14 September 2014

War and Memories

Some of us, the ones with the fearful faces and white hair, remember that because USA would not become involved in, "another land war in Asia" (after Korea) we sent, "advisors" to a country most of us did not know existed. A place called, "Viet Nam." 58,220 dead US service women and men later, we lost. OK, I know president Nixon called it, "Peace with Honor." But, if and this is what we were told, we went to war to keep marxism at bay, consider that Viet Nam is in fact a Communist country. If, as we were also told, we went to war to maintain the integrity of South Viet Nam, look at the map. There is no South Viet Nam. We lost.

I was there. We lost. Every single objective articulated in that war, every single one, was not achieved.

Here is something though, no one can disparage the courage and dedication of the American forces, or dispute the superiority of the American war fighting technology. Our people, in the air and on the ground, fought bravely - in the end it did not matter.

We lost because we had stunningly bad leadship in Congress, the White House, and the Pentagon. One glance at the Speaker and other Congressional leadership today, and yes, I am scarred.

When Mr. Nixon met with Mao in the process of opening a relationship with China, Mao asked why we had allowed the North Vietnamese to win. He told Nixon his entire foreign policy in the region was based on the assumption we would win.

In the end, we lost because we lost our nerve.

So here we go again, talking about limited war, sending advisors, and bombers.

The first American casualty in what remarkably we call the "Cold War" (was it "cold" in Viet Nam?) was a young man named John Birch. The father of the Koch brothers used the name (without permission) to start an ultra rightwing group, The John Birch Society. They claimed anyone who did not do their will was a traitor. Not much has changed.

And that is why the folkies with the white hair look scarred. We have danced this dance before. 58,220 Americans and Heaven only knows how many Vietnamese died. And we lost. Even if we had won, the cost was not worth it. Viet Nam could have become one Communist country in the 60's without any harm to the US, and we would have avoided the death and destruction the war visited on it, and us. No good was served by that war. Yes, I am scarred.

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