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17 March 2016


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"That's true as far as it goes, but the even more gloomy reality is that US universities and training grounds for those diplomats of the future are under the thumb of the Borg."

You can read opinions of US Foreign Service officer (one of) here:


As per "academia", my recent (Summer 2015)encounter with Princeton-educated Ph.D. in US-Russian Relations, no less, was on the account of immediate post-WW II situation. I was astounded when this "scholar" gave me a full blown "Patton" in a sense that: we (that is USA) could have driven Red Army back to Moscow if we wanted to and that it was also due to the, and I quote, "largest Air Force ever". My corrections to his views that he does not necessarily operate in realistic framework and that the largest, not to say with unparalleled combat experience, tactical-operational Air Force was Red Air Force created only silence. The guy, however, is not a neocon, in fact he is (I suspect) one of those Woodstock generation liberal types and yet, he still exhibited all those traits of American exceptionalism and merely underscored the fact of his Ph.D. is in "Why USA is better than anyone else in the world". And he is not unique at all, in some sense he is very typical. And I met number of both "academe" and "diplomatic" types--most of them (not all) were like that. I observe this rather common manifestations on daily bases in media and "academe".


The piece above may as well apply to US. While this speaks directly to the US


We are talking here about systemic and extremely dangerous flaw of the system which is supposed to provide more or less objective view but instead, increasingly, provides a US-centric caricature of the outside world. If this may fly with some African or Latin American nation, when dealing with Russia--this may become an issue of war and peace. As per modern Russia--until serious and objective study of the Soviet period will not be done by scholars who actually want (and need) to understand what REALLY happened, until then, I guess, we all will be hearing long-dead and irrelevant cliches and platitudes.



On the off chance that you are actually interested in the subject I discussed above. I will add that in my second tour in VN I went by the MACV headquarters at Ton Son Nhut air base in Saigon to see someone I knew who was assigned there. I was curious as to what was "up" in the world of the theater command. My acquaintance worked in the staff section that was managing the withdrawal, you know, what civilians called "Vietnamization." The great age of computers was only just getting started in earnest and pencils and chalk were still in fashion. In three or four rooms there were big chalkboards on all the walls. On the boards were written the descriptions of twenty-five or thirty time phased slices or trenches of the withdrawal. For each trenche dates were given and the units and activities were described that would leave by a certain date. Balance geographically and by function was achieved for each trenche. The countdown had started in 1969 and by 1972 we were most of the way through the program. My unit was in the last trenche. As that year progressed more and more units disappeared as their date of departure arrived. One week you would be dealing with someone and the next week they were gone and the activity finished. I left on the last chartered flight from Tan Son Nhut airbase after destroying my unit's remaining papers. By that time I had one Vietnamese Army guard left. He drove me to the airport and I gave him the keys to the car telling and told him that the tires needed re-balancing. Then I flew home. pl

Chris Chuba

CNN : Syrian Civil War - Russians bombing hospitals

This seems like the right thread for this post. CNN did a series on the Syrian Civil war with on scene coverage. It even looks like one of their reporters speaks Arabic fluently. In any case, they were really going all in on the premise that the Russians were bombing hospitals in rebel territory. I'll lay out their case here ..
1. The motive - to prove that the rebels cannot govern the territory they control and/or depopulate the area.
2. evidence
- Doctors without borders documenting something like 85+ facilities destroyed in 2015
- Camera footage of destroyed buildings and interviews. Assuming that CNN isn't deliberately editing their footage to be intentionally deceptive, it looks very damning.

CNN - did repeat a simple statement by the Russians denying the allegation with no elaboration whatsoever.

I don't know what to make of this. I don't like to dismiss allegations because it doesn't fit with what I want to believe and I am not in Syria. This does not seem consistent with the Russian plan as best as I can divine their actions. The Russians appear to be trying to force a political resolution to the war that eliminates the Jihadists. This is not consistent with intentional depopulation / destruction of vital infrastructure.

Any thoughts on this topic would be appreciated.


Any other source than CNN?


dear Col. Lang,

thank you for taking the trouble to make (not one, but two!) informative replies to my query.

Yes I am posting from Canberra, Australia. Long-time reader but very infrequent poster.

May I trouble you with another query concerning those days?

An author called Lembcke wrote a book about 'spitting' on returning Vietnam Vets and argued that there was little or no documentary evidence of this and it was essentially a post-war urban myth.


What is your view on this issue? Did you personally encounter this type of thing, or hear of credible reports of it? This may have been discussed on your blog before, but I forget the outcome if it was.

NB. I am/was opposed to the Vietnam war but I do not condone this activity, if it occurred. Especially in a democracy, protest and criticism should go to the Government of the Day, not the troops.





William R. Cumming

P.L>! Many thanks for your detailed comments in this thread!


bernard, welcome, I shouldn't interfere. No doubt, but since it concerns what feels one of my earliest struggles with Pat, here goes:

"I am/was opposed to the Vietnam war ..."

I guess, I was, Bernard. How could you be otherwise as a kid partially growing up in ruins that told some type of stories? In my as a lefty, with distrust concerning the diverse ideologues on the left in the early 70s in Berlin. ... that would be a longer story.

From Editorial Reviews:

"Similar images were common in post-World War I Germany and France after Indochina"

Never heard about this. Fast speed checks here only lead to pro-war propaganda and its results afterwards. This may be a derivative focus.


I can of course say nothing about Jerry Lembcke

His CV tells us he served in Vietnam in 1969. But does it makes sense to reduce it to a huge myth only in the vast "human animal universe"? In other words not a single such case happened? That's a relevant complaint from the commentary section.

Personally I witnessed first hand what felt like anti-US-soldiers sentiments against not again American's but against American GI's on the left German ground in the early 70s 'when recognizable', meaning recognizably in uniform, that is. And at the time, it reminded me of earlier unrelated experiences that left a similar feeling. "collective treatment"? ... But I won't relate the story here, but yes, associatively I wondered about that at the time.

I no doubt may have tended to avoid the 'Nam returnees, basically, there were some heavy cases among them, especially when drunk telling rather horrible stories. ... Maybe most I talked more often to were the "lucky draftees" winding up in Berlin at the time. 1971/72?

On the other hand, I encountered a personal "double standard", when I read about precursors of my "anti-war" spirit in the context of the history of Pacifica Radio. Draft deniers no doubt weren't treated kindly at that point in time. I could feel with them ... On the other hand as German? You get what I mean, I hope.



I think your "struggle" was mostly with yourself. I have no idea how common spitting on soldiers in uniform was. I suspect the incidence was low. I only know it happened to me. That year I lived in s small VN town within 20 km. of the Cambodian border. No local person ever did anything hostile to me and I was often alone with them, got shaved in a local barber shop every day with only VN present. Our problem was with enemy troops and political cadres not with the people. any analogy to the behavior of the German government or military in WW2 is just false. pl



I glanced at Lembke's CV at Holy Cross. "Military Service: US Army VN, 1969" is not much of a description. There is so much phony claiming of a combat service background that I have doubts. Was he ever in the US Army? What was his Military Occupational Specialty? (MOS)What organization was he with in VN? 1969 before the phased withdrawal began was the height of US presence in VN. We had over 500,000 uniformed people there then. Of those the vast majority never saw or heard of a VC/NVA. If there were 100,000 people actually in combat that would have been a lot. For the great majority the hazards were boredom. STDs (VD) from the multitude of oh, so willing whores, getting caught black marketing PX purchases, traffic accidents. You get the idea. At the same time his CV is stuffed with left wing books, magazine articles pleading for a chance to "save Marxism," etc. Most
American servicemen in VN were what we called REMFs. As Creighton Abrams once said, "It is never crowded at the front." pl


Pat, first, yes maybe I am a bit of a monade, forever turning around myself, while absorbing elements to integrate in a wider understanding of me and the world out there.

Otherwise, I am both embarrassed I babbled again, while not asked really ;) , and glad I did, since it is usually accompanied with more attention to topics.

I looked a bit in the sentence that caught my attention in bernard's comment above ...

Below on Wikipedia another line catches my attention, seems to point in the same direction:
"Lembcke writes that this discrediting of the anti-war movement was foreshadowed by Hermann Göring's fostering of the stab in the back myth, after Germany's defeat in Europe in 1918.[1]"


I wonder if this is a different articulation of what was on the lady reviewer's - as added on Amazon - mind:


Jerry Lembcke is Associate Professor of Sociology at Holy Cross College. In 1969 he was a Chaplain's Assistant assigned to the 41st Artillery Group in Vietnam.



Thanks for the word, "monade." I may be bit like that myself. Chaplain's Assistant? Well, more power to him. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaplain_Assistant
If memory serves there was one such in the old TV show, "Mash." Hey, somebody has to drive the chaplain's jeep and keep the stock of altar wine and hosts current. As I said, I was spat upon at San Francisco International airport in May, 1968 and the spitter looked at me and the sergeant standing next to ,e and spat on me. pl


Pat, hmmm, interesting. I wouldn't have realized. thanks.



Ah! Sorry. I thought the word was "marinated." pl

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