Pharyngula

Since I mentioned my fondness for Jane Fonda the other day, I think I have to respond to this insane wingnut rant I found via Atrios:

Seeing Jane Fonda Saturday was enough to make me wish the unthinkable: it will take another terror attack on American soil in order to render these left-leaning crazies irrelevant again. Remember how quiet they were after 9/11? No one dared take them seriously. It was the United States against the terrorist world, just like it should be.

It’s time to stand tall, speak loudly and defend America against these enemies like Hanoi Jane.

She’s back. Are we going to let her get away with it….again????

Atrios rightly points out that this so-called patriot is hoping for another terrorist attack so he can have an excuse to silence the left, but I also have to point out that Jane Fonda was exactly correct on the Vietnam War; we should not have been there, we shouldn’t have thrown away tens of thousands of American lives in that futile, destructive effort. Our wingnut friend is doubly wrong in both hoping for more terror and in rejecting the valid anti-war message of the left.

I’ll also mention that one of my colleagues at UMM has linked to some wonderful photos of a memorial to the Iraq war dead at my alma mater, the University of Oregon. I suspect the hysteria of the right is due to the galling tendency of the left to constantly point out how terribly, tragically wrong the jingo-chanting war mongers have been. Why is Mike Gallagher “driven to the bathroom, becoming violently ill, over something [Jane Fonda] said”? It’s not because of what Fonda has said, but because of the horrors he has supported.

Comments

  1. #1 Ruth
    January 30, 2007

    The left is still ignoring what happened after we withdrew from Vietnam. I hate much of the right-wing in this country, but the left refused to see Stalin’s gulags, the Vietcong ‘re-education’ camps or the killing fields of Cambodia. The Iraqi war was a mistake, but we can’t reverse it by just leaving. For better or worse, we have an obligation to try and repair the damage done. Perhaps I see things differently because my grandfather spent time in a Bolshevik prison, but communism is not just an alternative lifestyle.

  2. #2 Brian
    January 30, 2007

    Mike Gallagher’s screed was nuts. Granted. He wants thousands to die so he has an excuse to drown out voices he doesn’t like. Another descpicable pundunt on the blogsphere. So what else is new?

    That said, there was nothing good to be said about Jane Fonda’s comments or conduct during the Vietnam War. Snopes, per usual gives a great overview of the issue.

    http://www.snopes.com/military/fonda.asp

    If the link doesn’t work, just go to http://www.snopes.com and search for Jane Fonda.

    And PZ, I have to disagree. Jane Fonda wasn’t being an uppity woman daring to challenge the government and the status quo. She was being a puppet for another government that was beating and torturing our POWs, sometimes to death.

    There’s nothing good to be said about it.

    And lastly, as I’ve said before, you have the right to free speech on all sides of an issue. It doesn’t mean that there is merit to your position.

    Brian

  3. #3 Nance Confer
    January 30, 2007

    For better or worse, we have an obligation to try and repair the damage done.
    ****
    Ruth —

    I’m sorry about your grandfather but that doesn’t mean that GWB and friends have any clue about how to “repair the damage done.” Or that anyone else does. Or that it’s even possible.

    Nance

  4. #4 Rey Fox
    January 30, 2007

    Well…at least he used the word “literally” correctly.

    I’m guessing this fellow lives in some comfortable middle America backwater that would never actually be targetted by a terrorist attack.

    What amuses me the most is how he claims to have been so ill at what was said, and then never actually mentions what Fonda said. Apparently, the mere sight of her talking to people was enough.

    Hell, I’ll support Fonda if we can make these cretins vomit just by showing them a picture of her.

  5. #5 Zbu
    January 30, 2007

    I’m just shocked that any idiot would welcome another 9/11 just so they can con the populace into furthering an anti-American agenda out of sheer fear. Seriously, do these people even think about what they’re bitching about outside of the tired football dichotomy?

    Pathetic. These people made me physically ill.

  6. #6 Mary Jones
    January 30, 2007

    Side issue: Unfortunately, Jane Fonda is a born-again Christian these days. I heard that contributed to the break up of her marriage to Ted Turner. At least she is not a war-mongering right wing lunatic. I don’t know where she stands on evolution.

  7. #7 quitter
    January 30, 2007

    Hey, the woman sat on a Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun and smiled and waved, visited POWs and reported on how well they were being treated, she really did one of the stupidest things a celebrity had ever done.

    Yeah she did it for a good cause, the Vietnam war was stupid, but that doesn’t mean you go over and make a total ass of yourself and expect people to forget about it.

    This is why I was critical of Jane Fonda coming back as a anti-war protester. Can’t we get someone new? Maybe someone from the non-boomer generation? Someone who doesn’t have nearly as much baggage attached with her name? Seems like it would be a good idea. And tell Sean Penn to stay home too.

  8. #8 stogoe
    January 30, 2007

    Blah, blah, blah, concern troll blah blah. Jane Fonda is a woman and I don’t like what she says Blah Blah Blah.

  9. #9 BlueIndependent
    January 30, 2007

    Wingnuts are highly predictable to be sure. I saw her segment at the anti-war rally the other day on CSPAN. I knew right then and there it wouldn’t be long before some winger shot his mouth off about it.

    Yet another case where you couldn’t apologize enough to wingers for the “misdeeds” in your life. As long as you’re more liberal than they are, you are an easy and likely target. Jane apologized for the incident where she sat on an anti-aircraft gun used against us in Viet Nam, and that she realized how stupid it was. But, in typical winger fashion, amends do not forgiveness make. It is criminality in perpetuity that drives them.

    As far as baggage is concerned quitter, wingers *MAKE* the baggage. You can be the cleanest person on Earth; it won’t matter because they do not care. As long as you are liberal, that’s all they need.

  10. #10 jdkbrown
    January 30, 2007

    Ruth,

    Very few on the left–and I’m fairly certain no one here, least of all PZ–would deny the existence of Stalin’s campaign of terror, Viet-cong “re-education” camps, or the Cambodian killing fields. Nor would they fail to condemn them. I’m pretty happy to be a representative of “the left” on this point: Stalin, the Viet-cong, and the Khmer Rouge all committed grievous and despicable crimes against humanity. (While I’m at it, I’ll throw in Saddam, too, since “the left” keeps getting accused of thinking he was a swell guy.)

    I agree with you–and, again, I think most on left do–that now that we’re in Iraq, we have an obligation to make the best of the situation. Where I disagree, however, is that staying will “repair the damage done.” Indeed, I think that our current course is simply inflicting *more* damage. Withdrawing from Iraq is not a good option–it will likely lead to death, destruction, general instability in the Mid-East, an upswing in Iranian influence in the region. Alas, it is also the *best* option: we’re past the point where we could have prevented any of those things. So if we stay, we’re still stuck with death, destruction, instability, and Iranian influence; *and* we throw away more American blood, treasure, and global prestige.

  11. #11 "Q" the Enchanter
    January 30, 2007

    “it will take another terror attack on American soil in order to render these left-leaning crazies irrelevant again.”

    A fair corollary being, of course, that it will take peace and prosperity to make the right-leaning crazies irrelevant. Which is why the Right-Leaning Crazy In-Chief won’t allow peace or prosperity to take hold any time soon…

  12. #12 craig
    January 30, 2007

    Over a year ago I was lounging in the pool with the retirees and in between their bigoted comments they started complaining about “that Jane Fonda.”
    Decades after she had last been prominent – and even that was for an exercise video.
    Almost 40 years on and these people act like its still current events. Something about that makes me think that there’s some perspective problem.

  13. #13 Brian Coughlan
    January 30, 2007

    2 million vietnamese were killed in the vietnam war, on the american side about 60,000. It genuinely turns my stomach when I hear even the hint of a self pitying american whine as I do on a few of these posts.

    The solution is simple. Nationalisim, most especially american nationalisim, is as virulent a disease as religion. Renounce it, and it all becomes clearer. People are people. Withdraw your troops, agree binding international law, and prosecute the INDIVIDUALS that break it.

    We don’t allow vigilante justice in our nation states, so why stop there? Binding international law, for americans too (shock!!! horror!!!) is the solution to global peace, and ultimatley the middle east.

  14. #14 MJ Memphis
    January 30, 2007

    “The left is still ignoring what happened after we withdrew from Vietnam.”

    And the right is still ignoring that *not* withdrawing from Vietnam would have been just as bad or worse, because the US was a large part of the cause of the problems there to start with. They also ignore that Vietnam would have been much better off if we had just stayed the hell out in the first place. Staying longer wouldn’t have helped anything.

  15. #15 Blake Stacey
    January 30, 2007

    Prediction:

    The next “terror attack on American soil” (such a quintessentially modern phrase, somehow — that’s not a TwenCen combination of words) will have to be a heck of a lot more severe than 9/11 to make us left-leaning crazies shut up. Because now we’ve learned what terror does to us.

  16. #16 Greg Laden
    January 30, 2007

    Ruth,

    The US pulling out of viet nam did not cause the subsequent problems there. If anything, 30 years of colonial rule (or whatever you want to call it) under the French and Americans prepared that country for totalitarian rule.

    In Viet Nam (Greg’s highly simplified history coming up here), the left put us there, the right escalated it to a nightmare, the left forced us out. In Iraq, the left maintained a policy of containment. The right put us there in a state of full scale war and caused a civil war and kept us there and the left is going to get us out. When the left gets us out, let’s not be blaming the left for all the bad things that are bound to happen there starting the day the US army leaves.

    quitter: I don’t think you are seeing Jane Fonda’s protest in the context in which it occurred.

  17. #17 Steve LaBonne
    January 30, 2007

    Indeed, I think that our current course is simply inflicting *more* damage.

    I agree. I keep waiting to see even one serious, informed, non-hand-waving argument as to how our continued presence helps in any way. And waiting, and waiting, and waiting…

    What I’m starting to suspect now is that we may basically be taking sides in a civil war. I can’t imagine anything less likely to be “helpful” than that.

  18. #18 Steve LaBonne
    January 30, 2007

    Vietnam today is in a hell of a lot better shape than I expect Iraq to be anywehre within the same time frame.

  19. #19 Blake Stacey
    January 30, 2007

    Preach it to ’em, David:

    Can you see, anywhere, the democratic of liberal polemicist who has an eye — or ear — for the polemical jugular?

    . . . Take the NUMBER ONE EXCUSE FOR DEFEAT IN VIETNAM that we have all heard, for decades, from jingoist morons on the far right.

    “We lost because of outrageous meddling in military decisions by a bunch of arrogant and clueless politicians.”

    Yes, that is verbatim what we all heard, ad nauseum, for 30 years — ever since Donald Rumsfeld oversaw America’s LAST utter humiliation in a stupid and goalless land war of attrition in Asia.

  20. #20 Mark
    January 30, 2007

    Ruth, it’s interesting to note that the American war in Vietnam was actually the cause of the rise of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. It’s also interesting to note that it was finally the Vietnamese, after the Americans left, who ended that genocidal regime when no one else in the world would.

  21. #21 John Bode
    January 30, 2007

    In Viet Nam (Greg’s highly simplified history coming up here), the left put us there, the right escalated it to a nightmare, the left forced us out.

    LBJ was a right-winger?

    Jane was right to condemn the war in Viet Nam. She was most definitely not right to lie on behalf of the North Vietnamese government regarding the treatment of American POWs, nor was she right to denounce returning American POWs as “hypocrites and liars.” She

    I do not begrudge Viet Nam veterans their hatred of Jane Fonda; it’s well-earned, IMO.

  22. #22 Troublesome Frog
    January 30, 2007

    I was against the Iraq war from the beginning, and I have watched in horror as it was mismanaged in such obvious ways for such a long time. I am almost convinced that the ship has sailed on our opportunity to fix what we broke, but I’m not totally convinced yet. I agree that a half hearted troop surge with no particular plan is just sending more people into the meat grinder, but I’ll need to hear a very good argument for pulling out, because it seems clear to me that the choice is between likely failure on one hand and guaranteed civil war and genocide on the other.

    I might be more in favor of pulling out if I hadn’t married into a Vietnamese family. A number of my wife’s family members ended up in reeducation camps after the US left them hanging. It’s rarely discussed, but the sense of horror and betrayal seems to suck all of the heat out of the room if it’s mentioned. Regardless of whether it was a good idea to go in or whether we’ve made an intolerable mess of the situation, I can’t condone simply letting Iraqi society collapse further and fall into what will almost certainly be orders of magnitude more gruesome than the communist takeover of southern Vietnam. We owe all of the people we would be leaving to die a serious effort, and I’m not sure that we’ve earned the right to walk away and say we did our best.

  23. #23 a very public sociologist
    January 30, 2007

    He sounds a lot like my dear departed Nan, who used to think living in WWII was a fantastic time because it united the nation and what have you.

    As for what Ruth said at the beginning of these comments, if you delve deeper into what the left has said about Stalin, Vietnam and so on you will find some are quite vocal in their disgust at some of the things supposedly done in the name of socialism. Just as you would find some more than prepared to overlook/defend them. The left is a strange old place.

  24. #24 BlueIndependent
    January 30, 2007

    Ruth,

    You are projecting. No sane person would ever “ignore” gulags in Soviet Russia, Viet Cong schools, or the Khmer Rouge, least of all me. I have never heard anyone who considers themselves Democrat, “left”, or anything in that particular spectrum, advocate such evil things. The right *however* has claimed since WW2 that this was the ulterior motive of the left for the given disater of the times because Democrats and “leftists” didn’t use their supposedly tough talk, and go along with their terrible foreign policy. Everything the right has ever said about these situations was a criticism of “the left” for not using the right’s ideas. The right is also profoundly wrong on all of them for a lot of reasons, not least of which is their current prosecution of the Iraq war in such obscenely incompetent ways so as to make Hoover look like a top-performing CEO.

    The right did not learn the same lessons from VN that everyone else did. To them defeat means use more force next time, as opposed to what the lesson should’ve been, i.e. right (correctness in cause) makes might, not vice versa. They do not understand what they are doing because they have never been a victim of it, and because they feel American greatness is self-evident to people everywhere in the world. It really is collectivized ego gone wrong.

    I’m sick and tired of people blaming Democrats for things they never did because someone else said they did. I am not a card-carrying D, but I’ll be damned if I don’t think about joining with all the mindless and baseless accustations thrown at them. LBJ cotinued to prosecute the VN war irresponsibly, however he at least had the stones to give up his seat in government over it. Bush has no such compunction; he’ll keep going as long as he has the keys to the city.

  25. #25 chuko
    January 30, 2007

    Sigh, the baby boomers are still fighting Vietnam. Jane Fonda is kind of irrelevant. Can’t we find someone else? Someone who understands that you don’t have to be against your country to be against its actions?

  26. #26 commissarjs
    January 30, 2007

    How does continued US involvement in Iraq fix anything? How many more bodies do we have to stack up to make things right? Hell we can’t even get people to agree on what is wrong much less what we can do to fix it.

    The only reason we still have troops there is pride. As long as someone is attacking the troops we cannot pull them out. To do so would be to admit weakness and by God we aren’t weak. As long as anyone is shooting at the troops they’re an enemy that is fighting and only weaklings walk away from a fight before it’s won.

    If the US pulls out now what is going to happen? The terrorists are going to take over? Who are these terrorists? The sunni insurgency? The shiite militias? Al Qaeda? The Red Crescent Scouts? Labeling the various parties fighting in Iraq against the US occupation and against each other as a singular group known as “The Terrorists” is just stupidity. Yet that’s all we hear from the people interested in continuing this folly. What’s worse noone even seems to question this anymore.

  27. #27 Kseniya
    January 30, 2007

    My neighbor, an intelligent and gentle man, is a Vietnam vet. He doesn’t hate Jane Fonda. He says she was used, and feels sorry for her.

  28. #28 Natasha Coureaux
    January 30, 2007

    I was at the Rally and March in DC on Saturday, and I wish Jane Fonda had not been. She committed her “youthful indiscretions” at age 34, younger that others that use that “excuse” and is now a 69 year-old grandmother. However, given the propensities of the main stream media, I knew she would garner the bulk of the attention and dilute the message. There is a large group in this country who will never forgive Fonda for her actions during the Viet Nam “Police Action” and her support seems to have only a negative effect.

    And, btw, the attendance at the march appeared to be much greater than the “tens of thousands” reported by the media.

    Faites l’amour, pas la guerre.

  29. #29 Kazim
    January 30, 2007

    I’d just like to point out that Joseph Stalin died in 1953, five years before we ENTERED Vietnam, and 23 years before we left. I know the bad stuff sounds worse when you attach Stalin’s name to it, but…

  30. #30 Roy
    January 30, 2007

    The Vietnam war makes perfect sense as a business venture. So does the first Iraq war (recall that the US invaded and then left Hussein firmly in power) and so does the second Iraq war. That’s all this is, just business. It’s nothing personal.

    It’s horrible for the soldiers sent there to die, and for the Iraqis killed and their country destroyed, and for the American public who will pay dearly for this war — but none of them matter in this business.

  31. #31 Mena
    January 30, 2007

    Maybe we should have stayed the course in Vietnam so that we would have the opportunity of still fighting there. It seems like most of the uptight “righties” are Vietnam era vets or people who agreed with that war, doesn’t it?

  32. #32 llewelly
    January 30, 2007

    What I’m starting to suspect now is that we may basically be taking sides in a civil war. I can’t imagine anything less likely to be “helpful” than that.

    Bush & Co dismantled the Sunni-dominated Saddam government at the outset. That amounts to siding with the Shia.
    The replacement government is clearly Shia-dominated.
    If we look back at the Iraq policy of the Clinton years (ignoring the vitally important intern affair) we can see an on-again-off-again pattern of aiding Shia-dominated revolutionary groups. The primary reason given for not using said groups to overthrow Saddam was that it would involve the US in a civil war on the side of the Shia.

    Whatever the intent of the Bush regime, nearly every decision they have made has favored Shia over Sunni. From a purely functional standpoint, the Bush govt has been siding with Shia in a civil war since the beginning. I don’t know to what degree BushCo realized they were siding with Shia – and it’s likely most of them genuinely believed (and perhaps still believe) they could avoid a civil war. Sadly, they were wrong. Sadder still, they were advised they were wrong before they went in. The radical Shia leaders, I suspect, realized Bush’s actions would favor them, and favor civil war, and realized it early. But whatever the intent, the US military has been in a civil war, on the side of the Shia, for long time now.

  33. #33 JohnnieCanuck
    January 30, 2007

    Conflicts create extremists. This is followed by:
    Extremists create conflicts.

    It is easy to see that many Islamists are being radicalised by US involvement in Iraq. Look more closely and you may find it is also creating as many hawks as doves in America, if Viet Nam is a model.

  34. #34 Marc
    January 30, 2007

    Jane Fonda wasn’t terribly relevant when she did her Hanoi stunt. Really, best known for movies such as ‘Barbarella’ (or was that after?), she was more or less the Paris Hilton of the ’60s. The animosity against her is really out of proportion.

  35. #35 Robin
    January 30, 2007

    I’ve been walking among those little flags here at the U of O all week. I like the idea, but I have to admit that the artist could’ve made it even more impressive by scaling the red flags (American deaths) to the same scale as the white ones (Iraqi deaths). He had to go all the way down to 1 white flag for every 8 Iraqis, but kept the Americans on a 1 to 1 ratio. It’s misleading for such an enormous and poweful piece.

  36. #36 Sean
    January 30, 2007

    How does the right get the blame for turning Vietnam into a bloodbath? Or escalating the conflict? Or whatever the phrase of the day is. Not all bloody quagmires can be credited to Republican stupidity.

    Democrats controlled the House from the beginning to the end. Democrats controlled the Senate from the beginning to the end. Democrats controlled the Presidency from the beginning to the peak of both troop commitment and casualties for both sides.

    Nixon was elected in the end of 1968 — the peak year for troop levels and casualites. Each year of his presidency consistently saw fewer troops, fewer American dead, and fewer Vietnamese dead.

    http://senate.gov/pagelayout/history/one_item_and_teasers/partydiv.htm
    http://clerk.house.gov/art_history/house_history/partyDiv.html
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/index2.html
    http://www.rjsmith.com/kia_tbl.html

  37. #37 Ichthyic
    January 30, 2007

    commisarjs:

    The only reason we still have troops there is pride. As long as someone is attacking the troops we cannot pull them out. To do so would be to admit weakness and by God we aren’t weak. As long as anyone is shooting at the troops they’re an enemy that is fighting and only weaklings walk away from a fight before it’s won.

    I just have one thing to say to that:

    Somalia

    seems we are more than ready to pull out with our tail betwixt in some circumstances…

  38. #38 David Marjanovi?
    January 30, 2007

    Ruth, like it or not, but there is such a thing as an unwinnable war.

    llewelly, you wrote “I don’t know to what degree BushCo realized” — sentences with “BushCo” as the subject and “realize” as the verb are not grammatical.

    My suggestion on how to end the Iraq war? Get out, get the UN in the same day, and pay for it, or rather make Halliburton and Bechtel pay for it. Somehow.

  39. #39 David Marjanovi?
    January 30, 2007

    Ruth, like it or not, but there is such a thing as an unwinnable war.

    llewelly, you wrote “I don’t know to what degree BushCo realized” — sentences with “BushCo” as the subject and “realize” as the verb are not grammatical.

    My suggestion on how to end the Iraq war? Get out, get the UN in the same day, and pay for it, or rather make Halliburton and Bechtel pay for it. Somehow.

  40. #40 David Marjanovi?
    January 30, 2007

    Somalia

    seems we are more than ready to pull out with our tail betwixt in some circumstances…

    Yeah. The best Republican president you’ve ever had knew better than to believe pride was more important than life. Fearless Flightsuit, on the other hand, has admitted how many mistakes in his entire life so far? One? Two? Or even three?

  41. #41 David Marjanovi?
    January 30, 2007

    Somalia

    seems we are more than ready to pull out with our tail betwixt in some circumstances…

    Yeah. The best Republican president you’ve ever had knew better than to believe pride was more important than life. Fearless Flightsuit, on the other hand, has admitted how many mistakes in his entire life so far? One? Two? Or even three?

  42. #42 beepbeepitsme
    January 30, 2007

    Hanoi Jane? What can Jane Fonda do that can possibly scare the rightwing nutjobs? Frighten them with a new facelift? Unlikely, they are too busy stretching their own faces out of all proportion as well.

  43. #43 beepbeepitsme
    January 30, 2007

    Frankly, I would prefer to be frightened by Jane Fonda’s facelift, than George Bush’s package in a flight suit..

  44. #44 Dan Someone
    January 30, 2007

    “It was the United States against the terrorist world, just like it should be.”

    What the hell does that mean? Is this guy actually saying that it is the proper and natural state of the world for the United States to be eternally locked in a solitary struggle with terrorism? I know he was initially referring to the immediate post-9/11 world, but then he says “just like it SHOULD BE,” present tense. It can’t be healthy that this kind of twisted fantasy world exists in this guy’s brain.

  45. #45 Scott Hatfield
    January 30, 2007

    I’ve heard something to the effect that Jane Fonda rediscovered some sort of conventional religious belief and that this was a factor in the end of her marriage to Ted Turner.

    Does anyone else know anything about that? Is this an urban legend?

  46. #46 Greg Laden
    January 30, 2007

    John Bode:

    LBJ was a Texas Hawk. I was simplifying! But yes, on the war he was right. (well,,he was wrong. As the right was. And still is)

    Please remember, being a Democrat in the 1960s did not exclude you from the right. Strom Thurmond and Jess Helms… are they right or left? Right, of course, and when LBJ was in the Oval Office, those good ol’ boys were in Congress as Democrats.

  47. #47 raj
    January 30, 2007

    Regarding the post (not the comments) just to point out, but the fact is that insane wingnuts like Mike Gallegher (to whose article your link links) earn their wages by engaging in insane wingnut rants. If they didn’t engage in insane wingnut rants, they wouldn’t earn their wages. Or any wages, for that matter.

    Cut to chase: it’s all about money. Once that is understood, it really is possible to laugh at them. Money does make their world go ’round.

  48. #48 raj
    January 30, 2007

    Greg Laden | January 30, 2007 04:33 PM

    The US pulling out of viet nam did not cause the subsequent problems there. If anything, 30 years of colonial rule (or whatever you want to call it) under the French and Americans prepared that country for totalitarian rule.

    In Viet Nam (Greg’s highly simplified history coming up here), the left put us there, the right escalated it to a nightmare, the left forced us out.

    Sorry, but your knowledge of the American participation in the VietNam war is sadly deficient. Aside from the fact that the French ruled Indochina (including, but not limited to VietNam) for a number of years prior to WWII (the point being that colonial rule lasted far longer than 30 years), the fact is that America’s involvement in Vietnam was pretty much instigated by Eisenhower in 1953-54, as the French were threatened to be pushed out by the anti-colonialist forces under Ho Chi Minh. It was Eisenhower who sent American military “advisors” into VietNam. It was Eisenhower who reneged on America’s promise to hold a VietNam countrywide pleboscite over the future of the country, which had been promised after the French defeat at Dien Ben Phu in 1954.

    And it is those facts that got the US involved in Vietnam. And, it is highly doubtful that Eisenhower would be considered a leftist.

    I’m sorry, but the fact is that is was the right that put the US into Vietnam, and that kept the US there until virtually everone in the US forced it out.

  49. #49 Djur
    January 30, 2007

    “She was being a puppet for another government that was beating and torturing our POWs, sometimes to death.”

    And that’s worse than being a puppet for a government that was shooting, bombing, and napalming Vietnamese civilians, very much to death, often in tremendously painful ways?

    Jane Fonda has no more to be ashamed of than any person who supported the butchery that the United States government committed and endorsed in support of an illiberal regime, even if only for a short time. Her real crime, it seems, was against American exceptionalism.

  50. #50 Greg Laden
    January 30, 2007

    RAJ: You are absolutely correct. It was the right that put us there.

    As usual. Which was my point. Thanks for the clarification and the support on that.

  51. #51 lockean
    January 30, 2007

    Raj,

    Your point is well taken, but the escalation of troops was largely under LBJ. He never wanted to increase troop levels and did so largely out of fear of being labelled soft of communism by the republicans, but that doesn’t alter his responsibility.

    And to be fair, containment was originally a liberal policy. Conservatives back then tended to crave a more directly aggressive policy toward communism up to and including nuclear war. Of course, containment did not inexorably require Ike’s dalliance w/ Vietnam (or his meddling with Central America and Iran), much less the escalation under JFK and LBJ, but Ike’s stupidity didn’t automatically force later presidents to get even stupider. Anyway, Eisenhower was hardly part of the ‘right’.

    And speaking of labels…

    Greg Laden,

    Historians, political scientists and LBJ’s biographers consider him a liberal. He was after all the author of the Great Society and launched a ‘War on Poverty’ that actually tried to reduce poverty. He was often a cynical, old-school machine politician deft at greasing palms, twisting arms, and stuffing ballots, but he had actual liberal convictions, particularly regarding education.

    The tragedy of Vietnam is that LBJ greatly expanded the war to keep from losing support with the general public, support he needed for his liberal domestic agenda–and in doing so he not only lost support anyway, but also split the left, which in turn benefited conservatives.

  52. #52 PZ Myers
    January 30, 2007

    Just to clarify things: I am not proposing Jane Fonda as the sole representative voice of the anti-war movement. She is a voice; she gets credit for being on the right side. It also does not mean I think she cannot be criticized or that her motives are necessarily well-informed.

    I also think the comments about her age are just weird. Do people think that after a certain age, one is no longer allowed to have opinions on politics or national and world affairs?

  53. #53 Phoenix Woman
    January 30, 2007

    Speaking of right-wing frothings: The con-media is trying to make a fake martyr out of a guy, Joshua Sparling, who just happens to be a right-wing operative with a habit of spewing, ah, unbelievable stories.

    Check this out:

    Watch the Hannity interview with Sparling, where Sparling goes on about how people were spitting (yes, folks, the right-wingers are trying to revive the old discredited “hippies spat on our troops” myth and update it for Iraq!) and flipping cigarette butts at him:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkTivtq351M

    Now, look at the gap between protest groups: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bw1MQZZTtMM

    1) How could someone from thirty feet tell the guy in the sweatshirt was a vet? 2) How could they aim spit and/or ciggie butts at him?

    But of course Drudge and FOX must pimp this story as hard as they can.

  54. #54 steve
    January 30, 2007

    Here’s a sweet sweet banner from the protest:
    http://scienceblogs.com/omnibrain/2007/01/antiwar_protests_in_dc.php

  55. #55 Greg Laden
    January 30, 2007

    lockean:

    Yes, I’m pretty familiar with LBJ. I knew someone was going to mention the great society.

    He was a hawk. Politics are complicated, but he did indeed escalate the war. That what a hawk is.

    And, he was not a Strom Thurman (hope I did not imply that).

    And you are completely right about the split and how it benefited conservatives. That, plus shooting the main liberal democratic candidate (not the most liberal, really, but the most likely to win the nomination) dead in 1968.

  56. #56 llewelly
    January 30, 2007

    One item I failed to point out in my earlier comment about US siding with the Shia, is that in the last 6 months or so the US military has clearly realized that unintentionally aiding radical Shia (as distinct from moderate Shia) forces is a bad thing, and trying to do something about it. However there is no sign these actions are slowing the civil war, nor do I see any reason to believe the civil war can be staunched by US forces.

  57. #57 Sean
    January 31, 2007

    Bah. Bullocks.

    No true Scotsman is a load of dung when fundies use it to deny association with their own liabilities. It is also a load of dung when used to deny LBJs leanings on the grand liberal to conservative politicalometer.

    Is also a load of dung to try and lump (most) people into a nice clearcut category. But, if the groupthink here is to blame some vague group labled ‘conservatives’ for Vietnam, then then I’ll disagree as I have LBJ in my box called ‘liberals’.

    Firsts While a Democrat was President
    first financial aid
    first military aid
    first military advisors
    first use of helicopters to transport allied troops
    first use of aircraft to support allied bombings
    first South Vietnamese aerial bombing
    first American aerial casualties
    first ‘special’ Green Beret advisors
    first ground troops
    first Laotian aerial bombing
    first North Vietnamese aerial bombing
    first American POWs
    first Congressional authority to wage war
    first strategic bombing campaign
    first use of the draft (for this war)
    first violation of the DMZ
    first use of defoliants
    first peace talks

    Firsts While a Republican was President
    first grand political screwup getting Diem in charge
    first American ground casualties
    first Cambodian aerial bombing
    first troop reductions
    first ground troops in Cambodia
    first peace accord
    first amnesty for draft evaders

    And all those firsts took place with Democratic majorities in both the House and the Senate. Plenty of blame to go around.

  58. #58 John Bode
    January 31, 2007

    Please remember, being a Democrat in the 1960s did not exclude you from the right. Strom Thurmond and Jess Helms… are they right or left? Right, of course, and when LBJ was in the Oval Office, those good ol’ boys were in Congress as Democrats.

    I’m a Texas Democrat myself; I understand exactly what LBJ was, and hawk or not, you could not reasonably call him “right wing”, at least not by the conventional definition of a right-winger in 20th century America. The man was a big-L Liberal to his core. His military misadventures in southeast Asia don’t change that.

    Similarly, it was Nixon who got us out of Viet Nam; I guess that makes him a lefty?

    Isn’t it interesting that almost every time the United States went to war in the 20th century, it was under a Democratic administration? Wilson in WWI, Roosevelt in WWII, Truman in Korea, Johnson in Viet Nam. I guess they were all really right-wingers?

  59. #59 Alex
    January 31, 2007

    It was the United States against the terrorist world, just like it should be.

    Sadly, no!

    He seems to have forgotten that, just for starters, NATO declared that the attack was an attack on all its members, obliging them to offer all possible help under Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty. Beyond that, essentially everybody from Yasser Arafat to Anna Lindh passing by Jiang Zemin condemned it and offered help. Fucking hell, Arafat *gave blood*.

  60. #60 Dunc
    January 31, 2007

    One item I failed to point out in my earlier comment about US siding with the Shia, is that in the last 6 months or so the US military has clearly realized that unintentionally aiding radical Shia (as distinct from moderate Shia) forces is a bad thing, and trying to do something about it.

    Unitentionally? I take it then that you are unaware that the leading death squad in Iraq today is the Special Police Commandos, trained directly by US personnel, who came to prominence around the time the US foreign policy establishment was talking about something called the “Salvador option” – ie deliberately provoking a sectarian bloodbath by training and supporting death squads?

  61. #61 Jumail
    January 31, 2007

    Of course that bastard Nixon at least had the pragmatic brains to open up relations with China, just the biggest nation on earth, END the war, and END the draft.

    He HE had to resign?

    Wow!

  62. #62 Greg Laden
    January 31, 2007

    John Bode:

    I’m calling LBJ a hawk. He was a Southern Democrat in the 1960s. And, he was a Texan. And, the author (or at least implementor) of the New Society. I think we all get all that.

    Did I say he was right wing? Sorry, I did not mean to do so. I was probably linking right wing and hawkishness, a pretty good link since Viet Nam. (Viet Nam may have served to sort out our party politics in this regard, don’t you think?)

    This (confusion, accusations of “not getting it” etc.) is what happens when one tries to simplify arguments. One sets oneself up for all kinds of dumb crap. Well, I’m going back to my own blog now where I will mope around for a while.

    Look for a post on my own personal view of this Jane Fonda thing on gregladen.com. In about an hour.

    GTL

  63. #63 Greg Laden
    January 31, 2007

    Jumail:

    One always wonders with something like Nixon opening up China, if this was simply something that was going to happen no matter what, no matter who was president.

    Or, in his case, if it took someone that seemed a bit like a despot to get it on with other despots. In a political sense.

  64. #64 commissarjs
    January 31, 2007

    Ichthyic:

    I just have one thing to say to that:

    Somalia

    seems we are more than ready to pull out with our tail betwixt in some circumstances…

    Well the first law of holes is that when you find yourself in one, stop digging. I disagreed with Clinton involving the US in Somalia from the beginning.

    Somalia was another fiasco where we had no idea what the plan was, who the enemies were, who our allies were, and the troops were ill-equipped to deal with it. We didn’t even have an idea what victory was.

  65. #65 raj
    January 31, 2007

    lockean | January 30, 2007 10:49 PM

    Your point is well taken, but the escalation of troops was largely under LBJ. He never wanted to increase troop levels and did so largely out of fear of being labelled soft of communism by the republicans, but that doesn’t alter his responsibility. (long edit) Anyway, Eisenhower was hardly part of the ‘right’.

    Um, true, but it is undeniable that American active involvement in Vietnam pretty much began under Eisenhower.

    Liberal/left vs. right labels that are current now are fairly difficult to analogize to the 1950s and 1960s. Both the Democrats (generally considered liberal/left) and the Republicans (generally considered right) then were fairly assertive in foreign policy for various reasons, both political (supposedly opposing communist expansionism) and commercial (um, oil). That did not extend, however, to domestic policies, although JFK could hardly be considered liberal (the 1964 Civil Rights act and subsequent civil rights legislation would likely never have passed in a JFK administration, for example). I’m not sure how I would label the JFK administration, but as far as I can tell, their most important domestic policy was the reduction of income tax rates from the wartime (WWII) levels, but IIRC most people, liberal as well as conservative, agreed that continuing the wartime top marginal rates fifteen years after the end of the war was ridiculous.

    …but Ike’s stupidity didn’t automatically force later presidents to get even stupider…

    This is true, but the sad fact is that history is a continuum. LBJ was burdened by the fact of Eisenhower’s initial insertion of the US into VietNam, and by JFK’s subsequent escalation. LBJ was also burdened by memories of the Republicans’ rants about “Who lost China” from 1949 (which actually may have led Truman to get involved in Korea, etc.). In hindsight, LBJ should have pulled out instead of escalating, but the US had pretty much taken over responsibility for events in South Vietnam by its support of the coup against the Diem government in 1963, several weeks before JFK’s assassination. What was LBJ supposed to do, given that? I don’t know.

  66. #66 raj
    January 31, 2007

    John Bode | January 31, 2007 06:56 AM

    Similarly, it was Nixon who got us out of Viet Nam…

    Not really. It was the Democratic Congress that refused to keep funding the American adventure in VietNam that got us out of VietNam.

    And, there is more to it than that. Republicans/chickenhawks to this day complain that it was the Democratic Congress’s 1975 refusal to continue to fund America’s VietNam adventure as the reason that America, not South Vietnam, but America lost the Vietnam war. It is the typical “Dolchstosslegende” complaint–the complaint (“Legende”–actually “legend”) that the “good guys” were “stabbed in the back” (“Dolchstoss”) by people back at home. It was exactly the same complaint that the German high command issued to explain their loss in WWI (reference “General Ludendorf”). And, on exactly the same basis. In 1916, during WWI, the Socialists in the German Parliament largely refused to agree to a funding package to continue German participation in the war, after it had become obvious that continuing the war was futile. It was largely that reason that the Nazis, after they took power in 1933, first came for, not the Jews, but the Socialists. And, the Republican/chickenhawks now are obviously trying to tar the Democrats with the epithet “socialists.”

    The Republican/chickenhawks mantra regarding VietNam has eerie echoes of the Nazis’ mantra regarding WWI. Be very, very afraid.

  67. #67 Brian
    January 31, 2007

    “And that’s worse than being a puppet for a government that was shooting, bombing, and napalming Vietnamese civilians, very much to death, often in tremendously painful ways?”

    That’s not the point. The point is that she wasn’t some great moral crusader who had the guts to stand up against our governments sluaghtering of civilians. She at best traded one bad position for one that was at least as bad if not a whole lot worse. The NVA commited attoricites against their own people; that’s already been discussed here and is a well established part of the historical record. So no, Hanoi Jane wasn’t protesting against war crimes comitted by this country. She was stumping for an evil totalitarian regime.

  68. #68 MinorRipper
    January 31, 2007
  69. #69 commissarjs
    January 31, 2007

    John Bode:

    Isn’t it interesting that almost every time the United States went to war in the 20th century, it was under a Democratic administration? Wilson in WWI, Roosevelt in WWII, Truman in Korea, Johnson in Viet Nam. I guess they were all really right-wingers?

    You left out almost constant US military involvement in Central America, South America, and the Carribbean since the time of Teddy Roosevelt. Smedley Butler didn’t earn his Congressional Medals of Honor in Wyoming.

    Just a few others off the top of my head:
    a) Nixon’s decision to bomb Cambodia.
    b) Reagan and Carter’s financing and support of the Mujaheddin in Afghanistan (including Osama Bin Ladin).
    c) US military support and training for the Contra’s in Nicaragua, including the lovable death squads.
    d) US support for Iraq in their war against Iran. Including “agricultural products” which were really used to make mustard gas.
    e) Reagan’s bombing of Libya.
    f) The deployment of US troops to Beirut under Reagan.
    g) Bush I’s wars in Iraq and Panama.

    All in all the US was at war constantly for the entire 20th century.

  70. #70 raj
    January 31, 2007

    commissarjs | January 31, 2007 10:08 AM

    I disagreed with Clinton involving the US in Somalia from the beginning.

    I did, too, but I’ll just remind you that US involvement in Somalia began under the pResidency of Clinton’s predecessor, George Herbert Walker Bush, and that not long before the end of his term.

    Somalia was another fiasco where we had no idea what the plan was, who the enemies were, who our allies were, and the troops were ill-equipped to deal with it. We didn’t even have an idea what victory was.

    Well, not exactly. IIRC, the mission in Somalia was initially advertised as being a humanitarian one–to bring foodstuffs to starving people. It’s difficult to say what the mission turned into, given mission creep and the fact that the local warlords were using food deprivation and seizing food shipments from abroad for their political purposes. But maybe, just maybe, the US and other outsiders should let them sort it out themselves. It may seem heartless, but it seems to be obvious that outsiders can’t sort it out for them and our “outside agitation” only seems to exacerbate problems there.

  71. #71 Steve LaBonne
    January 31, 2007

    commisarjs, I’m perhaps more sympathetic to what you say than some of your other respondents here. I’m absolutely sick to death of “liberal hawks” myself (got that, Hillary? 😉 ). This country needs to sit down, shut the hell up, and stop trying to throw its weight around. Then we can treat the terrorist threat as the serious international law enforcement problem that it really is (to be dealt with by close police cooperation with our allies), and we can substantially shrink our obscenely bloated military and devote the resources saved to much-needed improvements at home.

  72. #72 Greg Laden
    January 31, 2007

    At the time, I felt that Bush going into Somalia was a kind of “welcome to the white house, chump” gift to Bill Clinton.

  73. #73 Chris
    January 31, 2007

    The next “terror attack on American soil” (such a quintessentially modern phrase, somehow — that’s not a TwenCen combination of words) will have to be a heck of a lot more severe than 9/11 to make us left-leaning crazies shut up. Because now we’ve learned what terror does to us.

    They don’t need to get us to shut up voluntarily. They just need to get the muddle-headed middle to look the other way while they execute us for treason or ship us off to secret prisons. That’s what Reichstag fires are all about – creating an excuse to purge the opposition.

  74. #74 khan
    January 31, 2007

    At the time, I felt that Bush going into Somalia was a kind of “welcome to the white house, chump” gift to Bill Clinton.

    Absolutely.

  75. #75 Ian H Spedding FCD
    January 31, 2007

    Seeing Jane Fonda Saturday was enough to make me wish the unthinkable: it will take another terror attack on American soil in order to render these left-leaning crazies irrelevant again.

    That is a remarkably silly thing to say but the outrage is understandable. Fonda may have been naive but what she did could easily be construed as “adhering” and giving “aid and comfort” to an enemy of the United States while American troops were fighting and dying in the field. In World War II she would probably, and quite properly, have been tried and imprisoned for what she did. Disapproving of and actively campaigning against the policies of one’s own government is one thing, actively lending support to an enemy is quite another.

    As for Vietnam, you can argue that US involvement was ill-judged in that it involved propping up nasty and corrupt regimes but anyone who thinks that North Vietnam was a model of liberal, socialist democracy needs to take a closer look at how they treated any opposition. And don’t forget that it was little more than ten years since the US and a few allies had halted communist expansionism in the Korean peninsula.

    I assume there’s no real doubt that both the North Korean and North Vietnamese regimes were – and are – totalitarian. In the recent atheist/agnostic spat my argument was that the atheist focus on religion was too narrow, that the real enemy is absolutist or totalitarian thinking of any kind, whether religious or political. PZ, Dawkins and other atheists are quite rightly outspoken in their condemnation of religious totalitarianism and scathing in their criticism of our politicians where they believe them to be lying and corrupt so why so much less outrage at political regimes which are equally deserving of it?

  76. #76 commissarjs
    January 31, 2007

    The South Vietnamese government was every bit as corrupt and murderous as the North Vietnamese government. We were supporting a dictatorship that pretended to be a democracy against a dictatorship that pretended to be communist.

    Additionally you mischaracterize the Korean conflict. The UN forces pushed the North Korean forces to the point of defeat. At that point China entered the conflict in support of North Korea and pushed the UN forces back to a stalemate at the 38th parallel. The US tried to roll back communist expansion and ultimately ended up pretty much where they started.

    The South Korean military police routinely arrested and executed civilians suspected to be communist sympathizers. The number of people executed in this manner was esimated by some to be as low as 10,000 to as many as 100,000. Hardly a role model for the free world. The North Koreans did pretty much the same thing. So six of one or half dozen of another.

  77. #77 Sean
    January 31, 2007

    Um, true, but it is undeniable that American active involvement in Vietnam pretty much began under Eisenhower.

    1945. Japan’s puppet in charge of Vietnam gives up power. Ho Chi Minh sets up a provisional government. Truman refuses to recognize the government.

    1949. The French put Japan’s puppet back in charge. Truman recognizes the government.

    1950. Truman sends military aid and American military advisors to Vietnam. Before Eisenhower’s election, over two billion in military aid is sent to prop up the South Vietnamese.

    1953-1960. Eisenhower continues an expanding program of aid and advisors.

    1961-1962. Kennedy inserts special forces, uses American helicopters piloted by American pilots to ferry Vietnamese ground troops into combat, and uses American aircraft piloted by American pilots to support bombing missions.

    1964. LBJ starts the American bombing campaign.

    1965. LBJ starts the American ground campaign.

    That is a very very condensed version of the start. By what measure does Eisenhower get credit for initiating active involvement?

    Not that I disagree with most of the actions of the first three presidents in the chain. Minh was a ripe bastard. “You have too much private property, we are seizing it,” is one thing. “You have too much private property, we are executing you,” is another.

    Similarly, it was Nixon who got us out of Viet Nam…

    Not really. It was the Democratic Congress that refused to keep funding the American adventure in VietNam that got us out of VietNam.

    Huh?

    1969. His first summer in office, Nixon flat out declares no more ground wars with American troops. Military aid and airpower are still on the table. He withdraws troops in the summer, fall and winter of this year.

    1970. Nearly two hundred thousand troops come home before Congress repeals the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.

    1971. Congress passes a nonbinding resolution calling for the withdrawal of American troops. Nixon has already called back all Marine units. Total ground troops is under one third of peak levels by the end of the year.

    1972. The last American troops are out of the country.

    1974. Congressional funding for military aid drops below the billion dollar mark.

    1975. South Vietnam falls.

    By what measure does Nixon not get credit for getting our troops of Vietnam? I suppose Congress could get some credit if you think slowing the flow of aid during the inevitable fall that final year mattered much. The South never showed any propensity for being capable of holding off the North on their own. They were going down no matter how much money we threw down that rathole.

  78. #78 Dianne
    January 31, 2007

    Since the Khmer Rouge have been mentioned, it might be worth pointing out who funded the Khmer Rouge’s attempts to regain power after the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia stopped their massacres: that notorious left-winger Ronald Reagan. Apparently Reagan wanted to hurt the Vietnamese and didn’t care what other effects his policies in that region had so he put his support behind one of the most notorious mass murderers in history, Pol Pot, in order to punish Viet Nam for continuing to exist despite American efforts.

  79. #79 Lune
    January 31, 2007

    Need it be stated again? Iraq != War on Terrorism. Even if there were another attack on the U.S. (gods forbid), the resistance to the Iraq War would be the same because…Iraq != War on Terrorism.

    I don’t know much about the Vietnam War. I’m pretty sure that anti-war != pro-communist though. I’m also pretty sure that one of the fastest ways to ruin a country is to bomb the infrastructure away.

  80. #80 trrll
    January 31, 2007

    I think that one can make a reasonable case that some of the actions that Jane Fonda took as a very young woman in opposing the war were naive and poorly-conceived. But the truth is that the real harm to both American soldiers and Vietnamese civilians arose from those (of both parties) who imagined that intervening in Viet Nam would either be in our national interest or accomplish any humanitarian goal in Viet Nam, and who failed to recognize a failing strategy and year after year funneled more and more American lives into a fruitless and useless war. The main rationalization for the huge waste of American lives–the domino theory–was proved by history to be false. Our loss in Viet Nam did not result in huge global or regional gains by communism; quite the opposite. And one does not have to believe that the North Vietnamese were a bunch of sweethearts to recognize that our involvement extended and prolonged the conflict, and greatly increased civilian casualties. It is difficult to imagine any scenario, even if the war somehow could have been “won” by sacrificing even more American lives, in which the humanitarian gains could have outweighed the humanitarian disaster that we created by prolonging the war.

    Compared to all of the politicians and pundits who supported or prolonged that war, or the ones who have made such a botch of the current one, whatever errors Jane Fonda may have made in how she chose to oppose that war, or this one, seem rather trivial.

  81. #81 David Marjanovi?
    February 1, 2007

    Fonda may have been naive but what she did could easily be construed as “adhering” and giving “aid and comfort” to an enemy of the United States while American troops were fighting and dying in the field.

    Are we afraid today? Afraid of the dangerous, dangerous Jane Fonda?

  82. #82 David Marjanovi?
    February 1, 2007

    Fonda may have been naive but what she did could easily be construed as “adhering” and giving “aid and comfort” to an enemy of the United States while American troops were fighting and dying in the field.

    Are we afraid today? Afraid of the dangerous, dangerous Jane Fonda?

  83. #83 Stanton
    February 1, 2007

    I’m afraid of Jane Fonda…
    I saw her in “Monster in Law”
    Scary.

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