Every Thursday afternoon I drive to a local VA medical clinic and join a veteran writers group. One of the regular members, who never served in combat, seems obsessed with the glory of war. He can’t seem to hear enough stories from us combat vets. To listen to him, it seems that he sees war as wonderful and proof that the United States is defending and supporting democracy and freedom everywhere in the world.
Most combat vets don’t think the same. In fact, I haven’t known a combat vet yet who doesn’t question everything an elected representative or corporate CEO claims on almost any topic that leads to more profits or power for a member of the 0.1%. For some reason, being shot at by bullets, mortar rounds and rockets—not counting the threat of stepping on a land mine and getting your legs blown off—creates skeptics of most combat vets who saw action.
Now I have read for the first time in Newsweek [RECOMMENDED READING] that the POW-MIA flag was another propaganda campaign backed by President Richard Nixon to fool the American people and demonize the enemy and create justification for the Vietnam War and his illegal bombings of Cambodia and Laos that he kept secret from the U.S. Congress (National Geographic Magazine). The POW-MIA flag was originally created to embarrass President Lyndon Johnson as a way to end the war instead of turning the Communists in North Vietnam and their South Vietnamese Allies into monsters who—it turns out—in reality didn’t hold a candle to the monsters the United States and its dictator in South Vietnam were.
If the United States is a great country that supports democracy and freedom throughout the world, why have there been so many repeated lies to start wars?
It’s obvious that the Vietnamese, who fought the United States, were not doing anything different than the Vietnamese have done before when they fought for 1,000 years to be free of China’s occupation starting in 111 BC and continuing to 938 AD.
The Vietnamese also fought French occupation for decades—French Indochina was formed in October 1887. After Gia Định fell to French troops in 1859, many resistance movements broke out in occupied areas. In the north, most movements were led by former court officers and lasted decades, with Phan Đình Phùng fighting in central Vietnam until 1895. In the northern mountains, former bandit leader Hoàng Hoa Thám fought until 1911. Even the teenage Nguyễn Emperor Hàm Nghi left the Imperial Palace of Huế in 1885 with regent Tôn Thất Thuyết and started the Cần Vương (“Save the King”) movement, trying to rally the people to resist the French. He was captured in 1888 and exiled to French Algeria. By 1900 a new generation of Vietnamese were coming of age who had never lived in precolonial Vietnam. These young activists were as eager as their grandparents to see independence restored.
Then beginning in 1950, American military advisors arrived in what was then French Indochina. U.S. involvement escalated in the early 1960s and escalated dramatically after the so-called Gulf of Tonkin incident that resulted in Congress giving the U.S. president authorization to increase U.S. military presence.
I arrived in Chu Lai, Vietnam in 1965 with the 1st Marine Division’s 1st Tank Battalion. At the time we didn’t know that the Tonkin Gulf incident was exaggerated and based on a lie. The original American report blamed North Vietnam for both incidents, but eventually became very controversial with widespread claims that either one or both incidents were false, and possibly purposefully so. While four North Vietnamese sailors were claimed to have been killed and six more wounded, there were no U.S. casualties.
In 1995, former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara met with former Vietnam People’s Army General Võ Nguyên Giáp to ask what happened on 4 August 1964 in the second Gulf of Tonkin Incident. “Absolutely nothing”, Giáp replied. Giáp claimed that the attack had been imaginary—manufactured by President Lyndon B. Johnson’s White House staff with his permission.
Then there is President G. W. Bush’s lies about Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq causing Congress to once again authorize another war based on more exaggerations and lies.
If you have watched the videos and read this post, are you still a deaf, dumb and blind U.S. patriot totally obedient to the elected and corporate leaders of the United States?
I wonder if you also know that similar lies and propaganda have been used for decades in the United States to destroy the labor unions of middle class workers and also demonize public school teachers—all for profit and power.
Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.
His second novel is the award winning love story and suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he didn’t do while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.
This is a love story that might cost the lovers everything—even their lives.
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