nuclear codes close at hand. He's never been to war, he has no idea what he is talking about, and because NOW he won't have to go (he got 5 deferments for Viet Nam), he thinks war might be sorta fun, macho in a John Wayne sorta way. To hell with walking softly, just carry a big bully stick and beat the crap out of anyone who doesn't play by his rules. He's watched too many John Wayne movies. According to Jon Meacham in the October 2017 Vanity Fair, P45 doesn't read books—he's "Too Busy To Bother..."—he reads, "...passages. I read areas. I'll read chapters." I wonder if he reads Cliff Notes. And he's talking about utterly destroying another nation? He has no idea--nor do I think he cares--that he is talking about killing men, women, and children; people who are not only starving, they are already terrified of us.
Twitterdum, aka P45, has never read Sunzi's The Art of War. If he had, he would know Sunzi admonishes the General to never back his opponent into a corner, because then he will have nothing to lose and become the most dangerous. (Try backing a terrified dog into a corner and then reach for him. Let me know how much of your arm is left when you get back from the ER.) Twitterdum does not know to always leave his opponent an honorable way out, in fact, if necessary, to help him to find that honorable way out, to save face. Before the button is pushed, there is always time to listen, to talk, to reach consensus. Once that button is pushed it is too late. I can't help but wonder if any of Twitterdum's pet Generals have read, let alone studied and comprehended Sunzi's book. They should.
If we can afford to build an unnecessary wall, if we can afford a war of annihilation, we can afford to build a table, and cover it with food for all. We can afford to pay diplomats and translators and sit down to get to know one another. War is not the answer; Death is not the solution—they are the problem.
*Chickenhawk: chick·en hawk noun US noun: chickenhawk
1. a hawk of a type that is reputed to prey on domestic fowl.
2. informal a person who speaks out in support of war, yet has avoided active military service.
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