How the Madison Anti-Vietnam War Protests Politicized Me

The War at Home: Resistance to the Vietnam War

Directed by Barry Alexander Brown and Glenn Silber (1979)

Film Review

This documentary traces the history of the student antiwar movement at the University of Wisconsin during the sixties and seventies. In 1968, Playboy magazine described the Madison campus as the most radical university in the country. The topic holds particular interest for me as I attended medical school there between June 1969 and June 1971.

A staunch Goldwater Republican at the time, there was no question my Madison experiences politicized me. It was there I learned how Dow Chemical (which manufactured the napalm the US dropped on Vietnamese civilians) and other big corporations controlled Congress by financing their political campaigns. Although I participated in no street protests, I cut class during the National Moratorium on November 15, 1969 to join 15,000 other students at a teach-in at the UW Field House.

UW-Madison held their first antiwar protest (consisting of 200-300 students) a month before the 1963 Kennedy assassinations. As at universities across the US, the protests grew exponentially in February 1965, after Lyndon Johnson broke his campaign promise (not to expand the Vietnam War) and began bombing North Vietnam.

Protests further escalated in 1966, following a police riot during a sit-in at the UW administration building, in which brutal clubbing of nonviolent protestors resulted in 65 hospitalizations. Protests reached their peak during the summer of 1969, with the governor ordering deployment of the National Guard to assist police. There were literal riots on Mifflin Street, largely in response to police brutality, which I directly witnessed.

Rioters engaged in running battles with police, as well as throwing fire bombs, overturning vehicles, and setting up barricades. Prior to 1969, I had only read about barricades in history books.

Anyone with a public library card can view the film free at Kanopy. Type Kanopy and the name of your library into the search engine.

 

Secret Societies: How Oligarchs Rule the World

 

An Introduction to Skull and Bones and Other Secret Societies

Kris Millegan (2012)

Millegan is the founder of TrineDay, a small Oregon publishing house dedicated to publishing suppressed books that mainstream publishers refuse to print. Titles include John Potash’s Drugs as Weapons Against Us, Judith Vary Baker’s Me and Lee: How I Came to Know, Love and Lose Lee Harvey Oswald and Dr. Mary’s Monkey: How the Unsolved Murder of a Doctor, a Secret Laboratory in New Orleans and Cancer-Causing Monkey Viruses are Linked to Lee Harvey Oswald, the JFK Assassination and Emerging Global Epidemics

I suspect most people will balk at watching the entire video summarizing Millegan’s 30 years of research into what many commentators refer to as the Deep State. For this reason, I have highlighted the two best sections. I have also attached a reading list Millegan recommends for people seeking a deeper understanding of the oligarchs who rule the US via their secret societies.

00.21 For me the best part of the talk concerns Millegan’s father, who worked for the State Department, OSS and later for the CIA and military intelligence. Lloyd Millegan was in charge of the Philippines desk for OSS and in this role he trained Philippine guerillas resisting Japanese occupation and later spied on General Douglas MacCarthur. MacCarthur’s father MacCarthur was the first military governor of the American-occupied Philippines in 1900. Douglas, who was raised in the Philippines, was suspected of supporting the Philippines oligarchy, who were collaborating with the Japanese.

In 1956, the CIA transferred Lloyd to Vietnam, where he worked with Edward Lansdale, who orchestrated a shoot out between US and French intelligence over control of Southeast Asia’s opium trade.

Lloyd eventually left the CIA to become a junior high school teacher. He tried to explain some of his intelligence work to Kris when turned 20. Very little of it made sense until Kris began researching some of Lloyd’s more outlandish statements (eg that the Vietnam War was all about drugs, that secret societies were behind it, that communism was also a sham created by secret societies, that the Vietnam War was part of a conspiracy to opiate the entire baby boom generation, and that CIA analysts informed Eisenhower in 1954 that US victory in Vietnam was impossible).

1.00 The other really interesting part of the talk directly relates to the history of Skull and Bones, a secret undergraduate fraternity started at Yale University in 1832 by William Huntington Russell and Alfonso Taft. Russell was the head of the largest opium smuggling network in the world. Taft was attorney general in the corrupt Ulysses S Grant administration and would be sent to Philippines as the first civilian governor after Arthur MacArthur was dismissed. Teddy Roosevelt’s family owed their wealth to opium smuggling and Warren Delano, Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s grandfather was chief of operations for Russell & Co, a trading company that did big business in opium smuggling in Canton. Numerous members of the Rockefeller family belonged to Skull and Bones, both before and after they founded Standard Oil. Opium smuggling also enabled Skull and Bones members to gain control of the global steel industry and American railroads.

Millegan has a good summary of the corporate elite families who have belonged to Skull and Bones at Skull and Bones families

READING LIST

Perfectabilists: The 18th Century Bavarian Order of the Illuminati by Terry Melanson – According to Millegan, this is one of the few historically accurate books in English about the Illuminati. Most of the material available in English is disinformation.

Devious Elites by Sterling Seagrave

Gold Warriors: the Covert History of Yamashita’s Gold by Steling Seagrave – refers to gold Japanese looting during World War II and allegedly hid in caves in the Philippines, how Washington secretly recovered it to set up giant Cold War slush funds and manipulate foreign governments

America’s Secret Establishment: An Introduction to the Order of Skull and Bones by Anthony Sutton – describes the battle between French and US intelligence over Southeast Asia’s opium trade.

Unholy Alliance: A History of Nazi Involvement with the Occult by Peter Lavenda

Unfriendly Skies : Saga of Corruption by Rodney Stich, Former FAA investigator

Defrauding America: Trojan Horse Corruption by Rodney Stitch – about a “deep-cover CIA officer” assigned to a counter-intelligence unit, code-named Pegasus. This unit had tape-recordings of plans to assassinate Kennedy” from a tap on the phone of J. Edgar Hoover. The voices on the tapes belonged to were Nelson Rockefeller, Allen Dulles, Lyndon Johnson, George H W Bush and J Edgar Hoover.

Fleshing Out Skull and Bones: An Investigation into America’s Most Powerful Secret Society – collection of essays edited by Millegan

 

Nixon’s Treason in Vietnam

Chasing Ghosts, Episode 7

The Vietnam War

Directed by Ken Burn and Lyn Novick

Film Review

Last night, Maori TV showed Episode 7 of the Vietnam War series, covering the second half of 1968. 1968 was a year of global revolution, when working and oppressed people all over the world revolted against their governments. This happened even in countries like Mexico, Czechoslovakia, Nigeria, Ecuador, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay that had nothing to do with the Vietnam War. See 1968

This episode incorporates excellent footage of the antiwar protests at the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention and the bloody police riot that ensued. Esteemed CBS journalist Walter Cronkite referred to Chicago as a “police state.”

By mid-1968 the new Secretary of Defense Clifford Clark was begging President Johnson to stop bombing North Vietnam. Clark no longer believed the US could win the war, and this was a North Vietnamese condition to begin Paris peace negotiations.

1968 also marked the start of the CIA’s controversial Phoenix program, in which US and South Vietnamese intelligence murdered 20,000 South Vietnamese in an effort to root out the Viet Cong (a secret South Vietnamese revolutionary group) and their supporters.

In the lead-up to elections, Democratic candidate Hubert Humphrey also called for an end to the bombing. When Johnson finally halted the bombing on October 31, Humphrey’s poll numbers surged ahead of Nixon’s.

A few days before the election, Nixon sent a secret envoy to South Vietnam promising President Thieu a “better peace deal” if he withdrew from the peace talks – which he did. Because the CIA had caught the conversation on a secret bug in Thieu’s office, Johnson confronted Nixon, who denied it. Viewing it as treason, Johnson chose not to make the incident public. He didn’t want the South Vietnamese government (or the American public) to know how he obtained the information.

Immediately after Nixon’s 1969 inauguration in January, he began secretly (and illegally) bombing Laos and Cambodia. Parts of the Ho Chi Minh trail (which North Vietnam used to send troops, weapons and food south) snaked through Laos, and Cambodia was known to offer sanctuary to North Vietnamese troops.

 

 

1968: The Year Americans Turned Against the Vietnam War

Things Fall Apart, Episode 6

The Vietnam War

Directed by Ken Burn and Lyn Novick

Film Review

Last night Maori TV showed episode six of the PBS Vietnam War series, covering the first half of 1968. Most of this episode deals with the January 31 Tet Offensive from the North Vietnamese standpoint. Although it was a failure militarily for North Vietnam, it was a public relations disaster for the US. It was the first time the North Vietnamese Army/Viet Cong had entered Saigon (they nearly capture the US Embassy.

After watching the nightly coverage of bloody conflict on US TV, the American people realized that Johnson had been lying when he claimed the US was winning the war. Esteemed TV journalist Walter Cronkite covered the Tet Offensive on the ground and came out against the war when he returned to the US.

When Johnson nearly lost the New Hampshire primary to anti-war candidate Eugene McCarthy (on March 30), he announced his decision not to seek a second term.

On April 4, Martin Luther King was assassinated (after coming out against the war a year earlier). Later that month, Bobby Kennedy entered the Democratic primary on a pledge to end the war. He seemed poised to win the Democratic nomination when he was assassinated in June.

“If You’ve Got Dough, You Don’t Have to Go”

Episode 4 – Doubt

The Vietnam War

Directed by Ken Burn and Lyn Novick

Film Review

Maori TV showed Episode 4 of the Vietnam War series this week. 1966, Lyndon Johnson’s second year in office, saw a massive escalation of US forces in Vietnam – increasing from 200,000 in January to 500,000 in June 1967. Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines and South Korea also sent troops to serve in Vietnam. Because both Australia and New Zealand had compulsory conscription until the early 1970s, there was a sizeable anti-Vietnam War movement in both countries.

The UK and Europe, in contrast, opposed the Vietnam War and called for the withdrawal of foreign troops.

Johnson also substantially escalated bombing campaigns against North Korea, Laos and Cambodia (the North Vietnamese used a network of jungle roads in Laos and Cambodia to transport arms and personnel to South Vietnam). North Vietnamese civilians, most of them women, worked day and night restoring the so-called “Ho Chi Minh trail following US bombing raids.

Because the US was incapable of gaining territory in Vietnam, it used body counts to measure its success. The latter frequently included civilians and were always exaggerated. The US goal was to reach a “crossover point” – where the US killed more North Vietnamese soldiers than North Vietnam could replace. This never happened.

In May 1966, the US puppet government in South Vietnam nearly collapsed owing to mass demonstrations in Saigon demanding representative democracy and a negotiated settlement to the war.

As US forces swelled in Vietnam, the Pentagon was forced to begin drafting college students, which massively fueled the antiwar movement. It was common for well-to-do families (like the Bushes) to arrange deferments tor their kids. As the saying went, “If you’ve got dough, you don’t have to go.”

In Vietnam, as in Iraq and Afghanistan, a disproportionate number of draftees and casualties were African American.

Vietnam: An Unwinnable War from the Outset

The River Styx Episode 3

The Vietnam War

Directed by Ken Burn and Lyn Novick

Film Review

Last night Maori TV showed Part 3 of the Vietnam War series. The title refers to the river dead people cross in Roman mythology to reach the Underworld.

The third episode covers the period 1964-1965 under President Lyndon Johnson. The latter reversed Kennedy’s initiative to withdraw US military “advisors” from Vietnam. Within days of the assassination, the new president increased the number of forces “advising” the South Vietnamese Army to 16,000. He also began secretly bombing and shelling North Vietnam (which was supplying arms to the South Vietnamese Army of Liberation). He concealed the bombing from the US public because 1964 was an election year.

By January 1965, the South Vietnamese Army of Liberation had nearly wiped out the South Vietnamese Army, and Johnson was forced to introduce “conventional” troops. In August 1964, Congress had passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which granted Johnson the authority to militarily “assist any Southeast Asian country which was being threatened by Communist aggression.” The Resolution was passed in response to an alleged unprovoked North Vietnamese attack on a US spy ship that, according to declassified documents, never happened.

The introduction of US ground forces would draw the North Vietnamese Army into the war, in support of the South Vietnamese Liberation Army. It would also lead France, Vietnam’s former colonial oppressor, to call for an end to all foreign intervention in Vietnam.

By May, Johnson had sent 50,000 GIs to Vietnam and pledged another 50,00 by the end of 1965. From the outset US troops deliberately waged a “counterinsurgency” war, ie one that clearly targeted civilians. The anger this provoked among the South Vietnamese population greatly enhanced recruitment efforts by the South Vietnamese Liberation Army.

On the domestic front, the introduction of ground troops (via a compulsory draft) would fuel a growing anti-Vietnam War protest movement by mid-1965.

At the end of 1965, General Westmoreland, who commanded US forces during the Vietnam War, requested an additional 200,000 troops. Johnson would comply, even though by that point, he and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara realized the Vietnam War was unwinnable.

 

 

 

Untold History of the US – Bush and Clinton Squandered Peace

Part 9 of Oliver Stones Untold History of the United States covers the Bush senior and Clinton presidency

Bush Senior Presidency

Stone begins by exploring the role of Bush’s father Prescott Bush and other Wall street figures in supporting the rise of Hitler and the Nazi war machine. The list of Wall Street corporations that supplied money, weapons, chemicals, tanks, aircraft and other material support to the Third Reich is a long one: Ford, IBM, GM, Hearst, Standard Oil, Dupont, Kodak, United Fruit, Westinghouse, Douglas Aircraft, ITT, GE, Singer, International Harvester, Union Bank, Chase Manhattan Bank, JP Morgan and the Bank of International Settlements.

Many of these companies demanded (and received) reparations when the Allies bombed their German factories.

Stone devotes much of this episode to the fall of totalitarian rule in Eastern Europe (1989-91), which he describes as the largest peaceful revolution in history. He also discusses the military coup by Boris Yeltsin that shut down parliamentary rule in the Russian Federation and the role of Wall Street, the World Bank, IMF and a handful of Russian oligarchs in systematically stripping the Russian people of their industrial wealth. During this period, many Russians died of malnutrition and medically preventable illness. The life expectancy would drop from 67 to 57 for men and from 76 to 70 for women.

Bush senior, surrounded by anti-Soviet hawks (eg Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld who would go on to found Project for a New American Century) rebuffed all Gorbachev’s overtures for world peace. Stone maintains Gorbachev would never have been forced out of office if Bush had supported him.

The Clinton Presidency

Instead of delivering the promised “peace dividend” when the Cold War ended, Clinton initiated a new wave of defense spending and multiple military interventions overseas. Among them

  • He launched a war on Yugoslavia to gain access to Caspian Sea oil for US oil companies.
  • He authorized numerous bombing raids on Iraq, supposedly as enforcement of the no-fly zone in regions controlled by Kurds and Shiite rebels.
  • He began expanding NATO to former Eastern Bloc countries to enable US oil companies to build pipelines to transport Russian oil to Europe.
  • He ordered 75 cruise missiles (at $750,000 each) to be fired on a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory and Zawhar Kili Camp in Afghanistan to distract public attention from the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Bush and Clinton: Squandered Peace – New World Order

A British View of American History

the american future

The American Future: A History from the Founding Fathers to Barack Obama.

Simon Schama

Random House (2008)

Book Review

Written for a British audience, The American Future attempts to define the quintessential American national character by tracing historical movements that have shaped US society. The five political movements Schama considers most important are 1) the gradual rise of a professional military officer class, 2) the role of evangelical religion in the movement to abolish slavery, 3) the brutal imperialist war against Mexico and the Philippines, 4) the forced displacement of the Cherokee and four other Native American nations under Andrew Jackson, and 5) the development of large scale irrigation in to open the Southwest desert area to agriculture.

For me the primary value of this book is all the historical gems Schama includes that you never learn about in high school. For example:

• The founding of West Point military academy with its Jeffersonian emphasis on philosophy and civil engineering, as opposed to military tactics. Jefferson believed a sound liberal education for US military officers would help ensure the US never went to war except to defend liberty. Congress consistently refused to fund a US military or naval academy until an undeclared war with France broke out in 1796.* Over a period of ten months, the French seized 300 US merchant vessels. When Congress eventually authorized funding for West Point, its primary purpose was to train the Army Corps of Engineers, who built the levees, bridges, damns, dykes and forts that enabled westward expansion. They also drained the swamp in Washington DC and built the Capitol and other important federal buildings.

• President Lyndon Johnson’s role, in 1964, in blocking the credentialing of Mississippi’s Freedom Democratic Party, led by Fannie Lou Hamer, after the Mississippi Democratic Party declared their support for the Republican candidate Barry Goldwater. This blatant white cronyism would provide major impetus to the growing black power movement.

• The profound religious intolerance that persisted in the US even after the 1780 adoption of the Bill of Rights guaranteeing separation of church and state. ** In Massachusetts, Sunday church attendance was compulsory until 1833 – until 1840, blasphemy could be punished by one year in prison, public whipping or the pillory. In Maryland Jews weren’t allowed to vote or hold office until the state passed the Jew Bill in 1820.

• Anti-immigrant feelings, especially against Germans, Irish, Mexicans and Chinese were so intense during the 19th century that there were frequent riots in which immigrants were lynched or had their homes set on fire. An 1855 riot in Louisville would have affected my great grandfather, whose family arrived in the area after immigrating from Germany in 1840.

• President Teddy Roosevelt’s 1902 National Reclamation Act, which led to the construction of 600 dams (including Grand Coulee and Hoover Dam) in thirty years. These would provide irrigation to millions of acres of desert in California and the Southwest. This project would include the diversion of the Colorado River to supply Southern California’s Imperial Valley, which supplies nearly half the fresh fruit and vegetables consumed by Americans, as well as Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix and parts of Mexico.


*Prior to reading this book, I had no idea the US and France had been at war (with each other).

**The early view of the Bill of Rights was that it only pertained to the federal government and didn’t apply to state law.

Progressives Who Oppose Gun Control

2nd amendment

I’ve always been curious how American progressives got on the anti-civil liberties side of gun control. It strikes me as a grave strategic error. I have written elsewhere about the extreme difficulty liberals and progressives face in engaging the working class. I have also been highly critical of their tendency to get sucked into “lifestyle” campaigns (anti-smoking, anti-obesity, vegeterianism, etc.), owing to the strong class antagonism this engenders in blue collar voters.

Contrary to the stereotypes portrayed in the corporate media, class differences – and class hatred – are alive and well in the US. From the perspective of a blue collar worker, the progressive movement is the middle class. They’re the teachers, social workers, psychologists, doctors, lawyers and religious leaders who make the rules for the rest of this. Thus when they tell us not to smoke, eat big Macs, or buy guns, we don’t see this as political reform. We see it as an extension of their (privileged) class role.

Here in New Zealand, young upwardly mobile professionals manifest the same zeal as their American counterparts for anti-smoking and healthy eating campaigns. However there’s no gun control lobby here. It would be unthinkable in a country where one third of the population lives in cities. Gun ownership and proficiency are fundamental to the Kiwi way of life, especially in rural provincial areas.

The History of Progressive Opposition to Gun Control

For a progressive to take a stand against gun control is a pretty lonely place. However I’m not utterly alone. There’s a 1979 book edited by Don Kates entitled Restricting Handguns: The Liberal Skeptics Speak Out. There’s also an organization called the Liberal Gun Club, whose mission is to “provide a voice for gun-owing liberals and moderates in the national conversation on gun rights, gun legalization, firearms safety, and shooting sports.”

Then there’s Sam Smith’s excellent article in the Preogressive Review: “Why Progressives Should Stop Pushing for More Gun Control Laws.” Among Smith’s numerous arguments, three leap out at me: the exacerbation of “cultural conflict” between rural and urban and wealthy and not so well off, the tendency for gun restrictions and prohibition to be intersect with a drive to restrict other civil liberties, and the need for progressives to stop treating average Americans as though they were “alien creatures.” He seems to share my view that progressives lose elections as much because of their condescending attitudes as their issues.

In January  2011 (following Representative Gifford’s shooting and renewed calls for gun control), Dan Baum wrote in the Huffington Post that progressives have wasted a generation of progress on health care, women’s rights, immigration reform, income fairness and climate change because “we keep messing with people’s guns.” He likens gun control as to marijuana prohibition – all it does is turn otherwise law-abiding people into criminals and create divisiveness and resentment.

How Progressives Came to Oppose the 2nd Amendment

None of this explains how progressives got on the wrong side of this issue. US gun manufacturers wrote the first gun control legislation in 1958, in an effort to restrict Americans’ access to cheap imports. However, owing to civil liberties implications, the bill encountered stiff Congressional opposition. Finally in 1968 President Lyndon Johnson played the race card and used the inner city riots to pass a watered down version of the industry’s original gun control bill. It required gun dealers to register guns and ammunition, banned the mail order and interstate sale of guns, and instituted a lifelong ban on felons (even on non-violent convictions) owning guns.

Progressive research into gun control generally makes two equally salient points: 1) the aim of gun control legislation is to control people (mainly disenfranchised minorities and the poor), not guns and 2) in countries with strict gun control laws, the use of deadly force is restricted to the police and army, as ordinary citizens aren’t trusted to play any role (including self-defense) in maintaining law and order.

Using Gun Control to Control African Americans

America’s extreme preoccupation with gun control appears directly related to their 200 year history of slavery and oppressive Jim Crow laws that followed emancipation. As Steve Ekwall writes in the Racist Origins of US Gun Control,and Clayton Cramer in Racist Roots of Gun Control, the targeting of blacks with early gun control laws is extremely blatant.

In the south, pre-civil war “Slave Codes” prohibited slaves from owing guns. Following emancipation, many southern states still prohibited blacks from owning guns under “Black Codes.” This was on the basis that they weren’t citizens and not entitled to Second Amendment rights. After the 1878 adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment, which formally acknowledged blacks as citizens, southern states imposed high taxes or banned inexpensive guns, so as to price blacks and poor whites out of the market.

Ekwall also quotes gun control advocate Robert Sherrill, author of The Saturday Night Special and Other Guns (1972). Sherill states unequivocally that “The Gun Control Act of 1968 was passed, not to control guns, but to control blacks.”

Ekwall goes on to describe the unprecedented 1965-68 race riots in 125 American cities, in which the violence was graphically magnified by extensive TV coverage. The paranoia this engendered in the corporate and political elite was greatly heightened by Stokely Carmichael and other Black Panthers openly advocating violent revolution and the well-publicized protests (and police riot) at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago.

The Last Pro-Gun Democrat

As Joe Bageant writes in Deer Hunting with Jesus, the 1968 pro-war Democratic presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey uttered the last breath of Democratic sanity over the gun control issue. It’s really sad how radical he sounds in 2014:

“The right of citizens to bear arms is just one more guarantee against arbitrary government, one more safeguard against the tyranny which now appears remote in America, but which historically has proved to be always possible.”

photo credit: Whiskeygonebad via photopin cc