Thursday, June 1, 2017

Hedda Bryn Langemyr

Hedda Bryn Langemyr  

We at Rothaugen middle school have got the opportunity to talk with a huge number og experts. Every expert is often an expert at conflicts or a world wide problem that we have been learning about at school. Through our facebook group called "Cooperation across the globe" we have been talking and asking questions to different experts. This blog is a page where we students informs you about the experts we have been talking to and today "Hedda Bryn Langemyr" is the experts I will talk about.

At school our social studies teacher has been talking about the Israel/Palestina conflict. He has given us the most important and superficial information when it comes to the conflict. But for us students it could be difficult to get the whole picture and perspective. So with asking Hedda Bryn Langemyr questions of everything we is wondering about , when we talk about the Israel/Palestina conflict.

Hedda Bryn Langemyr is the CEO for the Norwegian Peace Council. The Peace Council is like a umbrella for the Norwegian Peace movement. So we have got the opportunity to ask a high qualified expert from Norway Questions about the Israel/Palestina conflict. Langemyr is not working for an organization who only work with the conflict, so when she answers us, it will be for herself and not the orgnization.
We have been asking in Norwegian, but I will translate the question and the anwer to english.

Hi Hedda. Is it possible that someone outside the conflict can help Israel and Palestine to find a solution and an end for the conflict? Do you think yourself that the conflict is possible to fix? Can they reach an agreement?
Thank you for your time!

Hi Isak! There are many different parts and other countries that are involved in the conflict. So there is no lack of participation. But there countries that are involved are not engaged or open for a solution. They just used violence, and than you have a evil spiral going on. There is not enough engagement around the conflict especially from the United States, who is Israel´s most important supporter.This shows it could be difficult to find a solution and an agreement, when it comes to the Israel/Palestina conflict.

Made by Sigmund Graff 10e.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Jasilyn Charger

Charger against the miles
Imagine living in a community already struggling. Crime, drugs, educational issues, the list goes on. What would you say if someone came to you and said they wanted to build an oil pipeline beneath your religion’s sacred land. Would you let them tear apart what your reservation was built on?
Jasilyn Charger. Then, 19 years old. Jasilyn is a girl from Cheyenne River Reservation, located in South Dakota. Born and raised as a Sioux. She travelled to Sacred Stone Resistance Camp to fight the pipeline, to fight for the rights to keep the area clean from construction on the land where their ancestors lay. The $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline is set to be built on private land, causing stir between the company and the Sioux tribe, leading to thousands of protesters assembling.  
Jasilyn’s statement when asked by Democracy Now if she thought they could stop the process:
“I knew we could stop it, I mean, because it doesn’t take an extraordinary person to do extraordinary things. It takes one person to have the courage to stand up and to really say no, to really stand firm and not take no for an answer, to really persevere.”
While protesting, a group of 10 people agreed to do a ‘water run’. Travelling 500 miles on foot. Running in nothing but rain for two weeks straight. Starting at 09:00 until sundown.
Later on, completing another run. This time a lot longer and much harder. 1,200 miles were covered in the space of a month. Joining them, some of the younger from the different reservations. Teenagers that never had been outside their own area. Never seen skyscrapers and never seen this much of traffic.
Jasilyn had a tough life. Her father died before she was even born. Her mother drinking away the days. Jasilyn dropped out of school at the age of 13, it didn’t go well afterwards. Drugs now being a issue, it gave her no choice to leave for a rehab to become clean. Leaving her twin sister for a long time was one of the hardest things she had done. When Jasilyn returned the relationship was gone, and they went from best friends to strangers.

We at Rothaugen school had the chance to speak directly to Jasilyn and ask her questions about her life and her fight. Here are some:
Question: Hi Jasilyn Charger, we just watched your'e interview on YouTube about the protest on Standing Rock and im just wondering what could be the best thing to do to win this protest? Thank You !
Answer: Well no one win when i comes to protesting. The fight is never over. We understand who we are up against . Because when we do succeed. We send our protectors home broken from the front lines some wound. Most different. The dapl works lost jobs.lost money. The best way to benefit both is the work and hello each other with out violence or hate. The way we win to change their hearts by selfless acts and courage. We were all afraid but we stayed because we see this is bigger then all of us.
Question: Hey Jasilyn! We have learned some more about the pipeline, and I have to say I am really impressed with what you have done for your community. My question to you is do you have any idols who you look up to during these times? Anyone you think particularly highly of, like, for example, Martin Luther King?
Answer: Well my idols are my people for what they have gone through and survived though and they still continue to fight. They are my idols because even surviving genocide. And yet find hope and love and pray and the strength to keep moving on we do not think of our self's we think of out children.
Question: Hey Jasilyn!
Can I ask, what was the most difficult part of moving to Portland, away from your family, friends and tribe?
What did you feel about being sort of alone in a totally different atmosphere?
Answer: Moving away from south Dakota for the first time was scary and strange. But it gave me courage . it was the first time I saw a city or so many different enthictys. I had my twin sister with me. I had never felt so lost and small . what hurt the most i couldn't see the sky or the stars. The hardest part was explaining to people what rez life is like. To talk to the tribe people of the cost what is like on the plain. To help people understand what life we live. That we can't just get jobs and provide for our family's. They made is. Sound like my people were just drunks and meth heads. But I remind them who brought the alcohol and meth to my people.its hard to have a decolonized conversation with a colonized mind. I am neither dog nor wolf. But I will have to learn to live and walk in both worlds.
by Niklas Helland

Tim Brannigan

Growing up and being different

Tim Brannigan. (Picture source:

To grow is never easy. During your childhood there is so much that happens, you start to learn, you create bonds, you connect and you find out who you are.

Add being different to it, and the mix you get is a rough childhood.

Tim Brannigan grew up being the only black person in his family, and it wasn't easy. He didn't know who he was, and thought for a long time that he was adopted. But Tim Brannigan wasn't just treated different outside in the society, he was also treated different inside his household. His mother treated him differently.

Tim Brannigan's mother was involved with the IRA, she supported them. And Branningan says that he can remember them having training sessions at his house. This can be one of the reasons why he got involved with the IRA, Irish Republican Army, and got 7 years for it later on.

We asked Tim some questions, which he was kind enough to reply to.

Question: Do you think you would have joined the IRA if your mom wasn't involved in the IRA?

Answer: My mum was a supporter of the republican struggle and the IRA but not a member. She let them use our home for meetings and to store weapons. She also attended rallies and protests. I was very close to her so grew up steeped in the republican tradition. I joined a republican youth group during the 1981 hunger strikes in which 10 republicans died in a prison protest. This led to me joining Sinn Fein (the IRA's political wing) to do political work during elections and so on. My mum was very influential but I studied politics and was always a socialist and an activist. My involvement in later years was done without my mum's knowledge, to be honest. Getting actively involved meant sacrificing other aspects of my life and my mum, like most parents was torn between supporting the cause and wanting me to make the most of life's opportunities. She certainly didn't expect or want to see me in jail.

Question: What was the most important reason for going to prison and do you think it was worth it?

Answer: Was it worth it? Well, at the time it seemed right but now, with the benefit of hindsight I see former comrades now supporting austerity politics and policies such as cuts to corporation tax which will benefit big companies. Republican politicians including Gerry Adams now support many things they fought against. Privatization, cuts to education and pay freezes for public sector workers. In March Gerry Adams went to the Whitehouse for a party hosted by Trump. And, of course, they meet the Queen. I cannot support these things. I now realize many of my comrades are nationalists, not socialists. I'm a socialist. To be honest, I don't know if it was worth it. Let me put it this way, I don't think the IRA won. And republicans have done many things in power that they promised they would not do. A bit like Syria in Greece.

Question: What do you hope your book will achieve? Why did you decide to write it?

Answer: My book has been out for 7 years. It has been a great success. I have had about 8 movie offers and I sold the rights last June to a producer who has already won an Oscar for one of his other films (Birdman). Other people want to stage it as a play.
I wanted to tell the world what an amazing woman my mum was and how she was so determined to show a mother's love for her child. I also wanted to explain the struggle from my unique perspective and I wanted to make the IRA seem human and not just "terrorists" or "murderers". The jail chapters were very important to me as it was an amazing experience.

I actually decided to write it because I went to Africa to try and find my father. I was accompanied on that trip by a BBC producer who was making a radio documentary. I had to do some research and decided that, as I was a journalist I should write it all down and it might be of interest to people in Belfast but I have had astonishing reactions from people all around the world. People like you, students and academics, people interested in Ireland, people who were adopted and want to find their real parents and black people surprised that there was a black person living in such a white country. Many women love my mum's strength and bravery. Many republicans love it to.

It deals with big, universal themes. A mother's love, conflict, death struggle, oppression, a search for a father and the historic conflict with Britain. It's a book about identity, too. Religious identity, national identity, racial identity. The title is the question I have been asked all my life by Irish people. The word "really" is crucial. It's a challenge to me. Anyone who asks is basically saying, "You are black so you must be from somewhere other than Ireland. When I say i was born here, they say "Yeah but where are you *really* from?" It means they don't believe Irish people can be black. Sometimes the question is aggressive, sometimes it is just human curiosity but identity has been central to my life. And I've learned that identity and what we believe about ourselves is fixed but really, identity is fluid and it depends on situations. At times I have stressed my irishness because I wanted to fit in. But now, my blackness is the big issue for me.

When you grow up it's easy to forget that what you do know forms you as a person. Choices you take, or you parents take on you behalf, can effect you in the future. Choices who Tim has taken has led him to where he is today, whether it was getting into prison or it was becoming a author of the book Where are you really from. Which is up for maybe becoming a movie.

Choices takes us different places, good or bad.

When you grow up you face different choices all the time, I do, you do, Tim Brannigan do.

We all do.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Kate M Nash

The Troubles

We here at Rothaugen middle school in Bergen, got the opportunity to talk with Kate M Nash from Derry, Nothern Ireland. Among other expert, this is one of many experts we have been talking to through the last year in our facebook group "Cooperation across the globe". We use this group to get in touch with persons and expertd about the topics we learn about at school. This spring, our main topic in the subject english, is the Northern Ireland conflict. We have been seeing movies and learning about the conflict between the Catholics and the Protestants and how the government played a big role under "the Troubles". These things are very general and not very spesific or personal information.

So our teacher, Terje Pedersen contacted Kate Nash.

Kate Nash is living in Derry, Nothern Ireland and will talk about loss of her Brother under the Bloody sunday, and the wondering of her father under the terrible attack in LondonDerry. Kate is also very dissapoited on how the Police men who was killing her Brother and hurting her father. They are morders and didnt get any type of punish or punishment for what they did under Bloody Sunday.

This is the short summary of what Kate Nash have been exprienced under "the troubles" and we here at Rothuagen middle have got the chance to talk and ask Kate Nash questions about her life, and personal experience she can share with us.

Here is some examples of what we have been asking Kate Nash about.

Kate M NashI was wondering about one thing. Which arguments do you use, to get the soldier punished for what he did?
Thank you for your time!

Well of course this is an easy answer to your question . The only argument we need to use is to quote the Law Of The Land . A crime was committed on Bloody Sunday and those responsible need to be tried in a court of law . Every citizen is equal before the law and we are all entitled to Justice . We have proved that murder was committed , Britain has admitted that soldiers were responsible so what stops this going to a Court of Justice ?? We have waited 45 years for this , we have campaigned in many ways and will continue until it happens . I will not give up !! To bring you up to date with our struggle . The case of Bloody Sunday is now with The Public Prosecution Service who are the people who decide if these soldiers go into court . We have been told at a recent meeting with them that they cannot give us a date when they will make this decision but they will be able to answer that question at the end of the Summer !!

Kate M Nash Hi! 
I was wondering if you think that now that britain has gone out of the EU, do you think the rebellions and disagreements will rise and The troubles will repeat itself?

I do believe that at some stage the rebellion will rise again here but not because of Britains exit of the EU . The Troubles here have largely stopped but not entirely . This is because the IRA have split . Sinn Fein have accepted British ruling and indeed are part of that Establishment and are not considered Republican anymore and we have other groups of republicans here who continue with the struggle for Irish Unity . It is known that a lot of these groups have been infiltrated by British Undercover Agencies .

Sigmund 10e

Chad Dion Lassiter

Chad Dion Lassiter, the profesor who crushes the racisist idealism.

Sverre Bergh Skeide

The man at an incredibe 6 feet and 6 inches, have become an international spokesperson for racism in the states. The proffesor has researched racism for a long time, and has gotten incredible knowledge about the issue. He has been discribed as one of the New black intellectuals, meaning he has become a person of interest for the media. He is desribed as one of the better, if not one of the best proffesor in the topics "Race Relations" and "Democracy" in Philladelphia. But who is Chad Dion Lassiter, and how did he become inspired to become a proffesor?

Lassiter is not only a proffesor at the University of Philladelphia, he has also been a social worker fro 15 years, educating prisnors and middle school students like us about justice, racism and democracy.

"You can't save the world, but you can save the world of the indevidual one person at a time. So that alleviated any pressure about, I have to be the Next Martin Luther King, the NeXT Ghandi, the NeXT Moother Terresa, I have to get the next Nobel Peace Prize." Lassiter says in a video from 2009

Chad Dion Lassiter has been doing amazing and facinating work. He has become a group leader in an organization called operation understanding. As a Group leader he has travled to Africa and Isreal. He has also gotten the opportunity to shake the current popes hand. Ha has appeard multiple times in News such as fox News, and good morning Philladelhpia.

Us students at Rothaugen skole in Bergen were honored to have Lassiter visiting us here, despite the distance to come here. When he visited us and had sessions with us, he didn't just teach us don't be racist, cause racism is bad. He went deeper into the issue, and tought us about how can people justify racism, and showed us clips from police shootiing and questiond us what did each indeviduals think in these situations, and how could the situation been handled differently. These were some of the most valueble sessions I have recieved from my entire middle school experience. He didn't gave us a book about rasicm, asked us to read it and answer these questions after we were done reading. He made sure everybody was engaged and everybody had learned something. He asked us what we would do if we were in the middle of a police shooting, and made us questioning ourselves.
Bilderesultat for chad dion lassiter

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Nils Rune Utsi a Sami rapper

Nils Rune Utsi is a rapper from Norway who goes by the stage name SlinCraze, but he does not rap in Norwegian as you would belive. He raps in Sami.

Sami is a language that is almost dead. The Sami people were forced to learn Norwegian during the 18-hundreds, and early 19-hundreds. Sami was an outlawed language, and it was told to the Sami people that you could not get anywhere in life using this language, you had to learn Norwegian. This meant that often parents would not teach their children the language as they saw it easier just for them to learn Norwegian. Even today there is very few Sami people who speak Sami, even when the Norwegian government is trying to make up for what they did so long ago.

Nils Utsi was born in 1990, and he was born and raised in Kautokeino. A small Sami community. He was bullied a lot as a kid as a result of him appearing to be heavier than other kids, and many of his raps are about this. The bulling went way to far, and often he would tell his parents that he was going to school, but then just sit outside in the freezing cold, and then returning home again when school was supposed to finished. Utsi has been preforming all over Norway, but he has also been to other countries like Russia, Finland and Sweden to preforme his songs. He even got to preforme for the Norwegian king on his 70th birthday, but he sings for Sami communities for the most part.     

We received the chance to ask Utsi a few questions after watching a NRK documentary about him and here are some of them:

Q: Do you thin there is a big future in Sami rap?
A: Yes, I believe so. When I started doing Sami rap it was just me and a few other guys who was doing the same thing. Now I am seeing a lot of teenagers whom are following us by making Sami raps too, and I can't waite to see how Sami rap will turn out.

Q: I was wondering how you found out that you wanted to be a rapper, and if it ever is hard to rap about you past?
A: When I was a kid I was bullied a lot, and hip-hop/rap helped me a lot with making me feel better, I feel in love with it on the way, and then I just new that I wanted to do this for the rest of my life. For your other question: it is not hard to rap about my past as I feel it is an important topic, and I do not want other people to be bullies.

Q: What inspires you to make Sami raps?
A: I think what inspired me the most in the beginning was hip-hop from the US. Eminem was a big inspiration, and raps about the ghetto life really inspired me. Now I am mostly inspired by politics, and laws that effect the Sami people.

Q: Do you ever regret becoming a rapper?
A: Yes, a lot actually. It is not a life I would have chosen if I knew what came with it, but it also comes with a lot of great experiences, and possibilities. One time I was invited to rap at a wedding in a red zone (witch is a Ghetto area) in Guatemala.

I think that we learned a lot from Utsi, and I also think he is a very brave person who is not afraid to rap about his past were he as bullied, and also rap in Sami. Just a few decades ago I think that rapping in Sami would get you a lot of hate.

By Christopher Conti.

Sebastian Stein from "Leger Uten Grenser"

Sebastian Stein is a well know man in Norway. He was also the leader for “Leger Uten Grenser” middle sea rescue events. “Leger Uten Grenser” is a neutral Norwegian medical organization that wishes to help anyone in need of medical assistance in countries with war, or other violent problems. Now Sebastian Stein spends most of his time trying to spread awareness about refugee problems, such as how they are being treated in different countries. A lot of them have been tortured, not well feed and/or mistreated in other ways.

Picture is taken from Sebastian Stiein’s video on Facebook.

On the 19th of March (2017) Sebastian Stein posted a video on “Leger Uten Grensers” official Facebook page. Here he explains that a lot of people are mad about president Trumps wall on the Mexico-USA border, but not many people know about the wall Norway is building. While not a physical wall like the one in the US that is expected to be built, Norway is asking many countries to stop allowing refugees into their countries, thereby stopping refugees from coming to Norway.

A lot of Norwegians has seen this video, and it has 500 000 views on the “Leger Uten Grensers” Facebook page alone, and it has been shared across face book more than 5000 times in just 4 days.

3 Days after the video was posted on Facebook our teacher: Terje Pedersen managed to get us the chance to ask Sebastian Stein a few questions, here are some of them:


I agree that we should treat all the refugees in a good manner, but do you have any ideas about what to do with the refugees that get to Turkey?


I think it is very important to treat the refugees well, but one of the main problems are that the refugees need to get to other countries beyond Turkey, and not just stay there as they have way too many refugees already.


What will you be doing further to help the refugee crisis in the future?


I will continue with poking the politicians in this country to try and convince them to do something about the situation, and I will also be continuing my humanitarian work, to try and make refugees safer on their travel.


I can tell that you have a very strong opinion on the wall, but do you see anything good about any walls, or do you think that all the walls in the word are bad?


I am not an expert in walls around the world, I expect many of the city walls that they had in the middle ages to be good, and helpful during war times, but I do not think that this wall is good in any way.

I think everyone lerned a lot from Sebastian Steins video, and I think many people did not know about this wall, and now they do thanks to Sebastian Stein, so thanks for informing the world a bit more!

Written by Christopher Conti.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Submarine veteran Mike Masishin

Regarding the cold war which we have been working with for the past few months, Terje Pedersen searched around on Facebook after a new US veteran. A submarine veteran! After som patience, Mike Masishin appeared.

Mike Masishin is a cold war, submarine sailor. He worked in the "nerve center" in the submarine. The control room. Mike was stationed for 4 years aboard ballistic missile submarines, including USS Alexander Hamilton and SSBN 617 during the height of the Cold War. 1969-1973.
We asked him were his submarines were stationed, but that was classified. The only thing he could tell us, was that the Mediterranian sea were very buissy, and The North Atlantic sea was some really rough water during the winter.

We were lucky enough to get to ask him questions:

Q:What were your thoughts about the future during the height of the Cold War? Did you ever seriously fear for your life, and if so, when?

A: We all prayed that orders for a strategic launch would never come. We were out there to keep the USSR from initiating a first strike. They did not know where we were operating. Of course the same situation existed off our shores. They actively hunted us as we did them with our fast attack submarines. One of our subs, USS Lapon, successfully trailed a Soviet boat for nearly its entire patrol. USSR knew if they struck first that it would effectively be the end game. There would be no reason to sail home. I was never fearful except for the time that there was an announcement that the oxygen generator malfunctioned and smoke emerged from it. It was called away initially as a fire....Oh, also the times that deep draft tankers passed over us while down 250 feet in the Med

Q: Did you ever come close to any Russian submarines? and for how long could the submarine be submerged at a time?

A: No, we never came close to any Soviet submarines.. It was our objective to remain far from any hunter-killer subs. We didn't want to be shadowed by a hunter-killer sub. I worked in the control center of the submarine. We tracked many contacts but never identified any Soviet fast attacks. We remained submerged for a period that averaged 75-80 days.

Q: How did you view the Soviet union during the Cold War? Many Americans might have viewed them as the "big bad wolf", did you think of them as that? Did your view at any point ever change?

A: "Big bad wolf" is not a term I ever considered. We did refer to them as Crazy Ivan. We viewed them as the advesary and opposition in an often potentially dangerous undersea game. We knew they were looking for us off the western coast of Europe and the Med. We hunted them in the Atlantic Ocean. They were still human beings also inside of a armed nuclear submarine doing the job that their leaders had assigned to them. We were ever vigilant but in nearly all respects we were the better trained, better equipped and better paid fighting force. Much if not all of our equipment was superior in construction and design. I maintained that viewpoint until the time I left the Navy and still do today.

The collaboration with Mike Masishin has been really interesting and informative. We are grateful for being able to work together with persons like Mike. And we are looking forward to the continue.

Written by Ola Schei

Monday, March 6, 2017

Former IRA gunman, Laurence Mckeow

Laurence Mckeown is a former gunman for the IRA (Irish Republican Army) who was fighting for an independent republic without Great Britain.
Laurence Mckeown took never part in a murder, but was convicted for attempt in murder off some officers, and was sent to jail for 16 years.
We have recently started working around the Irish rebellion, and we were so lucky we got the opportunity to communicate with Laurence Mckeown.

We recently had a skype video with him, and this is roughly what he answered.

Q: If you could go back to the time you worked for IRA, would you change any of your actions?
A: There are maybe something I wouldn’t have done over again that I don’t remember at this moment, but no in the big picture i wouldn’t change any of the decisions I made.

Q: Do you feel that any of your actions improved the circumstances for the Irish under The Troubles?
A: I maybe feel that it went both ways. in the big pictures I feel that we improved the circumstances under The Trouble, but something also got worse.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Q: How did you get involved with the IRA?
A: When i was younger i had always heard people singing rebel songs in bars, but I thought that was kind of hypocritical. I always thought something more militant would get more handy. Then when I had been around as a teenager in places like Ardboe, Cookstown and Moneyglass, I came across an IRA member, and instantly got interested. When I was 16 years old, I asked him if I could join, but he said I could ask again in a year and i’ll maybe be allowed. Then, in 1973 if I recall right i was let in and became a member of the IRA.

As you can see through the answers of our questions, Laurence Mckeown still has his mind in the same place as when he was active for the IRA, and stands for his cause. He has now retired from the IRA and lives a peaceful life as a playwright and film-maker.

Written by Mats Ellingsen

Monday, February 27, 2017

American Veteran, Paul Mooney

Lately, our class has been working with the cold war. We have learned about the Korea War, The Cuba crisis, the Berlin wall, the Vietnam war, etc.
To "spice" the education about the Vietnam war up a bit, our teacher reached out to Paul Mooney, an American veteran, who served in Vietnam.

Paul Mooney served in Vietnam for two years. After these two years, Paul went back to the US, and got interested in journalism.
Paul is now a freelance journalists who has been working in countries such as Burma, Thailand and Vietnam for the last few years.
We have been lucky enough to get to ask him questions about both his time serving in Vietnam, and his personal life.

Q: What have you felt about the war after you have seen how the people were injured after the war?
A: I certainly feel a moral guilt for the war and my participation. I was not involved in any misconduct or war crimes, but I know they happened in Vietnam by the US military. This pains me. I grew up on American war movies where we were always the good guys, and it was extremely troubling for me to see that in Vietnam we were sometimes the bad guys. When I went to Vietnam four or five times over the past 15 years, I didn't tell people I was a Vietnam veteran because I thought they might get angry with me. To my surprise, when I was in Vietnam in 2015, I met three times with Vietnamese Army officers around my age, for whom I was the enemy. To my surprise, they were not angry, but instead insisted on shaking hands and taking photos together. Their attitude really surprised me. I've written more about this below and hope you can take time to see some of my other related comments to your classmates.

Q: I was wondering how you feel about the Vietnam War in retrospective?
A: When I was 12, my second oldest brother went to Vietnam. In those days, there were only a few Americans military in Vietnam. But at a young age, I was already aware of the war. I didn't like school, but I read a lot and became obsessed with the war. I read a lot of books on the war, and in the early 1960s, many people and the leading media supported the war--this was before the US public began to question the war. By the time I turned 15, I was determined to quit high school when I was 16 and to enlist when I was 17, the youngest age allowed to join the military in the US. I was very gung ho and wanted to fight communism. I prayed the war would not end until I got to Vietnam (I feel silly about these thoughts now). I arrived in Vietnam in 1968, and by this time US public opinion and the media were beginning to shift their views of the war. In my rear base camp in Vietnam we had a trailer truck library with an excellent collection of books on Vietnam's history and the war. I began to read books when it was possible and read quite a bit on the war. The books described a reality of the war that was different from what I'd read about and had been taught about during our training. Then as I worked as a soldier I began to see the things that were going wrong with the war, and my views quickly changed. I understood that my government had lied to me about the war and I became cynical. It's my belief now that the war was wrong and that America should have never gotten involved. More than 56,000 Americans died in Vietnam and several million Vietnamese lost their lives. What a tragedy. It didn't have to be that way. I regret and feel sorry about how the US hurt Vietnam.

Q:  I was wondering why you decided to travel over the seas to Vietnam? What was your motivation, and your prime reasons for joining the army? Also did your opinion of the war change once you came home to the US?
A: I grew up in a conservative Irish Catholic neighborhood in the Bronx, where all the working class fathers had fought in World War Two or the Korean War. We grew up being proud of this. And we loved to watch the war movies which portrayed Americans as heroes. As a child, my friends and I would often play war in vacant lots in the Bronx. Usually fighting the Germans or the Japanese. I had three older brothers and each one of them had gone into the military, and were still in the military when I turned 17 and could enlist. Enlisting in the military in those days was something people like me were expected to do. I remember around Christmas when we went to mass, it was common to see many young men in the church wearing their uniforms. I loved to read history as a child and so around the age of 14, I began to read about the Vietnam War. In the early 1960s, most Americans and much of the media supported the war. So everything I read supported the war and made it look like a just and honorable thing to do. When i went to Vietnam, I really believed I was going there to save the people of Vietnam from the threat of Communism. My views of the war changed before I even left Vietnam. By the time I arrived in Vietnam in 1968, shortly after turning 18, the public mood in America had changed, the media was widely reporting problems in the war, and support for the war was shaken. I had access to books on Vietnam in my unite and read widely on the war. These books contradicted everything I'd learned about the Vietnam War in my books and training. As I took part in the war, I saw how bad the situation was and how inadequate our strategy was, and my views changed dramatically. Our policy of attrition was wrong and immoral. And I saw that there was a great deal of corruption in the South Vietnam government, and I was frustrated by this. Also, I worked as an advisor to the 18th ARVN Division, and saw how poorly trained and led the South Vietnamese soldiers were. The whole war was a disaster and my newer reading and actual war experiences opened my eyes to the reality. After I got out of the Army in 1970, I decided to go to university. I originally wanted to continue with my Vietnamese studies, but soon realized American was sharply divided by the war. My own neighbourhood was quite conservative and many of the people supported the war, while some others opposed it. It tore apart the fabric of the society I'd grown up in. I decided I didn't want to spend the rest of my life arguing with people, and so I withdrew from anything to do with Vietnam, and switched my university studies to China area studies. It was only two years ago when i made a bitter-sweet return trip to Vietnam with two veteran friends that I found it was possible again for me to think about the war and since then I've been reading a lot and going over things in my head to try to find some sort of closure. I was happy when I went back to Vietnam to be warmly welcomed by Vietnamese Army officers who did not criticize me for being their enemy during the war.

Q:What were the differences between Johnson's and Nixon's strategies during the war?
A: John F. Kennedy had decided fighting in Vietnam would be not have a positive result, and so in 1963, he quietly began to plan for a withdrawal of US troops from Vietnam. The Pentagon was not happy about this, or his secret contacts with Kruschev and Castro, and his assassination in 1963 may have been engineered by the CIA as a result. Vice President Johnson assumed the presidency, but was determined not to be the first US president to lose a war. His strategy for fighting the war was wrong, and the worsening situation and growing public dissatisfaction with the war ended his political career. He tried to find a way out of the war through the peace talks with Hanoi in 1968. Johnson was calling for a complete halt to the bombing of North Vietnam, but Nixon was afraid this would hurt his chance to be elected president of the US. Unfortunately, Nixon, who was campaigning for president on a platform to end the war, maneuvered to prolong the Vietnam War for his own political gain. He felt he needed the war to go on a bit longer.

An aide to Nixon intervened by convincing the South Vietnamese leadership to abandon the talks. Nixon’s people told the South Vietnamese government that it would get a better deal with him as president if they withdrew from the talks.

Nixon won the election by just 1 percent of the popular vote. But once he got into office he actually escalated the war into Laos and Cambodia, losing an additional 22,000 American lives, and who knows how many Vietnamese lifes, before finally settling for a peace agreement in 1973. Had the 1968 talks not been sabotaged, many would not have died in the war.

As you can tell from the questions and answers above, Paul Mooney really put time and effort into answering our questions. Every answer were long, informative and well written.
During our cooperation with Mooney, we all learned a lot. What I find most important, is that we learned how the soldiers and the affected people actually felt about the war. Not only what the media chose to tell the public.

Written by Ola