August 4, 2014 archive

A Fractured Fairy Tale

When presidents lie to make a war

DD Guttenplan, The Guardian

Saturday 2 August 2014 05.00 EDT

Once there was a president who warned the world about conduct his government would not tolerate. And when this “red line” was crossed, or seemed to be, he took the US to war. Though this might sound like America’s involvement in Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Belgrade, or Libya, and what may yet become a wider war in Syria, this story began 50 years ago, on 4 August 1964.

That was when Lyndon Johnson interrupted TV broadcasts shortly before midnight to announce that two US ships in the Gulf of Tonkin had come under fire in international waters, and that in response to what the president described as this “unprovoked” attack, “air action is now in execution” against “facilities in North Vietnam which have been used in these hostile operations”.

The Americans launched 64 bombing sorties, destroying an oil depot, a coal mine and a significant portion of the North Vietnamese navy. Three days later, both houses of Congress passed a joint resolution authorising “the president, as commander-in-chief, to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the US and to prevent further aggression”. Within three years the US would have 500,000 soldiers in Vietnam. Even today, the Gulf of Tonkin resolution remains the template for presidential war-making.

That 4 August, Daniel Ellsberg was starting work at the Pentagon. A young mathematician who had served as a captain in the marines, then gone on to graduate study at Harvard and a job as a civilian analyst for the Rand Corporation, where he had helped shape America’s response to the Cuban missile crisis, Ellsberg was among the first to receive the classified “flash” signal from the USS Turner Joy, the battleship that claimed to be under attack.

Transcript

Transcript

Like Barack Obama, Lyndon Johnson was a president who felt “the fierce urgency of now” to address the glaring inequalities of American society. Just a month earlier, with Martin Luther King Jr standing at his side he had signed the civil rights act, ending racial segregation. And as the Pulitzer prizewinning historian Frederik Logevall told me, “Johnson apparently said in the spring of ’64, ‘I don’t think we can win in Vietnam and I don’t think we can get out.’ You can have all the military power in the world, but if you can’t win the thing politically then you’re not going to succeed.”

Reading headlines from Syria, or watching the news from Iraq – where an army which had been trained and equipped at enormous expense simply laid down their weapons and ran away, abandoning territory that had cost British and American troops their lives -it has been impossible to resist the sensation, in the words of the great Yankee catcher Yogi Berra, that this was “deja vu all over again”. Listening to Obama and David Cameron respond to the debacle in Iraq, I kept hearing echoes of President Kennedy declaring in September 1963: “I don’t think that unless a greater effort is made by the government to win popular support that the war can be won out there.”

Thanks to Edward Snowden and the Guardian we know a great deal more about how Britain and America view the world – and their own citizens – than was even suspected in 1964. But we still may have to wait decades to find out what George Bush said to Tony Blair about Iraq, or what Obama told David Cameron about Syria. We can, however, finally tell the full story of what happened – and didn’t – in the Gulf of Tonkin.

Wars, Lies and Audiotape

Other than the fact that the Turner Joy wasn’t a ‘battleship’ except in the broadest sense of a ship that goes into battle (Forrest Sherman-class destroyer) pretty much dead on.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. – Santayana

Cartnoon

The Breakfast Club: 8-4-2014

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Everyone’s welcome here, no special handshake required. Just check your meta at the door.

Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpg

This Day in History

Muse in the Morning

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Muse in the Morning


Get it straight or say goodnight

On This Day In History August 4

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on images to enlarge

August 4 is the 216th day of the year (217th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 149 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1964, the remains of three civil rights workers whose disappearance on June 21 garnered national attention are found buried in an earthen dam near Philadelphia, Mississippi. Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, both white New Yorkers, had traveled to heavily segregated Mississippi in 1964 to help organize civil rights efforts on behalf of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). The third man, James Chaney, was a local African American man who had joined CORE in 1963. The disappearance of the three young men led to a massive FBI investigation that was code-named MIBURN, for “Mississippi Burning.”

On Junr 20, Schwerner returned from a civil rights training session in Ohio with 21-year-old James Chaney and 20-year-old Andrew Goodman, a new recruit to CORE. The next day–June 21–the three went to investigate the burning of the church in Neshoba. While attempting to drive back to Meridian, they were stopped by Neshoba County Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price just inside the city limits of Philadelphia, the county seat. Price, a member of the KKK who had been looking out for Schwerner or other civil rights workers, threw them in the Neshoba County jail, allegedly under suspicion for church arson.

After seven hours in jail, during which the men were not allowed to make a phone call, Price released them on bail. After escorting them out of town, the deputy returned to Philadelphia to drop off an accompanying Philadelphia police officer. As soon as he was alone, he raced down the highway in pursuit of the three civil rights workers. He caught the men just inside county limits and loaded them into his car. Two other cars pulled up filled with Klansmen who had been alerted by Price of the capture of the CORE workers, and the three cars drove down an unmarked dirt road called Rock Cut Road. Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney were shot to death and their bodies buried in an earthen dam a few miles from the Mt. Zion Methodist Church.

Late Night Karaoke

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Gramsci and Gaza–Getting Palestinians Into Our Inner Space by Galtisalie

“We were talking about the space between us all”

George Harrison

“It’s always the same story. For a fact that interests us, touches us, it is necessary that it becomes part of our inner life, it is necessary that it does not originate far from us, that is the people we know, people who belong to the circle of our human space.”

Antonio Gramsci

“Hasta allí Gramsci. Siempre un adelantado. Siempre con los que sufren.”

Osvaldo Bayer

We all need justice and safety, none more than Jews in the wake of the Holocaust. But apparently those “filthy Arabs” are humans too. An artificial redefinition of space known as “a new nation” can be founded for ostensibly “humane” reasons but use patently inhumane means of achievement.

I thought in a “constitutional” “democracy” we were supposed to all agree on certain basic organic principles (not including freedom from want and fear, of course) and then work out the details with voting?–unless, of course, we are Native Peoples, African Americans, or European Americans who happened to be poor in the temperate Atlantic region of North America in the late 1700’s. What could possibly go wrong? For a contemporary answer to this non-academic question, so dependent on militarization and deception, look to the southeastern side of the Mediterranean Sea.