“Mission Accomplished” is Old Enough to Drive

Calling the Iraq war a ‘tragedy’ implies that the U.S. had a legitimate reason to go to war against Iraq in 2003

In response to my post about war protest songs, someone I know IRL, and a very nice guy wrote: “As a veteran, I still have bad feelings about those protesters who demeaned individual soldiers returning from the horrors of war. The young men and women of those days are the PTSD patients of today.

“If you want to protest against something, take it out on the politicians who started the war.”

Far enough. The problem is that by the time the mainstream analysis catches up with the facts, it’s far too late. The American Conservative notes, “The Iraq War Was a Crime, Not a ‘Tragedy.'” Andrew Bacevich, reviewing Michael Mazarr’s Leap of Faith, rejects the author’s contention that the Iraq war was “the product of good intentions gone awry.”

As Daniel Larison points out: “Waging an illegal preventive war cannot be noble and cannot be done with ‘good intentions.’ To embark on an unnecessary war in violation of another state’s sovereignty and international law because you claim to be afraid of what they might do to you at some point in the future is nothing other than aggression covered up by a weak excuse. It is the act of a bully looking to lash out at a convenient target.

“Calling the Iraq war a ‘tragedy’ implies that the U.S. had a legitimate reason to go to war against Iraq in 2003, but there was no legitimate reason and anyone who thought things through could see that at the time.”

That would include between 12 and 14 million people who came out on February 15, 2003, “the largest protest in the history of the world.” I was in New York City where an estimated 200,000 gathered. It was so large that I never got within 40 blocks of the United Nations, the rally’s terminus point. Yet the events were largely ignored.

Now, ‘Mission Accomplished’ Is Old Enough to Drive. We’re still in Iraq. “A few people got rich, a lot of people got killed and the carnage rolls on because too many people thought it was real. My old bar friend was right. The fix was in, and still, too many forget.”

As my buddy suggested of the perpetrators of unnecessary war: “There’s a special place in hell for them.”


Vets say pardoning military service members who were accused or convicted of war crimes is an insult to those who have served honorably.

Now I Know: The Bomb Detector That Was a Dud

War protest songs, just a few

Business Goes On As Usual was originally performed by the Chad Mitchell Trio back in 1965.

For some, May 4 has that Star Wars thing going. But for me, it’s always about Kent State, at least since 1970, when four young people were killed at a university in Ohio for conducting a war protest. I’ve written about it before, most extensively here.

Since it’s Saturday, and I usually write about music then, I thought I’d include some songs about war protest. There are SO many of them, covering several wars, or war in general.

I limited my list to songs of which I own a physical copy and those I thought of without picking through the list. I left off the irritating Student Demonstration Time by the Beach Boys, which I described here.

I skipped Give Peace A Chance by John and Yoko because I’ve linked to it plenty of times. Ditto some of the general protest songs; What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye I linked to this spring.

War – Edwin Starr,#1 for three weeks pop, #3 soul in 1970. One of the most successful protest songs commercially. It was recorded by the Temptations first, but Motown decided to withhold their version from single release, fearing a conservative backlash. Bruce Springsteen recorded a live version. I own both of those versions too.

Waist Deep in the Big Muddy – Pete Seeger, 1967. Even though the reference is to 1942, I remember quite well the controversy over Pete banned from performing this on the Smothers Brothers show in September 1967. But CBS relented and allowed him to sing it in February 1968.

Alice’s Restaurant Massacree – Arlo Guthrie, 1967; shortened studio version #97 pop in 1969. A Thanksgiving favorite. Every year for at least the past decade, someone posts on Facebook a newspaper clip showing the littering charge REALLY HAPPENED.

I-Feel-Like–I’m-Fixin’-To-Die Rag – Country Joe McDonald and the Fish, 1967. Famously performed at Woodstock in 1969 with an augmented Fish cheer.

Unknown Soldier – the Doors, #39 pop in 1968. Vietnam was the first television war.

Fortunate Son – Creedence Clearwater Revival, double-sided single with Down on the Corner, #3 in 1969. Class warfare as well as the military kind.

Business Goes On As Usual – Roberta Flack, 1970. This was originally performed by the Chad Mitchell Trio back in 1965, which I had never heard. This version is from the great Chapter Two album.

Talking Vietnam Potluck Blues – Tom Paxton, 1971. I’m high just thinking about it.

I’ll finish with the obvious, and its B-side:
Ohio – Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, #14 in 1970.
Find the Cost of Freedom – Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, 1970.

There are a couple more which I am withholding because tho artists are turning 70 this year, and I’ll mention the songs then.

Songs of war and the protest of same

When I watched The Vietnam War, the PBS series by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, in October 2017, I was naturally drawn to the music. Here is the list of the 120+ songs that were included in the 18-hour program, which you can listen to at Spotify, or find on YouTube.

Some were very familiar, others not, but I was fascinated that there were at least five Beatles songs – Tomorrow Never Knows, Revolution 1, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Blackbird, and Let It Be, which can be expensive to license. (I swear I also heard Piggies, but maybe I was just hallucinating.)

Coincidentally or not, Robert S. Hoffman posted Protest music: Music you can resist to, which include three of the songs on the Burns/Novick roster: Eve of Destruction by Barry McGuire, For What it’s Worth by Buffalo Springfield, and Ohio by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, the powerful outro for episode eight.

As Dustbury pointed out: “For about as long as there have been protests, there have been protests of protests. This 1966 wonder, on the real-life Are You Kidding Me? label, lays out its agenda before the very first verse… The Beach Bums were Doug Brown and the Omens, plus a different frontman than usual: Bob Seger, who probably wrote this under the ‘D. Dodger’ pseudonym.”

But The Ballad of the Yellow Berets was WAY too close of a ripoff of the tune that was #1 for five weeks on the Billboard pop charts in 1966, longer than any song that year.

The Ballad of the Green Berets [listen] was co-written and performed by Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler, From the Billboard Book of Number One Hits by Fred Bronson: “He was sent to Vietnam, where his fellow soldiers showed little interest in his songs…

“His Vietnam duty was cut short when he fell into a booby trap while on patrol….Lapsing in and out of consciousness, he treated the [leg] wound himself.”

Robin Moore, author of the book The Green Berets, got hold of Sadler’s 12-verse song about the army combat unit and edited it down. Initially released to the military, it was so popular, Moore took the track to RCA, which “agreed to finance a full recording session, complete with orchestra.”

When I missed seeing John Lennon

I don’t what he said specifically that day, but we were all disappointed to miss it first-hand.

The new documentary The Vietnam War by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, which I am watching, though not in real time, reminded me of the time I might have seen John Lennon but did not.

I have noted that I participated in a number of antiwar demonstrations between 1968 and 1974. (In 1967, it would not have occurred to me.) A few were in my hometown of Binghamton, NY, which got bigger and bigger as the war dragged on.

But most Vietnam prtook place while I was a student in New Paltz, NY, starting in 1971. A handful took place in town or around the area (Kingston, Poughkeepsie). But most were in New York City, with a fair number in Washington, DC.

It was at one of the New York City rallies – there were so many, I no longer remember when – that a bunch of us took a charter bus to New York City to stand up against what was the latest incursion. And after we rallied for a couple hours, we got the bus home.

Someone was listening to the rally on the radio – I’m guessing WBAI-FM, which makes sense, given its history. An organizer at the announced John Lennon and Yoko Ono, only ten minutes after we had reboarded the bus. We were still in Manhattan, but, of course, there was a schedule to keep.

I don’t what he said specifically that day – it was probably similar to the ideas expressed here – but we were all disappointed to miss it first-hand.

John Lennon’s struggle against war I thought was brave, not because he had been a Beatle, but because he was facing deportation from the United States because of what was likely was a bogus drug possession arrest and conviction in the UK a couple of years earlier.

Hmm – interesting how what would have been the the 77th birthday of John Lennon converges with the now-controversial celebration of Columbus Day, given the often xenophobic polices of the current regime.

Listen to:
Give Peace a Chance – Plastic Ono Band here or here.

How do you solve a problem like the Donald?

If each of us writes even a single postcard and we put them all in the mail on the same day, March 15th, well: you do the math. No alternative fact or Russian translation will explain away our record-breaking, officially-verifiable, warehouse-filling flood of fury.

There’s been a LOT of advice out there about what to do, and NOT to do, in response to the current American regime.

As someone who’s gone to more than a few demonstrations, and written some letters, in his time, some observations:

We all have different gifts; it’s Biblical. So it is unrealistic to suggest that we ALL should act on a list of ALL things ALL the time. Among other things, that will create burnout, which is the enemy of change.

Find the thing or things you can do. Be aware, though, that it may be something you’ve never done before. There was a guy on NBC Nightly News this month, who looked to be over 35, who had NEVER been to a protest march before 2017. Now he is getting guidance from the Indivisible guide every day. Or you could sign up for ACLU ACTION TEXTS. e.g.

Keep repeating the narratives, especially the ones you don’t think are getting adequate coverage, on social media. I was reading a piece in fivethirtyeight about what makes a story stick. Sometimes it’s just timing. “Persistence matters.”

One story I’d personally like y’all to beat to death is Continue reading “How do you solve a problem like the Donald?”