Tag Archives: Counterinsurgency

Vietnam VI: Learning Curve

Vietnam VI: Learning Curve
Safe For Democracy

 
 
00:00 / 2:38:49
 
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And here we are, finally, finally making it to the end of the French War.

We still have Dien Bien Phu and the denouement to wrap up, which we’ll do in the next episode, maybe in the fastest-ever-produced next episodes, so fingers crossed there.

Like last time, I’m covering pretty much all the material that I’m trying to cover in these shows, so I don’t have any big ancillary stories to tell here in the notes. What we do have are maps and then later, like last time, all the videos that would normally have gone after the bibliography in the audio credits.

First, maps:

And the one that’s on my wall:

Then, videos. Like last time, if there’s audio, it’s (almost certainly) in the show. If there isn’t, it’s not, but I mention a couple of these specifically during the episode:

 

 

 

Bayart, Jean-Francois. “Africa in the World: A History of Extraversion.” African Affairs, 2000, 217-267.

Duncan, David Douglass. “The Year of the Snake: A time of fear and worry comes over warring Indochina.” LIFE, August, 1953.

Editorial. “Indochina, France and the U.S.” LIFE, August, 1953.

Ellsberg, Daniel. Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers. New York; Viking Press, 2002.

Fall, Bernard. Hell in a Very Small Place. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1966.

Fall, Bernard. Last Reflections on a War. New York: Schocken Books, 1972.

Fall, Bernard. Street without Joy: Indochina at War, 1946-54. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole, 1961.

Fall, Bernard. The Two Viet Nams: A Political and Military Analysis. New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1963.

Fehrenbach, T. R. This Kind of War: A Study in Unpreparedness. New York: Macmillan, 1963.

Fitzgerald, Frances. Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 1972.

Gaddis, John Lewis. Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of Postwar American National Security Policy. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Halberstam, David. The Best and the Brightest. New York: Random House, 1972.

Halberstam, David. The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War. New York: Hyperion, 2007.

Herr, Michael. Dispatches. New York: Knopf, 1977.

Hickey, Gerald Cannon. A Village in Vietnam. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1964.

Huntington, Samuel. “The Bases of Accommodation.” Foreign Affairs, 1968.

Karnow, Stanley. Vietnam: A History. New York: Penguin Books, 1997.

Lacouture, Jean. Ho Chi Minh: A Political Biography. New York: Random House, 1968.

Lacouture, Jean. Vietnam: Between Two Truces. New York: Random House, 1966.

Logevall, Frederick. Embers of WarThe Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam. New York: Random House, 2012.

Maclear, Michael. The Ten Thousand Day War: Vietnam, 1945-1975. New York: Avon Books, 1982.

Mus, Paul and McAlister, John T. The Vietnamese and Their Revolution. New York: Harper and Row, 1970.

Moore, Harold G., and Galloway, Joseph L. We Were Soldiers Once…and Young. New York: Random House, 1992.

Niehbuhr, Rienhold. The Irony of American History. Chicago: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1952.

Sheehan, Neil. A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam. New York: Vintage, 1988.

 

 

 

SFD Short—Land and Food and Capitalism

SFD Short—Land and Food and Capitalism
Shorts

 
 
00:00 / 39:16
 
1X

We’re talking about capitalism, and specifically the ways in which unrestrained, industrialized, late-stage capitalism like ours works to destroy, reconstitute and commodify widely-available goods, usually in such a way as to create a population that is so repressable, the state and its corporate partners don’t even need to repress it.

Big ask for one show. But it’s a reachable one, I think, and everything’s pretty damn interesting on the way there.

Sign up on Patreon.

RATE THE SHOW.

Enjoy this one, folks.

Some stuff that might be interesting to folks based on the episode:

Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food

The Mexican milpa planting system

And what’s kind of my experience thereof

A history of bread

Adult dorms

SFD Short—Abolish the Army

SFD Short—Abolish the Army
Safe For Democracy

 
 
00:00 / 35:14
 
1X

This is another one of those topics I’ve been thinking about for a long while, at least since I wrote this cute little essay sophomore year:

Offshore Balancing

And I think it ties in with what we were talking about a couple of weeks ago in the short on T. R. Fehrenbach. I mean what I say on this one, and it’s all there in the show.

Short notes this time, except to say that since I’m traveling these couple of weeks and won’t have even phone service, these shows are going out automatically and you could really, really help me out by sharing them since I literally won’t be able to do it myself. Also Patreon.

War on Islam

Wittingly, or, as seems increasingly likely, unwittingly, Trump is gearing up to start a war that his advisor Steve Bannon hopes will decide the fate of the world in a conflagration between Christian Capitalism and Islam.

Some of the preparation has been big in the news. They’re cutting the budget of the State Department, whose operations have already been crippled by the so-far incompetent Rex Tillerson and the refusal to fill key positions. Likewise, Trump’s proposed budget looks for an almost ten percent increase in the Defense Department’s year-over-year spending, giving it a larger proportion of the government’s discretionary cash than it had even during the Reagan administration.

Some preparations have been a little less-well publicized, like the way that almost a thousand American marines moved into Syria and may be coordinating with Russian forces there. And while Trump’s now saying that he might not torpedo the nuclear deal with Iran, he’s been pretty good so far about coming through on campaign promises, and that was one of them.

Now it might seem absurd, imagining that Trump, Bannon, and Co could conjure a war out of nowhere, but our last two major wars were made exactly that way, sui generis. We experienced a terror attack on 9/11, yes, but we didn’t invade Saudi Arabia, where the attackers were from and from where they received much of their funding. Instead, we attacked first Afghanistan and then Iraq, neither of which had launched 9/11. The Taliban had hosted al-Qaeda, sure, but so had, to a greater extent, Pakistan, and a goodly number of other countries. Iraq, meanwhile, had no connection, and we’ve still got troops there 14 years later. I don’t want to re-litigate the Bush wars, but just to point out that even on September 12th, 2001, a foreign war, let alone two, and against those particular countries, would have sounded just as nuts as it does now.

Continue reading War on Islam

Aftermath Part IV

Aftermath Part IV
Guatemala

 
 
00:00 / 2:09:19
 
1X

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Hey guys.

Welcome to the fifth episode of Safe for Democracy, the podcast about the foreign policy disasters of the United States in the 20th century.

This is the fourth part of a series exploring the violent aftermath of the US-backed coup against Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954, which was itself the subject of the first show.

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Maybe some photos this time for context?

Sure.

Up at the top there is General Efraín Ríos Montt, found guilty of genocide, hanging out with Ronald Reagan, who once said that the Guatemalan government had gotten a “bad rap” from the liberal press.

Reagan went on to give the man tens of million dollars in arms.

egp

Here we’ve got what’s basically the letterhead of the EGP, the Ejercito Guerrillero de los Pobres, or the Guerrilla Army of the Poor. Their actual emblem is up at the top left, Che Guevara’s Korda Photograph in high relief with EGP down at the bottom.

It’s not easy to see from college campuses in the US, but actual revolutionaries also revered Ernesto. Especially appropriate since Che participated in the Agrarian Reform in the 1950s, and it was the US coup in 1954 that convinced him that the only way forward against imperial powers like the US was armed revolutionary action.

organizacion_del_pueblo_en_armas_emblem

This is the emblem of the Organización del Pueblo en Armas, or the Organization of the People in Arms. I’m no expert in Guatemalan culture, but if its mythology is anything like Mexico’s, the volcano is a deeply national and deeply indigenous symbol of power and strength.

urng

Continue reading Aftermath Part IV

Aftermath Part II

Aftermath Part II
Guatemala

 
 
00:00 / 1:02:33
 
1X

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Hi, and welcome to the third episode of Safe for Democracy.

Which is the second part of the Aftermath, which, in four shows, is the second part of our overarching series on Guatemala.

Simple.

 

Last time we worked our way from the coup against Jacobo Arbenz in 1954 through the repressive regimes of Carlos Castillo Armas and Jose Miguel Ydigoras Fuentes and how they provoked the creation of a guerrilla movement and the way the State and the guerrilla came together in a conflagration of violence—in which the rebels got much the worst of things—towards the end of the 1960s.

This episode’s a little less dark.

Violence in Guatemala was cyclical: State repression provoked demonstrations and organizing on the part of the populace, which invited greater repression that tended to wipe opposition out. And in the lull after the greatest waves of violence gave Guatemalan society time to begin rebuilding itself, time and again.

Today’s show covers the last such lull that Guatemala would have for a very long time.

This time we’re looking at the growth of Liberation Theology and radical social Catholicism in Guatemala and the parallel and related growth of the pan-indigenous movement that gave Maya Guatemalans a commanding, national voice for the first time in centuries.

Continue reading Aftermath Part II

Aftermath Part I

Aftermath Part I
Guatemala

 
 
00:00 / 1:00:39
 
1X

Page Break

Hey everybody, welcome to Safe for Democracy and our second episode.

If you’ve listened to the first podcast, you know that we’d originally planned to do a quick one-two, one episode for the coup in 1954 and one to cover what happened afterwards. But history can balloon on you, and the material I wanted to breeze through in an hour and a half expanded to more than five hours. The script’s not done yet, but it’s over a hundred typewritten pages, and will be a good sight longer before it’s done.

Longer than my undergraduate thesis
Longer than my undergraduate thesis

So what we’ve decided to do is to break the Aftermath up into four parts, the first three being about an hour and the last one somewhat less than two. The feedback we’ve gotten on the first episode is that although everybody loves Dan Carlin, hour long shows are about as long as people want.

All of the shows of the Aftermath will have a bit more noise on them than I would’ve liked, but I recorded them in the quietest place I could get to in this Sierra, the bungalow of a fellow and still-active Peace Corps Volunteer, James Dykstra.

God, just look at him
God, just look at him

I’ve tried to strip out or avoid as much of that noise as I can, but bear with it; we’re talking a lot about campesinos in these shows, and a little bit of campesino ruckus on them can’t hurt too much.

As I release these every few weeks, I’ll have more time to get a headstart on our next topic, Operation Ajax and the coup in Iran, and I’ll have some breathing room to take care of other stuff in my life. Hope that works for you.

Now, on to the show itself.

Continue reading Aftermath Part I