Tag Archives: Vietnam

Will Afghanistan Become Obama’s Vietnam?

In 1964, Lyndon Johnson won an overwhelming victory in the presidential election and the nation waited for passage of legislation that would usher in another New Deal. Unfortunately, Johnson allowed himself to get side tracked by the Vietnam conflict which had originated in decisions made by a Republican president. Fast forward to 2009, and one must question whether Barack Obama is poised to repeat the Johnson error. The new president has agreed to send an additional 30,000 US troops to Afghanistan which will raise the total number to about 60,000. Great Britain, the nation having the next largest number at 9,000, is not that interested in any further increases in troop size. Most NATO nations are considering reducing, not increasing troop sizes.

Christopher Langton, of the International Institute of Strategic Studies, notes, “with other NATO members already planning to scale back, the US would find itself isolated. Rather than being an international operation, it would become another coalition of the willing,” which, in effect, would mean another American operation.

Since American troops will now constitute the largest segment of foreign troops in Afghanistan, it stands to be an American will command this group. This will transform Afghanistan into an “American war.” In so doing, it will become Obama’s worst nightmare.

The solution lies in two areas– involving Muslim nations in the struggle, and a political solution that will not initially be in accord with American foreign policy aims.

Is John McCain Milking The Prisoner Bit?

Former President Jimmy Carter aroused the anger of many John McCain supporters when he stated bluntly the Arizona senator was “milking” his stint in prison. It is doubtful if a single speaker at the Republican convention has failed to throw in a reference to Vietnam and being a prisoner regardless of the topic being discussed. Some of McCain’s former fellow prisoners support his candidacy because they share a bond of having gone through hell together. They believe being a prisoner helped transform him as a person. But, of course, prison and torture also harms an individual. And, as former POW Philip Butler comments, “I like and respect jOhn as a person, but even if he were my blood bother, I would not vote for him. On Election Day, fitness to be president trumps everything.”

Thousands of Americans were POWs. John McCain’s experience as a POW was most probably more painful than other prisoners. But, the flip side of being a prisoner for years, is that McCain lacked any knowledge of the fighting in Vietnam and what was happening to people. It is interesting that Senators Webb, Kerry, and Hagel who were in combat while McCain was in prison, oppose the war in Iraq.

It would be helpful if Senator McCain could actually discuss a problem or issue, without the requisite, “when I was a prisoner in Vietnam,” introduction. Being a prisoner has nothing to do with learning how to handle the economy nor issues in the Middle East. Many people do not like Jimmy Carter, but sometimes his bluntness is right on target.

John McCain-Is He Cain? He Sure Isn’t Able!

There is no doubt John McCain is an American. There is no doubt John McCain suffered in Vietnam as a prisoner of war. There is no doubt John McCain is a proud Republican. There is no doubt John McCain believes the Republican administration has lied to the American people, been responsible for corruption, and failed to develop an energy program. There is no doubt when it comes to waving the flag, John McCain can wave a larger flag, wave it more rapidly, and wave it indefinitely. However, the unanswered question is, if John McCain is running “against the government” how can he run against himself? How can a man who voted for the present government 95% of the time claim he is against what he voted to support?

His speech once again raised questions as to whether John McCain ever listens to what he says during a speech.
1. Senator McCain insisted he wanted to end “big government.” However, after complaining about inept schools and inept teachers, he emphasized as president he would take care of those teachers. How can a president have any say over teachers unless he wants to make the federal government a guardian of schools?
2. Senator McCain warned of the dangers of “big government. After issuing that warning, he went on to promise government would help workers get jobs!
3. Senator McCain blasted corruption and lies in government. After making such statements, he insisted President Bush had done a good job of leading the country. If government is lying, isn’t President Bush responsible for the executive branch?
4. Senator McCain made clear he is against “big government.” However, he insisted the government would launch a massive program to deal with energy!
5. Senator McCain complained nations of the world do not trust America. Well, John, the Executive branch is in charge of foreign policy and your good friend George Bush is in charge of it. So, are you saying supporting George Bush these past eight years was wrong?

It is doubtful if anyone can recall anything about his speech other than he loves America, he loves the flag, and he is against big government.

Vietnam Reorganizing Teacher Education Program

Vietnam is quickly entering the modern global world which is placing new demands on its education system to respond to the challenge of creating a modern system of schooling for the population. The Ministry of Education and Training will focus on restructuring the network of teach training universities in the coming years. Unlike, many post industrial societies, Vietnam currently has a surplus of nearly 7,000 teachers in key area like mathematics and literature both at the primary and secondary levels. The shortages are in subjects such as music, art, information technology and physical fitness. At the primary school level, there was a surplus of about 4,000 teachers in math and literature while there was a shortage of about 5,000 teachers in other areas of the curriculum.

A Ministry survey indicates anywhere from 19% to 30% of pre-school, junior and senior secondary school and university teachers have not met desired professional standards. There is also need for improvement in the education of school principals. Deputy Prime MInister Nguyen Nhan, noted at a recent conference, most teachers suffered in teaching methodology and most were unable to stimulate creative thinking on the part of students.

The Economics College at Ha No National University has been selected for an experimental program under which the Education Ministry is handing power over college teacher salaries to college officials.

Storm In Teacup Over Clark Remarks Angers McCain

The storm in a teacup over a comment by retired Army General Wesley Clark continues echoing in the halls of Republican followers of John McCain. The senator from Arizona denounced Clark’s comment “I don’[t think riding in a fighter plane and getting show down is a qualification to be president.” McCain demanded “I think it is time for Senator Obama to not just repudiate General Clark but to cut him loose.” Several Republican leaders blame Senator Obama for “nodding and winking” about the Clark statement despite the fact he referred to it in negative terms.

Senator McCain’s demand that General Clark be”cut loose” is confusing since there is nothing to cut him loose from since he has no official role in the Obama campaign. The self righteous anger of Republicans concerning remarks about a man who fought in Vietnam might be taken more seriously if they had also been made against the filthy campaign against Senator Kerry who served in Vietnam while draft dodger Dick Cheney and coward George Bush made certain they were no where near actual fighting.

General Wesley Clark was in actual combat and risked his life. Senator Lindsay Graham claims McCain’s torture experience made him an expert on issues such as torture. However, while General Clark denounced torture as a means of interrogation, Senator McCain refused to vote against a bill that would have prevented torture being used in the interrogation process.

P.S. Senator John F. Kennedy was elected based on his political ideas not because he commanded a P.T. boat in the Pacific that got shot up and destroyed.

Story Of A Nation’s Rice Supply

Nations of the world are increasingly facing the reality their stocks of rice may not be sufficient to handle normal demands from the population. In East Malyasia’s Sabah region, the supply of rice is enough to last for 1.6 months. This is about one third the amount normally in the reserves held by the nation. Minister Datuk Yahya Hussin admitted the “rice supply is presently a complicated problem not only in Sabah but across the globe.” He said his nation is expecting shipment of additional rice within the coming weeks from Vietnam and Thailand. “Our country is still getting supplies from these countries although they are now reducing their exports of rice.”

It is becoming increasingly necessary for governments to assume some control not merely of supplies but of price in order to protect consumers against price gouging. The assumption is traders will cooperate with government in maintaining supplies and prices. That, of course, is an assumption and the situation might become worse in terms of being able to obtain sufficient amounts of rice for the population.

There is need for international action to halt the use of food to deal with fuel needs and get nations focused on the importance of using food to feed people. What happens in East Malaysia if either Thailand or Vietnam is forced to curtail rice exports?

Which Nations Oppose Religious Freedom?

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom has identified several nations which should be included in the list of countries in which religious freedom is not the norm. The Commission urged the State Department to add Vietnam, Pakistan and Turkmenistan to the list which already includes Indonesia , Myanmar and North Korea. The 10 member group was divided wheter to downgrade the predominantly Muslim Iraq to the blacklist due to reports of extensive discrimination and terror against Christian Iraqis. Although Vietnam is being added, the State Department did acknowledge the Vietnamese government has taken positive steps and is moving in the direction of more religious freedom.

The Commission did not find any evidence that Pakistan is moving towards religious freedom despte a free election in which moderate Muslims assume control of parliament and the government. “Despite the dramatic events in Paklstan in the past year, the commission finds that all of the serious religous freedom concerns, includng violence, on which the government has previously reportd, persist.”

It is surprising that Iraq is not on the list, given the fact about half the Christian Iraqi population has fled in terror and those remaining are confronted with constant religious persecution.

Vietnam Arrests Peace Activists

Vietnamese police have arrested two US pro-democracy activists, a Frenchwoman and a Thai who were attempting to hold pro-democracy seminars in their nation. The Vietnamese group, Viet Tan(Reform) said the activists, all members of a pro-democracy organization, were meeting with Vietnamese citizens to discuss “peaceful democratic change” in their nation. Police surrounded the house and entered to break up the gathering, taking materials they deemed subversive. The activists apparently were handing out copies of a book called “From Dictatorship to Democracy.” US consular officials had as of yet gained full knowledge concerning who was arrested and the charges being placed against them. Vietnamese police refused to discuss the raid, claiming, ‘we are not permitted to talk about his.”

Vietnam is enjoying an economic boom and it is not surprising that some of its citizens expect to have greater freedom. America and Vietnam have established good working relations and the past is slowly disappearing into the haze of history. It is merely a matter of time before Vietnam recognizes that the modern world requires some aspects of democracy if their nation is to become an economic power.

Do You Want This Man As Your President?

Following are two quotes from Rudy Giuliani during a debate in which he supported waterboarding and other forms of torturing prisoners:
“They talk about sleep deprivation. I mean, on that theory, I’m getting tortured running for president of the United States. That’s just plain silly.”
“If I didn’t use intensive questioning, there would be a lot of Mafia guys running around New York right now.”

Mr. Giuliani often believes talking tough is equivalent to being tough. He will say anything in order to get a vote and his failure to demonstrate the slightest aspect of self reflection is a fundamental flaw in his character. Sleep deprivation is a method used in totalitarian nations to break the will of opponents. To even suggest lack of sleep during a campaign is equivalent to what prisoners endure day after day indicates the speaker lacks any grasp of what it means to be an American who supports constitutional rights for all– even opponents. Rudy Giuliani is flippant, cute, arrogant, and demeaning of others in his quest for power. He never listened to a word from Senator John McCain, who endured years of torture, about what torture does both to one’s soul and to the soul of the torturer. A society which would elect this creature as its president is a society which has lost faith in the values of living in a democratic humane world. Orson Swindle, who was tortured in Vietnam, described how he once was deprived of sleep for twenty days and finally broke and wrote a lying letter to escape further torture. Mr. Giuliani differs from Mr. Swindle in that he lies without being tortured, and his lies and deceit and lack of human compassion go on endlessly. Do you want this man as your president? Do you want a man with such insensitivity to uphold as a model for children?

P.S. This man who boasts of being brave somehow found a way to get draft deferments that allowed him to escape fighting in Vietnam. Perhaps, if he had endured one-tenth the pain that McCain experienced, it might have led to a human able to grasp with complex issues through the lens of religion and morality. Mr. Giuliani, you are no John McCain!

Two Views On Rush Limbaugh

The October 12, 2007 issue of Stars & Stripes had several letters dealing with comments by Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter. We print two opposing views:
“In response to the opinions voiced in the October 8 letters to the editor reference to Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, I disagree with the writers and hope that Armed Forces Network would continue to air their programs. When taken in full context, it has been clearly shown that Limbaugh did not disrespect the military with his remarks. Coulter’s writing style is full of hyperbole and needs to be read with that in mind. She is opinionated, but factual. To call her a liar is libelous. .Until more entertaining politically conservative pundits can be found, keep Limbaugh and Coulter, please.”
Chaplain (Col) James Hoke, Stuttgart, Germany

“I served honorably for 20 years in the U.S. military, but today I oppose the war in Iraq. I assume Limbaugh will call me a “phony veteran.” Considering the source, a man who has the gall to defame those who served while he never served a single day in the military (allegedly because of a boil), I would wear such an accusation as a badge of honor.”
Maj. Donan de Wind (ret) Austin, Texas

I can think of many things Ann Coulter is full of besides hyperbole, but being in polite company I will not make such a libelous comment. Why is it that super patriots anxious for war like Limbaugh, Coulter, Dick Cheney, George Bush, Paul Wolfowitz, etc… never served their country in the military? Why is it that people like Limbaugh and Coulter will defame men who served like John Kerry or former Senator Clelland who lost both arms and legs in Vietnam, but get upset if someone makes a critical remark about Bush?