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Just What Are They Teaching About the Vietnam War?

Old Hippy-
Hi. This letter is not concerning drugs, flower power, or whatnot; I had a very important question about Vietnam. Back in the sixties, when many of our American citizens where fighting for freedom, people at home were getting loaded shouting, Make love not war. Well, it was easier said than done. Did anyone listen to our antiwar suggestions? No. Our men were getting hopeless because they were out risking there lives, and they didn’t have any support. Even our own president Bill Clinton ran to Canada, so he wouldn’t have to get drafted. My question is, why did this happen? What did the guys that fought for Vietnam think of this? And what good did the hippies do for humanity-other than get others explore their minds, and discover themselves? I don’t know much about Vietnam, so if you can’t answer my questions, it’s okay; I would like to hear what you know. Thank you for your time!!
-Generation X


Let’s set the record straight (if this is possible). You state that the boys in Vietnam were fighting for freedom. I ask you back – Whose freedom? We were supposedly a free country then (as we are supposed to be now). Vietnam was no immediate threat to any American. So they certainly weren’t fighting for our freedom. It was a situation similar to Kosovo, but without the ethnic cleansing, which is our only justification for being involved in that fiasco.

So if the young men sent to Vietnam to die, were sent to free the Vietnamese people, what exactly were they being freed from? Yes, the North was communist and wanted to take over the South, which was capitalist. Communism might be a less efficient system than Capitalism, but is the difference worth dying for? Were we justified in killing people because we have a better system??? Does might make us right?

The truth is that it was US business interests that got us into the war and kept us there. After the first few years of the war, the war itself became big business! American corporations and investors were getting rich as the government plowed every extra dollar into the war effort, at the expense of the social programs of Johnson’s Great Society.

It’s amazing to me that you think that no one listened to the antiwar effort. Not only did people listen, they got involved, even veterans returning from Vietnam! We mobilized millions of people in the effort. Although it took time, it did work! The big turnaround came when Lyndon Johnson decided not to run for office again. His whole Vietnam policy was a failure and he knew it. He was faced with running against the antiwar candidates (just about all the other democrats) and instead decided to retire. If the democrats had won that election, the war would have been over much sooner. Instead Tricky Dick got elected, and with the whole military/industrial complex supporting him, continued the war for many more years. That’s politics!

From the 1968 elections onward, the antiwar movement continued, but the opposition (read: government) got violent. Witness Chicago during the Democratic Convention. Kent State where 4 students were murdered by the National Guard. The war came home, and we were lying bloodied and dying in the streets. And you think we did nothing! It really makes me wonder what they are teaching you in the schools these days? Have they rewritten history?

We have all learned some lessons about Vietnam. Why do you think we haven’t sent in ground troops in Kosovo. That’s because the government is afraid of public opinion! Before Vietnam most people supported whatever the government’s foreign policy was at the moment. Young men were eager to sign up to fight overseas. With the hippy and antiwar movements we learned to question authority. Before no one would think to second guess our political and military leaders. After all they had successfully guided us through WW II, where we were victorious and the Korean war where it was a draw, but Americans at home were spared seeing the horrors on TV.

A better question for you to ask is Why did we go to Vietnam and what did we accomplish there? We need the answer because maybe then we can figure out what the hell we’re doing in Kosovo!

What blows my mind is the concept of sovereignity. This means that every government respects the rights of other governments to do whatever they want to the people inside their borders with impunity. Even though the leader of a country can be a complete lunatic, we must respect that person and his government’s right to exist. The ludicrious irony of this situation will come to a head when the US and Nato are forced to negotiate with the mass murderer Milosovich over the future of Kosovo.

To me the real lesson is not to trust any government. They exist to serve the rich and powerful in every country, including this one. A government will defend itself against it’s own people whether justified or not. When a government kills it’s own people without valid reason (like Kent State or Kosovo – take your pick) it loses any credibility it has as a representative of the people. So the real problem is the nature of government itself. We need to either re-invent government as a tool of the people, using the empowering new technology at our disposal, or continue being cannon fodder for those special interests that our government owes favors to.

The revolution that was never finished must become the evolution that leads us to a new beginning.

-The Old Hippy
P.S. this was written in 1999.

Posted by: skip
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