November 15, 2014
Below is a link sent to me by a friend to an article on Libya and the results of the West’s “successful” overthrow of Gaddafi as the ruling tyrant of that nation. It led me, once again, to think about the fact that what are labeled “failures” are, quite often, not “failures” at all or are deliberate failures. And you would think that with so many of these “failures” happening that others would also begin to wonder, “Was that really a ‘failure,” that is, an outcome that was not intended?
As one reads about the history and course of the Vietnam War, for example, it is impossible not to wonder, “Why?” That is, why did American politicians decide to follow the French into Vietnam and then to undertake, after the French left in defeat, their own war in that country? It wasn’t, as is so often said, a case of the arrogance of ignorance, as tempting as that explanation is to accept. There were more than enough people, even people with power, arguing that such a war was bound to end badly. Moreover, there was enough “data” about to convince almost anyone that this was or would be the case. So then, “Why?”
Well, for me, part of the answer to this question deals with what might be called “the quagmire of US politics.” No, not the “quagmire of Vietnam;” the quagmire of US politics. People tend to forget that the 60s were a time of political upheaval or, more precisely, of attempts at political upheaval. That is, the reigning political order, the “regime,” was beginning to be attacked, by blacks, by hippies, by college students/boomers, by what was labeled “the drug culture,” by the “sexual revolution,” to name just some of the forces then arising. So, the “establishment,” the political class – which comprises both Republican and Democratic power brokers – took a stand and it took that stand in Vietnam, among other places. [Chicago was another place the political class took a stand, thank you very much, Mayor Daley. And, of course, there was also Kent State and Jackson State.]
But also a failure in Vietnam, especially a costly failure there, one that followed a good deal of bloodshed, including of course a good deal of American blood being shed, would send a message, viz.: “The Communists are dangerous, even existential, enemies. Look at what they did in Vietnam, the murders, the tortures, and the bloodshed. We in the “West” must be always on our guard, always vigilant, always armed to the teeth. So let us not hear anything about dismantling ‘the military-industrial complex’ we, the ruling class, built following World War II. Such talk is naïve and even perhaps treasonous. Vietnam, even or especially our ‘failure’ there proves it! There are no viable alternatives to our way of doing politics and to try other ways would disrespect all those brave young people who died in the rice paddies of Vietnam.”
So, not only failure but a costly failure served the purposes of ruling class, a result helped along by some of those who were dissenting. I mean the ruling class would have probably paid Jane Fonda’s travel expenses to go to “North” Vietnam given all the mileage they could reap from her adventure there. What more evidence was needed to illustrate the “treasonous” character of those dissenting from the war? What more evidence of the character of the dissenters was needed than the “riots” they perpetrated in Chicago? Kent State and Jackson State? Yes, they were unfortunate events but then not all that surprising given the treasonous character of those dissenting. And, of course, such events only underlined how endangered our political system was at that time. More bloodshed to illustrate the seriousness of the situation.
I could go on. For example, LBJ’s decision not seek re-election in order, allegedly, to “work for peace.” Note well: A president, a man with the best of intentions, driven from office by those dissenters; a president voluntarily giving up power to work for peace it meant so much to him, while the “long haired creeps” were in the streets of Chicago “rioting.” Another “failure” that was hardly a “failure.”
So, when it is asked, as it is in the attached article, “As the country spun into chaos, violence, militia rule and anarchy as a direct result of the NATO intervention, they exhibited no interest whatsoever in doing anything to arrest or reverse that collapse. What happened to their deeply felt humanitarianism? Where did it go?” the answer is: They did not do anything “to arrest or reverse that collapse” because that collapse was the goal all along. That “failure” was not a failure at all or, if it were, it was one that served and serves the powers that be, that undergirds the ruling class and its power. Oh, Machiavelli would be proud, not surprised but proud.