- The American Conservative - http://www.theamericanconservative.com -

The Best Way to Honor a Vet is With the Truth

Stop me if you’ve heard this: American soldiers didn’t lose in Vietnam. In fact, our brave troopers had the commies whipped by the late ‘60s; that is, of course, before a conspiratorial cabal of cowardly hippies, anti-war protestors, and dovish liberals pulled the rug out from under an all-but-victorious U.S. military. It’s quite a tale, replete with heroes, villains, and glib moral lessons. It is all wrong of course, faulty and fallacious.

Others—debunked historians [1] and enthusiastic military officers [2] among them—posit an altogether different, and even more insidious myth. The U.S. military could’ve won, almost did win; it’s just that dusty old World War II vets like General Westmoreland remained fixated on conventional war when they should’ve applied counterinsurgency tactics. One young military officer you may have heard of—then Major David Petraeus—argued [3] as much in his Princeton doctoral dissertation. Later, as General Petraeus sought to apply [3] the lessons of Vietnam to Iraq, he spawned a generation of so-called soldier-scholar “COINdinistas” [4]—young Iraq and Afghan vets keen to win hearts and minds throughout the Islamic East. Counterinsurgency could work, they vociferously asserted (perhaps the “lady doth protest too much?”). Their favorite case studies [5]: Malaya and Vietnam.

They were wrong too, of course, and, like the Vietnam narrative spinners, are being by more serious scholars. As eminent Vietnam historian, and contributor to the recent Ken Burns documentary [6], Gregory Daddis, wrote [7]: rather than crafting a “better war” narrative we should see Vietnam as “a case study in the limits of U.S. power abroad.” Furthermore, “the outcome never lay entirely in American hands.” This was a civil war, a Vietnamese struggle for nation and identity. So, too, was (and is) the Iraq War.

Still, you have to admire the stories. Memory is a tricky thing. Sometimes the way we collectively remember an event becomes more durable than reality. Were the resulting mental paradigms less treacherous, one could simply ignore the errors and enjoy the fable. If only. Sadly, misremembering, and mythologizing Vietnam contributed to American adventurism, first in Central America [8] in the 1980s, then, more recently, in the Middle East.

change_me

U.S. Marine Corps LVTP-5 amphibious tractors transport 3rd Marine Division troops in Vietnam, 1966. (National Archives and Records Administration/Public Domain)

Scarcely a decade after Saigon’s fall, President Reagan reshaped [9] the Vietnam narrative. The veterans’ cause “was a noble one…fighting for human dignity, for free men everywhere,” he proclaimed. Reagan, faced with rebranding American pride and ethos in the wake of recession and the Iranian hostage crisis, flipped the script, overtly rebranding the military and its servicemembers as heroes more in the mold of his own Greatest Generation, rather than the depleted ranks following the failed Vietnam campaign. Even today, patriotic, if artless, theme songs – from Lee Greenwood [10] to Toby Keith [11] – serve as background music to the flag-draped militarism and patriotic hedonism so characteristic of the Reagan and Bush II administrations. But there it stood, always in the background: Vietnam.

You see, if America were to accept that Vietnam was a mistake, a tragedy, a ruse, a war crime [12], or simply unwinnable, then the public could be forgiven for their apprehensiveness regarding future foreign interventions. But, by making it ambiguous, or worse, convincing people it really was a victory, then those 58,000 American boys didn’t die in vain, our military remained undefeated (kind of), and the U.S. could once again spread its values—and troopers—around the world. What a coup, for neoconservatives, historical revisionists and liberal internationalists alike. Soon after President George H.W. Bush exalted [13]  (after Desert Storm) that, “by God, we’ve kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all,” the U.S. recklessly launched what turned out to be a three-decade excursion in Greater Iraq. We’ve never truly left.

As in Vietnam, so it will be in the Middle East. The invasion of Iraq was, as I’ve written [12], an unmitigated disaster, a quagmire, a spiraling transmitter of chaos and disorder across a troubled region. Surely, given the pervasive violence in Iraq, disorder in Syria, and growing regional humanitarian crises today, contemporary observers should also concede the folly of “Operation Iraqi Freedom.”  Right?  Hardly.

Former generals (think Petraeus), ambitious retired colonels (John Nagl), neocon academics (take your pick), and unrepentant “men-in-the-arena” (Dick Cheney), still celebrate the Iraq “Surge” (2007-10) as a victory denied. We, the Americans, had won, they tell us. We lowered violence, ended a civil war, and stabilized the country—only to be sold out by feckless Obama and his band of spineless misfits. The soldiers left too soon, the wars are “generational,” [14] the Iraqi Armed Forces needed more advisors…on and on the American solutions unfold.

They’re broken records, many of these (often military) folks, and you can understand why. They have sacrificed: years, lives, friends, limbs, and happiness. Surely that can’t all have been for nothing. Many veterans are vulnerable to benevolent lies. They, unlike their militarist cheerleaders, can be forgiven. Maybe. Policymakers and so-called strategists, however, must rise above such naïve fallacies. America didn’t win anything, not in Vietnam, nor in Iraq. Iraq’s violence dropped as senior officers bought off [15] former Sunni insurgents and surgically targeted extremists. There was, no doubt, much valor displayed on the streets of Baghdad and Anbar in 2007. I saw it first-hand. But it was temporary, fleeting, and momentary.

American troops, guns, money, and blood bought us time and a seemingly graceful exit. That’s about all. Iraq’s government never gained legitimacy in the Kurdish north or Sunni west. Corruption and sectarianism reigned. Our strongman, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, terrorized Sunni protesters, and kept Sunnis out of government work. The country is again in danger [16] of fracturing. The center didn’t hold—it never could. Iraq is a mirage, a post-colonial tempest, and its problems (and solutions) are Arab and Kurdish. Not American. Neither plucky Petraeus nor his surge-enthusiast minions could change that. Nor will President Trump or any of “his” generals.

Discounting or omitting Vietnamese (or Arab and Afghan) agency from our collective memory is problematic in the extreme. But today’s policymakers make decisions and craft “strategy” based on a distinct – if often erroneous – vision of the past. They deploy troops, drop bombs, and kill or maim human beings whilst viewing the world through the clouded lens of American exceptionalism. So where does that leave us?  One can guess. Surge enthusiasts and Iraq-War apologists will once again wave the “bloody shirt” of American combat deaths, denounce perfidious “doves,” and charge full tilt into America’s next gallant, Mideast catastrophe. I can see it all so clearly, and shudder: for my friends, children, and for this world. Because no one seems to care.

Maybe that’s the point; Americans seem to prefer the optimistic lie to the ugly truth. Call it collective delusion or cognitive and moral dissonance. It’s the sin of self-righteous soldiers and uninformed citizens alike. Perhaps—when it comes to protracted, indecisive war—ignorance really is bliss. So smile, everyone, and behold the crumbling republic.

Major Danny Sjursen, a TomDispatch regular [17], is a U.S. Army officer and former history instructor at West Point. He served tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has written a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge [18]. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet [19].

[Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author, expressed in an unofficial capacity, and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.]

71 Comments (Open | Close)

71 Comments To "The Best Way to Honor a Vet is With the Truth"

#1 Comment By Buck On November 15, 2017 @ 2:02 pm

Although I spent eighteen months in Vietnam, I won’t presume to comment on the course or outcome of that conflict. I, however, believe the middle east is different in that for 3000+ years it has been a land of tribal based culture, society and even the passing governments. I think the middle east is a totally different situation than anywhere, except maybe Africa. Maybe there is no solution to either place.

#2 Comment By EliteCommInc. On November 15, 2017 @ 6:16 pm

“The fact is that Trump’s action continues policies influenced by people working on behalf of a foreign country, whose goal has been to destabilize and reshape an entire region. This kind of aggressive interventionism focused on “regime change” launches cascading effects that include escalating violence.”

I would that Pres trump cease the meddling. However, he hasn’t done more than the previous executives, which counts as a positive considering. It’s hard to argue against regime change efforts have multiplied the issues in the middle east – no doubt. But what is not reported is that the French, the British and other NATO states are involved in operations there as well. Everyone wants to fill the vacuums left by previous leaderships. And Europe will have to take responsibility for that.

Our immigration policy is partly to fault for the events of September 11. Those VISAS were expired. And we should have shut that border for at least five years ten and overhauled it.
___

“I think the middle east is a totally different situation than anywhere, except maybe Africa. Maybe there is no solution to either place.”

I would certainly agree with about the vast differences. A for solutions — unless they request help (depending on the type of help), maybe we should risk allowing them to figure that out. Several hundred years of colonial rule might be hard to unravel o the road to forging new futures. At a time in which we have our internal repair to make, it’s a hard to sell to be seeking solutions for others of little strategic interest.

Hard to ignore the vast resources in Africa.

#3 Comment By Charlieford On November 20, 2017 @ 12:02 pm

“Pres. Nixon had no intention of not honoring his commitment. As demonstrated by his support for the South in the first test by N. Vietnam”

We can’t know, of course, how Nixon would have responded to later events (had they occurred in the same way) but we know a little more than you let on here. The cease-fire never, in fact, took hold. The areas of South Vietnam held by the North in January 1973 remained battle grounds, with the North jockeying for advantage and the South responding. These were strictly speaking violations of the agreement, and they continued up to and past Nixon’s resignation, yet while in office for more than a year and a half, he made no response, just as Ford made no response in April 1975.

This is hardly mysterious. Nixon’s aim had been from the beginning to terminate America’s participation in the war. The price for being able to do so was a complete withdrawal of US forces. He had been vice president in 1953 when the agreement in Korea was inked, and he well understood that if South Vietnam was going to be defended in the ensuing years, there would need to be a residual US force there, just as in South Korea. Instead, he opted for what he called a “decent interval” between US withdrawal and the collapse of the GVN.

He understood also that if US forces were gone, when that collapse came, it might be possible to spin that as a GVN loss, not an “American loss.” His hope was that this wouldn’t happen until 1977 or after, and that the connection between the US withdrawal and the GVN’s collapse would be obscured. His concern, as he expressed repeatedly, was not to avoid the collapse of South Vietnam, but to avoid the perception of a US loss, as he believed the geopolitical implications of such a loss would be profoundly harmful in numerous ways.

#4 Comment By EliteCommInc. On November 22, 2017 @ 7:48 pm

“He understood also that if US forces were gone, when that collapse came, it might be possible to spin that as a GVN loss, not an “American loss.”

I think it is clear based on the record as previously stated. When the North attacked S. Vietnam the US provided support minus troops. The north did not engage in a second war until after Pres Nixon was gone. I think its fair to conclude the he was the key factor, not merely the mood of the country.

On the one hand you say it is impossible to know and then your last paragraph proceeds as if it is a known. What we know and we can reasonably conclud based on the available data is.

1. Pre Niox pledged to get us out of Vietnam.

2. He intended to do that on the grounds that we successfully support a S. Vietnamese state.

3. He, US military and the South Vietnamese accomplished that task.

4. He did insist that the the S. Vietnamese Pres take the disputed territory on the chin — there was a S. Vietnam, mall price to pay.

5. After Pres Nixon left office, the North invaded. in 1975.

6. Of course the purpose was have the US claim victory, that is no secret, nor as you suggest was it sinister — he made that point upon running for office. Furthermore, it was not “spin” it was the accounted events.

7. To years later North Vietnam launched another conflict and the US military was not involved — even in a support basis.

After obfuscation, laugh and laugh . . . only the most insidious agendas would list open and stated goals accomplished as ruse of obfuscation. I think the previous term you referenced was “kibuki theater.”

There certainly was mythos as theater on display, but it was in display in the streets, classrooms, and political hoola hoops of the protesters, which as previously stated — got nearly every single data set about Vietnam incorrect.

And when rebutted, find still more rhetorical flights of fancy to mislead and sideline the fact that they got it wrong and have been seeking recompense on the back of US service members in; Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, etc.

Needles to say, they got that wrong as well. It’s no wonder the common refrains about Nixon’s knowledge and participation in the watergate break-in are so off the mark as well. The fixation of blame minus any data to eschew the previously mentioned inaccuracies of liberal data sets and interpretation of events is a long winding web that seems to have not the slightest integrity of goal — but must fit the goal of exonerating themselves.

The lengthy rhetorical pose on Pres Nixon as opposed to Pres Kennedy, Johnson and a leer extent, Pres Eisenhower —

The only thing missing here is a link to Pres Trump.

#5 Comment By Charlieford On November 24, 2017 @ 2:23 pm

“When the North attacked S. Vietnam the US provided support minus troops. The north did not engage in a second war until after Pres Nixon was gone. I think its fair to conclude the he was the key factor, not merely the mood of the country.”

You are correct that the outcomes of the 1972 and 1975 offensives were different, and that the lack of US support in 1975 was what made for the difference.

However, it’s not the case that the North was quiescent in the intervening period. They had occupied territory in the South as a result of 1972, and they held that territory going forward. Us bombing applied to the 1972 Easter Offensive had the result of stopping the North, but it didn’t roll them back.

After 1972, there was constant fighting between the North and the South around that territory, and that persisted despite the 1973 Accords. The cease fire not only didn’t hold, it was barely recognized.

That’s critical for understanding Nixon’s record. The cease-fire was being continuously violated, yet he did nothing between January 1973 and August 1974.

We can’t know what Nixon’s response to the 1975 offensive would have been (or if it even would have occurred), but we know what his response to the cease fire violations was between 1973 and 1975.

Nixon was in a much different position in the Spring of 1972 than he would have been in 1975: In 1972, he was heading into his last election, and of course didn’t want to have the military loss of Vietnam hanging on him at that point. Would that have meant he would have acted differently in 1975? Maybe. His inaction during the more than a year and a half after the Accords would at least indicate that possibility.

As you perhaps recall, by 1972 the war’s purpose, from Nixon’s standpoint, had become more about getting our POWs back than anything else. During the Christmas bombing that December, 28 aircraft were lost (including 16 B-52s, making the Air Force very nervous, as these were no longer in production). 43 Americans were killed, and another 49 taken as POWs.

Our efforts that December to force the North to release our POWs was actually creating more POWs.

Had the North invaded in 1975 with Nixon still at the helm, would he have been willing to run the risk of losing more B-52s and having more pilots and crews captured, thus putting us back in the agonizing position he had finally extracted us from after four nightmarish years of work?

Like I said, no one can know, but there are good reasons to doubt that he would have.

With us not involved, Nixon would have been able–as Ford did–to put the blame on the South Vietnamese. I suspect that option would have been more attractive to reopening a war he had finally extricated us from.

#6 Comment By EliteCommInc. On November 24, 2017 @ 9:05 pm

“With us not involved, Nixon would have been able–as Ford did–to put the blame on the South Vietnamese. I suspect that option would have been more attractive to reopening a war he had finally extricated us from.”

I am not ure there is much to be gained by answering positions previously answerd and then having to face the same positions again while skipping over the rationale for my responses to repeat your previous position.

I am sure I have brain damage, but it is so severe that that would pretend to engage positions previously addressed in response to your comments as well as previously noted earlier in conversation.

But we know is that the when the N. launched a second war and the US was not there to provide support. This territorial issues has been addressed and there is nothing new in the comments, save the B-52 add on.

To which,

[20]

I think it i safe to say that unlike Pres Ford, Nixon would not angered the B-52 after their demonstrated success in aiding S Vietnam minus the troops. In fact, I could add layers on the matter of territory but enough said.

I think there is substantial information that Pres Nixon would have ensured that 1972/’73 victory. There is only factor that halted the bombing — North Vietnam coming to the table.

Note; I have never contended we could no beyond doubt. To make such a suggestion is to contend something I did not. I indicate that there is sufficient information that Pres Nixon would not have abandoned the S. Vietnamese when it was clear support could have maintained the peace and their right of self determination.

My kudos to all of the men who fought in Vietnam and the women who served their military service needs.

#7 Comment By Charlieford On November 26, 2017 @ 2:27 am

This would be easier to respond to had it been translated into English first, but I’ll soldier on.

“when the N. launched a second war”

There’s your first error. The north never launched a second war. There was one war, it began in the 1930s, and it ended in 1975.

“and the US was not there to provide support”

And why wasn’t it? Nixon understood that if you wanted to guarantee US involvement, you kept troops in theater, as Eisenhower did in Korea (notice there have been no cross-border offensives there). Nixon did not do that–he agreed to pull out all US troops by March 1973. Why wasn’t the US there to provide support? Because Nixon didn’t follow the Korea paradigm. Why didn’t he? Because he didn’t want yet another Asian commitment in a theater far less defensible than the Korean peninsula?

“I think it i safe to say that unlike Pres Ford, Nixon would not angered the B-52 . . . In fact, I could add layers . . . I think . . .”

Well, you sure do think. And be assured, what you think is very special.

#8 Comment By b. On May 27, 2018 @ 12:06 pm

“Americans seem to prefer the optimistic lie to the ugly truth. It’s the sin of self-righteous soldiers and uninformed citizens alike.”

Thank you, and thanks to the TAC editors to give us one voice that takes an “unprofitable” stand on Memorial Day. There is enough affirmative opinion in the other two articles to last me till 2019.

I think Danny Sjursen describes a truth that is important not only by itself, but also because it does not further the corrupt causes of profits and personal gain from war, aggression and corruption.

We are told to “support the troops” and “honor their service” and “remember their sacrifice”, but in the end it is really those “victories” we are supposed to think of. We are not to consider the profits that were drawn from those sacrifices, the blood money that has flown as freely as we spilled blood, foreign and domestic, we are not to question why – ours is to let our betters do others die.

Memorial Day should be a day of anger and rage, a day of scorn and fury against those that stand by, or perpetrate, the racket we call war. Memorial Day marks our collective failures, not any passing victories we might conjure to perpetuate the indefensible. Memorial Day should be a day of shame, for what we have let happen, what we have let them do in our name, what, worse, we might have aided and abetted not just by failing to do our duty as citizens and as human beings, but by supporting the corrupt and the corruption.

#9 Comment By b. On May 27, 2018 @ 12:41 pm

“This was a civil war, a Vietnamese struggle for nation and identity. So, too, was (and is) the Iraq War.”

The civil war in Iraq began with the invasion. I think this is sloppy – the US was in Iraq because Bush and our elites wanted to, Operation Just Because, and one result was that, following the “creative destruction” of the dictator and repressive government, a civil war started. These are not the same, and despite considerable overlap, the belligerents and combatants are not fighting the same war.

Maybe there is a similarity to Vietnam then. The US “assisted” South Vietnam for its own reason, fighting a war against “communism”, against Russia, or maybe China, or both, and “invaded” an already ongoing civil war. Both wars followed, with overlap, a French colonial campaign. Again, not everybody was fighting the same war – some, like Cambodia and Laos, did not really want to be part of it at all, and paid dearly.

Maybe that also explains why these wars invite endless debates about possible “victories”. In WW2, nations as antagonistic as the US, France, the UK, and Russia made common cause against a single enemy, and while there were again many factions and interests pursuing their own local wars, there is a narrative that lends itself to “victory”. In WW1, it was only Wilson’s decision to “invade” the European conflict that made victory possible at all – in reality, the fact that WW1 happened at all, and persisted as long as it did, was a defeat for all European powers and for the elites of their time. If you consider WW2 the second beat of that “Great War” that nobody wanted (yet everybody worked so hard to prepare for), then the “victory” of Roosevelt ending what Wilson begun becomes a very questionable one.

In our opportunistic acts of aggression around the globe today, in Yemen, in Syria, and Libya, it becomes obvious that our war profiteering elites are finding themselves bereft of existential threats and worthy causes that would convince a people to unite behind the most destructive, wasteful and inhuman pursuit mankind knows, and hence all of these “campaigns” are a hodgepodge of disconnected or loosely coupled “causes” and local interests, of “coalitions” and allies of transient convenience. Just look at the mess that the US and our “allies” have made wherever we “intervened” in recent decades, consider the preposterous pretexts and faked news that accompany them, marvel at the grandstanding of an incompetent national security apparat and President that failed to act on their information about 9/11, and then preposterously declared “war on terror”. Surely, we have arrived at “war on nuclear proliferation”, real or imagined, and are transitioning to “war on missiles” against Iran now and China next. How far off can we from “War on War!”

It is not as if there are no existential threats the nation, and the world, faces. There are nuclear arsenals maintained in an unreliable “launch on warning” hold that will end civilization. There are diminishing returns on fossil fuel extraction that will remove the enormous energy subsidy that made our civilization and fed the billions we have born. There is the impact of carbon dioxide pollution on weather, ocean life and sea levels. The three of them converge into a single threat, and we are set to combine escalating instability and breakdown of governance with the ability to inflict massive destruction. We are set to invest trillions more into our own end.

The Great World War of 1914-1945 (to 1989, if you wish to see a continuity from the fall of the Czar to the end of the Soviet Union, and a transition from aristocrat empires to post-war US international order) showed what happens to a civilization that invests its productive capacity into engineering and stockpiling massive amounts of destructive weaponry while doing nothing to mitigate and resolve conflicts of interest and causes of instability. Nowhere is this tension better shown than in the doomsday machine the US and the Soviet built (and that the US and Russia continue to expand), a massive infrastructure that almost rivals our investment into fossil fuels, that can serve no other purpose than to destroy ourselves, and that cannot do any other than inevitably deliver that destruction, by accident or by choice, as long as we let it persist. We have invested 70 years, and have accepted debt for generations, to build a turnkey suicide industry, and the only way we can end this on our terms is to dismantle it – to deprive ourselves of that choice.

We need to stop looking for opportunities to add our own little greedy campaigns and our profitable wars to the wars of others, we need to stop preparing for wars we pretend we do not want, and we need to stop accepting that our children’s future is sacrificed to further our “notional security”.

Or our those sacrifices we are to “celebrate” today will indeed have been for naught, in the most conclusive verdict we can pass on ourselves.

#10 Comment By b. On May 27, 2018 @ 12:59 pm

“Because no one seems to care.”

I used to consider the US domestic opposition to the invasion of Iraq one of the few moments of recent history that offer a modicum of redemption. The people that took to the streets failed to stop the war, but then, the nations of the world failed, too – and it only took one UNSC member to force a UN General Assembly vote to disavow the war.

By 2004, with only Howard Dean’s calculated and token challenge to the “Bush Doctrine” of aggressive wars of prevention to show for it, it became clear that whatever opposition to war there might be in the US, a public majority doubled down on Bush, and the Democratic Party proved that it would not stand in opposition to war, not for principle and not even for opportunistic electoral gain. The Democrats would rather loose an election than challenge the biparty consensus for profitable wars of choice.

By the time Obama took office, even Barbara Lee had abandoned the inept effort to “Disavow the Doctrine of Preemption” – efforts that failed even after the Democratic Party successes in the 2006 mid-terms, and did not match with the “Great Normalization” the Obama Democrats were set to deliver to the powers that be.

Whatever anti-war “movement” might have been left after 2004 dispersed after 2008, a fog of war with no substance to cast a shadow. There is not “anti-war” majority in the US, no principled opposition to illegal, unconstitutional wars of choice. Today, the Constitution “is not a suicide pact”, and we that stand by and do nothing enjoy a holiday to consider those that die to uphold and defend what we dismiss and disregard. How many more ways can we find to shame ourselves>

#11 Comment By Kurt Gayle On May 27, 2018 @ 2:04 pm

“The Best Way to Honor a Vet is With the Truth — Clinging to myths about Iraq and Vietnam only guarantees more war” is an important piece for Americans to read – especially this Memorial Day weekend. Major Sjursen writes:

“You see, if America were to accept that Vietnam was a mistake, a tragedy, a ruse, a war crime, or simply unwinnable, then the public could be forgiven for their apprehensiveness regarding future foreign interventions. But, by making it ambiguous, or worse, convincing people it really was a victory, then those 58,000 American boys didn’t die in vain, our military remained undefeated (kind of), and the U.S. could once again spread its values—and troopers—around the world…Americans seem to prefer the optimistic lie to the ugly truth.”

Last August military historian Kevin Boylan wrote a similarly important article for The New York Times entitled “Why Vietnam Was Unwinnable”: “There is a broad consensus among professional historians that the Vietnam War was effectively unwinnable…The war was unwinnable at the level of commitment and sacrifice that our nation was willing to sustain. As the renowned historian George Herring put it, the war could not ‘have been “won” in any meaningful sense at a moral or material cost most Americans deemed acceptable.’ Perhaps the key lesson of Vietnam is that if the reasons for going to war are not compelling enough for our leaders to demand that all Americans make sacrifices in pursuit of victory, then perhaps we should not go to war at all.”

[21]

#12 Comment By Youknowho On May 27, 2018 @ 2:46 pm

Would that our fearless leaders could have studied how De Gaulle decided that the price to pay to keep Algeria in France was too high and endangered France as well, so he got out and won plaudits for that.

#13 Comment By EliteCommInc. On May 27, 2018 @ 5:48 pm

“There’s your first error. The north never launched a second war. There was one war, it began in the 1930s, and it ended in 1975.”

Excuse me.

Huh and huh . . . ohh it’s you still . . .

the US ended their role in Vietnam in 1973 when the US A. Vietnam and North Vietnam agreed to peace and the signed a treaty to that effect.

Done over caput — once you agree to terms for peace — then peace it is. US no doubt pressured by the issues at home with drew leaving some naval contingents and air support. When the Notyjatyempted a mass attack the S. Vietnamese repelled it — aided by US support. Gradually the matter — settled and the North settled in. == Peace. The US withdraws —

meanwhile oin the home front — President nixon embroiled in silly and false accusations about Watergate gave in to pressure to resign — Enter Gerald Ford, and subsequent recriminations about Vietnam, the CIA and all manner of nonsense. Inundated at home — the rest of US forces withdraw — the war – over.

1975, civil unrest having exhausted the US resolve, President Nixon no longer in office — Richard Nixon pardoned for imaginary crimes, the me generation/pepsi having avoided sacrificing anything to nation settled in to enjoy their peace love and understanding:

love sex and rock’nroll, transcendentalism, I’k OK you’re OK, child murdering and normalize same sex behavior — all to bask in the “teal thing.”

What was the real thing — avoiding the draft and anteing up to serve a country having given them plenty — Their civil rights big move — hijacking everything intended to repair the damage of discrimination against blacks and native americans. Ahh, yes those poor white college kids throwing stones and making hay about giving peace a chance —–

apparently neither whiter whiteness gave them insight to what was plainly obvious —

the one’s not giving peace a chance were the

North Vietnamese, North Koreans, China and the Soviet Union — since they were the only prosecuting war — one would think basic college logic would make that — well — obvious.

And when the North began a second war in 1976 to install their war of attrition and mass slaughter —
the peace love and give peace a chance generation opted to sit quietly by and have a pepsi as thousands and then tens of thousands of south vietnamese lost their lives in reprogramming camps and on the streets —

Now the Vietnamese want McDonald hamburgers and fries cokes and of course

— Pepsis.

A little history goes a long way —-

The same generation now invading Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Stria, Iran, encouraging war in multiple regions — ahh the big Democratic cheer leaders — women — led by

Sec Hillary Clinton and of course new to the stage

UN Ambassador Haley and introducing CIA Dir Hapsel

That’s the real thing.

The war ended in 1974, not 1975 it started a new in 1975.

#14 Comment By EliteCommInc. On May 27, 2018 @ 6:00 pm

“And why wasn’t it? Nixon understood that if you wanted to guarantee US involvement, you kept troops in theater, as Eisenhower did in Korea (notice there have been no cross-border offensives there). Nixon did not do that–he agreed to pull out all US troops by March 1973. Why wasn’t the US there to provide support? Because Nixon didn’t follow the Korea paradigm. Why didn’t he? Because he didn’t want yet another Asian commitment in a theater far less defensible than the Korean peninsula?”

Uhhhhh I hope you don’t get many offers to soothesaye —

The US has one message — to defend the South —

Now as to crossing the border — ohh brother

Bombing campaigns: North Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos (poor Laos — though we did get permission) —
all across the borders. I suspect that there were some SPO engagements, though small.

Uhhh no, President Nixon wanted to avoid making issues worse at home and didn’t think he need to invade to accomplish the job — though others thought otherwise.

it was congress that ultimately tied hands here —

the WPA and defending any campaigns to Vietnam — by 1975 was out of the question and the South fell.

I have to laugh because I recall your imsistence that we rush into the ME to take on ISIS — so your hyperventilating about Vietnam is very very very

humorous.

#15 Comment By Bergen On May 27, 2018 @ 7:32 pm

The only way to stop our politicians from sending our soldiers to fight unwinnable wars for false reasons – and for the general public to cease being ignorant – is to bring back the mandatory draft.

#16 Comment By Fayez Abedaziz On May 28, 2018 @ 1:15 am

No to all of you that make excuses.
I said this before in ’67 and thru the years to the 70’s, as the U.S. committed mass murder in another nation on that nations people.
Are you kidding me?
I demonstrated against the war against Vietnam.
It’s okay to go and kill people in their towns and bomb them?
What’s there to defend?
It was a mass killing, it’s as simple as that.
My boyhood pal died their, as an army soldier.
I wept for him and for the families killed by your ‘hero’ B-52’s.
He was a sincere patriot, and knew, like almost 100 percent of the troops,nothing about Vietnam, except the politicians and officers in the military said,”this is for your country.”
Okay, sure…
what bull.

#17 Comment By EliteCommInc. On May 28, 2018 @ 1:53 am

Vietnam was a rare moment in US history in which we defended the right of the south Vietnamese to chart their own course. I think gave up a million lived in that effort.

The efforts of our servicemen deserve as they did then more than the constant false narratives about what a debacle the matter was and how we lost — when they did not.

#18 Comment By cka2nd On May 28, 2018 @ 5:58 am

Dale Matson says: “…we were not war criminals.”

Some of you were, sir, and more than a few.

#19 Comment By Ryan W On May 28, 2018 @ 8:58 am

“Maybe there is no solution to either place.”

Once they were left alone to handle their own future, the Vietnamese did a pretty good job of finding their own solution. The country is, in many years, the fastest-growing economy in Southeast Asia, and is also the region’s most equal country (as measured by the Gini coefficient). Furthermore, it’s also one of the most peaceful countries in the region, with no battle deaths, in either internal or external conflicts, recorded in the 21st century. Vietnam is doing just fine on its own.

#20 Comment By Ryan W On May 28, 2018 @ 9:05 am

“2. He intended to do that on the grounds that we successfully support a S. Vietnamese state.

3. He, US military and the South Vietnamese accomplished that task.”

Negative. Firstly, this response is logically weak. By this standard, the Soviet Union could be said to have “won” in Afghanistan. If you leave a state that’s unable to stand on its own, then you haven’t accomplished your goal, ie. you haven’t won the war.
But additionally, this is factually inaccurate. To argue that America successfully “supported a South Vietnamese” state requires showing that some minimal conditions of sovereign statehood were achieved in South Vietnam. One of the very bare minimum qualifications for status as a sovereign nation is effective control over your territory. The Paris agreements obligated the South Vietnamese government to accept that North Vietnamese soldiers would remain inside their borders. That’s not a winning treaty; it’s a tacit surrender. The Paris agreements weren’t a real treaty at all. They were a simple fig leaf to allow America to save face as it retreated.

#21 Comment By EliteCommInc. On May 29, 2018 @ 3:40 pm

“Firstly, this response is logically weak. By this standard, the Soviet Union could be said to have “won” in Afghanistan. If you leave a state that’s unable to stand on its own, then you haven’t accomplished your goal, ie. you haven’t won the war.
But additionally, this is factually inaccurate. To argue that America successfully “supported a South Vietnamese” state requires showing that some minimal conditions of sovereign statehood were achieved in South Vietnam. One of the very bare minimum qualifications for status as a sovereign nation is effective control over your territory. The Paris agreements obligated the South Vietnamese government to accept that North Vietnamese soldiers would remain inside their borders. That’s not a winning treaty; it’s a tacit surrender. The Paris agreements weren’t a real treaty at all. They were a simple fig leaf to allow America to save face as it retreated.”

This is an old contention, I would that you had the previous because this has been cpvered in detail. No doubt, the S. Vietmnese , especially the government was very disgruntled about giving up said territory — that’s the price.

That means the borders changed and that is all.

Your attempt to compare the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan makes absolutely no sense.

There was no peace agreement. There were no troops to support the government – which collapsed under the occupation to defend.

Afghanistan was not composed of two independent states recognized as two independent entities as were N. and S Vietnam — and recognized as such even when the French departed. There were no clear and distinct borders, which you acknowledge by your own admission.

The did not invade Vietnam. The Soviets invaded Afghanistan.

S. Vietnam collapsed two years later when the US withdrawal was complete. Afghanistan collapsed during the occupation —

It is painful to reinstate actual history for the mockery that has been shoveled down the throats of veterans, and citizens since. But the sequence of events and why are very clear.

Tacit surrender is when you mildly adopt your opponents political agenda, not merely angrily give up territory. The South fought off two attempts and finally lost when the N. Vietnam aided by China, Russia, and North Korea initiated a second war and overwhelmed them in 175. The US for better or worse was no longer present or willing to recommit.

If you are going to make comparisons at least make them with some standard equivalency.

Yours has none.