Sir! No Sir!
May 16, 2006 5:07 AM   Subscribe

Sir! No Sir! The Vietnam GI Antiwar movement. (49 minute video)
posted by leapingsheep (37 comments total)

 
Double even triple, but it is a good documentary worth seeing.
posted by elpapacito at 5:20 AM on May 16, 2006


No, the previous post was a trailer.
posted by leapingsheep at 5:21 AM on May 16, 2006


How can anyone in their right mind put up a 49-min streaming video?
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:24 AM on May 16, 2006


You know, before there was a "Vietnam GI Antiwar" movement, there was a civilian anti-war movement. This time, the civilians have totally failed the GIs.

What a difference a draft makes.
posted by three blind mice at 5:40 AM on May 16, 2006


Curses! Working download link.
posted by cogat at 5:42 AM on May 16, 2006


leaping: watch in the thead, I linked to a torrent. Here it is again , the torrent.
posted by elpapacito at 5:44 AM on May 16, 2006


Sorry, elpapacito, I missed that.
posted by leapingsheep at 5:56 AM on May 16, 2006


no prob
posted by elpapacito at 5:56 AM on May 16, 2006


How can anyone in their right mind put up a 49-min streaming video?

Huh?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:59 AM on May 16, 2006


Sorry, to clarify: Huh? What's wrong with streaming a large video file? Isn't that the point of streaming video?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:06 AM on May 16, 2006


Thanks for the links, this looks very interesting. I'll definitely be watching it later.

As far as length vs streaming, I see the argument - but not everyone is a technological wizard (read: understands bittorrent, clients, container files, codecs). If the message can be spread through embedded media, so be it. Loose Change is an hour and a half and sits at the second spot on the Google Video ranks, directly behind a 24 minute video of Colbert. I'd imagine the hits required to sustain those positions is fairly large, so time is obviously not an issue.
posted by prostyle at 6:15 AM on May 16, 2006


I couldn't get the video to load, but I don't think that fragging was usually a protest against the war. From what I understand, it was a protest against incompetent junior officers.
posted by Tullius at 6:50 AM on May 16, 2006


Also, in response to three blind mice'scomment... I don't think that the civilian antiwar movement during Vietnam can really pat itself on the back with respect to the soldiers. There was that whole thing about treating the soldiers like shit.
posted by Tullius at 6:54 AM on May 16, 2006


Fragging was both, from my understanding, usually used against those higher in rank who were about to do something that would get the ordinary GI's killed.
posted by etaoin at 7:03 AM on May 16, 2006


3bm:

This time, the civilians have totally failed the GIs.

Isn't a fundamental difference between Vietnam and Iraq the troops' level of motivation and belief in the mission? Three years+ into the latter, I'm seeing a lot of professionalism on the part of the military in the milblogs I read and what I hear on the news (NPR stories, mostly). I'm no ParisParamus or dios when it comes to Iraq and the war on (some) terrorism; I'm perplexed at the troops' mostly steadfast courage and diligence in the face of some horrendous challenges and evident neglect, esp. as juxtaposed with the prevailing sentiments here on MeFi.

Not to start a quarrel -- I hope! -- but by that, do you mean we cake-eatin' civvies ought to provide moral leadership and intellectual guidance to help enlighten the folks in uniform that they're being used as pawns? Or....what, exactly? I don't want to put words in your mouth (or on your keyboard) -- I'd like to see you expand on that remark a bit.

What a difference a draft makes.

Or more to the point, the lack of one -- you wind up with troops that feel like they have a vested interest in the mission -- whatever it is -- however it's redefined, however many times. US Rep. Charles Rangel's motivations aside, I hope we never have to go back to a draft, and I'm given to understand a lot of career US military personnel who experienced Vietnam and its aftermath from the inside feel much the same way about a drafted military vs. a volunteer one.
posted by pax digita at 7:46 AM on May 16, 2006


I don't think that the civilian antiwar movement during Vietnam can really pat itself on the back with respect to the soldiers. There was that whole thing about treating the soldiers like shit.

When the current national hysteria about "supporting the troops" dies down, rational people will resume pointing out that the actions of soldiers play a large role in determining the ethics of an engagement.

Vietnam was a genocide from the top down. The US slaughtered millions of Vietnamese people needlessly, in complete accordance with orders from top brass, but also reliant on psychopathic behavior on the part of some of the soldiers. My Lai, for example, couldn't have happened without psychopathic soldiers.

As most Vietnam era vets will now agree, people are responsible for their individual contributions to unethical campaigns. I'm not saying that all veterans of unethical wars deserve to be looked down upon, but that it is rational for a nation would hold its soldiers accountable for their acts, regardless of their apparent need to blindly follow orders.
posted by squirrel at 7:54 AM on May 16, 2006


What a difference a draft makes.

Or more to the point, the lack of one -- you wind up with troops that feel like they have a vested interest in the mission...

Without the draft, you also wind up with the most educationally disadvantaged, the people who don't have the context to make informed decisions, the people who have fewer economic alternatives to joining... in short, society's lackeys.

The undrafted soldier is a more easily reprogrammed to be an unquestioning nationalist and potentially unethical killer, which is a good or bad thing, depending on your perspective.
posted by squirrel at 8:02 AM on May 16, 2006


Not to mention that the whole 'spitting on returning vets' idea is a myth.
posted by Jenga at 8:04 AM on May 16, 2006


There was that whole thing about treating the soldiers like shit.
posted by Tullius at 6:54 AM PST on May 16


Are you speaking of the 'spitting onf the vets' or how the VA treats the vets or how the military treats the soldiers while they are in the military?

Please expand.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:21 AM on May 16, 2006


You know, before there was a "Vietnam GI Antiwar" movement, there was a civilian anti-war movement. This time, the civilians have totally failed the GIs.

What on earth do you mean? There has been, from the start, a large anti-war movement. And lets not forget that the anti-war movement of the 60s and 70s was very anti-troup, despite the fact that they were drafted.
posted by delmoi at 8:23 AM on May 16, 2006


The spitting may indeed be a myth, but I have heard vets speak of a unfriendly reception when they returned home. And while it is the case that the Vets were mistreated by veteran's organizations and the VA, I was not thinking of that, as it really isn't pertinent to the discussion at hand.
posted by Tullius at 8:43 AM on May 16, 2006


But they liked the troops.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:46 AM on May 16, 2006


And lets not forget that the anti-war movement of the 60s and 70s was very anti-troup, despite the fact that they were drafted.

I wondered why, what was the reason behind attacking troops ? One could be that some in the peace movement really only wanted a chance to express hate toward the military , another is that many peace protester tought the soldiers really tought what they were _taught_ , while an acute observer would notice they were subject of indoctrination.
posted by elpapacito at 8:56 AM on May 16, 2006


What on earth do you mean? There has been, from the start, a large anti-war movement. And lets not forget that the anti-war movement of the 60s and 70s was very anti-troup, despite the fact that they were drafted.

Well delmoi, I don't think you can compare on this Earth Cindy Sheehan's sit-in with protests like the 1969 Moratorium Peace Demonstration where millions marched or any of the other major demonstrations against the Vietnam war. The Dixie Chicks apology to a London audience for being from the same state as George Bush doesn't, in my opinion, rise to the level of protest Joan Baez getting herself arrested.

And I do not accept the attempts in this thread to discredit the 1960s peace movement by those who wish to re-write history (i.e., returning soldiers being spat on) and claim that these protests were in essence "anti-troup". It was them who ended the war and brought the troops home.

In my opinion, the most "anti-troup" element in America has always been the U.S. government. But hey, don't take my word for it, stop by any VA hospital and see for yourself.
posted by three blind mice at 9:01 AM on May 16, 2006


Without the draft, you also wind up with the most educationally disadvantaged...

Aren't there a higher proportion of HS grads in the US military now than there were during WW II, Korea, or Vietnam? Even if there are, of course, I'll grant that a HS diploma doesn't mean quite what it used to in terms of capability and cultural literacy, but that's not the military's fault.

...the people who don't have the context to make informed decisions,...

I think I intuit what you're driving at here -- it's a stereotype, but like lots of stereotypes, it didn't arise by accident -- but plenty of allegedly educated, sophisticated people, too, are susceptible to making bad life decisions, especially when motivated by greed, expediency, peer pressure, lack of knowledge about consequences and alternatives, and slick salesmanship.

...the people who have fewer economic alternatives to joining... in short, society's lackeys...

Aren't draftees "lackeys" too, regardless whether they enjoyed any greater socioeconomic status than their fellow inductees?

The undrafted soldier is a more easily reprogrammed to be an unquestioning nationalist

Lacking any accompanying cites of studies, this is a juicy morsel of polemics and a seductive argument, but I question whether it's valid. I realize the plural of "anecdote" isn't "data," but I know of at least one draftee at Fort Sill in '43 who was pretty disgusted at seeing "Why We Fight" --type propaganda, and more disgusted still when he realized how much money Standard Oil was making off a fuel pipeline he helped build and maintain, at an E-3's wartime pay, in France.

...and potentially unethical killer, which is a good or bad thing, depending on your perspective.

That same soldier heard plenty of stories of US soldiers shooting German PWs rather than marching them to rear areas, as ordered, out of sheer callousness and expediency. Those guys were draftees, as were most of the My Lai participants, but then, it was an all-volunteer bunch at Abu Ghraib; again, anecdotes/data and I'd like to see some studies comparing draftees vs. volunteers before I agree with you.
posted by pax digita at 9:02 AM on May 16, 2006


I am not so sure that the anti-war movement was what ended the war. My step-mom, who participated in the movement (though not to a huge degree) denies that it had such sweeping effects. It seems, instead, that the shift in support of middle America was the crucial element, and this was not a result of the protest movement.
posted by Tullius at 9:08 AM on May 16, 2006


...retired Pentagon systems analyst Franklin Spinney describes the financial incentives to enlist as a kind of bait and switch.

``We appeal to people's self-interest,' he says, ``then put them in a situation that is based on self-sacrifice.' He asserts -- provocatively, but convincingly -- that the war in Vietnam lasted longer than it otherwise would have because the draft sent a much larger percentage of the country's underclass to do the fighting and dying. ``We got out of Vietnam when the lottery started and middle-class kids started getting killed,' Spinney says.


Excerpt from Why We Fight
posted by prostyle at 9:13 AM on May 16, 2006


We got out of Vietnam when the lottery started and middle-class kids started getting killed,' Spinney says.

Thanks prostyle. That's what I meant by the difference a draft makes. All those SUV-driving soccer moms wouldn't be "supporting the troups" by supporting the government who sent them there if THEIR precious kids were at risk. That's the beauty of a draft and why it is the only way for a democracy to raise an army or fight a war. The lack of a draft in this war is one of the reasons the public isn't engaged. It made and makes the decision to go to war and to continue fighting it all that much easier. "It's not my war and those whose war it is signed up for it" seems to be the prevailing attitude with many Americans. The apathy from college campuses is revealing.

Sorry for the derail. My point is that unless there is a larger public opposition to this war, it seems unlikely to me that anyone in 30 years will be posting anything on Metafilter about the Iraq GI anti-war movement.
posted by three blind mice at 9:43 AM on May 16, 2006


I spent most of my time at demonstrations against that war at the rear of the demonstrating group -- facing away.

That was because one of the predictable things about any antiwar demonstration was that people could show up who only wanted to cause a riot and discredit the peace movement -- or the police -- or both.

The tactic was to suddenly show up behind the demonstrators and throw rocks over their heads trying to hit the police line, to provoke the police to charge the Quakers and Catholics who were often the front rank of the peace demonstration.

Those of us who thought this was inappropriate found it important to protect the rear of the demonstration.

Sometimes it was so-called "Revolutionary Communist Party" people doing this provocation. Sometimes it was "townies" who wanted to see blood. Other people's.

There were a lot of us around the peace movement for a lot of reasons. Some of us had good friends in the service. Some of us lost good friends in the service.

One of the more sober evenings I've ever had was the night that the news came out that the Johnson administration had known all along that the peace movement was correct, that the war was unwinnable, and that they were just throwing soldiers' lives away delaying the inevitable because they couldn't admit that the war was a mistake. I spent it with some veterans of Vietnam.

I did not crow. I was as sad as they were, albeit perhaps a bit less surprised when the truth came out.

It was a damnable shame.

This war is too.
posted by hank at 10:12 AM on May 16, 2006


I know a few people who feel that instead of a draft we should move to permanent required military service like most other western democracies. When you have a system like that in place, politicians have to be much more careful about what they commit troops to, since not only are a good number of their constituents children either i the service or going to be, but a number of the politicians kids are too.

Of course, this is much easier to stomach now that I've past any plausible age of conscription. But of course, the countries that practice this offer an alternative for pacifists, so there's really not much to complain about when this is the case.
posted by illovich at 11:35 AM on May 16, 2006


illovich:

That's exactly the conclusion I've come to, because rich kids will always find a way to beat a draft. Conscription should be universal and compulsory for both men and women. A “professional military” a prescription for exactly what we’ve seen happen.
posted by lordrunningclam at 1:07 PM on May 16, 2006


I'm watching this for a class tonight. I'm looking forward to it. Looks pretty damn interesting. Could've used this a couple of years ago I think. I think some people are going a little bit too far when they say that the situation we've got in Iraq now is because there's no draft. Things were just as bad in Vietnam as they are in Iraq because it's a WAR. That's what war gets you. It always has. Torture, rape, mass slaughter, and just general shittieness is not an aberation; that's what everyone voted for when The Decider decided to start up a war. Disgusting? Yes. Surprising? Hell no. Maybe required military service would make politicians and the general public more careful about what we do with our military, but I don't think it would change the face of war.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 1:23 PM on May 16, 2006


Draft or conscription may not change the face of war, but we would see less of that face.
posted by squirrel at 3:19 PM on May 16, 2006


but I have heard vets speak of a unfriendly reception when they returned home.

So the Governement asks people to become killers for a cause. And some come back with physical and emotional scars.

Given the way the handicaped and emotional basket-case NON vets are treated, why would vets think that 'the citizens will treat us differently'? Why would vets think that the government (made of citizens) that sent them off would treat them well when they returned?

But this time its different, what with the magnetic ribbons saying 'support the troops', the higher taxes to pay for the war, and the government making sure the soldiers have all the food and equipment they need.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:29 PM on May 16, 2006


So the government asks people to become killers for a cause.

You could say that about any state militia member or member of any armed force, however noble.

Anyway, so how should the armed forces constitute itself? How should they market themselves, or compensate themselves? Should they not do enlistment bonus since that tends to attract those that are poorer? I mean, how do you create a force of professional, career war-fighters?
posted by Lord Chancellor at 6:49 PM on May 16, 2006


Sorry, to clarify: Huh? What's wrong with streaming a large video file? Isn't that the point of streaming video?

The problem of streaming video is that you can't do anything with it. If you want to watch it again, or show it to a friend, you have to sit there in front of a live net connection, and download it again. It's repetition of massive downloading. You can't format-shift it, burn it to a DVD, for instance, or convert it to another codec to put it onto a video iPod or PSP or something like that. Also, if your net connection is unreliable, or you're on dial-up, or something ...

... BUFFERING ...

... BUFFERING ...

... similar, you're out of luck with streaming, as compared to a saveable link where you can slowly download it and watch it later. Any interesting information you might have gotten out of the video is going to be reduced by the annoying distraction of the ...

... BUFFERING ...

... and the occasional inexplic

Anyway, this isn't a huge issue for your typical 15MB 5min Youtube video as watched by people with ADSL. But for something like this, a documentary as long as a typical TV program - if I can't save it offline and watch it at my convenience, I won't bother. If it's not good enough to show to other people, it probably wasn't good enough for me to watch in the first place. (Not that I'm criticizing the film in question, I haven't gotten around to downloading it, let alone watching it.)
posted by aeschenkarnos at 8:41 PM on May 16, 2006


I keep reading that "nobody spit on returning veterans!" As though that were something you could prove. I was spit on, by a group of longhaired men in Harvard Square, Decmber, 1967. I was not in uniform, but was in the Army, and had a GI haircut and that way of standing & walking you get. No, I was not a returning veteran, because I wouldn't leave for Vietnam for another two weeks. If it happened to me, I have no doubt whatever that it happened to others, some of whom were probably returning veterans. But of course, I have no documentation to prove that I was spit on, because there were no photographers around.

That was not the only time I encountered hostility for my military status. Some people opposed to the war didn't take time to learn, or just didn't care that some of us were conscripted, and that we chose to serve in the Army rather than in prison. Once I reached Vietnam, my young mind was soon made up that the war was the most stupid thing possible for my country to be doing with itself. That, too didn't matter to some in the antiwar movement. I was of them, and could no longer be of us.

It is not an accident that Vietnam veterans created their own antiwar organizations. Most of us had experienced hostility from individuals in the civilian movement, if not from the organizations that comprised it. We also were not always on board with the tactics used at demonstrations. Chanting slogans against the war was uncomfortably similar to counting cadence with chants glorifying the Army.

Did the antiwar movement contribute to ending the war? I think it did.

There is and has been (flash video) an active anti-Iraq-war movement. Corporate America's pet media will not report on it, but it's there.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:49 AM on May 17, 2006


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