The German Hermann Goering said, "Naturally, the common people don't want war, but after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag people along. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country."
Little known and already forgotten, Robert S. McNamara, the architect of the Vietnam War, died this week-after a lengthy life of 93 years. The world won't blink, but I winced in my distress for a man who caused so much death and misery in his power tenure-and all for nothing.
Whereas McNamara lived a long existence, he cut short 58,300 American soldiers' lives and horribly disfigured the lives of 350,000 more from war wounds. On the Vietnamese side, he killed several million people and poisoned the countryside with Agent Orange. McNamara created orphans, widows, widowers, amputees, refugees and more human misery than most Americans can imagine. Documentation shows that 150,000 to 200,000 Vietnam Vets committed suicide since 1975---all from the traumas they suffered while serving in the steaming jungles of Vietnam. McNamara's perpetration of that war still kills Americans with cancers that formed 20 years later from exposure to Agent Orange. No one knows how many lives suffer from drugs and alcoholism stemming from their service in Vietnam.
Much like Hitler, McNamara illustrated the power of one man's intentions. He built a consensus for his Domino's Theory of communist conquest. While Lyndon Baines Johnson sided with McNamara, along with Congress, none of them understood the folly of their "Fog of War." They never declared 'war' on North Vietnam. They called it a 'conflict'.
The U.S. Army drafted my college roommate out of our room to my great distress. He got shot to hell in a firefight within two months of landing in Vietnam. His last letter to me before his death said, "They won't let us win this war or lose it...we are getting killed for nothing." By 1968, I found myself in U.S. Army Basic Training for ROTC at Fort Benning, Georgia. I'll never forget Drill Sergeant Pierce screaming, "You maggots are gonna' die, but if you learn the low crawl well enough, you might luck out and come back alive!"
While stepping forward on forced marches, we sang, "I wanna' go to Vietnam, I wanna' fight the Vietnam...I wanna' go see Ho Chi Mingh to pull the whiskers on his chin...I wanna' be an Air Born Ranger so I can live a life of danger...."
I wanted to vomit every day I suffered from the concocted indoctrination. The late author David Halberstam, The Best and Brightest, exposed the Vietnam War as a complete fraud. Back at college, two guys on my floor died terrible deaths and one of them, Bobby Driskol, got shot up so bad, that today, he's got plastic tubes running all over one side of his body from an AK-47 round slicing up the left side of his chest.After my commissioning as a 2nd Lt., I saw enough horrors of war to last me a lifetime at Fort Riley and Fort Sam Houston. Guys returned with arms, legs and faces missing. Napalm, or jellied gasoline, burned off guys' eyelids, ears, noses and lips. Hideous beyond comprehension! I suffered depression going to sleep and waking up. I felt sickened, yet the 'Silent Majority' bought the war and sent their kids off to die at 300 dead 'patriots' a week. The conflict dragged on for 10 years.
Why? Money! Huge amounts of money drove that war. Corporations and stock holders made billions. While our young men died horrific deaths and suffered the lunacy of mass insanity, the citizens of this country failed their kids, failed integrity and failed to speak out against that war. Finally, in the late 60s and early 70s, millions of college students marched to stop the war, "Hell no! We won't go!" By then, even TV anchor Walter Cronkite felt we lost the war.
By that time, McNamara realized his folly. Three decades later, he wrote a book, Fog of War, where he admitted his grave error.I found all of it particularly intriguing because U.S. Senators and House reps made sure their kids escaped Vietnam by student deferments, quick marriages with instant kids, or like former Vice President Dick Cheney-five deferments until the war ended. In other words, the rich and powerful sent poor kids and blacks off to die, but protected their own.
If hell exists, McNamara must be feeling his flesh sizzle right about now and for all eternity. Same goes for LBJ and RMN.
"Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind." -- George Orwell
Today, we race ahead 30 years later with George W. Bush, who hid out in the National Guard and got drunk every weekend while he 'served' during the Vietnam War. As our 43rd president, Bush, single-mindedly created the Weapons of Mass destruction charade in Iraq like McNamara created the Domino's Theory. Instead of reason, both men used fear.I wince in my angst for the untold misery, suffering and horrors that Bush created by his lies and illicit war upon Iraq. While 17 Saudi Arabia-born terrorists committed 9/11 that killed 3,000 innocent people, Bush killed 100,000 innocents, created 2.5 million refugees, destroyed an entire country, killed 4,000 young American military volunteers, horrifically wounded another 35,000, bankrupted the USA, and utilized uranium depleted bombs that will create birth defects, much like Agent Orange, for decades. No telling how many American suicides will result from the Iraq War!He called it a "War on Terror" when he left our southern borders open to any terrorists that wanted to waltz into the USA 24/7.
I recommend both McNamara, Bush and Cheney share a jail cell in hell. For neighbors in that cell block, they might include Westmoreland, Bundy, corporate heads and all the misfits that perpetrated and contracted the Vietnam War for 10 years. For all the men extending the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the same fate!
How much will the Vietnam and Iraq Wars mean in history's eyes? You might take your hand and stick it into a pail
of water. While your hand remains, you cause 'something' or some kind of 'effect',
but once you withdraw your hand, everything returns to the original condition.
That happened in Vietnam and it will repeat in Iraq. We cannot take an ancient civilization along with its culture and religion, and turn it into a sophisticated democracy in a few years with military hegemony. The day we leave, they will return to their tribal war-prone roots.
The sage advice of Thomas Jefferson, "We must not entangle ourselves in the affairs of foreign countries."