POW/MIA's - Another Viet Nam War Fantasy
March 15, 2003 4:41 PM   Subscribe

MIA Facts Site

Prisoners of Hope: Exploiting the POW-MIA Myth in America.

Let's Sell The Bones : The Marketing of America's Missing In Action              (More Inside)
posted by y2karl (37 comments total)

 
from MIA Facts:

This site is published to provide facts about the issue of Americans who remain "missing in action" (MIA) from the Vietnam War. At the conclusion of the Vietnam War, 2,583 Americans did not return. A vast mythology has built up around what really happened to these individuals. Mis-information, pseudo-history, deliberate fabrication are rampant. As a result, myths are regularly proclaimed to be fact.

The Myths:
    Not all US POWs were released by their captors at the end of the Vietnam War.
    The U.S. government knew that all POWs were not released.
    U.S. POWs remain in captivity today.
    There is a conspiracy within the U. S. government to hide the continued imprisonment of Americans and, whenever the truth emerges, it is debunked.
    The U.S. government is doing nothing to account for or recover missing men.

The Facts:
    All U.S. POWs captured during the Vietnam War were released, either at Operation Homecoming (spring, 1973) or earlier. The only men captured and not released are 113 who died in captivity; their identities and the circumstances of their deaths are known; some of their remains have been recovered/returned.
    No U. S. prisoners of war have been abandoned by the U. S. government.
    No U.S POWs remained in captivity after the conclusion of Operation Homecoming.
    There is no conspiracy within the U. S. government to conceal the abandonment of prisoners of war (who were not abandoned in the first place).
    No U.S. POWs from Indochina were taken to the Soviet Union, China, or any other third country.
     The U.S. government has been -- since well before the end of the Vietnam War -- exerting all possible efforts to recover or account for missing men. That effort continues today and is unprecedented in the history of warfare.

Those who promote these false claims have produced a vast array of half-truth, untruth, hearsay, unsubstantiated claims, personal attacks, and mythology. The accumulated effect of years of nonsense has been exactly what one would expect:

The big lie has been accepted as truth in some quarters.

So, what do I know about it?
My Credentials

I am Joe Schlatter, Colonel, U. S. Army, Retired. I retired on 1 April 1995.     My involvement in the MIA issue came during two assignments:

    February 1986 - July 1990 Feb 86 - Dec 88: Chief, Analysis Branch, Defense Intelligence Agency Special Office for POW-MIA Affairs
    Dec 88 - Jul 90: Chief, Defense Intelligence Agency Special Office for POW-MIA Affairs

   July 1993 - March 1995: Deputy Director, Defense POW-MIA Office

          Vietnam Veteran
          2/13 Field Artillery
          February 1969 - February 1970


Special bonus book review:

Vietnam & Other American Fantasies

Another review of Vietnam and Other American Fantasies

The dominant authors of US collective memory, always trying to turn Vietnam into a good war for the US, would have us forget the anti-war movement and the constraints it placed on executive action. Instead we are supposed to think of the movement as a bunch of hippies and radical leftist activists, rather than also including the wide range of Americans that participated in the protests and the significance of the opposition to the war from within the military. There were acts of sabotage, fragging (troops opted to eliminate officers rather than follow their orders into combat) and desertion. In 1971 alone, 98, 324 service-men deserted, or 142 men for every 1000 on duty. Such opposition to the war is rarely represented in our current sites of cultural production.
posted by y2karl at 4:44 PM on March 15, 2003


Uh, Karl, no offense, man, but we don't have enough debate about a current war getting everybody riled up, we gotta debate an old war and re-open some old wounds too?

Not an unworthy subject, but probably not the best timing, my freind.
posted by jonmc at 4:52 PM on March 15, 2003


Why does everything have to be a debate? These are really interesting links, and no one's forcing anyone to read the comments if they don't feel like a flamewar just now.
posted by Space Coyote at 5:01 PM on March 15, 2003


not being from the USA, I've often wondered what the obsession with the POW-MIA flags that adorn almost all firestations, police stations and construction sites. I always thought that they were somehow misguided, but forgave them for thier distrust of official sources. who to believe....
posted by grimley at 5:17 PM on March 15, 2003


I wanted to point out how myths are born and history twisted, jonmc. I am sick and tired of hearing people--especially those as yet unborn then--repeat fairy tales about some awful years I remember all too well. I decided to provide an example of how received opinion is created.
posted by y2karl at 5:22 PM on March 15, 2003


I wanted to point out how myths are born and history twisted, jonmc. I am sick and tired of hearing people--especially those as yet unborn then

I was born in 1970, of a father who had been in country, and I've worked with several men who were combat veterans of that war. I've also known plenty of people who were '60's veterans on the other side of the fence. I've also read just about everything from that time from Dispatches to Revolution For The Hell Of It and Soul On ice and Union Dues and Division Street America. I know that cant substitute for being there but heres my 2¢

One thing I do know from my conversations from people who were there in those years and from extensive reading is that rheteric got very heated and the country got polarized and fragmented and I don't think we've yet recovered. And from the debate I'm reading here about the Iraq situation, 9/11 and other issues, I have a sinking feeling that it's happening again and sadly, I dunno if I have the stomach for it.
posted by jonmc at 5:31 PM on March 15, 2003


After the Vietnam War, we asked questions about ourselves and our nation. It made us a better people. We were forced to step outside ourselves. We were forced to accept our own capacity for evil, for atrocity. We struggled, perhaps for the first time in a long time, to see ourselves as the outsider saw us. I think this was Eros. I think Eros was ascendant at the end of the Vietnam War.

But gradually, Thanatos or death, that love of power and that glorification, that myth of war, rose during the Reagan years, culminating in the Persian Gulf War, where war became not only respectable, but enjoyable -- war as entertainment. We believed that we, a powerful nation, could wage war and it could be cost-free. We reveled in the prowess of our military and our weapons. Ever since the Persian Gulf War, it's death that's been ascendant. That's what frightens me so much now.


Chris Hedges
posted by y2karl at 5:42 PM on March 15, 2003 [1 favorite]


Q: You mentioned the Vietnam War, and you speak often about the importance of getting the memory right. I'm thinking about the Vietnam Memorial.
A: It's important to remember that the Vietnam Memorial was not an enterprise carried out by the government. It was carried out by veterans. Our country has a terrible problem with Vietnam because, of course, it was a defeat. It has been very hard for us to create a mythic narrative around the Vietnam War. So what we choose to do is to ignore it. That was very much behind what led Vietnam veterans to create the memorial. They raised the money themselves, chose the design themselves. In many ways, it's an antimemorial. I find it a very powerful and moving monument.

Q: And it's a memorial to each individual, not to the war as a whole.
A: That's right. It's not some statue of the generic, helmeted soldier gazing off into the sky. It individualizes the losses. It's not like any memorial I've ever seen to war, and for that reason, I find it so powerful and so effective.


That's more from the Hedges interview.

But you know what gets me? How profoundly narcissistic our fight over the Viet Nam War is. It's always about poor us as victims. Can you imagine how enormous a wall would be needed for the names of the Vietnamese who died in that war? It would take a mountain.

When we talk about that war, it's always about us. Pardon my French here, but that is so fucked.
posted by y2karl at 5:50 PM on March 15, 2003


Karl - But isn't that also the story of US international relations? - Americans are always so shocked and dismayed when they learn of how their government's actions are perceived by most people around the world. Beyond American navel gazing, US planes have - and the last 50 years - bombed millions of humans into fertilizer. But discussions about this - and the wisdom and morality of such approaches - are few indeed.
posted by troutfishing at 7:59 PM on March 15, 2003


Our country has a terrible problem with Vietnam because, of course, it was a defeat.
Bzzzt! Wrong answer, thank you for playing.

Our country has a problem with Vietnam because it was such a heinous immorality that we committed there.

Karl - the only thing wrong with your statement, in my eyes, is that you don't go far enough: It's so fucked that it's fucked that it's so fucked.
posted by Nicolae Carpathia at 8:54 PM on March 15, 2003


It's so fucked that it's fucked that it's so fucked.

Yup. But saying so gets you called filled with hate by the fans of someone who got out of Viet Nam by having a boil on his ass.

I can't help but quote Jerry Lembcke again:

We are what we remember, but how do we remember? Writing about the legacy of Vietnam in Tangled Memories, Marita Sturken reminds us that memory is a narrative rather than a replica of an experience that can be retrieved and relived. We remember through the representations of our experiences, through the symbols that stand for the events. While the events themselves are frozen in time, their representations are not. Our memories of what happened can be changed by altering the images of the events. The power to control memory is thus bound up with the power to control the representations of history.

...Reclaiming our memory of the Vietnam era entails a struggle against very powerful institutional forces that toy with our imaginings for reasons of monetary, political, or professional gain. It is a struggle for our individual and collective identities that calls us to reappropriate the making of our own memories. It is a struggle of epic importance. Studies of the twentieth century will shape America's national identity for decades to come. How Vietnam is to be remembered looms large on the agenda of turn-of-the-century legacy studies.

Remembered as a war that was lost because of betrayal at home, Vietnam becomes a modern-day Alamo that must be avenged, a pretext for more war and generations of more veterans. Remembered as a war in which soldiers and pacifists joined hands to fight for peace, Vietnam symbolizes popular resistance to political authority and the dominant images of what it means to be a good American. By challenging myths like that of the spat-upon Vietnam veteran, we reclaim our role in the writing of our own history, the construction of our own memory, and the making of our own identity.


I sent that link for Lembcke to Snopes aka Urban Legends Reference Pages tonight. And got a thanks for the heads up from Barbara Mikkelson. So we shall see...
posted by y2karl at 10:24 PM on March 15, 2003


While I always find it refreshing to see facts set to myths, I also find it funny that most of the people who will cheer this post are the same people who willingly buy into any anti-American myth that comes along.

Ahh, now if we could only do away with hypocrisy.

Contrary to some statements above, the real reason the US has a problem with Vietnam is that Americans are not an easy people to commit to a fight but once they do they find anything other than full victory a failure. Whenever the US military has been involved in a fight it has either inflicted massive losses on the enemy or been a victim of policy restraint. WWI and WWII were examples of the military left to do what it does best and both in Europe and Asia, the US scored unconditional surrenders. In conflicts such as Vietnam, Korea, and Somalia where politicians controlled the fight the US walked away defeated and the urge to settle the fight still lingers.

I think one of the Rangers involved in the Black Hawk Down mission said it best when he told a reporter that one does not call US Army Rangers into service unless they mean business. Rangers know that death is one of the risks they face and they are willing to accept that risk to defend the interests of the US. If the leaders do not have the stomach to live with the same consequences that the Rangers willfully accept then they shouldn't have been put in in the first place.

For many Americans, Vietnam was a betrayal. Soldiers were put in harms way and the government didn't have the stomach or the will to allow them to accomplish their mission. To make matters worse, when the came home defeated all they saw around them was a country ungrateful for the sacrifice they made.

I don't know if there were POW's left alive in Vietnam (I would guess that by now even if there were POW's left behind they are dead) but for many vets a great deal of innocence, pride, and honor were left in the jungle. For them, the feeling that they left men behind only adds to their feelings of failure (leave no man behind is now a part of the Ranger creed). They want to believe. To bring back even one POW/MIA alive would help many regain some of that honor and pride that was stripped of them.

It's easy for those who have never experienced the horrors of war to sit back and talk about war. It even seems easy (based the comments made by some on this thread) for some to mock the feelings experienced by those who have. I prefer to view the issue more as one might look at the parents of a missing child. Statistics say that they're probably dead but the family holds out hope even under the most unreasonable circumstances. Until a body is recovered the family always holds out hope that their child is still alive somewhere. To abandon that hope, even if it only exists somewhere deeply buried, is a betrayal. Many of the men who fought in Vietnam feel like they have left brothers behind. No matter how unlikely they can't accept that their brothers are dead until the body serves as proof. Until that happens (which is unlikely) they will be haunted.

Y2karl (and Nicolae Carpathia), it's not narcissism. It's about loss. Would you call the family who has had their son or daughter kidnapped narcissistic for their grief? I find your comments to be so disgusting that they are so fucked that they're fucked that they're so fucked.
posted by billman at 11:31 PM on March 15, 2003


Also y2karl, the links you posted are pretty weak. I don't think that there are any POW/MIA's still alive in Vietnam but the fact that you referenced some of these links as evidence is amazing.

To make a long story short, Johny King was a member of a hilltribe ethnic minority who had come to the attention of a very influential American who headed an internationally-recognized private organization.

WTF? "influential American", "internationally-recognized private organization"?

While I may agree with their conclusions (that there are no POW/MIA's alive in Vietnam) the levels of bullshit being passed off as facts here are so massive that one has to question whether you even read the articles you linked to. There are more than a few sections where authors make a claim held together with almost no facts but offer as their evidence the fact that the person they are attempting to disprove has very little evidence of their claims. Especially in the case of Let's Sell The Bones, if this was a college level paper it would earn a C-.
posted by billman at 11:58 PM on March 15, 2003


Contrary to some statements above, the real reason the US has a problem with Vietnam is that Americans are not an easy people to commit to a fight but once they do they find anything other than full victory a failure. Whenever the US military has been involved in a fight it has either inflicted massive losses on the enemy or been a victim of policy restraint. WWI and WWII

World War II, at least, was an exception to the general rule in war - one where total victory was the only type anyone wanted, or would have been good enough by any rational standard, considering the enemies involved. To see total victory and unconditional surrender as needed in every military engagement is not only wrong-headed but, for a country as powerful as the U.S., profoundly unwise. I strongly doubt that everyone in the miltary feels this way, even if some politicians and chickenhawks do.
posted by raysmj at 1:20 AM on March 16, 2003


raysmj: I'm talking about what is, not what you would like it to be.
posted by billman at 1:39 AM on March 16, 2003


Y2karl (and Nicolae Carpathia), it's not narcissism. It's about loss.

Can you imagine how enormous a wall would be needed for the names of the Vietnamese who died in that war? It would take a mountain.

When I wrote narcissism, I was thinking of how we ignore their loss, the damage we did to their country. Something you willfully chose to ignore.

WWI and WWII were examples of the military left to do what it does best and both in Europe and Asia, the US scored unconditional surrenders.

Bullshit.

World War I ended in an armistice forced by America's late entry.

World War II was won because, being beyond the range of their bombers, we outproduced the Axis. As did Russia, in some areas--like fighter airplanes, despite being within range of their bombers as well as being invaded.

We lost, per capita, far fewer casualties than any of the other principals in both wars.

Losses in the First World War

Population Losses in World War II by Country

Compare our civilian losses with either the Allies or Axis.

where politicians controlled the fight

If you have a problem with civilian control of the armed forces, I sure as hell don't.

Korea? McArthur after driving the North Koreans from the South, then drove all the way to the Yalu and drew in the Chinese and how many more men did we lose then? Oh, then he wanted to use nuclear weapons. Ri-i-ight... Truman was right to fire him. Ike was right to end the war.

Viet Nam? Nixon had a plan to end the war, which got him elected--and then he kept us in for four more years and how many more men did we lose then?

Both Korea and Viet Nam were fought in the context of the Cold War, bordering on nuclear armed adversaries.

As for Somalia, it was a blunder.

However, President Clinton did the right thing and eventually forced an end to the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo, bypassing the UN and using NATO and using overwhelming force. You forgot to mention that, for a fact.

Now we are are going to quite possibly destroy both the UN and NATO to attack a country that did not attack us on 9/11.

If you want to argue our military wanted to do this invasion, think again. They've been dragged kicking and screaming into it by a bunch of draft dodging ideologues, er, chickenhawks. There's that political control you were railing against. If it were up to the JCS, we wouldn't be there, we'd be fighting the real war--the War on Terror.

It's easy for those who have never experienced the horrors of war to sit back and talk about war.

Chris Hedges has fifteen years experience of war up close and personal. I'll trust his opinion over yours, thank you..

"Show Me The Money." One of the little known facets of the MIA issue is that of individuals and groups who use the MIA issue to raise money. Groups who do this fall into two categories: (1) Grass-roots organizations who really are working to keep the MIA issue in the public eye, and (2) those who are making money off the issue. This article reproduces the relevant sections from the final report of the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIAs (the SSC). I recommend strongly that interested folks read the book by Susan Katz-Keating, Prisoners of Hope. Ms. Keating started off supporting the "activist" point of view. She became known to several of them and they talked with her. She soon realized that their views were not in accord with reality so she produced an investigative work that spilled the beans on many of them and that was documented. She has been attacked by the "activists" for fabricating portions of the book but none of them dare sue her because they know that she has the documents.

A Vietnam vet visits yesterday's war, as he does everyday, and asks where is the moral outrage over tomorrow's war?

Veterans Against Iraq War

Vietnam Veterans Against the War

"influential American", "internationally-recognized private organization"? H. Ross Perot. Obviously.

Once more,

Remembered as a war that was lost because of betrayal at home, Vietnam becomes a modern-day Alamo that must be avenged, a pretext for more war and generations of more veterans. Remembered as a war in which soldiers and pacifists joined hands to fight for peace, Vietnam symbolizes popular resistance to political authority and the dominant images of what it means to be a good American. By challenging myths like that of the spat-upon Vietnam veteran, we reclaim our role in the writing of our own history, the construction of our own memory, and the making of our own identity.

Ahh, now if we could only do away with hypocrisy.

Yes, indeed.
posted by y2karl at 1:49 AM on March 16, 2003


Soldiers were put in harms way and the government didn't have the stomach or the will to allow them to accomplish their mission.

billman, I just didn't have the stomach to even participate in this charade of a thread until you spoke so well and thoroughly.

I'm not sure anybody knows for sure if there are any POWs still held captive, but you've eloquently described the sentiments of Vietnam veterans about the soldiers who went missing in action. No amount of wheedling and revisionism will erase the regret of the soldiers who left men behind.

Thank you for your comments, and to the soldiers who fought against all odds in Vietnam, no amount of thanks is enough for their service and sacrifice.

Sorry to interrupt the conversation between y2karl and himself.
posted by hama7 at 2:03 AM on March 16, 2003


WELCOME TO THE VIETNAM-ERA
PRISONER-OF-WAR/MISSING-IN-ACTION DATABASE

posted by hama7 at 2:05 AM on March 16, 2003


hama7: Thanks for speaking up.

y2karl:

Until you've stood next to a man knowing you would give your life for him and that he would do the same for you, you don't even deserve to talk about men of such honor. You should be ashamed to even attempt to steal the pain and grief felt by those veterans who feel like they've left their brothers behind. Like I said, my personal opinion is that there are no POW/MIA's alive in Vietnam but by the same token I would not go up to the family who had just had their child abducted and tell them to get over it because all indications are that their child is dead.

Your attempts to give a revisionist history lesson do not mask the fact that you cannot address the issues of why Vietnam and the issue of POW/MIA's touches people the way it does. Nor do you address the crappy and biased research done by your sources.
posted by billman at 2:19 AM on March 16, 2003


hama7: Thank you so very, very much for the link. I had purchased an MIA bracelet back in 1987 but at some point over the years I had lost it. I followed the link you left and have ordered a replacement.

Regardless of whether men were left behind, as a veteran I can only tell you about the comfort the POW/MIA cause gave me while serving my country and continues to provide to servicemen and women who know that if they were end up missing in action that they would not be forgotten.
posted by billman at 2:32 AM on March 16, 2003


billman, you are so very welcome. I can't tell you how moved I am by your comments, and cannot thank you profusely enough for your sacrifice and commitment.

We will not forget.
posted by hama7 at 2:58 AM on March 16, 2003


Do you two want to be alone for a while?
posted by Space Coyote at 3:41 AM on March 16, 2003


Like I said, my personal opinion is that there are no POW/MIA's alive in Vietnam but by the same token I would not go up to the family who had just had their child abducted and tell them to get over it because all indications are that their child is dead.

straw man.

Who would?

Your attempts to give a revisionist history lesson do not mask the fact that you cannot address the issues of why Vietnam and the issue of POW/MIA's touches people the way it does.

I did--it's based on a right wing revisionist lie, a myth, a manipulation of the families of the POW/MIA by the government, the Vietnames and Laotian intelligence agencies, predatory politicians and out-and-out frauds.

The Facts:
All U.S. POWs captured during the Vietnam War were released, either at Operation Homecoming (spring, 1973) or earlier. The only men captured and not released are 113 who died in captivity; their identities and the circumstances of their deaths are known; some of their remains have been recovered/returned.
No U. S. prisoners of war have been abandoned by the U. S. government.
No U.S POWs remained in captivity after the conclusion of Operation Homecoming.
There is no conspiracy within the U. S. government to conceal the abandonment of prisoners of war (who were not abandoned in the first place).
No U.S. POWs from Indochina were taken to the Soviet Union, China, or any other third country.
The U.S. government has been -- since well before the end of the Vietnam War -- exerting all possible efforts to recover or account for missing men. That effort continues today and is unprecedented in the history of warfare.


Those who promote these false claims have produced a vast array of half-truth, untruth, hearsay, unsubstantiated claims, personal attacks, and mythology. The accumulated effect of years of nonsense has been exactly what one would expect:

The big lie has been accepted as truth in some quarters.


I am Joe Schlatter, Colonel, U. S. Army, Retired.
Vietnam Veteran
2/13 Field Artillery
February 1969 - February 1970

posted by y2karl at 3:57 AM on March 16, 2003


personal attacks

I'll leave those to you two tonight.
posted by y2karl at 4:03 AM on March 16, 2003


y2karl: The fact that you willingly continue to ignore the difference between why people believe what they believe and whether what they believe happens to be true is beyond disgusting.

You keep repeating the fact that no POW's are still alive when I have repeated over and over again that the fact of whether or not they are alive does not negate the fact that Vietnam veterans still feel a lot of pain and guilt associated with the experience. Also the fact that most of your information comes from sources that are far from authoritative only adds to the humiliation. Nobody is arguing that these people are still alive. If you want that shallow victory, it is yours. But to then attempt to tell me the reasons why vets believe what they believe is completely irresponsible. I know, and have served under, far too many men who walk with a limp or are missing limbs to buy into your statements.

Your prior response was to link to a bunch of articles about Vietnam vets opposed to the Iraq war which was obviously your initial objective in the first place. If you want to debate the Iraq war at least have the common decency to do that without attempting to diminish the feelings of those who live with a pain you will never understand.
posted by billman at 4:22 AM on March 16, 2003


Oh god make it stop. A harmful myth is not one that is worth repeating, let alone getting so emotional over.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:32 AM on March 16, 2003


y2karl: The fact that you willingly continue to ignore the difference between why people believe what they believe and whether what they believe happens to be true is beyond disgusting.

billman, you can play the morally superior card all you want but I wish you stop putting words in my mouth.

Those who promote these false claims have produced a vast array of half-truth, untruth, hearsay, unsubstantiated claims, personal attacks, and mythology. The accumulated effect of years of nonsense has been exactly what one would expect: The big lie has been accepted as truth in some quarters.

I was talking about the families of the POWS/MIA, who, in my opinion, have been grossly manipulated and exploited. If they believe what they believe because they have been manipulated into false hopes by politicians with no real interest in their pain, it's not about whether this or that is true--it's about their being manipulated.

The fact that you continue to willingly ignore this is so you can make high minded moral condemnations of me after trying to put words in my mouth. Which is what you are doing, all common decency aside..

By the way, billman, another time we disagreed was over the Saucy Jack letter, where you also made with the patronizing commentary.

And may I quote you then in application to you now:

Perhaps it is your own prejudices that cloud your ability to distinguish the two thoughts.

That thread is indicative of the attention you pay: I quote, in bold, Admiral Stanley Arthur on the increasing politicization of the military. You respond y2karl, perhaps I could if you might point me to *exactly* what he said. You have not put forth his views on this. You have expressed your own views and claimed that Admiral Arthur supports your views but since you have not really given us an example of *exactly* what he said, it's somewhat difficult to address his points. I repeat the quote. You then dismiss the Admiral and his quote. It's creative obtuseness at best, bonehead lazy smug at less than best.

I made this post because I am sick and tired of hearing myths repeated about the Viet Nam war, clear and simple. I made the VAIW link that you chose to misconstrue in the series of anti-war veterans organizations links where my point was that you speak for yourself, not all veterans. I speak for myself as well. We see this issue very differently. I don't put words in your mouth, however.
posted by y2karl at 5:44 AM on March 16, 2003


y2karl and his "myths." Oh yes, nobody was ever spat upon and the anti-vietnam protestors just LOVED all the soldiers. Whatever you say. No revisionism going on with your posts and those you quote, just correcting myths. *sigh*

Great responses billman, loved them.
posted by Plunge at 6:41 AM on March 16, 2003


Spitting stories appear in 80s. No supporting evidence is ever found in all of wartime press. All those anecdotes and yet there is no historical evidence whatsoever on paper, film or videotape to corroborate them. Nothing. Nada. Zip. No one able to dispute facts of the POW/MIA myth--MIA families' hopes and feelings are cruelly exploited by right wing and, after millions of dollars are spent, no evidence of any American soldier left behind is ever found. Scapegoating myths remain fact free fairy tales of blame despite all wishful thinking otherwise. Completely undocumented is still completely undocumented.
posted by y2karl at 9:24 AM on March 16, 2003


Fairplay y2karl - I found it an interesting post and respectfully argued. Billman, if you got down from your ivory tower I could take you more seriously.
posted by niceness at 9:58 AM on March 16, 2003


For the record, in reference to our exchange over quoting Admiral Arthur, the original link from here, where it is now broken, came from originally from The Widening Gap Between the Military and Society by Thomas Ricks.

It is a deep and thoughtful article from 1997 on another topic than this post's, offered here to clarify my comment above.
posted by y2karl at 10:38 AM on March 16, 2003


y2karl: I don't think I'm going to debate you any further. The fact that you're trying to win a debate started back in December of last year makes it quite clear what your intentions here are.

In both this debate as well as the one you're still hoping to win from last year, my words stand. If you actually believe the things you've written, 10,000 pages of facts to the contrary would not sway you so I won't waste any more effort. We're talking about a human experience which is not common to everyone. Those who have shared it find disgust in your words and I do not need to write anything further to make my point. Those who have not shared it can either draw from my analogy of a missing child or they can ignore it. Either way, I don't think I can say anything more that would useful to either view. You either get it, or you don't.
posted by billman at 11:47 AM on March 16, 2003


God, billman, I just looked at your what is link to raysmj.

The first four paragraphs:

In the last five months of World War II, American bombing raids claimed the lives of more than 900,000 Japanese civilians—not counting the casualties from the atomic strikes against Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This is more than twice the total number of combat deaths that the United States has suffered in all its foreign wars combined.

On one night, that of March 9-10, 1945, 234 Superfortresses dropped 1,167 tons of incendiary bombs over downtown Tokyo; 83,793 Japanese bodies were found in the charred remains—a number greater than the 80,942 combat fatalities that the United States sustained in the Korean and Vietnam Wars combined.

Since the Second World War, the United States has continued to employ devastating force against both civilian and military targets. Out of a pre-war population of 9.49 million, an estimated 1 million North Korean civilians are believed to have died as a result of U.S. actions during the 1950-53 conflict. During the same war, 33,870 American soldiers died in combat, meaning that U.S. forces killed approximately thirty North Korean civilians for every American soldier who died in action. The United States dropped almost three times as much explosive tonnage in the Vietnam War as was used in the Second World War, and something on the order of 365,000 Vietnamese civilians are believed to have been killed during the period of American involvement.


We spend millions scouring the jungles of Laos and Viet Nam for mythical left behind POWs--and you sneer at me for calling it narcissistic when we obsess over a total of 1,488 men while we ignore the 365,000 civilian lives we took in the Viet Nam war.

The first four paragraphs of your link describes 2,348,793 civilian casualties in three wars—not counting the casualties from the atomic strikes against Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a eternal stain, for some of us, on the honor of this country. You have a strange concept of 'refuting' people. Or else you don't bother to really read your links.
posted by y2karl at 12:10 PM on March 16, 2003


I wasn't continuing the argument of the other thread--I was pointing out your willful ignorance there to document your willful ignorance here.

1448 MIAs versus 365,000 civilian dead.

We're talking about a human experience which is not common to everyone.

Boy, I'll say.
posted by y2karl at 12:15 PM on March 16, 2003


10,000 pages of facts to the contrary would not sway you so I won't waste any more effort.

How about we start with one?
posted by Space Coyote at 1:23 PM on March 16, 2003


else you don't bother to really read your links.

And you obviously failed to read the entire article which explains exactly why the US responds the way that it does. You don't have to agree with Jacksonism but I highly doubt you could provide any credible argument that what that author wrote wasn't an accurate reflection on what Jacksonism is and how it has influenced US foreign and domestic policy.
posted by billman at 1:32 PM on March 16, 2003


Doubt away if it makes you feel good, billman. It beats having you put words in my mouth.
posted by y2karl at 2:55 PM on March 16, 2003


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