Better understanding Vietnam
Although I agree with Sen. McCain that it is not constructive to reopen the old wounds of the Vietnam War era, nevertheless since Kent Lattig’s Sept. 9 letter does just that, a response is required, particularly as it applies to our nation’s current situation. The communist Vietcong and North Vietnamese who we fought in Vietnam, or their descendants, are that nation’s current rulers. We have normal diplomatic and trade relations with Vietnam despite the fact that they “fell” to the communists. Does anyone really believe that that tiny nation halfway around the globe is a threat to our nation’s security, or that their neighboring nations in Southeast Asia are in danger of falling like dominoes to communism? Yet those were the lies and miscalculations that our leaders used to justify that war and the deaths of 50,000-plus American soldiers and millions of innocent Vietnamese and Cambodians.In no way should that failure of national leadership reflect on the valor and sacrifice of those who served honorably in Vietnam, or became its casualties. But neither should we condemn those veterans who realized how futile and senseless that conflict was, and who tried to end it rather than see it continue interminably as our nation’s leaders seemed to allow. John Kerry’s heroic service in Vietnam is a documented fact, as is his equally heroic service in trying to end that war. In the political dialogue related to his actions, no one seems to have asked the most important question: How many American and Vietnamese lives did he save by helping to end that war sooner rather than later?Today, our national leadership has offered us a similar set of lies and miscalculations that has led us into another war with a tiny nation halfway around the globe. More than 1,000 American soldiers and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis have died as a result. The lie that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction has been exposed by our own inspectors. Although Bush and Cheney keep peddling the lie that Iraq was somehow complicit in the 9/11 attack, it has been exposed as untrue by the 9/11 Commission. The miscalculation that we would be “welcomed as liberators” has also proven to be false. While I support John Kerry, I wish he would show some of the political courage of his youth, and more directly oppose the war so that it too could be ended sooner rather than later, and thus save the lives of many more American soldiers and innocent Iraqis. He clearly realized then that saving lives was far more important than saving face.Both Vietnam and Iraq were imperialist adventures that contradict the principles on which this nation was founded. The people of Iraq never elected Bush as their leader even though he is now the Commander in Chief of an occupying army on their land, an occupying army that maintains its presence there by force and not by “the consent of the governed.”The GOP was far more likeable as the isolationists of my youth than they are today as the 21st Century’s “Imperialist Warmongers.”
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