Victims of a Lie
September 30, 2004
By Thomas M. Braun
I am a Vietnam veteran who served honorably for my country. I was
an air operations supervisor in the US Air Force, and served on
Temporary Duty status at Vietnam's Bien Hoa Air Base and Tan Son
Nhut Air Base. I have great compassion and love for every single
military person now serving in Iraq. I know the horrors they wake
up to each day.
I was the victim of a lie. They are victims of a vast lie also.
I was not in combat in Vietnam, but the experience changed me and
affected me deeply. I had an epiphany one day when, looking out
onto the tarmac from base operations, I saw a pallet of coffins
being loaded onto a cargo plane. The ties did not hold and the coffins
fell out onto the ground. At that moment I left my duty station
with the permission of my supervisor as I felt a deep and personal
I saw the madness and the surreal nature of that war. I also saw
the Base Exchange at Tan Son Nhut Air Base in Saigon (now Ho Chi
Minh City), a kind of Sam's Store selling everything from refrigerators
to air conditioners and anything one could find back in the states.
It was ironic to me that this supermarket was dropped right into
the middle of a war zone - a combat zone - and everyone seemed to
accept this as normal and right.
I did not accept this. Upon returning to the states I joined Vietnam
Veterans Against the War. Like Senator John Kerry, I experienced
the horror - saw the insanity - and I decided to do everything I
could to stop further deaths and murders in Vietnam. Like Senator
John Kerry, I had no choice. It was the only honorable thing to
I worked tirelessly, and continue that fight to this day. The
Swift Boat Liars have caused me to wake up again - and to fight
again. The war in Iraq is an illegal and immoral war. It violates
international law. Under the guise of bringing "freedon" to Iraq,
my government is killing innocent Iraqi women and children for oil.
My government has caused the needless deaths of more
than 1,000 U.S. military members. My government has launched
this insane war causing thousands of maimed and wounded U.S. military
personnel, not to mention the tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians
injured and maimed.
All of this is based on a lie.
After the loss of 57,000 American lives, the United States did
finally wake up with regard to the war in Vietnam. But it was the
people who forced that war to end, not the politicians. Now, twenty-five
years later, the people must again face their duty and demand an
end to this lie, the war in Iraq. The war in Iraq is a vast and
There are those who tend to minimize this as failed policy or,
like House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said
in her party's weekly radio address Sept. 25, "This war has been
a grotesque mistake that has diminished our reputation in the world
and has not made America safer."
Pelosi is right. The quagmire in Iraq is grotesque, but
is is far more than a "mistake." It is a deliberate and calculated
lie to trick the American people into a patriotic orgy of support
for our current president.
Of course we know the true villains in this. They are Dick Cheney
and Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice and
George Bush, as well as all of the advisors who sanctioned this
mess, including the Pentagon's (the president's) legal staff who
condoned and justified the torture and murder of Iraqi detainees
at Abu Ghraib.
I cannot say how deeply ashamed I am of this war. I never supported
George W. Bush. I voted against him because I saw his vacant and
wild stare and heard his jumbled, chopped, and childish words. I
knew he was inept and incompetent to serve, not only as president,
but as commander-in-chief of our brave armed forces. I know he is
a fraud. Our country has been deeply harmed by this war and this
man who hears God tell him to "spread democracy" so violently.
His insanity fits so well with the agenda of the right-wing neocons
and the fundamentalist Christian fanatics, each with its own mad
road map and grand prophecy. Fundamentalists see Bible prophecy
being fulfilled. The neocons, with their own Bible, the Project
for a New American Century, see power being the entitlement
of the imperial United States and hegemony as our right.
All of these actors are causing serious, even irreparable, damage
to a country once admired and envied throughout the world. Admiration
has been replaced with disgust. Envy has turned to hate. The evil
of this war has engulfed our country like a deep and smothering
We who know the horror of a war based on a lie must do everything
in our power to stop this madness.
Thomas M. Braun resides in Tampa, Florida. He can be reached