The Pentagon Papers, top secret Defense Department documents that were leaked during the Vietnam War, are finally declassified. The documents shocked the U.S. public at the time of their release 40 years ago, and helped end the Vietnam War. Just like today’s WikiLeaks revelations, the Pentagon Papers helped to wake people up to the falsehoods and atrocities of our overseas wars. This is the story of how Marcus Raskin, co-founder of the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), and others played a key role in the release of the Pentagon Papers.
Van Pao’s “secret army” was financed by the CIA as part of the war against North Vietnam. Is the U.S. also tolerating and empowering drug lords in Afghanistan?
There is always another “strategic” battle — in Afghanistan, as in Vietnam — that’s “key” to winning a war against an insurgency. But there are millions of hills and valleys and they are as meaningless in Afghanistan as they were in Vietnam.
The Khmer Rouge Tribunal delivered its first verdict in July against Kaing Guek Euv, alias “Duch,” the director of the notorious S-21 prison, a torture and extermination center under the rule of Cambodian dictator Pol Pot. After a 77-day trial, the five judges — two international and three Cambodian — unanimously convicted Duch of committing crimes against humanity. He was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
In last month’s blitzkrieg tour of Central and Southeast Asia, two of the four stops Secretary Clinton made share the unfortunate bond of enduring an invasion by U.S. air and ground forces. In the space of a few days, Clinton visited both Vietnam and Afghanistan, thus physically linking what had once been, and then what has now become the United States’ longest war. One of the more insidious links that tie these conflicts together was highlighted in a few of the news stories about Clinton’s trip. That link, in a word, is agribusiness.
Anti-government rhetoric is all the rage these days. And “rage” is the operative word here. Small-government enthusiasts are like the drivers of Hummers incensed at all the difficulties they encounter on the roadway — pesky speed limits, red lights, construction-related delays. Fuming at these restrictions on their liberty, they suddenly have a profanity-laced meltdown and take it out on those around them.
The McChrystal debacle dramatizes how military thinking dominates U.S. policy — look at how much of the budget the Pentagon commands — as well as the utter hopelessness of achieving anything but draining defeat from the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan. This lesson should have been learned after Vietnam. As Yogi Berra said, it’s “déjà vu all over again.”
Aside from the occasional asteroid and volcanic outburst, human beings are responsible for the greatest messes on the planet. We’ve polluted the air and water, punched holes in the ozone, and pumped enough carbon into the atmosphere to overwhelm the global thermostat. Nor is this merely a modern attribute of homo sapiens. As Jared Diamond points out in his book Collapse, we’ve repeatedly taxed the limits of our environment, from the heart of the Mayan civilization to far-flung Easter Island. We’ve hunted countless species into extinction and exhausted the soil to feed burgeoning populations. And what we once did on a local basis, we are now applying on a global scale.
Five years ago the United States attacked and occupied Iraq. It has lost militarily, politically and morally. The end of the war may be in sight. But the consequences will endure, as will the deep-seated impulse among America’s leaders for global intervention without constraint.
Last week’s briefings for the press by U.S. civilian and military officials in Baghdad were uniformly upbeat, cautious, and predictable.