Wednesday, November 22, 2017


Reading this story about the Republican tax bill today I flashed back to my year in Vietnam.  The article describes a bill whose likely effect may well harm the nation's economy according to many economists.  The bill is also highly unpopular among the public.  And still the Republicans continue to push this bill through Congress to show that they can actually accomplish SOMETHING after a year of factional disarray and legislative impotence.  The tax bill may not be good for the nation but it keeps the Republican donor base happy.

The tax bill's displaced objectives remind me very much of my year in Vietnam.  Rather than risking our lives for some great national purpose, we were there in 1971 mainly to keep Richard Nixon from becoming "the first President to lose a war."  We were fighting and dying to provide political cover for a politician.  I've never forgotten the the hopelessness and anger I felt in those days.

More important than my feelings then was that along with the death and destruction we inflicted on Vietnam, the war damaged the United States, morally and economically. Nixon's "Vietnamization" policy simply prolonged and increased that damage.  The tax cut may not pose the same level of personal risk that my military service did but I sure have the sense that public power and policy are being used for narrow purposes to the detriment of the larger public.

All because the politicians are afraid.

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Anonymous Lulymay said...

I'm a Canadian, and luckily, successive governments haven't committed us to any foreign combat since WWII (where all healthy males over age 18 were forced by virtue of a draft to "join up").

I was 6 years old when my father came back from WWII and came walking down our driveway with a pack on his back. My sisters and I had no idea who this man was that was walking into our yard - in fact, we were partially hiding fearfully behind a tree, hoping he wouldn't notice us. He suddenly called me by my name (I was the eldest) and said "it's Daddy. I had no idea who this man was and have never forgotten that day.

Leap forward to February 1969. My husband and I actually managed a winter holiday in Hawaii. So much excitement! Anyhow, as you would know, American troops were allowed a 6 day/5 nite R&R in Hawaii as a break from the horrors of Viet Nam. Some of these young fellows even managed to have their wives (and sometimes children) fly from the mainland to spent those 6 days with them. What hit me most was the fact that they realistically did not know if they would ever see each other again and for many it would have been their small kids as well. And for what???? I have a picture that I asked someone at the Honolulu Airport to take of my husband and I just before we boarded a bus to come home. It was later that I had the film developed and saw that in the background was a large group of American servicemen lined up to get into a transport plan to back to Viet Nam. I still have that picture and often wonder how many of those poor young guys survived -- and what shape were they in? both physically and mentally.

Congratulations to you on being a survivor, even if many of had to come home to many citizens who refused to treat you as the heroes that you are, just because they thought you hadn't won that darn war for them. Cheers.

4:23 PM  
Anonymous Labrys said...

My husband is a veteran of Viet Nam, and I also served (not in country) during the end of that war. So much being shoved around Congressional desks these days reminds me of that time. It displays o much of the same knee jerk hatred and lack of thought of the future and true costs.

Talk about not learning the alleged lessons of Viet Nam!

1:36 PM  

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