Tuesday, October 07, 2008

How Gordon Got His Groove On

From G. Gordon Liddy's hilarious yet chilling autobiography, Will, the story of how he left private law practice, of which he'd tired (in no small part because he was working with his father, to their relationship's detriment), and enlisted as a stormtrooper in the counter-counterculture movement:

So long as I was going to elect a new life, I wanted something that would be interesting, challenging, allowing full use of my education and experience and capable of carrying me as far as my ability and will would take me. Politics fit that bill, and it had one more important thing to offer.

By 1965 it was apparent to me that my country was in trouble. We were fighting in Vietnam a "limited war" -- a contradiction in terms -- in which soldiers were permitted to die but not fight to win. Understandably, many of them, and their families, resented it. The choice was between continuing the status quo; fighting the war properly by going all out to win, giving our men a fair chance at victory and survival; or abandoning the national interest and quitting. I favored all-out war to end the matter as quickly as possible. I was aware of the fact that following the close of World War II when the French were fighting the Viet Minh in Indochina, they were at first highly successful. That was because they were using the Foreign Legion, then manned almost completely by veterans from the most disciplined, ruthlessly efficient practitioners of all-out warfare in history: the Waffen SS. It was only after that fact was made public that the French began to lose.

The conflict over the Vietnam war and especially the tactics used by the antiwar movement were eroding the national will and respect for authority. The young were sinking into the netherworld of the drug culture. Valid demands by blacks for civil rights were often resisted violently by whites, and in response many blacks were adopting violence as an offensive rather than defensive tactic. I never believed in sitting on the sidelines complaining when I didn't like something; the right to complain carried with it an obligation to act to remedy the problem. I couldn't think of a better way to get started in politics and have an effect on what was happening than to be a prosecutor.

Thus from the start we see the now familiar Liddyan tropes: the Naziphilia; the belief that the American soldier was fighting with 'one hand tied behind his back,' itself a set-up for the dolchstosslegende which would form after America's withdrawal from Vietnam; and the perceived relationship of antiwar dissent and protest to treason.