Saturday, November 1, 2008

Are We Proud of What We Did In Vietnam?

There has been a lot of talk about John McCain’s “heroic” service to the country in Vietnam. Last night I read a record of America’s adventures in Vietnam, a record made by a man with prophetic vision and voice. Read what we did in Vietnam and see if you think John McCain’s or any American’s service there could considered heroic.

Consider the parallels to Iraq and understand that forty years from today someone will be writing about our foolish and unwise efforts in Iraq.

“They must see Americans as strange liberators. The Vietnamese people proclaimed their own independence *in 1954* -- in 1945 *rather* -- after a combined French and Japanese occupation and before the communist revolution in China. They were led by Ho Chi Minh......"

"Even though they quoted the American Declaration of Independence in their own document of freedom, we refused to recognize them. Instead, we decided to support France in its reconquest of her former colony......"

"Our government felt then that the Vietnamese people were not ready for independence, and we again fell victim to the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long......"

"For nine years following 1945 we denied the people of Vietnam the right of independence. For nine years we vigorously supported the French in their abortive effort to recolonize Vietnam."

"Before the end of the war we were meeting eighty percent of the French war costs. Even before the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu, they began to despair of their reckless action, but we did not."

"We encouraged them with our huge financial and military supplies to continue the war even after they had lost the will. Soon we would be paying almost the full costs of this tragic attempt at recolonization.

After the French were defeated, it looked as if independence and land reform would come again through the Geneva Agreement. But instead there came the United States, determined that Ho should not unify the temporarily divided nation, and the peasants watched again as we supported one of the most vicious modern dictators, our chosen man, Premier Diem.

When Diem was overthrown they may have been happy, but the long line of military dictators seemed to offer no real change, especially in terms of their need for land and peace.

The only change came from America, as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept, and without popular support.

Now they languish under our bombs and consider us, not their fellow Vietnamese, the real enemy.

They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move on or be destroyed by our bombs.

So they go, primarily women and children and the aged. They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees.

They wander into the hospitals with at least twenty casualties from American firepower for one Vietcong-inflicted injury. So far we may have killed a million of them, mostly children.

They wander into the towns and see thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals.

They see the children degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers.

What do the peasants think as we ally ourselves with the landlords and as we refuse to put any action into our many words concerning land reform? What do they think as we test out our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe? Where are the roots of the independent Vietnam we claim to be building? Is it among these voiceless ones?

We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. We have cooperated in the crushing of the nation's only noncommunist revolutionary political force, the unified Buddhist Church. We have supported the enemies of the peasants of Saigon. We have corrupted their women and children and killed their men.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

delivered 4 April 1967, at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City

Is this what John McCain is proud of having done in Vietnam?

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1 Comments:

Blogger Ronald said...

Thanks for this post.

November 4, 2008 at 10:39 AM  

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