Observations of an old World War II Marine

An old World War II Marine said: " The behavior of the Democrat opposition today is disgraceful and presents to the world a spectacle of national disunity that gives aid and comfort to our enemies. It ought to be an affront to every patriotic American". Clyde McMorrow represents Republicans critical of Bush:"I think it unfair to attribute criticism of the behaviour of the Bush administration to the Democratic party. I am a lifelong Republican and have been appalled by the ethical lapses of the neo-conservatives since they first crawled out from under rocks during the Reagan administration. I am also a fiscal conservative that cannot understand this administration's uncontrolled spending, a strict constitutionalist who can't understand their meddling in State's rights, a firm believer in the separation of Church and State who sees no redeeming social value in government intrusion on ethical issues. In short, I see no position of this administration that reflects the basic beliefs of the Republican Party.

This is the administration that established a department in the Pentagon to create and report "strategic" (i.e., false) news. This is the basic definition of lying. When faced with intelligence reports that were counter to their presuppositions, they simply created their own intelligence agency to get the reports they wanted. Then, armed with their own faked assessments, they charge off to war. When finally overwhelmed by the facts in the real world (i.e., the truth) they quickly turned on the agencies that provided them with the negative assessments that they originally didn't want to hear.

Criticism of the Bush administration is not an affront to any patriotic American. It is just proof of the validity of the advice we all received from our mothers to tell the truth. Had they understood this, the neo-cons may not have had the opportunity to attack Iraq that they so cherished, but they would not be hoisted on their own petards as they are now".

General Sullivan forwarded "Observations of an old World War II Marine". Unlike Californian Clyde McMorrow, Randy Black says:"I agree totally with General Sullivan. But aha! Here is the rub: He speaks of patriotism in America, whereas in some locales of California, for instance, it is virtually illegal to appear patriotic regarding flag desecration, the Pledge, songs and so forth". RH: Neither Clyde nor I live in the locales to which Randy refers, nor would we want to live there..

Daryl DeBell writes: "As a reserve Naval Lieut.JG in the Medical Corps, I was assigned to the Marines, and went through a kind of boot camp at Camp Elliot near San Diego. In what I took to be a deliberate effort to inure us to misfortune, the Marine Captain who was indoctrinating us regaled us with all sorts of horror stories about the campaigns that had already occurred. e.g. 'At Tarawa it was not faulty intelligence (at least in the usual meaning of the term), but stupidity that caused the landing craft to go aground and force the Marines to disembark in deep water, where many of them drowned. The problem was that the landing, which should have been at high tide so that the landing craft could clear the reef, was stupidly timed for low tide so that the craft did ground on the reef, with disastrous consequences. Similarly the Navy bombarded the island with hundreds of 16 inch artillery shells: they were however armor piercing shells, intended to explode when they struck armor, so when they struck the Japanese coconut log defenses they did not explode, with the consequence that instead of a largely destroyed defense, the Marines met fierce resistance. These stories were told with the idea that the Marines prevail even in the worst circumstances (possibly with an undertone of inter-service rivalry I.e.'the stupid Navy').

Another account was that of the Navy assigning a submarine recon to Tarawa with the intention to land a few Marines to scout the landing, but they neglected to tell the rest of the Navy about it, and a US destroyer patrolling near Tarawa located it and depth bombed it for so long that it could not accomplish its mission. Actually the Marine captain, the equivalent of a drill sergeant, except that since he was training medical officers he had to be an officer too, was a good natured fellow who told us with great good humor that the anti-malarial drugs didn't really work very well and that we would be likely get malaria, also the odds were really very good that we would get filariasis, and that the Japanese did not honor the Geneva convention about non-combatants and that we would be well-advised to carry a 45, and know how to use it.

I don't know about massive atrocities, but I do recall being shocked and almost unbelieving when told, by Marines, about Marines aboard destroyers shooting at Japanese in the water after a naval battle. I am afraid that the realities of war are grimly awful and that we are much more willing to give credence to the atrocities of the enemy than to those committed by us. It is part of every government's effort to glorify war and deny its awful realities (witness the banning of the pictures of the flag-draped coffins)".

Stanford Professor Francisco Ramirez, a native of the Philippines, answers "Observations of an old World War II Marine. John K. McLean ": "Japan attacked Pearl harbor. Iraq did not attack New York City. This is a major distinction the old Marine ignores. I am an immigrant, a patriotic American, and a registered Independent. What is an affront to me is the assertion that to be critical of the invasion of Iraq is "giving aid and comfort to the enemy " and an "affront to every patriotic American." Spare me the response that you can be critical, but only if you are really timid about it. The trouble with some "staunch Republicans" is that they really believe that only they are truly patriotic and everyone else is suspect. That may make sense in some country under some constitution, but not in the United States of America under the American constitution. What is truly disgraceful is the nonsense that gets uttered and justified in the name of patriotism. If you think this war makes sense, go ahead and defend it. But do not preach to me that I have a responsibility to be mute".

Regarding "under God", Clyde McMorrow says: "Randy Black does bring up some interesting points. I have listened to the debate on "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance and have come to the realization that this has no place in public schools or governmental ceremonies. It is an encroachment on my right to freely practice religion. In a strict constitutional sense it clearly violates the First Amendment and in popular usage implies that the U.S. is in some way God's favorite. In my belief system, this is not the case. I would prefer a God that can encompass all humanity equally. "In God We Trust" should also be removed from the U.S. currency.

By eliminating these constitutional irregularities we can preserve Randy's legal rights to use flags and other tokens as a public display of patriotism. We also preserve the rights of those who prefer to express their patriotism in other ways".

RH: There are two sides here. "Under God" did mean that the US had been given a manifest destiny by God, a continuation of the Old Testament belief that the Jews had a manifest destiny. At the same time, the separation of Church and State did not mean that the state was irreligious. On the contrary; all the Founding Fathers were religious. It simply meant that the Anglican Church should not be the state religion to the exclusion of other Christian groups or the Jews.

Randy Black answers Clyde McMorrow about the Pledge of Allegiance: "But it’s state law in California. If you live in California, you cannot be punished for refusing to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, you can be prosecuted for displaying a “God Bless America” sign in a public school, for desecrating the flag and other patriotic or anti-patriotic exhibitions.




The U.S. Supreme Court is to announce this fall whether it will consider the issue of mandating the recitation of the pledge in public schools. The case before the Court came from California, where a doctor persuaded a federal appeals court that the regular morning classroom salute to the American flag is unconstitutional because of the phrase "one nation, under God." From 2003: http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/news.aspx?id=11816

The Northern California ACLU, in a press release, stated that, "it is especially important to promote tolerance, unity and respect" at this time. "We must protect our civil liberties," the statement read. The ACLU has protected the rights of hate speech and student access to pornography on school computers, Roth said. "God Bless America, though, is not free speech." http://www.aclj.org/news/nf_011015_crosshairs.asp

RH: There is something sick, or even dangerous about an organization that protects student access to pornography on school computers and fights any reference to God. Is America sick? We shall see. The promotion of "liberties" was the antithesis to the lack of liberties under absolute monarchies. The time has come for the Hegelian synthesis, responsibility.

General Sullivan sent "Observations of an old World War II Marine", who denounced as unpatriotic Americans who do not support the war in Iraq. This elicited angry rebuttals from several WAISers, including Clyde McMorrow. General Sullivan now writes: "Clyde McMarrow is guilty of the very same argument the WWII Marine Colonel criticizes by his attacking and belittling the Administration with his vitriolic words and rhetoric . He accuses the Administration of distorting the facts with faked assessments and false intelligence. This is his view that he probably derived from the biased, liberal media and from anti Administration charges by several factions which many believe, but I don't. The World War II vet makes the point that it didn't happen in WWII as politicians and the public were united behind the country while at war. The politicians handled Pearl Harbor much differently than the 9/11 Commission, which has turned into a politically charged contest and soap opera.

Granted, the attack on Pearl Harbor was an act of war unifying the nation, but no more so than crashing airliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Many WAISers seem not to appreciate the fact we're in WWIII; the terrorist threat is by far the worst threat the US has ever faced. The terrorists have proved that they can strike us here at home. What is done is done in Iraq, and we must bring the hostilities in Iraq and the rest of the war on terrorism to a successful conclusion.

You can be patriotic and criticize your government, but not if your criticism is filled with hate, untruths, distortions and suppositions which give aid to the enemy and stiffen his will. For me, this is the exact opposite of patriotism. When the American armed forces, doing battle for us and taking the great risks in Iraq and Afghanistan, hear about the great, vitriolic divide in the US over Iraq, it will drag their morale down quickly. I can remember flying up to North Vietnam for missions after reading in the Stars and Stripes daily about all the unruly peace marches, the anti war politicians, riots, flag burnings and the violent disrespect for the government and the military. It seemed that total anarchy was raging in many US cities and that all our institutions were under attack from within and not by the North Vietnamese or Viet Cong. I used to think we were risking our lives for no purpose. At least the North Vietnamese believed in their cause, and they started the war. That same, angry lack of support for the way the Administration is prosecuting the war is starting to manifest itself again, and, if our combat troops in Iraq feel they are no longer the number one concern of the American people. we'll be back in the Vietnam syndrome again, and it will cost more American lives.

I fail to see the meaning of "hoisted on their own petard"...bomb, firecracker? Currently those"petards" are finding their way to the guys shooting at our troops... "It ain't over till it's over"."

Clyde McMorrow writes: "Please forgive me if my rebuttal sounded "angry". I enjoy the discussion opportunity provided by WAIS primarily because it is not angry. General Sullivan is right in his analysis that I get my information from the print media. It may be "biased and liberal" but I can't imagine the Economist owning up to that. In light of all that has been published, all that has been spoken by key members of the current administration and all that was printed over their signatures in the Project for the New American Century, I don't understand how General Sullivan can take issue with their tendency to distort facts and fake assessments. As to public opinion about World War II, the General would be well advised to read material from the early period of the war. The U.S. did not enter that war until quite late, primarily because of the reticence of the American public. It took the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor to galvanize public opinion in favor of U.S. participation.

Many people see the attack on Pearl Harbor as a quite different event than the attack on the World Trade Center. Pearl Harbor was clearly attributable to the Japanese government and constituted an immediate national threat to the U.S. The World Trade Center was attacked by Saudi Arabians and Yemenis. These people were believed to be encouraged by a non-governmental organization Al Quaida and the administration responded by attacking the Al Quaida bases in Afghanistan rather than Saudi Arabia. I think the American people were united up to this point.

It was the bizarre turn to whack Iraq that confused us. It was never even hinted that Iraq had anything to do with the World Trade Center attacks. The excuse that the Bush administration used to enter the war was that Iraq was in violation of U.N. resolutions. Few Americans believe that it is our responsibility to use unilateral American military force to enforce U.N. resolutions. We don't want to be the policeman for Iraq and we don't want to have to bomb Israel into the stone age just to get them to accept U.N. resolutions.

With regard to the expression "hoist on his own petard", I stand corrected. I have heard this expression and used it many times myself without realizing that I was confused over what a "petard" actually is. I was under the impression it was the axe-shaped spear one sees in the hands of the Swiss guard and there for to be "hoist upon one's petard" was to be stabbed with one's own spear. A little research shows that a petard is some sort of bomb like weapon used to destroy doors to gain entry. The actual usage should therefore be: "Hoist by their own petards". Usage from Hamlet (Shakespeare) "For tis the sport to have the enginer, hoist with his owne petard". I thank General Sullivan for his kind observation".

With regard to "Observations of an old World War II Marine", Ross Rogers, Jr. says: "Please have him look up the correct meaning of the word "liberal" in the Oxford English Dictionary, second edition. And if he doesn't have that dictionary, please refer to your posting of 24 December 2003 07:20. He misuses the word. It is an honor to be a liberal. Liberals are not unpatriotic and not some shade of pink". RH: We have pointed this out many times, but the misuse of the word by the American right seems to be incorrigible. As a bumper sticker says :"Christ was a liberal".

Stanford Professor Francisco Ramirez criticized "Observations of an old World War II Marine" about the US war on Iraq: "Japan attacked Pearl harbor. Iraq did not attack New York City. This is a major distinction the old Marine ignores". Tim Brown answers: "I find this logic "peccable" (as opposed to impeccable). The Germans did not bomb Pearl Harbor. The Japanese did. But we declared war on Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy because of that Japanese action a half-world away because Hitler and Mussolini were publicly declared allies of Japan. We did not refrain on the grounds that since there were no Japanese troops in Europe, no German or Italian troops in the Pacific and neither Germany nor Italy had attacked us. We declared war on all three because they were allies and their combined strength was being brought to bear against us and our own allies thereby creating an unacceptable threat to out national interests. That was because even without having troops on each others territory or fighting one another's wars, the belligerent acts of all three Axis powers were mutually supportive and reinforced the effectiveness of one another's campaigns against us, so all had to be defeated before peace could be restored. Saddam was an ally of international terrorism. I see no "major distinction."

Fred Hansson corrected Tim Brown on the sequence of events at the beginning of World War II. Tim adds: "To be precise, Costa Rica declared war on Japan before we did", which was of course a rhetorical gesture. Now Tom Moore says: "I am sorry to correct Professor Ramirez, but after Pear Harbor, Germany declared war on the United States, had it not done so, there is a good chance that Congress would not have declared war on Germany". RH: This is of course hypothetical, but opposition to entering the war had been great.



Ronald Hilton -