The Shadow
Typography

In 1963 there was something in the air.   The Baby Boom generation knew all about the nuclear threat of the Soviet Union, thanks to useless air raid drills, when we were required to hide under our flimsy desks for “cover.”  What a joke!  

 

--It was after the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962

 

--It was before the assassination of President John F. Kennedy

--It was before Martin Luther King’s March on Washington

--It was before The Gulf of Tonkin Incident 

--It was before the Vietnam War really got started for Americans

--It was before the anti-Vietnam War marches and demonstrations

--It was even before the election of President Richard Nixon

--It was before the Watergate Scandal

 

Some years feel like other years and other times.  2016 is such a time.  There is a sense of foreboding about what the future will bring.  I smell war, and I am rarely wrong about such things.  

It reminds me of the summer of 1963, when my family was living in Japan.  My Father was a career naval officer, and he was stationed at the U.S. Naval Base in Yokosuka.  We lived “on the economy” (outside the base), in Kamakura, the ancient capital of Japan located about 10 miles to the west.   

In 1963 there was something in the air.   The Baby Boom generation knew all about the nuclear threat of the Soviet Union, thanks to useless air raid drills, when we were required to hide under our flimsy desks for “cover.”  What a joke!  

In October, of 1962 my Father disappeared for three days.   When he came home, he told us that he had been at his “battle station” deep in the caves (bomb shelters) that riddled the former base of the Japanese Imperial Navy.  He never said what his duty was, but within a couple of weeks we had all of the public news about the Cuban Missile Crisis  from Stars and Stripes, The Japan Times, Time, and Life.  The American military had been on the brink of a global war.   

During the summer of 1963, I often went into the naval base by train, so I could lifeguard at the Navy Special Services swimming pool, where I was also on the Seahawks swimming team.  One evening my Father picked me up after work and drove me over to a place where we could see down Tokyo Bay, toward the south.  

In the distance was a line of grey hulls, Navy ships, leaving Tokyo Bay in convoy, much as I had seen in early World War II movies.  My Father pointed at the ships in the distance and said,

“Do you see that?” 

“Yeah Dad,” I responded.

“That’s the Marines.  They’re going to Vietnam.”  

[NOTE:  The Marines did not “officially” enter Vietnam until March 8, 1965, nearly two years later.]  

There was a pause for a few moments.  Then he said,

“Everyone in the military has either been to Vietnam, is there now, or is going there.”

“Why Dad?” I asked.  

“Because we haven’t had a war for a decade.  The Admirals and Generals need a war to advance their careers.”  

As a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a career officer, my Father thought in military terms.  He didn’t have in mind President Eisenhower’s warning to Americans as he handed over the reigns of government to President John F. Kennedy that “only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry” can protect us from the machinations of the military-industrial complex.   

From that moment on the Yokosuka docks, a seed of doubt about American intentions and purposes in Vietnam was planted in my mind.  A year later, when the Gulf of Tonkin Incident  occurred, that moment in 1963 came to mind, as it has multiple times since.  

There was never any question in my mind that I would serve in the military.  I voluntarily joined a Marine Officer program on March 7, 1967, and served a tour of duty in Vietnam in 1970-71.  Throughout the time since my Father’s warning, I knew that the Vietnam War was wrong headed, but I wanted the experience so that I would know for myself why it was wrong.  Did you ever wonder why your Veteran Father or Mother never talks about their war service?  You might want to ask them!   I won’t presume to tell you what they will say.  

I don’t believe Vietnam was a “hot battle in the cold war,” which was revisionist malarkey developed in the 1990s to make younger Americans think Vietnam had some redeeming value.  It didn’t!  The Soviet Union and China paid about as much attention to it as a fly on an elephant’s ass.  

What I know is that profit is the wrong reason to go to war.  The people who profit are not the ones whose sons and daughters will die and be maimed.  We have a military that has been run ragged for three decades, through wars brought to us by official lies and misdirection.  In order to fill the ranks for future wars, it will likely be necessary to revert to the draft once again, which will mean that if you think your children are immune from service, you are wrong.  Only the rich can buy their children out with “bone spurs.”  

As the warmongers are gathering in Washington this day, remember this:  If we go to war unnecessarily and inappropriately, we will create more enemies than we can ever kill.  There are more than 100 million young men in the Muslim world between 18 and 23.  Even if we were to further radicalize only 1% of them, that would mean 1 million new enemies, who cannot be identified, because they will carry their hatred in their hearts.  Some of them might ultimately be your neighbors.

Yes, it is true that there are many changes of attitude that are necessary in the Muslim world, before we can live in Peace.  The same is true in America, Europe, Russia, and China as well.  These changes cannot be achieved with weapons, but only with deep introspection by all of us. 

Since the revolutionary advent of the Internet, and especially the rapid adoption of social networking around the world, these changes in attitude are happening much more quickly than for earlier generations.  But they still need time to run in a peaceful environment. 

Dr. Carl G. Jung spoke of the mental discipline necessary to achieve a peaceful world for humanity in his letter to journalist Dorothy Thompson of September 23, 1949:

“But no attack!  Under no condition! Russia can only defeat herself (which is what happened in 1991)   … You shoot when you are threatened in your very existence, not when you are merely hurt in your feelings or in your traditional convictions.  

“The accumulation of weapons, though indispensable, is a great temptation to use them.  Therefore watch the military advisers!  They will itch to pull the trigger….”

Dr. Carl G. Jung, Letters, Volume I, pp. 534-537.

Happy New Year! Pray for Peace!

Skip Conover served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1967 to 1991, and retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.  He is the author of Tsunami of Blood, which predicted ISIS in 2007.

Image Credit: © Brandon Fike | Dreamstime.com - Destroyers

 

 

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