Soaring Spirit with Tears

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Essays on Government

A friend asked me to compare Vietnam and Afghanistan. I would like to do this in a highly personal way because I am not an historian or war correspondent. I majored in Asian Studies and then got a master's degree in development economics in 1964. My mother and I visited Vietnam in 1963 when the monks were immolating themselves, and I worked for the State Department in Vietnam from late 1966 to mid-1968. Later in 1968, I drove a Land Rover from England to India and spent a month in Afghanistan en route. Like many others who have visited Afghanistan, I fell in love with the country and its peoples. I drove through Afghanistan two more times in 1970-71.

 

The American Economy

We are now in a muddle over pump prices, but we are told Europeans have been paying much more for years. Is this true? Has anyone bothered to add the cost of taxes to build weapons and wage war to the sticker price at the pump?

Loss of Innocence

People wanted to know which stock to buy if the Pope approved birth control. I spent long hours in the company library reading the files of every company that produced a birth control contraption or pill.

Snowing and Reminiscing

The "plan" the US was using in Vietnam had been tried in Laos. It failed, but the people to implement the doomed plan were trained so they would use that "plan" whether it worked or not. There was apparently no effort to determine why it failed in Laos nor any effort to perfect it so it might work.

More Snow — More Memories

What is relevant about this and the current world situation is that what we see at press conferences and most of what is on the news is a photo op. It is an opportunity to state simple thoughts in a few words that are easy to remember.

Squandering Political Capital and Goodwill

My personal opinion is that the war in Vietnam could never have been won because the prerequisites for victory were absent. Even if there had been a determined effort to win, it would still have been impossible because we, the U.S., were losing the propaganda war. The battle had many fronts. In Vietnam proper, the irrefutable argument was that Vietnamese are not dropping bombs on Washington, D.C., so why is the U.S. dropping bombs on Hanoi?

Photo Opportunities

In writing these reminiscences, I am becoming aware of how unusual my life has been and also of my naïveté. I should have realized back then that the pictures we see in newspapers and on television are all choreographed so as to make certain impressions.

Tet Offensive

Every conflict is an opportunity to create harmony and every waste of such opportunity merely ups the ante so that each subsequent effort to establish some meeting of the minds (and hearts) requires more effort because there are more issues to address and redress.

Tax Reform

We proposed a system of taxation based on consumption rather than income. Basic necessities would be exempt from taxation: rice and medicine. It's equitable since it is based on the ability to spend and there are no shelters for the rich.

 

 


See also the Essay on Oprah for President

 

 
 


Poulsbo, Washington