Archive for the ‘War And Peace’ Category

This is a rewrite and update of something I wrote and published elsewhere about 3 years ago. Perhaps many will think it is still relevant.

Lately, pundits and politicians have both pooh-pooh’d and drawn parallels between the Vietnam war and the present wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But there is another, not-talked-about parallel, and it is much more important.

During the Vietnam war, the military brass and assorted apologists for this appalling adventure complained about how the US was fighting with one hand tied behind its back, owing to the treasonous antiwar movement and their bullying of those weak-kneed liberal politicians.

Until quite recently, the American military brass have avoided voicing similar complaints about the United States’ present efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Although most of today’s military strategists do not think there are anywhere near enough “boots on the ground” to achieve US goals, they have mostly avoided voicing this sentiment too loudly. And there is a good reason why the US has not mobilized its military machine to the extent they did during World War II or even Korea. Looking at the Vietnam war and how opposition to it shook the empire to its roots can provide us with some insight.



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Stephen Spender, one of the 20th Century’s great English-language poets, wrote a poem about war called Ultima Ratio Regum, one of my favorite poems. The name is in Latin, and it means “The King’s Final Argument” or perhaps “The King’s Last Resort.” The Latin has a bit of both meanings, and it refers to the ultimate power of a sovereign state to impose its will: the use of military force.

I can’t reproduce the poem in its entirety, because it is under copyright. You can, however, find it in good poetry collections. But here is a fair-use smidgeon of it

The guns spell money’s ultimate reason
In letters of lead on the Spring hillside.
But the boy lying dead under the olive trees
Was too young and too silly
To have been notable to their important eye.
He was a better target for a kiss.

Because of my personal experiences, I usually spend a part of Veteran’s Day  and Memorial Day in tears. Later on, I will write much more about war and peace, as well as politics. I’ll write about why I think the United States should withdraw its military from Afghanistan and Iraq. I won’t write much, if anything, about my personal experiences.

Here’s a link to the video of Eric Bogle’s rendition of the famous Australian folk song “And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda.”  I challenge anyone to watch this video without shedding a tear for all the brave young people who have died in wars.



Alan OldStudent

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