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General News    H3'ed 10/13/10

We Have Won In Vietnam!

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Vietnam today is less socialist than my home state of Mississippi. I'm serious. We badly need universal healthcare in America, but we do provide Medicaid for the poor. Some of our public schools leave a great deal to be desired, but free education is available through high school. We have Social Security. Not so in Vietnam, where the poor must pay both for medical care and to educate their children from middle school up and there are small old age pensions only for government employees.

I expected to see Ho Chi Minh spinning in his glass coffin when we visited him in Hanoi, but he appeared to be serene in the face of the collapse of his revolution through what might be termed the Great Bourgeois Cultural Revolution.

Freedom is a contagion that spreads on its own; it is a self-replicating bacteria; but it cannot be weaponized and spread by warfare.

The situation in Afghanistan is much more complex and difficult, and the lessons of Vietnam may not be applicable. But we should at least be clear about what those lessons are.

So, remove the "(Could Have)." "How We Won in Vietnam" was by ending the war.

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Robert S. McElvaine is a professor of history at Millsaps College and the author of ten books. He is a frequent contributor to the op ed pages of the major national newspapers and blogs for the Huffington Post. His latest book is "Grand Theft (more...)
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