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Vietnam War: A complete waste of time or "justifiable" ?

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steve2470 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-25-05 09:19 AM
Original message
Vietnam War: A complete waste of time or "justifiable" ?
I told a Vietnam vet one time that the politicians should have never sent him to Vietnam and I was told later on by my ex-wife that he almost blew a gasket. I guess I was good at ignoring his reaction. One vet also told me that we were "fulfilling a treaty obligation". Does ANYONE still believe that Vietnam was justified ?
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Pepperbelly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-25-05 09:26 AM
Response to Original message
1. A very hard thing for almost anyone to accept is ...
Edited on Fri Mar-25-05 09:37 AM by Pepperbelly
the human costs of that blunder. That they died for no reason at all is even more difficult. If he served there and happened to become a hard killer in the war, he MUST justify it in his mind or accept an untenable amount of guilt that IMO, he should not have to bear.

At the very least, accepting the losses of friends and brothers for jackshit is not only difficult but not something I would throw in anyone's face.
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wtmusic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-25-05 09:31 AM
Response to Original message
2. Worse than a waste of time
Explain to your vet friend:

"Vietnam had been one country until it was temporarily divided by the Geneva Accords of 1954, which provided for general elections in 1956 to reunify the country and that it was the South Vietnamese President, Ngo Dinh Diem, who refused to honor that agreement. In addition, opponents of the war rejected that notion that the United States had any treaty obligation to defend South Vietnam, noting that back in 1955, when the SEATO pact was approved, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles informed Congress that in the event of communist subversion "all we have is an undertaking to consult together as to what to do about it."

http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/historyonline/con_viet...
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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-25-05 09:34 AM
Response to Original message
3. Just what purpose is served by saying that to a Vietnam vet?
I'm sure he appreciated receiving the benefit of the vast experience and insight of someone who (assumedly) wasn't in Vietnam. As a Vietnam vet, I know I'm overwhelmed with gratitude when people who couldn't even spell "Vietnam" before 1968 offer me the benefit of their vast insight. It just warms the cockles of my heart, especially when I visit The Wall, to know what a 'complete waste of time' it was. Yes, let's be sure to find the remaining 1 million Vietnam veterans and 'inform' them of such a terrific insight, gained by obviously extensive and in-depth experience.

I really don't quite know why it's so important to repeatedly choose Vietnam veterans as the audience for such proclamations, but there it is. :puke:
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steve2470 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-25-05 09:36 AM
Response to Reply #3
5. I really wasn't trying to hurt him. Honest.
I don't know why I said it. Hopefully, if I had been an adult in the 60's and early '70's, I would have NOT been one of those idiots who harassed you vets. I honor your service. I just wish the govt. had never sent you.
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steve2470 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-25-05 09:38 AM
Response to Reply #3
7. If I offended you, my sincere apologies nt
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MadHound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-25-05 09:40 AM
Response to Reply #3
8. Because friend, it is analogous to what is going on over in Iraq today
Where thousands of our soldiers are being killed and wounded for no good reason, just as in Vietnam. And I think that you are mistaking peoples' disgust with our government's actions in 'Nam for disgust with the soldiers who served there. I think that if you would talk to the people who are expressing these views you abhor that you would find only sympathy and grief for what you and yours went through in Vietnam. You never should have been sent over there, and are, quite frankly, just as much of a victim of our government's imperial asperations as anybody else in this sad little mummer's play.
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steve2470 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-25-05 09:42 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. I agree with you.
I would NEVER slight or offend any vet from Vietnam or Iraq or Afghanistan. It is the GOVERNMENT and the politicians I have an issue with.
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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-25-05 09:56 AM
Response to Reply #8
15. For thirty-five years, I've heard almost nothing but ...
... how much of a fool I was for not running off to Canada, that I was a stupid 'victim' for getting caught in the draft, how much of a 'waste of time' the year was I spent there, or how I was just another baby-killer.

Yes. Be sure to repeat this message to every Vietnam vet you ever encounter because, after all, we're the ones who really need to hear this. Again.
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steve2470 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-25-05 10:00 AM
Response to Reply #15
16. Again, my apologies nt
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MadHound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-25-05 10:11 AM
Response to Reply #15
17. Friend, I understand your frustration and your anger,
Probably more than you will ever comprehend. And realize that I am not calling you stupid, baby killer, nor that your time served was ever a waste. But there is nothing shameful, nor sinful, in realizing that you too were a victim of our MI complex and their actions in Vietnam.

What I am trying to do is to point out to you that there is common cause to be made between both the Vietnam Vets and the Peace Activists in order to take our country back from the merchants of death, and insure that there is never another immoral, illegal war ever again. And that in addition, your experiences and wisdom are valuable and needed as this country once again welcomes home soldiers who are injured both in body and spirit. You found your welcome home to be either lacking or hostile. Then now is the time for you to add your insights in order that such mistakes aren't repeated.

We in the anti-war movement aren't your enemies, please understand that.
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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-25-05 11:02 AM
Response to Reply #17
19. Perhaps some homework would help.
Edited on Fri Mar-25-05 11:16 AM by TahitiNut
IMHO, one of the best books for understanding the 'hearts and minds' of a vast majority of Vietnam veterans was written in 1615 by Miguel de Cervantes. It's entitled "Don Quixote". In a nutshell, Don Quixote was every bit the hero as Audey Murphy ... and even more so. When people comprehend this, they'll be one step closer to understanding the Vietnam Experience.

Every parent who rewarded their child for "doing what you're told," or answered "because I said so" when asked why, was complicit in the Vietnam Experience. Every parent and teacher who told young children to obediently recite "The Pledge of Allegiance" was complicit in the Vietnam Experience. Every adult who thrilled at "the rocket's red glare" was complicit in the Vietnam Experience. Every person who celebrated Independence Day with fireworks and military parades was complicit in the Vietnam Experience. Every movie that glorified war was complicit in the Vietnam Experience.

Most of all, every citizen who sits back and blames "the government" while, at the same time, leaves the very job of governance to others ("volunteers") is complicit in every death and casualty, American or other, resulting from our nation's pathological militarism and predations on the weakest and poorest, both domestic and international. Unless and until we require of ourselves universal 'service' to our nation (i.e. us) in whatever pursuits we're engaged, we're to blame. As long as we adopt and hide behind the paradigm of 'them,' we're all to blame.

It's the codependency melodrama of Villain-Victim-Rescuer. Let's stop playing.

Some argue that the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan are "not as bad" as Vietnam. Bullshit. They're far worse. The rationalizations pale in comparison. But the 'troops' are NOT the ones to blame. That's projection and displacement. Scapegoating. "We the People" in our indolence, non-participation, and scapegoating are to blame. It's not the people 'serving' who're to blame. It's the people who're NOT 'serving' who're to blame. Everyone who runs away and hurls taunts at those who throw their bodies into the fray are to blame. It's the people who say "let George do it" who're to blame.

As Pogo said, "We have met the enemy and he is us."

It was only when I came back from Vietnam that I met the "enemy." It hasn't been easy. It's us.

Lincoln said "A house divided against itself cannot stand." He didn't say anything about uniforms. It has very little to do with North vs. South. We're a nation "divided against itself."
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IrateCitizen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-25-05 11:14 AM
Response to Reply #19
22. TahitiNut, your post left me nearly speechless...
It certainly hit the nail on the head.

When it came time for me to choose between fighting in an immoral war and refusing (and possibly suffering consequences), I decided to refuse and filed for CO status. I consider myself fortunate that I did not have to learn from the horrors of war firsthand before realizing that there are many rather "questionable" uses of military force in our history.

I have come to know many Iraq war veterans through Iraq Veterans Against the War. Many of them went to war knowing the cause was suspect, and their entire aim became seeing that they, along with the people on their left and right, came home in one piece.

Many of these folks feel guilt to this day over what they have done. They see their speaking out against it as their personal penance. I myself still feel a sense of guilt and shame over my decision. My involvement in IVAW and CO counseling is my way of dealing with these feelings.

However, I would never go so far as to tell any of my brothers and sisters in IVAW that their experience was "pointless". We live in a society in which we like to think we're free, but we're really participants in a herd culture. Conformity, not individuality, is prized. Obedience, not free thought, is inculcated. When it comes time for questionable military misadventures to be debated, you then have vast segments of the population cheering in support, simultaneously declaring their "support for the troops". Meanwhile, it seems that there are many on the left who expect those who signed up for the military to bear the additional burden of resisting within the ranks and suffering the consequences that go along with it.

Hell, I've barely even scratched the surface of what you just said. I probably should have just let it go at face value. In any event, I consider myself fortunate that I was the child of parents who ALWAYS taught me to question and think for myself, and I would be remiss to do the same for my future children as well. Equally important in all of that -- a lesson that I learned in a not-so-easy fashion -- is the willingness to stand up for what you believe, no matter how unpopular it might be at the time.
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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-25-05 11:21 AM
Response to Reply #22
23. Thank you for having the generosity of spirit ...
Edited on Fri Mar-25-05 11:59 AM by TahitiNut
... to work to understand what I so ineptly attempt to express. We're so embedded in false paradigms I often dispair that we'll ever see daylight. It's probably not accidental that it's synergistic with what Arundhati Roy says.


You said "Meanwhile, it seems that there are many on the left who expect those who signed up for the military to bear the additional burden of resisting within the ranks and suffering the consequences that go along with it."

I can't even begin to express my disgust with both the authoritarian military indoctrination that generates atrocious behavior and those who'd condemn those so-indoctrinated in the convenient belief that they themselves were somehow "better." Such self-righteous posturing betrays both cowardice and ignorance, imho. Sadly, we all seem to have a healthy dose of both; me, as always, included.
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Tierra_y_Libertad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-25-05 12:13 PM
Response to Reply #19
25. Beautifully said. It is up to the people to take responsibility.
I was in the marines in 1965, just when things were beginning to really heat up in Vietnam. We started training in the hills for "irregular combat". I went to the base library and started reading up on Vietnam. I was appalled at what we were getting into and why. Most of my comrades had almost no knowledge of what they were being asked to do, and believed the crap that was fed them. Some of their names are on that wall.

I was due to get out and got the usual re-up BS. Soon after, I was asked to extend my enlistment to "defend the country". My reply, which contained some of what I had learned about SE Asia, resulted in 30 days mess duty as a reward for my reluctance to kill people I didn't know and had nothing against so that LBJ could polish up his anti-commie credentials.

All of the glorification of the miliary, the "patriotism" of the political hacks that send GI's to kill and die, the apathy of the people that refused to look beyond the flag-waving, all contributed to the disaster that was Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos.

My "epiphany" came at the rifle range on an April morning in 1965. The "pulled" the man-like targets up and I banged away. On that beautiful California morning I realized that those "targets" were soon to be people that politicians wanted me to kill. Not targets, not "gooks" or "slopes" or "dinks", but people.

I decided then and there, not be a murderer, just to satisfy some politician's ambitions.

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy. - Gandhi

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Medical Speaking Donating Member (151 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-25-05 09:34 AM
Response to Original message
4. Viet-Nam
I served in Viet-Nam 66-67 in the Marines and I have said this all my life. It was not worth it. 58,000 died overthere in that hell.
I have hurt all my life and I cannot forget my friends that died over there. We did not learn from Viet-Nam now we have Irag another
mistake.

Semper Fi
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steve2470 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-25-05 09:37 AM
Response to Reply #4
6. I am sorry to hear your pain
Wow. I guess I did my insensitive post for the year. My sincere apologies.
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90-percent Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-25-05 09:45 AM
Response to Reply #6
10. Noam
Noam Chomsky stated in "What Uncle Sam really Wants" that Viet Nam did serve USA objectives based on the post WW2 plan to secure US interests all over the World through the application of US "might".

I never quite understood his point there, but the powerful people that really run the USA - (BFEE, perhaps?) were content with the Viet Nam outcome for the USA.

-85%
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Medical Speaking Donating Member (151 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-25-05 09:46 AM
Response to Reply #6
11. Viet-Nam
Thank you, there is one thing I want to say. I honor Medal of Hinor winner Father Vincent Capodanno who lost his life saying another Marine. I was his body guard for 2 months and have never in my life
met another man like him and he will be in my heart and mind for the rest of my life. There is a book about him called The Grunt Padre
which is an excellent book about his life. And on the back side of the book there is a picture of me. God Bless

Semper Fi
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Crankie Avalon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-25-05 09:54 AM
Response to Reply #4
12. Thank you for your willingness to defend this country with your life.
The fact that our leaders took that willingness and betrayed it by squandering it in a situation where our country wasn't actually being threatened doesn't change the honor of your commitment.

We owe folks like you our undying respect, and one of the best ways to honor that is to do all we can to make sure young people who love their country aren't betrayed by corrupt leaders, again.

But, sadly, as you say, "...now we have Iraq."
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steve2470 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-25-05 09:55 AM
Response to Reply #12
14. I agree completely ! nt
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Redstone Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-25-05 09:54 AM
Response to Original message
13. Go here to find out about one promising life wasted...
Be sure to listen to the broadcast. (He was my next-door neighbor and "big brother." I heard those tapes when Mike originally sent them home. What a shock it was to hear them again so much later.)

http://www.npr.org/programs/lnfsound/stories/000421.sto...

Just one of almost 60,000.

Redstone
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DemoTex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-25-05 11:08 AM
Response to Reply #13
21. Absolutely beautiful, Redstone. I am typing through my tears.
What a profound loss. We see what kind of a man Mike Baronowski was when he visits is ARVN friend at his outpost. Mike is so kind and gentle with the ARVN soldier that it made me weep.

Mike's appreciation of the breathtaking beauty of Vietnam is haunting too. High in the spangled Asian sky Mike probably saw the constellations Orion and Canis Major. The reddish star representing the hunters right shoulder, Betelgeuse, would have winked against a sky as black as a Rothko canvas. Orions belt pointed downward and to the left, as always, toward Sirius, the alpha-star of Canis Major. Sirius, the Dog Star, probably competed well with the bright planets Jupiter and Mars, as they ascended in the ecliptic plane. In the distant east, over the horizon of the South China Sea, there might have been faint streaks that hinted at the imminent rising of a waning gibbous moon. A still-fat moon could have be a tactical advantage or disadvantage, depending on who you were and where you were. I always called it a shooters moon. Mike would have known that too.

The night sounds of combat made me remember just how long a night could be in war. When the sun set behind the Chaine Annamatique, tropical darkness quickly followed. There was no lingering twilight in that part of the world. When Mike mentioned napalm, I thought of Kurtz: The horror, the horror. With mortars exploding and a 50-cal hacking in the night, Mike stayed calm. He is one who I would have wanted in the hole with me.

I am very serious when I say that I think Mike Baronowski deserves the Pulitzer Prize for journalism for these tapes. His wry commentary and perceptive observation on tape is far better than anything I ever heard out of the mainstream media at the time. What a treasure these tapes are. Thank you for posting them here.







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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-25-05 11:40 AM
Response to Reply #21
24. Haunting.
I'll never forget those long nights, long nights sitting in the weeds 200 yards outside the perimeter of the heliport, long nights in the bunkers on the Long Binh perimeter, long nights in the office with my M16, flak jacket, and steel pot at the ready, and long nights sitting in a sandbag bunker with other guys after being awakened by incoming and the sirens. And I'll never forget that longest night of all: February 23, 1969 - a "Kurtz night."
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Ironpost Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-25-05 10:18 AM
Response to Original message
18. I'm a Vietnamn Vet and I say it was a waste of a lot of lives and
Edited on Fri Mar-25-05 10:19 AM by Ironpost
lots of hardships on all sides. Accept it for what it was or what you were and move on. At least us lucky ones still have a life.
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killbotfactory Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-25-05 11:05 AM
Response to Original message
20. We were helping France
That fact alone should make freepers rethink the issue.

Vietnam was a French colony. As a nation that was a former colony, we had absolutely no right to try and impose an empire on that region. The result of our intervention is that millions of people died over a battle of political ideology. It's inexcusable.
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