We Are Shadow Puppets To A New Regime

Wayang Kulit

Words unfamiliar unless you are Indonesian or South East Asian.

Shakespeare said it —

“All the world is a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”


But what of the shadow world we hide behind, or are led by?

Shadow dancers on the silk screen acting out…

These shadow puppet images showing the foibles and understandings

of humanity, and perhaps, the observer.

Sitting in the darkened audience of dancing gyrating shadow puppets.

Feeling our own impulses rise and fall to ancient Far Eastern music.

Thinking we are separate, yet feeling like an accomplice to the clandestine stories played out on the tiny stage…

These therapeutic or disturbing displays of puppet voices, dancing and acting out –

Allow us to live vicariously, safe, and apart from criticism of those who cannot read our minds, yet sit right along side us.

Shadows reflected

We watch and listen and anticipate even the obvious endings.

Tragedies and humor reflected in the dark shadows of our own lives.

Shadows dancing across our minds as they are on silkworm screens.

We see ourselves, but do not want those near us to see our likeness.

Our innards, kept in the privacy of our own internal Wayang Kulit theatres.

All the world’s peoples at times needing relief, much the same as portrayed in the darkened theatre of the Wayang Kulit…

This safe haven, offering relief, like our own movie theatres – sans puppets.

We all have this in common – we must exit outside into the glare of our political futures.

The voices of the Wayang Kulit theatre still in our heads, to syncopate with more renditions of our impending world apprehensions.

And it is true, the world is a stage, and may the hero or heroine, prevail.


JMS  1-1-2017


A review of my new book: The Fourth Pillar

Mr. Terry Irving is a four-time Emmy Award-winning journalist. He edited and reviewed my novel The Fourth Pillar to be published in 2017. As an award-winning writer and producer, he has won three Peabody Awards, and three Du Pont and Telly awards. He worked as a senior live control room producer at CNN, Fox, ABC and MSNBC. He wrote and edited copy for some of the top anchors and journalists in television news including Ted Koppel, Diane Sawyer, Wolf Blitzer, and Aaron Brown. Mr. Irving has produced stories in all fifty States and around the world from Beirut, Hong Kong, El Salvador, the fall of the Berlin Wall and Tiananmen Square.


The Fourth Pillar – Reviewed by Terry Irving

First, James Milton Smith is very much the Real Deal. He gets both essemtoa; of writing about war; riveting descriptions of the fear, joy, terror, and exhaustion of real combat and the years of internal battle with the “invisible wounds” that all of those who have truly been on the front lines. His writing was wonderful and my job, as editor, was like that of an archeologist—clearing away the undergrowth. Once that was done, there were vivid descriptions, crisp dialog, and a wonderful sense of humor. Sort of an Angkor Wat of a book. Again, the sequences where he opened his veins and described the painful process of coming to terms with PTSD, there is an honest and wonderfully human story of the “push pull” process of seeking help when all his conditioning fights against it.

Jim is the real deal. From the fleshpots of Thailand, to the ludicrous “secrecy” of a war everyone but the American public knew was being fought. Jim has nailed this story.

With all that, it’s not a simplistic diary of one man’s time in combat, it’s a meditation on the meaning of life and death. The constant process of thought, meditation, and reconsideration that Jim has gone through shows his sharp intelligence which flashes through on every page.

All that and a surprise ending.

It was an honor to work on this book and I would like the reader to understand that “The Fourth Pillar” is very much the work of James Milton Smith alone.

Terry Irving
Emmy Award-Winning TV journalist


Excerpt from The Fourth Pillar by James Milton Smith

Sharing an excerpt from my latest novel The Fourth Pillar which is ready to be published in 2016.

Everything Owen learned about what was going on in Laos was perilous to know. He wasn’t quite sure how dangerous but he could feel the danger growing in the marrow of his uninformed mind. In his mind, the secret war appeared to be executed by different people with different resources and objectives, all conducting their disparate campaigns on the orders of dark-spirited clandestine leaders plotting in dark rooms. Maybe in Saigon. Maybe all the way back in Washington.
Owen, thinking of the gladiators who would say to Caesar, Ave Imperator, morituri te salutant, (Hail Caesar, we who are about to die salute you) developed his own credo:
“We the young soldiers, the expendables, delivered at their behest–our actions to harvest war’s evil deeds–the sowing of the seeds of war and the reaping of death that will mark us forever with the unrelenting punishment of remembrance. The politicians and secret leaders will mark the orders they gave ‘Top Secret’ and redact us from the false documents they created, and they will sleep like babies. It is by design, a secret war. A Redacted War.”

Veteran’s Day 2015

Remembering Fellow Warriors This Veteran’s Day

It seems ages ago.
And yet it still goes on.
More wars, since our own as young men and women.
Aren’t we always with those we left behind?
Then, when we were still “pressing on” to the next objective.
Nothing deterred us from our orders, and our duty.
The warrior code embedded in our souls… Timelessly it seemed.
We were then moving forward, not looking back, as done eons ago.
Looking back was to accede to defeat or worse, to surrender.
Our Rubik cube of patriotism directed at each turn by the miscreant political leaders.
We the rudderless, without virtuous foreign policy in the maze of killing for the enemies natural resources.
As a senior adult, I see us attacking other countries preemptively. Something new in our history. But done efficiently – then leaving those countries in squalor, for over fifty years now.
I surrender now to the idea of negotiation and peace first.
Let the boils and abscesses of war be pricked and oozed upon those who would send us there. Let the politicians send their daughters and sons into harm’s way as we keep setting foot on foreign soil.
And let them not forget, their kids might be re-extended repeatedly.
We voters must make our leaders pay for the destruction reaped by their ugly Siamese twin -War.
War crimes are yet to be prosecuted.
And finally, after fifty years we the common citizen must live with what we created.
A pissed off world. We needn’t spend too much time wondering why.
Our military is in virtually every country in the world with bases and troops.
Does it seem odd, that we allow no one from any other country – friend or foe to be here in the U.S.?
Foreign Policy should not be based in the acquisition of foreign resources as its sole goal.
Arms sales and preemptive wars – a boon to so few here at home.
We the people led by so few.
Those that lead us to so little good overseas and at home.
A spent treasury and needlessly spent lives?
Then go yourself to these foreign lands, there will be plenty of weapons to pick up for your indulgence.


We have moved from one country to another.
To overcome our inconveniences or things worse.
And then, once there…
Do our damndest to deny the new immigrants illegally or not, the same choice we made.
We protect our boundaries from those we left behind.
Is it any surprise each new country is doomed ultimately to the migrations he once tried?
Necessity knows no boundaries or politics.  This will forever be the history of man.
And with those people who can’t change their own environment, they will revolt, and if they lose –
They will migrate…  Just as we did, at the expense of the Indians.

Foreign Policy vs. Patriotism

Foreign Policy vs Patriotism

It’s not often we think in terms of foreign policy and patriotism being separate or at odds in their meaning.  We should.

Ask yourself – Is the U.S. foreign policy one related to acquiring militarily the natural resources of other countries?  The answer is yes. We spend little time invading countries where it is not feasible for profitable resource extraction.

So, let’s consider separating our foreign policy from the propaganda we get to endorse patriotism.  Preemptive wars are bad foreign policy.  We leave each country at the expense of military lives and a wasted treasury.  No?  Let’s consider Laos, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

After some thought, perhaps we might just say – I can now separate Bad Foreign Policy from Patriotism.

We have lost our way and must examine what patriotism really is.  It is foreign policy exercised fairly and prudently with good will and good intentions.  And, most importantly, with objectives and strategy.  It’s a shame that so few lead so many of us into such an abyss of irretrievable national and international consequences derived from our preemptive wars.