Home > Critical Thinking, Current Affairs, Dystopia, Musings, Philosophy sans Sophistry, Reason, Secular Religions, Skepticism, Technology > On Wrecking a Few Popular Delusions of Jingoists in USA: Dec 2, 2016

On Wrecking a Few Popular Delusions of Jingoists in USA: Dec 2, 2016

A couple of comments to a recent post of mine made me write up this one to address and wreck some popular delusions concerning the real-life power of USA. As many regular readers know, my analysis of events is based in objectively measurable reality as opposed to parroting “conventional wisdom” or deferring to “credentialed experts”. My dislike and distrust for what passes as “wisdom” and “expertise” is based on witnessing many instances (in multiple areas of human endeavor) where they turned out to be disastrously and systemically incorrect. My prediction that Trump would win the republican nomination and presidency almost a year before those events occurred is one recent example where my detached objective analysis beat the predictions of pretty much every single highly-paid ‘journalist’ and ‘pundit’ in the main-stream media.

But enough of that. Let me now address some of the popular delusions (and talking points) of people who believe that the USA is a far more powerful country than objective evidence suggests.

While it is unlikely that “Not Born This Morning” is an especially strong believer in the power or competence of USA, as a country or as a military power, one of his comments contained a talking point that is quite popular among jingoists trying to rationalize the many unsuccessful and disastrous armed interventions by USA in other countries since WW2.

Many, many, many more Vietnamese, Iraqis, and Afghan, were shot, burned, bombed, slaughtered in various ways by the same race that committed genocide on “American” soil less than 200 years ago. So, who really “got their asses kicked”. Unfortunately, the popo will be very well supported by those who have driven Smith & Wesson and Rugers (and others) stock up about 1000% during the past 8 years.

As I mentioned in my reply to that particular comment, the relative number of casualties are irrelevant as long as they do not affect the final outcome of that war. Victory or defeat is almost exclusively determined by who prevailed once it was all over. So, USA lost the Vietnam war because the then North-Vietnamese state was still around after the USA left South-Vietnam. Even more humiliatingly, North- Vietnam then went on to defeat South-Vietnam a few years later resulting in their unification. In other words, all the american lives lost and hundreds of billions spent on fighting that war did not change the final outcome- and were thus spent in vain. Vietnam won and the USA lost..

The Iraq war(2003-2010?) and Afghanistan war (2001-present?) are two more contemporary examples of how the USA lost wars that it was supposed to win. In both cases, initially successful military occupations quickly degenerated into prolonged and bloody decentralized insurgencies that made USA basically pack up and leave in one country (Iraq) and quietly scale down to pave the way for an “honorable exit” in the other (Afghanistan). We can certainly talk about the number of dead on each side, but that does not change the outcome of either war. In both cases, the USA was unable to prevail over persistent and decentralized insurgencies. Perhaps more importantly, it was unable to prevail despite having far more money, weapons and technological resources than its adversaries.

I subsequently came across another common talking point of jingoists- this time from a commentator named “Yusef”. He wrote the following:

If U.S. objectives in Vietnam are understood regionally, it is possible to argue the U.S. did prevail. Most of the region, for example Indonesia, was just as ripe for Communism as Vietnam, yet never fell to Communism, even when the established regime was toppled in what appeared at the time to be a leftist coup. A lot of these other S.E. Asian countries are more geopolitically important to the U.S. than Vietnam, and some of them are very oil rich. Vietnam did suffer terribly and suffers to this day…Anyone but a crazed fanatic would look at the example of Vietnam and wish to avoid it at nearly all cost.

One of the more popular delusion among the jingoists is that the actions of USA, even when not successful, are part of some “clever” overall strategy. In the aftermath of their defeat in Vietnam, many “public intellectuals” in USA tried to pass of their failure as example of success. They made the claim that war in Vietnam somehow stopped the progress of communism in SE Asia. But is that claim even realistic let alone true? Well.. it is (like many other claims by “public intellectuals” in USA, total bullshit. Here is why..

Even at the height of its power and influence, state communism as an ideology was never exactly popular outside Russia. It is no secret that most east-European countries who were part of the ‘Eastern Block’ and Comecon had no great love for, or belief, in state communism. Leaders in China largely used state communism only as far it allowed them to receive assistance from Russia during the 1950s and facilitated mass murder of dissidents during the cultural revolution in the 1960s. The ostensibly communist movements in South-East (and East) Asia have an even weaker link to state communism. Indeed, it is fair to say that all those supposedly communist movements in Asia were actually anti-colonial and nationalistic movements. Their connection to state communism was largely a consequence of being supported by Russia and to some extent China and fighting against their erstwhile west-european colonizers and a USA that wanted to recolonize them.

The idea that USA entered and fought the Vietnam war as part of a grander strategic move against the spread of communism is therefore an ex post facto myth concocted once it became clear that they could not win that war easily in the mid-1960s. It also helped see that disastrous war to a fairly gullible audience at home- at least till 1968. There was never any worthwhile possibility for state communism to spread in South-East Asia- and they knew it. Post-colonial political movements in other countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines etc were always about establishing self-rule, enriching local elites and promoting dominant ethnic groups in those countries. As many of you know, a majority of those countries (even the ones on good terms with USA) also experienced a series of internal ethnic strifes and violent government changes during that time. Also many of those countries ended up implementing fairly socialistic policies for members of their dominant ethnicity.

To put it another way, the participation of USA in Vietnam war had no worthwhile influence on the trajectory, policies and governing style of other populous countries in that region. Those countries, if anything, used the american obsession with stopping communism to obtain favorable loans, industrial investments and other favors from USA. I could make a far better case for countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines using the USA to get what they wanted than the other way around. The belief in USA that they somehow stopped communism in South_east Asia by fighting the Vietnam war is therefore something the establishment in that country must tell itself to avoid confronting that it fought an unnecessary expensive war and then lost it to a bunch of people who were seen as racially inferior to them.

What do you think? Comments?

  1. P Ray
    December 3, 2016 at 12:28 am

    Mark Twain said it best:
    “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.”

    After all, hubris makes many people perform stupid sacrifices that “saved the world”.

  2. December 3, 2016 at 6:44 am

    My comment was not intended to claim USA “won” any war. “Who kicked whose ass” isn’t necessarily always centered around who controls a piece of land or political regime. My thoughts included body count literally and what I wrote clearly explains that. Regardless of any ostensible intent or rationalization, USA real objective in Vietman was to go and kill the yellow man. That is what happened in reality, regardless of any political blathering. The invention and implementation of the M16 was but one sadistic endeavor of many in the Interest of murder at the time. And body count wasnt the only score. How many Asian women and girls do you think were raped by American GIs? So, either you misunderstood my point or I failed to make it clear enough. Or perhaps you were deflecting the entire argument into a different context to avoid the reality of its centeral concern which is race. Being honest, one central concern here is specifically race (you reference it regularly on this blog) and it is likely the primary concern. Is it not?

    Nobody denies that a lot of unnecessary and counterproductive bad things happened in Vietnam. But at the end of it all, USA (a country based in the myth of inherent white superiority especially in the 1960s) lost to a much poorer asian nation (who were considered by american whites at that time to be racially inferior). Needless to say, that defeat left quite a mark on the white american psyche.

  3. webej
    December 3, 2016 at 6:52 am

    During the war (ww2) Ho and the Viet Minh had good relationships with the OSS and was considered an ally against Japan, and there was every reason for Ho to think the US would act positively towards Vietnamese independance. For some reason the US decided to support France in their quest to reconquor Vietnam, even though they actively discouraged and thwarted Dutch attempts to retake Indonesia (which, in contrast to Vietnam, has natural resources), and in general did not support colonial rule by European powers. The decision to support France may initially have been based on trivial things like winning de Gaulle for NATO, etc. Low-key involvement was wrapped up in the anti-communist McCarthy narrative, and the US decided to double down several times on the basis of incorrect propaganda, ultimately to lose a full blown war.
    Of course Vietnam turned to China and Russia (or anybody else) when faced by the Western powers. And of course the Vietnamese had a socialist ideology: Every movement of national liberation in the world has a somewhat socialized model. Nobody in their right mind is going to risk their life to fight for a future society in which not the people, but some privileged minority or foreign share-holders have control over the economy. Americans foolishly fail to see that any form of democracy logically implies economic democracy.
    When we look at the outcome today, we see that Vietnam is no enemy of the US nor a staunch supporter of communist party dictatorship. If we assume the counter-factual, that the US had supported independance from France, Vietnam would probably be much like it is today (with a mixed market economy), but far more developed, and without the unnecessary loss of life and environmental depradation. Absolutely nothing was won. The US could easily have coaxed Vietnam away from Russia or China by offering friendship and aid.
    But assuming the counter-factual, we should ask ourselves how communist ideology would have developed in China or Russia if they had not had to fight for survival against Western pressure on economic, political, and military fronts. What would have happened if Europe and the US had fostered trade and financial inter-relationships? What would have happened if we promised Afghan farmers to buy up their opium production at above market prices for the next 30 years (much cheaper than spending M$2 to get a gasoline truck to a compound to run a generator for air-conditioning for the military; and if you can get them to sell their opium, you can get them to grow almonds — all by a slight manipulation of market forces)?
    There is another aspect to such a counter-factual exploration: Ho worked and studied in France, England, and the USA. Who was working under a better understanding of relationships and events? Ho, who had been everywhere and was an educated man, or the CIA (etc) with their false propaganda, manipulation of the “free” press, Gulf of Tonkin incidents, flat-out lies in presidential briefings and other assessments? American instinct has always been (since the 19th century, Monroe doctrine) to support cruel, backwards, dictatorial, and authoritarian rule against every movement representing democratic progress, largely on the basis of false and dishonest information. It’s always about the owners class and American kinship to foreign ownership justice and politics.
    If there is such a strong instinct towards non-Americans, what does that imply for American society itself?

    Yes, and that is why I say that USA is not run by especially intelligent people.

    • Yusef
      December 5, 2016 at 8:38 pm

      “For some reason the US decided to support France in their quest to reconquor Vietnam, even though they actively discouraged and thwarted Dutch attempts to retake Indonesia (which, in contrast to Vietnam, has natural resources), and in general did not support colonial rule by European powers.”

      After WWII, France certainly would have become Marxist/Leftist if left to its own. The “U.S.” intervened very strongly via the CIA to prevent this from happening. So, in a way, France wasn’t really France any longer in the most important political sense. French politics was surreptitiously being controlled by the U.S. I think even the most astute contemporary French observers underestimated the degree.

      They did become and still remain pretty socialist/leftist anyway. Perhaps you are thinking of Germany- especially the erstwhile west-germany.

      But I don’t think the “U.S.” was supporting France in their effort to reconquer Vietnam for the purposes of French colonialism. The French were defeated by the Vietnamese in 1954 at the Battle of Dien Bien Fu. This ended French colonial ambitions there. When American forces predominated in the country there was never any question of the French coming back.

      The “U.S.” can’t even be considered a French ally in what was French Indochina. The U.S. was manipulating for its own interests, which, as I have tried to point out, were regional. The “U.S.” didn’t support colonial rule, true, but that was because this conflicted with “U.S.” neocolonialism. Or perhaps “U.S.” neocolonialism would better be termed “globalization.” Part of what makes this difficult to discuss and clarify is the tremendous historical change taking place simultaneously in what can be mistaken as the same process. In globalization, the “U.S” has played a decisive role, but in globalization, nation states are not the decisive actors any longer. And that’s weird, especially when there is a bloody war being fought, and the people spilling blood believe it’s for “the homeland, their nation” and they justify it to themselves as their patriotic duty.

      Of course, the french were never under the illusion that USA was their ally. Having said that the failure of colonialism has a lot to with the decline of its underlying economic model- resource extraction industries. While neoliberalism is colonialism-lite, it does not benefit the populations of western countries to anywhere close to the extant that colonialism did. There is a reason that standards of living in USA have stagnated for over 40 years.

    • webej
      December 7, 2016 at 7:17 pm

      Five years before his great revolution in 1949, he sent this secret message to Washington. “China must industrialise.” he wrote, “This can only be done by free enterprise. Chinese and American interests fit together, economically and politically. America need not fear that we will not be co-operative. We cannot risk any conflict.”

      Mao offered to meet Franklin Roosevelt in the White House, and his successor Harry Truman, and his successor Dwight Eisenhower. He was rebuffed, or willfully ignored. The opportunity that might have changed contemporary history, prevented wars in Asia and saved countless lives…

      • Yusef
        December 9, 2016 at 5:36 pm

        In other words, there were ample opportunities for the “U.S.” to enormously benefit the entire world– I wholeheartedly agree. Yet this was not the way the “U.S.” plutocrats wished to proceed. It was all about maintaining their own privilege. That only.

  4. Yusef
    December 5, 2016 at 8:13 pm

    Thank you for paying me the compliment of noticing what I said, but there’s a misunderstanding. I’m not a jingoist and I wasn’t trying to justify the Vietnam War. I was trying to point out that those for whom the war was waged got what they wanted. For them it was a success and they prevailed. That was at terrible cost to 99.9999% of everyone else, including Americans.

    It was only a “success” for the rich shareholders of some american corporations who profited from it. Also, I just said that the point you were making is most commonly made by those who believe that USa did not lose the Vietnam war.

    “The war on communism” wasn’t the reason for the Vietnam War.

    The real reason was to reinforce “U.S.” regional hegemony in S.E. Asia. The real enemies were actually nationalists and those who refused to sacrifice national interests to those of “U.S.” plutocrats. Not ideologues.

    Well.. most nationalists are power-hungry ethnicists. Also, pretty much every S.E Asian country economically benefited from the Vietnam war and its aftermath.

    “U.S.” plutocrats needed to destroy any S.E. Asian nation resolutely taking an independent path outside “U.S.” domination and exploitation of S.E. Asian resources and labor. Of course “U.S.” leadership couldn’t tell Americans their blood was spilled on behalf of U.S. hegemony, at the expense of very poor nations, or that resistance to this was principled and heroic. (Or that the many compliant regional “leaders” coopted by the U.S. were cowards, traitors.)

    This real objective of regional hegemony was achieved before the end of Nixon’s first term in office. (Note, President Nixon ventured to reopen relations with China in 1972.)

    You are assuming that american elite (or any other elite) are far more coordinated and disciplined than they are actually are. The reality is that they are just a bunch of lucky sociopaths who are constantly trying to upstage each other.

    It doesn’t matter to “U.S.” plutocrats if the “U.S.” lost face in Vietnam. They aren’t patriotic and they aren’t honorable. They don’t care how the rabble sees them. You might look at the number of times British plutocrats “lost face” without this significantly impacting the interests or powers of British plutocrats. (For example, in 1776.) It doesn’t matter to plutocrats if U.S. lives and treasure are squandered. (It also didn’t matter to “U.S.” plutocrats if LBJ’s great society ambitions were destroyed by the dual costs of Vietnam and great society programs. This would be in their interests.)

    Ya, of course.. What else did you expect from sociopaths who got lucky. The only reason they don’t constantly try to kill each other is the overall situation is going well enough to not rock the boat.

    The disgrace of April 1975, the “defeat”, was long after the war mattered in the slightest to those on whose behalf it had been waged.

    Is that why it took almost two decades for the USA to enter another half-decently conflict (Iraq War 1.0)?

    The only thing that matters to plutocrats is control. They achieved decades of that in S.E. Asia, in part by the Vietnam War. Sorry, friend, but this statement is nonsense: “To put it another way, the participation of USA in Vietnam war had no worthwhile influence on the trajectory, policies and governing style of other populous countries in that region.” Do you truly want to deny the “U.S.” does control those nations or that this control was somehow achieved spontaneously? (If so, in real terms please explain how were the interests of the plutocrats not advanced by what happened in Vietnam?)

    I do agree that plutocrats only care about control and profit. However it also no secret that many S.E Asian countries would have been quite happy to trade with the USA even without the Vietnam war. Heck.. even Ho Chi Minh went to the communists only because the USA rejected his advances after WW2.

    USA would have got far further in S.E Asia if they had come across as half-benevolent despots. But they chose a course of action based on their worldview- especially their racial worldview. It did not work well for them..

    • Yusef
      December 9, 2016 at 5:38 pm

      We don’t disagree very much, if at all. I would say that even though the S.E. Asian nations would have been happy to trade with the “U.S.” without Vietnam,they would not have been happy to take the very short end of the stick the U.S. would offer them without coercions of various kinds. That’s a quibble.

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