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The Art of Vitiating a Nation

This essay is dedicated to Howard Zinn who has been an unfailing infuence in the creation of it...

When Dwight D Eisenhower (1890-1969), Supreme Commander of the

Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe during the Second World War, and
34th president of the United States (1953-1961), not yet DisUnited (DUS),
tended his famous admonition defning the hazards of a military-industrial
complex, he had no idea of how farthermost his nation's urge to distend
itself might ensue.

The German-American “Ike” had had experience with one Teutonic

usurper, Adolf Hitler, who had set his sights on conquering all he could,
and perhaps Eisenhower did not want his country to likewise go beyond
itself in an orgy of meddling in the affairs of other sovereign states and
territories the “victorious” Americans had accumulated from the surrenders
and treaties expropriated from a devastated post-Second World War world.

Still it would be the Democratic, Kennedyish, Harvard Business Reviewers

who would put to the earnest test the real meaning of America's “soft” and
“hard” commercial and militaristic postures that today remain, to many
peoples' chagrin, evermore global—beyond the wildest dreams of even the
onetime gefreiter become Führer—with the DisUnited States planting its
seeds of capitalism all over the world, and selling its trinkets of vulgarity to
unsuspecting individuals thinking that Americans are a wonderful people
except when they are bombing you.

The Vietnam “War” was the paradigm of what was to come. JFK's choice to
be the prime mover of the grandiose plan to blend military tactics with
business practices, was Robert McNamara (1916-2009), he too a Harvard
man, intelligence offcer during WWII, and best of all, an experienced whiz
kid of commercialism who had restructured the Ford Motor Company from
being a family mom and pop motor company into that of a slick, modern

Mac's goal was to refashion the Pentagon into an effcient “business-like”

machine while being at the same time a combat-ready organization capable
of taking on far-reaching police actions and/or real wars. The offcer corps
of the nation's armed forces, more or less intelligent, educated individuals,
were introduced to new clerical processes which had nothing to do with
soldiering. Offcers were expected to be well-rounded individuals,
Renaissance fexible people, ready to share other roles which were thought
could be picked up overnight with the reading of some selection of SOPs
(Standard Operating Procedures).

It is obvious that Mac's push for radical change was going to agitate some
fellows whose feet he had stepped on. These furious ones were the senior
offcers who had seen combat in World War II and the Korean War, and
who were referred to as the “brown shoes.” They, often being so
disorientated with their disgust for Mac's new principles of war conduct,
often forgot that they were in Asian jungles and not Europe—just not
getting it right when conducting battles with their tactics of days long gone
by. The confusion, the rancor, was felt by the troops who concluded that
most offcers were only interested in their promotion opportunities, and
did not really know what they were doing. Mac's weird hybrid way of
commanding-managing an army in Vietnam, had created an offcer corps
that did not very well know the basics of soldiering—its core function. Too
many other considerations were in the way, and the resulting muddiness
contributed to producing one of the DisUnited States' most disgraceful
historical episodes.

It was Confucius (551-479 BC) who said “To allow people to go to war
without frst instructing them is to betray them.” (A Source Book in Chinese
Philosophy by Professor Wing-Tsit Chan, page 42.) Mac was great at
betrayal! Midstream the Vietnam “snafu” he resigned his post, Secretary of
Defense, in November 1967, causing an incredible uproar among his offcer
corps and the grunts stationed on the Cambodian border some distance
from where Jacqueline Kennedy, visiting Angkor Wat, had vacationed that
same month! When hundreds of feld offcers were fragged to death by
recalcitrant infantrymen, the Pentagon was forced to form an all-volunteer
army (1973). Today, generals squeak like politicians, and company Chief
Executive Offcers bark like generals used to!

For it was the Vietnam incursion that had served as a prima facie “business”
logistics experiment, and that that (sic) had put the nihil obstat imprimatur on
the marriage between the military and the industrial sectors of the
galloping American economy suffering to escape the 1962 recession.
“What's good for General Motors, is good for the United States of
America!” War is good good—goody good good.
The Vietnam “War” had taken up the economic slack, and had set invoices
fying for defective howitzer projectiles, C-rations, mosquito repellent,
boots with steel-plated soles, medicines, R&R (Rest & Recuperation) fights
throughout the Pacifc, uniforms, tanks, sundry packs, canteens, ammo
packs, faulty M-16 rifes, dog tags rimmed with black rubber bands, fags,
air mattresses, poncho liners, entrenching tools, plastic knives, forks, and
spoons, and, for sure, conexes (containers) jammed packed with beer and,
for the medics, bottles flled with 500 pills of 10mg Libriums. Who wasn't
in on the very frst gargantuan military-industrial windfall wrought from the
drawing boards of some of the DisUnited States' most prestigious logistics'
experts? Corrupt supply sergeants thought they were in heaven! Even draft-
dodging anti-war activists—when the spread sheets were fnally broken
down into the proft columns—stopped throwing rocks, washed the
stinking tear gas off themselves, put on jackets and ties, and happily
volunteered to join the ranks of the Yuppies. The Americans just want to
have their cake and eat it, too!

If you had been an offcer in the U S Army during the Vietnam debacle,
you might have heard mention of Sun Tzu's classic, The Art of War. Majors
and colonels were almost ecstatic that they had read the tome, because
doing so had given them some sort of prestige—some kind of recognition
that they could read and were up on their military history, its tactics, its
strategies. Nevertheless, regards the Vietnam fasco, it can be said that there
were two very important pieces of advice in Sun Tzu's genuinely wise
collection of the do's and dont's of warfare that had gone over the heads of
the DUS's army buffs.

The frst of these is Sun Tzu's monition that when warfare is in reality
necessary—it should be avoided at all costs—confict must be immediate
and precise, and after the victory, troops should be recalled home and not
stationed in captured zones; but, if they are to remain, they must conduct
themselves in a virtuous manner with those whom they had vanquished.
This meant that efforts had to be made to win the hearts and minds of the
once enemy forces—a very wise concept anathema to Pentagon personnel
programmed to be self-righteous thugs.

Romanticism in war is an obsolete advantage. The atomic bomb has made

any fght, battle, contact, engagement, encounter or war a futile endeavor.
One cannot feel achievement of mastery or success in a struggle against
odds or diffculties when the outcome one contributes to is mediocre.
Therefore, any military victory when compared to the totally devastating
effect of that mushroom-shaped cloud, is of no consequence whatsoever.
Many high-ranking U S Army feld offcers in Vietnam urged the use of
nuclear weaponry.

In a recent (January 2019) remonstration, the president of the DUS, Donald

Trump, born 14 June 1946, threatened the president of Turkey, Recep
Tayyip Erdogăn, born 26 February 1954, with these words: “We will
destroy your economy if you enact reprisals against the Curdi.” War, in
many of its modes, thanks to the acquiescence of the Pentagon to the
biddings of the industrial world, has become an economic method of
dictating the greed and corruption of entities vying for power. Mao Zedong
(1893-1976) said it best: “The atom bomb is a paper tiger.” War now is
waged by multinational corporations and not Pentagon lackeys, for they,
too, would not wish to be annihilated in a nuclear holocaust. Just forget
those who bully you with use of the atom bomb. Threatening employment
of atom bombs is for adolescent-minded leaders such as Donald Trump.

Even Sun Tzu, two thousand years ago, suggested wars in far off places will
cause a drain on a nation's economy thus causing enormous stress for its
citizens. Wars should not be protracted; and, the best way to fght is to use
the weapons of the conquered nation to fnish off the rest of its forces. This
second Tzuian precept gives us a hint at how Sun Tzu might have
conducted warfare in today's economic standoff between economically
competing nations—particularly the DUS and China.

By now it is recognized that so much of the capitalist system is stimulated

by greed and corruption. Without these ethical boo-boos, the capitalist
thinking would be horribly distorted and debilitated. To kick start the
capitalist system, when it falters, a good dose of greed and corruption is
required to get things back swinging again. It used to happen every sixty
years or so, but...

My dear reader, it is not the economy. It is the human being. It is

unquestionably imprudent to think otherwise. Ever since 1601 when the
English East India Company dispatched its frst outing to the New World in
search of ill-gotten gains—thus “inventing” capitalism—there has been a
knee-jerk reaction to the accumulation of wealth as if it were some
sanctifed system, for the good of all, at the expense of workers sweating to
accrue it for their persons in charge, and an arrangement, while not perfect,
that is the best of all those available. Time and time again this pact has
systematically degenerated into chaos and has caused immeasurable misery
for hundreds of millions hoping to receive some “small change” from this
frequently corrupt, obviously fawed, unsigned treaty coordinated between
employee and employer—but by the employer. Economic dodos even study
these cycles of stupidity pontifcating, with coloured pie charts and
factitious, “horoscopic” mathematical theorems, on how it is just normal
that fractures in the technique of administering an economy and fnancing
its stock market are a matter of historically recurring routine. (William H
Gross, o n c e managing director of Pacifc Investment Management
[] and Las Vegas blackjack expert, is reputed to use gaming
juju when calculating stock buys; and, my uncle Lester Wood, Merrill
Lynch executive in the old days, told me fat out: “Gamble the [stock]
market to lose.”) Will someone please tell me when this 400-year-old ruse
used deceptively to gain another’s confdence, this swindle, will pass into
oblivion for the good of all of us?
Some years ago, government offcials from Hong Kong travelled to China to
complain about the air pollution in Hong Kong—that they said was
blocking out the sun there—caused by the production of plastic
merchandise, for sale all over the world, that was being manufactured in
southern China. The Chinese authorities asked them to stop ordering all
that junk, and even ventured to say that the air contamination problem
would then dissolve by itself!
John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006), Canadian-born economist and author
of The Affuent Society, once proclaimed that the success of capitalism is its
failure. What he meant by this was that the more business expanded itself,
the more was the chance that there would be ever so more capitalists with
less and less workers; or, in plainer terms, too many cooks to spoil the
broth. Further, if all were bosses who were in charge and there were left to
us only unsatisfed, underpaid, and unhappy workers—with no chance to
progress—Capitalism would be on its way to a rupture of its classical
structure—the one that meant there were chiefs and subordinates to keep
the system vital, under some sort of control- Today, workers feel that they
are absolutely expendable, and they even feel that one day they will be
replaced by robots—so dismal is the methodicalness of that economic
system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by
investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices,
production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by
competition in a “free” market.
Or, as Karl Marx (1818-1883) put it, “If you give the imbeciles enough rope,
they will hang themselves.”
Will someone please nominate me for the Nobel Prize in Humanistic
Economic Sciences, and get it over with!

Authored by Anthony St. John

5 February MMXIX
The Year of the Pig
Calenzano, Italy

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