Once again I have been absent from blogging for a while. I have a great deal to say and nothing to say. I watch the news obsessively, worrying about things over which I have no control. I have been binge watching a television show called “Madam Secretary” starring Tea Leone and feeling guilty about the time I have spent watching it, even though there is nothing else demanding my attention.
In a few weeks, I will do a zoom interview with one of the staff people at Harvard’s Social Studies Program. A group of five faculty started it 63 years ago and I am the last surviving member of that group, so I will talk for a bit about what I recall of its origins as part of their archive. Then in the fall, when the students return, they will arrange for me to have a zoom conversation with as many of them as wish to participate. That should be fun.
I have proposed giving a lecture next fall at the UNC philosophy department on the logical incompatibility of Kant’s theoretical philosophy with his moral philosophy, a subject I have been thinking about for the past 50 years or so and about which, so far as I know, no one else has written. I have just agreed to appear via zoom in a summer course being taught at St. John Fisher University in Rochester, New York in which the students will be using my textbook, About Philosophy. And I have just received through my email the text of a book written in English by a philosopher in China who wants me to read it and respond to his efforts to establish some sort of connection between Heidegger, Wittgenstein, Hegel, and Kant. That sounds like a lot when I put it on paper, but it does not really take much of my time.
The big news in my life is completely personal. I have taken the first steps toward arranging in-home part time care for Susan and myself. My Parkinson’s freezing has gotten a great deal worse, so that I cannot walk anywhere either in my apartment or outside it without my three wheel roller and I can easily imagine that before too much time has passed I shall need help taking care of her and perhaps even taking care of myself. Even though I am in a Continuing Care Retirement Community in which many of the residents use rollers or canes or wheelchairs and need help with their lives, I feel diminished and somewhat ashamed by the fact that I shall need help as time goes on. Since I have now lived just shy of 9/10 of a century (that makes it sound much more than simply saying that I am almost 90), I ought not to feel shame at having these needs but alas, I do.
There are a number of subjects on which I have things to say, including the issue of grading and artificial intelligence which I raised briefly in a blog post and which triggered a long thread of comments, but for some reason I am less moved to write and post my thoughts than I have been for the past 14 years of this blog.
Meanwhile, I wait impatiently for Trump to be
indicted again once or several times, I wait as well to see whether Biden has
the courage and the strength to invoke one of the several methods available to
him of unilaterally avoiding the debt crisis, I read of the large numbers of
medical students pursuing careers in obstetrics and gynecology or as primary
care physicians who say that they will not accept internships in states that
ban abortions, and my heart weeps at the sheer pointless cruelty being visited
on trans children and adults.
"In a few weeks, I will do a zoom interview with one of the staff people at Harvard’s Social Studies Program. A group of five faculty started it 63 years ago and I am the last surviving member of that group, so I will talk for a bit about what I recall of its origins as part of their archive."
Re "a group of five faculty": Moore, Hoffmann, Gerschenkron, you -- and who was the fifth?
When Biden declares the 14th amendment option lacks the due time, is he thinking aloud, repeating his counsel or bluffing, or something else?
There are two possibilities, and I have no idea which one is correct. One is that Biden is playing a deep game, trying to trap the Republicans into being intransigent so that he is "forced" to use the 14th amendment. The other is that is really caving. All I can do is wait and hope
The image of the good Professor “binge-watching” Madame Secretary is obviously—OBVIOUSLY—a sly nod to the plot of “Der blaue Engel” (1930), wherein an eminently respectable professor (Emil Jannings) falls in love with Marlene Dietrich’s legs.
This movie was (as everybody will recall) an adaptation of Heinrich Mann’s 1905 Novel, “Professor Unrat”; the movie and the novel both feature a professor driven over the edge by the behavior of unruly characters in his classroom. Hmmm …
And this from someone who has been posing all the while as an innocent consumer of mass culture, what with his praise of Vin Diesel and the like! Well, I’m afraid the Professor’s cover is blown.
(And now I find that I’m forced to go back and re-examine all of the Professor’s previous references to culture industry trash in order to discover their true yet hidden—Straussian—meanings …)
What does his past record hint at? If it were Obama I'd guess definitely yes. Biden was part of that Presidency- however I suspect Biden is more a decent man of the system than shrewd
When I read the professor saying that he was binging on Madam Secretary (Tea Leoni), I immediately thought of Hölderlin's line from Hyperion: 'The wise man loves Beauty herself'. I've only ever seen Leoni in her mid-90s show The Naked Truth, but I'd guess she still would command anyone's attention.
A number of folks have pointed out that the Treasury could issue consols. As I read 31 USC 3101ff that would be legal.
This would blow some minds but that's a good thing. Next time the Dems have a majority the idiotic debt limit needs to be repealed.
Prof. Wolff, have you considered an electric scooter? One of the folks on our road has one uses it in her house and on our road (dead end and private).
We have considered electric scooter, possibly for the future. I am not yet at that point but I may be before very long, if the disease progresses as fast as it has been. It is odd, despite my severe freezing, as it is referred to, I am intellectually alert and do not exhibit the characteristic frozen look that Parkinson's sufferers sometimes develop. We shall see. Thank you for the suggestion
E. Jean Carroll Seeks New Damages From Trump for Comments on CNN
Three observations about the ongoing debt limit talks
First, the Republicans have leverage
Second, their aim except a militant faction is to win the best deal, not to tank the economy
Finally, it is hard to tell if Biden is over his head or is a shrewd negotiator
"Second, their aim except a militant faction is to win the best deal, not to tank the economy"
And you know this how?
Anyway, if Biden gifted CJ Roberts with a bio of Andy Jackson, put together an agreement somewhat like like J.P. Morgan did in 1907, and started issuing consols the Reps would lose all that leverage." All it would take would be initial acceptance; then NBD.
Sometimes institutionalism needs a restart.
L. Stuart Hughes was also on the original committee
My original feeling that McCarthy's ideological nihilism would spell economic doom for us all seemed to hard to believe upon further reflection. Though you'd suppose the party that brought to you an insurrection would hardly scoff at ruining the economy, people in the business community I talk to assume everyone wants a deal and a lead Republican negotiator got quoted in the Times as saying everything will wait till June 1, which might be a frank admission of policy. Plus are they just winging it? Do they have a plan except outrageous extortion, did they have a plan on 1/6? Maybe you're right but we only have some evidence they're going to beat the house and bring it crashing down. We'd have to snoop in McCarthy et al's backstage and read their email, we'd need a spy to know for sure
What's your read? I go back and forth. The previous comment might count as a hypothesis
Re RPW comment @ 3:01 p.m.
Thanks -- Hughes's first initial was H. (H. Stuart Hughes) -- but that's a v. minor point. After you've done that Zoom interview for the archive, I wonder whether they'll make it accessible online...
Sorry. The L was a consequence of my shaky fingers. I believe the interview will be accessible online after it is over, as is the earlier interview with Stanley Hoffman.
You both perhaps already know this. H. Stuart Hughes was the grandson of Charles Evans Hughes, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (1930-1941), and Republican candidate for President in 1916, against Wilson.
I think I knew that but had forgotten. H. Stuart Hughes himself ran for the Senate in the primary (?) in Mass. in the early 60s ('62, I think). In his academic work he wrote mostly on 19th and 20th cent. European intellectual history. He left the Harvard faculty (just before I got there as a freshman [as first-year students were then called]) to go to U Cal San Diego after Harvard declined to give his wife tenure.
Is the term "freshman" now obsolete? Or not politically correct? Should it be "freshperson"?
I think they are now called "first years" or something like that. (At least at Harvard and no doubt other places too.) "Freshman" is not PC, just as the generic "man" to mean "human" is no longer used.
P.s. In the mid 70s Harvard and Radcliffe were completing their merger (which eventually resulted in the end of Radcliffe College and its replacement by an institute of advanced study w the Radcliffe name attached), but the term "freshman" hung on, I think, for quite a while. I don't know when exactly it was dropped.
Isn't it possible that Prof. Hughes decoded tp leave Harvard when he learned you were about to arrive?
Yes, Marc. Definitely.
Actually the course Hughes ordinarily taught on 20th cent European intellectual history was taken over by a young asst prof who had been his grad student, and I took it as a freshman. I didn't know about these academic-gossipy things at the time (it only became clear to me later).
Uh, oh. Our private thoughts may no longer be private. Welcome to the Brave New World.
Some more trivia regarding that silly trivia TV show.
Who are the Shakespeare experts among the readers/commenters on Prof. Wolff’s blog?
Last night, in the Masters Tournament, the Final Jeopardy question category was “Real people in Shakespeare.”
The question was:
In Shakespeare this man is a rival of Prince Hal; in real life he was older than Hal’s father.
Who knows the answer, without consulting Google?
None of the contestants had the right answer.
Andrew He was eliminated from the competition last night.
This leaves James Holzhauer (9 points); Mattea Roach (3 points); Matt Amodio (3 points)
Holzhauer is the 3rd highest winner overall ($2,962,216), with Amodio 4th ($773,733)
Ken Jennings, the host, still is 2nd ($4,370,700)
Brad Rutter holds the lead at $4,938,436.
All for answering silly trivia questions (many questions. very quickly).
My guess is the person on whom Falstaff was based in the Henry IV plays.
Good guess. Correct play, but wrong character. Falstaff was fictional. This character was a real person.
Hotspur was the Welsh rival of Prince Hal.
Anon., there are a number of entities (governmental, domestic, and foreign) that hold existing U.S. debt. It's reasonable to assume that they would prefer the U.S. not to default. There are also actors, domestic and foreign, who hold little or no U.S. debt who also share those preferences.
There would be quite a hub and bub if Treasury were to announce a sale of consols. These would, of course, go at a premium. If that offering was successful, that would be the end of the controversy save for the usual suspects. It would also be the end of the ridiculous debt limit extortion (the relevant section of the USC should be repealed as soon as the appropriate majorities are elected).
That's what should happen. What actually happens will likely be some stupid compromise that further harms the Republic. I hope I'm wrong.
Correct. Hotspur, Henry Percy, was the rival of Henry Bolingbroke, who became King Henry IV. Bollingbroke was the son of John of Gaunt, one of the many sons of King Edward III, who started the Hundreds Year War with France. Hotspur appears in Henry IV, Part One.
A number of years ago, I was in an OLLI class on the four plays of the Henriad--Richard II, Henry IV 1 and 2, and Henry V.
At one point, when we were discussing Hotspur and his various shortcomings, one woman kept defending him. Someone eventually asked, "Why are you always defending Hotspur? Would you like to be married to him?" She answered, "No, but I'd love to spend a weekend with him."
Very funny. If a movie had been made of Henry IV during the 1930s, Hotspur would have been portrayed by Errol Flynn. He was nicknamed "Hotspur" because of the speed and aggressiveness he displayed in battle.
I was wrong abut Hotspur's nationality--- He was English (from Northumberland). Owen Glendower was the Welsh rebel in Henry the Fourth Part One.
Given the way Hotspur interacts with his wife in 1 Henry IV, I'm not sure why any woman wd want to spend a weekend w him. But chacun a son gout.
In view of your interest in movies, you'll prob want to see Scorsese's _Killers of the Flower Moon _ later this year. WaPo had a piece on its premiere at Cannes.
Thank you for the movie recommendation.
I am also looking forward to seeing "Oppenheimer," who was grossly mistreated by the country he helped win WWII.
I just checked the Wikipedia article about the movie Killers Of The Flower Moon. The scrip[t is based on a book of the same name written by David Grann. Grann was the author of the book "The Lost City of Z" which was also made into a movie. Grann is a phenomenal non-fiction writer, whose attention to detail is legendary. A few week ago, 60 Minute had an segment about him and about his work ethic. He researches every last detail of his historic works, to the point of traveling to the locations he writes about and living there. Looking forward to seeing the movie.
Interesting. The WaPo piece mentioned that it's based on that book albeit w some tweaking of the emphasis. I can't easily link to articles on my phone, but if you search for that WaPo piece on the sensation and the atmosphere surrounding the Cannes premiere, it's worth a look. Scorsese is 80 btw. I'm not that big a movie fan or Scorsese fan but I will likely see this one.
Well, in a nail biter, James Holzhauer won the Jeopardy Tournament of Masters, edging out Mattea Roach by $2,000, and winning $500,000.
The Final Jeopardy question (really, an answer) in the category, Latin phrases in literature, was:
This 15th century writer used the phrase “Rex Quondam, Rexqua Futurus” in his work.
None of the contestants got the answer, but Roach, who was in the lead, bet big, dropping her below Holzhauer.
Anyone know the answer, without consulting Google?
I still have my copy, original edition no less, of H.S. Hughes' The Sea Change: The Migration of Social Thought, 1930 - 1065.
I think I dipped into that at one point, but what did you think of it (if you remember)?
It's got to be some monarchical theorist or publicist I suppose, bc the Latin means something like "former king [and or as] future king," but I don't know who it was.
Well I looked it up. I was a wee bit off (cough).
The phrase means, "The Once and Future King," and was adopted by T.H. White as the title of his boo about the Arthurian legend. The original author was Sir Thomas Mallory, author of Le Morte D'Arthur..
If you look up the English word "quondam" (taken from the Latin) in a dictionary, you'll find "former" as a definition. So the Latin _quondam_ could be translated with the English "former." So the phrase could be translated as "the former and future king." The "once and future king" sounds better, but it's not the only possible translation.
“Quondam” doesn’t get around much anymore but I see that RPW actually used it once on this blog—in a 21 January 2013 post in which he was highly critical of Henry Louis Gates’s scholarship. (LFC was one of the commenters on that post way back when.) In the intervening decade Gates has gone up and up in TV celebrity status with his “Finding Your Roots” program on PBS. It has always seemed to me that the show peddles a pretty simplistic historical sense (like Ken Burns, for example).
What do you mean by a “simplistic historical sense?’ I watch “Finding Your Roots” almost every week. Its subject is genealogy, which involves history only tangentially. And as for Burns documentaries, they make history available to the general public in a way that is engaging and informative, and, as far as I can tell, well researched. Why attack his documentaries, which achieve the challenging objective of being simultaneously informative, educational and entertaining?
This past week, on Finding Your Roots, the guests were Tony Danza and Terry Crews. Crews grew up in Flint, Michigan, and had a very traumatic childhood. He became a football player, then an actor, and now is host of America’s Got Talent. (He is also an accomplished flautist.) During his interview, Crews became very emotional and teared up. It was very poignant. His father was an alcoholic, and was often abusive to his mother. He also gambled on the numbers. When he won, he would come home with pizza for the family, and his pockets stuffed with cash. Crews remembered one morning when his father, after winning, came home around 1 A.M., with pizza for the family. He told his wife to reach into his pockets and she removed wads of money. They then kissed. Crews almost broke down, remembering that moment as one of the best moment in his life.
Traumatic and impoverished childhoods can have different effects on different children. I remember reading Ted White’s “Making Of The President 1968,” and the description of the childhoods of Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon. They both grew up in poverty during the Depression. Nixon’s experience made him a bitter, resentful and uncharitable adult. Humphrey’s experience made him a caring, charitable and politically liberal adult.
I've seen two documentaries by Burns and his collaborators in fairly recent years. I had mixed feelings about the one on the Vietnam War. The one on the U.S. and the Holocaust was, I thought, pretty good.
Historians are still squabbling about aspects of Vietnam, and ideological and political disputes about it are still simmering, which means that a "just the facts" approach is (1) not really possible and (2) inevitably going to attract criticism, which this documentary did. Still, if someone knew nothing about the Vietnam War, it would have been better for that person to watch this documentary than nothing, and some of the interviews were informative.
As I've mentioned before on a few occasions, there was really no such person as "Ted White." Just as there was really no such person as "Ted Roosevelt."
AS I was writing that, I was trying to remember your previous criticism: Did I use the name "Theodore White" and you said he was known as "Ted White," or vice versa. I guessed wrong.
In any event, a Theodore White by any other name would still write great books about U.S. elections, and would still exist, by whatever name he was identified. Does Mark Susselman not exist?
Yes, he was Theodore White or Teddy White.
"Does Mark Susselman not exist?" I guess I'll leave that to the philosophers...
Unfortunately, many of the philosophical commenters on this blog would prefer that Mark Susselman, by any name, did not exist.
Ceasing to exist would be drastic! I would merely echo the friendly suggestions to stay closer to the specific topic of the blog entry, and to moderate your word-count - which, to your credit, you have been improving on. (It's been a little while since I noticed a nearly-ten-part comment in a previous thread.)
I hate to scold, but I enjoy and admire Prof. Wolff's work on this blog, and don't want the goings-on in the comments section to exasperate him. (BTW, would love to see something on these latest Kant-related project(s).)
Sorry, Michael, I cannot resist the following:
During the Jeopardy Masters Tournament semi-finals. there was a moment of levity furnished by Ken Jennings, the host. The question was (I am paraphrasing): “This person was recently indicted for defrauding donors and filing fraudulent election financing papers." When the contestant gave the answer (I don't remember who gave the answer), Jennings stated: “This is the only time that I will ever have the opportunity to say 'George Santos' is correct."
Caring and charitable Hubert Humphrey was LBJ's vicepresident and as such, supported the genocidal war in Viet Nam (verdict of Russell Tribunal) as well as the imperialist invasion of the Dominican Republic.
No doubt he was more caring than Nixon, but that's not a very high standard.
I am pretty sure you know better, or should know better, regarding what you have written about Hubert Humphrey. Behind the scenes, he was opposed to the escalation in Vietnam, and so advised LBJ. As Vice President, he could not publicly break with LBJ, a predicament which many Vice Presidents have found themselves in. When he finally obtained the Democratic nomination, he did publicly break with LBJ, which cost him the support of LBJ during the campaign. He does not deserve your derisive comment about him in comparison to Nixon.
He could have resigned. He could have spoken out before the war became unpopular in 1968.
He was an opportunist and deserves to be ranked with Nixon.
I do remember what I thought of The Sea Change. I was finishing up my MA thesis when I got hold of it. It was, I think one of the first if not the first book on the topic of the migration of intellectuals to the U.S. before the war. I was into intellectual history and had begun reading Marx when I began my MA coursework. A few years earlier a prof suggested I read One Dimensional Man, so I did. While I understood maybe a paragraph a page at best during my read I remember being caught by the footnotes and that lead me to the Frankfurt Institute. Hughes's work filled in many gaps in my understanding of marxism's development after the creation of the putatively Marxist Orthodoxy in the Soviet Union.
All in all, at that time it was valuable read for me.
The linked article appeared in the Harvard Crimson on October 1, 1968.
“An immediate ceasefire. As an effort to bring our troops home as North Vietnam withdraws theirs, Humphrey predicted that as President he would "propose once more an immediate ceasefire."
“Free elections throughout South Vietnam. Calling free elections in South Vietnam "the ultimate key to an honorable peace," Humphrey opened his proposal to any party "willing to follow the peaceful process [of elections]."
Although Humphrey stated he did not "condemn any past decisions of Presidents," by his proposals, some of which are in direct conflict with President Johnson's views, he became the first Vice-President in modern history to break with a President publicly on an issue of major importance.
Just a short while ago Professor Wolff posted about Daniel Ellsberg and his serious illness.
We all lamented his condition and praised Ellsberg for having the courage to risk jail to release the Pentagon Papers.
Many of us have praised Professor Zimmerman for going to jail for his opposition to the same genocidal war.
Humphrey may have had reserves about the bombing, but he could have resigned and didn't.
He didn't even need to risk jail.
Eichmann in his trial claimed that he was not really in favor of the final solution, but he "worked within the system" to ameliorate it.
I classify Humphrey as being similar to the many Nazis who after World War 2 and the Holocaust claimed that they were always opposed to Hitler's policies, but preferred to use their inside influence to temper them.
Better than Nixon of course, but I do not have a positive opinion or image of his being
Thanks for the recollection.
I think it's actually not The Sea Change I've looked at -- I was misremembering. Rather, the two I've dipped into are The Obstructed Path and Consciousness and Society (by "dipped into" I mean something considerably less than reading cover-to-cover). Consciousness and Society covers figures that a lot of readers here will be familiar with, while The Obstructed Path is, as its subtitle says, about French social thought, 1930-1960.
You have no sense of reasonable proportions. Comparing the U.S. role in the Vietnam War to the conquest of Europe by Nazi Germany, and the Holocaust, and comparing Humphrey t Adolph Eichmann is both intellectually and morally indefensible.
Yes, I do believe that there is a difference between killing Vietnamese during both defensive and offensive military operations conducted in a country undergoing a civil war, from mass incarceration of civilians based on their religion and ethnicity, gassing them, and then incinerating their bodies. The fact that you cannot make this distinction, and the crass manner in which you make your case, exposes your bias, which has compromised your ability to offer a rational analysis.
Findings of the Russell tribunal
Below is the passage from the Wikipedia article in which the accusation of “genocide” was mad by Jean Paul Sartre, based on statements about U.S. intentions, not Its conduct. Nazi Germany went well beyond intentions in its massacre of millions of European civilians, and its incarceration, gassing and incineration of 6,000,00 Jews.
“Jean-Paul Sartre bases his argument for genocide on several reasons, but part of it rests on statements and declarations from US leaders and intention rather than conduct. "In particular, we must try to understand whether there is an intention of genocide in the war that the American government is fighting against Vietnam. Article 2 of the Convention of 1948 defines genocide on the basis of intention." And that "Recently, Dean Rusk has declared: 'We are defending ourselves ... It is the United States that is in danger in Saigon. This means that their first aim is military: it is to encircle Communist China, the major obstacle to their expansionism. Thus, they will not let south-east Asia escape. America has put men in power in Thailand, it controls part of Laos and threatens to invade Cambodia. But these conquests will be useless if the US has to face a free Vietnam with thirty-one million united people." Furthermore that "At this point in our discussion, three facts emerge: (1) the US government wants a base and an example; (2) this can be achieved, without any greater obstacle than the resistance of the Vietnamese people themselves, by liquidating an entire people and establishing a Pax Americana on a Vietnamese desert; (3) to attain the second, the US must achieve, at least partially, this extermination."
And to rely on Jean Paul Sartre as the arbiter of morality in international affairs is rather hypocritical, given that in 1941 he accepted a position teaching at the Lycee Pasteur by replacing a Jewish professor who had been kicked out because he was Jewish. Add to that Sartre’s reluctance to join the French underground to fight Nazis, and you are left with a human being who is hardly in a position to criticize others for allegedly committing genocide in “intention,” but not in deed.
“Genocide” is a word that was coined around 1944 by Raphael Lemkin, and it is a precise term, based on Nazi conduct toward Jews, Gypsies and others. It is defined in the UN Genocide Convention as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such.”
US conduct in VietNam was not genocide. US conduct toward many of the native American tribes probably would have been, had the Convention existed at the time.
According to a quick look at Sartre's biography in Wikipedia, he recuperated his position in Lycee Pasteur after returning to Paris after being a prisoner of war.
While Sartre did not fight in the French resistance, he cooperated with it as a writer. He wrote articles for Combat, a resistance publication directed by Albert Camus.
I've read a couple of biographies of Sartre over the years and you can blame him for many things, but he was clearly anti-fascist.
I find it strange or maybe not so strange that someone who is so indignant about Putin's invasion of Ukraine (and anyone who justifies it) is so willing to let Hubert Humphrey off the hook from serving as vice president during the U.S. war against Viet Nam, which seems
very similar to what Putin is up to now.
This is, I suppose, an ad hominem statement, but you are far removed from reality in your analyses and comparisons.
As a side point, of the roughly 6 million Jews killed by the Nazi regime, not all were gassed. Some died of malnutrition or disease in ghettos and camps, and a very substantial number were shot, e.g. by the Einsatzgruppen.
Re Vietnam, not genocide w/in the definition but the U.S. did commit war crimes incl use of defoliants, the Tiger squad (or whatever it was called), burning of villages, etc. See e.g. Nick Turse's book on this.
Here's a link to something about Lemkin, whose family was exterminated, and whose life was tragic and short:
We can all agree, I assume, that genocide is bad. We can also all agree that committing war crimes is bad. They are both bad, but not equivalent, And the fact that even bad things are distinguishable should not be lost sight of.
s. wallersteing is a proponent of Humpty Dumpty’s lexicography rule: “When I use a word…it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”
In skimming the comments on the professor's blog, I have more than once recalled my favorite Sartre story: When Sartre went to the podium at the Sorbonne (?) to address the crowd of striking students in May '68, he was handed a note. He unfolded it, and read: 'Sartre, be brief.'
I repeat: the Russell tribunal declared the U.S. guilty of war crimes and genocide in Viet Nam.
The vote was unanimous. Members of the tribune like James Baldwin and A.J. Ayer voted that the U.S. had committed genocide and war crimes. It's not just a crazy idea of Sartre.
In any case, this discussion is about Hubert Humphrey and whether he was a caring person, as Marc claims above and so it hardly matters whether the U.S. was guilty of war crimes and genocide or merely the former.
Humphrey was guilty of belonging to an administration which carried out a war of clear war crimes and possible genocide. Nixon headed such an administration, one which followed that of Humphrey. Humphrey did not resign or speak out except a little bit during his 1968 campaign when, as I recall, the war was already unpopular and thus, as a political opportunist, it was in his interest to question the war.
I agree and stated above that Nixon is worse than Humphrey, but that hardly makes Humphrey a model for anything.
I find Putin's invasion of Ukraine to be an excellent analogy. In both cases a powerful country invades a smaller one, which it expects to be a pushover, takes heavy casualties, meets a resistance that is surprising and commits very serious war crimes, including bombing civilian targets such as schools and hospitals.
If in questioning Humphrey's integrity, I touch a sensitive spot in you liberals, that's your problem, not mine.
I believe that I've said all that I have to say on this subject. I'm sure that Marc will try to sidetrack the issue again, but I'm finished here.
Vietnam was an imperialist venture, first by France (supported by the U.S.) foolishly attempting to reclaim its former colony that morphed into a civil war. The Soviet Union and the PRC (both imperialist powers claiming their support was "anti-imperialist") supported one side and the U.S. and ANZUS allies supported the other. Folks in the Eisenhower and Kennedy/Johnson administrations as well as the usual suspects actually believed in the Domino Theory and if Vietnam went communist then all of S.E. Asia would fall to the Reds. Given that one side in the civil war was allied with the U.S. and fought along side U.S. troops and that after "our" side in the war lost the U.S. accepted several hundred thousand refugees from Vietnam, "genocide" doesn't seem like a good fit. Anyone with a name can form a group, call it a "tribunal" or whatever and decide what it decides. That and five bucks gets one a cappuccino.
As is usually the case in civil wars and imperialist ventures, war crimes and atrocities were done by both sides.
One thing that should always be recalled is that Nixon committed treason by conspiring with the South Vietnamese government to sabotage the peace talks before the 1968 election. Johnson wanted out but Nixon wanted to be president.
I don't get the shade on Humphrey at this point. A performative resignation wouldn't have accomplished anything and might have been counterproductive. VPs in the 1960s were still in Barkley mode. Humphrey was instrumental in shifting the Democratic Party towards Civil Rights from the 1948 convention on, so there's that.
Ukraine is an imperialist war that is being conducted in a genocidal manner along with the usual war crimes that Russia excels in. Imperial Russia did genocides, the Soviet Union did genocides, and the Federation is continuing the tradition.
Perhaps the analogy is that nuclear powers lose wars and life goes on. Vietnam, Afghanistan, Afghanistan - no reason why the RF shouldn't keep up the tradition. BTW, after defeating the U.S., Vietnam went on to kick Cambodia around and send The PRC packing. Also I'm sure there's a warehouse in China with the proper street signs for Hǎishēnwǎi. Maybe there's a right-sized Russia in our future.
I agree wholeheartedly with your excellent analysis and its characteristic semantic flair.
For those who may be wondering what “Barkley mode” is, as I was, it has nothing to do with Charles Barkley, the basketball player. It is another of aaall’s esoteric references, and refers to Alben Barkley, the Democratic Kentucky senator who ran as the Vice Presidential candidate with Truman in 1948. When support for Truman was waning in the Democratic Party in 1947, Barkley gave the keynote address at the 1948 Democratic Convention which energized the Party, and resulted in Truman’s nomination for President, Truman selected Barkley as his running mate. They went on to pull off the upset victory over Dewey. Barkley stood by Truman during the Korean War, during which Truman’s popularity declined. When Truman decided not to run in 1952, Barkley sought the Democratic nomination, which the Party denied him because of his age (75). They nominated Adlai Stevenson instead, who lost to Eisenhower.
I too agree wholeheartedly with you on your excellent summary. No one has ever explained to me what Humphrey's resignation or statement of opposition to Johnson would have accomplished, other than insure that the Democrats would lose the blue collar vote sooner than they did.
I am shocked, just shocked to learn you have no "reasonable porportion". This coming from one who doesn't know when to stop is truly rich. Also, consider the source: the source whose source is Wikipedia. Slainte!
Christopher J. Mulvaney, Ph.D. (don’t forget the “Ph.D.”),
I am shocked, shocked at your, once more, taking a pot-shot at me. And you share with s. wallerstein the marked inability to make subtle distinctions between concepts. A lack of “reasonable proportion” when comparing historical events and evaluating the roles of those who participated in them, versus the lack of “reasonable proportion” in my tendency to engage in arguably superfluous comments about tangential topics are entirely unrelated and nonequivalent phenomena. Your inability to appreciate this distinction, in an effort to cast aspersion on me, is indicative of your cognitive dysfunction.
Marc Susselman, J.D., M.P.H. (yes, I understand, not quite a Ph.D.)
Christopher J. Mulvaney, Ph.D.,
David Zimmerman has a Ph.D.
John Rapko has a Ph.D.
Steven Gerrard has a Ph.D.
Charles Pigden has a Ph.D.
I suspect that R. McD, Ahmed Fares, DJH, and many other commenters on this blog, each has a Ph.D.
I suspect that even one or more of the Anonymous commenters has a Ph.D.
And last, but certainly not least, Prof. Wolff has a Ph.D.
(My apologies to all of the other commenters who have Ph.D.’s whom I failed to mention.)
You are the only commenter on this blog who has an insistent need to remind the rest of us that you earned a Ph.D.
Why is that?
I doubt very much that Christopher is showing off; I suspect that his email address is also a professional address. My wife, who was a clinical psychologist before she retired, had PhD in her email address. She did not have two email addresses. And she still uses it.
(She did have separate bank accounts, one personal and the other professional, a distinction that she ignored with great abandon, and was a pain in the butt every April 15.)
Yr. Obt. Svt.
Dave Palmeter AB, JD
Prof. Mulvaney's signatures on his comments to this blog are not part of an email. They have to be manually entered. And yes, he is showing off. It is pretentious.
You have informed us from day one that you are an attorney and about your fascinating case load.
Why can't Christopher Mulvaney PhD engage in normal self-promotion too?
I have a friend who is a historian and a PhD and all her emails carry an automatic signature with her name and academic title. It seems like a common practice to me.
Aaall above refers to Putin's genocide in Ukraine.
When I referred to the U.S. carrying out genocide in Viet Nam, a veredict reached by the Russell Tribunal by the way, several rushed to point out that the U.S. did not technically commit genocide in Viet Nam, merely war crimes and atrocities.
Putin has been charged by the International Criminal Court with various war crimes and crimes against humanity, but not with genocide.
Why such haste to deny genocide in Viet Nam and not to deny it in Ukraine?
Double standard. As Chomsky always says, look in the mirror first.
What would Humphrey's resigning have accomplished?
Moral integrity, something as insignificant as that.
Somewhat reluctantly (since it requires me to remember ancient facts and resurrects some of my ancient passions) some remarks on Vietnam:
First, the Humphrey position quoted by M.S. at 5:14 on 25 May, is essentially the US policy position that got it into trouble in the first place: the notion that there were two Vietnams (one of which was actually pretty much an American invention), a denial of the Vietnamese nationalist point of view as enunciated by Ho Chi Minh and by the NLF. Ancillary to that, the northern branch of the nationalist movement eventually was moved to intervene in the southern part of Vietnam once the US-installed southern regime accompanied by American personnel began to try to destroy the nationalist forces in the south. (A side note, I am connected with someone, a US military officer at that time who once nonchalantly described witnessing the torture and murder of suspects in the period when there were only American “advisors” there.) As to the point about elections, Humphrey was surely aware that the US refused to go along with the Geneva Accords on such a point, acknowledging that a Vietnam-wide election in 1956 would have seen the nationalists under Ho win big time. Even in 1968, an election restricted to the south would obviously have been an impossible thing for the opposition to the US to accept since it would have validated the American position. Likewise the notion that the north Vietnamese should 'return' to the north.
Second, with respect to aaall’s description of what was going on in Vietnam at 2:45 AM on 26 May, at least one difference between the engagement of the USSR and the PRC in Vietnam way back when and what the US and its allies were up to comes back to the fact that the former were supporting home-grown efforts at resisting a foreign invasion while the latter were supporting a puppet regime the US had gone out of its way to create. So while I agree it was a civil war of sorts, even that civil war was pretty much an American invention. (Maybe there are some parallels to other more recent wars and controversies here?)
"Why such haste to deny genocide in Viet Nam and not to deny it in Ukraine?"
Perhaps it would help if folks went to the wiki entry and read the section on Verdict 11: Genocide:
Reasoning seems light weight and bogus to me. Perhaps Marc will check it out. In any case what a group of intellectuals and activists did in 1967 hardly seems like it should be the last word.
With Ukraine we have genocidal deeds that match the genocidal words of Russian actors from Putin to captured calls and texts of Russian soldiers in the field. Totally different.
Not to engage in self-promotion or anything, but I have a Ph.D. (Fwiw, which may not be all that much.) Getting one was a mistake in my case as it turns out, but I do have it.
As for C. Mulvaney, his signature is not manually entered every time, because he's posting with his Blogger/Google account. So it's just the way he's chosen to have his name read on that account. I am not bothered by it.
Yr. Obt. Svt.,
(A.B., J.D., Ph.D.)
P.s. C. Mulvaney, afaik, is not a professor. Neither am I. Not everyone with a PhD has, or had, an academic position.
AS you indicate Sir Mulvaney has chosen to identify himself with the Ph.D. tag, which you have not. It is pretentious. Am I bothered by it? Not particularly, but when Sir Mulvaney picks a fight with me, I am primed to fight back. and do not hesitate to do so.
Per aaall’s suggestion, I have taken another look at Verdict 11 of the Russell Tribunal which concluded that the U.S. had engaged in genocide in Vietnam. The fact that the tribunal was composed of intellectuals, rather than lawyers and/or jurists, is not an issue with me. Private citizens, who are informed about the facts, have as much right to make such a judgment as lawyers/jurists, the only difference being that their conclusion is not legally enforceable. The verdict was reached by two members of the tribunal, John Gerassi and Jean-Paul Sartre. I have already addressed Sartre observations above, and the idea that one can be guilty of genocide based on alleged intentions, rather than actual actions, is rather ludicrous to me. President Carter could not be charged with rape because he admitted to lusting in his heart.
Gerassi’s first-hand documentary evidence that the U.S. had bombed hospitals, schools, and other civilian targets indicates that the U.S. had engaged in war crimes, but, as I, David, and aaall have indicated above, war crimes do not equate ot genocide, an it is important, particularly on a site devoted to philosophical issues and the proper usage of language, and the distinction not be eroded. This is not to say, of course, that genocide is deplorable, but war crimes are not, or that one is morally worse than the other. They are different, and the difference is important in a number of respects. It is not, as is often stated in law cases, a distinction without a difference. It is a difference with a distinction, and a distinction which matters. Genocide is the intentional and programmatic targeting of people based on their race, ethnicity, religion, and perhaps even their political views, for extermination. Intentionally bombing hospitals, schools and other civilian targets is, of course deplorable, but it does not constitute genocide, even if it is known that all of the occupants are likely to be of a single ethnicity, in this case Vietnamese. The objective was not to exterminate the Vietnamese people, but to achieve a military victory by killing Vietnamese people. Does this make it OK? Of course not. The Nazi program to exterminate the Jews, and the Turkish program to exterminate Armenians, was not done to achieve a military victory. It was done to reduce, and if possible remove, a particular ethnic/religious group from the face of the Earth.
So, which is worse, targeting a group of people for extermination based on their race, or their ethnicity, or their religion, or their gender/gender preference, or their political views? Or are they all evil to the same degree? It seems to me that targeting people for extermination by virtue of characteristics over which they have no control, and cannot change, is worse than targeting people based on characteristics they can control, and can change, if they wish. A person can choose to disavow disfavored political views in order to survive. It isn’t fair, but it can be done. One can renounce one’s political views or loyalties in order to survive. The same is largely true of religion – one can convert, as many Spanish Jews did during the Inquisition, in order to survive. (This did not save Jews from Nazi extermination. Under the Nuremburg Laws, if one had three or four Jewish grand-parents, you were a Jew, and condemned to death, regardless of conversion, and regardless on which side of your parents the grand-parents were,)
But one cannot change the ethnic group into which one has been born – whether Italian, or Irish, or Asian, or Jewish. The same is true of race and skin color, traits over which one has no control, and which one cannot change in order to survive, if even if one can “pass,” in order to survive. And one cannot change one’s gender preference, and certainly not one’s anatomical gender without unacceptable emotional and/or surgical invasions of one’s personal bodily integrity.
Please read the article on the Russell Tribunal with a bit more attention.
The verdict on genocide was unanimous and it says so in the article.
Gerassi and Sartre comment on it in the article, but the others, including A.J. Ayer and James Baldwin, voted the same way.
I understand that the vote was unanimous, but it was based on the rationales of Gerassi and Sartre identified in Verdict 11.
What you say is not specified in the article.
You're right, I am not a professor. i worked as a gypsy scholar from 1975 - 1983. I have held numerous positions on political campaigns including Deputy Press Secretary, Press Secretary, Chief field Organizer and Campaign Manager (My batting average is .800). I worked for 20 years for the Vermont Agency of Human Services, the last nine of which I reported directly to the Secretary of the Agency and managed Federal policy and funding. At the time the Agency was about a 1.9 billion dollar enterprise. In those years Vermont was consistently ranked among the best state human services system in the country.
In these various capacities I always used the appellation that graces my posts on Dr. Wolff's blog as the signature line of any professional / business correspondence. It it s a means of identifying myself that I have every right to use. I presume Marc does the same thing. His obsession with my choice of how I identify myself says much more about his resentment than anything else. His attempts to use those three apparently damming letters after my name as a means of attacking me would seem to indicate and degree of anti-intellectualism.
I don't read his posts. They are tedious, unrewarding and reflect the mindset of a cold war liberal who can not think beyond his ideology. So Marc, feel free to rant all you want. They are, to use a now antiquated expression, not worth the paper on which they're printed.
Sounds like a very useful/constructive career, and of course I wasn't intending to imply that being a professor is nec. "better" than other paths (since it isn't).
Your presumption is wrong. I do not sign all my communications or emails with my professional titles appended, and I have not done so on this blog. It would be pretentious.
And I will follow Shaw’s advice, and eschew fighting with a pig – I’ll only get dirty, and you will enjoy it.
Look at the article again - the heading states "Reasoning for verdicts" followed by "Verdict 11: Genocide," and then lists only two rationales, Gerassi's and Sartre's.
How about the lawyers put in Esq. after their names? They’re entitled to if they’re practicing attorneys, I believe.
It's a Wikipedia article. It does not follow up with the reasoning for all the verdicts or even that one verdict.
I don't believe that someone as sharp as A.J. Ayer would vote guilty on what Sartre and Gerassi say in the article. John Gerassi is the son of Sartre's friend, Fernando Gerassi, Gomez in Sartre's Roads to Freedom trilogy, a Spanish painter who fought in the civil war and went to the U.S. after the Franco victory. John was a leftwing activist and academic who wrote several books on Sartre and one interviewing him which I have.
In any case, our principle argument has nothing to do with why the Russell tribunal found the U.S. guilty of genocide or even if the U.S. was guilty of genocide or just simply of war crimes.
Our argument is about whether Humphrey was a caring person and in my book no one who played the role he did in backing the criminal war in Viet Nam can be described as caring.
It's the article you cited. Do you have link to the official report?
It's long and not the complete report, but if you want to read all this, great!
Marc, I, perhaps too loosely, characterized the participants in that "tribunal." My point is that I assume that few if any of the participants could survive an actual voir dire.
s.w., I still don't get why out of all the articles, books, speeches, protests, etc.this gathering of folks, many if not all of whom were on record about war and that war, is of any relevance a half century later? Wars break down all sorts of ways after all. Also mischaracterizing genocide diminishes it. Aren't self destructive stupidity and war crimes sufficient?
R McD, my understanding is that the internal divisions in Vietnamese nationalism were long standing. Besides our "puppet" felt free to conspire against our interests so there's that. I assume both communists and anti-communists are capable of sincerity, your mileage may vary.
This also occurred to me: Lyndon Johnson had a serious heart condition and there was there was a non-trivial chance of his tipping over from 1955 on when he has his first heart attack. Had Humphrey resigned and Johnson then died the Speaker of the House John McCormick would have become president. McCormick was Catholic, quite anti-communist, and a strong supporter of the war. Perhaps another reason not to engage in an empty gesture.
I suggest that folks go to the link s.w. provided and read Jean-Paul Sartre On Genocide.
A couch is defined as “an article of furniture for sitting or reclining.”
A sofa is defined as “a long upholstered seat usually with arms and a back and often convertible into a bed.”
A settee is defined as “a medium-sized sofa with arms and a back.”
An ottoman is defined as “a low, padded seat similar to a couch but without a back or arms.”
From the above we can conclude the following: All sofas are couches; some sofas are also settees, no couch, sofa or settee is an ottoman.
If we had a couch, and a sofa, and a settee in a room, with an ottoman, it would be inaccurate to say that they are all the same article of furniture, because they are not. And if a philosopher were in the room, and insisted that they were all the same article of furniture, it would not be inappropriate to say that the philosopher is either confused, or being intellectually dishonest.
Getting the use of words correct, and avoiding the misuse of words, are important. Failure to do so results in confusion, miscommunication, and, ultimately, intellectual chaos, which in turn can result in conduct which has negative consequences. This is something which philosophers, in particular, wish to avoid. This is something which this blog, in particular, is intended to avoid. As Prof. Wolff has stated, it has always been his professional objective to present complicated writings, and complicated concepts, in a clear and coherent manner, and to thereby eliminate, to the best of his ability, misconceptions caused by the misuse and misanalysis of language, and to advance critical thinking. That is, presumably, also the goal of those of us who read this blog, and who comment on it.
Genocide is defined as follows:
“Genocide is the deliberate and systematic destruction of a group of people because of their ethnicity, nationality, religion, or race. The term, derived from the Greek genos (“race,” “tribe,” or “nation”) and the Latin cide (“killing”), was coined by Raphael Lemkin, a Polish-born jurist who served as an adviser to the U.S. Department of War during World War II.
“Although the term itself is of recent origin, genocide arguably has been practiced throughout history (though some observers have restricted its occurrence to a very few cases). According to Thucydides, for example, the people of Melos were slaughtered after refusing to surrender to the Athenians during the Peloponnesian War. Indeed, in ancient times it was common for victors in war to massacre all the men of a conquered population. The massacre of Cathari during the Albigensian Crusade in the 13th century is sometimes cited as the first modern case of genocide, though medieval scholars generally have resisted this characterization. Twentieth-century events often cited as genocide include the 1915 Armenian massacre by the Turkish-led Ottoman Empire, the nearly complete extermination of European Jews, Roma (Gypsies), and other groups by Nazi Germany during World War II, and the killing of Tutsi by Hutu in Rwanda in the 1990s.”
The key point, as I noted in a previous comment, is that it is a systematic killing of large numbers of people based solely on certain of their characteristics, many of which, but not necessarily all (the refusal to surrender to a military victor, for example), they have no control over – they were born with them.
OOn aaall’s suggestion, I read what Jean Paul Sartre had to say about genocide in the report of the Russell Tribunal which s. wallerstein linked to. The focus of the tribunal, and of Sartre’s contribution to the report, was to determine whether the United States and its allies had engaged in genocide during the military operations in Vietnam. And, as s. wallerstein has pointed out, the tribunal – composed of many highly regarded intellectuals, authors, philosophers and cognoscendi – concluded that they had. At the beginning of Sartre’s analysis he states: “Hitler had declared a deliberate plan to exterminate Jews; he did not conceal the fact that he was using genocide as a political tactic. The Jew had to be put to death, wherever he came from, not because he had taken up arms or had joined a resistance movement, but just because he was a Jew.” This is in keeping with the above definition of “genocide” and is a paradigm example of what constitutes genocide.
He proceeds to engage in a lengthy discussion of the history of warfare and of colonialism, stating, “It naturally follows that the colonized lose their national personality, their culture, their customs sometimes even their language, and live in misery like shadows constantly reminded of their own sub-humanity. Yet their value as virtually free labour protects them to a certain extent from genocide.” Which makes sense – the master does not want to kill all the hands that feed it.
He then states the following: “There do exist, however, cases where the genocidal solution to popular wars is not held back by innate contradictions. Total genocide then reveals itself as the foundation of anti-guerilla strategy. And, under certain circumstances, it would even present itself as the ultimate objective, either immediately or gradually. This is exactly what has happened in the war in Vietnam. This is a new aspect of the imperialist process, one usually called neocolonialism because it is defined as aggression against an old colonial country, which has already attained its independence, to subject it once again to colonial rule.” So now, colonialism, and the U.S. goal in Vietnam, elide into genocide.
Now, there is no dispute that the U.S. committed war crimes in Vietnam – indiscriminate bombing of hospitals, schools, and civilian sites constitute war crimes. But war crimes do not automatically equate to genocide, although some may, just as not all sofas are settees, although some are, and no settees are ottomans, and a philosopher who equates the two, is, as I said above, either confused or intellectually dishonest.
Do the war crimes which the U.S. and its allies committed in Vietnam constitute genocide, as defined above? The war crimes clearly resulted in the death of a lot of Vietnamese, including a lot of Vietnamese civilians. But were they targeted because they were Vietnamese, a characteristic over which they had no control, i.e., where they were born? No, they were targeted because they happened to live in a part of Vietnam which was aligned with one or the other political cause – the North to convert the South into a Communist state, and the South committed not to be converted into a Communist state. Does this equate to any of the examples of historical genocide included in the definition above? It does not equate to the Ottoman indiscriminate slaughter of Armenians, who were killed simply because they were Armenian, not because they aligned themselves with one political faction or another. But then does it not equate to the mass slaughter of a population by a conqueror, as in the case offered by Thucydides of the Athenian slaughter of the people of Melos because they refused to surrender? But according to Thucydides, when Melos refused to surrender, and then reconsidered and did surrender, the Athenians killed all of the men of Melos and enslaved the women. Is that what the U.S. and its allies did in Vietnam? Yes, they killed a lot of Vietnamese, both military and civilian, but did they massacre all of the Vietnamese, either in the South or in the North? Clearly not, since both populations are thriving today in a unified Vietnam.
I can hear s. walletrstein yelling at me in disgust and outrage, “So, Susselman, you claim killing thousands of innocent Vietnamese civilians is not bad enough to constitute genocide. This is an immoral quibble that marks you as a degenerate.” Well, yes, I do quibble over whether the killing of thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of people of a particular ethnicity constitutes genocide, just as I would argue that a sofa is not necessarily a settee, nor is it an ottoman, and to equate them, as Sartre has done, is intellectual dishonesty.
Why would Sartre and his colleagues accuse the U.S. and its allies of committing genocide in Vietnam, rather than being satisfied with just accusing the U.S. and its allies of committing war crimes? Why? Because they have an agenda. Yes, committing war crimes is deplorable and a stain on a country’s legacy, but to combine that with genocide, what the Nazis did, that is an irredeemable sin that stigmatizes the county for generations, if not forever. Sartre ends his “analysis” with the following passage: “In this context, the imperialist genocide can become more serious. For the group that the Americans are trying to destroy by means of the Vietnamese nation is the whole of humanity.” Yes, the U.S., the incarnation of capitalism, is committed to destroying the whole of humanity. It is a pariah state, not worthy of any respect, and every endeavor it undertakes in world affairs is to be rejected for its barbarism. Who can trust a country which, like the Nazis, would commit genocide on another nation? This, from a Nobel laureate whose opinion holds sway over thousands of others, who adore and admire his intellect and literary achievements, and who hang on his every word, such as s. wallerstein. It is intellectual rubbish, transmogrifying a settee into an ottoman.
I don't hang on every word of Sartre, as you claim I do.
However, if I have to opt between Sartre (these days I prefer Simone de Beauvoir) and Hubert Humphrey as a model, I go with Sartre.
These conversation started with my criticizing your characterization of the war criminal (but perhaps not participant in genocide) Humphrey as "caring". Neither you nor aaall have shown that Humphrey is not a war criminal.
And by the way, if you're so exact in your use of the word "genocide", why not criticize aaall when he characterizes what Putin is doing in Ukraine as genocide. There's no evidence of genocide there, many war crimes and lots of atrocities, just like the U.S. in Iraq and Viet Nam.
Prof Wolff has said, as I recall, that he wants to present complicated ideas clearly so that people can see the "beauty" and power of certain ideas. (I myself tend not to think of ideas as "beautiful," but Prof Wolff does.)
Prof Wolff has never said, again as best I can recall, that he wants to present complicated ideas clearly to avoid problems arising from the "misanalysis" of language. That's not the way he has put it. He might agree that getting language etc. clear is important but that's not how he has framed it in remarks here, again as I recall.
P.s. This has nothing to do w the merits of the argument about genocide, and in fact I didn't go through the bulk of your long posts just above on this.
It was you who made the transition from accusing Humphrey of being a war criminal, to worse, stating in this thread on 5/25, at 5:27 PM:
“Eichmann in his trial claimed that he was not really in favor of the final solution, but he ‘worked within the system’ to ameliorate it.
“I classify Humphrey as being similar to the many Nazis who after World War 2 and the Holocaust claimed that they were always opposed to Hitler's policies, but preferred to use their inside influence to temper them.
“Better than Nixon of course, but I do not have a positive opinion or image of his being caring".
(It was at this point that I stated “you have no sense of reasonable proportion,” to which Sir Mulvaney took offense and engaged in his typical intellectual dishonesty by accusing me of calling the kettle black, conflating incomparable forms of behavior.)
Hence, you were comparing Humphrey to Eichmann and other Nazis who supported a regime which engaged in genocide, thereby accusing Humphrey, as Vice President, of supporting a county which engaged in genocide in Viet Nam. You then referred me to the report of the Russell Tribunal, in which Sartre was a principal participant. When I took issue with Sartre, you defended him. Your claim now, that this dialogue has only been about whether Humphrey was a “caring” person, exposes an intellectual dishonesty as irritating as Sartre’s.
Regarding the Russia/Ukraine conflict, I stated above, “[W]ar crimes do not automatically equate to genocide, although some may.” This is the case regarding what Russia is doing in Ukraine, where it has bombed more hospitals, schools, apartment buildings, and civilian centers generally than the U.S. did in Viet Nam. Moreover, it is not just confined to particular sectors in Ukraine, as the U.S. bombing in North Vietnam was confined. It is throughout Ukraine, and every major population center in Ukraine. In addition, the bombings in Ukraine are not merely because of their political ideology – it is because they are Ukrainian, period. That is genocide. And this is not a quibbling difference between what Russia is doing in Ukraine and what the U.S. and it allies did in Vietnam. It is a significant difference that you have been willing to blind your eyes to, another demonstration of your intellectual dishonesty.
I am quite amazed at your comment. Yes, Prof. Wolff has stated that he “wants to present complicated ideas clearly” in order to reveal their beauty. How, may I ask, are ideas expressed? They are expressed using language, and presenting complicated ideas clearly entails making the language in which they are expressed clear, which entails making them coherent, which is precisely what I wrote: “As Prof. Wolff has stated, it has always been his professional objective to present complicated writings, and complicated concepts, in a clear and coherent manner, and to thereby eliminate, to the best of his ability, misconceptions caused by the misuse and misanalysis of language, and to advance critical thinking.” Why are you picking a fight with me over this rather self-evident proposition?
I'm not picking a fight. Given the length of this thread, I'll just drop it.
Btw -- another zillion comments anyone? -- Henry Kissinger is turning 100 and his son has an op-ed in Wash Post about his father's "guide to longevity." I haven't read it but the title is gag-inducing.
Please, yes you are. You selected a single statement out of a long comment, made a specious criticism, admit you have not read the entire comment, and then beg off, pretending you did not pick a fight. You are being disingenuous.
Why should it be necessary to fight the fight against the US war on the Vietnamese all over again—perhaps because it’s given rise to myths that refuse to die even when stakes have been driven throught their evil hearts? That’s something I think about every time I see that lying flag flying at some public site—the flag the pre-trumpite Perot played such a part in propagating, summoning the American people to remember the mostly non-existent missing in action and the left behind in Vietnam, that urges people to remember those war criminals captured and incarcerated in north Vietnam while ignoring the fact that, just following orders, no doubt, they were indiscriminately bombing civilians en masse from the safety, they hoped, of 35,000 feet. (This is the point at which apologists leap in to talk nonsensically about precision bombing, I suppose.)
But to my point—though I don’t really know why I bother since I gather from some comments on this blog that many just ignore the offerings of marc susselman regularly places at the shrine of self worship? I bother, I suppose, because too many seem to have forgotten the horrors of Vietnam, and (as a recent NYRB discussion of Celine's anti-semitism worriedly concluded) there are perhaps some innocents among us who may not be aware of even quite recent history.
susselman is evidently one of these innocents, or a victim, perhaps, of the decades-long attempts to whitewash what the US and its allies did in Vietnam, for how else could he write such absurdities as “the US bombing in North Vietnam was confined”? Tell that to the Vietnamese. Besides, the bombing of Vietnam extended far beyond the north. Has he forgotten those reports and depictions of “carpet bombing”? Such bombing campaigns didn’t need to target specific sites such as hospitals or civilian centers. They just obliterated everything. And what about all those anti-personnel weapons that simply killed every human being in areas larger than football fields—again weapons that were used indiscriminately, all just to destroy and terrorise. And we haven’t even got to the genocidal chemical, biological, and ecocidal attacks across Vietnam. So how dare susselman make the claims he does. Has he no decency?
It’s things like this—the things that actually were done to the Vietnamese, north and south, the lies during the war and the subsequent misrepresentations and the media attempts, in tv series and the like, to evoke sympathy for the perpetrators—that makes me side with s.w. in what’s been said here. I don’t know how to discriminate between the war criminality of LT. Calley, John McCain, Hubert Humphrey, Kissinger, Nixon, Johnston, etc. etc. I wish it made sense to say I’d leave that to courts to judge their culpability and impose an appropriate punishment. But that was never going to happen. Though it’s a bit rich that some of those who were happy to be in the company of such war criminals and are happy to celebrate their birthdays are now calling for other war criminals to be judged by an international court they themselves repudiate.
When in some distant time historians less imprtisoned by their own national myths and national necessities study the USA, I imagine they’ll have much to say about how Vietnam, for one, so corrupted the American political imagination in subsequent generations that it significantly contributed to the decay of its political system.
My point was that you seemed to imply that Wolff framed his aim as the clarification of language. That's not how he framed it. That doesn't mean he's opposed to it, it's just not what he emphasized. Obviously different philosophers who value "clarity" have emphasized different approaches to it and to why they think it's a good thing. Wolff is in favor no doubt of eliminating misconceptions arising from the misuse of language, as you put it, but it's not what he's emphasized, at least as I recall. So my comment, far from being specious, was simply a comment on how you chose to preface another discussion of the question of genocide in Vietnam.
And btw you should have the common sense to realize by now what s.w.'s general worldview is. He's not going to change it. I don't agree with everything he writes by any means but I recognize that these long exchanges w him are basically pointless. His views are not going to change and neither are yours, and the result is simply a lot of wheel-spinning.
Kissinger: just yesterday I saw in the Chilean media (I don't know if it appeared in the U.S. media) the until now unknown news of a secret meeting between Kissinger and Pinochet in 1976 where Kissinger praised the work carried out by Pinochet and informed him that "we" are 100% behind him.
I emphasis the date, 1976, because there were some in 1973 before and immediately after the coup who imagined that Chile was different than any Latin American countries, that the military junta was going to call for elections in 6 months, round up the trouble-makers and send them into exile instead of instituting censorship, closing congress for 17 years and exterminating the opposition.
Today (27 May) is also the birthday of Hubert Humphrey (born 1911), who has received some discussion recently on this blog.
You're right about my conversations with Marc.
I try to avoid these long useless arguments, but it's a hard habit to kick.
Re r.m. and M.S.
It's an established fact that precision guided munitions did not come into use until after Vietnam, so there was no precision bombing. Most of the facts about the conduct of the war by all sides are by now well known and not in dispute.
Humphrey was not an architect of the war and did not play much of a role in formulating policy, unlike Bundy, McNamara, Rusk, Rostow, LBJ, the Jt Chiefs, Nixon, Kissinger et al. So in that sense he doesn't have the same level of culpability. But at this remove this kind of discussion borders on the pointless.
This is all started bc MS said something favorable about Humphrey and s.w. objected. The whole debate is absurd bc anyone w any historical insight shd acknowledge that LBJ and Humphrey shd get credit for what they did e.g. on civil rights even while also taking acct of everything else.
Well, r.m., whoever the hell you are (why not tell us your name), does Susselman have no decency? If you are an American, and old enough, did you go to Washington, D.C., to march in protest against the Vietnam War, as I did? Get off your sanctimonious high horse. The issue which s. wallerstein raised was whether the war crimes which the U.S. committed in Vietnam constituted genocide. I disputed that characterization, as did David Palmeter and aaall. None of us have defended what the U.S. did in Vietnam, and none of has denied that the U.S. committed war crimes in Vietnam. There is a difference between genocide and the commission of war crimes, and s. wallerstein’s and Sartre’s efforts to equate the two is intellectually dishonest. And I stand by what I have written – the U.S. did not commit genocide in Vietnam, unlike what Russia is doing in Ukraine. The carpet bombing you refer to was limited to Vietcong military installations, which were sparsely populated – compared to Russia’s repeated bombing of Ukrainian population centers. Russia has bombed Kiev several times; the civilian deaths in Ukraine are over 9,000. The U.S. bombed Hanoi one time, the Christmas of 1972, killing 1,400 civilians. Many military authorities were demanding that the U.S. enlarge its bombing missions and put a final end to the war. LBJ refused. Is this an apology for U.S. war crimes in Vietnam. No it is not, and I will pit my anti-war activities during the conflict against yours – whatever they may have been – any time.
I don't know if you are willing, but if you are, the next time I get into a pointless
arm wrestling contest with Marc, I'm asking you as a favor to ask us to "break it up".
I promise to abide by your rulings. I know that you're not the moderator, but what occurs in this blog is one of the best refutations of anarchism as a viable political option that I've witnessed. Hobbes was a very perceptive thinker.
Just to pass along Jeffrey St. Clair's (the editor of Counterpunch) newly posted tribute to Kissinger: "The best biographies of Henry Kissinger are Hersh's The Price of Power and Greg Grandin's Kissinger's Shadow. But if you want to hear it from his own mouth listen to the Nixon White House tapes where you get the unvarnished Kissinger–vain, sycophantic, manipulative, deceitful, pathologically violent."
s.w., You clearly haven't been paying attention to the actual words of Putin, et al on Ukraine and Ukrainians. According to the relevant UN agency on genocide we have this:
In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
Killing members of the group;
Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group"
So it would seem that Russian words and deeds on and in Ukraine are genocidal according to the UN. Chinese behavior in Tibet also fits the bill as would past U.S. and Canadian treatment of their indigenous populations.
This is from the ICC:
"1. The perpetrator planned, prepared, initiated or executed an act of aggression.
2. The perpetrator was a person in a position effectively to exercise control over or to direct the political or
military action of the State which committed the act of aggression."
Not all vice presidents are equal. E.g. I don't see how Humphrey fits the above while Cheney clearly does.
Back in the day I knew some Hungarians and Cubans for whom it would always be Budapest and 1956 or Havana and 1959. Sartre's attempt to make sense of matters is just sad. There are folks on the Right who seem to believe the Third International is still a thing. For some Vietnam was traumatic and trauma is often hard to get past. Vietnam was part of something, it wasn't everything.
r.m., there's a reason why Poland, the Baltics, etc. insisted on joining NATO. Check out how many died because of the Chinese revolution. Not all of the mid-century blood is on U.S. hands.
And besides Vietnam and in honor of our new centenarian perhaps we should reflect on our role in the war crimes in Indonesia and East Timor.
I'm not going to comment comparatively on Vietnam vs. the war in Ukraine, for a couple of reasons, one of which is that the latter is still unfolding.
On Vietnam, I think it is somewhat misleading to approach it as a matter of discrete war crimes: a Mylai massacre here, a burned village there. Rather, if you look at the overall picture of how the war was fought from the air, the net effect of the bombing, the use of defoliants and napalm etc. was to render swaths of the countryside uninhabitable. The U.S. had "command of the air" so of course it was going to use air power. And it's true that LBJ resisted some things that his military people wanted to do and put certain limits on bombing and sometimes insisted on picking targets himself. Even so, as McNamara observed, the US dropped more bomb tonnage in Vietnam than it did in the entirety of WW 2. And when you drop that much tonnage on a small mostly agrarian country, before the era of precision munitions, the result will be devastation and a lot of civilian deaths (not nec intended but forseeable). Then there was the bombing of Cambodia, estimated to have killed about 150,000 civilians.
More blather from someone who can’t differentiate between outrage and sanctimony. Neither is his memory or his research of much value.
As to war criminals and post-facto war criminals (i.e., those who justify war crimes by painting them in softer hues, blood red becomes pale pink), tyake note:
As to whether carpet bombing “was limited to Vietcong military installations”:
—to quote from the latter: “””Carpet” bombing by B-52’s has left some 23 million moonlike craters averaging 25 feet in depth and 40 feet in diameter. Ten percent of South Vietnam’s rice lands have been destroyed by this procedure.”
To be sure, the NLF—the term those of us who were really opposed to the war used, not the pejorative US term “Vietcong”—were everywhere, and every man, woman and child who opposed the US and its puppet regime was therefore, I suppose, in the blatherer’s understanding, a ”military installation.”
Hard times, hard memories (at least among some of us).
Well I cd say "break it up" but I don't know that all relevant parties wd listen. ;)
I will listen to what you say, as I did to your comment above about us arguing pointlessly.
I'm out of this conversation.
If I could quit smoking, quit drinking, quit white sugar and cut down drastically on artificial sweeteners, I can quit these toxic arm wrestling contests.
Now I am referred to as the “blatherer,” by someone who does not have the spine to identify him/herself.
As LFC notes, precision bombing was not available during the Vietnam War. It is available now, and Putin is using it and drones to deliberately target hospitals, schools, apartment buildings, and civilian population centers. He is not doing this to support one side in a civil war against another, as was the case in Vietnam. There was no civil war in Ukraine. He is doing it because the Ukrainian people and their government had the audacity to declare their sovereignty apart from Russia. His attack on Ukraine is an attack on the Ukrainian people, as Ukrainians.
LFC, I understand your disinclination to engage in a comparison, though I’m unclear where that leaves you when it comes to evaluating and responding to something that is unfolding. Might that not unintentionally imply that one can only judge what has already unfolded.
Thanks, however, for joining my references to what the US actually did to the Vietnamese. 3,000,000 dead and god knows how many maimed or otherwise injured.
aaall, thanks for your brief definition of genocide; thanks also for your reminder of Indonesia and East Timor. I’m not actually as narrowly bound to a particular past as my responses to some outrageous remarks regarding Vietnam may have led you to think. I’m old enough to have witnessed many hard times and the bitter memories keep accumulating.
Finally, susselman, since I’ve learned that you employed various pseudonyms on this blog over the years until the blog owner identified you, it’s a bit rich for you to complain that someone else doesn’t use his/her full name. Your self-righteous ridiculousness never ceases to amaze me. As to precision bombing, I still take that to be a euphemism designed to make those whose country is doing such things feel good about themselves; it does little to minimise the death and injury that’s actually perpetrated.
I no longer hide behind a pseudonym, as you are doing.
And you have still not disclosed what you did during the Vietnam War to express your "outrage.' How many time did you march in protest? What risks did you take? Talk about blather.
To rise to your bait, susselman, in order to stop your further blathering on a stupid point. I first demonstrated against the war on Vietnam in 1965--it was an SDS sponsored demonstration in Washington D.C. I attended teach-ins at various places that same year. I participated in VDC--Vietnam Day Committee--rallies and demonstrations in Berkeley-Oakland. I demonstrated against the war in San Francisco and New York whenever the occasion arose and where I was in the neighbourhood, including one to "Dump the Hump." I spent so much of eight years criticising and demonstrating against that filthy war. And when it was finally over, I've found lots of other things to demonstrate for and against. I'm still at it. I'm not claiming I'm holier than thou (as you seem to be doing). But I was there and I am there. Satisfied? Probably not, since you seem to always have to have the last word. Now go away.
A long time ago I played a game called Flight of the Intruder based on the author's book & movie. What I learned was towards the end of the war the USA had 1st generation smart bombs. One of the bombs was used to take out the largest bridge in Hanoi that conventional bombs couldn't destroy.
Correct, on May 13, 1972, and August 9, 1972, the USAF took out the Long Vien Bridge, across the Red River, near Hanoi, using laser-guided bombs. There is no report that any North Vietnamese civilians were killed or injured in the attack. By contrast, Putin is using precision bombs to target Ukrainian hospitals, schools, apartment buildings and other civilian populated areas, killing several hundred Ukrainian civilians.
A bit of AI humor:
Marc, if one only gets ones info from folks like Greenwald and Sachs, one will never know about those hospitals, schools, apartment buildings, and other civilian populated areas. Don't know, of course, if that's the case hereabouts but it does happen.
Rumor that Lukashenko had tea with Putin and is back in hospital.
Today is the anniversary of the earned assassination of Reinhard Heydrich in 1942.
Heydrich's assassination - reason to celebrate.
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