Monday, December 17, 2007

Some Good News, Some Bad News, and Some In Between

New Jersey abolished the death penalty today, a huge step forward for the state and nation, since ending the death penalty has become a hallmark and a benchmark of a civilized society in the twenty-first century. As a faculty adviser to Rutgers students who fought for this for years, I would like to thank all of them for their efforts in the state, first to establish a moratorium and then to achieve full repeal.

In Laos, there is a particularly ugly story of the "Good Old Days" of the Indochina war, which claimed millions of lives. Beginning in the Kennedy administration, the CIA, which was fighting its own open "secret war" in Laos, recruited thousands of members of the Hmong minority and paid them to fight against their government in the name of fighting against "international Communism." Some allegedly (I stress allegedly) are still around fighting against a Laotian military which, given the devastation that the country suffered, is not ready to forgive and forget, even though U.S. money and weapons pretty much ended in 1975. The Laotian government denies this, claiming that the jungle fighters are bandits (a reasonable point, since they were at the very least be in their fifties today.

What is so wretched about the story is the "memories" of former CIA handlers of the Hmong about their "loyalty" and bravery (to the CIA as against the country in which they were a part) and also the usual comments about the "Communist takeover" in 1945( no Communist movement ever makes a revolution or unites a country but wins out through conspiratorial "takeovers," a term which derives from the Nazi 1933 Machtergreifung (or seizure of power, translated as takeover) since the Nazis didn't want anyone at the time to confuse them with Communists, which postwar cold warriors did for propaganda purposes.

That a minority group was cynically manipulated in this way, which did them a great deal of damage and helped to keep a war going many years after it should have and could have ended, isn't mentioned. Nor is the death and destruction that the U.S intervention brought to the people of Indochina mentioned.

Finally, Joe Lieberman has endorsed Arizona's John McCain (not quite like Strom Thurmond in 1964 endorsing Arizona's Barry Goldwater, but in the same vein). Actually, I was hoping that he would endorse Mitt Romney or Huckabee who might nominate him for Vice President, making him the only man to run for the Vice Presidency of both major parties without really having too much to do with either of them.

Norman Markowitz

1 comment:

Doug said...

Joe L. is an opportunist just like any good capitalist.