Article in the Tennesee Historical Quarterly,
Vol. LXV, 2006
Article in Connecticut History 40 (1) 13-31
New York History, Winter 2006
Accessing Connecticut Patient Records to learn about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder During the Civil War.
Matthew Warshauer and Michael Sturges
Article in Is the American Dream a Myth, edited by Kate Burns, Greenhaven Press.
ISBN 0-7377-3494-9. online version: http://www.americansc.org.uk/online/American_Dream.htm
We all know the story. In the midst of Bill Clinton’s second presidential term, news surfaced of an alleged sexual relationship between the president and a White House intern, Monica Lewinsky. Clinton at first denied the charges ...
I met with a good friend last spring and he asked me what I thought the greatest danger was regarding Trump. There was no hesitation. North Korea. And I believed the major breaking point would come with the 2018 Winter Olympics ...
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I met with a good friend last spring and he asked me what I thought the greatest danger was regarding Trump. There was no hesitation. North Korea. And I believed the major breaking point would come with the 2018 Winter Olympics to be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea. How could Kum Jong Un not use the Olympics as an opportunity to show his “power” and shock the world? And what would fist pumping Donald do in reaction?
As we’ve all seen, the last few months have revealed the seriousness of the North Korean threat and the foolishness of Trump. Rather than serve as a voice of reason and an adult who controls a military of tremendous power, he rants and raves, making the situation demonstrably worse. Hey, it’s always a good idea to taunt a lunatic who has nuclear weapons. Trump's recent speech at the UN was both disgusting and dangerous.
Some will argue that he needs to show American resolve and power. This is what we did with the Soviet Union. That issue, the Cold War, was, however, remarkably different. MAD (mutually assured destruction) kept both sides from launching strikes against one another. No such equation exists when it comes to North Korea. It’s clear that Kim Jung Un is not operating from a place of strategic reason. He and his family have been letting their own people starve to death for years so that they can pursue the North Korean nuclear ambition.
So why not follow Disastrous Donald into the land of “Fire and Fury,” as he put it? Because there is no way to win in North Korea. Sure, we could wipe the regime off the face of the earth, but larger ramifications are worse than pursuing a continued policy of containment. Consider this:
North Korea has over 20,000 pieces of artillery buried deep in the mountains overlooking Seoul. This is a metropolitan area where more than 25 million people live. Even if a nuclear weapon isn’t used, the devastation by artillery that we can never fully destroy will result in the deaths of untold numbers of South Koreans and American soldiers.
But, hey, most of them won’t be Americans, so Donald and his base are willing to make the sacrifice to show that the United States is not to be trifled with. We need to be respected, right?
Well how much respect will come for America when we destabilize another region of the world? We’ve done a bang up job in the Middle East. What will China do when several million North Korean refuges begin pouring across the border? That’s their problem, right? No, it will be our problem too when it sours relations with one of our biggest trading partners.
Worse, if that’s even possible, the world will be thrown into a massive economic depression. South Korea has the 4th largest economy in Asia and the 11th in the world. You can't destroy huge portions of Seoul without devastating the entire country's economy. An economy to which the U.S. is intimately tied.
So you see, Donald’s fist pumping and the stupidity of both he and his followers will endanger everyone, not just Kim Jung Un. This is not rocket science (sorry, couldn’t resist). These are the cold, hard, very dangerous facts. It’s all the more reason that we must stand up to and fight the man-child in the White House.
We all know the story. In the midst of Bill Clinton’s second presidential term, news surfaced of an alleged sexual relationship between the president and a White House intern, Monica Lewinsky. Clinton at first denied the charges, announcing to the American people, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” He changed his tune after it became known that secret tape recordings had surfaced in which Lewinsky told a co-worker about the affair, as well as recognition that a soon to be infamous blue dress stained with Clinton’s DNA was in the possession of special prosecutor Kenneth Starr. The rest, as they say, is history. Clinton became only the second president to be impeached, dodged conviction by the Senate, but was subsequently held in contempt of court for giving misleading testimony in another sexual misconduct case. He was fined $90,000 and lost his Arkansas law license for five years. What, however, are the long-term ramifications of the most famous blow job in American history?
Enter the “Butterfly Effect.” Chaos theory postulates that small occurrences, the flapping of a butterfly’s wings, for example, have a larger, exponential impact than one might imagine. The seemingly innocuous flutter of what appears to be an infinitesimal puff of air actually triggers a cascade of changes that, say, leads to a tornado or alters the direction of a hurricane. Who hasn’t watched sci-fi shows in which an historical timeline is radically altered by a random action that actually shaped a later reality?
This is the impact of the “Blow Job Heard Round the World.” Like the first musket shot at the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the political changing echoes of which reverberated around the globe, Clinton’s indiscretion has had similar (very negative) global repercussions.
First, you have to understand the significance of the Clinton presidency. William Jefferson Clinton was the first Democratic president reelected to office since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. FDR was elected in 1932 and subsequently re-elected three times (‘36, ‘40, and ‘44). Yeah, four terms. The 22nd Amendment was passed after FDR died, changing the Constitution so that presidents could serve only two terms. The sole reason no president had done so previously was the precedent established by George Washington. So, for 52 years no Democrat had managed re-election until Clinton. This is significant. One reason was his ability as a speech maker and fundraiser. Even in the midst of constant congressional investigations concerning personal matters and a Republican Party that thirsted for his downfall, Clinton cruised easily to an electoral and popular vote victory (379 and 49.2% in a three way field) that returned him to the White House in 1996. It was two years later that the Lewinsky Affair hit the press. For the remainder of his presidency, the scandal consumed America.
And the butterfly flapped its wings. The direction of the breeze was not particularly surprising. Al Gore’s 2000 presidential bid was steered off course. The most popular Democratic president in two generations, Clinton had lessened his brand and value. He became a liability and Gore felt compelled to create distance. Republican presidential contender George W. Bush gleefully held up the “morality” card, promising to “restore decency and integrity to the Oval Office.” His running mate, the inimitable Dick Cheney, announced, “Al Gore will try to separate himself from his leader’s shadow. But somehow, we will never see one without thinking of the other.” For his part, Clinton offered a weak mea culpa, noting, hopefully, “Surely, no fair-minded person would blame him for any mistake that I made.”
Surprise, surprise. Gore lost the election – well, not really. He won the popular vote, but was defeated in the Electoral College after an historic election highlighted by Florida recounts and an unprecedented Supreme Court decision that fundamentally interfered with the outcome. The 2000 Election became one of only five contests in American history (now six, after 2016) in which the person who won the popular vote failed to win the presidency.
The Clintonian butterfly had unquestionably, as Gore admitted, been “a drag” on the election. Some news analysts discussed “Clinton fatigue,” while Jacob Weisberg of Slate noted that “Gore ran away from Clinton as fast as his legs could carry him,” adding that Gore “would use tortured locutions to avoid having to utter the president’s name.” Consider also that Gore chose as his running mate Joe Lieberman, a senator from Connecticut who had been the loudest moral denunciator of Clinton during the 1998 impeachment hearings. Even Clinton understood the impact of his ill-fated Oval Office rendezvous, recognizing that Gore had distanced himself. Clinton later insisted that had he been able to campaign for Gore in Arkansas and New Hampshire, either one of those states would have provided the electoral votes necessary for victory, no matter what happened in Florida.
The undeniable truth is that Clinton’s fool-hearty fallatio cost Gore the keys to the Executive Mansion. All of this is, of course, interesting, but it is hardly the most devastating outcome of Clinton’s indiscretion or the continuing reverberation of the butterfly’s wings. That comes with 9/11 and Iraq.
We know this story too. On September 11, 2001, two jet liners screamed into the World Trade Center in New York City. Another hit the Pentagon and a fourth plowed into a Pennsylvania field. It was the most devastating terrorist attack in American history, and it’s highly doubtful that a President Al Gore would have changed the outcome. Yet the manner in which the rest of 9/11 played out, the U.S. response, and in particular Iraq, necessitates a single, critical question: Would Gore have ordered the invasion of Iraq? The answer is a resounding, “no.”
This isn’t the first time the question has been asked. A number of pundits have contemplated varying sides of this conundrum. Search “if Al Gore had won.” For his own part, the former vice-president delivered a major address on September 23, 2002 in San Francisco, focusing specifically on what the U.S. should and should not do in a post-9/11 world, focusing particularly on George W. Bush’s proposed invasion of Iraq. “I’m speaking today in an effort to recommend a specific course of action for our country which I believe would be preferable to the course recommended by President Bush,” began Gore. “Specifically, I am deeply concerned that the policy we are presently following with respect to Iraq has the potential to seriously damage our ability to win the war against terrorism and to weaken our ability to lead the world in this new century.”
Gore insisted that America should focus on those who attacked us on 9/11 (this didn’t include Saddam Hussein, though the Bush administration did their utmost to confuse Americans on this point). Gore readily acknowledged the threat posed by Iraq and the potential that they possessed weapons of mass destruction, but carefully outlined the difference between Iraqi regime change and the war on terror, insisting that going it alone in Iraq would damage our ability to unite the world against terrorisms. He also worried that Bush had “squandered the international outpouring of sympathy, goodwill and solidarity that followed the attacks of September 11th and converted it into anger and apprehension aimed much more at the United States than at the terrorist network.” It’s exceedingly hard to argue with Gore’s conclusions. The U.S. focus on Iraq had a devastating impact on our fight against terrorism and weakened America’s reputation in the world. Guantanamo Bay, extraordinary rendition, embracing torture in violation of the Geneva Convention, all of these issues have given the United States an ethical black eye and called into question our moral standing as the great defender of human rights. Some have rightly argued that Gore too would have been forced to deal with Iraq as a state in possession of weapons of mass destruction. True, but that is a far cry different from an invasion that shook Iraq to its very core and destabilized the entire Middle East. The world is now witnessing the largest refugee crisis since World War II. It is also fair to recognize that serious problems already existed in the region, but the failed occupation of Iraq was like pouring gas onto a smoldering fire, or whacking a hornet’s nest with a big American stick.
Let’s also remember that Gore wasn’t the one who entered the White House with a vendetta against Saddam Hussein. Russ Baker, author of Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, America’s Invisible Government, reports that Bush discussed as early as 1999 his desire to invade Iraq and finish what his father had failed to complete, the ousting of Hussein in the 1991 Gulf War. Mickey Herskowitz, former ghost writer to then Texas Governor George W. Bush, explained that Bush believed, “One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander in chief.” Bush went further: “My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait, and he wasted it.” He concluded, “If I have a chance to invade . . . if I had that much capital, I’m not going to waste it. I’m going to get everything passed that I want to get passed, and I’m going to have a successful presidency.”
9/11 gave Bush the “capital” he desired. It also allowed the President to further vent his ire towards Hussein, stating in 2002 that this was “the guy who tried to kill my dad,” referring to an alleged assassination plot against Bush, Sr. George W.’s personal antipathy toward the Iraqi leader and need for closure in finishing his father’s business in the Middle East was palpable. These were feelings absent in Gore.
Finally, a President Al Gore would not have been surrounded by neo-conservatives who forthrightly advocated invading Iraq and ousting Saddam Hussein. In a 1998 open letter to President Bill Clinton, a group of conservatives, including Donald Rumsfeld (later Bush’s Secretary of Defense), insisted that American policy toward Iraq had been unsuccessful and that “this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy.” Neo-cons had come to the conclusion that “containment,” the policy that dominated Cold War thinking, had been a mistake. All Iraq, the Middle East, needed was a strong shove, they believed. As these petty little dictators tumbled aside, democracy would spring up like so many McDonalds.
The simple fact is that W’s personal and presidential goals jibed perfectly with the neo-cons that thirsted for a new American foreign policy. The September 11 attacks became Bush’s perfect storm. The butterfly continued to flap its wings. Not only was he presented with the ultimate opportunity to finish what his father had failed to do, and at the same time avenge Hussein’s targeting of daddy, but Bush could be seen as a great war leader and carry the neo-con agenda into action. And so it was. George W. Bush, the man who defeated Al Gore in the 2000 election, subsequently steered the American ship of state directly at Iraq. The consequences have shaped the 21st Century. How did this manage to happen? How did we end up on this timeline? Because Bill Clinton got a blow job. The butterfly has landed.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Abstract and Objectives
Dr. Matthew Warshauer
Professor of History – Central Connecticut State University
Co-Chair, Connecticut Civil War Commemoration Commission Although Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was formally named in 1980, in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, historians and other researchers have no doubts that psychological ailments meeting the various diagnoses of PTSD affected soldiers in many if not most American wars. Whether one refers to the disorder as Combat or Battle Fatigue (WWII and the Korean War), Shell Shock (WWI), or Soldier’s Heart (Civil War), all of these titles included within the list of symptoms varying elements of present day PTSD.
Dr. Warshauer, working with a group of graduate students, has been engaged in the study of PTSD among Connecticut Civil War soldiers. In the course of their research they have identified well over 100 soldiers who were alternately treated at Fitch’s Soldiers’ Home (Darien, CT), and/or Connecticut Hospital for the Insane (Middletown, CT and presently CT Valley Hospital - CVH).
The historical context of PTSD, what has been learned, and how Dr. Warshauer went about getting access to the CVH records will be the focus of his discussion. The presentation objectives for the audience include: