There is enormous pressure to put the guilt and shame of Vietnam behind us?
The problem is: the people that have been war criminals and were Vietnam war criminals have never been indicted for their shame and guilt. In my opinion, in order to put Vietnam behind us what is needed is another wall; A WAR CRIMINAL WALL; A WALL OF SHAME! Stating: These people were guilty and responsible for murdering 55,000 brave and patriotic Americans.
The fact that some of those Americans were also murderers, and all were part of a murderous system, including all U.S. taxpayers and citizens at the time, is also needing full truth-telling, on a memorial wall to the truth that was killed but now must be fully told, as you brightly suggest. And next to that wall for the 55,000 Americans killed should be one that dwarfs it memorializing and placing firmly in American consciousness the 4 million South Asians whose lives were taken by the cataclysm whose roots were ignorance, greed, hatred, and all the grasping fear and prideful violent patriotism that arose therefrom. To see all this, of course, would be to begin to see how it continues today, to begin to stop the “betrayal” (to use Freeman’s closing word) of our fundamental human nature of compassion, curiosity, and care.
Today the government of the US is no better at lying than it was in 1963 (when LBJ on his first official day and the day of Kennedy’s funeral issued a national security directive which rescinded Kennedy’s order which would have removed all US combat troops out of Vietnam by 01.01/65) or in December of 1941 when FDR’s administration knew when the Japanese strike force would attack because they had broken both the diplomatic and military codes but kept that information from Admiral Husband Kimmel and as a resulted in greater damage and loss of life than would have otherwise happened.
Then the historians both “serious” and “pop” (like Ken Burns!) seek to confuse the issues. The truth is that nothing can justify the deaths of either Americans of Vietnamese that resulted from such lies.
John Fogerty of Credence Clearwater Revival fame summed it all up nicely in his song: “I Saw It On TV.”
"They sent us home to watch the show coming on the little screen
A man named Ike was in the white house big black limousine
There were many shows that followed from Hooter to Dootyville
Though I saw them all I can’t recall which cartoons were real
The coons skin caps Yankee bats the hound dog man’s big start
The A bomb fears Annette had ears I lusted in my heart
A young man from Boston set sail "the new frontier"
And we watched the dream dead end in Dallas
They buried innocence that year
I know it’s true oh so true cause I saw it on T.V.
We gathered round to hear the sound coming on the little screen
The grief had passed the old men laughed and all the girls screamed
Cause four guys from England took us all by the hands
It was time to laugh time to sing time to join the band
But all too soon we hit the moon and covered up the sky
They built the bombs and aimed their guns and still i don’t know why
The dominoes tumbled and big business roared
Every night at six they showed the pictures and counted up the score
I know it’s true oh so true cause I saw it on T.V.
The Old man rocks among his dreams a prisoner of the porch
The light he said at the end of the tunnel
Was nothing but a burglars torch
And them that was caught in the cover are all rich and free
But they chained my mind to an endless tune
When they took my only son from me
I know it’s true oh so true cause I saw it on T.V.
I know it’s true oh so true cause I saw it on T.V."
Excellent reply! Thanks.
A agree with this article, but not with its implicit assumption that Vietnam was somehow exceptional. The US killed millions in the Korean War, a war very similar to Vietnam in several respects. It also was a civil war, and we also fought against a people who never threatened us. Just as in Vietnam, the US dropped more tonnage of bombs than it did in WWII. The key difference is that the Korean War occurred during the McCarthy period, so opposition was especially muted.
And what about all the other interventions since WWII? Did Iraq threaten us? Did Afghanistan? Did Grenada???
But it’s worse than that. Even the “good” war, WWII, was evil. It degraded our values to the point where Americans cheered when we slaughtered a hundred thousand civilians in Hiroshima, Tokyo and Dresden.
I wish every human could to these words from the Nuremburg Tribunal to heart:
“War is essentially an evil thing. Its consequences are not confined to the belligerent states alone, but affect the whole world. To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”
What A Great song! Right up there with “Fortunate Son”-
The pot of gold was not Vietnam’s natural resources, but rather the United States’ military budget. The only thing that has changed is that the pot just keeps getting larger and larger. The military budget is sacrosanct and is supported by both major parties. The real demon is us! Pogo had it right; “We have met the enemy and they is us.”
Rather sickeningly and tragically ironic that Americans are comfortable destroying Johnson’s Great Society & Civil Rights ( especially voting ) Acts, etc. But then, embraces the rehabilitation and rewriting of the genocide of 4 million non-white S. Asians, for historically corrupt and very unpatriotic propaganda purposes.
Johnson, like all recent POTUSs, could/can never be honest in any meaningful way with the PTB looming in the background, pistols cocked. The ugly truths of American Exceptionalism demand that we are always going to be winners and morally superior. It must be so, or the facade of The Great & Indispensable Empire, shatters into a historical heap of shameful rubble. And, the blind allegiance of the masses falls with it. Lies must be told, right?
For if the real inconvenient truth, and historical facts of White Privilege and White Power are told, a lot of really ugly shit starts hitting a lot of very big fans. And, above all, the money train might somehow get sabotaged or derailed. Oh Nos! Oh Nos! Say it ain’t so, GI Joes!
I’ve heard that he did one of his documentaries on the War in Vietnam and it was supposed to be shown around now (on PBS I think), but I don’t watch Corporate-Propagandistic-Tripe er I mean TV anymore. So what was his take on Vietnam (need I ask)? Is he white washing it? Is he rehabilitating it? Is that why we are getting these articles on Vietnam lately? I also wonder what kids are being taught in their history books. Maybe that we actually won that war…
No rehabilitating needed. As bad as it was the Vietnam War had to happen due to an inevitable confluence of several terrible developments. See the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast.
Other Western countries need to share in the shame of this SE Asian slaughter. Canada, Australia, France, Germany, the UK, etc. could have done much more to stop this atrocity. Not one of them said ‘Stop this war or we will not deal with you until you do’. All of them put the money they think they make from playing ball with the US before the lives of millions of innocents.
Nothing has changed. The US is still exporting death and destruction around the world while other Western countries spend millions on lawyers to stop The Donalds potential trade restrictions.
Crapitalism is just that!
Thank you for honoring the heroes of the antiwar movement and the soldiers forced to fight in a war based on lies. Thank you for remembering this civilian slaughtered in Southeast Asia. Thank you for shining a light in these terribly dark times g
But I wonder why you didn’t mention the millions of Asians they killed.
The nightly news covered their deaths as a dehumanizing “body count.” Every sector of the political, commercial, and mainstream media establishment was complicit in the genocide.
The Vietnam antiwar movement was a true grassroots phenomenon, the last great such enterprise in the United States, encompassing tens of millions of people.
There has been nothing to approach it over the last 16 years of continuous, relentless, unending war. And that means, of course, that there have been no national politicians goaded sufficiently by their constituents to stand up publicly against the US incursions in the Middle East.
Naturally, the “liberal” party, the Democrats, proved once again to be completely in sync with the MIC when they just voted for an increase in the war budget that exceeded even Trump’s request by over 50%.
Not to mention the collateral damage experienced by Murkins who went into exile for resisting the draft or had to go underground to avoid exile, and including active duty military and vets who committed suicide.
Murkin media took their blame-the-victim strategy to new heights with their fake news about many Murkins spitting on and otherwise persecuting vets returning home. Such incidents were rare, with most Murkins welcoming vets into workplaces, colleges and other communities.
Not believing JFK ordered the murder of the South Vietnam president as stated. That would be the CIA in my opinion. JFK wanted the US troops out, one of the multiple reasons leading to his murder by the same CIA. The Ken Burns Vietnam documentary on PBS represents the attempt to paint the US involvement in that war as a just cause. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Notice during the Vietnam War much coverage was shown on TV, while the recent and current wars next to nothing is shown. It’s as if it is none of our business.
It would be good for everyone to know what is being taught to children in their community. Happy to report I was happily surprised that my son’s high school American History text was VERY fair reporting of past mistakes made by the U.S., and not only about Vietnam Nam. That was during all the Tea Party activism and so at the time I wondered what would happen to the fairness of his classroom learning if … people knew what was in the textbook. Also happy to report that simultaneously my son’s English teacher assigned “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien, about the horrors and insanity of Viet Nam, Wow! In hindsight I wish we had been able to hold onto a copy of the history textbook for safekeeping in case of replacement with a newer whitewashed history book.
No, it did not have to happen! The only justifiable and necessary wars are those which respond to deliberate attack. Even then the response should be proportionate, if possible, to the threat. Nearly all of our wars were wars of choice.
Politicians are politicians. The people have changed.