Some real history and some questions for Sen. John McCain regarding Vietnam, the U.S. military, Iraq and the future of the U.S. in the World
You have repeatedly said that the US involvement in Vietnam was appropriate and justified, but poorly executed. Since you had such profound experiences there, it is important to understand your personal and professional views, since your sought role of Commander-in-Chief of the most militarily developed nation on the earth will require decisions affecting certainly Americans, but also likely millions of people around the planet.
Vietnam is an area that had been invaded, colonized, culturized, violently “Catholicized” and exploited over the centuries by China, France (twice), England and Japan. The partition after WWII into two foreign-ruled regions without consideration of the people living there over those centuries was a perpetuation of that injustice. North Vietnam was born from the expressed desire for freedom by the resident peoples against those colonizers.
That the leader of that struggle, Ho Chi Minh, identified himself as a communist was perturbing to the US during these Cold War times, when the US was, somewhat paranoidly, squashing democratically elected governments in many places (Nicaraugua, Guatamala, El Salvador, Chile, (elsewise The Phillipines, Iran), using such weapons as torture, assassination, kidnapping, rigging of elections, murder, support of cruel and repressive leaders and arming of militaries that used terrorism against the civilian populations. Also the technique of direct military involvement, from land, sea and sky. Agent Orange, napalm, bombs (your expertise), and the terrorization of millions of innocent peasants were some of techniques used. The use of nuclear weapons to “blast [North Vietnam] back to The Stone Age” was seriously discussed.
Revealed information (The Pentagon Papers, subsequent testimony by the Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and others) has shown how lies were used by several presidents, Democrat and Republican, to manipulate the citizens of the US to initiate, support and sustain the war. As these lies were eventually exposed, and the horrible costs were being summed, that support dissolved, we left, and……. ????
The costs of that war to the United States include 58,000 American lives and 350,000 casualties. It cost the US $133 Billion, started thousands of new drug addictions, sent a few hundred thousand more into homelessness, brought recurring nightmares to many, destroyed families, brought 100,000 suicides. It also resulted in between one and two million Vietnamese deaths.
You likely caused some of those by your own actions as a naval bomber, and suffered both physically and mentally as a POW. Perhaps (and I know there are people, “good God-fearing American patriots” who will call for my death for this statement) as a fair consequence from another perspective? Certainly, one country’s hero is….?? For as political sophisticates we must consider the enemies perspective to be able to make rational decisions as a nation in a complex and rapidly changing world. Nuking them to hell does not seem a good approach.
The latest war, the one in Iraq, bears some similarities, some differences with the one in Vietnam. Similarities seem to be intended domination and control of another country, lies from the top, and huge human and financial costs being hidden.
Since the Domino Theory has been, for the time, solidly disproven, and we have, with the exception of the 9/11 attacks and “Pearl Harbor” (a military installation outside of our border), not experienced international aggression within our borders, I would like to know:
What was the real justification for US military involvement in Vietnam?
How was that war mismanaged/ “poorly executed”?
What is the outcome you would have preferred?
What would the situation be now?
What should we have learned?
Regarding the parallel history that is Iraq…The same questions.
As the most mightily armed and mistrusted nation on earth, with an established record of deceit and aggression…
What should we do now?
What is the fascination with irredeemable thugs who want to transfer their hardness to organized mayhem and pain? The only organized physical contests that are justifiable in this world full of violence are those that exhibit some moderation, and protect the participants from serious injury. All else are a model for continued insensitivity and degradation of an already pitifully primitive world.
I urge all sceptics to look further into Amma and her work. Although there have been plenty of bogy-yogis, her history, numerous projects (housing development, care for discarded Indian widows, schools, the only advanced care hospital in south India and more) and superhuman energy and tirelessness really distinguish her. Just try hugging a few thousand people without pause or leaving your chair for 12 or more hours. I believe you might get rather cranky!