Monday, August 04, 2014

50 Years After Our War in Vietnam, "Are Americans Incapable of Learning?"

August marks the 50th anniversary of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. I recommend this short and typically awesome Andrew Bacevich article on the groupthink that led America to create such catastrophe in Vietnam:

The further the Vietnam War recedes into the past, the more preposterous it becomes. How could Americans have allowed President Lyndon Johnson to drag the United States into such a needless and futile struggle? Sending hundreds of thousands of US troops to fight in Southeast Asia turned out to be a monumental blunder. Was there no one in a position of influence or authority who could see that at the time? Where were the voices of sanity and reason?

Fifty years ago this month, in August 1964, Johnson offered the sane and reasonable a chance to make their case. What followed was a stupefying demonstration of groupthink. The guardians of conventional wisdom in the United States — its leading public officials and its major news outlets — all but automatically accepted the premise that the United States could, and should, determine the course of events in faraway Vietnam...

A few thoughts:

Wouldn't it be nice if next time a president went to Congress for one of those "All necessary measures" resolutions, Congress responded, "Tell us how that's different from a declaration of war? And since it's not, why don't you just come out and say what you're really asking for?"

Look at this quote from then-Senator George Aiken, Republican of Vermont: “As a citizen, I feel I must support our president whether his decision is right or wrong.”

If that's your view, you're not a citizen, you're a subject. Probably not a good sign that we have so many senators who think like subjects...

 It's amazing how tragically relevant it all remains.


Don Bay said...

With the schools teaching students to be good, compliant subjects, is it any wonder that Congress and the media largely march in lock-step.

Brian said...

Your comments are spot on. Unfortunately, our current leadership seems to think their role in the world is to punish bad children and reward good ones. Of course, who is naughty and who is nice depends on what will get you reelected and not what is right.

At least Johnson had some courage, even if he was wrong.

photography of robert dodge said...

It seems so true that we have not learned or healed from this tragic war. With that in mind, I produced my book, www.Vietnam40YearsLater(dot)com, a look at Vietnam 40 years after the end of the war. To heal, there must be reconciliation and that comes from knowing one's former enemy. Please check-out the book's web site.