Whether we slept in a muddy foxhole or sat at a desk, Vietnam left its indelible mark on all of us. Those that were not directly involved in combat and those that were, many of those veterans and the general American public at large, began asking over the course of the war and thereafter, why we were there at all? The more cognitive shared feelings of uncertainty and guilt as to the objective and the exact extent of reasoning for the massive military effort. The answer is not complicated it’s pretty simple and straight forward: American Nationalism and President Johnson’s political overreach.
It has been proven in academic publications, Senate investigations, and in the recollections of authoritative men and women who were there, the American public was misinformed and lied into serving in a political, demographic, and historic experiment to protect a non-existent ‘Asian democracy’ and to funnel it into our way of life. It was not my feeling as a civilian at the time, I clearly knew what I was doing in the Nam, but for the lion’s share of those who served they continued to question our involvement and how after presentations and praise it so disastrously turned out to be a military and national moralisic defeat.
The human cost was 258,000 young American lives and the loss of millions of Vietnamese and other Asians dead or crippled for life. It is factual that more ordinance was exploded on the surface of this small country than by all the participants in World War II.
At the end of a ten-year period of cruel warfare, basically 1965 to 30 April 1975, the U.S. abruptly relinquished the country to defeat and ruin as the most devastated and poverty-stricken in the world. The U. S. then began an embarrassingly lengthy grudge campaign for nearly 25 years and did nothing to assist in rehabilitating the battered country attempting to improve its deplorable condition. The public, and particularly the politicians, sensing it a non-issue forgot about the war as if it was a bad dream.
But many of us could not forget, could use the conflict as a testimonial in misguided strategy, the flare of nationalism, and of course political and commercial greed as the main feature that got the U. S. into the mess. Twenty-seven years after the experience of a failed Vietnam policy America made the same mistake again in an intelligence fabricated over-hyped, and unnecessary Iraq II, apparently believing to know better and trusting comparable politicians and generals that got us into Vietnam.
Today there exists more than a slim chance Iraq and Syria could become another deadly creeping Vietnam trap. If the worst happens it will be under a Trump style leadership, and the fault of Congressional politicians, along side their neoconservative buddies who will unfortunately be the most adept, capable, and culpable in initiating war and perpetuating current conflicts.
For the presidential candidates and the soon to be elected Congress, there is an unwritten back-door escape clause that will always exist for disregarding domestic campaign pledges, and that is when major multi-social benefits, rebuilding deteriorated infrastructure, pentions, and health and education programs because less comparatively important. The United States is obliged by too many overseas commitments to over 40 countries for military and commercial support that can at any time interfere, reduce, or cancel economic and domestic plans and programs. This situation of too many commitments is worrisome, and it should be taken into serious consideration when casting a ballot for your candidate.
All the Best.
(Memoir author of: Ten Years In Vietnam)