Mike Muller is on the Advisory Board for Thuy Smith International Outreach. He is a Vietnam veteran, has a Ph.D. in psychology, and has counseled veterans for many years. He writes novels under the pen name of Michael FitzGordon.
Conspiracies and Patriotism
I have been and still am skeptical about most conspiracy theories. It seems to me that some people want to believe that there are various conspiracies perpetrated by extremely intelligent and powerful people who are controlling and manipulating world events. I think this is much more comforting to believe than the alternative, which is that the people running the world are not so very intelligent, that they actually have very little control, and world events are largely in uncontrolled chaos. The world is flying on a wing and a prayer.
In 1971 in Vietnam I briefed the Secretary of the Army one on one, and then listened to him and a three-star general discuss what was going on in Vietnam. They were both very good men. And they both had many sources of information. But they seemed clueless and uncertain. This undermined any illusion that I had that someone “up there” was in charge and knew what was going on. They sounded like two privates in the mess. I suppose that even if they had known exactly what was going on, the President would not have allowed them to do anything about it. No one wanted to start a larger war with China or Russia.
About ten years later at a conference I asked Walt Rostow, LBJ’s former Assistant for National Security Affairs, what plans they had for averting nuclear war. He just shrugged and said that they were trying to hang on and hope that future generations would solve this problem. Here again I was unable to maintain any illusion that someone knew exactly what was going on and was in control. I was depressed for several days afterward.
I recently watched Oliver Stone’s JFK (1991), which implies that there was a conspiracy of hawks within the government who assassinated JFK because he was soft on communism and was not going to send troops to Vietnam. I also watched the award-winning documentary, The Fog of War (2003), in which Robert MacNamara, the much reviled former Secretary of Defense, recounts at length his service in the administration before and after the assassination of JFK, as well as his work with Curtis LeMay during WWII. It has been said that the crazy general in Dr. Strangelove (1964) was based on Curtis LeMay, or at least his ilk of hawks in the military and government.
After watching these films I am no longer so skeptical of Oliver Stone. He may be exactly right. People seem to forget that the American war in Vietnam was engineered by “The Greatest Generation.” The administration and the highest echelons of the military were replete with WWII veterans. These boys had to be extremely tricky, sneaky, and paranoid to stop Hitler and Tojo, and I’m glad they were. But if there was a conspiracy of WWII hawks in the administration who assassinated JFK, they must have lived long enough to see what havoc, folly, and stupidity they wreaked in Vietnam. So much for being in control. So much for being intelligent. But they probably went to their graves blaming doves for everything.
As far as I can tell this is still one of the best countries in the world, and has the most freedoms. But it still leaves much to be desired. I am patriotic about the Constitution of the United States of America, and the checks and balances to protect against oppression and corruption. I am patriotic about the flag, and the republic for which it stands. I am patriotic about men and women who, for the sake of the ideals of freedom, and for others, gave so much. They gave their lives. There is no greater love. They gave their children. They gave their limbs and their health. They lived in pain from injuries and shrapnel in their bodies all the days of their lives. They lived all the days of their lives with PTSD and horror for all the killing and destruction and cruelty they had witnessed and sometimes perpetrated. But I am not patriotic about conspiracies, greed, stupidity, arrogance, hubris, violence as a national policy instead of a last resort, and wars based on false rationalizations.
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Mike Muller: MACV CORDS operations advisor, Binh Chanh District, 1970. Briefing officer for DEPCORDS Ambassador Funkhouser to CG & staff, III Corps Vietnam, 1971. In addition to briefing the staff he briefed visiting officials such as the Secretary of the Army. He was in Vietnam for one tour.
Michael’s Novel (For Kindle)