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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

floating the rumsfeld for president exploratory committee

The NYT hosts an extremely alarming op ed piece today by a Mark Moyar. Moyar apparently teaches at the U.S. Marine academy – which is the reason the piece is alarming. It is a survey of the Diem era in Vietnam that is almost wholly mythical, which is not surprising given the book that Moyar apparently wrote: ''Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965” In the 1920s, the Weimar government never seriously attempted to eradicate the proto-fascist culture of the German military – and lived, or rather died, to regret it.
The myth that has arduously been cultivated in the American military about that extended war crime, our Hardy Boy’s adventure in genocide in Vietnam, has grown and ramified. Amusingly, this is what Moyar thinks was happening in Diem’s Vietnam in the fifties:

“When the South Vietnamese sects defied the authority of the Saigon government in the spring of 1955, the American special ambassador, Gen. J. Lawton Collins, urged Diem to compromise with them. Efforts to suppress the sects by force, Collins warned, would alienate the Vietnamese people, unhinge the army and lead to disastrous civil warfare. This advice was based on the mistaken premise that political solutions suitable in the United States would likewise be suitable in any other country.

Diem rejected Collins's advice, and with good reason. In South Vietnam, as in other historically authoritarian countries, if the government failed to maintain a monopoly on power, it would lose prestige among its supporters and enemies. Only a strong national government could prevent the sects and other factions from tearing the country apart. While Diem was able to gain the submission of some groups by persuasion, others remained defiant.

In April 1955, fighting broke out between the South Vietnamese National Army and one of the militias. Diem sought to capitalize on the fighting to destroy the militia, which caused Collins to advocate Diem's removal. Other Americans predicted chaos and wanted to abandon South Vietnam altogether.

President Dwight Eisenhower, however, decided that Diem should be allowed to use the army against the militias. In Eisenhower's view, a leader who had the smarts and the strength to prevail on his own -- even if it meant he discarded American advice -- would be a better and more powerful ally than one who survived by doing whatever the United States recommended.

Through political acumen and force of personality, Diem gained the full cooperation of the National Army and used it to subdue the sects. Simultaneously, he seized control of the police by replacing its leaders with nationalists loyal to him. In a culture that respected the strong man for vanquishing his enemies, Diem's suppression of the militias gained him many new followers.”

That is pretty funny. We especially like the word 'strong' - so much prettier than murderous, don't you think? In the real world, South Vietnam was not, and never could be, a country; in 1955, Diem, a former loyalist to the French colonial masters, purged and massacred other anti-Communist factions, ending the year by calling a referendum in which he got a healthy 98 percent of the vote. And in the purges and the marking out of religious sects as enemies of the Diem’s Catholic state, Diem doomed any hope that South Vietnam would be anything, ever, than a perpetual sport of political nature, a nothing that the U.S. would try to bomb, Vietnamize, agent orange, and phoenix into a something. That Moyar considers Diem an American success is, well, sort of like the position of the Communist party in Russia that Brezhnev was an unmitigated success -an exercize in that delirium tremens of the historical consciousness, the thug's nostalgia. It shows an absence of any standard by which one can actually learn from one’s mistake. The absence of that standard has a clinical name: psychosis.

Moyar’s point in bringing up this ludicrous travesty of Vietnam’s history is to suggest that the way forward in Iraq is to find … a Diem. You can’t make these people up. Unfortunately, they sit on a 500 billion to trillion dollar endowment a year, and they are systematically making the American republic into a Satrapy of Idiocy. Surely, oh God please, just for the sake of satire … surely somewhere one of the zombie groups is floating the idea of a Rumsfeld for President group.

We have to have that. We have Jackass, we have American Idol, we have O.J. Simpson as our national black murderer to run up the flag when the spirits flag … oh, we really, really need a Rumsfeld for President group!

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