sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Monday, May 26, 2014

It's Time for Leadership in DC

America needs to find a new leader, and no, Hillary Clinton (who may or may not have recovered from her traumatic brain injury) isn't the one. Whoever America decides to have set the national pace and the national agenda - - it should be a person with an American heart. It would be nice if they had a real job before becoming President of the United States. It would also be nice if they had military service under their belts before becoming Commander-in-Chief. Is it asking too much?

I have a lot of friends from outside of the US and the consensus is 100% among them and those that they talk to that Barack Obama is a national joke. No, you won't hear that on MSNBC. Sadly, today there is more accurate information coming out of Pravda than there is from the American mainstream media and it breaks my heart to say it.

The VERY FIRST thing that I want to hear from the next US President is a comprehensive energy strategy that will take the nation to be the largest oil exporter in the world.  It is the only way that we can pay back the excesses of the Obama years and get on a firm footing. The next thing I would expect to hear is how we will be shrinking the US Government and empowering private business. Removing the capital gains tax completely for four years (guaranteed) would be enough to get everyone employed who wanted a job. 

I don't know if you've been watching the news but Russia and China have signed a $400 billion natural gas deal, and Iran is now offering to supply Europe's gas needs. 

There went any punch that the US had to sanction Russia over their annexation of Crimea. 

Russia and China said that "the West doesn't matter" and while that is not completely true, the new Russia/China Axis has been formed because of fouled up American foreign policy - ham handed in the best case and treasonous in the worst.

I'm weary of the ObamaNation.

Historical Context and Memorial

For distant places and people during a long forgotten war - for Memorial Day (in the USA) 

This is an appendix to my book, White Powder: A Novel of the CIA and the Secret War in Laos. But I thought that it might do, given the theme day.

There are a lot of forgotten little corners of the world that have seen war. While history and most historians focus on the big shows, the price paid in human suffering and national treasure in small wars remains something that haunts me personally. Small wars are almost all proxy wars, where a big power enables small people to fight their small war. Once the men are all dead, boys (and girls) will do. The average Laotian 14 year old looks a lot like a 9 year old in the West. But if they can carry and operate the weapon, it worked there in precisely the same way as it works in most modern small wars in Africa.

So this is to the small people in small places who were wheat, in-between the stones, when the large powers collided.

The War in Laos

historical context and precedence

In 1945, the United States transported the French Army to Indochina to reclaim the colonial possessions they lost to the rampaging Japanese Imperial Army during the Second World War. Ho Chí Minh’s dreams of an Indochina free from foreign domination were dashed and his Viet Minh began a guerilla war with the French forces, which continued to receive support from the United States. 

On May 7, 1954 the French suffered what was to be their last major loss in Indochina at Dien Bien Phu. Following their defeat, they slowly withdrew from Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia. Nature abhors a vacuum. In December 1955, the US Department of Defense established a disguised military mission in Laos called the Programs Evaluation Office (PEO) to get around the prohibition against foreign military personnel imposed by the 1954 Geneva agreement, which the United States had pledged to honor. The PEO worked under the cover of the civilian aid mission and was staffed by military personnel and headed by a general officer. 

Between 1955 and 1961, the PEO gradually supplanted the French military mission in providing equipment and training to the Royal Lao Army. With increasing numbers of Laotian officers receiving training in Thailand and at staff schools in the United States, there was a perception that the French military mission in Laos was a relic of colonialism. In 1959, 107 United States Army Special Forces soldiers of the 77th Special Forces Group (SFG) entered Laos in civilian attire and Operation Hotfoot began with the aim of providing ongoing training to the Royal Laotian Army in the field. In April 1961, the PEO was upgraded to a Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG), its members were allowed to wear uniforms, and the operational name was changed from Hotfoot to White Star. 

By the summer of 1960, Civil war had broken out between paratroop commander Kong Le and General Phoumi Nosavan. The Communist Pathet Lao supported Kong Le, while the US military and Central Intelligence Agency lined up behind Phoumi. Admiral Harry D. Felt, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet, put it this way: “Phoumi is no George Washington. However, he is anti-Communist, which is what counts most in the sad Laos situation.”[1]

At a meeting in Vienna in June 1961, President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev issued a joint statement of support for a neutral and independent Laos. At the same time, negotiators met in Geneva to try to work out the details. It seemed evident to the US Delegation that only United States personnel in Laos could ensure that the Royal Lao Army was capable of meeting the threat posed by the Pathet Lao backed by North Vietnam and the Soviet Union. 

In 1961 the Viet Nam War wasn’t the lead story on the evening news and wouldn’t be for three more years. The developing war in neighboring Laos was never to make a headline. It was a secret war, managed under the auspices of the Central Intelligence Agency. In Laos, the only cash crop was opium. Opium grown in Laos was purchased and refined by the Corsican Organized Crime Group known as the Unione Corse in clandestine laboratories in France and later also in Viet Nam. The distribution network it spawned was later coined The French Connection in popular print and film in the United States.

[1] Admiral Felt is quoted in Edward J. Marolda and Oscar P. Fitzgerald, The United States Navy and the Vietnam Conflict: From Military Assistance to Combat (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1986), pp. 24-25.