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31 October 2005

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David Bennett

Thanks for bringing back something We've edited out. I turned 14 in 1970, I lived in Monterey and for the next few years a lot of vets drifted through. I encountered quite a few elsewhere in the coming decade.

One thing I recall was a frequent desperation to talk, often not war stories, but just the psychic results of the experience. I was a bit torn myself, from things independant of sciety and the masive angst. But I remember how these partial expressions from vets would tear through me, also the need and in some cases the gratitude that someone could hear a bit.

We as a nation tended to close them off in the time they most desperately needed it. Not just the left, but the right as much and the silent majority wanting silence. A lot of vets half hid the fact of their service.

Then somehow Rambo "won" the war though it's my understanding the great patriotic hero spent his time teaching at a girl's school in Switzerland and suddenly 20 year old kids were talking about their time in "Nam." It was suddenly cool.

But one of our big shames is that we as a people turned away from these vets. And I expect we will do the same for Iraq. People don't want to know the consequences even of a "good war." I've encountered a few WWII vets who couldn't let go and of course grew up around a lot more who remained silent.

Alibubba

After 40 years, Vietnam is still on my mind. I was there in 1966-67, although I really didn't understand the "big picture" until much later.

Recently, I've read debates over the similarity between Vietnam and Iraq. While there are obvious differences, the debacle in Iraq is uncomfortably familiar. Although the scale of Vietnam was greater, Iraq may be even more tragic.

Our involvement in Vietnam was, at least, based on the perceptions of the Cold War. The invasion of Iraq was based on nothing more than Neocon fantasy and George Bush's political and oedipal fixations.

Murray's observations about the general attitude of the American people towards the Vietnam war are accurate and perceptive. Still, because more troops were involved in Vietnam, and because there was a draft, the war was very personal to countless families.

Regarding Iraq, I believe both support and opposition to the war is tepid. With fewer troops and no draft, most American's lives are not directly touched by the war. The Iraq war seems like a TV show with declining ratings.

I have the cynical opinion that the reason the war is losing support has less to do with its cost, geopolitical consequences, and casualties than it does with the fact that Americans don't see us winning. There is no real prospect of victory, nor even a definition of victory.

I think the Iraq war resembles, in a way, the Spanish-American War. The initial enthusiasm for the invasion was based on the simple desire to see our powerful military kick some butt -- without our participation and sacrifice.

Hazy rationales like "bringing freedom and democracy" to Iraq were just high-sounding excuses. Americans are concluding that the only good news is that Saddam was toppled and that the bad news is that Saddam was toppled.

The show is a disappointment. It hasn't turned out as we'd expected. Do we spend more lives, limbs, treasure and prestige to keep the show going. Or will we leave the theatre.

Unfortunately the whole enterprise was so defectively concocted that, short the Neocon hallucination of being welcomed with open arms,we are left with no respectable exit.

In the end, the returning vets will be treated like those of most of our wars. They will be forgotten. But not before they are quietly avoided as reminders of percieved defeat. A show that bombed.

J i O

What do you guys think of this article in the NYT? It details a coverup of errors at the NSA led directly to the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/31/politics/31war.html

The article begins, "The National Security Agency has kept secret since 2001 a finding by an agency historian that during the Tonkin Gulf episode, which helped precipitate the Vietnam War, N.S.A. officers deliberately distorted critical intelligence to cover up their mistakes, two people familiar with the historian's work say."

Jerome Gaskins

No Mike,

We're not gonna forget these kids. We'll feel guilty about letting them die and be maimed because we didn't learn your lesson. But we won't be able to forget again.

As for me, I have always been grateful that, somehow Viet Nam began to end before I turned 18 (3 months, in fact). I had nightmares of body bags, crutches and bullets.

I know that you were there for different reasons than we were told. I tried to explain to my friends that you guys were not to blame for Viet Nam. You didn't start the war; it was a job and you obeyed your employer so you could keep it.

But what twenty-something listens to a 17 year old, no matter how tall and large he is?

Now, I hear more vets telling the young ones to keep in mind their duty to themselves. I believe the problems the military is having with recruitment stem from this backlash.

As usual, all of my military brethren, active, retired and passed on, are in my prayers.

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