Another Lesson from Moscow Washington Won’t Learn By Patrick Armstrong



When the announcement of a partial withdrawal was made I was as surprised as anyone. I thought: Daesh is not been defeated, the threat of Ankara doing something extraordinary has not disappeared, the Syrian Army still needs air support to liberate other parts of the country, I can't believe that Putin trusts either Washington's promises or its ability to fulfil them. I then went on the Presidential website and found this: "In this context, Mr Putin said that Russia’s Armed Forces have fulfilled their main mission in Syria and a timetable for the withdrawal of the Aerospace Forces’ main air grouping has been agreed." A timetable is not the same as withdrawal, I thought. But then it transpired that aircraft were in fact leaving and the formal meeting of Putin, Shoygu and Lavrov was published. So, think again: the schedule was for the present and not the future.

I think we now know three things. 1) Not all the Russian aircraft are leaving, in fact large-scale strikes against Daesh positions near Palmyra occurred yesterday. 2) Strikes are possible from outside Syria. We have seen the use of long-range aviation from Russia and cruise missiles from the Caspian and Mediterranean. 3) Russian aircraft can be moved back in under 24 hours if needed.

At the beginning of the operation, the strategic purposes were laid out. 1) To shore up government power lest a vacuum be formed that Daesh would occupy (vide the US-NATO disasters in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya). 2) To create the possibility for meaningful negotiations on Syria's future. 3) To reverse Daesh's record of constant expansion and victory. 4) To kill as many jihadists originating from Russia and the FUSSR as possible so they don't come home. Other benefits, like exposing the hollowness of the "isolated" and "powerless" Russia memes, showing off and testing weapons systems were present; they were not, however, as important as Western commentators thought they were.

From an operational perspective, there were four tasks. 1) To secure the airbase and freedom of operation (an issue complicated but not derailed when Turkey ambushed a Russian aircraft). 2) To degrade Daesh's infrastructure by destroying troop concentrations, headquarters, arms dumps and, especially, crippling its cash cow, the oil trade. 3) To provide close air support to Syrian and allied forces. 4) To re-equip and train Syrian forces.

It is quite true that "The objective set before the Defence Ministry and the Armed Forces is generally fulfilled" . Задача, поставленная перед Министерством обороны и Вооружёнными Силами, в целом выполнена. Not all of it, but most of it. Strategically: the Syrian government is much more secure; negotiations are underway together with a ceasefire; Daesh is in reverse; many jihadists will not be coming home. Operationally: the bases are secure; Daesh's infrastructure and oil business have been severely degraded; close air support continues and will for some time. "Generally fulfilled" indeed. Or, as NATO says, in private, "efficient and accurate".

And, should the situation on the ground be reversed, Russian airpower can return in hours.

This is the third time Moscow has shown Washington how to use armed force. It is never something to be used alone, it must always be part of a complete package. We saw this in the second Chechen war, in the Ossetian war and now in Syria. Bayonets are useful for many things, but not for sleeping on. However, it is unlikely that Washington will learn anything: the alcoholic binge of more violence to solve the problems the violence created is too well entrenched. In fact, they can't understand, as Fort Rus points out, that to more thoughtful planners "withdrawal" is not a candy-coating of "defeat".

It’s because a funny thing happened along the way in the development of US foreign policy lingo. The term ‘defeat’ was replaced with the term ‘withdrawal’. This happened as a result of needing to soft-sell major defeats like Vietnam or Iraq. Defeats were re-branded as ‘withdrawals’, even though in doing so, the term withdrawal was forever changed into a synonym for defeat, and a lack of resolve.

Many Western responses are amusing. Here Chatham House fearlessly demolishes a straw horse: 3. ‘Mission accomplished’ is a bit of a stretch… 4. Nonetheless, the intervention has achieved several key Russian objectives. Of course Putin didn't say "mission accomplished"; this contortionist invents it so he can pretend that he failed.

Some are just incoherent: "Moscow is thus is committed to 'monitoring' the very agreement that it’s been opportunistically breaching…".

But so far I find this the most amusing example of someone not getting it. "A Well-Timed Retreat: Russia Pulls Back From Syria" by Alexander Baunov. Two samples will show how absurd his thoughts are:

President Putin’s announcement that he is pulling back from Syria should not have come as a big surprise. He believes he has met most of his goals there—many of which have nothing to do with Syria itself. Russia has found a way back to the table where the world’s board of directors sits and resolves regional conflicts together.

This time, Vladimir Putin did not need to pretend too hard when he announced that a mission was accomplished.


On the Russian domestic scene, which some experts had considered the main reason for Russia to get involved, interest in Syria had begun to wane among the home television audience. The pictures of silver rockets in a blue sky had been shown so often that there was no mood for a second season of them. The public would rather see successes on the home front.

Too many Americans ("some experts") comment from Gulliver's Island of Laputa and tie their imaginations into contortions. Read what Putin says, watch what he does and think about it. Don't assume.

Or you can join Samantha Power in Laputa: she "doesn't make it a point of listening to President Putin's claims" (Here at 2:39) but is always ready to tell us what's really going on: "Russia's military deployment in Syria to back Bashar al-Assad 'is not a winning strategy,' America's ambassador to the United Nations said Monday."

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39 Responses to Another Lesson from Moscow Washington Won’t Learn By Patrick Armstrong

  1. Helpful analysis so many thanks!

  2. cynic says:

    It’s been a neat demonstration in the limited use of force to achieve limited political objectives. There’s perhaps a kind of 80/20 effect. Further Russian involvement would incur more costs of various sorts for Russia, but the benefits, if any, would flow to Syria or the rest of the world.

  3. Valissa says:

    Patrick, I have followed your insightful analyses on Russian issues at various websites the past couple of years. It’s wonderful to see you posting at SST!
    Although this article on the surface might seem OT (with it’s complaints about the lack of a “true conservatism” to fight the neocons), one of crucial points made is about the durability of the neocons and their imperialistic ways. It verifies the point of this article that “Washington won’t learn.”
    Will a Trump Victory Actually Dislodge the Neocons?
    The neoconservatives’ power and influence do not depend on their willingness to march in lockstep with the GOP. Their power base extends into both parties; and if most neocons are currently identified with the “moderate” wing of the GOP, providing their political ambitions are met and their foreign policy is carried out, other recognizable neocons like William Galston, Kagan’s wife Victoria Nuland, and Ann Applebaum have identified strongly with Democratic administrations. …
    Neoconservatives demand that the government be pro-active in relation to the rest of the world. They and those politicians they train speak of “leading from the front” and place special emphasis on the protection of Israel and continued American intervention in “trouble spots” across the globe.
    Neoconservatives have their own characteristic American nationalism, which is based on both energetic involvement in the affairs of other states and calls for further immigration, which now comes mostly from the Third World. …
    Finally, there seems to be a continuing congruence between the liberal internationalism preached by neoconservatives and such architects of America’s foreign policy as the Council on Foreign Relations. … They are the most out-front among those calling for an aggressive American internationalism; and this has been a dominant stance among American foreign policy elites for at least a century.
    Since “an aggressive American internationalism” is so fundamental to the thinking within the FP establishment, members of this establishment cannot seem to grok any other point of view. They can’t see that the rest of the nation-state world is more oriented to playing defensively… which could be referred to as “aggressive defensive nationalism” vis-a-vis the US in the case of Russia (militarily) and China (economically).

  4. Ante says:

    Russia’s ability to analyze the situation and act prudently exposes the large contrasts between its culture and that of contemporary US.
    Philosophy is popularly disparaged in the United States. Reading books rather than clickbait internet junk is dismissed as well. In Russia, it’s not uncommon to have read the greats, and to discuss them offhand as if they were last night’s football. This puts the US at a real disadvantage.
    To think abstractly is a skill that must be learned and practiced. Without it, it’s quite easy to slip into the combinations of spite, magical thinking, and denial that we call neoconservatism, or responsibility to protect, etc.
    The trend toward rhetorical brinksmanship by Kerry, continuing from Bush, is embarrassing and a sign of weakness.
    Obama comparing Syria to a superhero movie and ISIS to the Joker is an example of how far things have slipped, either in these people themselves or in their view of the capacity of citizens.
    Putin loves and regularly quotes Berdyaev, Solovyev, and Ilyin. Obama summarizes the plot of Batman movies.
    Nice post, I appreciated it.

  5. Patrick armstrong says:

    Yeah. I think the West has lost the plot. I’m currently working on a piece provisionally titled “worthless values” about all the tub-thumping on Western values in the 1990s.

  6. SmoothieX12 says:

    No Russian person of real import and of being in the decision making loop will talk to any run of the mill “Western” pundit. Period. No serious person from General Staff (GRU, GOU), FSB or forces commanders’ will talk to “Westerners”. So, both Europe and US are thus doomed to communicate either with freak-show of Russian “liberal” think-tanks, such as Carnegie BSers headed by Dmitri Trenin who once was a Colonel of some sorts, or with “internal” Russia “specialists” such as all those numerous Simeses, Gvozdevs, Galeottis or Masha Lipmans or Masha Gessens. The field of Russian “studies” in the West is dead. Few honest and objective Western Russia observers merely confirm the rule. Military to Military communications, on the other hand is a somewhat different case.

  7. Michael Droy says:

    Certainly they lost the plot. I can’t help thinking what all those people at the NSA, the over militarised Police and the guys responsible for the torture and Drones.
    All along they claimed that everything they did was righteous because it defended innocent Americans from Terrorists. And now they discover that the US encouraged Saudi and Turkey to back seriously evil terrorists, and to a large extent both Army and CIA was doing the same.
    Somewhere along the line the US stopped fighting terrorists, and paying them, but nobody told the NSA (weren’t they listening?)
    I think there has been a neat move here. The US poo poohed the Russian coalition and claimed it had a 65 leading country coalition of its own. Finally the US had to join the Russian/Iranian/Hezbollah coalition as a junior partner under the pretext of a “Peace Victory”. At which Russia leaves the party….
    Right now if it gets anyworse, it will be US boots on the ground.

  8. turcopolier says:

    SST is pleased to have Patrick Armstrong posting on the site. In the interest of full disclosure we should know that Armstrong is Canadian. He mentioned the war in VN as an example of American fecklessness in this piece. My view is that the outcome there was the result of US public pressure as represented in 1975 when the US Congress passed legislation forbiding further assistance of any kind (including supply) to the RVN government. From 1969 to 1973 the US armed forces conducted a phased, carefully planned withdrawal at the direction of the elected government in Washington. An armistice followed that withdrawal and the Christmas bombing campaign of 1972. That lasted for two years until the US Congress oassed the aforementioned law. The communists then attacked and overran South Vietnam. pl

  9. Dubhaltach says:

    I hope that will be published here also.

  10. J says:

    Putin is a strategic thinker, Obama is not.

  11. Cortes says:

    No doubt we all remember that Laputa (La puta) = “The Whore” (in Spanish) – when Dean Swift was writing the Spanish Empire was in its death throes.

  12. HankP says:

    I’m no foreign policy expert, but it sure seems like they set limited, concrete goals and achieved most of them in a relatively short amount of time. I wish our foreign policy grandees thought a bit more about using that approach rather than grandiose plans to remake the world.

  13. Thirdeye says:

    Putin seems by far the most intellectual of the heads of state that I am aware of. He seems to genuinely enjoy discourse. After he went on air in the Charlie Rose interview he invited Rose to continue the discussion informally over tea, which Rose accepted. That is so different from other politicians who are so concerned about messaging that they quake at the prospect of anything that can take them off their script. It shows some serious intellectual confidence. And if someone questions him unfairly he will demolish them, as this douchebag BBC journalist found out:

  14. Thirdeye says:

    Western journalists can’t comprehend Putin’s moves in Syria because they’re watching chess while thinking of checkers.
    They’re flummoxed over Putin’s approach to the Ukraine issue for the same reason.

  15. Mark says:

    Smashing, Patrick! Another satisfying demolishing of the NATO think-tank trope factory.
    Fort Russ also posited another possible motive – a unilateral withdrawal now, plainly at Russia’s pleasure and under control, takes all the wind out of the Syrian opposition’s sails at Geneva. They might otherwise have been able to trumpet triumphantly that they had negotiated a Russian withdrawal, which would buff their street cred immensely. It’d be a lie, but Washington would be quick to confirm that it had actually happened that way, and mock Putin’s denials, and the English-speaking world would mostly believe Washington – and, by extension, the Syrian opposition. This way, the military commitment lasted nearly as long and they will not be able to reap any political benefit from its end. Neat.
    To paraphrase a comment which appeared at my blog by way of The Guardian; if Putin walked on water, western think tanks would mock him for being unable to swim.

  16. bernard says:

    Col. Lang,
    what is your opinion of the issue of ‘fragging’ or ‘combat refusals’ in the US Army in Vietnam, such as described here:
    Was this on any kind of serious scale, such as to affect combat readiness, or a relatively minor matter?

  17. Patrick Armstrong says:

    Let me put in a plug for my site. I’ve been gradually filling it up with my writings since I retired.

  18. Dubhaltach says:

    In reply to Patrick Armstrong 18 March 2016 at 03:41 AM
    Thank you for that duly visited added to my bookmarks and feed – very happy to see you’ve brought across your Russian sitreps from “Russia: Other Points of View”. I was afraid they might have stopped.
    All: Armstrong’s site “Russia Observer” is well worth visiting. There’s a sign-up for email updates on the site or if like me you prefer to use a feed reader or something like Firefox’s live bookmarks the feed is here:

  19. oofda says:

    Not only the Russian MoD, but intel and MFA people will talk to Western diplomats and military counterparts. Certainly not as frequently as in the 90’s when, except for the MoD, Russian decision makers and major advisers talked to their Western counterparts. The problem is getting Western and U.S. decision-makers to take account of the reports of these communications. Too often, the politicians and their advisers stick to their own understandings and eschew what it being communicated.

  20. SmoothieX12 says:

    You completely misread what I wrote. I talked about punditry. Western “main-stream” media, “academe” and such. Obviously Minister of Foreign Affairs talks to Secretary of the State. Putin talks to Obama. But NO, I underscore, no serious person in Russian decision making circuit would talk seriously and beyond platitudes to people from what here, in the US, and in the West in general is called “expert community”. Just to give you example, recent situation with Zyuganov who simply refused to speak to US Ambassador to Russia. No one of consequence will talk to Mr. Ariel Cohen from Heritage Foundation, no one with serious credentials will talk to people from Stratfor or with any other “expert”. I cannot emphasize enough a tectonic cultural shift in Russia. One of the reasons for tectonic shift is a complete and utter discrediting of this very “expert” community which, with some very rare exceptions, for decades was producing BS which would fit into narrative. US think-tankdom viewed today in Russia as basically a butt of the jokes. I can testify to such attitudes being totally justified. In other words, US public opinion on Russia is being formed by people who are:
    1. Utterly incompetent;
    2. Pursue agenda which is different from honest informing;
    3. Are either “exceptionalists” (or neocons) or plain simple Russophobes.
    But here we are opening the new can of worms.

  21. Croesus says:

    At the centennial of the start of World War I, Chas Freeman spoke on the lessons of diplomacy for 2014, titled “When Diplomacy Fails” —
    “The more fundamental problem for U.S. diplomacy is the moral absolutism inherent in American exceptionalism. Our unique historical experience shapes our approach to our disadvantage, ruling out much of the bargaining and compromise that are central to diplomacy.
    In our Civil War, World War I, World War II, and the Cold War, we demonized the enemy and sought his unconditional surrender, followed by his repentance, reconstruction, and ideological remolding.
    The American way of international contention formed by these experiences is uniquely uncompromising.
    Our rigidity is reinforced by the mythic cliché of Hitler at Munich. That has come to stand for the overdrawn conclusion that the conciliation of adversaries is invariably not just foolish but immoral and self-defeating. . . .
    Americans suppose that diplomacy ends when war begins and does not resume until the enemy lies prostrate before us.”
    Freeman also observed that the USA does not rely on culturally attuned and trained diplomats to conduct its foreign policy, but on CIA and the military, and ambassadorships are pay-back for campaign contributions.

  22. turcopolier says:

    You appear to write from Canberra? I was in SEA for two one year tours (’68-’69. ’72-’73) and two TDYs amounting to seven months between them between the two tours. I was in the field all the time the first tour with some visits to the Saigon area. The second time I was in MACVSOG and STDAT-158 headquarters but spent about half the time in the field. On the TDYs I was altogether in the field evaluating HUMINT operations country-wide. So, I got around a bit. IMO the state of the US armed forces in VN reflected the state of the US as that condition changed and evolved throughout the war. I don’t write much about the marines. They are a separate army with their own internal dynamic. They were smart enough to get out of VN early when the opportunity presented itself. By the time I went back in early ’72 there were no marines in VN except for joint staffies and a handful of advisers with the RVN Marines. In the US Army the units that had served together in peace time before deployment were very solid, but, Max Thurman, then DCS Personnel at MACV made the decision to re-distribute the people in these units when they arrived in country so that the people would not all rotate home at the same time. This, of course, destroyed much of the units’ cohesion. The policy of unit rotation that has been followed since 9/11 has been much better. In those days we had a mixed force of professionals and draftees in the enlisted ranks. The continuing flow of draftees pulled out of US society in the lower economic brackets progressively soured on the war as the years passed and the American people soured on the war, but for the first four or five years they were great, full of fight, sardonically humorous, largely uncomplaining. Their theme expression was “It don’t matter. It don’t mean nuthin.” In music “We gotta get out of this place…” will ring in my head to the end. They killed a hell of a lot of very determined NVA and VC soldiers in nose to nose sustained combat. With regard to “fragging,” an officer (or NCO) who acts like an ass, does not take his share of the risks involved, who does not stand up for his people and who has a supercilious air of superiority about him is always at risk in actual combat. Combat soldiers are all armed and have been conditioned by training or experience to kill. Opportunities abound when you are in contact with the enemy. I always thought that I was standing for election yet again when the first shot was fired. Having said that, I would say from my experience and many years of talking to officers who served in VN that the actual incidence of enlisted men making attempts on officers they did not like was very low throughout the war. The same was true of refusal of platoon or company sized units to carry out offensive operations orders. What did happen was that as opposition to the war solidified in the US, units became less and less useful, less and less trustworthy and the junior officers in these units became more and more complicit in avoiding unit responsibilities in the field. By the time I retuned to VN in ’72 the three US infantry brigades left in country had a low combat value. Contributing factors to this decline in combat value in ’71 and ’72 were, the knowledge of the ongoing phased, scheduled withdrawal, the reception that returning soldiers were getting in the US and the incredible lack of foresight shown by the command in VN with regard to unit training. There should have been a program of withdrawing battalions from the line for unit training on a periodic basis. No such program existed and the battalions were left in more or less constant contact with the enemy for the many years of their deployment to VN. In that circumstance standards of unit training declined steadily. In summary, I think the supposed frequency of “fragging” and “combat refusal” is much exaggerated but the phenomenon of a steady decline of the effectiveness of line combat units of the Army has not been studied enough. pl

  23. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Ali Khamenei is another one.

  24. Croesus says:

    Further to a comment published earlier, which quoted from a talk by Chas Freeman on US failures in diplomacy, Freeman ascribed those failures in part to US not employing culturally aware and diplomatically-educated and trained foreign service officers, instead using ambassadorships as a quid pro quo for campaign contributions.
    That’s true as far as it goes, but the even more gloomy reality is that US universities and training grounds for those diplomats of the future are under the thumb of the Borg. In a discussion On the Future of Free Speech, moderated by Jeffrey Rosen, Pres. & CEO of the National Constitution Center (a taxpayer funded org.), panelist Stanley Fish said unequivocally that the Constitutional protections of free speech Do Not Apply in academia. Rather, Fish declared, Academic freedom is a function of the peer-review process in which tenured persons and administrators, as was Fish, control what may or may not be successfully researched, published, and taught.

  25. SmoothieX12 says:

    “That’s true as far as it goes, but the even more gloomy reality is that US universities and training grounds for those diplomats of the future are under the thumb of the Borg.”
    You can read opinions of US Foreign Service officer (one of) here:
    As per “academia”, my recent (Summer 2015)encounter with Princeton-educated Ph.D. in US-Russian Relations, no less, was on the account of immediate post-WW II situation. I was astounded when this “scholar” gave me a full blown “Patton” in a sense that: we (that is USA) could have driven Red Army back to Moscow if we wanted to and that it was also due to the, and I quote, “largest Air Force ever”. My corrections to his views that he does not necessarily operate in realistic framework and that the largest, not to say with unparalleled combat experience, tactical-operational Air Force was Red Air Force created only silence. The guy, however, is not a neocon, in fact he is (I suspect) one of those Woodstock generation liberal types and yet, he still exhibited all those traits of American exceptionalism and merely underscored the fact of his Ph.D. is in “Why USA is better than anyone else in the world”. And he is not unique at all, in some sense he is very typical. And I met number of both “academe” and “diplomatic” types–most of them (not all) were like that. I observe this rather common manifestations on daily bases in media and “academe”.
    The piece above may as well apply to US. While this speaks directly to the US
    We are talking here about systemic and extremely dangerous flaw of the system which is supposed to provide more or less objective view but instead, increasingly, provides a US-centric caricature of the outside world. If this may fly with some African or Latin American nation, when dealing with Russia–this may become an issue of war and peace. As per modern Russia–until serious and objective study of the Soviet period will not be done by scholars who actually want (and need) to understand what REALLY happened, until then, I guess, we all will be hearing long-dead and irrelevant cliches and platitudes.

  26. turcopolier says:

    On the off chance that you are actually interested in the subject I discussed above. I will add that in my second tour in VN I went by the MACV headquarters at Ton Son Nhut air base in Saigon to see someone I knew who was assigned there. I was curious as to what was “up” in the world of the theater command. My acquaintance worked in the staff section that was managing the withdrawal, you know, what civilians called “Vietnamization.” The great age of computers was only just getting started in earnest and pencils and chalk were still in fashion. In three or four rooms there were big chalkboards on all the walls. On the boards were written the descriptions of twenty-five or thirty time phased slices or trenches of the withdrawal. For each trenche dates were given and the units and activities were described that would leave by a certain date. Balance geographically and by function was achieved for each trenche. The countdown had started in 1969 and by 1972 we were most of the way through the program. My unit was in the last trenche. As that year progressed more and more units disappeared as their date of departure arrived. One week you would be dealing with someone and the next week they were gone and the activity finished. I left on the last chartered flight from Tan Son Nhut airbase after destroying my unit’s remaining papers. By that time I had one Vietnamese Army guard left. He drove me to the airport and I gave him the keys to the car telling and told him that the tires needed re-balancing. Then I flew home. pl

  27. Chris Chuba says:

    CNN : Syrian Civil War – Russians bombing hospitals
    This seems like the right thread for this post. CNN did a series on the Syrian Civil war with on scene coverage. It even looks like one of their reporters speaks Arabic fluently. In any case, they were really going all in on the premise that the Russians were bombing hospitals in rebel territory. I’ll lay out their case here ..
    1. The motive – to prove that the rebels cannot govern the territory they control and/or depopulate the area.
    2. evidence
    – Doctors without borders documenting something like 85+ facilities destroyed in 2015
    – Camera footage of destroyed buildings and interviews. Assuming that CNN isn’t deliberately editing their footage to be intentionally deceptive, it looks very damning.
    CNN – did repeat a simple statement by the Russians denying the allegation with no elaboration whatsoever.
    I don’t know what to make of this. I don’t like to dismiss allegations because it doesn’t fit with what I want to believe and I am not in Syria. This does not seem consistent with the Russian plan as best as I can divine their actions. The Russians appear to be trying to force a political resolution to the war that eliminates the Jihadists. This is not consistent with intentional depopulation / destruction of vital infrastructure.
    Any thoughts on this topic would be appreciated.

  28. jld says:

    Any other source than CNN?

  29. bernard says:

    dear Col. Lang,
    thank you for taking the trouble to make (not one, but two!) informative replies to my query.
    Yes I am posting from Canberra, Australia. Long-time reader but very infrequent poster.
    May I trouble you with another query concerning those days?
    An author called Lembcke wrote a book about ‘spitting’ on returning Vietnam Vets and argued that there was little or no documentary evidence of this and it was essentially a post-war urban myth.
    What is your view on this issue? Did you personally encounter this type of thing, or hear of credible reports of it? This may have been discussed on your blog before, but I forget the outcome if it was.
    NB. I am/was opposed to the Vietnam war but I do not condone this activity, if it occurred. Especially in a democracy, protest and criticism should go to the Government of the Day, not the troops.

  30. P.L>! Many thanks for your detailed comments in this thread!

  31. LeaNder says:

    bernard, welcome, I shouldn’t interfere. No doubt, but since it concerns what feels one of my earliest struggles with Pat, here goes:
    “I am/was opposed to the Vietnam war …”
    I guess, I was, Bernard. How could you be otherwise as a kid partially growing up in ruins that told some type of stories? In my as a lefty, with distrust concerning the diverse ideologues on the left in the early 70s in Berlin. … that would be a longer story.
    From Editorial Reviews:
    “Similar images were common in post-World War I Germany and France after Indochina”
    Never heard about this. Fast speed checks here only lead to pro-war propaganda and its results afterwards. This may be a derivative focus.
    I can of course say nothing about Jerry Lembcke
    His CV tells us he served in Vietnam in 1969. But does it makes sense to reduce it to a huge myth only in the vast “human animal universe”? In other words not a single such case happened? That’s a relevant complaint from the commentary section.
    Personally I witnessed first hand what felt like anti-US-soldiers sentiments against not again American’s but against American GI’s on the left German ground in the early 70s ‘when recognizable’, meaning recognizably in uniform, that is. And at the time, it reminded me of earlier unrelated experiences that left a similar feeling. “collective treatment”? … But I won’t relate the story here, but yes, associatively I wondered about that at the time.
    I no doubt may have tended to avoid the ‘Nam returnees, basically, there were some heavy cases among them, especially when drunk telling rather horrible stories. … Maybe most I talked more often to were the “lucky draftees” winding up in Berlin at the time. 1971/72?
    On the other hand, I encountered a personal “double standard”, when I read about precursors of my “anti-war” spirit in the context of the history of Pacifica Radio. Draft deniers no doubt weren’t treated kindly at that point in time. I could feel with them … On the other hand as German? You get what I mean, I hope.

  32. turcopolier says:

    I think your “struggle” was mostly with yourself. I have no idea how common spitting on soldiers in uniform was. I suspect the incidence was low. I only know it happened to me. That year I lived in s small VN town within 20 km. of the Cambodian border. No local person ever did anything hostile to me and I was often alone with them, got shaved in a local barber shop every day with only VN present. Our problem was with enemy troops and political cadres not with the people. any analogy to the behavior of the German government or military in WW2 is just false. pl

  33. turcopolier says:

    I glanced at Lembke’s CV at Holy Cross. “Military Service: US Army VN, 1969” is not much of a description. There is so much phony claiming of a combat service background that I have doubts. Was he ever in the US Army? What was his Military Occupational Specialty? (MOS)What organization was he with in VN? 1969 before the phased withdrawal began was the height of US presence in VN. We had over 500,000 uniformed people there then. Of those the vast majority never saw or heard of a VC/NVA. If there were 100,000 people actually in combat that would have been a lot. For the great majority the hazards were boredom. STDs (VD) from the multitude of oh, so willing whores, getting caught black marketing PX purchases, traffic accidents. You get the idea. At the same time his CV is stuffed with left wing books, magazine articles pleading for a chance to “save Marxism,” etc. Most
    American servicemen in VN were what we called REMFs. As Creighton Abrams once said, “It is never crowded at the front.” pl

  34. LeaNder says:

    Pat, first, yes maybe I am a bit of a monade, forever turning around myself, while absorbing elements to integrate in a wider understanding of me and the world out there.
    Otherwise, I am both embarrassed I babbled again, while not asked really 😉 , and glad I did, since it is usually accompanied with more attention to topics.
    I looked a bit in the sentence that caught my attention in bernard’s comment above …
    Below on Wikipedia another line catches my attention, seems to point in the same direction:
    “Lembcke writes that this discrediting of the anti-war movement was foreshadowed by Hermann Göring’s fostering of the stab in the back myth, after Germany’s defeat in Europe in 1918.[1]”
    I wonder if this is a different articulation of what was on the lady reviewer’s – as added on Amazon – mind:
    Jerry Lembcke is Associate Professor of Sociology at Holy Cross College. In 1969 he was a Chaplain’s Assistant assigned to the 41st Artillery Group in Vietnam.

  35. turcopolier says:

    Thanks for the word, “monade.” I may be bit like that myself. Chaplain’s Assistant? Well, more power to him.
    If memory serves there was one such in the old TV show, “Mash.” Hey, somebody has to drive the chaplain’s jeep and keep the stock of altar wine and hosts current. As I said, I was spat upon at San Francisco International airport in May, 1968 and the spitter looked at me and the sergeant standing next to ,e and spat on me. pl

  36. LeaNder says:

    Pat, hmmm, interesting. I wouldn’t have realized. thanks.

  37. turcopolier says:

    Ah! Sorry. I thought the word was “marinated.” pl

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