Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Platoon Soundtrack

Today's word of the day is diplomacy.

From CNN:

"Facing the threat of a U.S. military strike, the country's leaders Tuesday reportedly accepted a Russian proposal to turn over its chemical weapons. The development, reported by Syrian state television and Russia's Interfax news agency, came a day after the idea bubbled up in the wake of what appeared to be a gaffe by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry."

Do you think it was a gaffe or a brilliant plan all along?  And if it was a brilliant plan all along, whose plan was it?

I read this article suggesting that Obama and Putin had discussed this diplomatic solution during last week's summit.  This article suggests the plan might have been the work of President Obama all along:

"If Obama is the mastermind behind a complicated chess game that ends with a viable political/diplomatic solution, rather than a military one, he may — at long last — have earned his Nobel Peace Prize."

I hope that's the case, that our president is that good at foreign policy, but I'm skeptical.  I think more people deserve credit for this plan than just President Obama.

I say good work, Secretary of State Kerry.

I got to see Kerry in person give an anti-Iraq War speech at Union Station in Kansas City back in 2004 when he ran against Bush.  I voted for him.  He was the anti-war candidate.  He's this guy:

"On April 22, 1971, Kerry became the first Vietnam veteran to testify before Congress about the war, when he appeared before a Senate committee hearing on proposals relating to ending the war. He was still a member of the United States Navy Reserve, holding the rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade."

Watch his speech here:

This is my favorite part, where he speaks favorably of anti-war protesters, or "misfits":

"In 1970 at West Point, Vice President Agnew said that 'some glamorize the criminal misfits of society while our best men die in Asian rice paddies to preserve the freedoms which those misfits abuse.'  And this was used as a rallying point for our effort in Vietnam.  But for us, his 'Boys in Asia' whom the country was supposed to support, his statement is a terrible distortion from which we can only draw a very deep sense of revulsion.  And hence the anger of some of the men who are here in Washington today.  It's a distortion because we in no way considered ourselves the best men of this country.  Because those he calls misfits were standing up for us in a way that nobody else in this country dared to.  Because so many who have died would have returned to this country to join the misfits in their efforts to ask for an immediate withdrawal from South Vietnam.  Because so many of those best men have returned as quadriplegics and amputees and they lie forgotten in veterans administrations' hospitals in this country which fly the flag which so many have chosen as their own personal symbol.  And we cannot consider ourselves America's best men when we were ashamed of and hated what we were called on to do in Southeast Asia.  In our opinion and from our experience there is nothing in South Vietnam, nothing which could happen that realistically threatens the United States of America.  And to attempt to justify the loss of one American life in Vietnam, Cambodia, or Laos by linking such loss to the preservation of freedom, which those misfits supposedly abuse, is to us the height of criminal hypocrisy.  And it's that kind of hypocrisy which we feel has torn this country apart."

--John Kerry April 22, 1971, before Congress

Kerry's speech came at a time when many people didn't know about the atrocities.  I mean, how would we know?  There were no good movies out yet about Vietnam.  In 1971 Americans were busy watching pretty people on the big screen say ridiculous things about how love means not having to say I'm sorry.  This was fifteen years before the mesmerizing anti-war film, "Platoon," came out.  It was that film, which I saw when I was fifteen, that helped turn me into a pacifist hippie.  Like most Americans, I base my opinions about our nation's foreign policy mostly on what Hollywood manufactures.  Damn, did you see that scene where Willem Defoe dies and Barber's "Adagio" is playing and it rips your guts out so much you can feel his pain?  Powerful stuff.  How could you watch that and not start wearing daisies in your hair?

Because of my dovish ways, I have been disappointed lately in Secretary of State Kerry, all hawked-out like his position in life had changed his mind about the brutality of war.  I understand his desire to help the Syrian people, the victims of their sociopathic leader, but there are more humanitarian ways to do that than to bomb the fuck out of their country, certainly creating civilian casualties.

This news today of our world leaders talking about diplomacy over military action makes me feel hopeful once again.  I think I'll go listen to the "Platoon" Soundtrack.