Pete Kendall's Socio Times: A Socionomic Commentary

June 1, 2006

My Lai on the Euphrates?
The My Lai massacre will always be associated with worldwide outrage and the loss of public support in the US for the Vietnam war. What happened in March 1968, when soldiers of Charlie Company, killed more than 300 villagers, did not become public knowledge until November 1969. The killing of 24 innocent Iraqis at Haditha on the Euphrates took place last November, and though reported in some detail since March, it is only now that the whole grim story is emerging. This is without doubt another massacre that will be long remembered. Haditha, where the alleged perpetrators were men of Kilo Company, 3rd battalion, is the worst known incident involving the unprovoked killing of unarmed civilians.

Haditha may now supplant the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal as the single most damaging event of the occupation.
The Guardian

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The 'Energy' and 'Anger' of the Decline Catch Up To Haditha
By: Pete Kendall, June 3, 2006
Today’s interplay of markets against a backdrop of diverging social phenomena—from plunging presidential approval ratings to attacks against the most successful corporations to an increasingly unpopular war—duplicates the collective social experience of 1968.
The Elliott Wave Financial Forecast, June 2006

Subscribers should take a long look back at the “‘68 Parallel” chart on page 4 of this month’s issue of The Elliott Wave Financial Forecast. It’s sometimes said that history never repeats itself exactly, but this time around the cultural echoes are so close to the last high-degree trend change of at least Cycle degree that the media is actually referencing the link to the late 1960s. The “My Lai Comparison” (CBS News, June 1) is exploding everywhere in the media:
Haditha Killings Recall Vietnam's My Lai
Seattle Post Intelligencer, June 3
Massacre Echos Past
Calgary Sun, June 3
Spectre of Vietnam Rises in Haditha
 Montreal Gazette, June 3
Echoes of Another War, Another Massacre
CNN, June 2
Haditha: Ghost of My Lai
Prensa Latina (Cuba), June 2
The Untaught Lessons of My Lai
Guardian Unlimited, June 2

“Nearly four decades later, the notorious name of that hamlet - My Lai - has been summoned from memory again. While the numbers differ, some of the circumstances are eerily similar,” says the Montreal Gazette. On May 31, a Vanderbilt professor put out a press release that says, “In another odd similarity, there is already discussion of whether there was a deliberate cover-up of the incident. Did commanding officers seek to downplay or suppress public knowledge of the crime?" Who knew, what and when? These are the questions that always ultimately follow in the wake of a downturn in social mood because they are invariably created by the unanticipated swing from unscrupulous to scrupulous, from the high spirits, abandon and capriciousness of a peaking social mood to the control, blame finding and soul searching of a bear market.

Just a few days ago, on May 31, a German paper, Deutsche Welle, asked, “Why the alleged massacre of Iraqis by US soldiers in Haditha -- unlike the torture scandal at Abu Ghraib prison -- has not caused worldwide public outrage?” The answer, according to a media expert was that “the horrible pictures are missing.” But even though no new graphic evidence has appeared, the media is swarming to the Haditha story. Given the explosive growth in Haditha coverege it will surely "supplant the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal as the single most damaging event of the occupation," as the story at left suggests. The reason is the alternate socionomic explanation EWFF offered back in June 2004, when Abu Graib made a sudden appearance in the headlines after a similar delay (see Additonal References for the full commentary). Like Abu Graib and the My Lai massacre in 1968, Haditha happened last November when the Dow Jones Industrial Average was rising strongly. All three incident only become a media sensations when the DJIA was in the midst of a decline. It must be the downturn in social mood rather than any set of facts on the ground because in Iraq, where the massacre took place, the event is more or less forgotten. The Baghdad Bureau Chief for Knight Ridder reports that even as it explodes in the U.S. media, the response in Iraq is “Surprisingly quiet. It hasn't gained a sort of energy or anger that you're hearing in the U.S.” Abu Graib slipped out of headlines because the market rallied it away. If the market stays down, as we suspect it will, it will join with Haditha and be remembered for touching off a whole new era of U.S. introspection and self-criticism.

Additional References

June 2004, EWFF
It seems so obvious now, but we do not recall anyone agreeing with EWFF’s forecast for a protracted war in Iraq back in late March of 2003 when U.S. forces were storming toward Baghdad: “Currently, it is not expected to last much longer than the first Persian Gulf War. But the level of divisiveness surrounding the latest conflict, the terrorism that precipitated it and the extent of the U.S. incursion on to foreign soil already suggest that the endeavor will last longer and be far more geopolitically complex than its predecessor.” In October, The Elliott Wave Theorist added, “The occupation of Iraq by the U.S. will progress from a quagmire to a financial, political and public relations disaster.”

This outcome has clearly come to pass. Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma used virtually the same language to describe the latest development, a scandal over sexual abuse and torture of Iraqi prisoners: “This was a political and public relations Pearl Harbor.” Back in October when EWFF initially compared the mixture of peak mood and emerging bear market trends to that of 1968-1970, one of the signs of the victory mentioned for the negative mood trend in late 1969 and 1970 was that “trauma over Vietnam reached a new extreme.” At this point, the victory for the negative side of the social mood is so evident that the newspapers are completing the analogy for us. Many compared the Iraq prison scandal to another international military incident that was revealed 34 years ago, the My Lai massacre, which also forced many Americans to confront a negative self-image for the first time. In both cases the incidents occurred before the stock market peak, but the public’s explosive response came months later when the market was in full retreat.

Some have said that My Lai was a more serious atrocity because of the loss of hundreds of lives, but from a socionomic perspective Representative Cole’s “Pearl Harbor” comment is an accurate representation of the Iraqi prison scandal’s larger historical significance. The United States will survive the bear market, but the ideals and values that it stands for will be severely tested.

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