7-12: Vietnam

[I write about politics because of the direct link I see between the words and actions of politicians and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. America’s political class manipulates our military as though they were pawns in a global game of chess. To them, PTSD is merely an unfortunate cost of war.]

From the This Day in History site for July 11 there was much to ponder concerning Vietnam. The cacophony of events on July 11, in different years, sometimes ring hollow and sometimes sound as though they were part of today’s conflicts around the world.

Here are headlines and first paragraphs (in the order they were presented).

1995

U.S. establishes diplomatic relations with Vietnam

Two decades after the fall of Saigon, President Bill Clinton establishes full diplomatic relations with Vietnam, citing Vietnamese cooperation in accounting for the 2,238 Americans still listed as missing in the Vietnam War. [This was more than a fluffy fanfare-filled gesture as it has led to prolific economic growth for Vietnam in recent years. For all the good that has occurred, however, one matter bugs me: tourism. I have not returned and do not intend to, but I know people who have. Guess what? Parts of some battleground tours include firing American M-16s and Russian AK-47s. Paying visitors may also purchase their own, “genuine” dog tags. So much for diplomacy.]

1966

Public Opinion Approves Bombing of North Vietnam

A Harris survey taken shortly after the bombing raids on the Hanoi-Haiphong area shows that 62 percent of those interviewed favored the raids, 11 percent were opposed, and 27 percent were undecided. Of those polled, 86 percent felt the raids would hasten the end of the war…. [During this period my unit was split in two and half of us moved from War Zone C, near Cambodia, to “I” Corps which was in the northeast quadrant of the country which drew the imaginary line between North and South Vietnam. I went north. I never heard of any polls, Harris or otherwise, being taken about garnering approval for military actions. The Commander-in-Chief in our republic is by order of the Constitution a civilian. That’s is surely a good thing.  But allowing an ill-informed populace to influence the efficacy of bombing raids seems kind of iffy to me.]

Senators Debate U.S. Policy in Vietnam

In Senate debates about U.S. policy in Southeast Asia, Senator Mike Mansfield (D-Montana) warns against further escalation of the war. Convinced that a military solution in South Vietnam was impossible, he urged an alternative to expansion of the U.S. effort in Vietnam. His alternative included putting the  issue of the confrontation between North and South Vietnam before the United Nations and containing the conflict by building a defensive barrier south of the Demilitarized Zone to separate North Vietnam from South Vietnam. Senator George Aiken (R-Vermont) suggested that the Johnson administration pay more attention to people like Mansfield who were questioning the wisdom of further escalation of the war, rather than relying on “certain military leaders who have far more knowledge of weapons than they have of people.” Nevertheless, Senate Republican leader Everett Dirksen (Illinois), asked if he favored an increase in U.S. troops in Vietnam, replied “If General Westmoreland says we need them, yes, sir.” [Isn’t this why we have Senators and Representatives … to speak and argue on our behalf?]

 Thieu Challenges NLF to Participate in Free Elections

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