Monday, May 21, 2012

An Old Movie

I wrote this three years ago and forgot about it.

I am posting it now because I thought y’all should see it.

I've seen this movie before. I didn't like it the first time I saw it and I don't like it any better this time. The basic plot of the movie involves the iterative increase of hoards of American military personnel who get sent to some country that nobody in America except those who are in the process of being iteratively sent in ever increasing increments can find on the map; a sub plot is that nobody except those who are being sent have any clear idea about why they are being sent. For example, a while back my brother in law, who spent a year in Iraq, told me over a friendly martini that he had spent that year in Iraq defending the American Constitution. I lacked that sort of clarity about what our purposes had been in Iraq, although I had had some memory of there being vast numbers of nuclear and biological weapons stored there for use against the United States. I suppose if those weapons had been used against us it would have been a bad thing for the American Constitution, so perhaps my brother in law was correct. I can't remember whether we actually got any of those weapons, but since we are still physically intact I guess we did.

The first time I saw the movie I was among the iteratively increasing hoards. We were all being iteratively and increasingly sent to Vietnam. When we got there (we called it "in-country") we all learned where Vietnam was. That was because we all wanted to know how to get back from it, so we needed to know where it actually was on the map. If we had stayed uniteratively increased I suspect we never would have known where it was. And that probably would have been good. Anyway, when we got there some of us got sent "up-country" and some of us stayed in Saigon.

If one was sent "up-country" (some of us were actually sent "down-country"; there were places like the Rung Sat Special Strike Zone – I never knew how to spell it - that were distinctly south of Saigon; I think John Kerry spent a lot of time "down-country") one got to get shot at quite a lot. All that shooting was one of the key contributors to the interatively increasing requirement for hoards of additional military personnel. One of the advantages of all that iteratively increasing need was that it provided employment opportunities for vast numbers of young men who might have been otherwise unemployed, and that was good.
If one stayed in Saigon one spent most of one's time saluting the vast hoards of senior officers who all had flocked to the "war effort" to further their careers. "It may not be much, but it's the only war we've got" was a commonly heard witticism. When not saluting one probably spent most of the rest of one's time dodging large Cadillacs with starred flags affixed to them as they hurtled around the city. Occasionally one had to dodge a large limousine Mercedes that hurtled around with Nguyen Van Tiu in it. Nguyen was the president of Vietnam and he needed to hurtle around the streets a lot. H e couldn't let the American generals out hurtle him.

That movie turned out really well. I just didn't like it. But that's probably because I have always been pretty hard to please. After eight or ten years of thrashing around militarily and diplomatically the United States declared victory and the iterative hoards all went home. Not long after the hoards had left the guys who had been shooting at all of us formed their own government. I had always thought that we could have achieved the same result by just cutting out the iterative increases and the thrashing about and the shooting and just let those guys set up their government. They seemed to be somewhat of an improvement over the government provided by the guy in the Mercedes limo, but I was never sure. Apparently whether it was better or not was moot; we just left after spending a lot of money and sending home a lot of coffins.

But all of this is based on memories, and memories are at best phantoms.

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