Obama's Campaign to Glorify the War on Vietnam
exist because lies are told about past wars.
When President Obama
escalated the war on Afghanistan, he revived virtually every known lie
about the war on Iraq, from the initial WMD BS to the "surge." While Americans
remain unfathomably ignorant about the destruction of Iraq, a majority says the
war shouldn't have been fought. A majority says the same about the war on
Afghanistan. This is, pretty wonderfully, impeding efforts toward a U.S. war on
Syria or Iran.
The new wars were supposed to cure the Vietnam Syndrome --
that public reluctance to support mass murder for no good reason. The Pentagon
is now turning to the source of the disease. The war in most need of
beautification for Americans, the military has decided, is the war the
Vietnamese call the American War.
Most people in the United States have
no idea that this was, like all other recent U.S. wars, a one-sided slaughter --
in this case, of 3.8 million Vietnamese men, women, and children. But most
Americans know the war was awful, even on the side of the aggressor. The
Vietnam Syndrome (popular opposition to wars) still frightens war
Obama is usually opposed to any "looking backwards," as doing so
might involve prosecuting criminals for their crimes. But, making a big
exception, he is dumping 65 million of our dollars into prettying up the war on
Please read the following statement, put together by some U.S.
veterans of that war, and sign onto it
- An Open letter to the American People about a Project to Accurately
Commemorate the American War in Viet Nam
We are coming up on the 50th anniversary of key moments in the American war
in Viet Nam. As peace and justice activists, we believe it is crucial that the
realities of the war be faced squarely. President Obama has announced his plan
for a 13-year-long commemoration funded by Congress at $65 million, featuring a
full panoply of Orwellian forgetfulness and faux-patriotism.
On May 25, 2012,
President Obama proclaimed:
As we observe the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, we reflect with solemn
reverence upon the valor of a generation that served with honor. We pay tribute
to the more than 3 million servicemen and women who left their families to serve
bravely, a world away from everything they knew and everyone they loved ...
fighting heroically to protect the ideals we hold dear as Americans. Through
more than a decade of combat, over air, land, and sea, these proud Americans
upheld the highest traditions of our Armed Forces.. The purpose of the
official proclamation -- rather than honestly looking backward so as to glean
and educate about important lessons -- will be to promote an ex post facto
justification of the war, lay lingering doubts to rest, and provide a stamp of
approval without attending to or contending with the horrors of the war that
many of us opposed.
- The whole idea is a bit staggering, that this project was put into the hands
of the Department of Defense (DoD) so that they can attempt a half century
later to rewrite a tragic history which already has been distorted and
manipulated by those in power in the US. The DoD is recruiting "partner"
organizations from across the country to help them distort and silence much of
the real history. Numerous events are scheduled over the next 12 years to
honor our soldiers and extol the selfless sacrifices of Americans during an
ugly period of our history. There will likely be little mention of the
Vietnamese, and what the nation and the society of Viet Nam suffered as a result
of U.S. intervention, nor of the resistance to the war by courageous and
committed Americans. Almost certainly, the DoD project will not pay tribute to
the voices and postwar reconciliation activities of many antiwar
- Those years many of us remember, with painful acuity, as other than
glorious. We feel compelled to make sure that the history of US involvement in
Viet Nam is told truthfully.
- Rather than let this Madison Avenue PR campaign just roll over us, we are
viewing this as an opportunity to truly examine what happened during those
tragic and tumultuous Viet Nam years, and use those lessons to turn American
policy and shape a better future for ourselves and other nations. The US seems
as committed as ever to military interventions heedless of the consequences for
the invaded and occupied people or even for those called upon to invade and
- We believe that an honest remembrance of what actually went on in Viet Nam
is essential to face the realities for the millions of Vietnamese civilians
killed, maimed, poisoned, and traumatized; our soldiers propagandized, thrown
into a war of choice; and subsequently largely abandoned to cope with postwar
stress, our citizenry lied to and manipulated who came to recognize the wars
futility, if not its immorality.
- It is incumbent on us not to cede the wars memory to those who have little
interest in an honest accounting and who want to justify further acts of
military adventurism. The experience of the war ought to be cautionary against
the fantasy of world dominance that besots many of our political and military
leaders. What are the consequences of trying to control the fate of a people
from afar with little understanding or interest -- except for the purposes of
counterinsurgency -- in their history and culture, or their human desires? What
are the consequences of dehumanized ideologies used to justify wars of
aggression? To honor the Viet Nam generation and to inform current and future
generations, we should make every effort to pass on a critical and honest
history of the war.
- As part of our counter-commemoration, we also will also pay tribute to the
broad-based resistance to the war. Taking inspiration from the civil rights
movement, an unprecedented opposition movement arose not just on campuses, but
in the streets, in the military, and around family dinner tables. Millions of
Americans resisted the war spontaneously, as well as in organizations ranging
from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee to the Chicano Moratorium,
Womens Strike for Peace, the War Resistors League, the Fellowship of
Reconciliation, American Friend Service Committee, Students for a Democratic
Society, Labor for Peace, Business Executives Move for Viet Nam Peace, and
Vietnam Veterans Against the War, not to mention countless community groups.
The movement made the morality of the war an issue for Americans, moving beyond
the cost-benefit analysis favored by the punditocracy. The war was wrong, not
just too costly; as Martin Luther King warned in his Beyond Vietnam speech:
the US was on the wrong side of the world revolution.
- In tandem with the civil rights, Black liberation, and womens movements,
the anti-war movement fostered a cultural and intellectual revolution which
undermined Euro-centrism and traditional hierarchies while honoring the
previously marginalized. Our grasp of history, culture, and human capacity was
qualitatively expanded. We learned and demonstrated that history could be made
by ordinary people; by people of color, by women, by the ignored and
- The work around the quincentennial of Columbuss voyages is a useful
precedent. Originally designed as a celebration of Eurocentrism and empire,
widespread grassroots action instead turned the quincentennial into a critique
of the conquest and destruction of native peoples.
We therefore are inviting you to join us in developing a strategy for an
antiwar commemoration with direct relevance for today. Here are some beginning,
suggestive ideas to expose the truths of war and pose alternatives to its
normalization by developing:
A central storehouse of information, a web site, and digitized archives;
Curriculum for schools and colleges;
A speakers bureau;
A program on the model of the Viet Nam eras teach-ins and Winter Soldier
Our own commemorations of significant war and antiwar events.