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Page 40
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<< 39. snapshots from the edge of a war41. Army Reserve Officer Against the Vietnam War >>

McNamara's Band (poem)

By Freddy Dolgon

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Oh, the guns went bang and the bullets sang,
And the dominos feign a fall.
And up pop wonderboys of privilege
To make the big game's call.

The Kennedy clan had a master plan
To stem the dreaded tumble;
The Gulf of Tonkin got hawks a-honkin'
"Bomb Hanoi!" ... "Let's have a rumble!"

The ducks and geese march in a row,
And the drums of war are grand,
They wear dark suits and tootle flutes
As Camelot sinks in the sand.

There was Rusk, the Dean of the statecraft machine,
Bundy and Rostow and Sorenson too
All eloquent boors who sent men on tours
To avenge the French—who fried at Dienbien Phu.

They poured their brains in the Vietnam stew.
The best and the brightest—raptured by skies
Black with bombs and fleschettes,
And patches of ashes where once stood My Lai's.

A sleeping generation woke, smelling smoke—
But couldn't find the burning pyre.
All they heard were the demagogues' cries,
"We must fight fire with an even bigger fire!"

The war that no one understood
Was now pursued by fakes and fops
Whose long range plan was just a scheme
To make our doughboys global cops.

But the venal Vietnam adventure failed.
The dream of Pax Americana died.
And fifty thousand mothers wonder why
So many gave their lives for those who lied.

Now, three decades later,
MacNamara's brooding face is on my screen
"Forgive my arrogance," he seems to say
"How about a hand for coming clean?"

"Oh no," I say to him who spills the beans—
Who now admits some errors of his ways.
Wars are more than games of chance,
You still know more than what you say.

I say there's shame still unrevealed;
Atrocities and genocides yet to be stated;
Acts of guilt and shame still unaccounted for.
Murders in the night still unadjudicated.

It's not the stars that fan the winds of war;
It's the heads and hearts of jefes and bosses
Who sow the bloody fields with death
To satisfy ledgers of profits and losses.

MacNamara and his band were just a handy
Bunch of clowns, cast in a play no God would write.
A drama with so many malefactors
It would take a tome to cite.

Their names could fill another wall—
A wall of malice and greed.
Big Mac's war was just another scene
In a tale of where gold and power breed.

Mac's plea for absolution doesn't wash.
The blood keeps seeping through.
Now no one's left from the gang of war
To pay the piper's due.

When will peace and ploughshares reign?
When will the bombs be banned?
When men see war as the devil's scourge
And mothers and sons take a stand.

—Freddy Dolgon

<< 39. snapshots from the edge of a war41. Army Reserve Officer Against the Vietnam War >>