Illumination rounds

You may never have read "Dispatches" by Michael Herr, but chances are you've shared some of his experiences at the cinema, in "Platoon," "Apocalpyse Now" or "Full Metal Jacket."

You may never have read “Dispatches” by Michael Herr, but chances are you’ve shared some of his experiences at the cinema, in “Platoon,” “Apocalpyse Now” or “Full Metal Jacket.”

Once we fanned over a little ville that had just been airstruck and the words of a song by Wingy Manone that I’d heard when I was a few years old snapped into my head, “Stop the War, These Cats Is Killing Themselves.” Then we dropped, hovered, settled down into purple lz smoke, dozens of children broke from their hootches to run in toward the focus of our landing, the pilot laughing and saying, “Vietnam, man. Bomb ’em and feed ’em, bomb ’em and feed ’em.”

That quote from Michael Herr’s “Dispatches” just snapped into my head as I read this New York Times piece about the prez authorizing the sale of “lethal military equipment” to Vietnam.

Pretty much describes our entire foreign policy, doesn’t it?

Bomb ’em and feed ’em; bomb ’em and feed ’em.

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14 Responses to “Illumination rounds”

  1. khal spencer Says:

    Containment, Vol II. Aimed at China. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

  2. Pat O'Brien Says:

    Will the circle ever be broken? Vietnam is a tropical paradise and rice bowl. But, fuck ’em. We need those pawns on the front lines. And, there is good money to be made selling weapons. Obama disappoints me again in his journey towards the dark side.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Swear to God, the country looks more like Westeros every day. “Game of Thrones,” but meaner, and with more blood magic. But hey, at least we get to elect our despots. Which will you have, a Lannister or a Bolton?

    • khal spencer Says:

      How many Vietnamese, Nicaraguans, Salvadorans, etc, have already died due to geopolitics. Lest we forget, the whole Middle East caldron is in part a result of Western experimentation with colonialism.

    • Steve O Says:

      Gotta wonder what the folks think who penned his name in on the Nobel Peace Prize way back when.

  3. Steve O Says:

    Was a lot easier when foreign policy was as simple as hooking up one of the king’s daughters with a strategic partner or enemy’s prince. Every now again, ship off a Trojan horse or Lady Liberty to keep them guessing.

    Not sure I like this flat earth, Lexus and olive tree stuff. If you’re an isolationist, you get sucker punched. An interventionist, you lay in the fucked up bed of your making, wet sheets, bed bugs and all.

    And the military industrial complex is always there, making sure that it’s not just us fighting the last war but anyone who’s willing to swap dead presidents or dead dictators for the latest version of gun powder and time fuse.

  4. Pat O'Brien Says:

    Kinda makes you think of Country Joe and the Fish. We watched this program last week. Didn’t know that Janis and Country Joe were an item for awhile.

    http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/janis-joplin-janis-little-girl-blue-about-the-film/6284/

  5. David Rees Says:

    I make it a point to read Dispatches every few years, religiously. I’ve bought about a dozen copies over the last twenty years or so and given them to friends and family, some not so happy to receive it, but fuck ’em – read it, it’s important. If it’s a been awhile for some of you, read the book again, then, as Patrick points out, watch Full Metal Jacket and see how Kubrick took many pages of the book verbatim and put them on the screen.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      “Dispatches” is a keeper, David, for sure. Right up there with “All Quiet On the Western Front,” for my money.

      Kubrick’s film was based on Gustav Hasford’s “The Short-Timers,” a very disturbing book by a very disturbed fellow. A while back I found a great backstory on him; I’ll have to try to dig that up again.

      Another good Vietnam book is “Close Quarters” by Larry Heinemann, about a recon platoon manning armored personnel carriers.

      But neither of these is as good as “Dispatches.”

  6. Pat O'Brien Says:

    After returning to the “world” in December of 1970, I avoided reading about the Vietnam war. I started working as a civilian for the Department of the Army in 1974. In the early 1990’s a coworker recommended a book, The Tunnels of Cu Chi by Tom Mangold and John Penycate. It is another book that shows the horror and absurdity of that war.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Oh, man, those tunnel stories give me The Fear. I used to do some caving back in the day, and that shit was scary enough without some other dudes with AKs, who knew the tunnels better than I did, dicking around down there.

  7. Ramachandram Asirpadan Says:

    The best of your posts that I read. Describes the official USA to a T. Always interfering in other peoples’ lives. Went and bombed Vietnam, not to mention Laos, and called it the Vietnam War! Live and let live, we all share this planet together.

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