Happiness is Vietnam in My Rear-View Mirror
Vol: 31 Issue: 27 Tuesday, April 27, 2004
Senator Ted Kennedy said Iraq is, George Bush s Vietnam. Given the fact that, that U.S. forces are committed there for the long haul, what steps do we need to take, Ambassador Bremer, to make sure that Iraq does not turn into another Vietnam? NBC s Matt Lauer to Ambassador Paul Bremer, the chief U.S. administrator in Iraq, on Today, April 6.
You say commit more troops. But that s the same thing LBJ did in Vietnam. Do you worry that this is another Vietnam? Katie Couric to Hillary Clinton on Dateline, April 16.
Retired Major General William Nash: It s an insurgency against a public security mission that the soldiers are trying to perform for the people of Iraq. And so they are not able to engage regular military forces using the strengths that we have to attack their weaknesses.
Peter Jennings: Well, that sounds like Vietnam. ABC s World News Tonight, April 7.
In Najaf, the militant Shiite cleric Al-Sadr echoed the refrain Iraq could become quote, another Vietnam for America. Dan Rather on the April 7 CBS Evening News.
“We are asking Americans to think about that because how do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?….We are here in Washington to say that the problem of this war is not just a question of war and diplomacy. It is part and parcel of everything that we are trying as human beings to communicate to people in this country – the question of racism which is rampant in the military, and so many other questions such as the use of weapons; the hypocrisy in our taking umbrage at the Geneva Conventions and using that as justification for a continuation of this war when we are more guilty than any other body of violations of those Geneva Conventions; in the use of free fire zones, harassment interdiction fire, search and destroy missions, the bombings, the torture of prisoners, all accepted policy by many units in South Vietnam.” — Vietnam Veterans Against the War Statement by John Kerry to the Senate Committee of Foreign Relations, April 23, 1971
“I did obviously fight in Vietnam, and I was wounded there, and I served there and was very proud of my service . . .To have these people, all of whom made a different choice, attack me for it is obviously disturbing.” — John F. Kerry, Presidential Candidate, Fulton College, Mo, April 26, 2004
The War in Vietnam began during the Kennedy administration, escalated during the Johnson and first Nixon administrations, and ended when the Democrats in Congress voted to pull out and leave South Vietnam to the tender mercies of the communist North.
The Tet Offensive that so many credit as the reason for America’s defeat in Vietnam was a disastrous military defeat for the North and a massive military victory for the United States.
But at home, there were people like John Kerry telling the American public that Vietnam was a ‘peaceful agrarian society’ that had been invaded by the US ‘military-industrial complex’ so that ‘fat-cats’ could ‘get rich’ etc., etc.
Groups like Vietnam Veterans Against the War turned on their country and their fellow veterans, and worked actively to secure an ignominious American withdrawal from Vietnam, betraying the South Vietnamese whose generation-long war of liberation ended in defeat and absorption by the Communists.
One legacy of John Kerry, Jane Fonda and other anti-war activists protesting America’s ‘unjust war’ in South Vietnam is the current practice throughout ‘reunited’ Vietnam of martyring Christians for their faith.
“In Vietnam, police reportedly killed hundreds of Christians at a peaceful prayer protest over Easter weekend. More than a thousand Christian Montagnards had been protesting religious repression and confiscation of their tribal lands.Vietnam’s communist government has been persecuting the Montagnards for years. One reason is because massive numbers of Montagnards have converted to Christianity since the early 1990s. A Montagnard Christian who escaped to the U.S. says his people are ‘crying out for freedom.’ ” — Christian World News, April 16, 2004.
THIS is what those 56,000-plus Americans who died in Vietnam died to protect. Freedom. Not some ‘military-industrial complex of fat cats.’ And NOT so some political hopeful could denigrate those sacrifices to advance his own political career, as Kerry did in ’71. Or cynically exploit it to get elected president in 2004.
This week, answering charges that he lied about throwing his medals over the White House fence, John Kerry stood tall, faced the cameras, and said something to the effect that because he served in Vietnam and neither Bush nor Cheney did, it was thirty years ago, and anyway, Kerry went to Vietnam and neither Bush nor Cheney did . . . or something.
The media is making an issue out of whether Kerry threw his ribbons over the fence, or whether he threw his medals. Kerry responded by saying he threw the ribbons, but kept the medals, saying that ‘ribbons’ and ‘medals’ were, to all intents and purposes, interchangeable terms.
I agree with Kerry. ‘Ribbons’ represent medals, and are, among military types, interchangeable.
When a medal is awarded, it comes with a ribbon that is worn on the Uniform of the Day instead, to show you earned the medal which remains in your presentation case.
So it doesn’t make any difference whether he threw away ‘ribbons’ or ‘medals’. The point is that he threw them away THEN, and is campaigning on them NOW. John Kerry testified under oath that Americans routinely tortured and pillaged and raped and burned and committed war crimes as ‘accepted policy by many units in South Vietnam’ in 1971.
He renounced the medals he earned by throwing the ribbons that representated them over the White House fence. Those medals weren’t his — they were given to him in trust. For every decorated veteran there is a dead veteran who didn’t survive to be decorated. Those medals are shared by the living and the dead.
When Kerry threw his ribbons over the White House fence, he broke that trust and renounced his right to claim them again. It is important to remember WHY Kerry said he was ‘giving his medals back’ as he put it.
It was because — in his own words — he earned them by committing war crimes simply by serving in Vietnam. Now he mentions them in every campaign speech.
Ok. So he gave them back. I once gave my brother back a valuable something he had given me as an expression of gratitude for something I did for him.
(Once I gave it back to him, it wasn’t mine anymore. Would be even less so, if I had thrown it in his face)
It wasn’t George Bush or Dick Cheney that ressurrected Vietnam as a campaign issue — it was John Kerry. According to Kerry, Bush/Cheney are less qualified because they DIDN’T participate in conduct so reprehensible that Kerry threw his decorations away in protest.
If the war in Iraq goes badly for George Bush, that means the election will go favorably for John Kerry. It is, therefore, in John Kerry’s best political interests that Iraq become ‘another Vietnam’.
What does ‘another Vietnam’ mean? Does it mean a military defeat on the battlefield? No. We won on the battlefield. We lost at home, thanks to propaganda speeches by anti-war activists like John Kerry gave in 1971. John Kerry was a veteran, so he was very convincing.
Aided by the mainstream media coverage of antiwar demonstrations and high-profile coverage afforded folks like Jane Fonda and John Kerry, pretty soon mainstream America was convinced we were bogged down in a ‘quagmire’ that we couldn’t win.
Now is a good time to scroll back up and read what the mainstream media is saying about Iraq. Jane Fonda is keeping a low profile, but Jeannine Garafalo, Al Franken, Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins are there to pick up the slack. And so is the mainstream media.
Vietnam was thirty years ago. The loss in Vietnam won Jimmy Carter the White House in 1976. John Kerry hopes he can use Vietnam again, by recreating it in Iraq, to win the White House for him in 2004.
The propaganda message built into chants like, “No more Vietnams”, is what created the FIRST ‘Vietnam’ in Vietnam. John Kerry knows that. He helped perfect the technique while launching his political career. That’s why we keep hearing it now.
But Iraq isn’t Vietnam. Islam is not communism. The Viet Cong didn’t have access to weapons of mass destruction. After a John Kerry administration, will there be a Ronald Reagan waiting in the wings to pick up the pieces?
And even if history repeats itself this time, will there be any pieces left to pick up?