VIETNAM–AS SEEN THROUGH THE EYES OF A JOURNALIST WHO COVERED IT ALL

Besides the “Vietnam” TV Documentary, by Ken Burns and Lynn Novice, there have been many books, recent articles and blog posts, about this Horrible Mistake, which was characterized by lies and mismanagement, both among the Civilian and Military Leadership.  Result:  our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, have lasted even longer–and with no end in sight!

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We’re forever scarred by the Vietnam War, and the lies | Opinion

The Sun Sentinel Editorial Board gives their parting thoughts for Monday, September 25, 2017.
Richard Aregood

We were right about all of it. The wildest, most paranoid-seeming accusations about our leaders turned out to be true.
The Vietnam War was insane. Various presidents lied to us over and over. Nixon added being a crooked, traitorous weasel. We should never have been there. Never.

Watching Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s “The Vietnam War” isn’t easy — at least not for this old man. There is a tragic heroism, even nobility and wisdom, on the part of soldiers and marines who gave all, only to learn that it was in support of cheap slogans and plain bullheaded stupidity. There is also the soul-ripping tragedy that affected generations of Vietnamese and Americans, inflicting and suffering inhuman brutality.

The politicians lied. The generals lied. Both lied to keep their jobs, not for any nobler reason. Others lied to make a bloodstained buck. War can be very profitable, for those who provide the makings and for the self-dealing crooks we backed in the despised and corrupt South Vietnamese government.

Fifty-eight thousand Americans (and god knows how many Vietnamese) died. More than 21,000 of those Americans were killed after the American people bought Nixon’s smokescreen about his “secret plan to end the war” and elected him president. All along, he was scheming to sabotage peace for his selfish ambition.

It was insane to believe that we exceptional Americans would be “fighting for freedom” by stifling the Vietnamese battle for independence. It was equally crazy to deny the evidence that the war had never gone well and never would. It was bat guano nuts to have gone there in the first place because guys in nice suits gravely intoned something scary about “communists.”

My generation is forever marked by Vietnam, no matter what we did during its pollution of our politics. Whether we were in harm’s way fighting as volunteers or draftees in Vietnam or were protesters hated, beaten and even killed, we bear the scars. In some ways we will never know where some of those scars are. Lyndon Johnson’s domestic programs and civil rights initiatives, so impressive in the beginning, were sacrificed to the war. Everyone lost faith in the government.

It was insane to believe that we exceptional Americans would be “fighting for freedom” by stifling the Vietnamese battle for independence.  May this documentary give our children and grandchildren the knowledge they need to reject liars and those scoundrels who cynically exploit the patriotism of all Americans and the innocent courage of the young.

All these years later, the “best and brightest” have been replaced. We have two more endless wars. Instead of fearing that the reds will be in downtown Fort Lauderdale by sunset, many of us are buying the hogwash that a bunch of fringe maniacs in the desert will. Or North Koreans. Or Mexicans. Or football players. There are always bogeymen. We can always find someone to fear.

Now that the worst and dumbest are in charge, the orange grifter comes up with new bogeymen, seemingly daily. Instead of solemn humbug about falling dominoes, we get crazy schoolyard bleats about foreign leaders who may be as unstable as our own. Instead of worrying about communists on the march, we get to worry about whether former communists gamed our election. Instead of being lied to in complete sentences, we’re lied to in 140 characters.
None of that is an improvement.

Richard Aregood is a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer in Sioux Falls, S.D., and a former editorial page editor of the Philadelphia Daily News and The Star Ledger of Newark, N.J.
Copyright © 2017, Sun Sentinel

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