Friday, September 09, 2016

Secret Plans, a Con Artitist and a War Criminal

Never trust a a candidate with a secret plan. Donald Trump says he has a plan to destroy ISIS but won't tell anything about it lest he tip off the enemy. Last time a candidate claimed to have a secret plan to end the war it ended with Richard Nixon killing another 25,000 Americans and hundreds of thousands Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians. If Americans had known that Nixon's secret plan was to escalate the violence even more I'm sure that would have changed enough votes to make Hubert Humphrey president.

As in the current election, America in 1968 was faced with two flawed candidates. Both were experienced in government but Richard Nixon had a reputation for dishonesty and cold war militarism while Hubert Humphrey had spent the previous four years defending Lyndon Johnson's escalation in Vietnam. The war pretty much destroyed Humphrey's reputation as a progressive liberal. Fortunately I was too young to vote that year. I was almost 21, in my third year of college and keenly aware of the war as a draft-age male. In the end, I thought Nixon's secret plan had more credibility than Humphrey's late embrace of some anti-war policies. Nothing else seemed to matter as much. In the end a very divided nation chose Nixon.

Okay, I thought. He says he has a plan. He's known to be intelligent and experienced in foreign affairs, I'll give him a chance (or the benefit of the doubt, as Hillary Clinton would say). I figured a couple of years to wind things down would be reasonable. Aside from ending the carnage in Southeast Asia, that timetablewould eliminate the chance that I might have to go to Vietnam. By the time my student deferments ran out, the war should be over.

Except that the war did not end. Two years after Richard Nixon's inauguration, I was humping the boonies on combat patrol in the mountains of Long Khanh Province in South Vietnam.

So, yeah, color me skeptical about secret plans.

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