Kneeling in the mud of Flanders (4 photos)


“Our struggles are old and have their roots in hegemony,” writes the author. “Tea, money, opium and firearms are part of the mix”

Fall and Halloween are over and a cold November day in Midland is dawning.

It’s always the same at this time of year because the first frost kills everything.

I think of Flanders at the moment and of the mud, misery and death for the twenty years.

My family served as soldiers. My, my, my generation, to echo the Who, saw Vietnam through Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, every night at six o’clock. Tet, Mekong and Hanoi are all part of our lexicon.

Jane Fonda went to Hanoi and spread the idea that the peasantry was just that and that the United States was “imperialists”. Apparently, political science was not his forte. I guess we’re playing the cards, we’re shuffled. Kang Sheng would have liked her. (Siri: Kang Sheng).

China was the game and we fought a losing battle, while pumping oil from the Gulf of Tonkin as fast as we could… these were French fields… until nationalization. Difficult to wage a guerrilla war.

There we sat, in front of our televisions, trying to figure out who was on which side as Pavlovian signal switching was rampant. We won the war and beat the Japanese in the east, and saved the Chinese. The Nanjing Abduction still gives me chills.

Mao has come to power and you see the result. Would the nationalists have been better? Who knows. Balances are difficult to maintain because the center keeps changing.

Our struggles are old and have their roots in hegemony. Tea, silver, opium and weapons are part of the mix.

China has a long memory, and since the end of the Hong Kong lease, Taiwan looks great when you’re hungry. Let us not forget the other borders either, in particular those that we share.

Free trade and open borders are synonymous with challenges, and whether it was Britain and Germany yesterday, or China and the United States today, the problems are the same.

Is this a story of warning or a story of hope?

Of course, that must be a hope. We have no desire to send our children to war. Diplomacy must be intimately linked to force majeure.

It’s a cold November day and I’m knee deep in the mud of Flanders.

René Hackstetter, November 4, 2021.


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