Sailing under the Jolly Roger

Jack wrote this in September, 2006. An additional “comment” at the end.

One of the blessings of not knowing much about history, which most Americans carefully do not, is the blessing of not having to trouble one’s self with knowing how current affairs bear a lot of similarity to past events.

“Remember the Maine” was the cry that stirred up public sentiment for the Spanish American War.  The USS Maine was sunk in harbor by sabatage, which was the stated cause for that war, giving the US ownership of Cuba and the Phillipines Islands.

A couple of generations afterward, historians quietly discovered the incident was almost certainly perpetrated by the US Government.

“Remember the Lusitania” was the cry, along with the interception of the Zimmerman Telegram, that stirred up the US population against Germany and got the US into WWI.  Until those two events, the US was unsure even which side it would fight on, assuming it fought.  To this day, noone understands what WWI was all about.  It’s still a mystery to historians all over the world, except that it was clearly a doorway into WWII and the Cold War.

But by the 1980s, one fact was being quietly discovered by historians thanks to the US Supreme Court rulings involving the release of US Security Archives documents when security issues were no longer involved.  The sinking of the Lusitania, and the Zimmerman Telegram were not as they were represented to the American people  at the time.  The Zimmerman Telegram was a complete fabrication, created and released for the sole purpose of angering Americans and provoking them to enter the war in Europe.  The Lusitania was not merely an unarmed passenger ship attacked by the German navy.

“Remember Pearl Harbor” was the cry that got us into WWII.  Franklin Roosevelt’s famous, “Day that will live in infamy” speech was almost certainly written months earlier.  There’s absolutely no question among historians that Roosevelt and Churchill, in agreeing to cut off the Japanese Empire oil supply at Singapore, during a meeting in August, 1941, deliberately created a situation that left the Japanese no alternative other than an attack on the US.  The intent was to force a ‘surprise’ attack on US territory to stir up American opinion in favor of entering WWII.

One of the reasons I consider Roosevelt the worst prez in US history is the fact he miscalculated, almost losing us WWII before we got into it.  He intended the attack to come in Manila Harbor and warned the US Navy to prepare during September, October, and November, 1941.  Pearl Harbor was the surprise.  Sometimes people just don’t behave the way we want them to.

The Spanish American War didn’t need to happen, and the US didn’t need to be involved in WWI.  Neither would have happened without sleight-of-hand, trickery, and deliberate manipulation of public opinion.

The Japanese Empire did need stopping in 1941.  So did the 3rd Reich.  But the smart-alec rulers of this country couldn’t trust the US population to do what was right, they believed, without trickery and lies.

One out of three ain’t bad, I suppose.

Today, with the Internet and modern communications and investigative and forensics techniques, secrets are a lot more difficult to keep.

There’s a growing body of evidence world-wide, that 9/11 was planned and executed by persons inside the US Government.  If true, one can assume the motives for this atrocity involved stirring up public opinion to support a war.

One of the blessings of  knowing much about history, which I do,  is the blessing of not having to trouble one’s self about what’s going on in the world today.   It all rhymes with the past.



I failed to mention this one:

30-year Anniversary: Tonkin Gulf Lie Launched Vietnam War

Media Beat (7/27/94)

By Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon

Thirty years ago, it all seemed very clear.

“American Planes Hit North Vietnam After Second Attack on Our Destroyers; Move Taken to Halt New Aggression”, announced a Washington Post headline on Aug. 5, 1964.

That same day, the front page of the New York Times reported: “President Johnson has ordered retaliatory action against gunboats and ‘certain supporting facilities in North Vietnam’ after renewed attacks against American destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin.”

But there was no “second attack” by North Vietnam â_” no “renewed attacks against American destroyers.” By reporting official claims as absolute truths, American journalism opened the floodgates for the bloody Vietnam War.

A pattern took hold: continuous government lies passed on by pliant mass media…leading to over 50,000 American deaths and millions of Vietnamese casualties.

The official story was that North Vietnamese torpedo boats launched an “unprovoked attack” against a U.S. destroyer on “routine patrol” in the Tonkin Gulf on Aug. 2 â_” and that North Vietnamese PT boats followed up with a “deliberate attack” on a pair of U.S. ships two days later.

The truth was very different.

Rather than being on a routine patrol Aug. 2, the U.S. destroyer Maddox was actually engaged in aggressive intelligence-gathering maneuvers â_” in sync with coordinated attacks on North Vietnam by the South Vietnamese navy and the Laotian air force.

“The day before, two attacks on North Vietnam…had taken place,” writes scholar Daniel C. Hallin. Those assaults were “part of a campaign of increasing military pressure on the North that the United States had been pursuing since early 1964.”

On the night of Aug. 4, the Pentagon proclaimed that a second attack by North Vietnamese PT boats had occurred earlier that day in the Tonkin Gulf â_” a report cited by President Johnson as he went on national TV that evening to announce a momentous escalation in the war: air strikes against North Vietnam.

But Johnson ordered U.S. bombers to “retaliate” for a North Vietnamese torpedo attack that never happened.

Prior to the U.S. air strikes, top officials in Washington had reason to doubt that any Aug. 4 attack by North Vietnam had occurred. Cables from the U.S. task force commander in the Tonkin Gulf, Captain John J. Herrick, referred to “freak weather effects,” “almost total darkness” and an “overeager sonarman” who “was hearing ship’s own propeller beat.”

One of the Navy pilots flying overhead that night was squadron commander James Stockdale, who gained fame later as a POW and then Ross Perot’s vice presidential candidate. “I had the best seat in the house to watch that event,” recalled Stockdale a few years ago, “and our destroyers were just shooting at phantom targets â_” there were no PT boats there…. There was nothing there but black water and American fire power.”

In 1965, Lyndon Johnson commented: “For all I know, our Navy was shooting at whales out there.”

But Johnson’s deceitful speech of Aug. 4, 1964, won accolades from editorial writers. The president, proclaimed the New York Times, “went to the American people last night with the somber facts.” The Los Angeles Times urged Americans to “face the fact that the Communists, by their attack on American vessels in international waters, have themselves escalated the hostilities.”

An exhaustive new book, The War Within: America’s Battle Over Vietnam, begins with a dramatic account of the Tonkin Gulf incidents. In an interview, author Tom Wells told us that American media “described the air strikes that Johnson launched in response as merely `tit for tat’ â_” when in reality they reflected plans the administration had already drawn up for gradually increasing its overt military pressure against the North.”

Why such inaccurate news coverage? Wells points to the media’s “almost exclusive reliance on U.S. government officials as sources of information” â_” as well as “reluctance to question official pronouncements on ‘national security issues.'”

Daniel Hallin’s classic book The “Uncensored War” observes that journalists had “a great deal of information available which contradicted the official account [of Tonkin Gulf events]; it simply wasn’t used. The day before the first incident, Hanoi had protested the attacks on its territory by Laotian aircraft and South Vietnamese gunboats.”

What’s more, “It was generally known…that `covert’ operations against North Vietnam, carried out by South Vietnamese forces with U.S. support and direction, had been going on for some time.”

In the absence of independent journalism, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution â_” the closest thing there ever was to a declaration of war against North Vietnam â_” sailed through Congress on Aug. 7. (Two courageous senators, Wayne Morse of Oregon and Ernest Gruening of Alaska, provided the only “no” votes.) The resolution authorized the president “to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression.”

The rest is tragic history.

Nearly three decades later, during the Gulf War, columnist Sydney Schanberg warned journalists not to forget “our unquestioning chorus of agreeability when Lyndon Johnson bamboozled us with his fabrication of the Gulf of Tonkin incident.”

Schanberg blamed not only the press but also “the apparent amnesia of the wider American public.”

And he added: “We Americans are the ultimate innocents. We are forever desperate to believe that this time the government is telling us the truth.”


One response to “Sailing under the Jolly Roger

  1. Reblogged this on Becoming is Superior to Being and commented:
    Old Jules nailed it again. Thanks, Jeanne, for maintaining his blog. — kenne

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