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Uncle Sam be Damned in 'Nam: No Country for Noble Causes - Part OneBy Greg Maybury (about the author) Permalink (Page 1 of 4 pages)
"We shoot the sick, the young, the lame, We do our best to kill and maim, Because the kills count all the same, Napalm sticks to kids....
Ox cart rolling down the road, Peasants with a heavy load, They're all VC when the bombs explode, Napalm sticks to kids."
Song composed/sung by soldiers of the US Army's 1st Cavalry Division, the first full Army Dvn. deployed on September 11, 1965 to Vietnam. (Source: Jan Barry, ed., Peace Is Our Profession).
A Noble Cause for Celebration
Most everyone loves a celebration of course -- especially a victory celebration, and it seems the Pentagon and the U.S. military is no different. In a recent article on the Truth Out website, Marjorie Cohnreveals the Pentagon brass have earmarked $30m of the American taxpayers' 'hard-earned' to celebrate -- wait for it -- the 50thanniversary of the "victory" in Vietnam.
This money will underwrite in Cohn's words "a program to rewrite and sanitize" the history of America's involvement in this sad and sorry episode in the history of the Cold War and U.S. foreign policy. The Pentagon have already spent a 'motza' on its all-frills website, a portal that appears designed to facilitate a 're-education' of sorts of Americans about the ugly truth of this unholy war, and the rationale and justification for it. After poignantly noting what information was left out or played down by the website's content managers, Cohn notes grimly:
"We cannot forget the millions of victims of the war, both military and civilian, who died in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, nor those who perished or were hurt in its aftermath by land mines, unexploded ordnance, Agent Orange and refugee flight."
In a recent article on the Global Research website, Jack Smith observes that the two-fold purpose of this commemorative event is firstly to "legitimize and intensify" a renewed militaristic spirit within America, and secondly to "dilute the memory" of historic public opposition to the Vietnam war. In this updated 2012 piece Smith, like Cohn, attempts a reality check for those in Washington and the military establishment who like to pick and choose elements of the 'Nam narrative that best fit their own retrospective views.
One of Smith's most remarkable and poignant observations -- one that, quantitatively at least, says as much about the Vietnamese as it does about the Americans who invaded their country and turned it into a living, breathing, revolving-door nightmare -- is the following:
"What strikes visitors to Vietnam in recent years is that the country appears to have come to terms with what it calls the American War far better than America has come to terms with [it]. Despite the hardships inflicted upon Vietnam, the government and people appear to hold no grudges against the United States."As for highlighting the qualitative difference in the respective attitudes of selected people on both sides of the conflict, Smith notes that many, in Congress, the White House, and the Pentagon in particular, are looking to prosecute the war all over again by "organizing a massive propaganda effort to distort the history of Washington's aggression and unspeakable brutality in Vietnam".
With the Pentagon's Vietnam celebratory plans in mind, and taking a lead from Cohn and Smith, it seems timely to consider some alternative context and perspective, even if for some folks such an exercise may cause a measure of cognitive dissonance of the patriotic kind.
Hey, hey LBJ, How many boys did you kill today?
As it turns out 2015 marks two 'Nam related anniversaries, indeed Cold War signposts. These are the 50th anniversary of America's official 1965 'boots on the ground' entry into the country, along with the 40th anniversary of its ignominious withdrawal a decade later. At this point a stroll down memory lane is appropriate.
Greg Maybury is a Perth (Australia) based freelance writer. His main areas of interest are American history and politics in general, with a special focus on economic, national security, military and geopolitical affairs, and both US domestic and (more...)