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20 January 2014


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I have to challenge your basic assessment, Pat. I hold no brief for the Islamic jihadists. I consider their actions, like this bombing of the Taberna du Liban in Kabul to be wholly without morality and are therefore unsanctionable by Islam as well. But to say they ARE waging a war against Western Civilization is to speak in hyperbole. They may be waging a war to PRESERVE themselves from Western Civilization. Perhaps you argue that it is the same thing. But the two do not need to be in permanent conflict. An exaggerated assessment only becomes part of the problem rather than contributing to its amelioration. I am watching the big anti-Taliban demonstrations in Kabul as well. There is where hope exists.


Just an observation from the hills, the majority of your caucasian members of correspondence, are either willfully obtuse when it comes to matters of civilzational conflict, or they are so besotted with "political correctness" they can't even begin to acknowledge the concept.

I remember the "My Canh".

Two things you could say about Vietnam, the food was damn good, and they made damn fine enemies.



Somewhere back in the fog, I remember that a barge restaurant was blown up in Saigon. There were no roadside IED’s or suicide bombings during my one year in country; jungle rot/disease and booby traps caused most of our MedEvacs.

There have been profound changes in the last 50 years. In the 1960’s the limits of nuclear weapons were being tested and drafted peoples armies fought in S.E. Asia killing thousands. It became clear that nuclear ICBMs had made state verses state wars impossible. Plutocrats seized Russia. “History Ended”.

The Bush II Administration and the Obama Administration have never grasped that an Empire brings peace not war. Government is by and for the people.

As the energy costs rise and young men can’t find jobs, the world is being immersed in Non Government Organizations (NGO) Wars. Sunni and Shiite militias, funded by oil sheiks, Mexican drug gangs, are all recipients of Western Arms. War now is a corporate profit center propelled by ethnic and religious hatreds. Suicide Bombings are the cheap counter to Drone Wars. There were never enough troops on the ground to bring peace to Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa, or Mexico.

What is always the same are the Body Counts that don’t mean nothing.



Your hope is misplaced but it always was. You are too kindly. pl


We will agree to disagree.


One should not forget that the tribe that does the bombing is not necessarily the tribe that bleeds by the bombing: http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=11297 The utter complacency to hold the Gulfies responsible for their action is either proof of absolute ignorance or perfidious malice and I tend to believe the latter is the case.

The Virginian

Ideologically I would tend to agree that the caustic mix of Deobandi - Wahhabi teachings that underpin core Taliban world views is inherently anti-Western, though I would add that it is very much focused at least present on a line of sectarian, communal and economic competition stretching through Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India with significant linkages to the Gulf and beyond. Of note though is that there is potential similarity at a tactical level in that the Taliban view such attacks as undermining the will of expatriate-led humanitarian and development groups that are attempting to offer an alternative (although not always ground-truthed or realistic in planning or implementation) to the Taliban narrative. As such this is, like in Vietnam, about sowing fear and uncertainty. Moreover, the recent bombing was not the first. From 2002 - 2008 I can recall from my time in and out of Kabul several attacks on Westernized or Western-oriented restaurants, hostels, hotels and other locations in the city, although the frequency of such attacks has not been anywhere near what they could have or may yet become. Perhaps the ongoing withdrawal of NATO and US troops will see such attacks increase as security in Kabul deteriorates (the Afghans do not have the same capabilities) with the intent of ensuring the NGOs, UN, World Bank, and state donor agencies retreat further behind their walls to the point of irrelevancy (some may say they already are, to which I would respond it depends upon the organization and context specific to where a given group is implementing an activity) to the communities they are supposed to serve and where the locals will determine what side of the fence they want to come down on. Afghans are looking around and seeing a President in bed with the Hezb-e Islami of Hekmatyr (with the potential for a soft coup from within and a new period of internecine violence), an international community increasingly tired of war and rightfully counting the costs of maintaining a level of commitment that outstrips the benefits (and political will), and a Taliban that while having suffered significant attrition at the hands of NATO / Coalition attacks maintains cross-border centers of gravity still untouched by drones or other covert action that can serve as a source of renewed vigor post-2014. Not too mention the continued lure of a meager existence by selling out land and labor to Afghan and Pakistani drug barons.

The Virginian

One correction to my last post, it is Hezb-e Gulbuddin, not Sayyaf's Hezb-e Islami, to which I was referring as being the soft coup threat.



"perfidious malice?" the US? No, just inept naivete. pl



The taliban are anti-western islamic fanatics and that is all there is to it. They have no other motivation. pl



Just out of curiosity, how do you know
which members of the SST Committee of
Correspondents are "Caucasians"? Do you
think it is important?

I too remember the "My Canh".

One time I had a meet where the introductory parole went like this "What are you drinking?"
"Saigon tea" "We are far from Saigon" "My
generation is never far from Saigon".[I am translating as the exchange was in Chinese/

USMC 1965-1972
FBI 1972 -1996

Richard Armstrong

This is an honest question and I hope that it receives honest, accurate responses free of political correctness. This question is not an attempt to excuse any actions. It's just a question seeking a proper definition.

Can a culture that has only risen to the level of tribalism be considered a civilization?

Old Gun Pilot

I was never comfortable at any of the VN cafes in country and I was convinced the monkey meat on a stick that some friends liked was really dog. Ironically,the best food was at the small officers club at the SF compound at Phu Bai. They had somehow acquired a real French trained chef. The club also had the first bumper pool table I had seen.


They ARE anti-western Islamic fanatics, but they are more Afghan-centric in their ambitions than they are American- or Western centric. Also they are not as independent as they appear. Without the safe-havens they enjoy in the neighboring country and the financial support of wealthy donors, they would not last very long. They are an empowered movement. I agree with you that we will likely experience more attacks like we have seen the last couple of days, including the attack on our base at Zhari. They want to create a perception that we are being driven from their country, not that the US government has taken a decision to leave on our own. I actually agree with the comments of The Virginian above that the soft-coup scenario apparently being organized by HIG is the more likely direction of future developments. We will know by April or so. It that effort succeeds, we likely will see support for the Taliban drop off precipitously. Your other previous comment, "just inept naivete," also applies.


We are over there. We are waging war against the Islamists. You have it backwards.



We are opposing political Islam and the jihadi movements that it spawns because they are dangerous to us. I make no apology for that. pl



"they are more Afghan-centric in their ambitions than they are American- or Western centric." You misunderstand me. I am in favor of abandoning Afghanistan to its miserable fate specifically because the Taliban are not a threat to the US. they are insignificant from our point of view. That does not make them any less Islamic fanatics. who see themselves as enemies of the West. Let them run the "country." in that part of the world it is Pakistan that is a major potential threat. I seem to recall that you have a personal connection to Afghanistan. pl



I stayed out of monkey meat joints. pl


Richard Armstrong

Actually, Islam abhors tribalism. The goal of Islam has always been to unite people under what is seen as God's expressed will as to how people should live and that never includes tribalism. The high culture of Islam certainly should be thought a civilization. Do not mistake the ethnic or political behavior of peoples who happen to be Muslims of various kinds with the nature of Islam itself. pl


Max, in whose mind do they intend to create that perception?


When driving up from My Tho to Saigon always enjoyed stopping by the "Cock and Bull" for a bite to eat (about a block down the street, across from NAVFORV). When out and about always had to have a secondary exit beside me. Usually sat near a rear exit. If I recall correctly seemed like the satchel charges were always chucked in the main entrance of places frequented by Westerners. Don't recall ever hearing about VC sappers wearing the charges.

May be wrong but believe the car bombing took place in front of the 'President Hotel'? Recall the bar was up several stories. After having a drink decided to exit due to the cloud of cigarette smoke hanging in the air. Went over and waited next to the elevator for a ride down and as the door opened, people pushed forward to make it aboard. I clung to the side of the entrance and watched several people pitch forward into the abyss; the flight down to the plaza without the elevator. Went directly to the staircase and vacated the premises.

Seems it's the Sunni's vice the Shia, for the most part, that take pleasure in exercising explosive martyrdom to vaporize Westerner's and thus their cultural influence.


Richard Armstrong

My answer was incomplete. In addition to the ethnic and political divisions that I mentioned the Muslims divide themselves into consensus groups that define for themselves the "rulebook" for Islam. Each group sees itself as the bearers of the correct Islam and others as being in error. Some of these groups are very large and others quite small. they are often quite willing to kill people outside their own group. pl



I have often eaten in the "Cock and Bull." I particularly liked the Australian beef and the shrimp curry made with giant fresh water prawns. I Broke a hand and the Vietnamese wife of the retired navy chief who owned the place took to sitting next to me to feed me dinner. "satchel charges?" When and where? pl

Richard Armstrong

COL, Thank you very much for your response. I'm sorry that I didn't make it clear that my question had nothing to do with Islam although re-reading it one could certainly think that it did.

I really should refrain from posting from my iPhone. It tends to lead one to very short posts encompassing incomplete thoughts.

John Adamson

RE: Saigon Dining

I was an EM so I didn't patronize the ritzy places.

What I remember fondly was buffalo burgers and 33 Beer at Tan Son Nhut airport. The gamey beef and the strong beer complimented each other.

It's funny what you can remember after 45 years.

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