Jane Fonda announced Monday that she's heading to Iraq for an anti-war tour in a bus powered by vegetable oil.
Note to Jane from an old mechanic: don't try to run it on straight hummus. It's too thick. Dilute it with oil. Or get way bigger fuel lines!
Doesn't Fonda ever learn? In 1972, after she visited Hanoi and accused U.S. leaders and POWs of war crimes, Fonda became America's most despised anti-war activist. Her Iraq jaunt will only give the hawks something new to snicker about.
But if Fonda learned little from her Vietnam escapades, the U.S. military learned many lessons from both the Vietnam War and the protests it generated.
Many in the armed forces felt bitterly undermined by Fonda's accusations and her cavalier attitude toward American POWs. Although the overwhelming majority of U.S. soldiers served honorably during our terrible war in Vietnam, the military has since come to accept that some of Fonda's points, while exaggerated, were not wholly unfounded.
To U.S. military leaders, one lesson of Fonda's escapades was that preventing war crimes is not only a matter of law and morality, but also crucial to preserving military morale and public support for the troops.
On Monday, Republican Sen. (and former JAG officer) Lindsey Graham released several 2003 memos from JAG Corps leaders to their civilian Defense Department bosses. Unlike the syntax-parsing drivel (my bold) from the Bush Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel - asserting that neither international law nor federal criminal law prohibited the president from authorizing interrogation techniques long viewed as torture - the JAG memos don't mince words.
Rives warned the general counsel's office at the Pentagon that "several of the more extreme interrogation techniques, on their face, amount to violations of domestic criminal law and the [Uniform Code of Military Justice]." His Navy JAG colleague, Rear Adm. Michael Lohr, wrote that at least one of the interrogation techniques suggested by the Justice Department "constitutes torture under both domestic and international law."
The Army's judge advocate general, Maj. Gen. Thomas Romig, said the Justice Department analysis could damage military "interests worldwide... putting our service personnel at far greater risk and vitiating many of the POW/detainee safeguards the U.S. has worked hard to establish over the past five decades."
Although the Bush administration silenced its JAG Corps critics, all their predictions are coming true: The administration's disregard for law has weakened support from allies, provided a propaganda boon to our enemies, and appears to be contributing to lowering the morale of U.S. troops in the field. The JAG Corps itself, which once attracted the best and brightest young military attorneys, has seen its applicant pool diminish substantially in recent years.
In the Vietnam War era, escapades such as Fonda's left American soldiers feeling bitterly undermined by some of their fellow citizens. It's a crying shame that this time around, those undermining the military are in the Bush adminstration (my bold).
Jane's upcoming Corn Oil Truck for Peace has done that for us. With one fell swoop, she has taken her magic wand of misstep and returned to the 60's in away that, without condescention, seems so quaint and charming that its hard to be hard about it.
My favorite line in either article:
You go Jane and please wear a kelvar vest. It's more than our American troops in Iraq are getting. And Barbarella: nail that SOB Duran-Duran Dubya for us along the way. You go girl.
Fonda's a lot older and smarter and richer now. Hopefully, she's wiser as well. Whether what she's doing is a good thing, well, that's not for me to say. I hope her actions don't prolong this war and lead to thousands of additional deaths like they did the last time she pulled this kinda stunt. I better not see a picture of her holding an RPG in the company of some grinning insurgents.