I like MASH. Both the movie and the TV show. As everyone and his brother has noted, this is one of the few where a great movie was bested by an even better TV show. MASH was originally a short novel by a doctor who served in Korea in a MASH unit.
The MASH units were started in 1945, the brainchild of Dr. Michael E. DeBakey. The idea was that the closer to the battle wounds were treated, the better the healing would be. It worked. DeBakey may have been a tactless asshole that people hated to be around, but he was brilliant and he was right. The last MASH unit was disbanded in 2006. Pretty fair run. One place that the TV series is wrong is the way they showed triage. The easy cases were done first. Those that wouldn’t make it were set aside and given as much pain-killer as they needed. You did not waste time on hopeless cases. But they were right about the success rate. Very high. Like 96% survival.
Richard Hooker’s novel was just barely used for the movie. You know Hollywood can’t stand to do a book as written. Besides, Robert Altman hated the book and the original screenplay and wanted to do something about Vietnam anyway. There was mucho friction on the set with the major actors despising the director.
However, the movie was a success. Funny, irreverent, vaguely subversive. All the characteristics needed for the post-hippie anti-Vietnam crowd. I found it entertaining, on the whole.
The TV series was another kettle of fish. Made much later, there was not even the faintest effort to subdue the totally anti-military and anti-Vietnam tenor, even though the series continued long after the US withdrew from Vietnam. I find most of the shows amusing, some extremely funny, but when they get heavy-handed in their liberal moralizing it is a major turnoff. The favorite tactic used was to have someone sympathetic ask in some soulful, thoughtful manner “why are we here?” Then to have some objectionable jackass who theoretically represented a conservative, usually Frank Burns, give some off the wall business about protecting the world from the communists. Bullshit. We were in Korea because the North Koreans had invaded South Korea. Totally unprovoked. War of conquest. The leader of North Korea was Kim Il-sung, father of the current Kim Jung Il. South Korea did what the libs tell us they want nations to do. They squawked to the UN for help. Didn’t Kerry make a big thing about only UN actions being good – no unilateral activity? BTW – Harry Truman – DEMOCRAT – president at the time. Well, anyway, the UN sent troops to free South Korea. The US was part of that coalition. Maybe the biggest part, but we were not there as the US, we were there as the UN. You know – police action. Like the dems keep telling us to do with terrorists. Police, not army. Contain – not defeat. Anyway, the US provided the majority of the forces and did the majority of the combat. We floundered for 3 years being politically correct, and then withdrew when the UN told us to. Leaving North Korea undefeated. It is over 50 years later and we will still have to deal with this starving country and its psycho troglodyte leader. Contrast that with South Korea, plenty to eat. Lots of jobs, lots of money. If we had defeated North Korea and rebuilt it, then it would be just as fat and prosperous as South Korea. It’s the same peninsula, for Heaven’s sake.
Well, what can I say. Damn near everything the left thinks it knows about the Nam is wrong. First of all, we put troops into the Nam in 1950. Harry Truman – DEMOCRAT – president at the time. The French had pretty well bitched the whole colonial thing in Vietnam, and the rebels were giving them fits. You do remember the French? Yeah, the ones whose asses we’ve save so many times over the last 100 years. Yeah, the ones that hate us today. You now, French gratitude. Anyway, Harry sent a few troops over as advisors. Eisenhower inherited the mess, but kept troops to 500 during his presidency. The French ran away about 1956, and our troops were left to try to train the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. Train. Not fight. Although we did suffer some casualties. I knew a fellow in the mid-60s that was wounded in Saigon in 1957. Grenade. Took a bit of shrapnel in the legs. In 1960 John F. Kennedy – St. Jack to the dems – increased the troops from 500 to 16,000. How was that the Republicans? Lyndon Baines Johnson – so crooked he made Tricky Dicky look like a choir boy – really escalated the war. After solemnly promising that he would not send American boys over there to die. How is it that the left thinks that George W. is the worse liar? How is it that Republicans are war-mongers? If traitors like Kerry and Fonda and the whole peacenik movement had not been shoring up morale in North Vietnam, they would have surrendered about 1969 or 70. Not my opinion. Check the statements of the North Vietnamese officials of the time recorded for their war museum. If we had gone ahead and finished winning that war, then Vietnam would be a strong and free and staunch an ally as Japan is now. I have a Vietnamese friend who was “re-educated” three times – that translates as prison/concentration camp, with torture and overwork – after we abandoned the country before he could escape to America. He loves it here, but still feels betrayed that we broke our promises to South Vietnam.
The liberals of this country got us into both Korea and Vietnam. Both were “police actions” instead of wars that we meant to win. Both were blessed by the UN. Our buddies the French got us into the Nam. Just what the hell does the left expect if they diddle and micro manage the military like the stupids in Congress are trying to do now.
Look, no rational human wants a war if there are any other options. But – if you get in one, get in. Win. In as hard and fast a manner as possible. Don’t second guess the military. They don’t ask for these horrible wars. But if you politicians start one – get the hell out of the way and let the experts win it as fast as possible. Patten knew that you took more casualties by allowing an enemy to pin you down than you would take if you got up and charged at the right time. Politicians can never know the right time. A tried and true warrior does. Get out of his way. Or you will get him and his men killed. Then you can whine about the horrible number of dead – that you are responsible for.