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Why Vietnam Matters

In the 1960's and 1970's the country was at war in Vietnam and a civil war raged at home, one that portended the aftermath of the current war in Iraq. That civil war was not fought by the military, it was conducted in the media by those who revile the military and the administrations of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. It was a battle for the hearts and minds of America, and truth was the first casualty on both sides.

In a 1986 Washington Post article (Viet Vets Didn't Kill Babies, and They Aren't Suicidal) former Secretary of the Navy James Webb makes the case that much of what you thought you knew about the men (and women) who served in Vietnam was not true. Some of the facts presented will be eye opening - a lasting testament to the victory of the likes of John Kerry and his VVAW buddies.

From about 1968, when the war effort began to be discredited after the misperceived U.S. and South Vietnamese loss of the Tet offensive, until about 1978, when hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese began jumping into the sea in order to flee their "liberators" those who had not served could and did perpetrate a moral and intellectual arrogance over those who had. As James Fallows, one of the very few of those who did not serve to have spoken honestly of the long-term implications of such a split in the age group, pointed out several years ago in the Atlantic Monthly, "to those who opposed the war, the ones who served were, first, animals and killers, then "suckers" who were trapped by the system, deserving pity but no respect; and finally invisible men ... A returned veteran might win limited redemption if he publicly recanted, like a lapsed communist fingering his former associates before the HUAC. Otherwise, he was expected to keep his experiences to himself."

One would think that the brutal aftermath of the communist takeover in 1975, with its continuing expansionism, bloodletting and Gulag mentality, would have mellowed some of the earlier antagonism. Whatever one's opposition to the Vietnam war or to its actual conduct (which deserves prizes it, is clear that the stakes for which we fought were real The loss of a country the size of Poland to a Stalinist regime tied strongly to the Soviet Union was a dreadful blow to the ideals our nation cherishes.

Unfortunately, however, the antagonism persists. A major reason relates to the ongoing debate over what Harrison Salisbury a few years ago termed "the mythology of the Vietnam war."

...The man who fought in Vietnam is typically depicted as a draftee, unwilling and probably black. In fact, two-thirds of those who served during the era were volunteers, 73 percent of those who died were volunteers and 12.5 percent of those who died were black (out of an age group that comprised 13.5 percent of the male population).

...What upsets Vietnam veterans is not the attention given to those who have been less fortunate, but that their plight is the unwarranted symbol of the entire peer group. For instance:

In the most comprehensive survey of Vietnam veteran attitudes ever done (1980, Harris Survey), 91 percent of those who served indicated they were "glad they served their country," 74 percent stated they "enjoyed their time in the service," 80 percent disagreed with the statement "the United States took unfair advantage of me", and 72 percent agreed strongly with the statement " The trouble in Vietnam was that our troops were asked to fight in a war which our political leaders in Washington would not let them win."

The media response to this survey was almost total silence.

Similarly, during March, 1985, a Washington Post/ABC news poll conducted a random sample of Vietnam veterans, "precise to within a 4 percentage point margin," which indicated that Vietnam veterans were more likely to have gone to college, more likely to own a home and more likely to earn $30,000 a year or more than others in their age group. A majority of the veterans interviewed felt they had benefited from being in Vietnam, supported the bombing of the North and the use of napalm and did not seem bothered by the fact that others avoided military service. The Post, it must be said, reported this survey fairly. No one else seems to have picked it up. One needn't wonder what would have happened if the story had indicated otherwise.

Dozens of features, both in print and visual media, have focused an Vietnam veterans in prison, the implication being that service in the war zone turned untold legions on to crime. To the contrary, the Bureau of Justice Statistics figures indicate that Vietnam veterans are less likely to be in prison than their nonveteran Peers.

You can see why Kerry was so important to the anti-war movement, as he furthered the "animals and killers" meme, but had the added credentials of having served in Vietnam.

Comments (7)

Many folks who haven't serv... (Below threshold)

Many folks who haven't served in the military can't conceive of the military concept of "honor."

Kerry is a complete ass if ... (Below threshold)

Kerry is a complete ass if you ask me and unfortunately John Edwards is following in his footsteps using George W. Bush's words. As the wife of a late Vietnam Vet who spent 6 years in Vietnam, Captain of the Green Berets, Special Forces, paratrouper, assassin, ranger - came back to living hell and died as the result of a motorcycle accident in 1978 and John Kerry grates on my nerves. God help us all if he becomes President. We're in for deep shit if that happens.

I agree with what 'firstbro... (Below threshold)

I agree with what 'firstbrokenangel' writes here (^^).

I tend to avoid trying to perpetuate things that can't quite ever be proven (the various "conspiracy" theories that rely on emotional vulnerability and gullability to exist and proliferate), but, about Kerry and his behavior, that began with his months in Vietnam and carried forward afterward to what it is, what's recorded historically, the man sure seems to me to be someone who had A Plan, who set out to actually piece together "evidence" (thus, his camera's in use in Vietnam, for one thing) that would help establish and substantiate his Plan afterward and that Plan was, to discredit the United States in any measurement standard between the U.S. and communism, or particularly, Red China's version of communism, weighed against the U.S.'s version of democracy.

I do believe that Kerry opted to go to Vietnam as an embittered statement, not out of heroics, and set about using the time there to create a trail of evidence that would therefore substantiate Kerry's resentments about the U.S. as a military presence, and that alll his charades afterward were just that, but icing on the cake he'd already baked, so to speak.

Even today, he speaks out with overt and aggressive statements that align with those who ridicule the U.S., encourages people to behave with force and denigration against the U.S. as a "government" that he declares needs to be "taken" and the like...

He's also recruited mostly people who fall for his counter-military methods, who also communicate a dislike of the U.S. however subtle, but most overtly. If not the U.S. then "the American people" who seem to be the nemesis to Kerry and the present day DNC.

What's the "government" that Kerry intends to "deliver" if he's ever President? The answer to that is a frightening image.

Summation: Kerry is a Marx... (Below threshold)

Summation: Kerry is a Marxist and that's what he has in mind as his version of a "better" America...a Marxist country.

It's worth re-emphasizing h... (Below threshold)

It's worth re-emphasizing here that Kerry was on record as opposing the war before he went. And yet if what I've read can be believed, he didn't align himself openly with the anti-war movement until after his first attempt at political office failed.

I don't know if Kerry has any core values at all. His flip-flopping goes way back.

John Kerry fought against c... (Below threshold)

John Kerry fought against communists in Vietnam. Now he is accused of being communist because he opposed the war in Vietnam.

I will tell you who the real communists are, they are the executives that make $100 million dollars a year and outsource American jobs to Red China. They always talk about how we have to cut costs.

i only wanted to say that b... (Below threshold)

i only wanted to say that bush seems to have it all together kind of like a dvd while kerry seems to be a 8 track tape.






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