The Worlds of Dr. Kissinger and Dr. King Collide.

hare_2074103iThree days after April Fool’s Day in 1967 Martin Luther King spoke at the Riverside Church in New York City. His speech was titled: “Beyond Vietnam – A Time to Break Silence.”   At that time about 15, 000 American had died in Vietnam.

Lyndon B. Johnson was president at the time. He would remain in office until January 20, 1969. It is reported that after he read the speech he went ballistic.

At the time LBJ left office about 40,000 Americans had lost their lives in Vietnam. Between April of 1967 and the end of President Nixon’s first year in office the total American deaths were about 41,500 with 11,780 occurring on Nixon’s watch. (1967:11,363 deaths;  in 1968: 16,899, and 1969: 11,780)

I don’t suppose there was much Nixon could have done upon immediately taking office but to continue the plan that was in effect until he figured out his next step. The final three years of Nixon’s first term saw a steady decline in  deaths: 1970: 6,173; 1971: 2,414; and 1972: 759; a total  of 9,500.  In the years 1973 to 1975 another 131 deaths would occur.  The death toll diminished because Nixon began bringing down the number of troops from over 500,000.

An article dated January  31, 1913, discussed Nixon, Kissinger and the Paris Peace Accords. It stated: “The price of political victory [his reelection] included the lives of more than 20,000 American soldiers who died in the four years it took Nixon to create the illusion of “peace with honor” and conceal the reality of defeat with deceit.”

The author of the article, Ken Hughes, writes: “On his first full day in office, he’d asked military, diplomatic and intelligence officials how soon the South would be able to handle the Communists on its own. The answer was unanimous: never. The Joint Chiefs, CIA, Pentagon, State Department and the U.S. military commander in Vietnam, General Creighton W. Abrams, all agreed that Saigon “even fully modernized” would not survive “without U.S. combat support in the form of air, helicopters, artillery, logistics and major ground forces.” (author’s emphasis) (Is that the same answer Obama is  receiving on Iraq?)

It was clear to Nixon, Hughes points out, that the only way the Saigon government could survive was with American help. He said Nixon was in a bind. “There was no way he could sell either option – endless war or withdrawal followed by defeat – as the “peace with honor” he promised.

So he lied by telling the people: “The day the South Vietnamese can take over their own defense is in sight. Out goal is a total American withdrawal from Vietnam. We can and we will reach for that goal through our program of Vietnamization.

Nixon  would space out our withdrawal over the four years of his first term and with each one  tell  us the South Vietnam people had taken over their own defense. Of course, he was abetted in his scam by his adviser, Henry Kissinger. When Nixon’s conscience seemed to bother him about a year before his reelection and he figured he’d just get out, Kissinger said: “Well, we’ve got to get enough time to get out. We can’t have it [South Vietnam] knocked over brutally— to put it brutally, before the election.”  He would later assure Nixon on August 3, 1972, that making the deal with the North Vietnamese and the Russians was the thing to do because: “After a year, Mr. President, Vietnam will be a backwater” and “no one will give a damn.” 

Martin Luther King preached back in 1967 “If we do not stop our war against the people of Vietnam immediately, the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horrible, clumsy, and deadly game we have decided to play. The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways. In order to atone for our sins and errors in Vietnam, we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war. 

It appeared Doctor King was a mind reader. Historians like Deborah Shapley point out “that as early as November 3, 1965, the secretary of defense [McNamara] knew that the Vietnam War was “unwinnable militarily.”” The article also notes: “In late 1967, when L.B.J. forced him to resign. Robert Kennedy pleaded with McNamara to speak out against the war, but instead of coming clean, McNamara,. . .  “retreated into silence, confusion, and remorse,. . .”” It was noted later: “McNamara, it turns out, had realized early on that Vietnam was a lost cause, but he kept that crucial information close to his chest.”

King would be murdered a year to the day after his speech; Kissinger is still alive and offering his realpolitik “an obsession with order and power at the expense of humanity.” It is stated Obama is the only president since Eisenhower who refuses to take Kissinger’s advice. Also that the Kissinger model of the world is all wrong.

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if we listened more to people like King than Kissinger.


8 thoughts on “The Worlds of Dr. Kissinger and Dr. King Collide.

  1. Matt — How in the world can you suggest that Reagan’s actions in Lebanon led to the creation of ISIS when all our senior military leaders have acknowledged and common sense demonstrates that Obama’s withdrawal of all of our troops from Iraq created the vacuum that led to ISIS’s creation?

    1. Clarence:

      The papers of Osama showed that much of the Islamic Terrorists gained their courage after President Reagan withdrew the Marines from Lebanon once there was a suicide bombing on their barracks. It was that show of running when attacked that emboldened Osama to do the attack on America figuring it would not strike back. When America did, and especially after it went into Iraq, the radical Islamists realized America would fight if it had overwhelming odds on its side or through the use of air power, but hearkening back to the Lebanon incident they believed that if they showed enough terrible tactics then the Americans would not want to engage with them. ISIS was formed from Sunni tribesmen who often spoke of Reagan’s action in running. It was based upon knowing that their ideas of terror developed. To date, because America is yet to commit troops to fighting them they have drawn a direct line from Reagan’s flight to today’s American fear.

  2. Thank you for writing this article. I had no idea that many deaths happened in such a short period of time.

  3. Before any discussion of the United States’ role in Vietnam in the 1960’s, I recommend that all involved read H.R. McMaster’s 1997 book “Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, The Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies that Led to Vietnam”.

  4. Alan Witwer approached me and introduced himself and said
    “I was manager of the Del Charo Motel where Nixon and
    J Edgar Hoover came and plotted the assassination of
    President Kennedy…..”


    google richard nixon del charo

    in other news

    Published on
    Thursday, February 26, 2015
    by Common Dreams
    On Truth, Shoes, and Upton Sinclair
    byRobert Shetterly

    Upton Sinclair did not say about The Jungle that it was the “most important and most dangerous book I have ever written.” He said that about The Brass Check.

    Self-published in 1919, The Brass Check chronicles how he was censored, excluded, and libeled as he tried to tell the truth of corporate malfeasance and anti-democratic influence in the United States. Sinclair presents case after case where the major newspapers in the U.S. “do not serve humanity, but property.” He says that in terms of justice and democracy, there is no more important question for the American people than the objectivity of its press: “If the news is colored or doctored, then public opinion is betrayed and the national life is corrupted at its source.” And, “It would be better for the people to go without shoes than without truth, but the people do not know this, and so continue to spend their money for shoes.” But what Sinclair really advocated for was a press that told the truth and for fair wages so workers could afford shoes too.

    In part of The Brass Check, Sinclair collects his accounts of being in Colorado in 1913-14 to report on the United Mine Workers of America strike against the Rockefeller-owned coal mines. It was those strikes, for safer working conditions, better pay, and several other issues, that culminated in the Ludlow Massacre where the Colorado National Guard (working for John D. Rockefeller, Jr.) attacked the miners’ camp and killed women and children. Sinclair wrote dispatch after dispatch telling the miners’ side of the story. The local and national newspapers—controlled by Rockefeller money—only published the mine owners’ version events, reporting that all the violence was the work of the miners. Sinclair said:

    When newspapers lie about a strike, they lie about every one of the strikers, and every one of these strikers and their wives and children and friends know it. When they see deliberate and long-continued campaigns to render them odious to the public, and to deprive them of their just rights, not merely as workers, but as citizens, a blaze of impotent fury is kindled in their hearts.

    Sinclair also wrote about decent journalists who, under threat of firing by the newspaper owners, told only the corporate side of these stories. One of Sinclair’s most famous quotes confronts this dilemma: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

    Upton Sinclair was a lifelong socialist, a lifelong activist for the total gamut of social, economic and environmental justice issues in the U.S.. He was a feminist, as Lauren Coodley’s excellent biography of him shows, at a time when few men were. He began two cooperative living societies so that women would be freed from some childcare and household duties to follow their dreams. Having grown up in a family with an abusive, alcoholic father, he supported temperance. He won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1943 for his series of anti-fascist novels. In 1934, Sinclair even ran for governor of California at the head of the End Poverty in California (EPIC) party.

    His muckraking classic The Jungle about the horrendous conditions in the Chicago slaughterhouses pushed Congress to pass The Pure Food and Drug Act and The Meat Inspection Act. For a period after the publication of The Jungle in 1906, Sinclair was in great demand as a speaker all over the country. It seemed that more than anyone else he was determining what meat packing standards should be. In fact, the president, Teddy Roosevelt, got so annoyed at Sinclair’s prominence that he pressured Frank Doubleday, Sinclair’s publisher: “Tell Sinclair to go home and let me run the country for awhile.”

    I chose to use a quote from The Jungle on the Americans Who Tell the Truth portrait of Upton Sinclair. Perhaps the most famous passage in the book poetically details the horrible slaughtering process—the sound, the smells, the blood, the violence, the uncleanliness, the objectification of the animals and resultant dehumanization of the workers.

    Sinclair writes, “… was one to believe that there was nowhere a god of hogs, to whom this hog-personality was precious, to whom these hog-squeals and agonies had a meaning? Who would take this hog into his arms and comfort him, reward him for his work well done, and show him the meaning of his sacrifice?”

    Sinclair’s intention with that quote was twofold – to insist that the reader honor the value of hog’s life, at least enough to demand a humane death, and also to make the reader aware that the exploited workers in these slaughterhouses were being treated with little more respect than the hogs. Sinclair was delighted that meat packing regulations resulted from his book, but his primary intention had been to change the labor laws, to awaken the conscience of America to how its workers were being treated. He said, “I aimed at the public’s heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach.” But working conditions in the slaughterhouses wouldn’t change until the workers organized.

    For the first two-thirds of the 20th Century there was surely no more broadly committed activist in the U.S. than Upton Sinclair. He wrote more than 80 books, publishing most of them himself because mainstream publishers disapproved of his ideas. He chose often to dramatize social issues in the form of novels on the theory that people would identify more with characters in good stories than be persuaded by argument.

    By the way, Sinclair’s title ‘Brass Check’ is a reference to the method of payment in a house of prostitution 100 years ago. The customer paid his money and was given a brass check to give to the woman he chose. Sinclair’s point was that what passes for journalism is often little different than an exchange with a prostitute. Read more about Sinclair on the AWTT site. We were lucky to have Lauren Coodley herself write a short bio for us.

  5. Your article should have emphasized the democrats JFK and LBJ responsibility. They sent 500,000 to Viet Nam. It was their plan. Nixon inherited the mess. It took him longer than it should have but he ended it. The blame for the deaths in 69 and 70 go to the prior administration not Nixon. If one was to assess blame for the war 99% goes to JFK and LBJ 1% to Nixon. The idea that the war was unwinnable is false. If the U.S. had put a million men in North Viet Nam a tactical victory could have been obtained assuming that China didn’t send two million volunteers into action as they did in Korea or that Russia didn’t get involved. America wasn’t going to risk nuclear war with the Soviets over Indo China. Trying to fight a limited war as LBJ did is always a loser. Ike correctly pointed out that we should never fight small wars and dissipate America’s military strength. If we are going to fight we will fight the head of the snake ( China and the USSR ) not the tail. Reagan didn’t follow Kissinger’s program of détente. He changed that approach to Peace with Strength and said there is no substitute for victory. While most democrats fought his anti communism and denounced his Evil Empire speech, and his military buildup he led us to our greatest military triumph in history in winning the cold war. He freed hundreds of millions of Eastern Europeans from Soviet bondage. Those same people were sold into slavery by the democrats FDR and Truman. Was Obama using Realpolitick in Libya or doesn’t that count? What about the drone war?

    1. NC:

      You saw the war was winnable but then add two important caveats that showed it was not. Suppose Russia or China did not enter and we upped our forces to 1 million men and accepted the increased deaths and took over all of Vietnam, both north and south, then what? Install a dictator who would last a couple of years? Hasn’t Iraq shown us that you can win the battles and lose the war?

      The purpose of the article was not to assess the blame for the war but to show the inability of the leaders be they democrat or republican when it comes to the telling the truth. The old republicans are good and democrats are bad doesn’t stand up to reality unless you want to blame Clinton for getting us into Iraq and say Bush got us out.

      A great problem with your analysis in blaming Democrats is that the wars Wilson and FDR got us involved with occurred not because of them but during their term in office. You must be suggesting that we should have not become involved in them; even after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor?

      You should also note the Republicans in the House and Senate voted unanimously for the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution so it would seem you are hard pressed to put the total blame on LBJ – with respect to JFK you can argue any way on that but he did begin the big march into the muddy swamp. Reagan ran in the face of the jidhadists who attacked us in Lebanon which one also could argue set the stage for ISIS.

      Rest assured Republican Donald Trump will solve all the problems.

  6. I started shooting a documentary of Robert Shetterly
    in 2006.
    Over 20 people he has painted have been interviwed.
    Published on
    Friday, August 31, 2007
    The Necessary Embrace of Conspiracy
    Robert Shetterly

    Several years ago I gave a talk on Martha’s Vineyard about many of the people whose portraits I’ve painted in the Americans Who Tell the Truth series. I spent some time talking about the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. When I talk about King, I like to focus on his last year — the period when, defying the advice of many of his advisors in the civil rights movement, he spoke against the Vietnam War, equating racism with imperialism. King felt bound to make the point that the forces of capitalism, materialism, and militarism that were driving segregation were also driving the war, and until we confronted the source of the problem, the abuses would continue. It was April 4, 1967, in Riverside Church in New York, that he made that declaration. A year to the day before his assassination.

    It has always confounded me every year when we celebrate Dr. King’s life that no mention is made of that Riverside Church speech in the major media. We are always treated to sound bites of the 1963 I Have a Dream speech. That speech’s oratory is as powerful as it is non-confrontational. Which is why it is re-played for modern audiences. Dr. King was about confrontation. Non-violence and confrontation, each ennobling and making the other effective. In 1967 he said, “… my country is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” And he explained how our economic system thrived on exploitation and violence, or, as Emma Goldman put it, “The greatest bulwark of capitalism is militarism.” This was probably the most important speech King ever gave and not playing it when we ostensibly honor him, is tantamount to castrating him morally and intellectually. Just as there is a long history of White America castrating black men, there is an equal legacy of Elite America cutting the most important truths of our social prophets out of the history books. We pay homage to King’s icon, the cardboard cutout, but not to his strongest beliefs and his most cogent analysis of our problems — to what vision called forth his courage. And, if we think that he spoke the truth, to censor that truth is to promote a curious kind of segregation. He is segregated, not for the color of his skin, but for the accuracy of his perception, how close to the bone his words cut. We can’t bear to hear the sound of truth’s knife scraping on hypocrisy’s bone. Only people who actually want to change the system dance to that music or want it to be heard.

    Equally important, and part of the same neglect, is the intentional ignoring of the facts of his death. In my talk on Martha’s Vineyard I spoke about William Pepper’s book, An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King, Jr. Pepper had been James Earl Ray’s lawyer. Ray was the man convicted of killing King. But both Pepper and the King family were convinced that Ray was innocent. The King family hired Pepper to represent them in a suit; they asked only $100.00 in damages to clear Ray’s name. Before the trial came to court in 1999, Ray had died in prison. The jury determined that King had been assassinated by a conspiracy involving the Memphis police, the Mafia, the FBI, and the Special Forces of the U.S. Army. Ray, the patsy, had left town before the shot was fired. Pepper had confessions from people involved from each of the organizations named. The verdict was barely mentioned in the U.S. media then and is not mentioned every year on the anniversary of his death. Why?

    After my talk on Martha’s Vineyard a man came up to me and said, “I enjoyed your speech and was with you until you started that conspiracy stuff about MLK, Jr.” I said, “That’s not conspiracy. What I told you are facts.” End of conversation.

    I think we’re confronted with two conspiracies here: one to commit the crime, the other to ignore it even when the facts are known. ( Two sides of the same coin.) The man who accused me of slipping into the neurotic, aliens-are-among-us land of conspiracy nuts was unable to hear the evidence, perhaps because he was so utterly convinced by our government and media that conspiracies don’t exist, people who espouse them are dangerous fruitcakes, and if you begin to think like that, your whole house of cards wobbles then topples. Who wants that? Better a standing tower of marked cards, than having to admit the game is rigged and the ground is shaking.

    America is steeped in conspiracy, and even more steeped in propaganda that discredits those who try to expose the conspiracies. Whether we’re talking about MLK, Jr., JFK, RFK, Iran-Contra, 9/11, or, most importantly, the status quo, anyone who works to uncover the truth is branded a “conspiracy nut” and discredited before any evidence has a fair hearing. The government/corporate/media version is THE VERSION. Anything else is illusory.

    In fact, the cultural success of labeling investigative reporters and forensic historians, and, simply, anyone who tries to name reality, “conspiracy nuts” is perhaps the most successful conspiracy of our time. Well, not the most successful. That prize goes to the conspiracy to give corporations all the rights of individual persons under our Constitution. That conspiracy has codified and consolidated corporate power so that it controls our lives in almost every meaningful way. It controls the election funds of our candidates, and them once they are in office. It controls our major media including public broadcasting. It controls the content of our television programming. It controls how are tax dollars are spent making sure that the richest get the most welfare. It controls the laws, the courts, the prison system and the mind numbing propaganda that we are the greatest democracy on earth. It controls the values with which we raise our children. It controls our ability to dispense justice. It controls how we treat nature, how we deface our land with strip malls, and blow the tops off our mountains — a form of corporate free speech. It dictates our modes of transportation. It controls our inability to respond to true crises like climate change. It attempts to create a spiritual deficiency in every person that can be filled and healed only with stuff — and no stuff is ever enough.

    As Richard Grossman puts it, “Isn’t it an old story? People create what looks to be a nifty machine, a robot, called the corporation. Over time, the robots get together and overpower the people. … For a century, the robots propagandize and indoctrinate each generation of people so they grow up believing that robots are people too, gifts from God and Mother Nature; that they are inevitable and the source of all that is good. How odd that we have been so gullible, so docile, obedient.”

    It is obvious to say that we have been engineered into a culture that values competitive consumption and consumers instead of community cooperation and citizenship. Capitalism with its obsessive and necessary appetite for consumption, expanding markets, resource depletion, and increasing profits has consumed democracy. Have you ever watched a small snake swallow a large frog? The snake’s hinged jaw stretches wider and wider, squeezing the frog millimeter by millimeter into its gullet until finally the snake looks like the Holland Tunnel might if it had devoured the Titanic. Then the acids and enzymes do their corrosive work. The frog becomes the snake. And the snake claims it is the frog. Capitalism has gulped down democracy and claimed it is democracy. When, immediately after 9/11, President Bush advised Americans to demonstrate their love of freedom and their resistance to terrorism by courageously, selflessly, hurrying to the mall to buy something, he was speaking as the snake that identifies itself as a frog. He was asking us to play a little game with our brains’ synapses, replace the snake icon with the frog’s. Sadly, he may also have been speaking about democracy in the only way that he can understand or recognize it. And, for him, Christianity has been another tidy meal for the snake.

    Perhaps this switcheroo is nowhere more obvious than in the military /industrial complex. We are told that the vulnerable frog needs protecting. The threats are grave. So we fork over our money and children’s lives for war and weapons. We are told that we are building security and peace. More lives. More weapons. What we aren’t told is that the largest US export to the world is weapons. What we aren’t told is that enormous fortunes are being made from the arms trade. What we aren’t told is that the more precarious and unstable the world is, the better the business for the arms dealers — that the real promotion is not for security and peace but insecurity and war, that the lives of our children are the necessary collateral damage for this monster. What we aren’t told is that the only real security is in cooperation, conservation, and fairness, not imperialism. The frog, who is a snake, wrapped in a flag, pleads for patriotism and counts the cash. The snake’s forked tongue is a barbeque fork on which we’ve all been roasted.

    I’d call that conspiracy.

    The neocons have claimed, with some accuracy, that they can create reality faster than we can react: the deed is done, now deal with it. The troops have invaded, Halliburton, Blackwater, and Lockheed signed their contracts, the prisoners are tortured, your email is bugged, the resources for social programs are gone, the laws are changed, the Wal-Mart is built, the sludge dump has already polluted the aquifer, truth is hollowed out —- catch me if you can! How is that not conspiracy?

    The cooks & the crooks create a new status quo, legalize it, propagandize it, mythologize it, fundamentalize it, slather it with fear and patriotism, and force feed it to the complacent, sedated cow we call America. How is that not conspiracy?

    Of course, ever since the Constitution was signed and didn’t free the slaves or give the vote to women, poor folks, Native Americans and freed blacks so that people with power and money could continue to profit, America has been a conspiracy against itself. It’s been cowboy grilling his own heart over a smoke & mirrors campfire, a CEO with inherited wealth and three hundred years of patrician, affirmative action crooning “Only in America.”

    The reason we can’t talk about conspiracy is because it is the modus operandi. It isn’t the elephant in the room, it is the room itself. We all live there. We can impeach a few elephants, and we should, but the architecture is in place. And they control it.

    When I was in school, I was reminded – repeatedly — to avoid using an indefinite pronoun without identifying whom it refers to, as in, “They are coming to get us,” … or, “They control everything.” Who are They? It’s bad practice to think and write like that. Without reference it just sounds like paranoia. But the hell of it is that it’s damned hard to say who the They are that are in conspiracy to destroy democracy and, by exploitation, nature. Did They do it on purpose or merely discover by serendipity, like cavemen seeing copper ooze out of a rock by a fire, the wondrous possibility and power of what they had found. For instance, the invention of the TV was not a conspiracy. But once the realization of how TV could be used to submerge the public in a lobotomizing swamp of advertising, sound bites, inactivity, community destruction, titillation, false history, empty myth, consumption, and complicity in making fortunes for the sponsors, the program was clear. Conspiracy was the silent partner in the euphemism good business practice. And, once they saw the implications of giving corporations First Amendment rights, they were home free.

    Time to re-think conspiracy.

    We need to embrace conspiracy in two ways. One, admit that it’s real, its quotidian, it’s the fabric of our lives, the mercury in the air, the dioxin in the water, it’s filling the airwaves and the marketplace and the courts and the halls of Congress before we even get out of bed every morning. Two, counter it with a conspiracy of our own. On our side we have the fundamental fact that although the corporate They can alter many of our realities, they can’t alter Reality. They can’t change the behavior of Nature. They can sell off the rain forest, but they can’t leverage the effect of cutting it. They can keep the mileage of cars poor so we’ll buy more gas, but they can’t alter the amount of oil in the ground or the damage to the atmosphere. They can privatize every human interaction and every natural resource, but they can’t privatize the laws of nature. They have conspired to change reality. We must conspire to live in harmony with Reality.

    In the same way, they can conspire to kill Martin Luther King, Jr., but they can’t totally eradicate the truth of who did it and why.

    Con + spirare, from the Latin. To breathe together. Those are the roots of conspiracy. Breathing together doesn’t sound like an activity of the ideologically deracinated whispering seditiously in a dank cellar or a board room, foul breaths denting a weak flame flickering over a candle nub, gunpowder or greed blackened fingers setting a timer, the whites of creased eyes glinting like knives with treason, murder, power, and deceit. Con + spirare sounds like healthy men and women standing in the sun figuring out how in the hell they are going to take care of each other and their aging mother Earth and love life while doing it. Breathing together, sharing the same air, plotting to make sure that what’s mine is yours, conspiring to save their self-respect, their ideals, the future for their children.

    I want to be part of a conspiracy. Pervasive, populist, revolutionary, and totally transparent. Grassroots. Idealistic. Simplistic. Life-affirming. Community building

    A conspiracy to make the common good and the love of nature the common denominator of every economic transaction.

    And the simple truth is either we start breathing together, conspiring big time, right out in the open, nakedly, unashamedly, or we will have conspired in secret, by default, in our own demise.

    We have let them breathe for us, and they have stolen our breath, our air, our spirit.

    Secret con + spirare is death. Open con + spirare is life.

    Conspiracy is dead. Long live conspiracy!

    Robert Shetterly lives in Brooksville, Maine

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