Saturday, December 26, 2009

Afghanistan: Are the Impacts of Vietnam Fading, is it Possible?

Looking forward into the past:  Vietnam & Afghanistan
Chuck Palazzo
Agent Orange Editor

Da Nang, Vietnam - How can the U.S. decry human rights violations as it fails to be responsible for a war that should never have been waged in the first place?  As a VVAW member and correspondant living in Vietnam I receive a great amount of feedback as a result of my efforts to help people affected by the chemical Agent Orange, a defoiliant manufactured by Monsanto.  This contribution is an interchange of dialog on some key points of the Vietnam War. The following comment which began this dialog is from a source that we are choosing not to name:  
"Let it go, Brother. Your attention to figures can scramble your brain. And don't think 58,000 Americans died in vain in Viet Nam. There were lessons to learn and a need for this for the U.S. to realize the limits of its power. Viet Nam didn't matter in the scheme of things and it wouldn't have made any difference to the vast majority of us, regardless of the outcome."
But I responded and told him I would publicize our dialog. He was writing to me in response to my asking for stats re: how many of us are left, how many disabled, etc. This was my reply:
"I appreciate what you have said, and I agree with you to an extent. But to never let anyone believe our brothers and sisters have died in vain? I for one, cannot ever let it go. Yes, I have let many things go - including the fact that I was an 18 year old kid thrust into a war that I had no idea was about - except I came from an era and was told, by my dad, friends, and of course the US Government that we had to fight the spread of communism. What crap, I am sure you would agree.
You see, in my opinion, Vietnam does matter in the scheme of things, especially when it comes to facts and figures - and more important, what continues to occur in Iraq and the current escalation in Afghanistan. You cannot fix what you cannot measure. 

It might be easy for some to forget what the US did in Vietnam, the loss of the 58,000 plus, the daily deaths as a result of the collateral damage known as Agent Orange, even now, 40 years later - but unless we remind each other, and continue to educate other people as well, we as humanity are destined to make the same mistakes, commit the same war crimes, and foster the same money making schemes we did back then. Yes, perhaps we have learned some lessons, but Monsanto continues to be a multi-billion dollar company and the US refuses to admit its war crimes.  Will the US government opt for chemical defoliants as a weapon in their war on the poppy trade, in Afghanistan?  If so, who you gonna call?
Look at our sons and daughters, our friends, and our allies, who are dying daily in Iraq and Afghanistan? Who knows how many years, how many generations, how many innocents as well as warriors will be affected - and for how long? We haven’t learned a thing as a nation, brother. My opinion - and perhaps many others' as well.
I do appreciate your feedback, and thanks.
Semper Peace!
The fact that light is still being shed on this topic is extremely important. The story has to keep on being told, and while war is war - how can the U.S. government decry human rights violations as it fails to stand up and take responsibility for the lives that have been torn apart because of a war that should never have been waged in the first place - along with the chemicals used to fight it?


BettyTX said...

I agree that the true history of the Vietnam War must never be allowed to fade. We should remember not only those who died but those who came home wounded in body and in spirit. It is our duty as citizens of this country to keep that memory alive so we will not do to another generation what we allowed to happen to those who went to Vietnam and those who chose to leave the country rather than serve.

Keeping that history alive does not diminish the sacrifices that those who fought in and against that war, but, hopefully, it will keep us from making the same mistakes over and over. Yes, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan seem to be a repeat, but maybe the second mistake within the memory of those who fought and protested the Vietnam War will drive home to decision makers that we must find other ways to resolve issues instead of always resorting to war.

Wayne said...

It seems that those that have the power only learned the "wrong" lessons from Vietnam. IE no draft, news censorship, better propoganda etc. One of the major goals of VVAW was to prevent another generation from being duped like we were. While we had some success in finally stopping the Vietnam war, we, at least I, got tired and complacent, evil never rests.

Dave Collins said...

It has been widely reported that the Obama administration's foreign policy pukes carefully studied one version of the history of the American War in Viet Nam before pledging the lives and souls of tens of thousands more to the futile, illegal and immoral occupation of and war against Afghanistan. It seems clear to me at this stage of my life that what happened in Viet Nam between 1954 and 1975 cannot be understood for what it was by those who lust and strive for power. Why? Because our war in Viet Nam was far from the first of its kind in our history; we are serial killers on a global level; it is at the very heart of who we are as a nation. For example the current claim is that that the CIA "learned" the technique of waterboarding from the "North Koreans" when the historical fact is that a US Army officer first developed the technique for use against the Filipino "insurgents" (aka "terrorists") during the Spanish-American War (and was praised by officials in Washington for doing so). That is only one example among thousands that could be placed on offer.

History is always written - the version that is put on display for reference by the power elites - to serve the interests and needs of that same power elite. This has been the case of most nations through history and is always the case among those that seek to extend their power through force. The United States is exceptional in this regard only in that we have become particularly adept in the use of modern technology to promote and propagate those "approved" histories.