Trump Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize

Shocked by the news that someone had proposed to give the Nobel Peace Prize to Donald Trump, I researched the story. It turns out that Trump has been nominated not once but three times. His first nomination came from a Norwegian Parliament member for his role in the United Arab Emirates-Israel peace deal. Next, a Swedish Parliament member nominated Trump again after he helped secure a deal for normalized economic relations between Serbia and Kosovo. The third nomination came in September from a group of Australian law professors—I couldn’t determine for what.

 I was relieved to learn that no Americans, not even the Republicans, had been involved in any of the nominations. Surely no sane American would believe that Trump, clearly the worst president in our history, would be deserving of a prize for the performance of his duty. The American press is reporting, instead, that Trump will be indicted for multiple crimes once he is no longer protected by the mantle of the presidency.

Things may get worse if Trump becomes more desperate as his forthcoming defeat in the November election appears inevitable. He continues to encourage white supremacist groups to intimidate voters and may refuse to depart the White House. We could be facing the first attempted coup d’etat in American history.

Trumpery

While I was preparing today’s post on the Donald J. Trump State Park in New York, one of my favorite online features, called Word-a-Day, issued an item on the word “trumpery.” Merriam-Webster defines the word as meaning “worthless nonsense.” The online text didn’t mention President Trump. It didn’t need to. Trump’s public statements of the past few days attacking Dr. Anthony Fauci and playing down the danger of covid-19 fit the definition of “trumpery” so well that no comment was needed.

Rename the Donald J. Trump State Park

According to Wikipedia, “Donald J. Trump State Park is a 436-acre state park located within the towns of Yorktown and Putnam Valley in Westchester County and Putnam County, New York. The park consists of undeveloped property that was donated to New York State in 2006 by developer and future President Donald J. Trump.”

A movement is underway to rename the park for deceased Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I’ve signed several petitions to that effect. Then I decided to learn more about the park. Here’s what I uncovered:

In 2006, Trump donated the undeveloped land to New York state, claiming its worth was $100m. But in 2016, Trump’s campaign stated its value as $26.1m in his list of charitable contributions.

The newspaper The Guardian reports that the park is not a park at all. It’s “two tracts of muddy, overgrown land between New York’s Putnam and Westchester counties that Trump purchased in 1998 for $2.75m hoping to build a golf course. Neighborhood officials halted the plan, citing environmental concerns, and the land was abandoned.” The area’s “parking lot” is “an empty gravel patch with a noticeboard that warns visitors to beware of ticks. There are no restrooms, trash cans, or places to sit. The remainder is basically bramble bushes and an empty field with bits of trash.”

Efforts to rename the park have failed. Trump required in the donation contract awarding the land to New York state that the parklands would bear Trump’s name prominently displayed.

So chances are that Trump could successfully block efforts to rename the park after Ginsburg. That’s all well and good. Leave Trump’s name on the mud pit. Find a beautiful and stately park to name after one of the greatest justices ever to serve on the Supreme Court.

And maybe, after Trump is defeated in his bid for re-election next month, we can find a way to banish his name from our parks.

Marines Capitalized (2)

I first met Al in Vietnam in the early 1960s when he was a captain. Over the years I kept running into him on the battlefields of Vietnam. He became something of a myth among the Marines for excellence in combat, his devotion to the corps, and his determination to accomplish his mission and look out for the wellbeing of the troops under his command. He was known for never asking his subordinates to do anything he wouldn’t do himself.

And it was Al and his Marines who saved my life as Saigon fell in April 1975. By that time, Al was a colonel. He and his troops were aboard ships of the 7th Fleet cruising out of sight of land in the South China Sea. I had succeeded in evacuating all but a handful of my 43 guys and their families, but to do that, I had to stay in Saigon until the end. Al and his Marines rescued the last of my men as the North Vietnamese laid siege to Saigon. Then, on the night of 29 April, after all my people were safely out and the North Vietnamese were already in the streets of Saigon, Al got me aboard a Marine helicopter which took me to the Oklahoma City, the flagship of the 7th Fleet. I flew out of Saigon under fire.

Al continued to stay in touch with me after he became a general. Over the years following the fall of Vietnam, he and I appeared together to tell our story at conferences and gatherings.

I don’t call him Al anymore. That stopped the day he was named Commandant of the Marine Corps. Now I call him “sir.” I have never met a Marine who doesn’t know who Al Gray is. He is one their heroes.

So I have a long history working with Marines. I had great admiration for them on the battlefield. And thanks to the Marines, I am alive today. Out of respect for the corps, its members, and General Al Gray, I always capitalize “Marine.”

Marines Capitalized

A reader asks (again) why do I capitalize “Marine” when I’m referring to the corps or one of its members. I answered that question sometime ago in this blog, but I guess it’s time to answer again.

During the thirteen years I spent so much time in Vietnam, my job was to support military forces on the battlefield with information about the enemy—which units were opposing us, where they were, what their strength was, what their plans were—derived by intercepting and exploiting their radio communications. The U.S. units I worked with were both army and Marine.

A problem I ran into repeatedly was not being believed. All too often, commanders knew little or nothing about my profession, signals intelligence (SIGINT), and were hard put to believe this strange civilian operating under the cover of being an enlisted man in their unit. It happened to me so often that I coined a term for it, “the Cassandra Effect.”

I faced credibility problems repeatedly with army units but never, not even once, with Marines. The Marines were trained to exploit SIGINT to the hilt. The Marine cryptologic units, who intercepted and exploited North Vietnamese communications on the battlefield, were the best I worked with. These guys were pros.

One important reason that the Marines were so good at exploiting SIGINT was the influence of an officer who had been SIGINT specialist before he became a troop commander. He was in Vietnam constantly back then, commanding troops and using intercepted enemy communications to guide him. His name was Al Gray.

More tomorrow.

The Trion Syndrome

Yesterday’s post brought a question from a fellow Vietnam vet who wants to know if I suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The answer is an emphatic yes.

But I don’t call it a disorder. I call it an injury. It’s clear to me as a sufferer that the disease is not the internal workings of the mind gone awry. It is the direct result of a wound to the soul inflicted by an external event, namely, witnessing the ghastly damage that combat does to human beings. I call it Post-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI).

I was in combat repeatedly over my years in Vietnam, supporting both army and Marine units on the battlefield. I watched the brutal deaths of men fighting by my side. My soul was permanently damaged.

In the context of my books, the focus of yesterday’s blog post, one novel is specifically about PTSI and the damage it can do. That’s The Trion Syndrome (Apprentice House, 2015). It tells the story of a Vietnam vet who suffers from all the symptoms of PTSI without knowing why. He has blocked the unspeakable memories from his conscious mind, just as I did. When he forces himself to remember, his life is permanently changed.

My writing been shaped by my struggles with PTSI. I wrote The Trion Syndrome to make myself confront my condition. It’s only by facing the unspeakable memories that a sufferer from PTSI can come to terms with the malady. That’s the best he can hope to do. PTSI is not curable. The memories never fade. Coping is the only remedy available.

And Last of the Annamese (Naval Institute Press, 2017) was written in part to allow me to vent my feelings about the fall of Saigon which I lived through, escaping under fire at the very end. I wrote No-Accounts (Apprentice House, 2014) to honor the memories of my five years of caring for AIDS patients at the height of the epidemic.

So, yes, I suffer from PTSI and always will. I write in part to explore and come to terms with memories that will never rest. That’s my fate.

My Books

I originally started this blog three years ago to promote my then-newest novel, Last of the Annamese. Over time, I wrote blog posts about all my books, including two published this year, Secretocracy and Coming to Terms.

As readers have noted, Vietnam has shaped my life—and therefore my books. Between 1962 and 1975, I spent more time there than I did in the U.S. I spoke Vietnamese, Chinese, and French, the three languages of Vietnam, and my job was to exploit intercepted North Vietnamese radio communications in support of U.S. forces, both army and Marine, in combat. After the withdrawal of U.S. forces in 1973, I stayed on as the head of the covert National Security Agency (NSA) operation in Vietnam. At the end, on 29 April 1975, I escaped under fire after the North Vietnamese were already in the streets of Saigon.

As a result, all of my novels, with the sole exception of Secretocracy, are in one way or another derived from my Vietnam experience. And the rest of my life reeks with Vietnam influences. My house is filled with Vietnamese art, knick-knacks, and memorabilia. All four of my children have memories of living in Vietnam and escaping from Saigon twenty days before the city fell to the North Vietnamese. I still occasionally dream in Vietnamese, a language I spoke constantly for thirteen years.

One of the two books I’m working on now will be about Vietnam. The story takes place during the battle of Dak To in 1967. There’s no escape from the past.

So the stories I tell in my books really do reflect the life I have lived. And if I weren’t such a fastidious writer (all my books went through at least ten drafts), there’d be more. All that said, I have no complaints. I was born to write, and I have fulfilled my destiny.

I’ve found that feedback from readers is the most valuable tool for a writer to improve. I invite all who read my work to give me their reaction. And if you want to know what I’ve written, go to https://www.amazon.com/Tom-Glenn/e/B009GGNYUM%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

Election Results: Be Patient

I’m worried that the initial results of the election that will be reported on the night of 3 November may be misleading. For reasons I don’t understand, more Democrats than Republicans are planning to vote by mail which could produce deceptive early counts favoring Trump. If that happens, Trump will declare himself the winner. Even if later results make it unmistakably clear that he lost, he may refuse to give up the presidency. America would be faced, for the first time in its history, with a coup d’etat.

I think it is more likely that, from the beginning, the vote count will make it clear that Biden has won by a landslide. If that happens, Trump will have no grounds for holding the presidency. Granted, he may anyway, claiming without evidence that the election was rigged. I suspect that the chances are high that we will need to remove Trump by force when it is clear he has lost the election.

Meanwhile, if the results of the vote count are delayed on the night of 3 November, I ask that all citizens be patient and wait for the final outcome. The results will be worth waiting for.

These Times of Leadership Lost (2)

Beyond the personal aspect of Jim’s comment (cited in yesterday’s post), the words he used to describe our current days are haunting: these times of leadership lost. Yes, that does describe the U.S. in October 2020. Those in power, Trump and the Republicans, don’t lead, they exploit. Witness forcing another conservative judge onto the Supreme Court on the eve of a national election. And it’s likely to get worse as Trump resists defeat in the election.

Yes, Americans now know what it is like to be without leaders at a time of great peril, a pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands of us. We know what it means to live through a recession with brief financial assistance that favored the wealthy then ran out. We know what it feels like when those in power refuse to act in our behalf while acting in their own.

We can only hope that next month’s election will change the status of our country. But we still have to face the possibility that Trump will refuse to vacate the White House and give up the presidency if he is defeated in the election. And we will have to live through the lame-duck days of November, December, and January before Trump is replaced.

What kind of chicanery might we be facing?

These Times of Leadership Lost

A reader named Jim commented on my blog post of several days ago about the weird time we are living in. His words:

“You may not being seen or think you are seeing anyone. Make no doubt of it though, you are being read and heard just fine. You speak for many that cannot come to express theirselves so eloquently to be published.

“Thank you Mr. Glenn for being a true and believable patriot in these times of leaderships lost.”

Jim’s comment humbled me and fulfilled me at the same time. I sometimes feel like a voice crying in the wilderness, unheard and unheralded. When readers respond, I feel less isolated.

I will write again about the odd time we are in and my fears for the way the next election will go. Thanks to Jim and other readers who have reacted to my writing, I’m encouraged and will keep on trying.