Since the end of WWII America has been on many battlefields; but, regrettably has not made a serious attempt to force our opponents into unconditional surrender. Instead we’ve learned how to retreat in such a way as to appear more or less victorious; not the same as having beaten your enemies into submission, …now is it?
“My country right or wrong.” Whoa, can you imagine anyone from Generation X agreeing to that?
Some of my Facebook friends were circulating a picture of some Vietnam soldiers. I was unable to force myself to hit the ‘Like’ button, something which caused me to consider ‘why’;… not because I didn’t support what these brave young men had done in the service of their country or that they hadn’t been valiant and done their jobs. Something else was gnawing at me; but what?
“Sadly, fewer than 2% of you will like and share this picture of brave Vietnam soldiers. So let’s see how many likes and shares they can get.”
No, these men and all those who’ve gone to battle wearing the ‘uniform’ deserve to be recognized; but in the back of my mind there remains an open sore that’s never healed. The wound was present back in the late 60s, a nagging feeling that our government was being less than honest as to our purpose for being involved in Vietnam, much as we’d been involved over in Korea.
I don’t claim to be a superior military strategist and in my late teens I’d yet to understand how our media was being used as a propaganda tool to indoctrinate and turn public opinion one way or the other. That said, I’d figured out that young men had been placed in harm’s way without a clear plan on how to completely and utterly destroy the enemy until they surrendered unconditionally.
In short, I didn’t trust my government and those in positions of ultimate authority to ‘do the right thing’, to entrust my life with folks who lacked credibility. Rather than wait to get drafted into the Army, something unlikely since my Draft Number was high, I volunteered for the Army Reserves. It satisfied my ‘obligation to serve’; but did so on my terms, limiting the circumstances under the supervision of men I was less than sure had my best interests at heart.
It didn’t appear that our leaders intended to ‘win’ in Vietnam and history has proven that to be true. Each military conflict since then has been a cookie cutter replication, put on a good show; but don’t be too hard on the enemy, makes us look like bullies.
In the movie, Good Morning Vietnam, there was a line intended to be funny, “If you’re going to clash…Clash!” Wars are inherently terrible and to be avoided at all cost; but in our day they’re classified as ‘conflicts’, to be resolved and so we use surgical strikes directed at only the very worst of our enemies.
Anyone not specifically targeted is considered ‘collateral damage’, which includes our own soldiers. In fact we now put our own soldiers on trial for murder if they kill the enemy before that individual has been listed as an official target under current rules of engagement; not making this up folks.
I’m not saying those who’ve died in combat weren’t valiant or in any way demean their efforts; to the contrary; they gave all they had while following orders. Those who perpetuated the killing fields for personal gain, power and/or money, bear a responsibility for eternity to those who fought and died for the lie of doing so in ‘America’s best interests’.
We actually have had U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan guarding poppy fields; that right, making sure the opium trade was protected from the effects of war. Truth be know, the same went on in Vietnam; makes you proud to be an American.
Those who’ve served and returned, with our without obvious physical injuries, have a bitterness, something difficult to define. It comes under the heading, “You sent me out on some god forsaken battlefield to defend America’s interests; but were less than honest about what those interests are”. That kind of bitterness sticks in the back of your throat when someone asks you if you support the troops and challenges your patriotism.
I did my part; I’ve shared the image posted on Facebook. Does that prove I support the troops, that I’m a patriot?
I’d much rather meet on the streets of Washington with a few million fellow citizens holding torches and pitch forks; challenging our elected representatives, making them accountable for the way our nation has been reduced to a laughing stock in front of the entire world. A little tar and feathers might be all we need; but don’t rule out a serious citizen’s revolution, that’s a reality of what patriots due when Liberty is threatened.
The Moral Liberal’s Senior Editor, T.F. Stern, is a retired City of Houston police officer, self-employed locksmith, and gifted political and social commentator. His popular and insightful blog, T.F. Sterns Rantings, has been up and at it since January of 2005.