“The Vietnam War” Continues

Bomb Craters in Cambodia

I had forgotten that Dick Nixon committed treason to get elected in 1968. Talks were finally going to begin in Paris for peace in Vietnam helping Humphrey’s campaign for president and the Nixon campaign did a backdoor deal with South Vietnam not to show up until after the election promising them a better deal than the Democrats. Johnson would not expose it because he did not want the people to know these conversations were wire taped. Sound familiar? The Iranians would not do a deal on the hostages until Reagan got elected, and it is becoming fairy obvious that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians. Must be a Republican thing.

Americans, while fickle, had figured out the brutality of the war. This is another point where you want to stop and think about winning that war and at what cost. Was it worth the human sacrifice? My Lai killed between 347-504 unarmed old men, women, and children. How many in free fire zones and bombing and artillery fire?  Sure you “won”, but everyone is dead. This is where Kent State became such a shock to the country. Kids on the campus were protesting and the National Guard opened fire on them.

What would have happened if the National Guard had just walked away? Nothing, but you can’t let those kids win can you? So now we shoot our own kids? Note the hate letter the parents on one student killed there got (An ROTC scholarship kid just watching the action). Kind of sounds like the hate Donald Trump is sowing today. There is another truth here, emotion trumps rational thinking.

And like Johnson, Tricky Dick figures out it is unwinnable, South Vietnam is a mess, the government corrupt as ever, so the question becomes how to get out with “honor”. Oh, I know! Let’s pretend we have stood up the South Vietnamese Army and we are turning it over to them. Again, sound familiar? Now we are late 1969, early 1970 and note the body count, ours. So now how many more have to die while we withdraw with honor? And don’t forget we had now invaded Cambodia and Laos with ground troops (we were already bombing the shit out of it). I remember flying over Cambodia and seeing nothing but crater holes from B-52 strikes for miles.

So we are starting to wind down the war (on the ground) and we are trying to pull out knowing full well the South Vietnamese cannot stand against the North and the VC, and that “withdraw with honor” is going to cost almost 10,000 more lives. And to get the North Vietnamese to the conference table, we are getting ready to crank up the air war over the North.

I am training, learning my trade, in Okinawa, Korea, and Japan (when I was stationed at Okinawa it was not part of Japan but under U.S. military control). I was trying to delay as best I could, hoping that the war would be over, but my time was coming and probably some of the best story telling in Burns’ and Novick’s story is about the conflict we all felt about this war. I discussed mine in Ken Burns’ Vietnam. I still think those that went to Canada or jail were the real brave ones. They stood for something.

But I think what is most remarkable at this point of our journey in Burns’ and Novick’s story is that the nation had turned against the war, and now there was no question we were throwing bodies away for some measure of “withdraw with honor”. What does that mean if you are dead. Oh, and that bullshit about we are fighting for freedom and democracy, to protect your right to protest, to defend the Constitution is just that, bullshit.

That is probably the other big lesson from Vietnam which is true in most wars. What did wanton killing of Vietnamese have to do with our Constitution? Were we hurt when it fell? Where were the dominos?The country was against the war, and Tricky Dicky told us he was not listening.  Once again, sound familiar.  Both he and the Dotard in Charge (DIC) redefined reality to support what they were doing.

All those names on a cold granite wall and we learned nothing. My time was coming, I knew it was stupid, insane,  and immoral and I took solace in the fact that I wasn’t killing anyone with taking pictures. But I was facilitating it. I wish to this day I could have been stronger. So now we bring on the air war to bring the North Vietnamese to the negotiating table.  And all I could think of is will this insanity ever end.

Think about it.  We entered into a massive bombing campaign to really get an agreement to leave the South Vietnamese government in place so it looks good when we left, and to do that we killed 10,000 more kids and untold number of Vietnamese.  And when the whole thing finally collapsed as we all knew it would, what were all those live for?  Defending the Constitution?  Bull shit.  And ask your self, have we learned anything? Do we see the same ignorance in office today?  Yes we do.  I am beginning to wonder if we should ever elect a President who has not served in a war and knows what it really costs.

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