The First of Three Texans
I Was Ever
After graduation from prep school at the age of sixteen, my family decided that for both my mental well-being and happiness, it would be best for me to work a year or two before going on to the university. At the time, I was very much interested in politics—a subject I had often discussed with my grandfather who had been born in Alsace-Lorraine and who was so fervently conservative he espoused the ideas of the fanatic Roman Catholic priest, Father Coughlin, who had ranted and raved against Franklin D. Roosevelt during F.D.R.’s presidency. My grandfather and I had talked frequently about Barry Goldwater and the young editor of a new conservative magazine, National Review, William F. Buckley, Jr.—or as he would have preferred it—Wm. F. Buckley, Jr. I called N.R. to see if there was a job offering, and for the only time in my life, I was taken on not just after the initial job interview, I was told to come in to work as soon as possible and begin my services as a correspondence/circulation assistant—something that also meant I was to get the ladies’ lunches, sweep the floor, and help Angelo, on Saturdays, print our address-o-graph’s zinced pieces of metal to the paper labels which would envelope the latest N.R. edition. I was thrilled beyond belief.
One day, Gertrude, Mr. Buckley’s private secretary, called me up to the editorial offices and told me Mr. Buckley wanted me to go the next day to the Pierre Hotel, pick up the elderly mother of L. Brent Bozell, an N.R. editor, and chaperon her to a rally of the Young Americans for Freedom which was to come to be in Madison Square Garden. When we arrived at M.S.G., I escorted the nimble—yet exactingly polite—lady from the taxi to the anteroom of the large sports and entertainment center. She leaned on my arm, and I walked gingerly with her caring not to let her trip or fall.
In the M.S.G.’s outer room used as a waiting room, there was a congregation of some of The Big Guns of the United States’ conservative movement: Bill Buckley, Priscilla Buckley, James Burnham (author of The Managerial Revolution), William A. Rusher, Senator Barry Goldwater, Charles Edison (son of Thomas A. Edison), Senator Strom Thurmond, Bill Rickenbacker (son of World War I aviation ace, “Eddie” Rickenbacker), and one short man who stood all alone out of the way of all the commotion—just as I, too, had gone off to a side to remain standing by myself.
Within a flash, that stocky character—whose hair was flattened back in Clark Gable fashion—came up to me, with his hand stretched out, and—very un-New-Yorkishly—said: “Howdy, I’m John Tower from Texas!”
Was he assassinated?
The Second of
I Was Ever
Imagine it is September, 1966. You have passed a relaxing summer concentrating on bicycling a lot and performing vigorous calisthenics because you—now a university graduate—know that it is time to begin two years of active duty in the United States Army as an artillery second lieutenant, a redleg. You had been commissioned on the same day of your graduation after having studied four years of Military Science, five hours a week, in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. You are going to Fort Sill, the Home of the Artillery, in Oklahoma. You will go to school again, immediately, attend the Officer Basic Course at the United States’ Army Artillery & Missile School, and receive a diploma for your efforts. You are excited. Vietnam looms large in your mind. You are anxious.
Fort Sill and the city of Lawton which lies next to it turn out to be hardship tours themselves—even less interesting than the downright difficult Vietnam would prove to be later. The first three months of O.B.C. take the sting out of the boredom on the base because there are eight hours of classroom study each day and, in the evening, two or three hours of homework. One of the most popular of songs during this time is Sonny and Cher’s “The Beat Goes On.”
In our class, there are two students with whom I will become friendly and pal around with until we receive our first assignments. Tom Wilkins from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Jim Kindla from Pearsall, Texas. Tom is a very likeable crew-cut guy, somewhat reserved, and very intelligent. He comes from Villanova University, R.O.T.C. Jim is the life of our little “party”—an individual with a keen sense of humor and a disposition to be terribly decent and generous with everyone. He comes from Texas A&M, R.O.T.C.
In all these years of thinking back on our friendships, I have more than once regretted how stupid I am for not having stayed in touch with them. Tom was from the East Coast as I was. Jim was from Texas! Tom had never met a Texan before and I had only shook the hand of one. Jim had never fallen upon an Easterner. We were all anxious to know about each other and the places from where each of us had hailed from. Jim stood out larger, like Texas, than any of us Easterners. He was an amazing character.
The first thing that struck me about him was his military bearing. No one looked better in a uniform than Lieutenant James Kindla. The fact of the matter is Jim looked more like a general than he did a lieutenant! Even when we went to shoot pool on weekends in Lawton—dressed in civilian clothes—Jim’s poise body-languaged as if it was missing its uniform. His officer’s cap fit his head perfectly. He could have been a model for an Army poster. Jim’s “culture” was to take military service more seriously than Tom and I. We would have been satisfied to enhance our curricula vitae with the details of our Army stint—to help us get a better job after our active duty obligation. I do not know if Jim chose to make the Army his career. He, too, had had his doubts about Army life when we chummed around together. However, I am sure Jim Kindla would have been more than an excellent officer.
One night Tom and I were returning to our Bachelor Officers’ Quarters with Jim—in his car. (I remember it even seemed strange to me to enter a car with T-E-X-A-S license plates and not The Empire State’s!) Because Jim’s car was permitted on base, it had to be registered, and being so, red stickers (signifying Jim was an officer) were stuck to the front and rear bumpers of his car. At Fort Sill’s main gate, M.P.’s eyeballed in-coming vehicles, and they were authorized to stop any of them if they so desired. And, of course, M.P.’s were required to salute civilian cars with the red officer decals. That night when Jim reduced speed and approached the entrance to the fort, the on-duty M.P. did not salute us. Jim stopped, then backed up to reach the M.P. Through his opened window, Jim suggested—in very gentlemanly fashion—that the M.P. should salute officers in the United States Army. The M.P. immediately snapped to and put one, by-the-book salute on us. After proceeding farther down the road, Tom and I told Jim that he was being too “gung-ho,” and that he should have let go by the boards that which was probably a mistake. Jim asked us why we thought as we did. We believed that it was best to let these little slips go unobserved because it was surely unproductive to harp on them. Jim disagreed energetically explaining that we are all soldiers and discipline is part of our training and that preparation may one day save our lives on the battlefield where we might be called upon to react instinctively during a dangerous situation that would not permit us to think things out ahead of time as “philosophically”—he put it—as Tom and I wished. We gulped on that.
When I arrived to the battlefield in the Central Highlands in Vietnam, near the Laotian and Cambodian borders, I was absolutely shocked to be greeted—my first day out!—by an infantry private who, flat out, addressed me so: “What’s your name, lieutenant? Out here in the field we are on a first name basis.” My heart sank to the ground. I thought of Tom and Jim. I knew at that very instant in time and space I would never be able to be a “hero” for my country. My “country” had betrayed me. Even my M-16 rifle, put on the market in 1967 by the Colt Rifle Company and used by us for the very first time in an actual combat situation, was not dependable. It was a very sensitive machine in those days, before being modified, and particularly touchy when dirt particles entered it. The L.R.R.P.’s refused to use it during their operations. They called it “a piece of junk,” and preferred the Russian Kalashnikov stolen for them from captured enemy soldiers. I recognized one fact: my worst enemy wore the same uniform I did! Had the Vietnam “War” been concocted by parents and the United States’ government to displace their nineteen-year-old juvenile delinquents—very often criminals in Vietnam—13,000 miles away from home and out of their hair? (These kids belong in summer camp, not Army camp!) Am I to believe that Northamericans think that a Lieutenant Calley—after having murdered innocent children, women and elderly Vietnamese—would return home to win “The Family Man of the Year Award?” Military discipline was not S.O.P., the rule of the day, in Vietnam. It was something it should have not been. There was something wacky going on. Soldiers’ rifles were not cleaned, grunts walked in groups in the field disregarding the “unwritten law” to separate from each other always by five meters, many faked taking their malaria pills, they refused to shave, they contradicted orders, ad infinitum. (Imagine you are a first lieutenant in “the world’s most powerful army.” Privates call you “Tony;” you’re not sure your rifle will function! The only thing that keeps you happy is the thought that ecstatic Colt Rifle Company stockholders, after pledging allegiance to the flag, will get down on their knees and pray for your safe return. Why should you complain? You are crazy if you do!) The absurdity of Vietnam is even more clearly marked in my memory by this incredible truth: When I served on staff as an assistant adjutant, I was responsible for writing up the narrations for the Awards and Decorations that were later to be approved by Division staff personnel. I noticed that many of my recommendations had been rejected because I was frequently downgrading medal endorsements which I thought had been proposed on a basis of exaggeration—they simply did not fulfil the requirements asked for in Army regulations. I went to my superior officer and he explained to me that I was to be more generous. He said: “We have to give the boys something to go home with.” Years later, when Vietnam veterans gathered beneath the Washington Monument to discard their medals, I realized immediately that they were not disgusted so much with the Vietnam “War.” No, they were ashamed of themselves!
Officers behaved even worse than the enlisted men. I would have liked to believe they should have known better at that time. Vietnam served as a place to plan an Army career. Getting the best efficiency report, making sure field duty was well-balanced with staff duty, creating relationships with contacts in Washington, and even sending arms and Army equipment back home were paramount in many officers’ minds. This was the time when officers were being moulded to perform as managers. This was the time when ass-kissing marionettes such as General Schwarzkopf and General Powell (Uncle Tom’s Atom Bomb) were being indoctrinated to fit some imaginary role useful to the likes of a suspect war criminal and political imbecile such as Henry Kissinger—bosom buddy of that Little Fat Witch, Madeleine Albright. (Will someone please give me the honor of arresting Henry the Megalomaniac?) An old sergeant told me we were doing everything but soldiering. Many infantry captains did not even know how to read a map! The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics could have invaded the United States through Canada at this time and no one would have been the wiser, one World War II veteran told me. Soldiers did not respect the United States Army’s officer corps. They laughed—later fragged—at it behind its back. And from this incredible mess was to be formed, out of desperation, the volunteer Army of today—something, perhaps, even worse for we must not forget that today’s leaders are many of the rotten apples taken from the Vietnam era.
Jim, too, I sustain, would have been depressed at what went on in Vietnam. But, I do not want to remember him as a soldier, but as a friend. Jim was my friend. And I take pride in this fact. Above all, Jim was an honest, dignified individual who embodied what a human being should be. He was very proud to be a soldier, but more content to be a human being. He filled my mind with that which I thought a person might be. I will forever be grateful to him for that. Jim was a Warrior. Few were as astute as he was at Soldiering. He encountered many victories in Life, yet he also bore the scars of his battles. He tried not to speak disparagingly about his “enemies.” He wanted very much to be respected, and he respected in turn. But what I will remember Jim Kindla also for is something else. Jim possessed a unique sense of humor. Whether it was for something ridiculous in life, or the Army, his eyes were sharp to see what was ironical or funny in this world. I listened to Jim a lot and learned much from him. He was one ripe with ideas and thoughts about many things. A person from whom you could take in a great deal—even about becoming a good soldier.
Tom and Jim were not assigned to Vietnam. For a while, I thought I would also not be going because after O.B.C. I was appointed to teach rocketry (Little John and Honest John) to troops attached to the United States’ Army Training Center instead of being ordered to a “cannon-cockers’” unit. Tom and Jim were not with me in Vietnam, but their friendships were. And, I am sure of one thing: Vietnam would have been less of a tragedy for all of us if they, too, had come to Vietnam with me to teach 19-year-old “soldiers” the meaning of respect for others and—more importantly—respect for themselves. With my Texan friend Jim we also would have had somewhat of a good time.
The Third of
I Was Ever
When I last set eyes on my uncle Bill, The Pill, in August, 1967—on my way to Vietnam—he stood tall for me epitomizing what was then for sure the senior business executive: unkind, authoritative, excessively patriotic, self-righteous and church-going. Of course—as most of his unimaginative peers were—he was a detestable Republican and still is today. He lived in Clarendon Hills, a suburb of Chicago the city Martin Luther King said (said George Wallace!) was the most racist urban sprawl in the United States. The Pill worked for Woolworth and was always showering his relatives with Woolworth junk that I am sure he never paid for, and as previously, I wonder even today if he gave away those trinkets to assuage in some way the culpability he hopefully silently harbored for being such a miserable anal-hoarding miser and ultra-mundane member of the human race with the personality of one of the cactus plants near his retirement condominium in Phoenix.
Even in his old age, The Old Fart is a yes-man and, in turn, expects to be yes-manned. Speciousness is a fundamental principle of Business. It is not difficult to imagine this dullard’s political platform: against civil rights for minority groups; against integration; against unions; against the draft (they tell me he swears the United States Army was crazy for having sent a wisenheimer like me to Vietnam!); against a central government in Washington; against socialism; and, against the remnants of New Deal liberalism. My uncle, the birdbrain, wants to be a conservative, an anti-government libertarian. Just as Barry “Nuke’em” Goldwater coveted, he too desires to lobe missiles into the men’s room of the Kremlin—still! He extols the values of individual responsibility, individual freedom. A central government should keep its hands off the locals. Homes, schools, jobs, businesses and farms should be left to the intelligence of the right-wing citizens of the United States. The Pill is a friend of federalism. He pines for tax cuts for the rich, the reduction of domestic spending, the abolition of regulations, and the elimination of the corporate income tax. “Get the federal government out of the economy; you’re on your own, America!” Just as easy as that. Can you imagine the ensuing chaos? Bellum omnium contra omnes. (And they, Harvard “Masters” of Business Administration, vaunt that Communism fell apart at the seams! Capitalism, likewise, does not evidence that it is in the best of form.) With this mentality, liberty handsomely expunges equality and we risk retrogressing to the Cave Man’s way of behaving when we will have Milton Friedman, Paul Samuelson and James Burnham books to read all day during the brouhahas going on all around us. (Please read Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus: Rick Perlstein; Hill & Wang Publishers, March, 2001. 671 pages.)
For years I heard this gobbledegook from my grandfather, Wm. F. Buckley, Jr., and his ingratiating crew at National Review. They all chimed in to the tunes of absolutism and authority—the mainstays of their selfishness and narrow-mindedness. They were desperate to be unerring, to be applauded for being so. Very childish of them. Why do these insecure characters have to assert themselves so undignifyingly? Why do they think they have all the answers for all the citizens of their country? Why must they be so adamant, so persevering? Why cannot they relax? Enjoy? Life is so short. Why are these deviators driven so forcefully to react? Did not their mothers breastfeed them?
But it is not for his political imbecility that I could even hate my doltish uncle, it is for something very much more important than addlebrained conservatives trying strenuously to be something they will never be: It is for cigars! Yes, cigars. Something very dear to me, but not really so as far as my uncle is concerned—or was concerned when I served in Vietnam.
Cigars are great. Many people agree with me. I am not going to expound here on the qualities of a good cigar. If you have not enjoyed cigars I am really sorry for you. In the United States I was particularly fond of Antonio y Cleopatra Grenadiers before I had the chance to buy (legally, Mr. Clinton!) in Venezuela and Switzerland magnificent Cubans such as Cohiba and Montecristo. A big difference, as might be expected. There are many other great Cuban cigars, and one very loving memory I have about them is when I one time walked into a cigar humidificador in Zurich and almost swooned away in delight at the enormous collection of them set out against the walls of the tobacco room. Nicaraguan cigars are not unpalatable, and I once belonged to a cigar club in Tampa, Florida which sent me a box of fifty of them every two months. Nevertheless, I recommend that one smoke much less than even moderately, and you will never see me puffing away ecstatically on more than two or three cigars a week.
When I think of Cuban cigars and Cuba I inevitably think about Ernesto Guevara and Fidel Castro. I liked Che. Fidel? No. Fidel Castro was educated by the Jesuits, is a lawyer, and never smiles. With a curriculum vitae like that he had only three choices from which to cast in his lot: become a dictator or an agent for the Central Stupidity Agency or work for my featherheaded uncle Bill. Did Fidel select the least of three evils? Dictator? But of what? Dictator of Cigars? Dictator of The Red Menace scaring United States’ citizens out of their wits at the behest of the United States’ Department of State? Something funny is going on here. How did Bill Clinton manage to have a supply of Cuban cigars during his Presidency? Logic, my dear Watson, logic! Has not Fidel Castro always helped the United States’ Department of State and Department of Offence to have their merry ways?
In Vietnam I passed along this message to the relatives: Please send me Antonio y Cleopatra Grenadiers. They were not only for me but also for some of my men who conjointly enjoyed them. The reason I have not spoken to The Pill, uncle Bill, since 1967 is this: He said he would not send me (as other relatives did) cigars because no one mailed him “goodies” when he was a sergeant in the Pacific during World War II! That Republican creep! I mean…. I just wish I could have had that mental midget under my command! I would have put him on K.P. for months just for being what he is: an idiot. What was the big deal in shipping me a box of cigars?
My dear reader, envision with me for just a minute or two. You are dug in about two clicks (kilometres) from the Cambodian border…you’re sitting at night on your air mattress cleaning your rifle with a flashlight while the monsoon rains pounce on your hootch and you wonder if your soaked boots, always on, are going to give you jungle rot…Jackie Kennedy, announces the Stars and Stripes, is on vacation in Angkor Wat, Cambodia visiting the ruins of the ancient city…Secretary of Defence Robert McNamara has resigned his post…you write a letter to L.B.J. asking why Jackie is on vacation in front of you and why Robert quit…“Mr. President, may I quit, too?”…Dixon Donnelly, Assistant Secretary of State for Asian Affairs, in a long letter, puffs: “Lieutenant, pay attention to the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization”…Dixon, I read it every night before going to sleep!…30% of your high explosive artillery rounds are defective and the enemy is making booby traps out of them…a grunt, passing by, yelps into your hootch: “Tony (Lieutenant?), what the **** are you cleaning your M-16 for? It probably won’t work anyway!”…you’re wondering if a bamboo pit viper will sneak into your tent tonight and bite your ***… today’s (Monday) anti-malaria pill made you nauseous for most of the morning… there’s been no mail or supplies for two days because the mountaintop you’re on is fogged in…and your asinine uncle doesn’t want to send you some Antonio y Cleopatra Grenadiers! That Republican ***-**-*-*****! Holy ****! Oh dear reader, I sincerely hope that your uncle isn’t an ******* Republican as is my uncle Bill! What big tough guys they are! They are really Big Mouths! You never saw the sons of Forbes’s Richest Men in Vietnam. (Oh, Citizens of the United States of America! When are you going to wake up?) I only wanted a cigar…. Did I do something wrong? Is it anti-American to ask for a ******* cigar?
Perhaps my feelings of being betrayed by my country are neurotic—psychotic!!! Maybe I am suffering some new post-traumatic stress syndrome and need to receive a monthly Veterans’ Administration disability check! Does not money solve all the United States’ problems? Come on, we know why The Pill is the way he is. He just wants to be a hard-nose, a bully. That is the way he, and others of his ilk, view life. It is a struggle to grab at all you can without having pity on anyone else. Fatuitous Republicans are made that way. I ask this: Why has not anyone had compassion for The Pill and his conservative friends? What have they done to have to be so hard-hearted with others?
I have a copy of Wm. F. Buckley, Jr.’s Up from Liberalism dedicated to me by him with this short, pithy statement: “To Tony, from the father of your greatest admirer. Wm. F. Buckley, Jr.“ I met Christopher Buckley at a Buckley family Christmas party in his Stamford, Connecticut mansion and never saw him again in my life. Years later I read this succinct quote by him in a magazine: “I wish I could have served in Vietnam.” I am happy that Christopher did not “do time” in Vietnam. No United States’ citizen deserved to serve in that undeclared “war” and political fraud. The evidence exists that the Vietnam “War” was in many respects a criminal undertaking, and I earnestly enjoin all United States’ citizens to preview these proofs—if they possess the courage to do so. A civilized society does not offer up a menu of hate, imperialism and mass murder to its sons and daughters and, after, hiding from the backfire, sneak away under the security blanket of silence, rabid patriotism and demagoguery. Christopher Buckley uttered what he did because he is as nimble-minded as uncle Bill, The Pill. Who would have inherited the fortune of Pat and William Buckley if Christopher, their only child, had come home from Vietnam in a plastic bag with 58,168 other human beings all duped by the United States’ government? Who could have thought that Christopher’s humdinger of a grandfather (see W.F.B.—An Appreciation by His Family and Friends; Edited by Priscilla L. Buckley and William F. Buckley, Jr., New York  Privately Printed; or, my “The Entrancing—But Perilous—William F. Buckley, Jr.: Intimate Glimpses of a Dogmatic Timocrat and His Family”) William F. Buckley, Sr., would have wished to send Christopher to any war enjoying the company of his Midas’s blessing? Christopher, wake up! Stop talking like a dunderhead! Vietnam was not for you, it was not for me, it was for no one. The only thing I cherish when I muse upon my past in Vietnam is the fact that no one went in my place. I saved someone from a year of slavery to an ideal both ill-conceived and malfeasant and, unlike your father, Christopher, my father did not possess a stock portfolio which bloated with the sales of munitions and other military accoutrements—many of which did not function—necessary to prolong for more than ten years the profitable for some Vietnam “War.” (Will all the “Americans” who got rich or richer off the Vietnam “War” please raise your hands?) God bless America? No, God help it for being so stupid!
The ramifications gushing from the Vietnam “War” debacle and the Fall of the Wall have remolded, as never before, the very essentialness of military science and its methods of conducting modern warfare. The Vietnam conflict was not a defeat for the United States—it was worse than that. The United States trounced itself in Vietnam because there it had no rational mission to execute. A justification for being in Vietnam was not comprehensible. Therefore, the energy to counterbalance was frustrated due to this intelligibility and, taking advantage of this vacuity, the enemy made mincemeat of a soldiery groping in its own bewilderment. The matter was further exacerbated because at no other time in the history of the world had a Peace Movement been so vigorous in undermining the hegemony of a military establishment and those to whom it was subordinate. Common sense did not assent to the ten-year prolongation of the Vietnam “War.” It was a misadventure distinguished by sheer folly. (Vietnam veterans are not crazy because they went to Vietnam; those who sent them there need to have their heads examined.) On the other hand, common sense did yield to the crumbling of the Berlin Wall. Why? Was it not about time to reunite the divided Germany? Was it not opportune to be, finally, sagacious? Time heals all wounds except the chagrins of the Pentagon!
The Vietnam hostility was a deathblow to Pentagon strategists who, since World War II and the Korean War, had basked in the sun of success and the arrogance that often accompanies it. No one in Washingtonian war rooms ever even daydreamed that a first lieutenant in the United States’ Army, “The Hippie Lieutenant,” would one day write to the President of the United States asking if he could relinquish his post! (There was no court-martial.) Things had got very much out of hand. In 1973, the Pentagon’s desperate counterstroke was detonated: an all-volunteer armed force! Military masterminds just had to get things back under control—their control. They were obligated to show that their way of fomenting war was best for all of us. These humiliated, medal-bedecked and ribbon-chested military potentates—with a vengeance—were going to retake the command they had so mortifyingly lost to The Flower Generation. Surgical warfare, negative body bags, high technology assaults, and limited time wars became the order of the day—an extrema ratio that could not be objected to by a citizenry less and less tolerant about the ultima ratio and the tragedies demarcating it. (Ask The Playboy President, baked Democrat on one side, Republican on the other, who commanded when he was President? Clinton, the draft-dodger, could not even get the Pentagon to order four or five thousands soldiers to Ruanda to take the whisky bottles and machetes out of the hands of delinquents turned murderers.) What was the Pentagon hitting back at? Could it be that the human race was finally on its way to doing something about bringing down the commonly accepted practice of free-for-all carnage? Could it be that the Pentagon had become an “enemy” in its own country? Could it be that the Pentagon had to re-deploy itself, had to adjust to an incredible anomaly? That the military establishment was clearly on the defensive? That it was having an identity crisis? That 14% of the United States’ Armed Forces became composed of women, not because generals and colonels had become feminists, but because not enough men wanted anymore to have anything to do with the Pentagon’s conceptualisation of combat? We were then, as we are today, on our way to The Robot Soldier—notwithstanding a world community wanting always more to make love and not war!
Listen to the new bureaucratese of the NATO Review (edited by my dear friend Christopher Bennett who will send you free [your tax money!] a subscription to it in English or in Czech, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish or Turkish; FAX: [32-2] 707-1252; http://www.nato.int/docu/review.htm) the house organ of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation—that resilient dream-come-true of the nuttier-than-a-fruitcake Ambassadress Clare Luce Boothe (a Republican!) and Secretary of State John Foster “Let’s Play Dominos” Dulles (still another Republican!): “military science and doctrine…peacekeepers and warriors…peaceful resolution of conflicts…peacekeeping operations…security thinking…conflict-management strategies…warlords and conflict entrepreneurs…peace-support operations…mission creep…traditional military and humanitarian thinking…tasks of state-building, reforming the security sector, strengthening civil society and promoting social reintegration…force protection…cross-cutting initiatives…supreme authority…High Representative…inter-agency cooperation…post-conflict peacebuilding…war-fighting soldiers…post-conflict scenarios…’silver bullet’ clause…linkage between mandate and resources…integrated missions…integrated headquarters…robust force posture…sound peace-building strategy…troop-contributors…force-quality issue…multi-functional group of experts…war-fighting and peacekeeping…a warrior, a diplomat and a thoughtful foreign-policy analyst…pit bull diplomacy…three-dimensional war-fighting…leaders must always share the deprivations and risks, political and physical, with their followers…a broadly based coalition of friends and allies…soldiers can do peacekeeping as well as war-fighting…voluntarist nature of modern conflict…instant history…overwhelming force is not a doctrine that can be applied to every type of conflict…the perfect war, with zero casualties and impeccable moral and legal justification…the moral and strategic necessity of NATO’s intervention…rescue and rehabilitate peoples…coalition of the willing…multinational military force…ending the draft…fully professional army…boosting female representation…promoting gender equality…old-fashioned close combat…the role of the modern warrior is more gender neutral than ever…strategy for gender equality in diversity-management approach…gender-differentiated basic physical standards...female under-representation…” Ad infinitum. Ad nauseam. See how their partisan sidekicks in Washington have called the “philosophical” shots for them? Where is the casus belli? There is none? Invent one, then! Yugoslavia?
Karl von Clausewitz will not be the only one vomiting over this “schizoidism.” First of all, I wish to ask if these military geniuses know from which end of the rifle the bullet exits? Do they sell Girl Scout biscuits, too? Their gibberish is not the invented phraseology of besotted Jesuits or crackbrained Harvard University political science professors. It is the intellectualisation of high-ranking “political soldiers” all belonging to the nineteen-member North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and all bleeding their hearts out all over the place to do for us what they believe is best! I cannot think of anything more disgusting than the sanctimoniousness of these factional clubmen drooling upon us with their capricious war-fighting and peacekeeping imperatives. Their sickening desire to have a raison d’etre. Genuflecting dizzyingly to the left then to the right, these bipartisan soldiers have become the bedfellows—not the alter egos—of politicians. You do not call a British general “general” anymore. You call him “Sir General!” British generals pine to be knighted by the Queen! They yearn to be loved, cuddled! What better proof is there, then, of the fine fettle of the Peace Movement if it is not the bafflement of political soldiers and politicised military intellectuals foaming at their mouths with their mendacious, storybook-like croakings in NATO Review? Here’s looking at you, Peace Movement! Nulla salus bello: pacem te poscimus omnes!!! Come on, Pentagon, let’s bring an end to war! One! Two!! Three!!! E-V-E-R-Y-B-O-D-Y in Washington and Brussels!!! Hop on The Peace Train!
I will bet that you think I have forgot about that third Texan! Nope. It was The Pill who suggested that I make a visit to Wichita Falls, Texas from Fort Sill, Oklahoma to visit Mr. Marcus some months before I was ordered (Why did they not ask me?) to Vietnam. Mr. Marcus was a client of The Pill and he had a factory on an old Air Force base where he manufactured leather goods for the Woolworth multinat. What was interesting about Mr. Marcus’s work was that he employed many handicapped individuals to produce the objects my uncle would buy from him for Woolworth. Mr. Marcus and his wife took me to an exclusive restaurant in Wichita Falls, and I remember that they were a very kind and generous Jewish couple who desired zealously to help people—especially those downtrodden. (I am sure they were not Republicans.) To this very day, I ponder over this equivocation: Did The Pill send me down to meet Mr. Marcus to show off his lieutenant nephew so that he could get a discount for Woolworth? Or did The Old Fart verily have it in mind to do something—finally!—genuinely bounteous for me? If the latter is so, why did he not want to send me cigars when I was in Vietnam? (Because he is a noodle-headed Republican! Didn’t I tell you so?)
My dear reader! Please…I beg of you. Hit me with bad words. Insult me. Play my guitar. Shout at me. Spit at me. But don’t ever call me a Republican!
Written 30 August 2001 in the Blazing Forte dei Marmi Sun
Anthony St. John
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