Friday, January 6, 2017


The Long Road From Vietnam to Trump

In the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, pundits have proffered numerous excuses for their errant predictions and Donald Trump's surprising victory. They variously attributed Hillary Clinton's loss to 3rd party voters; emerging racism; low voter turnout; the FBI; the Electoral College; Russian interference; and finally to the country's lack of "geographical diversity." The party pols are now deemed to have lost touch with grass roots voters—and in an act of snobbery, didn't even try to appeal to them. How could this have happened?

Geographic isolation was put into motion shortly after the Military/Industrial Complex studied what went wrong with the Vietnam War. They decided they couldn’t continually conduct wars in faraway lands with mandatory conscription—the youth no longer would stand for it. Simple slogans about "fighting for our freedoms" no longer worked as draft-age men saw through the charade and initiated massive protests—complete with draft card burnings. America's "national interest" was finally seen as code for coveting and confiscating foreign natural resources—principally oil. America's young were no longer willing to fight and die to pad the bank accounts of the plutocracy.  They general public also tired of the images of war and body bags coming home from far away battlefields. Something had to be done.

The first step was to do away with conscription and create an “all volunteer” armed forces. The neo-cons wholeheartedly embraced this concept because it involved privatizing nearly all non-combat functions. There was an adequate supply of double-digit unemployed, economically depressed youth to fill the combat ranks. They were ripe for swallowing the flag-waving spin of "fighting them over there so we wouldn't have to fight them over here."  The PR campaign glorified war with parades, flag waving, movies, TV programs, news reports of "heroism," PlayStation war games and even prompting the public to thank those in uniform for their service whenever they were encountered.

The Defense Department's PR program curtailed bad publicity by “embedding” journalists with its armed forces and deciding what news people back home could see and hear. Dispatches were filtered before release and reporters soon learned what they could and could not report and if they risked going it alone, could, as many did, get killed for their efforts.

Privatizing as many non-battlefield functions as was feasible, reduced the need for "volunteers" who would normally do KP, drive trucks, maintain a motor pool, man communications, do repairs, construct bridges, etc. All they need to learn is how to kill—and when they come home they have no real skills to offer employers other than perhaps in law enforcement—which can absorb only a fraction of the large number of veterans. As a result many become homeless, commit suicide, or re-up for another tour on the battlefield—with healthy bonuses as incentives.  The recruiting slogan, "Join the Army and learn a skill," vanished.

So, how did this rightward swing affect America's geographic diversity? Well, when young men were conscripted for military service they were thrown together with youths of diverse backgrounds and social levels, from all parts of the country—college boys, high-school dropouts, inner city youth, farm boys, Blacks, Hispanics, Bible Belt boys, rich and poor alike. Conscripts ended up living and working with people they otherwise would never have occasion to meet--stationed in regions of the country they would never have occasion to visit. When they went into town on weekends to drink, dance and meet girls, they necessarily interacted with the local population--sometimes actually romancing and marrying one of the locals. All this creates what is known as geographic diversity—the very thing that pundits have now discovered is sorely lacking in America.

So, how do we solve this problem, if indeed the plutocrats want to solve it? First, we have to abandon the reckless policy of eternal war, and bring back mandatory conscription—for public service. Certainly if our youth can be convinced that it is patriotic to fight and die for meaningless slogans, they could be convinced to help eradicate poverty in our country. There are certainly many regions of our nation that could use help, ala the AmeriCorps Vista program, as an example. What better way to create geographic diversity and actually do some good at the same time?

Alas, we won't see this happening anytime soon because corporatist America is dedicated to profitable warring in foreign lands, under the guise of protecting our freedoms and promoting our elusive "American Interests."

Heaven forbid that the alternative outcome known as PEACE might actually break out.