Sad News Chicago Marine Reserve Battalion

Craig - Sad news from our Chicago Marine Reserve Battalion from Iraq, as told by their Commanding Officer.


It is my most unfortunate duty to report to you the deaths four Marines from 2/24, the Chicago Marine Reserve Infantry Battalion:

Corporal Nathaniel T. Hammond, USMC

Corporal Robert P. Warns II, USMC

LCpl Branden P. Ramey, USMC

LCpl Shane K. O'Donnell, USMC

These magnificent Marines, one and all, passed from this earthly existence into the hands of the Lord on Monday, 08 November 2004. Without a doubt, the darkest day in the history of this Battalion since World War II.

Cpl Hammond was struck by a command detonated improvised explosive device, while establishing security for the remainder of his Mobile Strike Team during patrolling operations in the vicinity of Yusufiyah, Iraq.

Cpl Warns, LCpl Ramey and LCpl O'Donnell were struck by a buried improvised explosive device while conducting a motorized patrol during patrolling operations in the vicinity of Lutafiyah, Iraq.

ALL Marines were killed instantly, suffered no pain and were recovered by their fellow Marines.

I cannot even begin to express the depth of sorrow and pain I feel for these losses. All of these Marines were exceptional Marines and outstanding human beings, for without whom the world will be a darker place. The most painful and difficult event in the loss of our Marines is knowing it has occurred, and then imagining the reaction of the families who love them dearly upon notification. I take some solace in knowing that as Marines we take care of our own, and the notification will be as professionally done as is humanly possible under the circumstances, but it is truly of little comfort knowing the gut-wrenching pain and soul shattering feeling of hearing the words, "I regret to inform you...killed in action."

But, it is the "killed in action" where the dim light of lossed life can be overcome by the bright shining light of sacrifice and love. These Marines, the living and the perished, live an existence that almost defies description, and I am far to incapable of truly putting it into words. But if you picture the most physically demanding day you ever had in your life,multiply it by (2), and then imagine doing it every single day for TWENTY to TWENTY TWO HOURS a day, you would almost capture what these Marines do.

Then, you have to add in the reality of violent death being around every corner, the reality of being ready to destroy and do extreme violence in less time than it takes to blink an eye, do it all while being ever mindful of not harming innocents or non-combatants, accounting for the 50 lbs of armor and gear you are carrying, and trying to not let thoughts of home and loved ones distract you from the duty at hand...and you would have about a 50% visualization of what these UNBELIEVABLE AMERICANS we call Marines do every SINGLE day.  

You then ask "why? You ask why because you are not here. I ask why because I am. And, by being here, I ask why because I cannot believe that there are such men! Men that will bear any burden, overcome any challenge, tackle any foe, face any fear, that others might live in freedom and peace. There are no William Shakespeare's in this Battalion and no Albert  Einsteins. Quite frankly, many of these Marines you would shutter to present in mixed company, myself included. But you see, at their core of existence, beneath the veneer we all put on for the rest of the world to see, these Marines are pure of heart and soul! They are the Angels that we all long to see in the flesh.

For all the bluster and machismo, all they want to do is make a difference in a world gone mad! They want to destroy EVIL that GOOD shall abound, and abound aplenty. They want children to be bounced on their father's knee, without the fear of masked men kidnapping and beheading "daddy" in the middle of the night. They want to be part of bringing about an existence where even if they vehemently disagree with another's belief in a God, or in no god, that it is that, a disagreement among men, not an entitlement to torture, maim or slaughter those with whom you disagree. Inside the core of these Marines is love! Love of everything that is decent and proper. Love of their fellow man. Love of their home and country. Love of their family. Love of their Corps and fellow Marines. And, this love keeps them always moving forward.

It is this love that will lead us to shed a thousand tears as we memorialize our fallen Angels on Friday. It is this love that will lead us to continue our mission of hunting the terrorists and ERADICATING them from the face of the earth. It is this love that will forever have the families of our fallen angels in our thoughts and prayers. It is this love that will have the names of our fallen brethren forever etched in our minds.

I for one know that I will never again hear the National Anthem or the Marine's Hymn without tears in my eyes, a pain in my soul, and the names and faces of ALL 2/24 fallen HEROES on my mind.


It will forever be my responsibility that I could not bring them home living. But in knowing them in life and in death, I have known Jesus. Because I saw in them the "carrying of the Cross" for love of a friend!

It is my deepest prayer that immediately after being welcomed to heaven by the Savior, they were reunited with passed family and friends, and then met by LCpl Daniel Wyatt, issued their orders, and took their post "guarding the streets of heaven."

And, I also pray that the families know our Marines and their precious loved one never dies alone, they die among their friends, their BROTHERS!

God Bless You, You Magnificent Warriors in your final journey home and may you rest among the Angels where you rightly belong!

In profound sadness,

Mark A. Smith
Commanding Officer, 2nd Bn, 24th Marines

PS: SSgt Simon, Co G and LCpl Kruchten Co G, were seriously injured in the detonation that took the lives of Cpl Warns, LCpl Ramey and LCpl O'Donnell. Please pray for them and their families, and please reach out to them in there time of challenge and need.

"I am the Lord, your God,
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you,
Do not fear; I will help you."

The President and the Liberal Press - May 2003

Charlie K       

I think comparing Viet Nam coverage to Iraq is like apples to oranges. With the amount of embedded journalists assigned, as well free-lance journalists it would take a conspiracy larger than what those consider to be the JFK conspiracy to cover up a war with that much coverage. (Perhaps they consulted Mark Furmon first, but I doubt it).

Viet Nam was a war run by civilian liberal democrats from the basement of the White House and MacNamara and his "Ivy-League yes men" handled the war as if it was a modern day strategic video game for their own enjoyment. Irregardless of the service men/women who were being killed. Who they, feeling themselves to be educated elitists, didn't care about anyway.

Iraq however had a clear purpose, to dispose of a dictator, who had extensively studied Hitler and Stalin and modeled his regime after a combination of both of them. Killing any opposition. Would Iraq have attacked us? Of course not!

But, Sadam had a deep enough hatred to fund al-Qaida and given the time would have given their suicide squads the W.M.D. to bring into the U.S. to use against us. Not a hard task because we can't close our borders to the masses just to protect ourselves, now can we?

Where are the W.M.D.? The same place as Sadam and his sons. In Iran! The UN with its "dillydicking" around gave him enough time to move all of the weapons along with a fortune of stolen money out of Iraq and into Iran. (which I'm sure will be our next target on the "War On Terrorism" now that they are developing nuclear weapons).

I find Clinton not only a disgusting example as a President, but also as a lying, cheating disgusting example of a human being. He cut our military spending by one-half and I'm sure if he had more time would have put us at the pre-World War II level we were at when we were fifteenth militarily in the world, behind Venezuela. This was when we believed in isolationism. Kind of like when I hear people now say we shouldn't attack anyone in the Muslim extreme world because they will get mad at us. How much madder can you make these people who want to kill all non-Muslims, or even Muslims who they feel cooperate with the "infidels", and destroy our country and culture? The only thing the violent understand is superior violence!

This is also evident from pre-World War II when Gen. Tojo, believing the American people to be too weak to be willing to fight figured after the attack on Pearl Harbor we would retreat to our mainland and hide. I guess someone forgot to tell the Marines on Iwo Jima about that!

Should we have taken an approach of isolationism as England did with Chamberlain in 1939 when he returned with a piece of paper saying he had Hitler's  promise not to wage war? I'm sure Clinton would have sent Albright to get that promise from Sadam. Instead, Bush felt that in the national interest and as a war against terrorism that Sadam would be the first to go. Whether you feel he was right or wrong, he made a decision! Something Clinton could never do, and I'm sure neither would Gore have been able to do it. Now we have North Korea, after all of it's saber rattling about it's nuclear weapon's, who has different thoughts after seeing what we did to Iraq.


Oh, Charlie, I also forgot to mention that the "liberals" in charge of the war when I was in Vietnam were Nixon and his aspiring fascists like Haldeman, Erlichman, and Liddy. Nixon won in 1968 by saying "any administration that couldn't get us out of Vietnam in 4 years doesn't deserve another chance." Four years later Nixon was re-elected although we were still in Vietnam, and he had managed to  convince people the war was a non-issue. I was there and we were still suffering casualties every day.

And after the peace agreement was signed, I stayed over there several more months because we were still running secret bombing missions in Laos and Cambodia. Now try to tell me that Clinton was our most dishonest President.

Charlie K

What is it that the liberals dislike so much about Fox News? Is because it tells the truth about our President and our country and doesn't distort it like the liberal press tries to do? If Peter Jennings or the L.A. Times  criticizes the President, the liberals say it's fair and impartial journalism. But, if Fox correctly reports that the Presidents approval rating, as  of yesterday, is 64% then the liberals cry this is one sided journalism. Well, looking at the standings of Fox News, compared to other news channels, I go back to what I said before. The liberals are on the run, and are going to be as extinct as the woolly mammoth.


Could some of Clinton's statements about his private life be considered lies, or at least extremely misleading statements? Of course! Could some of Bush's statements about the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq be considered lies, or at least extremely misleading? I think so. Which is more harmful to the American people?

And as a former Navy journalist in Vietnam, I got an up-close and personal look at biased, managed, and outright dishonest reporting. For example, when I de-briefed our pilots after their sorties, I was often reprimanded by my superiors in Saigon for reporting exactly what the pilots told me. I was expected to put a more positive spin on things by listing water buffalos killed as WBLC's [water-borne logistic crafts] or faulty intelligence reports leading them to have to drop bombs in the middle of nowhere as RUDS [results unobservable due to smoke--suggesting targets that had been set on fire]). And based on my own personal experience and objective observations, I would say that FOX News is the closest thing I've seen to that type of "positive spin" reporting. I don't care if it's "Where America Gets It's News," but to me watching Fox News is like watching a Cubs game with Harry Caray announcing at the end of his career--it may be interesting to listen to, but it's not a reflection of what's really going on.

Charlie K

I've been watching the latest in the liberal presses attempt to discredit Pres. Bush. CNN, MSNBC, BBC, are all reporting a NY Times report that the President made a speech concerning Al Queda in which he said; "That group of terrorists who attacked our country is slowly but surely being decimated," he added. "They're not a problem anymore." Indicating that the President didn't even know the present threats  we and any non-Muslim country are under from this group  of "criminals".

Fox News showed the speech in question and as usual the liberals are taking the statement out of context. This was a 5/4/03 speech in Little Rock and while talking about our accomplishments against the Al Queda network, the President actually said; " Al Qaeda is on the run. That group of terrorists who attacked our country is slowly but surely being decimated. Right now, about half of all the top Al Qaeda operatives are either jailed or dead. In either case, they're not a problem anymore."

Clearing meaning that the 50% who are dead or in prison offer us no threat. But the liberals are on the run and they know they are
becoming as extinct as the woolly mammoth so they have to "lie" in an attempt to discredit a President who has nothing to hide.

Former Clinton Asst. Sidney Blumenthal was on the Fox News; "Where America Gets It's News", last night on the Hannity and Colmes Show discussing his book "The Clinton Wars". Not kowtowing to a former Clinton aide who had written a one sided book, likelets say Peter Jennings would do, Hannity got right on Blumenthal about Clinton's ethics and the fact that he put his hand on a Bible and swore to tell the truth and then went on to lie. And that Clinton lied when he looked the American people right in the eye and said "I did not have sex with that woman!". Blumenthal said these were all Republican lies. Clinton did not sexually assault any women. When Hannity brought up Monica Lewinski, Paula Jones, et al. Blumenthal again said these were all Republican lies. Hannity asked if he thought the women were all liars Blumenthal tried to say the Republicans had sent them to Clinton to discredit him. Now the liberal Democrats not only want  to lie about President Bush, but they actually think the American people are stupid enough to believe their lies.

At least Hannity made a liberal democrat look like his party's  symbol. Not the donkey, a "jackass!"


Italians say politicians are like cork-screws: the more twisted they are, the better they do their job!


Charlie, I'm just saying that Fox News in my opinion is very slanted. Since it seems to be slanted toward your point of view I see why you like it, but I don't trust it any more than I trust most things coming out of this Administration, since most of them were key players in the Iran-Contra fiasco, which was the largest illegal government sanctioned lie-fest since Vietnam.

I certainly don't disagree with everything you say, but you do tend to say it with such vehemence that it makes it seem that you aren't even open-minded enough to consider other viewpoints. And just to set the record straight, I have never voted a straight ticket in my life and I do consider politicians to be liars by nature. Could a politician who told the absolute truth be elected? No chance! Plus, I think anyone who wants to be President has to be at least mildly mentally ill to begin with.


Thanks for the clarification and sorry for being a bit too vehement myself. I tend to be skeptical of anyone who seems to have all the answers (although I do respect those like you and John W. who at least can back them up with some documentation). On a personal note, when I retire in a couple of years, my wife and I are very seriously thinking about moving to the Sarasota/Venice area (not just to be near you, Charlie, but my mother lives in Venice and we really love the area).

Actually, my dad had a regular column in the Venice Gondolier until he died a couple of years ago, and my mom is president of the Friends of the Jacaranda library, which just got a couple of major grants and her picture has been in your local papers quite a bit. Let me know if you hear of any good real estate deals. Maybe we can get together for a meal at the Crow's Nest or bet on the crab races at Sharkey's, or just take  our Florida snow shovels to the beach to hunt for some sharks' teeth.


Sorry, if I came off so vehemently opposed that it appears I don't have an open mind. I hope I never go that far, but I do have my views, as I sure you can tell. I don't get all of my news sources from Fox News. I get two papers a day, which both carry both liberal and conservative syndicated columnists as well as selected columnists from the NY Times, Washington Post, Chicago Trib etc.

There's not a whole lot of news in the Sarasota area, and I hope it stays that way. Some I agree with and with some I grit my teeth. But, I try to take in both sides. It's just that I find that Fox News goes along with my beliefs, therefore that's what I prefer to watch. But, I will also "channel surf" between CNN and MSNBC. Being retired there is only so much to do in the yard, and only so much time you can spend in the pool or golfing. The rest of the time you can either watch "Soaps", news channels or the History Channel. Even Discovery has bridal shows and new baby care shows on in the day. Don't worry, I know your time to "pull the pin" is coming soon and I'm glad to see that the teachers got that big retirement benefit a couple of years ago.

You're absolutely right about Nixon being President from 1968 until his "sudden departure". It came as a bad flashback to me. I was in Army basic in 1969 and I remember having to clean the company HQ's and there was Nixon's leering face looking at me. Even if it was just a picture, I still checked my wallet. There was a guy so preoccupied with having power he didn't care whose rights he had to violate or who he had to step on. So Clinton was only the second most dishonest President! But, calling Nixon's aides "fascists"?


Columbia Students Rally For Troops "A Conservative News Forum"

Columbia Students Rally For Troops
AP via Yahoo | April 2, 2003, 2:30 PM EST | DEEPTI HAJELA

Posted on 04/02/2003 2:35 PM PST by rmlew

Pro-troops rally at site of historic anti-war demo
BY DEEPTI HAJELA, Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK - Thirty-five years ago this month, the Low Library at Columbia University was the center of a protest storm as about 1,000 people barricaded themselves inside campus buildings for a week to demonstrate against the Vietnam War.

On Wednesday, amid a growing backlash over a professor's recent anti-war remarks, the library plaza was home to another rally - this one supporting the coalition waging war in Iraq.

Onlookers gathered to watch the speakers at the one-hour rally organized by the campus' Conservative Club, College Republicans and the Students United for America. About 70 student participants stood on the steps of the library, holding flags and listening to the speeches.
"The students of Columbia University stand behind the men and women who defend this great nation," said Megan Romigh, a senior and president of the College Republicans.

"The rally was awesome," said Babylon Town Councilman Lindsay Henry. "It was very refreshing to see such large numbers of people supporting our men and women overseas. They deserve every bit of our respect, love and prayers. I can't wait to see them all come home again safely. There's a solid majority out there that are supporting our troops and it is good to see the silent majority speak out." Henry estimated the crowd fell between 800 and 1,000 people."

Last week, at an anti-war teach-in, Columbia professor Nicholas De Genova told thousands of students and faculty that he would like to see "a million Mogadishus" - referring to the 1993 ambush in Somalia that killed 18 Americans.

De Genova, also called for the defeat of U.S. forces in Iraq and said Americans who call themselves "patriots" are white supremacists. The 35-year-old anthropology teacher has since maintained a low profile.

The school, while saying the professor was exercising his right to free speech, has distanced itself from his comments.

A significant email and phone-in campaign is underway to him and the President of the University. Several Alumni have joined in and are contacting all alumni and trustees urging them to cut-off donations until De Genova is fired. They are feeling the heat.

So the professor is backpedaling on his own remarks after watching Arnett get fired.


This isn't addressed specifically to me, but I guess I'd like to know what legitimate purpose is served in emphasizing and exacerbating polarization among Americans by quoting the most moronic left-wing college professor, and the equally moronic knee-jerk retorts of right-wing zealots. So much of what passes for "media coverage" consists of asking the wrong questions. Some of the real questions we - ALL of us - need to be asking are these:

1) Can I care about Americans - our troops, the victims of 9/11, etc. – and AT THE SAME TIME care about Iraqis and other citizens of the world?

2) Can I support our troops and at the same time oppose the war in Iraq? Indeed, can I support our troops by opposing the war in Iraq, and other similar wars of questionable motivation and dubious value?

3) Is patriotism manifested in greater measure by mindless, emotionally-driven support of everything our government does, or by reasoned dissent?

4) Were the anti-Vietnam-war protestors at Columbia U. WRONG in 1968? And "silent majority" - where have I heard THAT term before? Are we REALLY unable to comprehend that the American "military industrial complex" (to coin a phrase) employs PROPAGANDA, and in fact some of the most sophisticated propaganda the world has ever seen?

5) Does the rationale given us by our government for going to war against Iraq REALLY BEAR SCRUTINY? Does history REALLY teach us that government leaders generally act with integrity and altruism, in the best interests of their most lowly citizens?

6) Can we REALLY afford to continue imposing American values and pursuing American interests in such a ham-handed way, while incurring the anger and indeed terror of most of the rest of the world?

7) Are we REALLY so arrogant as to think that God loves us more than He loves everyone else in the world, and that our "World's Only Superpower" status is some divinely-ordained and perpetual state of existence?

6) Do we REALLY HONEST TO GOD believe that the emperor - OUR emperor – is wearing clothes?


The fact is, John, that this " moronic left-wing" professor, as you define him, is not an isolated figure nor is Columbia U. alone in allowing those like him who abuse/use their professional position as "educators of youth" in what should be academic centers of learning - and just maybe – some people need to be made aware of this!


Well, I suppose neither of us has statistics to back us up. I would bet my very life, though, that the number of anti-war protestors who desire "a million Mogadishus", or who would give voice to such a sentiment, constitute such a minuscule minority that the professor at Columbia is virtually an isolated figure. And I would give students enough credit – as they in fact demonstrated they are deserving of, according to the article, though only 70 took part in the counter-protest - to be confident that they can discern the crackpots from the genuinely thoughtful dissenters. It's all about freedom of speech, and the lunatic fringe at both ends of the spectrum must be allowed the same liberties as others in order for the First Amendment to have meaning. The trouble with drawing attention to their utterances, however, is that it generates more heat than light, and distracts people, as I said earlier, from thinking about the things they should be thinking about. Apparently you were distracted, Marie, because you failed to address any of my eight questions.


I didn't answer any of your queries, John Dubya, because I considered them irrelevant to what I was focusing on as the central point - and I disagree with you about the influence this man (whom you call moronic and whom I would define as dangerous) has on 18 ,19, or 21 year-old students who are intellectually, emotionally and spiritually vulnerable young adults, facing personal choices and decisions about life. Professors represent fonts of wisdom, figureheads of maturity and their life-style and attitudes may be esteemed and emulated by their students who are just beginning to form their own attitudes and politic ideas.

(You admitted how you strove to find your personal position with regard to the the Viet Nam conflict and the draft - Didn't you seek out the advice, counsel, and opinion of others you regarded as authoritative? Don't tell me you weren't influenced by the general undercurrent and attitudes at Dartmouth!)

My alma mater, DePauw University - which calls itself a church-related school - is faced with a lawsuit by a professor who sustains that she was dismissed for her biblical beliefs! So much for church-related! (in consequence, some alumni and townspeople who have supported the university are now withdrawing their financial gifts in protest.)

This incident at Columbia is not isolated, John. It is a sign of the times - and I fear for our youth...Some blow their brains out, some  may blow some else's brains out! We can never underestimate the effect our words may have on someone listening!


Yes, I was most definitely influenced by the "general undercurrent and attitudes" at Dartmouth, and indeed throughout America in the '60's. But the undercurrent and attitudes were not homogeneous, and I was free to pick and choose from among the cacaphony of conflicting voices. It was a terribly confusing time and a lot of us got tragically lost as a consequence, but I don't blame the confusion of those days on one professor or on one university, and I know that the confusion of that era was historically inevitable, as a consequence of a great many decisions made, mostly without our knowledge or consent, by our federal government among others.

And yes, I sought out the advice and counsel of people I regarded as authoritative. But even at age 17, I understood the difference between wisdom and mere knowledge, and I knew that precious few of my college professors possessed very much in the way of wisdom. I still remember dropping my Philosophy 101 class after attending the first lecture, and asking the professor in his office after the class, "How can you justify your existence as a professor of Philosophy?" Youthful hubris, yes....but I recognized that wisdom was not to be found in that classroom. When I became a Christian in 1970, I was privileged to meet one of the wisest men I have ever known, who had a third-grade formal education but was steeped in the Word of God.

Columbia U. cannot have been ignorant of this man's political redence - - and their blasè, cover-their-ass attitude is representative of many other academic institutions from Columbia to Berkeley and in between....who not only tolerate, but seek out, maintain, and encourage these kitsch and elite among their tenured staff - I'm afraid that to maintain that elusive quality called "academic freedom", and the First Amendment rights guaranteed by the Constitution, we must tolerate the voices on the fringes, and hope that we are educating our children well enough, intellectually and morally, so that they can intelligently reject those fringe voices. How would you go about setting up a process of censorship, and whom would you put in charge of it?


Very true....but neither can we keep eternally silent for fear that someone might be adversely affected by our words. All we can do is to try to choose our words carefully and wisely....which it appears that the Columbia prof didn't do in the instance you cited, but which I submit that Resident Bush NEVER does, even with speechwriters putting words in his mouth. I fear for our youth, too....but how, practically speaking, would you go about changing "the times"?

I really don't understand what precisely any of this has to do with one professor at Columbia. There are many signs of the times, many voices. Again, whom would you put in charge of the Department of Homeland Censorship, and how would you set it up in a principled fashion?

John Dubya


I enjoy a lively political debate, and find the dialogue between the left and right interesting. In the end, though, the intelligent (and usually quiet) 20% in the middle make the choice in the election. The democrats and republicans enjoy about a lock on 40 to 45 % of the electorate. The center is what counts.

And the by the way, don't get too excited about the "Sky is falling, the sky is falling" rhetoric. Our country and the world are doing pretty well. Compare now to the height of the cold war, Vietnam, WW II, the depression, etc.

When we get too excited about the relative evils of the right or the left, reflect on the words of my friend and partner, Professor Efraim Gil, who survived WW II, the Russian Communists, and the Nazi's. He points out that in America, a rather decent republican or democrat is elected at the end of each election. We are not talking about the choice between a Nazi and a Communist. Although listening to some condemn Bush or Clinton you would think they were.

All in all, things are pretty good. Your world assessment can be that the glass is either half full or half empty. I think it is half full.


You make a good point about elections, Craig, and about the country in general. I have no desire to move to a different country. But I do think we could do a better job of distributing the nation's wealth. And I definitely wouldn't want to lose my son in a war that has nothing to do with protecting America (like Iraq, and as you well remember, Vietnam).


"And what happened in Viet Nam? Virtually everyone who went over there, and many who stayed stateside, learned very quickly to call the Vietnamese "gooks" and to think of them as sub-human."


Not everyone, John. We were trying to win the hearts and minds of the people. And we were

Fine Water Buffalo, Motor bike, and tuk tuk

instructed that way, and the better people believed it and worked at.

I will compare it to the south side. Some people were and are absolute racists. But not everyone, certainly. And the better people were not and are not racist. To call everyone who went to Vietnam racist is like saying all people in south Chicago are racist. It simply isn't accurate.

Let me rephrase your statement to illustrate the inaccuracy:

"And what happened in south Chicago? Virtually everyone who went there, and many who stayed there, learned very quickly to call African Americans the "XXXX" and to think of them as sub-human."

Quite a few servicemen married Vietnamese women, and raised families. I went back to Vietnam in 1999. Still beautiful, people still friendly, love Americans.

John W

"And there were plenty of atrocities, despite the fact that Craig denies seeing any (and perhaps he personally didn't). There was more than one My Lai."


Yes there were. Just as there has been more than one horrible murder in south Chicago. But don't brand everyone in the south side as a murderer. And don't brand all of the servicemen and women, most of whom are doing a good job in an ethical manner, as war criminals.


Well, one could easily make the argument that anyone who fights in a criminal war is a de facto war criminal. But even though we have all sorts of criminal laws on the books in the civilian context about "conspiracy" and "felony murder", I won't make that argument. And I don't believe that I suggested anywhere that all soldiers, either in Viet Nam or in Iraq, were or are war criminals. I was merely responding to Jim's statement that this generation of soldiers, the ones who are now in Iraq, are somehow worse, on the whole, than those who fought in Viet Nam. I'm not convinced of it. I think human beings are inherently cruel and sheeplike, as the two famous psychology experiments amply demonstrate, and I think that war - any war - does strange things to people to exacerbate those tendencies and remove the barriers to barbarity.


Certainly the use of napalm in Viet Nam was an atrocity.


War is a brutal business, to be avoided whenever possible. But warfare also has rules, developed and agreed to by most countries. We have outlawed poison gas, for example, and most countries abide by this agreement (Except Saddam, or course).

But other weapons as brutal are accepted. Shooting someone or being shot, or bombed, or shelled, or killed by a mine is not pleasant, but is part of warfare.

That is the way it is.

And napalm and flamethrowers, while bad, are accepted.

John W

Where might I read these "rules of war"? I'd really like to see where it says, "It's perfectly acceptable to drop burning chemicals and nuclear bombs indiscriminately on your fellow man if your nation has a beef with their nation." I want to see those words in print. I'd be most grateful if you could direct me to them, Craig.



The rules of war regarding the ethical treatment of prisoners are developed under the Geneva Convention, some UN rules, and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. There is a lot on the web on these topics.

A good summary of the rules of war below:

The essential rules of international humanitarian law:

Persons who do not or can no longer take part in the hostilities are entitled to respect for their life and for their physical and mental integrity. Such persons must in all circumstances be protected and treated with humanity, without any unfavorable distinction whatever.

It is forbidden to kill or wound an adversary who surrenders or who can no longer take part in the fighting.

The wounded and sick must be collected and cared for by the party to the conflict which has them in its power. Medical personnel and medical establishments, transports and equipment must be spared. The red cross or red crescent on a white background is the sign protecting such persons and objects and must be respected.

Captured combatants and civilians who find themselves under the authority of the adverse party are entitled to respect for their life, their dignity, their personal rights and their political, religious and other convictions. They must be protected against all acts of violence or reprisal. They are entitled to exchange news with their families and receive aid.

Everyone must enjoy basic judicial guarantees and no one may be held responsible for an act he has not committed. No one may be subjected to physical or mental torture or to cruel or degrading corporal punishment or other treatment.

Neither the parties to the conflict nor members of their armed forces have an unlimited rights to choose methods and means of warfare. It is forbidden to use weapons or methods of warfare that are likely to cause unnecessary losses or excessive suffering.

The parties to a conflict must at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants in order to spare the civilian population and civilian property. Neither the civilian population as whole nor individual civilians may be attacked. Attacks may be made solely against military objectives.



Thank you, Craig, for posting these rules..

When you take the time to really read these, does it not seem to you that we've violated just about every one of 'em, with regularity and impunity?

I admit that guerrilla warfare makes things a bit hairy. What if, for example, enemy combatants are using a Red Cross ambulance as cover? But I think that our military and political leaders, on the whole, use things like this as excuses - lies, to be blunt about it.

Excellent example: On April 8, 2003, U.S. aircraft destroyed the building housing the Arab news service Al Jazeera's Baghdad bureau; then U.S. artillery bombarded the building that housed Abu Dhabi television; and finally a U.S. tank fired at the Palestine Hotel, where a hundred "unembedded" reporters were staying, including some Americans. In these incidents, which all took place on the same morning, several unarmed journalists were killed and many were injured. The claim by U.S. Central Command? The tank that fired at the Palestine Hotel was responding to "significant enemy fire from the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad".

I don't believe it for one second. For one reason, the journalists who were there never heard any gunfire. If there was gunfire from the street, they asked the legitimate question of why the tank targeted the 15th floor of the Palestine Hotel, which is where Al- Jazeera had some reporters. Finally, while we never hear these things in the U.S., the unit's tank commander, in an interview with the French Magazine "Le Nouvel Observateur", made no mention of hostile fire from Iraqis in the area of the hotel.

I could go on, but you get the idea. "Rules of War" are nice if they're respected and followed, but I think that's the exception rather than the rule.

Let me ask you this, based on your experience, Craig: Was there any truth to that movie starring Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson, where Nicholson says "You can't handle the truth!" (I can't recall at the moment the name of the film.) What about Pat Conroy's novels about the Citadel, based on his own experience of attending that august military institution? Truth or fiction?


Don’t use movies as a way to understand reality.  Movies always emphasize action, and frequently exaggerate a situation to make it more dramatic.  Most of the films about Vietnam are ridiculous, with no link to reality.
About the hits on the media in Iraq, I am quite sure it was confusion in the fog of war.  The military is not wild about the media, but they don’t go around murdering them, either.  A good rule of thumb is not to get into fights with people who own buckets of ink.  I have been very close to getting killed by artillery, tank fire, and bombs in both the war and in training exercises in the US from our own guys.  Nobody was intentionally shooting at my men and I. But things are very confusing when there are loud explosions, dust, noise, fear, exhaustion and confusion.  Lots of things and people get shot or bombed unintentionally.

Now think about some kind of plot by the military to kill these journalists. Some rogue General or Colonel is going to issue orders to shoot and bomb journalists intentionally?  He issues the orders by radio to the plane and tank crew and the artillery folks on the fly?  Dozens of people hear him make those orders?  Someone would turn him in.  I am quite sure it was a tragic mistake.


John - Nothing our country does is good or good enough for you. No matter what the subject you see the worst in it. If the glass is one drop shy of being full, you see it as half empty.

To equate the treatment of prisoners in Abu Ghraib as as bad as what the Nazis use to do is disingenuous. Most folks make up their minds emotionally and they use logic to justify their positions. You raise this human trait to an art form, John. Your logic is faultless, but you always miss the point.


Ultimately in any guerilla war, in Vietnam or Iraq or Afghanistan, you have to have the support of the people. You have to win their hearts and minds.  And you have to be fair to the people, help them, and not kill them if you hope to succeed.


That may be what you THOUGHT you were doing, or what you were TOLD you were doing. But can you not admit, Craig, after all these years, that the best way of winning the hearts and minds of a people is generally NOT by killing them, burning down their villages, invading their land? Is it still so hard to admit, 35 years later?


Nope. We were helping the South Vietnamese fight a Communist take over from North Vietnam, financed by the Chinese and Soviet Communists. Like Communists everywhere, they were thugs and murderers. Unfortunately the bad guys won, and Vietnam is a Police State. The world knows what happened in Cambodia, and similar things happened in Laos and Vietnam. They did this crap all the time, as a matter of policy and procedure.  

Craig wrote: “I went back to Vietnam in 1999. Still beautiful, people still friendly, love Americans.”


To the extent that this is actually true, it's a tribute to the human spirit, the human ability to rebuild and to forgive. I admit that these stories involving returning veterans, which we see and hear about every once in a while, are very touching. None of it, however, in any way justifies the Viet Nam War.


Jim, remember at the beginning of the war when Sadam showed the first American prisoners captured - and America was outrageously offended because the Geneva Convention regarding treatment of prisoners had been violated.....?

Well, what happened in Abu Ghraib also blatantly trampled these same rules we demanded Sadam to respect.

Our government has admitted there was a gross injustice committed and I believe they are taking the proper steps to address this improper and scandalous behavior.

Mel Gibson's film "The Passion of the Christ" almost prophetically portrayed this madness - and showed how soldiers thrilled to sadistic torture – WHICH WAS NOT ordered from their superior officer! It happened then, it happens still - it needs to be stopped.... and I think the perpetrators need to be helped ....and forgiven! I feel very sorry for their families and the shame they must bear -


Vietnam was of course a tragedy, and Iraq may prove to be a mistake. And since I lost a large number of friends to the Vietnam War, including Koreans and Vietnamese, it makes me very sad.

The American left was very instrumental in the effort to withdraw American support from Indochina. We all remember well the chant of the anti war movement

"Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh, NLF is sure to win!!"

But the left should not be too proud.

The four dominoes, South Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Burma all fell to the Communists when we withdrew our support. The blood bath followed.

Yale University estimates "The Cambodian genocide of 1975-1979, in which approximately 1.7 million people lost their lives (21% of the country's population), was one of the worst human tragedies of the last century."

Professor Rummel of the University of Hawaii had compiled enormous data about deaths in wars from combat, and murder by governments.  The Communist governments are far and away the worst. More then you ever wanted to know about State murder (democide) on this link.

We know about masses of people fleeing South Vietnam, the boat people. This was actually ethnic cleansing, as many of them were ethnic Chinese. The scale of the genocide in Vietnam following the war is not known, since Vietnam is still ruled by the same people who won after the war. And they are not about to let anyone investigate their war crimes.


My wife and I visited Vietnam again in 1999.  Interesting trip. The country was a police state – the people had to submit to a credential check at checkpoints every mile or two. The country was very poor – almost no motorized vehicles in Danang – people riding bikes. We saw one little girl selling individual sticks of gum. People were afraid to talk about the “American” War.  Everyone was paranoid about being overheard.

The country is still beautiful, and everyone we met were extremely nice, and told us they love America and love Americans.

But one interesting thing that I found in 1999 was that there were virtually no men our age in Danang. I hoped to meet a few of the Vietnamese I served with, and perhaps connect with some Vietcong or NVA. But I only found one individual, a Catholic Priest, who was our age. He was in the "reeducation camp" for 17 years after the war. And he could not of course talk about his experiences.

My conclusion - The men our age either:

 1. Escaped with the boat people

 2. Were killed outright

 3. Worked / tortured to death in the camps

 4. Or are still in the camps

Probably all of the above. And I think there is a good chance that the genocide in Vietnam exceeded that of Cambodia.

The anti war movement will of course never acknowledge their role in any of this.

I doubt it has ever occurred to them.


No, for the simple reason that we felt, and still feel, that the U.S. had no business being in Viet Nam in the first place, and that our involvement, like that of the French before us, contributed to the chaos and the genocide. We supported a corrupt South Vietnamese regime that hardly anyone in Viet Nam, including the South Vietnamese army, supported. The people who were killed, forced to escape, or sent to "reeducation camps" after we departed were primarily those who had supported, or were perceived to have supported, the corrupt South Vietnamese regime and the American occupation of Viet Nam. Had we never gotten involved in Viet Nam, the entire country would have been united sooner under some form of communist government led by Ho Chi Minh. You can argue that that wouldn't have been a desirable thing, but at least there probably wouldn't have been the bloodbath. At the VERY least, we wouldn't have shared responsibility for it.

The problem with the "domino theory" was, and still is, that (1) it presumes that communism is some sort of monolithic system of government, which is as ridiculous as saying that all "democracies" are identical, and (2) it presumes that no one in the countries involved WANTS communism. The reality is that the peasants in a given country may be living miserable lives under the prevailing system of government - usually some sort of monarchy or military dictatorship - and may feel that ANY system of government is preferable to the one that they are suffering under. They may WANT communism, which promises them greater equality. Sure, communism may not deliver on its promises, and it may take the peasants quite a few years to find out that communism isn't so hot either. But it was what they thought they wanted at the time.

Even assuming that the United States imposed "democracy" on other countries - which it most emphatically does NOT most of the time - the U.S., as a practical matter, simply can't go all around the world saying "Here, take our version of democracy and free-market capitalism whether you want to or not, because it's GOOD FOR YOU." The citizens of a given country or region have to "work out their own salvation with fear and trembling", for better or for worse.


We need to remember that Communism was an incredibly evil system.  They killed far more people then anyone else. They made the Nazi’s and Japanese look like pikers. They enslaved over a billion and people.
This web page seems well balanced, with a wealth of info on the Bloodiest Tyrant.

The writer arives at his conclusions by averaging most of the writers on the subject. There are several alternatives where Mao or Stalin win the race. Note that Saddam, Pol Pot, and Ho Chi Minh made the second team of mass murderers. 

But it was not for the lack of trying.

The following is excerpted from the above web page.

... and these are just the problems we'll encounter if we accept my numbers without debate. If we want to use the estimates of other scholars, we can pin up to 50 million murders on Stalin, enough to push him to the top of the list regardless of definition. Or we can whittle him down to 10 million murders if we use the low end of the margin of error, and scrounge several more tens of millions for Mao, or away from him.

So, the answer to the question of "Who is roasting on the hottest fires in Hell?" is "Well, that depends..."


“Secondary Level of Mass Murderers:

Obviously, we're going to run into the same vagueries and uncertainties when we try to rank numbers 4 through 10 on the list of the 20th Century's worst killers, but at least we can nominate the candidates. A pretty good case could be made that each of the following rulers (listed alphabetically) were responsible for over a million unjust, unnecessary or unnatural deaths by initiating or intensifying war, famine, democide or resettlement, or by allowing people under their control to do so:

a.. Chiang Kai-shek (China: 1928-49)
b.. Enver Pasha (Turkey: 1913-18)
c.. Hirohito (Japan: 1926-89)
d.. Hirota Koki (Japan: 1936-37)
e.. Ho Chi Minh (North Vietnam: 1945-69)
f.. Kim Il Sung (North Korea: 1948-94)
g.. Lenin (USSR: 1917-24)
h.. Leopold II (Belgium: 1865-1909)
i.. Nicholas II (Russia: 1894-1917)
j.. Pol Pot (Cambodia: 1975-79)
k.. Saddam Hussein (Iraq: 1969- )
l.. Tojo Hideki (Japan: 1941-44)
m.. Wilhelm II (Germany: 1888-1918)
n.. Yahya Khan (Pakistan: 1969-71)

North Vietnam is estimated to have murdered about 2 million people. And of course the world knows about what happened in Cambodia.


Craig --

I appreciate your thoughtful response and your gentle approach. I got a more vociferous response from my son who served in the Marine Corps for only four years but still models his behavior after the code of conduct he learned 12 years ago at Parris Island. I'm lucky that a certain fruity-cocktail swilling Floridian with a decorated Marine son isn't around to lambaste me.

As I said earlier, what bothers me the most is that we'll never REALLY know all the facts of this situation.  Neither will the 9/11 Commission "reveal" anything substantive, unless I miss my guess.

I think it was Marie who asked, "where is the outrage over the beheading of Michael Berg?" Well, that situation is so appalling, I can barely speak of it. Again, however, I'm certain we will never know (though it will be investigated, discussed and rumored to the max...), what was Michael Berg really doing in Iraq? Was he a young, adventurous professional with a charitable inclination? Or, was he a CIA recruit in Iraq because of his knowledge of international telecommunications? We'll never know -- and, God bless them, neither will his family ever have any answers.


It was Charles not I who asked the question "where is the outrage over the beheading of Michael Berg?"

I never answered him because it was exactly as he cried "an outrage" – and I am as disgusted with this act of inhumanity as I am with those acts of depravity in Abu Ghraib....and with news casts which daily play and replay the same horrific photos.... but I also would like to add - that after the flagrant splaying of those photos all around the world - I was not surprised by what happened to Michael Berg - it was only a matter of time before another vindictive atrocity was committed!

We have opened Pandora's box - and only God knows what further horrors await us all....

Regarding Michael Berg - I am also outraged for another reason! When will the US "wake up" - as Mary Caroline's posting exhorts us – and stop sending people of Jewish heritage/ surnames (for whatever reasons) into these Muslim countries - ???

first Daniel Pearl, now Michael Berg! It's like these two men were set up for a kill - Do our authorities not know that these Arabs HATE Jews? - or do they think because someone comes from America they can sneak in and hide their Jewish background....?

Let's really wake up - and protect our people - and stop sending  them indiscriminately to the slaughter.


Thank you, Craig for the web-sites - they are very interesting..... I have just finished reading a book in Italian entitled "I Nuovi Perseguitati" (The Newly Persecuted)....which also gives statistics and claims 13,000 people are killed EVERY DAY - for their faith - The worst places being Sudan and China right now - However, there are still many people in Bulgaria, Romania, and Russia who are still imprisoned and tortured for no other reason than because they are christians! But this book also says more people were killed by Stalin than any other dictator in history....


John, are you a complete pacifist? Did you oppose our part in WWII, for example?

John W

I should probably try to answer this, even though you don't respond directly to some of my more difficult questions.

I'm essentially a pacifist. Violence is never a long-term solution to human problems. Though I know that some of you reading this think that I am hardly the embodiment of love, I believe and try to practice the principle that love is the only thing that really matters, the only thing that has any hope whatsoever of uniting people and enabling them to live amicably together on this earth. When I speak of love I'm not talking about some emotion that you feel, but something you will yourself to do.

The people I have the most difficulty loving are the rich - those  who hoard most of the world's resources, and feel some incomprehensible (to me) sense of entitlement - and the hypocrites - those who profess one thing while practicing something different.

As for World War II, that's a tough one. I wasn't alive then, so fortunately I didn't have to make a decision. It was the last clear- cut case in history where we were deliberately attacked by another sovereign nation, so we clearly had to make some sort of response to Japan. Hitler's motives were fairly obvious, too, though there is much evidence to suggest that our government officials knew about the German concentration camps for quite some time, and chose to do nothing about them.

I don't, though, think that we had to drop atomic bombs on civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I think it was unconscionable. I think we could have found an uninhabited island off the coast of Japan, and said to Hirohito, "Watch and learn. Here's what's going to happen to your cities if you don't surrender." Then we could have bombed that uninhabited island into oblivion. I'd like to think that Hirohito would have gotten the message.

As for my personal participation in violence, all I can say is that I reserve the right to choose my own enemies, based on criteria that I can personally verify, and my own response to those enemies. No "authority figure" with a hidden agenda is ever going to tell me who my enemies are. I decided back in 1968 - having lived with a French family and having had a Japanese roommate who were all truly wonderful people with needs and desires just the same as mine – that was a fool's game. Fortunately I haven't had my resolve put to the ultimate test, since the Viet Nam draft had slowed down by the time I graduated from college in 1971, and now I'm of course too old to serve in the military. I'm genuinely grateful about that, because there's just too damn much propaganda out there to really understand why America does the things militarily that it does. I'm afraid I don't buy most of the "official" explanations.


Dropping the atomic bombs on civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a very brutal deal.  But so was World War II. My Great Uncle Walter Anderson was killed fighting the Japanese, and my father, two uncles, and father in law were lining up for the invasion of Japan. I am sure a number of our collective relatives were in line for this brutal invasion. And you can believe that most of the GI’s were glad when the war ended when it did.

It was projected to be a blood bath, both for our soldiers and theirs and their civilians.  Japan intended to fight fanatically for every inch of ground, much as they did no numerous islands.

There are numerous estimates of far more

total deaths if we had ended the war in a conventional manner with a bloody invasion. So although dropping the bomb was horrible, it was probably less horrible then the alternative.


The US Military teaches core values to personnel. Of course all people do not achieve all the of items below, but they are taught, and followed by most people.

U.S. Marine Corps' Core Values

Generation after generation of American men and women have given special meaning to the title United States Marine. These same men and women live by a set of enduring Core Values which forms the bedrock of their character. The Core Values give Marines strength and regulate their behavior; they bond the Marine Corps into a total force that can meet any challenge.


Honor guides Marines to exemplify the ultimate in ethical and moral behavior; to never lie cheat or steal; to abide by an uncompromising code of integrity; respect human dignity; and respect others. The quality of maturity, dedication, trust and dependability commit Marines to act responsibly; to be accountable for their actions; to fulfill their obligations; and to hold others accountable for their actions.


Courage is the mental, moral and physical strength ingrained in Marines. It carries them through the challenges of combat and helps them overcome fear. It is the inner strength that enables a Marine to do what is right; to adhere to a higher standard of personal conduct; and to make tough decisions under stress and pressure.


Commitment is the spirit of determination and dedication found in Marines. It leads to the highest order of discipline for individuals and units. It is the ingredient that enables 24-hour a day dedication to Corps and country. It inspires the unrelenting determination to achieve a standard of excellence in every endeavor.

Code of Conduct
of the
U. S. Fighting Force

The Code of the U.S. Fighting Force is a code of conduct that is an "ethical guide" and a United States Department of Defense directive consisting of six articles to members of the U.S. armed forcesaddressing how U.S. personnel in combat should act when they must "evade capture, resist while a prisoner or escape from the enemy." It is considered an important part of U.S. military doctrine but is not formal military law in the manner of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and public international law (such as the Geneva Conventions).

The Code of Conduct was established with the issuance of Executive Order 10631 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on 17 August 1955, after the Korean War. It has been modified twice—once in 1977 by President Jimmy Carter in Executive Order 12017, and most recently in President Ronald Reagan's Executive Order 12633 of March 1988, which amended the code to make it gender-neutral.

Notably, the code prohibits surrender except when "all reasonable means of resistance [are] exhausted and...certain death the only alternative," enjoins captured Americans to "resist by all means available" and "make every effort to escape and aid others," and bars the acceptance of parole or special favors from enemies. The code also outlines proper conduct for American prisoners of war, reaffirms that under the Geneva Conventions prisoners of war should give only "name, rankservice number, and date of birth" and requires that under interrogation captured military personnel should "evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability."

]Text of the code

1. Code of the U.S. Fighting Force
a. As a member of the armed forces of the United States, you are protecting your nation. It is your duty to oppose all enemies of the United States in combat or, if a captive, in a prisoner of war compound. Your behavior is guided by the Code of Conduct, which has evolved from the heroic lives, experiences and deeds of Americans from the Revolutionary War to Operation: Iraqi Freedom.
b. Your obligations as a U.S. citizen and a member of the armed forces result from the traditional values that underlie the American experience as a nation. These values are best expressed in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, which you have sworn to uphold and defend. You would have these obligations—our country, your service and unit and your fellow Americans—even if the Code of Conduct had never been formulated as a high standard of general behavior.
c. Just as you have a responsibility to your country under the Code of Conduct, the United States government has an equal responsibility—to keep faith with you and stand by you as you fight for your country. If you are unfortunate enough to become a prisoner of war, you may rest assured that your government will care for your dependents and will never forget you. Furthermore, the government will use every practical means to contact, support and gain release for you and for all other prisoners of war.
d. To live up to the code, you must know not only its words but the ideas and principles behind those words.
e. This pamphlet contains the code, an explanation of its principles and a statement of the standards expected of you.
f. The Code of Conduct is an ethical guide. Its six articles deal with your chief concerns as an American in combat; these concerns become critical when you must evade capture, resist while a prisoner or escape from the enemy.
g. Experiences of captured Americans reveal that to survive captivity honorably would demand from you great courage, deep dedication and high motivation. To sustain these personal values throughout captivity requires that you understand and believe strongly in our free and democratic institutions, love your country, trust in the justice of our cause, keep faithful and loyal to your fellow prisoners and hold firmly to your religious and moral beliefs in time of trial.
h. Your courage, dedication and motivation supported by understanding, trust and fidelity will help you endure the terrors of captivity, prevail over your captors and return to your family, home and nation with honor and pride.
i. The Code of Conduct for members of the Armed Forces of the United States was first promulgated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower Aug. 17, 1955. The code, including its basic philosophy, was reaffirmed on July 8, 1964, in DOD Directive No. 1300.7. In March 1988, President Ronald Reagan issued Executive Order 12633, amending the code with language that is gender–neutral, The code, although first expressed in written form in 1955, is based on time–honored concepts and traditions that date back to the days of the American Revolution.
2. Code of Conduct I
a. I am an American fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.
b. All men and women in the armed forces have the duty at all times and under all circumstances to oppose the enemies of the United States and support its national interests. In training or in combat, alone or with others, while evading capture or enduring captivity, this duty belongs to each American defending our nation regardless of circumstances.
3. Code of Conduct II
a. I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command, I will never surrender the members of my command while they still have the means to resist.
b. As an individual, a member of the armed forces may never voluntarily surrender. When isolated and no longer able to inflict casualties on the enemy, the American soldier has an obligation to evade capture and rejoin friendly forces.
c. Only when evasion by an individual is impossible and further fighting would lead only to death with no significant loss to the enemy should one consider surrender. With all reasonable means of resistance exhausted and with certain death the only alternative, capture does not imply dishonor.
d. The responsibility and authority of a commander never extends to the surrender of a command to the enemy while the command has the power to fight and evade. When isolated, cut off or surrounded, a unit must continue to fight until relieved or able to rejoin friendly forces through continued efforts to break out or evade the enemy.
4. Code of Conduct III
a. If I am captured I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape and aid others to escape. I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.
b. The duty of a member of the armed forces to use all means available to resist the enemy is not lessened by the misfortune of captivity. A POW is still legally bound by the Uniform Code of Military Justice and ethically guided by the Code of Conduct. Under provisions of the Geneva Convention, a prisoner of war is also subject to certain rules imposed by the captor nation. Whenrepatriated, a prisoner of war will not be condemned for having obeyed reasonable captor rules, such as sanitation regulations. The duty of a member of the armed forces to continue to resist does not mean a prisoner should engage in unreasonable harassment as a form of resistance, retaliation by captors to the detriment of that prisoner and other prisoners is frequently the primary result of such harassment.
c. The Geneva Convention recognizes that a POW may have the duty to attempt escape. In fact, the Geneva Convention prohibits a captor nation from executing a POW simply for attempting escape. Under the authority of the senior official (often called the senior ranking officer, or SRO), a POW must be prepared to escape whenever the opportunity presents itself. In a POW compound, the senior POW must consider the welfare of those remaining behind after an escape. However, as a matter of conscious determination, a POW must plan to escape, try to escape and assist others to escape.
d. Contrary to the spirit of the Geneva Convention, many enemies who have captured American POW's since 1950, have regarded the POW compound as an extension of the battlefield. In doing so, they have used a variety of tactics and pressures, including physical and mental mistreatment, torture and medical neglect, to exploit POWs for propaganda purposes, to obtain military information or to undermine POW organization, communication and resistance.
e. Such enemies have attempted to lure American POWs into accepting special favors or privileges in exchange for statements, acts or information. Unless it is essential to the life or welfare of that person or another prisoner of war or to the success of efforts to resist or escape, a POW must neither seek nor accept special favors or privileges.
f. One such privilege is called parole. Parole is a promise by a prisoner of war to a captor to fulfill certain conditions such as agreeing not to escape nor to fight again once released—in return for such favors as relief from physical bondage, improved food and living conditions or repatriation ahead of the sick, injured or longer–held prisoners. An American POW will never sign nor otherwise accept parole.
5. Code of Conduct IV.
a. If I become a prisoner of war, I will keep faith with my fellow prisoners. I will give no information or take part in any action which might be harmful to my comrades. If I am senior, I will take command. If not, I will obey the lawful orders of those appointed over me and will back them up in every way.
b. Informing or any other action to the detriment of a fellow prisoner is despicable and is expressly forbidden. Prisoners of war must avoid helping the enemy identify fellow prisoners who may have knowledge of particular value to the enemy and who may, therefore, be made to suffer coercive interrogation.
c. Strong leadership and communication are essential to discipline. Discipline is the key to camp organization, resistance and even survival. Personal hygiene, camp sanitation and care of sick and wounded are imperative. Officers and non-commissioned officers of the United States must continue to carry out their responsibilities and exercise their authority in captivity. The senior, regardless of service, must accept command. This responsibility and accountability may not be evaded.
d. If the senior is incapacitated or is otherwise unable to act, the next senior person will assume command. Camp leaders should make every effort to inform all POWs of the chain of command and try to represent them in dealing with enemy authorities. The responsibility of subordinates to obey the lawful orders of ranking American military personnel remains unchanged in captivity.
e. The Geneva Convention Relative to Treatment of Prisoners of War provides for election of a "prisoners' representative" in POW camps containing enlisted personnel but no commissioned officers. American POWs should understand that such a representative is only a spokesman for the actual senior ranking person. Should the enemy appoint a POW chain of command for its own purposes, American POWs should make all efforts to adhere to the principles of Article IV.
f. As with other provisions of this code, common sense and the conditions of captivity will affect the way in which the senior person and the other POWs organize to carry out their responsibilities. What is important is that everyone support and work within the POW organization.
6. Code of Conduct V.
a. When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give name, rank, service number, and date of birth. I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability. I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to their cause.
b. When questioned, a prisoner of war is required by the Geneva Convention and this code to give name, rank, service number (Social Security number) and date of birth. The prisoner should make every effort to avoid giving the captor any additional information. The prisoner may communicate with captors on matters of health and welfare and additionally may write letters home and fill out a Geneva Convention "capture card."
c. It is a violation of the Geneva Convention to place a prisoner under physical or mental duress, torture or any other form of coercion in an effort to secure information. If under such intense coercion, a POW discloses unauthorized information, makes an unauthorized statement or performs an unauthorized act, that prisoner's peace of mind and survival require a quick recovery of courage, dedication and motivation to resist anew each subsequent coercion.
d. Actions every POW should resist include making oral or written confessions and apologies, answering questionnaires, providing personal histories, creating propaganda recordings, broadcasting appeals to other prisoners of war, providing any other material readily usable for propaganda purposes, appealing for surrender or parole, furnishing self-criticisms and communicating on behalf of the enemy to the detriment of the United States, its allies, its armed forces or other POWs.
e. Every POW should also recognize that any confession signed or any statement made may be used by the enemy as a false evidence that the person is a "war criminal" rather than a POW. Several countries have made reservations to the Geneva Convention in which they assert that a "war criminal" conviction deprives the convicted individual of prisoner-of-war status, removes that person from protection under the Geneva Convention and revokes all rights to repatriation until a prison sentence is served.
f. Recent experiences of American prisoners of war have proved that, although enemy interrogation sessions may be harsh and cruel, one can resist brutal mistreatment when the will to resist remains intact.
g. The best way for a prisoner to keep faith with country, fellow prisoners and self is to provide the enemy with as little information as possible.
7. Code of Conduct VI
a. I will never forget that I am an American, fighting for freedom, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in my God and in the United States of America.
b. A member of the armed forces remains responsible for personal actions at all times.
c. A member of the armed forces who is captured has a continuing obligation to resist and to remain loyal to country, service, unit and fellow prisoners.
d. Upon repatriation, POWs can expect their actions to be reviewed, both as to circumstances of capture and conduct during detention. The purpose of such review is to recognize meritorious performance as well as to investigate possible misconduct. Each review will be conducted with due regard for the rights of the individual and consideration for the conditions of captivity; captivity of itself is not a condition of culpability.
e. Members of the armed forces should remember that they and their dependents will be taken care of by the appropriate service and that pay and allowances, eligibility and procedures forpromotion and benefits for dependents continue while the service member is detained. Service members should assure that their personal affairs and family matters (such as pay, powers of attorney, current will and provisions for family maintenance and education) are properly and currently arranged. Failure to so arrange matters can create a serious sense of guilt for a POW and place unnecessary hardship on family members.
f. The life of a prisoner of war is hard. Each person in this stressful situation must always sustain hope and resist enemy indoctrination. Prisoners of war standing firm and united against the enemy will support and inspire one another in surviving their ordeal and in prevailing over misfortune with honor.



Having seen "A Few Good Men" (the movie with Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson), having read Pat Conroy's novels about the Citadel, having served for 16 years in a Fire Department, and being aware of the behavior of testosterone-driven young men in group situations where conformity is prized and rewarded above all else, I'm afraid I have a real hard time believing that these Marine core values go much beyond words on a printed page. I think what happens is that the Marines who fit in and bonded go around and pat themselves on the back about how wonderful they were/are, and they kind of go into denial about how they treated those who, for whatever reason, didn't quite fit in or who were perceived as the "enemy".


Will wrote: “Nothing our country does is good or good enough for you. No matter what the subject you see the worst in it. If the glass is one drop shy of being full, you see it as half empty.”

I'm afraid that I have to disagree with your characterization, Will, and submit that YOU are missing the point. Since you and most of your neocon "fellow travelers" seem unable or unwilling to believe, despite literally mountains of evidence to the contrary, that Americans could EVER do ANYTHING that was remotely bad or even questionable, I feel like I have to, in order to maintain some sort of balance, bend over backwards to point out the similarities between our own conduct and that of some of those other nations whom we have, at various times, branded as "evil".

I suggest that I'm actually less of an enemy of the U.S. than you are, because I passionately want America to IMPROVE, to live up to its own ideals embodied in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, its "Christian" origins, and its extensive mythology.

Will wrote:

“To equate the treatment of prisoners in Abu Ghraib as as bad as what the Nazis use to do is disingenuous. Most folks make up their minds emotionally and they use logic to justify their positions. You raise this human trait to an art form, John. Your logic is faultless, but you always miss the point.”


*smile* I actually like the phraseology here, though of course I disagree with your characterization. Kinda like saying "The operation was a success, but the patient died." I was making a rough analogy, not equating Abu Ghraib with Dachau in some sort of mathematical way.

Will wrote:  “Oh...and PLEASE don't suggest that YOU are above making up your mind emotionally, then using logic to justify your position. As you say, it's a HUMAN trait. And, no I wasn't sodomized, just your basic hazing. But that makes me think, perhaps we should let those Arab prisoners room with Bubba in some federal penitentiary and they can really find out what sodomy is about.”


See, here we go again. Are you seriously suggesting that sodomy in federal (or state) penitentiaries is somehow legitimate in a so-called "civilized" society, a justifiable and desirable aspect of punishment/rehabilitation for criminal behavior? Are you intimating that prison guards should look the other way and allow this to go on? Or am I "missing the point" again?


The US Military spends quite a little time telling our people about what  is and what is not a lawful order. You obey the lawful order, you refuse the unlawful one. I have been to numerous classes that taught this, and I have taught a few classes telling people the same thing.

I joined a new unit in Vietnam in early 1971. My first duty was to conduct an investigation. A PFC Angelsanti had knifed another Marine in an argument over a puppy. Angelsanti was dumber than a box of rocks, but not a bad guy - his version of the story was that the other Marine was playing too rough with his puppy, Angelsanti intervened, pulled his bayonet out, and the other Marine reached out and cut himself. Good story, but of course not too believable.

The next day I was assigned to teach a course about the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). In this class you tell your Marines about the law and how they should conduct themselves, what they can do, what they must not do, what civil rights they have, how to treat
civilians, etc.

Part of good military instruction is that you should start your session with a good attention getting joke. I found one Marine, and told him his part in the joke. Then I went out in front of the 300 or so Marines, and called them savagely to attention, and began screaming at my set up Marine. The audience, of course, thought I was a deranged lunatic (which of course is nearly correct). This was probably the first time they had been called to attention in months.

I did my best Drill Instructor screaming act, and shouted at my set up Marine that he was a disgrace to the Marine Corps. His uniform was dirty. He was incompetent. etc etc.

I then spotted the one Marine I knew in the group, PFC Angelsanti. I was on a roll now, and I shouted, PFC Angelsant "Front and Center". Angelsanti raced up, stiffly at attention.

"Angelsanti, this man is a disgrace. Take him out behind the barracks and shoot him!"

"Yes Sir", said Angelsanti, saluted, and then they left.

I then put all the Marines at ease, and began my lecture.

"This little act you just saw was to illustrate to you that you have civil rights. No one can treat you in this manner, and you
cannot follow an illegal order"

I was getting into my discussion, proud of how my little joke had caught everyone’s attention, when one of the troops said,

"Lieutentant, you better stop Angelsanti!"

So I called Angelsanti back. I imagined how I would explain the murder on our of my Marines by Angelsanti as an attention getting joke gone bad. "It was just an attention getting joke gone bad. Angelsanti didn't get the joke".

No way to explain it. A letter of apology to the family and a .45 to the head would have been the only solution. Glad I dodged that bullet.

John W

I'm glad you dodged the bullet, too, Craig. But your story seems to prove MY point about not all Marines understanding and being able to follow the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

How, by the way, was Private Angelsanti to evaluate whether or not your order was a lawful one? And what would have happened if he, who was "dumber than a box of rocks", had evaluated incorrectly? Let's say, for example, that instead of ordering him to shoot the other Marine, you had ordered him merely to strip the  other Marine naked and make him run until he passed out from heat exhaustion?

I'm afraid my only experiences of a similar nature derive from my 16 years in the Fire Department. I was ordered several times by a
particularly ignorant Assistant Chief to enter a smoke-filled burning building WITHOUT an air pack, even though air packs were readily available, it would have taken maybe 15-30 seconds to don one, and there was no compelling reason to enter the building without one except for the Assistant Chief's sadism. Going in without the air pack meant certain jeopardy to my lungs, and possibly to my life and that of others. Disobeying his order and putting on an air pack would have been insubordination, with attendant disciplinary action. In fact, on one occasion I DID disobey his order, and WAS disciplined despite the fact that I went to the hospital for smoke inhalation. In such a situation, how was I to evaluate whether his order was a "lawful" one?

Perhaps you get a bit more of a glimpse into why I am highly distrustful of "authorities", and am considerably more willing to exercise violence against them than against peasant villagers in some foreign country.


I'm glad to see that King Leopold of Belgium is on the list, at least, for his genocide of native African people in Congo. The list seems to be biased against America and against the European nations - even against white South Africa - for at least three reasons:

1) It limits itself to the twentieth century. Thus European colonialism (except for Leopold), the entire slave trade, and the American genocide of Native Americans, are all left out.

2) In "democracies", individual leaders tend to serve for only a short time. Just as an example, what if you lumped Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon together? How many deaths were they collectively responsible for in Viet Nam? Would they be on the list? It's interesting to me that Ho Chi Minh is on the list, but Charles DeGaulle and the three Presidents named above are not. The implication is clearly that Ho Chi Minh was somehow "responsible" for the deaths in Viet Nam, and not the white guys.

3) It limits itself to "rulers" who were responsible for "unjust, unnecessary or unnatural deaths by initiating or intensifying war, famine, democide (?) or resettlement, or by allowing people under their control to do so." All the "better people" know that Americans are NEVER responsible for unjust or unnecessary deaths. :-) 


Sorry, John, but you're off on this one - there have been more people murdered under communist regimes - and I'm not referring to wars fought between communist regimes and western forces as in Viet Nam - but communist regimes in China, Bulgaria, Romania, Russia, to only name a few – have killed more people in gulags - in the past century than in all preceding 2000 years of history! There are statistics to back this up - and even these are not complete as we still do not really know how many were deported and died in Siberia, or how many of those who have "disappeared" in China are still alive or not! I have been living in Italy for 30 years - 30% of Italian national parliament and a large majority of city and regional governments are run by communist or leftist filo-communist/socialist parties whose hands are as filthy as the other parties they oppose - and their feet and mouths are ....full of shit! OK, so they were voted in - and keep on getting voted in - and the USA still considers Italy one of its closest allies?!?


I'm sure you're right, Marie, and I wasn't suggesting otherwise. I was merely suggesting that some Western nations would be SOMEWHERE on the list if the criteria were a little different.


John- That's no answer John! We have to listen to all your BS from the radical side and you just ignore the beheading of Michael Berg. You say you care about this country but I'm beginning to believe like Will said that you are nothing but an enemy of the United States. Does the US have faults, sure it does. But I'll tell you what John, There more good in this country going on than all the negative that you seem to thrive on. Like I told you once before John, you appear to be a wrecker than a builder. It's easy to tear things down but it takes time and effort to build something. My kids would call you a cop out. 

John W

Just one question here. Assuming the factual truth of all these incidents, and assuming further that the incidents are somehow connected, against precisely whom do we declare war?

Traditionally, war has been fought between or among sovereign nations, or at least readily-identifiable enemies. The very nature of "terrorism", and the devilish thing about it, is that the "enemy" is fighting a guerrilla war, and is not easily associated with a particular nation. So what do we do? Just pick a nation whose politics we don't happen to like, and bomb 'em back to the Stone Age every time there's a  "terrorist" incident? Declare a "crusade"against all of Islam (as Dubya did at one point) because we think that the terrorists in question (inevitably a tiny minority) are Islamic?

Difficult as it may be, I don't see any rational alternative to treating terrorism as a police matter rather than as a "war". The solution, in my view, is to increase  our cooperation with other nations of ALL stripes, while at the same time working honestly and forthrightly to eliminate the root causes of terrorism. Interpol seems to work quite well, and could be expanded. NO nation  wants suicide bombings going on all the time within its borders and cities.


I agree with you on this one, John. The War on Terrorism will be long and nasty, and some clowns will be killing people all over the world. Hard to stop with military action.


" Lest we forget!"

Here is a copy of a speech U.S. Navy Capt. Ouimette, XO at NAS, Pensacola gave recently. It is an account that most people don't connect.


That's what we think we heard on the 11th of September 2001 (When more than  3,000 Americans were killed -AD) and maybe it was, but I think it should have been "Get Out of Bed!" In fact, I think the alarm clock has been buzzing since 1979 and we have continued to hit the snooze button and roll over for a few  more minutes of peaceful sleep since then.

It was a cool fall day in November 1979 in a country going  through a religious and political upheaval when a group of Iranian students attacked and seized the American Embassy in Tehran. This seizure was an outright attack on American soil; it was an attack that held the world's most powerful country hostage and paralyzed a Presidency. The attack on this sovereign U. S. embassy set the  stage for events to follow for the next 23 years.

America was still reeling from the aftermath of the Vietnam experience and  had a serious threat from the Soviet Union when then, President Carter, had to do something. He chose to conduct a clandestine raid in the desert. The ill-fated mission ended in ruin, but stood as a symbol of America's inability to deal with terrorism.

America's military had been decimated and downsized/right sized since the end of the Vietnam War. A poorly trained, poorly equipped and poorly organized military was called on to execute a complex mission that was doomed from the start.

Shortly after the Tehran experience, Americans began to be kidnapped and killed throughout the Middle East. America could do little to protect her citizens living and working abroad. The attacks against US soil continued.

In April of 1983 a large vehicle packed with high explosives was driven into the US Embassy compound in Beirut. When it explodes, it kills 63 people. The alarm went off again and America hit the Snooze Button once more.

Then just six short months later a large truck heavily laden down with over 2500 pounds of TNT smashed through the main gate of the US Marine Corps headquarters in Beirut and 241 US servicemen are killed. America mourns her dead and hit the Snooze Button once more.

Two months later in December 1983, another truck loaded with explosives is driven into the US Embassy in Kuwait, and America continues her slumber.

The following year, in September 1984, another van was driven into the gates of the US Embassy in Beirut and America slept.

Soon the terrorism spreads to Europe. In April 1985 a bomb explodes in a restaurant frequented by US soldiers in Madrid.

Then in August a Volkswagen loaded with explosives is driven into the main gate of the US Air Force Base at Rhein-Main, 22 are killed and the snooze alarm is buzzing louder and louder as US interests are continually attacked.

Fifty-nine days later a cruise ship, the Achille Lauro is hijacked and we watched as an American in a wheelchair is singled out of the passenger list and executed.

The terrorists then shift their tactics to bombing civilian airliners when they bomb TWA Flight 840 in April of 1986 that killed 4 and the most tragic bombing, Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, killing 259.

Clinton treated these terrorist acts as crimes; in fact we are still trying to bring these people to trial. These are acts of war.

The wake up alarm is getting louder and louder. The terrorists decide to bring the fight to America. In January 1993, two CIA agents are shot and killed as they enter CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

The following month, February 1993, a group of terrorists are arrested after a rented van packed with explosives is driven into the underground parking garage of the World Trade Center in New York City. Six people are killed and over 1000 are injured. Still this is a crime and not an act of war?

The Snooze alarm is depressed again. Then in November 1995 a car bomb explodes at a US military complex in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia killing seven service men and women.

A few months later in June of 1996, another truck bomb explodes only 35 yards from the US military compound in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. It destroys the Khobar Towers, a US Air Force barracks, killing 19 and injuring over 500. The terrorists are getting braver and smarter as they see that America does not respond decisively.

They move to coordinate their attacks in a simultaneous attack on two US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. These attacks were planned with precision. They kill 224. America responds with cruise missile attacks and goes back to sleep.

The USS Cole was docked in the port of Aden, Yemen for refueling on 12 October 2000, when a small craft pulled along side the ship and exploded killing 17 US Navy Sailors. Attacking a US War Ship is an act of war, but we sent the FBI to investigate the crime and went back to sleep.

And of course you know the events of 11 September 2001. Most Americans think this was the first attack against US soil or in America. How wrong they are. America has been under a constant attack since 1979 and we chose to hit the snooze alarm and roll over and go back to sleep.

In the news lately we have seen lots of finger pointing from every high officials in government over what they knew and what they didn't know. But if  you've read the papers and paid a little attention I think you can see exactly what  they knew. You don't have to be in the FBI or CIA or on the National Security Council to see the pattern that has been developing since 1979.

The President is right on when he says we are engaged in a war. I think we have been in a war for the past 23 years and it will continue until we as a people decide enough is enough.

America needs to "Get out of Bed" and act decisively now. America has been changed forever. We have to be ready to pay the price and make the sacrifice to ensure our way of life continues. We cannot afford to keep hitting the snooze  button again and again and roll over and go back to sleep.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Admiral Yamamoto said " seems all we have done is awakened a sleeping giant." This is the message we need to disseminate to terrorists around the world.

Support Our Troops and support President Bush for having the courage, political or militarily, to address what so many who preceded him didn't have the backbone to do both Democrat and Republican. This is not a political thing to be hashed over in an election year, this is an AMERICAN thing. This is about our  Freedom and the Freedom of our children in years to come.

John W

Just one question here. Assuming the factual truth of all these incidents, and assuming further that the incidents are somehow connected, against precisely whom do we declare war?

Traditionally, war has been fought between or among sovereign nations, or at least readily-identifiable enemies. The very nature of "terrorism", and the devilish thing about it, is that the "enemy" is fighting a guerrilla war, and is not easily associated with a particular nation. So what do we do? Just pick a nation whose politics we don't happen to like, and bomb 'em back to the Stone Age every time there's a "terrorist" incident? Declare a "crusade" against all  of Islam (as Dubya did at one point) because we think that the terrorists in question (inevitably a tiny minority) are Islamic?

Difficult as it may be, I don't see any rational alternative to treating terrorism as a police matter rather than as a "war". The solution, in my view, is to increase our cooperation with other nations of ALL stripes, while at the same time working honestly and forthrightly to eliminate the root causes of terrorism. Interpol seems to work quite well, and could be expanded. NO nation wants suicide bombings going on all the time within its borders and cities.


I get a lot of messages like this from current servicemen in Iraq, and the people back home that they emailing. A lot of them seem to have the same feelings we had in Vietnam - they thought they were doing a good job under difficult circumstnaces, but many people back home thought things were going badly. Of course you can't blame the press for concentrating on the bad things, since they are noteworthy, but the guys in theater don't understand that.

-------Original Message-------

Hello NBC; Hello CBS; Hello ABC; Hello CNN; Anyone home? Folks, this needs to be sent to every newspaper and American in the USA. Who says we   don't have heroes? Here's one for you! Somehow we have to stop giving news time to victims and let America hear about our real heroes!

Maybe you'd like to hear about something other than idiot Reservists and naked Iraqis. Maybe you'd like to hear about a real American, somebody who
honored the uniform he wears. Meet Brian Chontosh.

Churchville-Chili Central School class of 1991. Proud graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology. Husband and about-to-be father. First
lieutenant (now promoted to Captain) in the United States Marine Corps.

And a genuine hero.The secretary of the Navy said so yesterday. At 29 Palms in California Brian Chontosh was presented with the Navy Cross, the second highest award for combat bravery the United States can bestow. That's a big deal.

But you won't see it on the network news tonight, and all you read in Brian's hometown newspaper was two paragraphs of nothing. Instead, it was more
blather about some mental defective MPs who acted like animals.The odd fact about the American media in this war is that it's not covering the American
military. The most plugged-in nation in the world is receiving virtually no true information about what its warriors are doing.

Oh, sure, there's a body count. We know how many Americans have fallen. And we see those same casket pictures day in and day out. And we're almost on a first-name basis with the pukes who abused the Iraqi prisoners. And we know all about improvised explosive devices and how we lost Fallujah and what Arab public-opinion polls say about us and how the world hates us.

We get a non-stop feed of gloom and doom.

But we don't hear about the heroes.

The incredibly brave GIs who honorably do their duty. The ones our grandparents would have carried on their shoulders down Fifth Avenue.

The ones we completely ignore.

Like Brian Chontosh.

It was a year ago on the march into Baghdad. Brian Chontosh was a platoon leader rolling up Highway 1 in a humvee.

When all hell broke loose.

Ambush city.

The young Marines were being cut to ribbons. Mortars, machine guns, rocket propelled grenades. And the kid out of Churchville was in charge. It was do or
die and it was up to him.

So he moved to the side of his column, looking for a way to lead his men to safety. As he tried to poke a hole through the Iraqi line his humvee came
under direct enemy machine gun fire.

It was fish in a barrel and the Marines were the fish.

And Brian Chontosh gave the order to attack. He told his driver to floor the humvee directly at the machine gun emplacement that was firing at them. And
he had the guy on top with the .50 cal unload on them.

Within moments there were Iraqis slumped across the machine gun and Chontosh was still advancing, ordering his driver now to take the humvee
directly into the Iraqi trench that was attacking his Marines. Over into the battlement the humvee went and out the door Brian Chontosh bailed, carrying an
M16 and a Beretta and 228 years of Marine Corps pride.

And he ran down the trench.

With its mortars and riflemen, machineguns and grenadiers.

And he killed them all.

He fought with the M16 until it was out of ammo. Then he fought with the Beretta until it was out of ammo. Then he picked up a dead man's AK47 and fought with that until it was out of ammo. Then he picked up another dead man's AK47 and fought with that until it was out of ammo.

At one point he even fired a discarded Iraqi RPG into an enemy cluster, sending attackers flying with its grenade explosion.

When he was done Brian Chontosh had cleared 200 yards of entrenched Iraqis from his platoon's flank. He had killed more than 20 and wounded at least as many more.

But that's probably not how he would tell it.

He would probably merely say that his Marines were in trouble, and he got them out of trouble. Hoo-ah, and drive on.

"By his outstanding display of decisive leadership, unlimited courage in the face of heavy enemy fire, and utmost devotion to duty, 1st Lt. Chontosh reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service."

That's what the citation says.

And that's what nobody will hear.

That's what doesn't seem to be making the evening news. Accounts of American valor are dismissed by the press as propaganda, yet accounts of
American difficulties are heralded as objectivity. It makes you wonder if the role of the media is to inform, or to depress - to report or to deride. To tell the truth, or to feed us lies.

But I guess it doesn't matter.

We're going to turn out all right.

As long as men like Brian Chontosh wear our uniform.

Semper Fi !


I think the Vietnam and Korean wars can best be understood as part of our
contest with international communism. The cold and hot war took place from after World War II until about 1990. We won when the strongest communist country, the Soviet Union and other eastern block countries stood down, and began their change to a free capitalist democracy.

And a wonderful victory it was. The world lived under the continued threat of a nuclear war, which so far we have managed to avoid. You all remember the fun nuclear war drills in grade school.  And judging from the historic acts of most countries, I believe the fact that we had a strong military kept us from being defeated. Weak countries have always been defeated by strong countries. No military, those of us left would have learned Russian.

As John points out, Communism was not monolithic, and each country had it's own brand. But most regimes were very bad. Their death camps were serious death camps, greatly exceeding anything the western democracies ever did.

One of the worst things America did in World War II was the Japanese
internments. We had very good Japanese American friends who never talked about the internment. When the US apologized and paid each internee, they finally discussed their experience.

They were teenagers. Their families were given 48 hours to pack up and move to the camp.

Etsu still has a copy of the welcome aboard brochure that she received. It was entitled "Welcome to Camp ( _____". The cover was an illustration of the camp showing the barracks, the watch towers at the corners of the camp, all surrounded by Barbed wire. The mimeographed brochure explained the rules of the camp.

Amazing. And disgraceful. But it was no death camp or torture chamber. 
Nothing like the gulags that Stalin or Mao or Ho Chi Minh or Pol Pot ran. My friends Etsu and Henry worked, earned money, and went to school.

So we are a long way from perfect. And we need always to try harder. And when some of our people screw up and commit crimes, we need to punish them, apologize and move on. But we also must not beat ourselves up when  a few people embarass with crimes.


This sounds reasonable. If you, Craig, and the rest of our
classmates will go on record as being willing and ready to do all
within your power - and I do mean ALL - to depose and punish this
current crop of deathmongers and war profiteers - Bush, Cheney,
Rumsfield, Ashcroft, Rice, etc., as well as corporate criminals like
Kenneth Lay and his ilk - then I'll shut up and quit beating up on
myself and our beloved nation....until the next time. :-)


Charlie K

John- Holy cow, did the Red Sea part or am I dreaming??? I don't care what they say about you John, maybe your not all bad after all! :) Charlie


I don't care what they say about me either. I've been basking in the afterglow of this newfound harmony for a few days now, not saying anything, but I honestly don't know why you're surprised. I'm all about equity and justice....consistently, across the board. No exceptions for oily politicians, corporate crooks, or the media who are owned by them.

Our military personnel - always disproportionately minorities and poor, and now swelled with an unusual number of reservists – are dupes of the system, too, and deserve not only superficial expressions of gratitude but adequate compensation for their service to their country, however misguided that service may be.

Our nation - like most nations, I imagine - has a long history of using up ordinary working stiffs (including the military), then throwing them on the trash heap when they're of no further use. In our own lifetimes we've seen the Veterans' Administration deny compensation or liability for Agent Orange, post-traumatic stress disorder, and more recently Gulf War sydrome. Black soldiers were paid less than white soldiers in the Civil War, and in EVERY war black soldiers have served America with courage, dignity, and the expectation that their faithful military service would be recognized with equal treatment as civilians, only to be bitterly disappointed when they arrived home. Many black AND white soldiers didn't fare very well after Viet Nam.

Even an overpaid dittohead like Rush Limbaugh - now THERE'S a guy who consistently emphasizes the negative, and is incredibly well rewarded for it - gets it right once in a while. As for our national legislators, though Rush got a few details about their pensions wrong, he was correct that they've voted themselves a very cushy retirement indeed. Not to mention the many other perks of "public service" at that level. It's no wonder that they spend millions of dollars (a lot of it contributed by saps like us, more of it contributed by corporations with much to gain) to get elected to a job that pays somewhere around $150,000 a year.

It's been a pleasure crossing the Red Sea with you, Charlie. What shall we do now that we're on the other side?



The interesting and noteworthy thing is that you continue to spout these platitudes without having the slightest idea - or very little - of what my life consists of or how I got where I am. Your time would be much better spent, and your ostensible concern would appear more

genuine, if you actually took the trouble to find out who I am, and listened when I tell you.

You've also frequently talked about how "intelligent" I am and how much "potential" I have, and you've told the story about how you were rescued in part because someone in Arizona offered you actual tangible help in the form of a job. If you're sincere, why don't you

hire me, or get one of your wealthy friends or clients to hire me?

I'd be delighted to sit on two or three corporate boards and give them the benefit of my wisdom and experience. I'm a good writer,

too, as you know, and could write the corporation's annual report while standing on my head.

But let me tell you a bit more about my life. To start with, I'm a genuine American hero. Very similar to those veterans Rush Limbaugh talked about, I served my country/community as a firefighter for 16 years, saving lives and property while NOT killing anyone. I risked my life daily, and if Purple Hearts were awarded to firefighters for injuries in "combat", I'd have about ten times as many as John Kerry has, and an infinite number more than George Bush, who never actually served in combat. Yet I got no Purple Hearts or other medals, never earned more than $26,000 in a year, and my disability pension, which hasn't gone up a dime since 1990, is $12,000/year. I have no medical insurance now, and when I reach age 65 I will have neither Social Security nor Medicare. None whatsoever.

If we are to feel concern and do something for our undercompensated military personnel, as Rush Limbaugh and Charlie suggest, should we not likewise do something for our undercompensated firefighters and police officers? Am I unrealistic to have expectations" about that in the richest country in the world? Is the problem merely a lack of positive thinking on my part, or is it more an absence of justice and equity on America's part?

Now as it happens, I have four male friends here in Champaign - Urbana. Three of them - the three who are around my age - are quasi-

homeless, meaning that they live from month to month or day to day in cramped hovels at the mercy of friends/aquaintances, and occasionally in homeless shelters. Two of those three, both with college degrees, can't find employment and have no income beyond the occasional part-time day job, while the third, also with a college degree, has SSI disability. Three of the four friends don't own a working automobile, and the fourth has one that cost him $250, so you can imagine what that's like. None of them has an alcohol or drug habit,though one of the four does have a minor criminal record which makes it more difficult for him to find employment, and creates a vicious cycle in his life.

While all of them have more positive attitudes than I do - because, in my view, they are in denial and haven't yet confronted the true

hopelessness of their situations - the three older men without jobs all have some form of mental maladjustment, as indeed I now do, which is far more complex and intractable than you'd like it to be. (Interestingly, none but me has a PHYSICAL disability that I'm aware

of; they're not sick or in pain, and exercise regularly.) Though they're not insane and are actually quite intelligent and interesting to talk to, they have had their mental problems for years, and it's no longer (if it ever was) a matter of simply deciding that they're going to start looking at things in a more positive light. (They already do, though unrealistically.) Nor is it a matter of simply popping a pill every day to regulate their neurotransmitters. They have low self-esteem and few if any marketable skills, they feel helpless to change their lives, they can't figure out anything to do, they have long histories of homelessness and huge gaps in their resumes. Like me, they have all had significantly bad experiences with the "system", and are pretty distrustful of it. Being men, none

of them has a spouse to take care of them, financially or otherwise. I'm guessing you don't actually know anyone like them, Will.

As for gratitude, I am in fact exceedingly grateful that I have a basement apartment where they can come and visit me (and where two of them have stayed for varying periods of time), and that I can buy them a restaurant meal every now and then. I only wish I could do more for them. They - only two of whom know each other at all - comprise a very modest support network for me, though without cars and money it's difficult for them to lend much in the way of meaningful tangible support. I, with more resources than any of the

rest of them, do most of the tangible supporting, though there's an element of pyschological support which they are able to provide.

Libertarians - of which I understand, Will, that you are one - believe that they shouldn't have to help anyone through their taxes, which is "the government holding a gun to their head". They don't believe in anything like Rousseau's "social contract". Instead, they feel that all assistance to others should be voluntary and "altruistic". The fundamental problem with that philosophy is, of course, that libertarians tend to be well-off Caucasians who don't actually know - and don't WANT to know - any poor people or minorities. Therefore they're not aware of anyone who is deserving or needful of their assistance, and they complacently spout incredibly misinformed and harmful cliches about the poor being lazy, popping out babies, etc., without remotely understanding the underlying social structure that creates such conditions. The rich give to one another - a principle honed to a fine art by the Bush administration - just as banks loan money to those who already have money and withhold it from those who need it the most.



Along these lines if you get a chance to see the movie What the #@! *# do We Know? it is a documentary on quantum mechanics and God. You get what you think, in other words. It is in theaters here for a few more days at least. The manager of the theater said it had about 20 people a day seeing it when it opened, and now sells out some shows. Fascinating stuff.

John, if you want to go see it, I'll pay for the ticket and snacks.


Kind of you, Will, though transportation to Prescott, AZ might be
prohibitive. :-) I'll probably wait until it comes out on video at the library. Meanwhile, can you give me a brief synopsis? Do our thoughts send out quarks or some sort of electromagnetic force field which alter the reality around us? Sounds fascinating.

I'm sure we'll never fully resolve this "half-empty" vs. "half-full" debate, Will. I do hope, though, that all of us can try a little harder to truly listen to those whose life experience is different from our own.


John's comment about the affluent and baked goods is a telling one. Obviously your world view of the glass always being half empty was established early in life. As a child I remember resenting not having many of the niceties many of my friend's families enjoyed. We always had used cars and I never had a new bike. My mom ran our household on $25 per week in the late 50's as we scrimped a lot to provide for my brother who spent most of his early years in the hospital. But I wasn't raised to think the other folks in the neighborhood were bad because of it.

Nor was I. My mother, after surviving cancer in 1957, used to look out the kitchen window every morning and thank God for another day of life. She has never verbally expressed resentment or jealousy of anyone who had more than she, and denies vehemently that she harbors any. Now, at age 92 and blind, she still claims to look forward to each new day, and doesn't want to die. I don't even pretend to understand her attitude, but there it is.

Nevertheless we bought our bread at the A & P, had store-bought cookies, and didn't patronize bakeries. And my former sister-in-law, who didn't resent wealthier people either, was unable to buy the 20- lb. sack of potatoes. Some things are just reality. I did have one new bike in my youth, though - a Ranger, because we couldn't afford a Schwinn - and my parents did have the Negro lawn jockeys and a plentiful supply of cigarettes, so perhaps it was just a matter of priorities.

I think a significant degree of our attitude is determined by heredity. My father and his side of the family were consistently and predictably more negative then my mother and her family. I seem to take after my dad in many way, including that one.

Our attitude is also determined by a complex combination of our own response to negative events in our lives, and the impact of subsequent events. Trouble, said some evangelist whose name I have now forgotten, will make us either BITTER or BETTER. My "half-empty" attitude which you decry didn't really arise until I was in my thirties, when all hell broke loose and I lost virtually everything I had worked very hard for, through no obvious fault of my own. Had I subsequently been able to recover, I'm quite sure that I would once again have a "half-full" attitude, as I did in my twenties when things were going reasonably well. That's not how it played out, though.

Another way of saying it is that most people have some combination of successes and failures in their lives, and the successes help them to deal with the  setbacks. If all you've had is failures and setbacks, it's exceedingly difficult to have a "half-full" attitude.

Finally, our attitude is determined by the discrepancy (or lack thereof) between our reality and our expectations. This is why blacks  in the sixties actually became more "belligerent" once their expectations of equality were raised by Brown v. Board of Education in 1954-55, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, yet their perceived reality didn't change much. In my own case, a lot of my anger derives from the discrepancy between America's rhetoric (which creates expectations) of equal opportunity and "justice" under the "rule of law", and its reality of a two-tiered system where the rich get richer while the poor get poorer, and where justice in the courts and in most areas of life goes primarily to those who can afford to pay for it.

In my mind affluence is a state of mind. One can be surrounded by wealth and feel miserly and without, yet others with little in the way of financial resources choose to lead lives of abundance. One's attitude creates their reality.

Again, this is much more complex than you make it. The people with little in the way of financial resources who "choose" to lead lives of abundance - and I don't personally know too many of those - generally have a support network of some sort, such as a close-knit family. There's also a lower limit below which it's virtually impossible to live a life of abundance. If you're homeless, hungry, ill and without medical care, etc., it would take an extremely strong "state of mind" to be living a "life of abundance".

Will “ You too, John, could feel abundant and even affluent by being grateful for what you have rather than dwelling on what you don't have.”



Along these lines if you get a chance to see the movie What the #@! *# do We Know? It is a documentary on quantum mechanics and God. You get what you think, in other words. It is in theaters here for a few more days at least. The manager of the theater said it had about 20 people a day seeing it when it opened, and now sells out some shows. Fascinating stuff.

John, if you want to go see it, I'll pay for the ticket and snacks.


Kind of you, Will, though transportation to Prescott, AZ might be prohibitive. :-) I'll probably wait until it comes out on video at the library. Meanwhile, can you give me a brief synopsis? Do our thoughts send out quarks or some sort of electromagnetic force field which alter the reality around us? Sounds fascinating.

I'm sure we'll never fully resolve this "half-empty" vs. "half-full" debate, Will. I do hope, though, that all of us can try a little harder to truly listen to those whose life experience is different from our own.


thought this was worth the salt..

By Ben Stein:

How Can Someone Who Lives in Insane Luxury Be a Star in Today's World?

As I begin to write this, I "slug" it, as we writers say, which means I put a heading on top of the document to identify it. This heading is "eonlineFINAL," and it gives me a shiver to write it. I have been doing this column for so long that I cannot even recall when I started.

I loved writing this column so much for so long I came to believe it would never end. It worked well for a long time, but gradually, my changing as a person and the world's change have overtaken it. On a small scale, Morton's, while better than ever, no longer attracts as many stars as it used to. It still brings in the rich people in droves and definitely some stars.

I saw Samuel L. Jackson there a few days ago, and we had a nice visit, and right before that, I saw and had a splendid talk with Warren Beatty in an elevator, in which we agreed that Splendor in the Grass was a super movie.

But Morton's is not the star galaxy it once was, though it probably will be again.

Beyond that, a bigger change has happened. I no longer think Hollywood stars are terribly important. They are uniformly pleasant, friendly people, and they treat me better than I deserve to be treated. But a man or woman who makes a huge wage
for memorizing lines and reciting them in front of a camera is no longer my idea of a shining star we should all look up to.

How can a man or woman who makes an eight-figure wage and lives in insane luxury really be a star in today's world, if by a "star" we mean someone bright and powerful and attractive as a role model? Real stars are not riding around in the backs of limousines or in Porsches or getting trained in yoga or Pilates and eating only raw fruit while they have Vietnamese girls do their nails. They can be interesting, nice people, but they are not heroes to me any longer.

A real star is the soldier of the 4th Infantry Division who poked his head into a hole on a farm near Tikrit, Iraq. He could have been met by a bomb or a hail of AK-47 bullets. Instead, he faced an abject Saddam Hussein and the gratitude of all of the decent people of the world. A real star is the U.S. soldier who was sent to disarm a bomb next to a road north of Baghdad. He approached it, and the bomb went off and killed him. A real star, the kind who haunts my memory night and day, is the U.S. soldier in Baghdad who saw a little girl playing with a piece of unexploded ordnance on a street near where he was guarding a station. He pushed her aside and threw himself on it just as it exploded. He left a family desolate in California and a little girl alive in Baghdad.

The stars who deserve media attention are not the ones who have lavish weddings on TV but the ones who patrol the streets of Mosul even after two of their buddies were murdered and their bodies battered and stripped for the sin of trying to protect Iraqis from terrorists.

We put couples with incomes of $100 million a year on the covers of our magazines. The noncoms and officers who barely scrape by on military pay but stand on guard in Afghanistan and Iraq and on ships and in submarines and near the Arctic Circle are anonymous as they live and die.

I am no longer comfortable being a part of the system that has such poor values, and I do not want to perpetuate those values by pretending that who is eating at Morton's is a big subject.

There are plenty of other stars in the American firmament. The policemen and women who go off on patrol in South Central and have no idea if they will return alive. The orderlies and paramedics who bring in people who have been in terrible accidents and prepare them for surgery. The teachers and nurses who throw their whole spirits into caring for autistic children. The kind men and women who work in hospices and in cancer wards.

Think of each and every fireman who was running up the stairs at the World Trade Center as the towers began to collapse.

Now you have my idea of a real hero.

We are not responsible for the operation of the universe, and what happens to us is not terribly important. God is real, not a fiction, and when we turn over our lives to Him, he takes far better care of us than we could ever do for ourselves.

In a word, we make ourselves sane when we fire ourselves as the directors of the movie of our lives and turn the power over to Him. I came to realize that life lived to help others is the only one that matters. This is my highest and best use as a human.

I can put it another way. Years ago, I realized I could never be as great an actor as Olivier or as good a comic as Steve Martin--or Martin Mull or Fred

Willard--or as good an economist as Samuelson or Friedman or as good a writer as Fitzgerald. Or even remotely close to any of them.

But I could be a devoted father to my son, husband to my wife and, above all, a good son to the parents who had done so much for me. This came to be my main task in life.

I did it moderately well with my son, pretty well with my wife and well indeed with my parents (with my sister's help). I cared for and paid attention to them in their declining years. I stayed with my father as he got sick, went into extremis and then into a coma and then entered immortality with my sister and me reading him the Psalms.

This was the only point at which my life touched the lives of the soldiers in Iraq or the firefighters in New York. I came to realize that life lived to help others is the only one that matters and that it is my duty, in return for the lavish life God has devolved upon me, to help others He has placed in my path. This is my highest and best use as a human.

Craig H

My parents and I went to the WW II Memorial dedication in Washington DC.

The Memorial is for all the "Greatest Generation", those who served in the military and the home front who supported them from 1941-45. Our parents and gradparents generation. Fun meeting the veterans who stopped the Nazi's, fascists, and imperialists, and liberated big parts of Europe and Asia.

And interesting to see how many baby boomers who were there, with and without a parent. Those without were ususally honoring their parents. Lots of people walking up to WWII veterans, and thanking them for their service.

The memorial is great and grand, beautifully located between the Washington and Lincoln Monument. The architectural criticism is wrong - this is a great monument. And it is a monument to an entire group of Americans - the 144,000,000 Americans who fought or supported the war. Much more democratic and appropriate than most of our monuments, erected for a single person.

Only about 1/4 of the vets are still alive 4,000,000 left out of 16,000,000.

The monument is very different than the Vietnam memorial. It is larger, more grand, more celebratory, which it should be. It was a much bigger and more celebratory War. WWII was also a unique time, when the country was united, as opposed to most times, like Vietnam, the present, the Civil War, the Revolutionary War. But the Vietnam memorial is still very powerful and positive.

My father’s comments below:

The dedication ceremony was fantistic but long. Even though the weather was perfect, we got sunburn and sore muscles. We arrived at DC in the middle of the afternoon on Friday and tried to get a a look at the memorial but the traffic and and crowds held us to just a glimpse (and the camera was in the car!!) We went back early Sat. and our seats were at the east end of the mall fairly close to the Capital building and about a mile from the memorial.
We left Louise to hold our seats and Craig and I decided to walk to the memorial for pictures but when we got there it was closed off to people. Probably a good thing.

If 150,000 all tried to do the same thing, it would have been chaos. But my walking legs haven't recovered yet.

They had lots of huge TV screens in all the seating areas so we could hear and see all the activities very well. Actually they started music and acts about 10:00AM , had the stuff you may have seen at 12:00 to 2:00, and then went right on with other stuff for the outlying crowds.

Craig had got us reservations in the Fort Belvoir BOQ which turned out to be real nice. But they had lots of security people out checking on credentials. We had ID and drivers licenses but they wanted proof that we owned the car. Our insurance cards didn't seem to help although why we would have been paying insurance on a terrorist car escapes me. Anyhow they wouldn't let us in. Craig asked what would they do if we had flown in and rented a car which is what most people might do. They said we would then a contract from the car rental company which would show proof of ownership. So, after appealing to all the authorities including trying to get confirmation on our car from Chicago (the coputers were down!!!), we went out and rented a beat up old SUV, parked our car in his lot for two days, and were admitted with no trouble.

What they didn't know was that the hole in the wall company we rented the car from was run by a Syrian emigrant and neither they or we bothered to check his credentials or foreign allegiances!

I should point out at I was discarged from Ft.Belvoir in 1945 and no one seemed to recognize me either. So much for the Army. I should also admit that Craig stopped in to Marine Base at Quantico to show us around and they just saluted him and waved him in in our suspect car. Maybe the Marines are better???

After we got our car back on Sunday morning, we drove back to DC to get some pictures of the memorial. But even at 8AM the crowds were big and my pictures will have lots of strangers in them.


Craig- That was so neat that you took your parents to see the new WW II Memorial. The Memorial has certainly been long overdue considering what that generation did for our country and the civilized world. They say that there are 1100 WW II veterans dying a day. Here in St. Louis we have Jefferson Barracks National Cemetary and it has over 152,000 persons buried there from the civil war to the present. It takes your breath away to go there as it did Arlington National Cemetary in Washington, D.C.. Did you know Arlington use to be the plantation of Robert E. Lee? During the Civil War some Northern General took it over and made it a cemetary for Union soldiers to be a slap in the face for Lee supporting the South. If anyone has never been to our nations capital they should really go. There is so much history there and things to see and do. We stayed in Manassas, Virginia and rode the light rail into D.C. every day and came up from the station in front of the Smithsonian each day. We were in D.C. the fall of 2000. Both the Korean and Viet Nam Memorials are very special. One of the neatest places was Ford's Theater where Lincoln was shot. They have a terrific museum in the basement of the theater.


But one interesting thing that I found in 1999 was that there were virtually no men our age in Danang. I hoped to meet a few of the Vietnamese I served with, and perhaps connect with some Vietcong or NVA. But I only found one individual, a Catholic Priest, who was our age. He was in the "reeducation camp" for 17 years after the war. And he could not of course talk about his experiences.

My conclusion - The men our age either:

1. Escaped with the boat people

2. Were killed outright

3. Worked / tortured to death in the camps

4. Or are still in the camps

Probably all of the above. And I think there is a good chance that the genocide in Vietnam exceeded that of Cambodia.

The anti war movement will of course never acknowledge their role in any of this.

I doubt it has ever occurred to them.


No, for the simple reason that we felt, and still feel, that the U.S. had no business being in Viet Nam in the first place, and that our involvement, like that of the French before us, contributed to the chaos and the genocide. We supported a corrupt South Vietnamese regime that hardly anyone in Viet Nam, including the South Vietnamese army, supported. The people who were killed, forced to escape, or sent to "reeducation camps" after we departed were primarily those who had supported, or were perceived to have supported, the corrupt South Vietnamese regime and the American occupation of Viet Nam. Had we never gotten involved in Viet Nam, the entire country would have been united sooner under some form of communist government led by Ho Chi Minh. You can argue that that wouldn't have been a desirable thing, but at least there probably wouldn't have been the bloodbath. At the VERY least, we wouldn't have shared responsibility for it.

The problem with the "domino theory" was, and still is, that (1) it presumes that communism is some sort of monolithic system of government, which is as ridiculous as saying that all "democracies" are identical, and (2) it presumes that no one in the countries involved WANTS communism. The reality is that the peasants in a given country may be living miserable lives under the prevailing system of government - usually some sort of monarchy or military dictatorship - and may feel that ANY system of government is preferable to the one that they are suffering under. They may WANT communism, which promises them greater equality. Sure, communism may not deliver on its promises, and it may take the peasants quite a few years to find  out that communism isn't so hot either. But it was what they thought they wanted at the time.

Even assuming that the United States imposed "democracy" on other countries - which it most emphatically does NOT most of the time - the U.S., as a practical matter, simply can't go all around the world saying "Here, take our version of democracy and free-market capitalism whether you want to or not, because it's GOOD FOR YOU." The citizens of a given country or region have to "work out their own salvation with fear and trembling", for better or for worse.



Liberals produce little or nothing. They like to "govern" the producers &
decide what to do with the production. Liberals believe Europeans are more enlightened than Americans. That is why most of the liberals remained in Europe when conservatives were coming to America. They crept in after the Wild West was tame & created a business of trying to get MORE for nothing.

Craig, Militant Middle-Aged Moderate replies

No picking on liberals, Will. It is not fair or balanced.

5 Pushups.


Craig, you radical militant moderates always frost me.

Personally, I am a moderately schizoid conservative libertarian liberal,
myself, strident, yet oh-so centrist, with a mildly nutty aftertaste.


What conservative biased crapp.


*smile* Yeah, but don't blame Craig, Sue. He's a fair and balanced
militant muddle-aged moderate. :-) He's the pushup czar.

The thing Will posted, though, was too moronic to comment on. I
think Will deserves FAR more than 5 pushups.


Forget the 5 pushups, how about 5 minutes on the Rack?


Eeeeuuuuuwwwwww! Do you have whips and spurs, too, little girl?

Militant Middle-Aged Moderate replies:

Torture? Sue, that is a little harsh, even for a Conservative male who probably deserves it.

It is true, however, that the gentle and fair sex have had a reputation as cruel torturers. The famous Kipling poem about the British war in Afghanistan in the 19th century goes something like this:

When you are wounded and left on Afghanistans Plains

And the women come out to cut up what remains

Just pick up your rifle and blow out your brains

And go to your grave like a soldier

Just think what you could have done to Will back then. Progress ruins everything.

And Will, on sober reflection, you and Sue can have 5 minutes of Rack Time.  Conjures up an interesting image, don’t you think? 

Craig and Will, you two make me laugh....seriously. I'm told, the only
torturing I'm capable of is with my cooking. Hey, God gave me many isn't one of them.

At the next reunion, remind me to give you each a box of my 'killer' oatmeal cookies!


Remember, whoever wins, is the President.

Accept whoever wins with grace, and limit your rancor.

No bloviating.

Or else, many 1,000's of pushups.

All those guilty of rude comments, 50 pushups.

Allright, we are all too old to do 50 pushups. Pushups until you can't do
any more. (Not very many in my case).

Reasonable people can disagree reasonably.

Unreasonable people attack the man, and not his argument.

Email discussions are interesting. In many ways we are more frank and
hostile then in an actual conversation.

For the guys, at lease, we don't usually get so rude in face to face
communication since the other guy might clock you. All though we are
probably too old for that also.

So, be nice. Or else more pushups.


Dear Militant Middle-Aged Moderate,

The Republicans say they're "pro-life", yet they seem to derive a certain
visceral orgasmic pleasure from war and capital punishment and dog-eat-dog capitalism. I'm so CONFUSED! Should I do the right....errr, left....errr, proper thing and become a "liberal"?

How do YOU deal with such apparent hypocrisy, MMM?


Hopelessly confused in the Heartland

M3 responds

Life is difficult. Issues are confusing. There are thoughtful people on
both the left and the right. And then there are screaming lunatics on both fringes, as well. And there are goofy moderates, also.

You could join a monastery, and live a life of quiet contemplation, chanting and praying and humming and bowing and scraping. I am thinking about this course of action. Perhaps we could find one together, pursue and find the answers, and then go into the Guru business, teaching others the way, the truth, and the light.

This looks like an excellent monastery. They are HIndu, so I think sex is ok. Looks like a bunch of old guys like us. And it is in Hawaii. SUCH A DEAL!!!


Hi Craig,

I'm interested in learning WHY you think it's our (USA) business to stick
Its nose in everywhere in the world? We have our own do'do's to clean up in the USA, without having to go running off to pooper scoop everywhere else on this planet.

We don't see the French or German's landing on our shores, teaching us
a lesson or two, on how to fairly treat every nationality "

Craig replies:

Well, we have not seen the French on our shores since the French and
Indian Wars, in Illinois yet, and the Hessians in the Revolution and German U Boats in WW II.

But I am not fond of wars. Wars suck, and should be avoided whenever
possible. But sometimes you have to fight. Reasonable people can debate
about whether we should have fought any wars, or some wars.

Which wars would you have fought, and which ones would you have ducked?

WW II? Let Hitler and Tojo reach their destiny?

The BIG FRACAS with Communism? Let Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh and Pol Pot reach their destiny?

The War with the Terrorists? Let them reach their destiny?


Soldiers, like police officers, have always been primarily tools of the ruling class.

I wish someone could cite me an example of a war, since World War II, where American soldiers were actually or fundamentally fighting for Freedom.

Craig, Tool of the Ruling Class responds

John, there you go again. My theory is that you were missing my missives, and knew I would respond. And so to please you I will reply.

Reasonable people can always disagree reasonably. I think most of the wars we fought were for many complex reasons.

War is bad, and undesirable. To be avoided if possible. Motivations for
fighting wars are usually complex, and are fought for a variety of reasons. Most of the wars we fought had many confusing motives, but a major one was safeguarding our homeland - the land of the free. Always has been, always will be. It is a legitimate motive.

We almost always state and many of us believe that our wars are partly for the freedom of the people we were assisting, at least in theory. And I believe in fact.

WW II - The Nazi's, Italian Fascists, and Japanese were pretty bad guys. Glad they did not win. Pleased that you agree. Our parents fought well. We fought for a lot of reasons, to keep our freedom and safety, and freed a lot of other people.

"THE BIG FRACAS" – The Cold War - Struggle against Communism - Long Struggle of the west against the east. The “mostly free, capitalist west” against the “mostly non free communist east.” A lot of people think that the millions and millions and millions of people that the Communist east enslaved and murdered made them less than desirable. And then of course a lot of other people thought that Communism was a fine thing, that they were just misunderstood, and if we all just sat around singing Kumbaya everything would be alright, and any way as long as number one was not inconvenienced it was ok.

There were numerous cold and hot conflicts in the BIG FRACAS.

Korea - The Communist North Korea decided to take over South Korea. The United Nations fought that one to keep the south independent of the north. North Korea was and is a gulag, killed numerous people, starved many people, and continues to do so. Terrible place. The South is a pretty nice and pretty free country, in large part because of the brave soldiers who fought there.

We fought that one in part for freedom, and succeeded.

Taiwan - Numerous tussles with Communist China - Cold War. Kept Taiwan free. Taiwan is a prosperous and relatively free democracy. The PRC was a gulag, killing and enslaving many millions.

We fought that one in part for freedom, and part to keep our country safe and free.

Numerous shadowy struggles all over the world, eastern Europe, Central and South America, Indonesia, Cuba, etc. The Communist strategy was to destabilize and then take over the government. The strategy was very successful in many places - Eastern Europe, China, Cuba, southeast Asia. Other countries in South and Central America and Africa flirted with Communism.

We fought these shadowy wars in part for freedom, and part to keep our country safe.

Southeast Asia Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos - "Our War". “The Baby Boomer War”
Communist North Vietnam was a very bad country. A gulag. Numerous people voted with their feet to leave. Millions more died in the killing fields. We know more about what happened in Cambodia after we left since the old guys were deposed and their deeds revealed. The same very bad SOB's are in charge of Vietnam, so old lefties can still believe that the Communists were freedom fighters. Laos and Cambodia were poor countries, who went very bad when the Communists took over.

We fought the Vietnam War in part for freedom and safety for the citizens of South Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Unfortunately we did not prevail. You ought to visit Southeast Asia some time. See how nice the communist regimes are to their own people. See the Killing Fields memorials. See the locals get checked and frisked every mile or two by the ever present and huge military. Then visit Taiwan or Korea or Malaysia or some other similar but free place. A vast difference.

Iraq 1 & 2. First one was to throw the aggressor Saddam out of Kuwait. Mostly our kids wars. We succeeded, with extensive international support – even the French, making Kuwait free and safe.

Second one was to get Saddam out, and free the Iraqi people. No help from the UN or France or Germany or Russia on this one. They oppose the war for moral concerns, arguing that Saddam was bad, but after all he only invaded other countries and gassed people and murdered people because he was misunderstood. Perhaps the 22 billion oil for food scandal had just a little to do with their moral stance.

The world is a better place without Saddam. He is right up there with Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Pol Pot.

Iraq is a long way from being a good place yet. The jury is still out on that one. I think that most of us hope that it will become a free and good country, although we may disagree on whether that is worth the

I dislike war. It is to be avoided where possible. They are extremely
divisive, very expensive, and tough on the kids who fight the wars and their families.

Sometimes they are necessary. And sometimes they accomplish good things, like the freedom and safety for western Europe after WW II, free and safe Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia. And sometimes they do not work out - Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Cuba, China, Tibet.

Of course, many people think my analysis is wrong. They think the wars were for oil, or so the defense industry could sell weapons, or because we love war, are neocolonialists, fascists, war mongers, thieves. No doubt some limited truth to some of that.

One point I would make is that the pointed end of the military spear are the 18 to 25 year olds. They do most of the fighting and dying. Most are not very political. They are now our kids. Mostly they have not even voted yet. They join the military for a variety of reasons, including a desire to serve their country, keep the country safe and free, prove themselves, be a hero, get money for college, get a job, learn a trade, etc. They are the best of our kids, willing to sacrifice themeselves for the good of their country. They are not the ones to blame if we get into a bad war.

If we get into a bad war for bad motives, don’t blame them. Blame the voters.

Blame ourselves. Blame the Ruling Class and their tools.

We are after all the ruling class in this country. We have been part of that ruling class since we became voters. And we elect the leaders and tools of the ruling class.

And we have made some mistakes.

Since we are the ruling class, and have made mistakes,

Virtual Reality Pushps for everyone.

Militant Middle Aged Moderate

I DO in fact appreciate your missives, Craig, though of course I
didn't know whether you'd respond. Though I don't entirely agree
with your analysis, I'm gonna give you the last word because it's an
extremely thoughtful reply. There's plenty in it that I DO agree
with. Thank you.



I'll jump in here now that Craig got the heavy lifting done in scholarly

It seems that you, Sue, are inferring we shouldn't be in Iraq, and I
disagree with that. The Muslim terrorists stuck their nose in our business to the tune of 3,000 lives in one day. And they have made it clear they we must either become enslaved to their way of thinking or they will kill us all (if they could). THAT's why we are in a war right now, and I don't understand why people can't grasp that.

George Bush decided that the best way to fight terrorism was to go after
governments that sponsor/harbor terrorists. You can disagree with his
decision, but that is what is happening. The Taliban in Afghanistan was
first, Saddam Hussein was next, and I imagine that any other government
foolish enough to think they can pull that kind of crap might get their
asses handed to them.

Bullies need to be stood up to or they will keep bullying. The terrorists
bully everyone in their country, so they think they can get away with it
world wide. George Bush has decided we the best approach is to stand up to them, fight them on their turf so they can't come over here and force you,

Sue, to wear a burkha or be stoned to death.

As an aside, when in the Army, my last job was in the Command Operations
Center in Alaska, preparing war plans. I hated it. Absolutely the worst
job I ever had. But I did learn many interesting things about the strategy of defending our country. One was that the Atlantic and Pacific oceans were our best defense. They can keep the fighting from coming here, and that is part of W's strategy. Keep the fighting over there. I agree with that, too.

The War with the Terrorists? Let them reach their destiny?



Dear Bush Admin. supporter friend,

Yes, I am opposed to this war in Iraq, but was not initially. It's helpful to have an Intelligence Agency uncovering THE TRUTH, especially during critical times...such as the one in which we currently find ourselves. You, I and the world is now well aware of the fact that Sadam H. had no concealed WMD's, nor was he a supporter of the Shiite extremists, nor an advocated of Bin Laden's terrorist network. For him to have supported these extremists, would have meant that he would have lost control (and we know he had control issues) of the very elements which supported his meglomania dictatorship. If there were 20 fanatic
extremists in Iraq during Sadam's rule Will and Craig, there are 100 times that now. So the premise that Sadam had WMD's and supported Islamic factions, is nothing more than a Grim's fairy fale guys. Sadam was a bad man and will not be missed, but then again, so are the Mullahs ruling Iran, the lobotomied ruler of N. Korea, the Saudi princes ruling S. Arabia, the current ruler of Syria, and possibly adding a new member to that LONG list is Mr. Putin in Russia (another discussion). We sleep in their beds, just as we had slept in Sadam's not so long ago. Establishing that these rulers are corrupted and tyrants, that does NOT give us the right to amass an army at their borders, invade and then occupy...under our terms. Bullying is applicable to them and US! History has shown that this country has stuck its noses into many areas it shouldn't have...and I'm not referring to WWI and WWII.

With the 50's conflict in Korea, we could have very well armed, trained and supplied S. Korea with the means to defend itself from the aggressor. It was not necessary for us to have troops occupying their soil.....even to this day.

I won't even begin to address the tragic absurdity with our presence in Vietnam. Contrary to some people's thinking, might does not make right. It's one thing to take action in defending one's country, just as we had invading Afganistan.

Intelligence had proven that Osama was responsible for 9-11 and that he was training and hiding out in Afganistan. There were NO terrorist training camps in Iraq!!! A more logical approach would have been to look to Saudi Arabia as the safe harbor for all terrorists, what with Osama's influential and wealthy family residing there. But you and I know, that there are specific Texan and other Administration friends who play kissie face with many members of the Saudi family.

I will not support any war where the premise to fight and murder is founded on lies and half truths. We are not bringing these people our brand of freedom, but rather a bastardized generic version. That in and of itself is a criminal act. Shame on our elected officials and shame on us, for not holding our elected officials to a higher standard than we hold ourselves.


Sue said "We are not bringing these people our brand of freedom, but rather a bastardized generic version."

Will replies. I think it's better than what they had. They have to learn
to walk before they run. And at least the US is setting up new regimes in a democratic fashion rather than installing dictators.

You still don't address the issue of what you would do to defend yourself in the face of the muslim extremists goal of trying to rule or kill everyone, everywhere. Or will you turn the other cheek inside your burka?

John wrote:

"It's hard for me to imagine that you actually believe that propaganda that you posted over on the other forum, though. Soldiers, like police officers, have always been primarily tools of the ruling class. I wish someone could cite me an example of a war, since World War II, where American soldiers were actually or fundamentally fighting for Freedom."


That wasn't propaganda, JW, that was sentiment. Regardless of how soldiers, police officers, firemen, teachers, reporters or just about anyone else may be manipulated by "the powers" -- I ACTUALLY BELIEVE that most of them, particularly soldiers, ACTUALLY BELIEVE they are doing their job, which is guarding someone's freedom(s). For their good intentions, I thank them and pray for them and their families.

The war itself (which officially ended how many months ago?) disgusts me, and I am sick watching the news day after day. I can separate the two emotions, however, and I can feel both of them without having to know how my sentiment figures in the total scheme of history.


Three of our Chicago Marine Reserves died in Iraq this week. A tragic loss.

November 9, 2004

DOD Identifies Marine Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of Marines who were
supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Cpl. Nathaniel T. Hammond, 24, of Tulsa, Okla.

Lance Cpl. Shane K. O’Donnell, 24, of DeForest, Wisc.

Both Marines died Nov. 8 as a result of enemy action in Babil Province, Iraq. They were assigned to the Marine Corps Reserve’s 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Chicago, Ill.

Lance Cpl. Branden P. Ramey, 22, of Boone, Ill., died Nov. 8 as a result of enemy action in Babil Province, Iraq. He was assigned to the Marine Corps Reserve’s 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Chicago, Ill.



You Floridians and Californians better come back to Chicago before you are blown
away or fall into the ocean. There is nothing to fear in Chicago except for the
occasional blizzard, tornado, and drive by shooting.

Considering Retiring to North Dakota - Well known bumper sticker in North

"Why we like weather 30 below zero? It keeps the riffraff out."

Hurricanes - I went through a hurricane in 1970 in Vietnam. It was downgraded to a tropical
storm, but we were on Hill 327 in Vietnam. At 1,000 feet high near the coast, it
was a hurricane.

We sent most of the troops off the hill. Those that stayed hid in bunkers or a
metal storage van (Conex Box). The storm built up, and of course we watched it
through the open door of the van. It knocked down every building on the Hill,
completely destroyed everything. Pieces of roof and buildings were flying
through the air. A metal post was driven into a telephone pole. The roof of the
building that our van was attached to blew off in one huge piece, and sailed
off, never to be seen again.

We were young, stupid and invulnerable, and thought it was great fun. All of our
personal items were soaked or blown away, but we had few items of value.

In the eye of the storm it became very still, with a very weird yellowish color
and clammy feel to the air. Then the storm built up again, and we had to take
cover in our metal van. Our van road through the storm without a problem -
served as an excellent shelter.

About Me

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Helping 1960's Morgan Park High School Reconnect.