Monday, August 15, 2016

Away From Me, I Never Knew You - A Vietnam Vet Returns Home to no Gratitude

When I returned from Vietnam in May of 1969, only my parents met me as I arrived at LAX.  We walked through a busy airport and no one noticed.  The same thing happened when we first landed at Ft. Lewis Washington.  There was no welcome, no thanks, just an eerie quiet.  I recall thinking about why not even the Army could have organized a welcome party.  No one did.  About eight years ago, I recall going to LAX with a group of church friends who organized a welcome event for a returning Iraq veteran.  I could not help but to recall the complete opposite of what happened to me when I arrived at LAX.

A few weeks later, I called my old employer, a company that serviced Telephone Company vehicles based in Santa Fe Springs, California, for which I had worked on a part-time basis before going into the Army.  They reluctantly hired me again.  They assigned me to a facility that I had never seen before. They gave me no duties and no one talked to me.   At the end of the first week, someone came by to give me my first check. He handed me the envelope without so much as one word.   As I opened it I saw the word "termination."  I left without saying a word to anybody.  I did not complain or ask for an explanation. The writing was on the wall.

I just finished reading Ron Kovic's new book, "Hurricane Street" about his very public protest of the abominable treatment by the Veterans Administration hospital he was confined to, the Long Beach Veterans Hospital in Long Beach, California.  Kovic has been a disabled paraplegic since his 1968 wound in combat in Vietnam.  The book details what a group of disabled, wheel chair bound veterans, did to get attention of the politicians. His story  is a compelling tale of pure betrayal by the political world.  Here are men who were sent on a mission far, far, from home, for a purpose that no one could explain properly or defend.  They were critically wounded to a point where they could not take care of themselves and were abandoned in a veterans hospital like a homeless person.

The book is a tale of the human cost of war.  Young men who could no longer function in society due to their injuries.  But, the tale also shows all the unintended consequences of war.  Kovic mentions that the Washington Post had printed a story about the fact that an average of 22 veterans commit suicide each day in America today.  Hurricane Street tells the other story of what happened to these injured veterans.  How one got into drugs, ended up in prison and died of an overdose;  one took a shotgun and blew his brains out one day.  Another died from an infection due to a bed sore that would not heal.  These are stories the public rarely hears or, for that matter, cares about, but this is one of the  the human toll of war.

In my last post, "How the Vietnam War was hijacked by the Press," I review a book about how the Vietnam War started and all the bone-headed decisions made by politicians in the Kennedy Administration who acted as if they were playing a video game. Elections have consequences, is a familiar saying in politics today, it usually refers to appointing judges.  Elections certainly do have consequences, but most people don't have the slightest idea; they know nothing about a candidate's positions and his world view.  Elections are akin to beauty contests, like the Miss America contest.  It's who talked the best or slickest, not who has experience or fortitude.

The Vietnam War was a war like no other in our history.  It was a war that could not be won.  Imagine, if you will, that Los Angeles County had declared independence from California.  You design a war in which you must only fight  inside Los Angeles County.  You cannot go out of the county to engage your enemy.  The enemy, on the other hand, has all the liberty to attack you from every corner of land and sea.  How likely are you to win such a war?  This was the Vietnam war. A war that was designed by clueless politicians who played it like a game.  The blog post I mentioned earlier details all the events that led to this was and the madness of the war architects.  Check out the cost in deaths for the Vietnam War; click here.

Monday, July 11, 2016

How the Vietnam War was Hijacked by the Press

I recently attended a presentation by Ron Kovic at the Manhattan Beach, California Library for his new book called Hurricane Street.  Kovic is one of the best known Vietnam War critics and activist;  he is also one of the casualties of the Vietnam War.  He has been a paraplegic since 1968 when he was critically wounded in combat. The book is about Kovic's struggle with the VA in the 1970s to get adequate medical treatment for his wounds.   Steve Lopez, columnist for the Los Angeles Times, wrote a nice piece on Kovic recently.

How much does the average American know about the Vietnam war?  I would guess not very much.  A new book I just finished called The Lost Mandate of Heaven, The American Betrayal of Ngo Dinh Diem, President of Vietnam, by Canadian historian Geoffrey Shaw is a powerful testimony of how the United States got involved in Vietnam; it deals with the crucial events leading to war, from 1959 to the murder of Diem, in a 1963 coup orchestrated and sponsored by the Kennedy Administration.

As you can see by this blog, history is one of my interests.  Vietnam history is a special interest to me since I'm a Vietnam War veteran, having served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam from May of 1968 to May of 1969.  As I read "The Lost Mandate of Heaven" my anger and disgust grew exponentially.  I would close the book and scream about how incompetent President John Kennedy and his advisers were; to my wife's dismay.  A personal note: I have been an admirer of John Kennedy since 1960, and still have a picture of him in my home.  The day he was killed was one of worst days of my life. Camelot, however, became a big nightmare, as I studied the history.   Here are the main points that pop out from the book:
  • The Kennedy Administration was stacked with one of the most snobbish Ivy League elites ever, headed by the the strong-willed and arrogant Averell Harriman, a former Governor of New York, who turned out to be wrong on everything, and a complete disaster for our history.  There were wise advisers but Kennedy, himself ill informed, dismissed their advice and deferred to Harriman, a man he looked up to with a childlike wonder,
  • The Americans were totally clueless about the culture and people of Vietnam, nor did they care to learn,
  • The American press, led mainly by New York Times reporters, and by David Halberstam in particular, purposely slanted their reporting to fit their agenda and ignore all positive developments. South Vietnamese leaders bitterly complained about the negative reporting,
  • The Americans were bent on making all decisions about the war to the exclusion of the Vietnamese who knew best; to disagree with them would incur their bitter wrath,
  • The Kennedy Administration ignored the best advise from their own military and political advisers such as their ambassador in Vietnam, Frederick Nolting, CIA Saigon Station Chief, William Colby, Secretary of Defense  Robert McNamara, and General Maxwell Taylor, Head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as those who were qualified for such advice such as the British, the French and many other nations who had direct experience with the situation in Vietnam,
  • The critical event leading to the coup that killed Diem was the Buddhist uprising in the Spring of 1963, which we learned later, was incited and supported by the North Vietnamese, but promoted by the U.S. press in order to discredit Diem and get him removed from power, for which they pushed for forcefully by their negative reporting,
  • President Kennedy was more worried about his re-election in 1964 and the bad press about the situation in Vietnam than following the right advice - advice that was put to him in no uncertain  terms by top leaders of his administration and others.
The Vietnam war was lost before one American combat soldier arrived in Vietnam.  How so?  The answers are complex but let me summarize.  Strike one was the ineffective and bone-headed advice from his trusted advisers, referred to as the Harriman Group, led by the bull-headed Averell Harriman .  The Harriman Group consisted of Chester Bowles, Michael Forrestal, John Kenneth Galbraith, Roger Hilsman, Paul Kattenburg, Joseph Mendenhall, William Sullivan, and James Thomson.  Strike two was the equally uninformed and senseless Laos Neutrality Agreement signed by Kennedy in 1962, which proved to be a complete farce.  Strike three was the Buddhist uprising of 1963 which led to the military coup that murdered Diem and his brother.  This, without a doubt, was the biggest gift to the North Vietnamese.  They never foresaw being so lucky.  With Diem dead, chaos ensued and defeat was insured.  The facts are that no other South Vietnamese leader had any success as Diem had.  This was foretold by Kennedy's advisers whom he had ignored.  They had explained this very scenario.  Kennedy did not listen.  The Americans, basically shot themselves in both feet.  In the Forward to "The Lost Mandate" the author, Geoffrey Shaw,  puts it this way:  
The character of Diem is consistent, noble, and aware of the slander waged against him.  The members of the State Department - Averell Harriman, Roger Hillsman, Henry Cabot Lodge, and others are seen a vain and vindictive, ideological   and poorly informed.  Laos' neutrality was dealt with in such a way that the North Vietnamese could use the country as a conduit to bypass the northern border of South Vietnam.  This Laotian "neutrality" was the work of Harriman and made defending South Vietnam almost impossible.  North Vietnamese units came into South Vietnam.
Chapter four of the book adds this about the failed policy of the Laos Neutrality Agreement: "Kennedy's leading advocates for a new policy toward Laos had strayed into serious error.  They had believed that neutrality would succeed where arms and the best efforts of the more experienced French had been unsuccessful.  Further proof that Kennedy's men failed at what they set out to do in Laos manifested itself years later when the Americans were heavily engaged with their own forces in South Vietnam.  By then, according to Douglas Pike, the NVA totally controlled the Pathet Lao."

The Laos Neutrality Agreement was the work of Averell Harriman.  He failed to see that a signed piece of paper and reality on the ground was quite another.  Once the agreement was signed by Kennedy, Harriman met with Diem in Saigon and told him, in no uncertain terms that he must sign it.  From this meeting on both men took to a deep hate for the other.  Diem knew that this agreement was pure folly, Harriman believed that a signed piece of paper could solve the communist insurgency in Laos.  This naiveté, basically defined the whole Vietnam American experience.

From the beginning, the Americans went into South Vietnam with a smug, superior attitude, as if only they knew best how to handle the war against the Viet Cong (VC).  Diem, on the other hand, was a very savvy, cultured and revered leader of his people.  He understood his people and his culture.  The Americans, could care less.  Unless you toed their line, you were summarily dismissed and, as was the case, even murdered for not following their orders.

Just about everyone understood the value of Diem; the French, who had ruled Vietnam for centuries, realized this.  The VC certainly knew it.  Many American leaders knew this too such as Ambassador Nolting, top military leaders, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, even Vice President Johnson. One of North Vietnamese main tools in undermining the South Vietnamese was to undermine Diem.  The preface to the book puts it this way: "Ngo Dinh Diem, possessed the Confucian Mandate of Heaven, a moral and political authority that was widely recognized by the South Vietnamese."

The U.S. news media played a huge role in destroying Diem. In Chapter two of the book, it is described like this:  "The role of the American liberal news media played in destroying the relations between Ngo Dinh Diem and the U.S. government should not be underestimated.  According to William Colby, Diem's fatal error was that he did not realize the impact of the news media."

The role of the American press cannot be overstated.  Although there were many successes in the country by the Diem government, the American press chose to give another view. The American press was staffed by young, green ideologues, such as New York Times reporter 27 year-old David Halberstam and Neil Sheehan of United Press International.  These "journalists," instead of focusing on what was going right in Vietnam, took it upon themselves to demonize Ngo Dinh Diem and accused him of corruption and being an authoritarian (seems that theses young punks knew better than the savvy Vietnamese on how to run their county. These clueless young Americans knew nothing about Vietnam).  CIA station chief, William Colby, recognized this right away as being totally wrong.

The press started causing all kinds of havoc, to the point of sabotaging the work of U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Frederick Nolting.  Halberstam's daily drip of negative reporting seems to have mirrored the New York Times editorial line.  Halberstam, a gifted writer, began the conditioning of American public opinion which proved too much for a naive new President Kennedy, worried about his re-election in 1964.   In Chapter Eight, the author says it like this,   "Later in August 1963, Nolting's suspicions that Halberstam was catering to New York Times editorial bias were reinforced.  He received reports from a trusted colleague that Halberstam had been at the Caravelle Bar (a popular place for American reporters to congregate) "proudly displaying a telegram from his newspaper in New York, which said in substance: "Good going. Keep it up.  State Department is beginning to see it our way."   In the 1960s, when there were only three TV networks, they followed the lead of the New York Times; whatever the Times said was what they presented in their nightly news.  This still happens today, although to a lesser extent.

The Buddhist Crisis of 1963 was the smoking gun that the American press needed to sabotage the American effort in Vietnam.  They seized this as the final proof that Diem was corrupt and too authoritarian and he must be removed. This crisis, it was later learned, was instigated and supported by the North Vietnamese and VC.  The North Vietnamese were very savvy about what would disturb Americans the most.  They played this crisis like a violin masterpiece.  The U.S. media fell for it, as did the Kennedy administration.  "The communists concluded that the Vietnamese president's weakest point was American reluctance to continue supporting an undemocratic leader.  They were astute enough to realize that the tail wagging the dog of U.S. foreign policy was American public opinion."  The NY Times, basically won.  They snowballed a weak administration and took over the narrative. The author continues in Chapter 10:  "The Buddhist protests therefore would seem to have been masterfully planned acts of political manipulation carefully directed at American public opinion in order to destroy U.S. policy in South Vietnam."  

With allies like the NY Times, who needs enemies?  Chapter 10 of the book continues: "According to journalist John Mechlin, the American press in South Vietnam during the Buddhist crisis had been guilty of inaccurate or even biased reporting.  In a scathing article (September 20, 1963) that led to the protest resignation of Charles Mohr, its chief correspondent for Southeast Asia, Time asserted: "the press corps on the scene is helping to compound the very confusion that it should be untangling for its readers at home...They pool their convictions, information, misinformation and grievances...The have covered a complex situation from only one angle, as if their own conclusions offered all the necessary illumination." 

To this day, the NY Times has not taken responsibility for stabbing America in the back on Vietnam.  I'm sure they think that they did America a favor.  The lives of 60,000 American dead cry out.  The lives of thousands and thousands of American soldiers like Ron Kovic, left maimed cry out.  Shame, Shame: you worked for the enemy not your country.

The price paid for the Vietnam war - American only - not including financial costs:

Dead:  58,193
Wounded: 150,000
Missing: 1,600

Vietnamese Deaths:
Military:  444,000
Civilian:  587,000

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Deja vù All Over Gain: The Loss of the Eastern Roman Empire

Since the death of Mohammad in 632 AD the Muslim Turks have been gobbling up territory like the current ISIS conquest; much like the old video game of Pacman.  Mohammad was ruthless, killing all who opposed him. One of his first atrocities was the murder of the remaining Jews in Medina in 627, a few years before his death.  From there the Muslim Empire expanded throughout the Near East, as it was known then, all the way to Russia, North Africa, the Balkans and parts of Europe, including most of Spain, Sicily and Southern Italy.  In 1453 they conquered Constantinople, the seat of Christianity and capital of The Byzantine Empire (the Eastern Roman Empire). The Muslim Turk empire was known as the Ottoman Empire.

Where were the Europeans while the Turks conquered half of the world?  They were all sitting on their hands, thinking it did not concern them.  Sounds familiar today too.  The Europeans paid the price for their inaction:  They had to fight the Muslim Turks for the next thousand years.  Recall that Vienna was besieged by the Turks, not once but twice, in 1529 and in 1683.  Recall the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. The Muslim Ottoman Empire ruled half of the world until World War I.

The Ottoman Turks were defeated in World War I.  The West had their opportunity to get all the territories they lost to the Turks but they failed to do it.  The decisions made by the victorious allies at the end of World War I was nothing short of disastrous, if not laughable.  Not one decision made any sense.  Let's look at their decision to give the City of Smyrna to the Greeks.  A third grader could have told you that this was a very bad idea.  The Greeks and the Turks hate each other with such a passion that no good was going to come out of it.  Indeed, this was what happened.  The Greeks, trying to regain territories lost to the Turks in the past invaded the interior of Turkey but were defeated by the Turks.  Two fine books recount this story very well in fine detail.  Paradise Lost, Smyrna 1922 and The Great Fire.  The Greeks, in turn, were stabbed in the back by their European friends such as Italy who gave the Turks weapons.   France and Britain both refused to help the Greeks.  Had the Europeans cooperated in this matter, the world map would look very different today.

Talking about bad decisions by the victories allies after World War I, consider what they did in redrawing the map of the Middle East.  Can you say, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Palestine, just to name a few.  We are still paying the price of these bone-headed decisions made after World War I. This map looks like it was drawn by elementary school children, without regard for any facts, such as ethnic identities for the Kurds, Shiites or Sunni Muslims.  We're now paying a heavy price for these mistakes.  What is even more worrisome is that we have not learned from our mistakes.  The Europeans are still clueless about their threat.  I suppose that they will not wake up until the hordes are at their doors.

Monday, March 9, 2015

FDR: A New Perspective

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) has had a wonderful reputation in the United States as one of the great Presidents.  He was the only one in history to serve more than two terms.  Indeed, FDR was a gifted leader, speaker, and a most charismatic and charming man.  He was an able war leader and deserves some praise and accolades.  I have a different view of FDR that I want to present here.  Below I will list some of the many flaws and damaging things that he did as president that cannot be ignored or swept away under the rug.

FDR was a liberal's liberal.  He was the first liberal president of the United States who, in many ways, transformed America - for the worse. An example:
  • Economically, he was a follower of John Maynard Keynes, the British economist who was an advocate of big government spending.  FDR spent like a drunken sailor, through his failed New Deal.  He truly believed that big government spending was the fix for economic problems.  We now know that this was wrong.  Let's take the 1930s depression as an example.  Did all the government programs of FDR fix the economy?  In 1932, when he took office, the unemployment rate was 23.5%.  In 1939, after eight years of massive government spending the unemployment rate was still at 17%.  Do you call this an economic success?  The economy was revived after WWII when taxes were slashed by a Republican Congress, which among other things, reduced the highest income tax rate from the astronomical amount of 94% for earners of $200,000 and above, and other incentives for economic growth were passed by Congress, reversing FDR's failed New Deal policies.  Click here for a short essay on this.  Economically, FDR was a failure.
  • How about Social Security?  Was that not a stroke of genius?  Well, no, it was not.  Let me ask you a question.  Can you live on what you make on Social Security?  Probably, 95% cannot and would be in deep poverty if they only had Social Security.  Let me give you a personal example.  I prepared for retirement by making private investments in an IRA and a 457 Plan from work.  Together, I invested less than $30,000.  These two investments now give me double the monthly income I get from Social Security.  Oh, you say, most people don't know how to invest.  It's not rocket science; all you need it the willingness to put money in investments that will produce on a regular basis throughout your working life.  I had zero training; I learned it myself.  Very easy.  If I had invested all I paid into Social Security in my 45+ years of working I'd have a multi-million dollar investment now.  Social Security has very limited benefits.
Now for the second part:  FDR's damaging legacy:

  •   Government spending.  Because of the huge government spending legacy that he started we now have out of control government spending.  As of this writing the national debt is over 18 Trillion dollars.  In 1945, at the end of World War II, and after spending $296 Billion on the war, our national debt was $259 Billion.  Today, it's 18 Trillion dollars.  Click here for the history of our national debt.
  • The internment of Japanese American and to a lesser extent Italian and German Americans.  What FDR did to loyal, good, if not the best, American citizens of Japanese ancestry is beyond forgiveness.  If you were a Japanese-American in 1942, you're life would be changed forever.  You would end up in a concentration camp, accused of crimes you never committed.  You never got your day in court, or your due process under the Constitution, you were arrested by FDR's government and imprisoned like a common criminal.  Many people lost all their property and never got it back.  Italian and German legal immigrants not born in America were labeled enemies of the state just for their ethnicity.  Many Italian and German Americans were rounded up and imprisoned for no reason at all.  Many lost their business and livelihood.  The Italian-American Mayor of San Francisco, Angelo Rossi was publicly humiliated by innuendo as a Mussolini follower, with zero evidence.  All untrue.  So was FDR a great man?  Depends on whom you ask.  To some he was, to others, and I'm one of these, I believe FDR did more harm than good.  Granted he was a gifted leader, but even tyrants such as Mussolini and Hitler were gifted leaders.  What was the fruit of their labor?  You will know them by their fruits.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Fonz Factor: Mussolini and the Rape of a Nation

"Happy Days" was a very popular TV show in the 1970s and 80s in which one of the main characters, Fonzi, was so charismatic and charming that everyone followed him blindly.  Young girls thought he was the greatest gift to women.  In Fonzi's world, he, and only he, could make a coke machine give you a bottle free by just tapping on it, his magic touch.  Such were the miracles that Fonzi could perform.  In actuality, Fonzi was just a neighborhood hoodlum who could get all his friends to follow him off the cliff just by the power of his personality.

In  Fascist Voices: An Intimate History of Mussolini's Italy, by Christopher Duggan, the fascist era of dictator Benito Mussolini,  comes alive.   The Fascists that emerged after WWI Italy were basically groups of organized thugs, squadrismo, who meted out justice to anyone who did not agree with them, including murder, beatings and the ruining of a person's business.  The Fascists of the early period ruled their own territory by intimidation and murder.  Each city had a Fascist boss, referred to as a ras, a word borrowed from Ethiopian tribal leaders.  Each city's ras was judge, jury and executioner.  The Italian police force was basically neutralized.  The Fascists had managed to hijack the entire country, much as the terror group ISIS has done in Syria and Iraq today.

Mussolini wrestled the leadership of Fascist Italy by the sheer force of his personality, cult image and guile; he was the "Fonzi" of his day.  He ruled the same way as the city ras did, eliminating opposition by murder as needed and intimidation.  Mussolini saw himself as the ultimate in manliness; a gift to women.  When he spoke he took on a stance that emanated strength, manliness and arrogance.  Women, in turn, saw him the same way and were attracted to him.  Mussolini envisioned a new Roman Empire.  He always wore his military uniform and projected a masterful command of his audience.  Click here for some pictures. Many Italians looked on him as having godly powers.

By 1926, many Italians had fallen for Mussolini too, regarding him as a savior with unusual powers that would bring Italy honor and prestige.  A schizophrenic adulation of the man followed. Mussolini, could see that he could have his way with the entire country.   He saw himself as the new Roman Emperor, a new Caesar,  who would restore Rome to its former glory.  Toward this goal, he embarked on many disastrous military adventures, Ethiopia, in those days the Italians called it Abyssinia, the Spanish Civil War, and finally the coup de grâce, World War II.

By the time he invaded Ethiopia in 1935, he had managed to cripple the Italian economy which was in ruin by his actions as well as the world wide depression.  During his rein the Italian armed forces were fighting wars in Libya, Ethiopia and Spain.  These disastrous adventures were then followed by World War II where his forces suffered disastrous defeats, such as in North Africa, Greece, the Balkans and Russia.  These defeats were not at all the fault of the armed forces, for they were not only stretched to the breaking point but did not have the equipment, the training nor the capabilities to wage the wars that they were forced to wage. Very little planning was done for these military adventures.  In many cases, the military leaders were not told of their coming wars until they were declared.  This proved to be a calamity of monumental proportions.

Dictators such as Mussolini and Hitler share a common character:  Both were extremely delusional.  Both suffered from some form of mental dysfunction.  Both thought they were invincible.  Both were detached from reality.  Both fought wars they could not possibly win.  In the process they condemned an entire nation to death and destruction unparalleled in human history.  All because a madman had taken control of their nation.  The world still has such dictators who are responsible for the annihilation of their people:  Syria, North Korea, Iraq of Saddam Hussein, and many African countries such as Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Somalia, just to name a few.

Suggested readings:
Fascist Voice, An Intimate History of Mussolini's Italy by Christopher Duggan, 2013, Oxford University Press.
Duce, by Richard Collier, 1971, Viking Press.
Mussolini by Denis Mack Smith, 1982, Alfred A. Knopf.
The Ciano Diaries, Edited by Hugh Gibson, 1945, 1946, Doubleday & Co.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Who Was Chè Guevara?

How many times have you seen someone wearing a Chè Guevara T-shirt?  Just the other day, I ran into a person with such a T-shirt.  I could not help but think that the person had no idea who Chè Guevara was or what he stood for.  I get a feeling that people who wear such T-shirts, just think that the Chè icon is just another "cool" clothing option that makes them fit in with the crowd.

Let's cut to the chase.  Who was Chè?  Was he a hero, a charismatic figure, a villain or a brutal thug?  If you look into the history of this person you will find that he was a cold blooded murderer, a communist, a henchman of Fidel Castro and a criminal of the worst kind.  A few facts:

  • He was born Ernesto Lynch; his parents were Spanish and Irish.  He later changed his name to fit his ambition as a communist revolutionary. After graduating from medical school in 1953 he decided that what he really wanted to do was  fight in communist rebellions anywhere he could find one,
  • After a failed attempt to stir up trouble in Guatemala, he fled to Mexico where he met Fidel Castro, who was on ice there waiting to return to Cuba and take over from the Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista in the Cuban communist revolution of 1959.  While fighting with Castro in Cuba Chè hones his killing instinct and discovers that he loves killing. In an article by David W. Thornton published by Yahoo, he is described like this: "Che' becomes Castro's chief lieutenant and then the comandante of one of the largest guerilla bands. He is ruthless, frequently executing suspected traitors quickly and dispassionately. In a 1957 letter to his first wife (he remarried to a fellow guerilla in 1959), Che' writes, "I'm here in Cuba's hills, alive and thirsting for blood." In a letter to his father, he writes, "I really like killing." Che's instructions to a subordinate are simple: "If in doubt, kill him."
  • Thornton further describes the extent of his bloodthirsty mania this way: "He is placed in charge of La Cabana prison, where the majority of the executions take place. According to the Black Book of Communism, by the mid-1960s, 14,000 Cubans have been executed without fair trials. 500,000 Cubans were incarcerated in labor camps. At one point, in 1961, one of every 19 Cubans was a political prisoner. Che' plays a major role in developing Castro's penal system and defends the executions publicly in 1964 after he had ceased to command the prison. He even dismisses his victims as "all CIA agents" before his death in 1967."
This is just a short list of his many attributes.  There is much more.  So, next time you see someone wearing a Chè T-shirt, ask him or her if he/she knows who that man on his/her T-shirt was.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Katyn Forrest Massacre by the Soviets - Deja Vù All Over Again

This morning, at my regular morning coffee in Downtown Manhattan Beach I was discussing the downing of the Malaysian Airliner by Russian thugs in eastern Ukraine with a casual friend.  I expressed to my friend that it was perfectly clear to me that Vladimir Putin, the Russian leader, was responsible.  In the course of our conversation I mentioned to him some historical bad behavior by the Russians, such as the Katyn Forest Massacre of 1940.   Most people have no idea what this was.  Click here for a summary of what happened in the Katyn Forest.

In 1939 the Russians invaded Poland.  In September 1939 the Nazis invaded Poland too.  The Nazis and the Soviets agreed to divide Poland between themselves.  Sometime between 1939 and 1941   The Russians proceded to arrest a large number of Polish soldiers and their officers.  In a bizarre decision, the Soviets decided that they would murder all of their Polish prisoners; a sort of ethnic cleansing.  About 22,000 Polish soldiers, officers, and Polish intellectuals were brutally massacred and buried in the Katyn Forest.  The Nazis discovered the mass graves in 1943.  The Russians denied it and blamed the Nazis.  The Russians finally confessed in 1990, fifty years later, that they were responsible.  Does anything sound familiar with the current Ukrainian situation?  Did the Russians admit to shooting down the Malaysian airliner?  Again, my motto:  Those who fail to learn from history will be condemned to repeat it.  Another short summary of the Katyn Forest massacre is in this link.  Click here to read it.