What We Still haven’t Learned from the Vietnam War

Share

Hits: 1276

Fifty years ago today, in 1967, nearly 100,000 Americans marched on Washington, DC, to protest the Vietnam War. In those days there was a mandatory draft in place, and the risk was very real that a young man just out of high school could quickly wind up 13,000 miles away, fighting an unseen enemy in jungles that didn’t need tanks or B-52 bombers to inflict fear. Worse yet was the possibility of going MIA or coming home in a body bag — just another expendable statistic in the great fight against communism. But even many of those who made it back left part of their souls in that war zone.

Today there is no longer a mandatory draft. And neither is there any anti-war movement to speak of.

If you ask young people today why the United States joined the fight in WWII, many could probably tell you that we were bombed by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor. Or perhaps they would say we had to fight Hitler and the Nazis. But what about Vietnam? Why did we go to war there? What were we fighting for? How did we become involved in that conflict? My guess is that most couldn’t tell you — just as it became unclear to that generation in 1967, who were fighting and dying.

This contrast between clarity and ambiguity is reflected in popular cinema — take WWII films like Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, Pearl Harbor, and Sands of Iwo Jima that reflect the essential righteousness of the American cause. Yet classic Vietnam War films like Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket, Platoon, and Hamburger Hill reflect the uncertainty, misery, barbarity, and psychosis of the GI experience.

But this split perception took time. The truth is that the US had been in Vietnam since the mid-1950s. Since the turn of the century, America had been slowly developing into an imperial power to rival the British and the French. WWII had solidified it as the inheritor of the British Empire — the only imperial power left standing.

The whole of Vietnam had been a colony of the French since the 1890s, but after WWII an uprising occurred, led by Ho Chi Minh — inspired by Marxist-Leninism and a nationalist fervor to regain control of their own country. By 1954 the French were out, and two Vietnams, north and south, formed in an uneasy proximity.

The US inherited the imperial project from the French — gradually sending in military “advisers” to the south. President John F. Kennedy had continued that project by backing the south Vietnamese government with military assistance and equipment. The stated reason for this intervention was to prevent the spread of communism throughout southeast Asia — the infamous “domino theory.”

But by 1963, Kennedy had come to see the futility of this endeavor. He gave orders to begin withdrawing troops, and planned to have all military personnel out of Vietnam by the end of 1965.

But on November 22, 1963 President Kennedy was assassinated, and President Lyndon B. Johnson took the helm. He immediately reversed Kennedy’s orders. The Gulf of Tonkin incident in August 1964, in which a group of North Vietnamese torpedo boats allegedly fired on a US Navy ship (it turned out to be false — and the administration knew it), gave Congress the incentive to give Johnson the authority he needed to dramatically escalate troop deployment and to begin a new bombing campaign.

By 1968, over 500,000 American soldiers were stationed in Vietnam.

In the mid-60s, young people began questioning why their friends and family members were being sent thousands of miles away to fight in another country they’d never heard of before. The rock n’ roll revolution was in full swing, and the hippie movement, dope, and acid were fueling a counterculture movement that questioned the establishment and their rules of conformity — instead pushing the mantra “make love, not war.”

Not only was Johnson feeling the heat from student protesters, but even Wall Street and Big Finance were beginning to express doubts about the feasibility of winning the war. The debt was piling up and America was at that point still under the Bretton-Woods gold standard.

In March of 1968, less than a year after the protest march on D.C., Johnson announced he would not seek reelection.

Senator Robert Kennedy, brother of JFK, had thrown his hat in the race, running as a peace candidate who would bring the troops home from Vietnam. He was assassinated several months after Martin Luther King, Jr. The Republican candidate Richard Nixon won the election, and the war continued another seven years, taking us off the gold standard in the process. It ended in US defeat in 1975, shortly after Nixon resigned from office in shame after the Watergate scandal.

By the war’s end the US had lost 58,000 troops — the Vietnamese somewhere between one and three million.

So why was America in the Vietnam War for so long? What was it really about?

We might as well ask why we have been in Afghanistan for 16 years with no end in sight. Or why did we invade Iraq? Why did we overthrow Libya? Why are we involved in a civil war in Syria? Why are we backing a genocidal war in Yemen? Why did we invade Grenada? Why did we conduct covert warfare in a dozen different Central and South American countries over the past 60 years? Why are we still in Korea 70 years after the fact, now on the verge of a renewed conflict? Why have we come to the very threshold of nuclear annihilation more than once?

What happened to the citizens, community leaders, institutions, and politicians that we would allow this endless warfare to continue? And where is the anti-war movement? Why are they MIA?

These questions are all related. Perhaps if we were to solve the riddle of Vietnam, we would solve these other questions as well. Perhaps those 100,000 students and protesters 50 years ago solved it — and decided to do something about it. Maybe we can too.


Originally published on 2017-10-21

Source: Who.What.Why

Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection & Pinterest.

Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!

Donate to Support Us

We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.

[wpedon id=”4696″ align=”left”]

READ MORE!
Croatian President Lauds Ustasha Nazis as the «Fourth Reich Lite» Rears its Ugly Head in Europe
Croatia's President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic with Croatian diaspora in Canada holding the flag of WWII Nazi-Ustashi Independent State of CroatiaCroatia’s president, the former deputy NATO secretary general for public diplomacy Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, decided to pay homage to Nazis of the Ustasha Nazi puppet regime of Croatia shot by Yugoslav partisans at the end of World War II. Grabar-Kitarovic’s tone deafness in choosing Victory in Europe week to honor dead Nazis shocked the Balkans and the rest of Europe.The Ustasha, along with their Slovenian and Serb loyalists to the Nazi puppet regime, were killed by the partisans under the command of anti-fascist ...
READ MORE
What’s in a Name? Everything and Nothing
By all accounts from Greece and Macedonia, a majority in both countries will be happy that a new name for Macedonia has been agreed upon by the governments in Athens and Skopje. After years of facing Greek vetoes to join the European Union and NATO under the name “Republic of Macedonia,” the Greek government agreed to drop its opposition, so long as Macedonia change its name to “Northern Macedonia.” Northern Greeks always objected to Macedonia’s use of that name because they believed it represented a goal of Slavic and Albanian Macedonians to lay claim to the northern Greek region that ...
READ MORE
How Corrupt is the American Government?
Government corruption has become rampant: Senior SEC employees spent up to 8 hours a day surfing porn sites instead of cracking down on financial crimes Nuclear Regulatory Commission workers watch porn instead of cracking down on unsafe conditions at nuclear plants An EPA employee who downloaded 7,000 porn files, then spent 2-6 hours each workday watching porn. He’s been doing it for years … but the EPA never fired him. Another EPA employee harassed 16 women co-workers … and then was promoted to a higher-paying job with more responsibility, where he harassed more women NSA spies pass around homemade sexual ...
READ MORE
John Fire Lame Deer to the American people
Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection, Public Domain & Pinterest.Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!Donate to Support UsWe would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics, and international relations.[wpedon id="4696" align="left"]Save
READ MORE
The Problem is America: The Malignant Cultural Hegemony
What is wrong with the American people? After several years of horrific policy toward the waking world, democracy’s standard bearers seem to be drowning in a lake of selfishness. Distracted, apathetic, or simply dumbed and numbed by unrelenting propaganda, the most admired society on Earth has turned to a wriggling mush of diverging ideals. I fear that American have become what we ultimately deplored, just another despicable cultural hegemony. Here’s a short brief on the matter.A recent article by James Carden at The Nation prompted me to discuss this unsavory truth today. The title of the piece, “Trump’s Syria Policy: ...
READ MORE
US Meddling in 1996 Russian Elections in Support of Boris Yeltsin
Americans are outraged by allegations that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an intelligence service to hack email accounts of the Democratic National Committee. How inexpressibly heinous that one country, Russia, would try to influence elections in another sovereign country, in this case the United States!  How unprecedented!  How diabolical! How uniquely Russian! In response, the Obama administration has expelled Russian diplomats, hinted at economic sanctions, and promised further retaliation using America’s “world-class arsenal of cyber weapons.”  (NYT Dec. 16, 2016) Obama’s Republican opponents, for their part, have demanded “rocks” instead of Obama’s “pebbles.” But does the USA meddle in the presidential elections ...
READ MORE
Corpus Delicti: How the Western Mainstream Propaganda Lies on Bosnian War (1992-1995)
Bosnian Muslim Kasim Blekic was allegedly murdered by Bosnian Serbs but was, in fact, alive outside of Sarajevo. One of the fundamental legal principles or concepts of jurisprudence is that before a person can be charged with a crime, evidence must be shown that a crime has occurred. This is known by the legal principle of “corpus delicti”, the body of a crime, meaning that there must be evidence that a crime has occurred before a defendant can be charged or prosecuted for the crime. The 6th edition of Black’s Law Dictionary (1990) gives the meaning of corpus delicti as “the ...
READ MORE
On the Centenary of the Greek Genocide
Hannibal Travis, "On The Centenary of The Greek Genocide", AHIF Policy Journal, American Hellenic Institute Foundation, Inc., Vol. 8, Spring 2017, pp. 14 Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection & Pinterest. Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement! Donate to Support Us We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations. [wpedon id="4696" align="left"]
READ MORE
Trolling Russia
The edifice of the post-1991 world order is collapsing right before our eyes. President Putin’s decision to give a miss to the Auschwitz pilgrimage, right after his absence in Paris at Charlie festival, gave it the last shove. It was good clean fun to troll Russia, as long as she stayed the course. Not anymore. Russia broke the rules.Until now, Russia, like a country bumpkin in Eton, tried to belong. It attended the gathering of the grandees where it was shunned, paid its dues to European bodies that condemned it, patiently suffered ceaseless hectoring of the great powers and irritating baiting of the East European small-timers alike. But something broke there. The lad does ...
READ MORE
NATO — Private Club оf War Criminals
What has happened is that NATO provides cover for these transgressions of the United States government’s policy. In other words, it absolutely legitimizes what effectively is NATO aggression. Moreover, what one needs to bear in mind and what one needs to be mindful about is the fact that in Western Europe you no longer have rulers with the independence of Charles de Gaulle.It seems that Washington, and we can use Washington, America and NATO interchangeably because NATO is dominated by the United States. It is a command structure, which ultimately is based on American military power and American military precedence.  ...
READ MORE
Stay Оut of Kosovo!
…When did Congress authorize Bill Clinton to go to war againsta Yugoslav army that has never attacked Americans?…This week, NATO conducted air exercises over Albania as a warning to Belgrade that its crackdown in Kosovo must end now.NATO’s demands? Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic must call off his offensive by June 16, allow monitors unimpeded access to the rebellious province, let the refugees return home, and resume talks with the Kosovan resistance. If Milosevic balks, NATO is preparing attacks on his forces and, says The New York Times, “possible air strikes against strategic military targets in Serbia.”France contends that NATO needs ...
READ MORE
The Myth of “Aggressive Russia”
Recently I went on a 15 day visit to Russia organized by the Center for Citizen Initiatives. The group visited Moscow, the Crimean peninsula, Krasnodar (southern Russia) and St. Petersburg. In each location we met many locals and heard diverse viewpoints. CCI has a long history promoting friendship and trying to overcome false assumptions between citizens of the USA and Russia. The founder Sharon Tennison has focused on making people-people connections including the business community, Rotary clubs, etc.. This delegation was organized because of concern about escalating international tensions and the danger of a drift toward world threatening military conflict. We ...
READ MORE
What Should We Expect from the Talks on Syria in Astana?
At the beginning of March 2017, it will be exactly six years since the beginning of the conflict in Syria. Some journalists even make unfavorable forecasts wondering about the very possibility of reconciliation. Complicated by the foreign intervention on the part of Israel war in Lebanon, for example, had been for about 15 years. But even a six-year term it is too long. That is why we may hope that the meeting in Astana scheduled on January 23 will eventually lead to a positive result. And then there will be an occasion to consolidate the success of the negotiations in Geneva ...
READ MORE
The Great War in 1914 and the Balkans
The WarmongersThe war, which began in August 1914 – to contemporaries the Great War, to posterity the First World War – marked the end of one period of history and the beginning of another. Starting as a European war, it turned in 1917, with the entrance of the US into a world war. The spark that triggered it off was the assassination of the Austrian heir-presumptive, Archduke Franz Ferdinand (1864−1914), by a Bosnian nationalist of Serb origin – Gavrilo Princip[1], a member of the Young Bosnia (Mlada Bosna) movement, in Sarajevo on June 28th, 1914 on his official visit to ...
READ MORE
Lincoln Ordered the Greatest Mass Hanging in America’s History
Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement! Donate to Support Us We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations. [wpedon id="4696" align="left"]
READ MORE
Zoran Djindjic: The Quisling Of Belgrade
Tributes to Zoran Djindjic, the assassinated prime minister of Serbia, have been pouring in. President Bush led the way, praising his “strong leadership”, while the Canadian government’s spokesman extolled a “heralder of democracy” and Tony Blair spoke of the energy Djindjic had devoted to “reforming Serbia”. In western newspaper obituaries Djindjic has been almost universally acclaimed as an ex-student agititator who bravely led a popular uprising against a tyrannical dictator and endeavoured to steer his country into a new democratic era. But beyond the CNN version of world history, the career of Zoran Djindjic looks rather different. Those who rail against the ...
READ MORE
The Biggest Threat to US National Security is the US Government
A dictatorship does not represent the public but only the aristocracy that, behind the scenes, controls the government. Jonathan H. Adler, Professor at Case Western University School of Law, noted, regarding George W. Bush’s secret policy for the NSA to access everyone’s phone-records, that “The metadata collection program is constitutional (at least according to Judge Kavanaugh),” and he presented Judge Kavanaugh’s entire published opinion on that. Kavanaugh’s opinion stated that the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution could be shoved aside because he thinks that the ‘national security’ of the United States is more important than the Constitution. Kavanaugh wrote: The Government’s program for bulk collection ...
READ MORE
Journey to Aleppo: Exposing the Truth Buried under NATO Propaganda
Aleppo has become synonymous with destruction and “Syrian state-generated” violence among those whose perception of the situation in the war-torn nation is contained within the prism of mainstream media narratives.The NATO-aligned media maintains a tight grip on information coming out of this beleaguered city, ensuring that whatever comes out is tailored to meet State Department requirements and advocacy for regime change. The propaganda mill churns out familiar tales of chemical weapons, siege, starvation, and bombs targeting civilians–all of which are attributed to the Syrian government and military, with little variation on this theme.The purpose of this photo essay and my ...
READ MORE
Thanksgiving: Celebrating the Genocide of Native Americans
The sad reality about the United States of America is that in a matter of a few hundreds years it managed to rewrite its own history into a mythological fantasy.The concepts of liberty, freedom and free enterprise in the “land of the free, home of the brave” are a mere spin. The US was founded and became prosperous based on two original sins: firstly, on the mass murder of Native Americans and theft of their land by European colonialists; secondly, on slavery.This grim reality is far removed from the fairy tale version of a nation that views itself in its ...
READ MORE
Before the U.S. Congress: HM King Peter II’s of Yugoslavia Speech at the Capitol in 1942
A highlight of Peter II’s 1942 official state visit to the U.S. was his speech before the U.S. Congress. That speech solidified and affirmed Yugoslavia as an ally of the U.S. during World War II.Following the Axis invasion of Yugoslavia on April 6, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had issued a statement in support of Peter II and the Yugoslav government.FDR’s message of April 8, 1941 emphasized that the U.S. would provide aid and assistance to Yugoslavia:“The people of the United States have been profoundly shocked by the unprovoked and ruthless aggression upon the people of Yugoslavia. The Government and ...
READ MORE
Croatian President Lauds Ustasha Nazis as the «Fourth Reich Lite» Rears its Ugly Head in Europe
What’s in a Name? Everything and Nothing
How Corrupt is the American Government?
John Fire Lame Deer to the American people
The Problem is America: The Malignant Cultural Hegemony
US Meddling in 1996 Russian Elections in Support of Boris Yeltsin
Corpus Delicti: How the Western Mainstream Propaganda Lies on Bosnian War (1992-1995)
On the Centenary of the Greek Genocide
Trolling Russia
NATO — Private Club оf War Criminals
Stay Оut of Kosovo!
The Myth of “Aggressive Russia”
What Should We Expect from the Talks on Syria in Astana?
The Great War in 1914 and the Balkans
Lincoln Ordered the Greatest Mass Hanging in America’s History
Zoran Djindjic: The Quisling Of Belgrade
The Biggest Threat to US National Security is the US Government
Journey to Aleppo: Exposing the Truth Buried under NATO Propaganda
Thanksgiving: Celebrating the Genocide of Native Americans
Before the U.S. Congress: HM King Peter II’s of Yugoslavia Speech at the Capitol in 1942
FOLLOW US ON OUR SOCIAL PLATFORMS
Share