Thursday, March 9, 2017


Where is the modern "Der Schokoladenflieger" when we need him?


  1. The problem with that, mike, is that we didn't spend half a century building up ill-will in Germany. Let's face it; between going all-in on Israel starting in '67 and beating the living dogshit out of various secular Arab governments beginning in the Fifties We the People - or our government in our name, anyway - has poisoned that fucking well.

    I'm not saying that it wouldn't be nice to try and develop some goodwill. But Nestle's only takes you so far when the kid recognizes the rifle pointed at him as "made in the USA"...

  2. Its is cheaper to try and develop some goodwill with a few hundred dollars worth of candy than all the other BS we have tried.

    But in any case it probably would be countered with propaganda that it was poisoned or laced with bio agents.

  3. Don't think propaganda would be needed; the locals themselves have seen enough of the American Way to know that the candy comes with a lead surprise inside.

    Remember that the "Candy Bomber" was engaged in doing something that actually HELPED those German kids. Had he been flying a B-17 on the way to firebomb Essen I doubt whether a couple of Hershey bars would have helped shape German opinion...

  4. FDChief -

    I'm not touting this as a solution. And am not asking for an official program, because surer than hell the bureaucrats would turn it into something FUBAR. All I am saying is where are men of goodwill like Lieutenant 'Hal' Halvorsen, his copilot and engineer who pooled their candy rations and made mini-parachutes out of handkerchiefs.

  5. My understanding, Mike, is that hundreds, maybe thousands, of guys - on patrol, at checkpoints, in local CAP-type teams - did all this and more; helped kids have fun, donated food, clothes, pitched in to rebuild houses and build schools.

    The problem is that the well was poisoned. One kid killed at a checkpoint, one midnight raid, one Blackwater rampage and all that love was lost. The blockade fliers didn't have MPs killing pregnant Germans at the checkpoint at Unter den Linden.

    There's no way we could unscrew that pooch with some Skittles ..

  6. Yes! But you are arguing against a point that I am NOT making. Sure the pooch is screwed. So what, why not pass out some candy anyway.

    Do you honestly think that Lieutenant Halvorson back in 48 was trying to propagandize starving German children? So that they would be good friends to America? So that they wouldn't tun into future Nazis? So that they would grow up to be good allies? So that they would not hate Americans?

    Halvorsen did it because one day when off duty he saw a group of thirty children under the flight path watching the food drops. He shared some chewing gum with them but he only had two sticks to give them. He watched as they broke it up into tiny pieces to share among themselves. And he watched the ones that did not get a piece smell the gum wrapper. That is why he did it.

    Perhaps the general that later turned candy bombing into an official Air Force program had your propagandizing in mind. Or perhaps not, maybe he too saw those kids the same way Halvorsen did. The American kids that donated candy to the program probably also saw it the same way Halvorsen did. The candy makers who got into the act were probably in it for publicity, but some were maybe pushed into it by employees or the wives of the execs.

    I say give 'em some Hershey bars. To hell with whether the well is poisoned or not.

  7. As I said; my understanding is that a LOT of GIs do this kind of little kindness all over the Middle East. The problem with that being that it runs against the narrative of our endless wars, instead of with it as the nice story of the Candy Bomber did the Airlift. It's not that the GIs can't or won't it's that it's hard to make the tales fit the narrative. Try and imagine a news story about Doc Lawes handing out Hershey in the streets of Tal Afar and you run into the problem that his platoon is there killing and capturing the kids' daddies...hard to make that a heartwarming story that'll have kids in Skokie donating their Halloween candy.

    I was telling my wife about why I didn't thoroughly enjoy a television adaptation of a book I loved, and my reason was that they stripped out a LOT of the complexity and moral ambiguity. That's kind of a feature with video it's good at simple, good at big emotion and primary colors.

    But trying to tell the story of Doc Lawes, the Candy Medic of Tal Afar? That's difficult and complex. It'd be hard for the news to tell, and even harder for Americans to understand. I've been reading similar stories for years. They get no traction because of the complex, difficult moral dilemma of helping the kids while your boot is on the neck of their family confuses the audience. It's just not the simple, happy story of the Candy Bomber.

    So...I'm not saying "don't do this". In fact - I'm saying that it is being done, a lot, everywhere there are GIs. I'm saying that it's not being told to the public because it's not the simple story of goodness that the news wants to tell or the public wants to hear...

  8. FDChief -

    It is not that difficult and not that complex. The American press just needs to stop focusing on the antics of the clown Cheatolini. They should start looking at what is happening to not only some chocolate craving kids in liberated Mosul, but also:

    - the children in Yemen that are being starved by the Saudi blockade, and maimed or killed by Saudi indiscriminate bombing;

    - the women and children in southeastern Turkey that are being burned to death in their own homes by Erdogan's army and militias;

    - the children in Syria that are being turned into child soldiers by various FSA groups and the children being turned into suicide bombers by Daesh.

    But unfortunately our Fourth(?) Estate would rather broadcast our national sport of trashing each other politically. Whatever happened to the old school of Quaker journalists? What has happened to the old school of war correspondents who covered the horrors as well as the victories? Instead, todays so-called journalists sit safe at home while being spoonfed by the same politicos they pretend to be reporting on.

    You cannot tell me that all of the American public don't want to hear those stories. Except perhaps for a few fringe whackos who think those Iraqi, Yemeni, Syrian and Kurdish children are nits to be squashed before they turn into lice.

  9. Well...

    Most news divisions are shells of what they were ten or fifteen years ago. The wherewithal to have, say, a stringer in Aleppo or Mosul fulltime isn't there. So the news majors get pool reports that give you four minutes of superficial gloss for the newsreader. I know about the guys in Tal Afar and the Koregal because I'm an obsessive AND I get a lot of feed off soldier blogs and freelance sites. Those stories are out there. But you have to look for them.

    And I think you have way toolittle skepticism for the credulous simplicity of the American public. There's not 1 in 100 who could explain in the most half-assed way the relationship between the Kurdish factions, IS, Baghdad, Damascus, and Istanbul. Don't know, don't wanna know. Look at what happened in Iraq, and then Libya, and then Syria. Look at the uncritical acceptance of the conventional wisdom on Israel.

    I think the US public probably WOULD eat up happy-face tales of American goodwill in Afghanistan and Iraq. Certainly the Bushies tried to sell them. Problem was then Joe and Mary Lunchtime just couldn't understand why those ungrateful dune coons kept blowing up our Humvees...

    Just let it go, man. Bigger megaphones than ours have tried to tell nice stories of US troopers doing good in the Middle East. Problem is nobody listens, or believes them...

  10. FDChief -

    Not sure I will ever let it go. Perhaps the public is sick and tired of hearing about the middle east? But I do not believe they "don't wanna know" about coerced starvation of children in Mosul, in Yemen, in SE Turkey, in Syria, and elsewhere. Why aren't the efforts of the WFP and OxFam and UNICEf being publicized or broadcast by the American media.

    I believe you and I are talking about different issues. Either that or you have turned curmudgeonly in your old age. Not that there is anything wrong with that. I am continually accused of the same thing by my bride and some others.

    But there must be a way to break the media's complicit blindness. You are correct that they take the cheap way out. But they seem to ignore the press releases of the agencies that are trying to feed, clothe, and put a roof over the head of IDPs. That would not cost them anything extra. Is it a perceived ratings issue for the broadcast industry? Maybe, but certainly not for the print press.

  11. If you're talking about the electronic media, mike, I think there are a multitude of problems that keep these sorts of stories on the downlow.

    1. Cost. The cable news and the major networks (BBC, NBC, etc...) just don't have the foreign correspondents in place. That kills in two ways; the networks don't really have an understanding of local conditions, and they don't have anyone there to get it for them, AND they don't want to spend more rectifying those problems.

    2. Public interest. Seriously, the U.S. public has NEVER been particularly interested in the actual local conditions in the places we've bombed or sent people in to shoot the locals. That's not being curmudgeonly, that's just human nature. "We" aren't really interested in "them", and moreso of the "them" is an "out-group" them. Good example; exposing GIs to dead and captured German soldiers made them more likely to feel favorable towards them ("Gee, they're just dogfaces like us..."), while Japanese prisoners or casualties had the opposite effect. There's just NO public demand for more, or in-depth, information on the human issues in Syria or Libya or Iraq.

    3. Complexity. Like I said; electronic media in particular is really, REALLY bad at difficult, complex stories. Even print media has trouble following things like the Syrian civil war, both because of the danger and because it doesn't sell reverse mortgages and boner pills, which is what the news has to do now that the corporate media has decided that news has to turn a profit.

    4. Dog bites man The problem with "agensies that are trying to feed, clothe, and put a roof over the head of IDPs" is the "same-old, same-old" factor. War produces human misery; film at eleven. That's summed up by an eight-second shot of some wretched urchin squatting in the dirt. The news people aren't in the business of generating interest in or support for the relief agencies, much less the U.S. organizations that are trying to ameliorate this suffering. And it's considered just part of the landscape. Also ties into the "public interest" factor; Joe and Mary Lunchpail don't really give a shit how bad it sucks to be a Syrian kid run out of Aleppo. Not their circus, not their monkeys.

    Now. I think that the relief agencies are missing a bet here. I mean, my wife contributes to "Heifer International", this outfit that helps poor people by funding livestock. She learned about it because the HI people advertise. I think that if OxFam and MSF and UNICEF pushed their stories Americans would, at leat, listen to them. Same-same with USAid or the DoD. I'm not sure WHY they haven't. But there must be a reason, because those stories aren't showing up on CNN...

    Here's the thing; I agree with you in principle. The idea that the U.S. should be telling the world the good things it does in the Middle East is very sensible, given that the BAD things it does are brutally visible. doesn't, and hasn't, and my guess is that there must be a reason for that. guess also is that that reason(s) haven't changed, and that therefore they are unlikely to change in the near or even the medium future...

  12. FDChief -

    Your items #1 and #3 are right on and are common knowledge. Or they should be common knowledge, but probably are not to those brought up within the current media umbrella.

    Your #2 I take issue with. I was six-years-old in 1948. I distinctly remember having my mother give me packs of gum and candy to take to my school, which was collecting it for children in Berlin. Everybody in school was doing the same. And I do not believe that my school was the only one supporting that drive.

    You may say that was because the Germans were Euros or Caucasians like us. But I believe that at that time the C.A.R.E. relief agency was also sending their CARE packages to Japan and other countries in the Far East. Looking just now on the web, I see that outfit is still around.

    BTW my bride, who is addicted to the newsmagazine TV shows, tells me that 60 Minutes on last Sunday night had a major segment on the WFP in Sudan. That country is apparently another hellhole for kids.

    1. Sudan. Yemen. Somalia. Ethiopia. Chad. Take your pick...

      I think it's important to remember the differences between the Sixties and today. We were vastly less cynical. We really wanted to know "what we could do for our country". News was news, not entertainment...and we had vastly less of it, and as such it was more in-depth.

      Was there still dumb misinformation? Sure...look at how Vietnam was presented. But I think Americans in general were more engaged in thinking about our doings overseas...even if their thinking was misinformed.

      Today we're bombarded with "news", most of it trivial, ridiculous, or flat-out misleading. We the People have been fed forty years of propaganda about Scary Brown People. We've always been gullible and credulous but we not combine that with a vast indifference to the world around us.

      IF...if the news organizations decided tomorrow to change that I think they, and we, could. I think - the public cynicism is deep and damaging; any citizenry that contains some 25-30% willing to place an obviously unhinged, venal, corrupt conman in it's Chief Executive position is in very deep trouble - but perhaps not irreversibly. But it'd take a genuine effort, and a sustained one, and I'm not sure that the public is willing to follow thru. I'm damn sure the media conglomerates are not.

  13. Kurdish YPG fighters passing out candy to Arab children in a village near Raqqa: