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April 30, 2005

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Warmongering Lunatic

"Salvadorization"?

Well, let's see . . . El Salvador is currently a democratic country, rated freer than neighbors Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua by Freedom House, and with a higher per-capita GDP than those three, too.

SteveMG

Well, I guess that's good news. They're no longer comparing it to Vietnam.

Interesting that they don't compare it to our occupation of Germany or Japan. 'Course, that was the 'good war' and we wouldn't want to intimate any positive comparisons to that conflict.

Wonder when the Philippines analogy will be made.

SMG

richard mcenroe

Steve MG — I'm holding out for Wounded Knee and the Ghost Dancers...

AL

My views...
http://sirhumphreys.blogspot.com/2005/05/iraqi-special-police-commandos.html

I don't have trackback yet sorry, so here the link is in your comments...

Patrick R. Sullivan

"...In 1974-75, the United States snatched defeat from the jaws of victory."

Exactly. That's because Nixon resigned, and the liberals of both parties (Case and Church were Republicans) handed the South to the North by refusing to even provided weapons and ammunition. This is what the left would like to do to Iraq today.

John T. McNamara

I AGREE WITH MR. SULLIVAN'S COMMENTS EXCEPT HE IS WRONG ON FRANK CHURCH. CHURCH WAS A DEMOCRAT AND A REAL LEFTY. JOHN T. MCNAMARA

Harry Arthur

As a Viet Nam veteran, I can vouch for "... the bitterness of so many American war veterans, who saw their sacrifices so casually demeaned and unnecessarily squandered ...". The left is more subtle today. Now they claim to support the troops while deameaning the effort in which they are engaged. The leopard has not changed its spots.

Pat, I think John is correct. I believe Church was a democrat. And the effects of the Church Commission are arguably still with us today. Otherwise, Pat, I wholeheartedly agree with the rest of your comment.

We in the military did our job in Viet Nam and we did it well. The loss of Viet Nam lies solely with the politicians and activists of the left, including the likes of John Kerry, Jane Fonda, Ted Kennedy, et al. These folks have been wrong about virtually everything from Viet Nam to the Cold War so why would we expect a sudden burst of common sense from them now?

spencer

Vietnam just shows what happens when you put a conservative in charge. Review history, liberals got us into WW II and won. Liberals got us into Korea, and conservatives settled for a draw. Liberals got us into Vietnam and conservatives lost it. Liberals got us into Kosovo and won. Ok, conservatives did something. Reagan tried in Lebanon and as soon as the Marines suffered casulities he turned tail and ran. OK, Carter did nothing, but at least he did not negociate with the enemy to keep Americans prisoners until after the election. I call that being a traitor.

Why do you expect anyone to take your rants against liberals seriously when you misrepresent the clear historical record so badly.

narciso

Won what, defeated the Nazi's sure, but turned over half the continent to Stalin & successors. The track record in Asia was
worse, with one fifth of the population, driven to communism;
should we speak of WW 1, which birthed the Soviet experiment,
created the shaky Weimar consensus, that was iundermined by
hyperinflation, driven by the Versailles treaty's 14 point
reparations payments, Italy and Japan's democratic transitions
to fall flat. Korea, leaving this madman and his more psycho
progeny in power, precisely because the Democrat held MacArthur back, Vietnam, where an even more irresponsible set of Semocrats prevented even a Korea style stalemate. As for Kennedy's fecklessness in Berlin, and Cuba; after the Bay of Pigs, to the
unnecesary game of nuclear chicken, we played leading up to October '62. I won't even dignify the October Surprise canard
with a response. If this war ends with Islamist juntas in Pakistan & Egypt, and a new Caliph in Riyadh, then we can compare notes

narciso

Won what, defeated the Nazi's sure, but turned over half the continent to Stalin & successors. The track record in Asia was
worse, with one fifth of the population, driven to communism;
should we speak of WW 1, which birthed the Soviet experiment,
created the shaky Weimar consensus, that was iundermined by
hyperinflation, driven by the Versailles treaty's 14 point
reparations payments, Italy and Japan's democratic transitions
to fall flat. Korea, leaving this madman and his more psycho
progeny in power, precisely because the Democrat held MacArthur back, Vietnam, where an even more irresponsible set of Semocrats prevented even a Korea style stalemate. As for Kennedy's fecklessness in Berlin, and Cuba; after the Bay of Pigs, to the
unnecesary game of nuclear chicken, we played leading up to October '62. I won't even dignify the October Surprise canard
with a response. If this war ends with Islamist juntas in Pakistan & Egypt, and a new Caliph in Riyadh, then we can compare notes

Patrick R. Sullivan

Okay, Church was a Dem, so it's ALL their fault.

But, still there was Chuck Percy...Javits.

And Spencer, speaking of rants that mark you as not serious; no one negotiated with Iran to keep the hostages. In fact, Jimmy--I will never lie to you--Carter admits, in his memoir, Keeping Faith, that he not only negotiated for their release in October 1980, but had a deal he could have accepted for a phased release of them beginning before the election.

Not to mention that Richard Nixon WON the Vietnam War, as the NY Times article clearly demonstrates.

Karlo

So the U.S. was "pulling punches"? Didn't we drop more bombs on tiny North Vietnam than we did on all other countries combined during WWII? If the Vietcong were so unpopular, why didn't the South Vietnamese fight them off themselves? The entire premise of unpopular meany Vietcong defeating the majority of the population (with direct support from a superpower on steroids) is completely ludicrous.

Harry Arthur

Spencer, you said "Vietnam just shows what happens when you put a conservative in charge." So, the Kennedys and Lyndon Johnson were conservatives? I guess you're right based on today's democratic party. I honestly don't think Kennedy would feel at home there. Were you talking about Nixon? Not exactly a Reagan conservative in my mind, but even if we posit that he could be considered a conservative, by the time he was elected the war was already lost courtesy of the left.

Which parallel universe are you from? Talk about misrepresenting "the clear historical record so badly."

I will agree that Reagan did make a major mistake in pulling out of Lebanon that had long term adverse repercussions to our international standing, though arguably nothing like the repercussions of our total abandonment of our Vietnamese allies.

Remember how the Viet Nam "era" ended? The democrats in congress (you called them liberals) passed a continuing resolution cutting off funding for any support of the South Vietnamese, effectively abandoning them not to the Viet Cong (who were effectively eliminated as a fighting force in the south in Tet of '68) but to the North Vietnamese who were sponsored by the Soviet Union. Without adequate air support from the US the south was fairly quickly overun by the North Vietnamese regular army.

Your unsubstantiated accusation against Reagan/Bush with respect to the Iranian hostages is ridiculous. Odd that you didn't mention the Cold War. On this planet Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and John Paul II are generally credited with winning the Cold War.

Karlo

Isn't all this back'n'forth about liberal and conservative war policies pointless? Wasn't there a great deal of continuity between the policies of most presidents during (and after) the Cold War? Would Nixon and Kissinger, if they had been in charge when the whole SNAFU began, done something different to avoid the defeat? Would they have dropped atom bombs on Hanoi? Would it have mattered if they did? This wringing of hands seems to go nowhere. The Vietnam War was a fiasco, an event that future generations will, at some point, cease to call "war" and refer properly to as "genocide."

Patrick R. Sullivan

Karlo,

Don't spoil our fun by actually reading the NY Times article the Minute Man has linked to.

Harry Arthur

So, Karlo, were you on the same planet as Spencer.

"Genocide"? Come now. You can disagree with the war all you want, but genocide? Perhaps you should follow Patrick's advice and actually read an article or two about Viet Nam, starting with the NYT article that is the subject of this thread.

Quite frankly I resent your characterization of Viet Nam as "genocide." I was there and it was no such thing. Try thinking in terms of the world in the 1960s and you might just understand why President Kennedy got us involved there. While we certainly made mistakes with the politics and the culture of Viet Nam I can assure you that no professional soldier would ever have stood for participating in "genocide."

Viet Nam was one of the inevitable unfortunate hot battles of the Cold War. I would submit that our goals there were noble, flawed as was their execution.

Karlo

I don't question your own individual motives for going to the war. If I had been older, I probably would have gone, believing it the right thing to do. But Americans need to stop viewing the war solely in terms of the cost of American lives and pride. Millions of people, the overwhelming majority of whom were Vietnamese, were killed. Most of those killed were probably innocent people who happened to be in the wrong place when a bomb was dropped. I've watched films of planes dropping bomb after bomb on villages. Even if one accepts the idea that the Vietcong were evil and depraved (an idea that I don't accept), one has to wonder: How many Americans would accept the bombing of an American city to get rid of a gang of robbers? As for the justifications for the war, those same justifications could be used for anything. Would the massacres of the native Americans have been justified if we had intended to bring democracy to them? What if some native American tribes were living in "communist" communal villages in which they denied the validity of private ownership of property? It may sound ridiculous, but one must wonder. If the Europeans had "discovered" the New World 150 years later, perhaps the same justifications would be used.

Warmongering Lunatic

Karlo --

Viet Cong ≠ North Vietnamese. Even after the U.S. had fully withdrawn, the Viet Cong were unable to topple South Vietnam. It took North Vietnamese regular units, equipped and trained by a superpower, to defeat the ARVN.

gt

Jeez, some people need to accept reality. We lost in Vietnam. Get over it.

Patrick R. Sullivan

"I've watched films of planes dropping bomb after bomb on villages. Even if one accepts the idea that the Vietcong were evil and depraved (an idea that I don't accept)..."

Since you qualify as an expert, what's your opinion of the Khmer Rouge?

"Jeez, some people need to accept reality. We lost in Vietnam. Get over it."

Why am I not surprised GT didn't read the article either. And, as I said, today the left wants to do exactly the same thing in Iraq; throw away our victory earned by the blood of Americans

gt

Which article? Stephen Morris's?

What a piece of nonsense.

Well if it makes the delusional Right happy to think we won in Vietnam be my guest. Crazy people need love too.

Harry Arthur

Hi, gt. Of course the article was "a piece of nonsense" it didn't comport with your thought process.

The point of the thread isn't that we won in Viet Nam, it is that "we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory" by the left's insistence that we lose. The subtitle above clearly states "The war we COULD HAVE won." My particular comment above was:

"We in the military did our job in Viet Nam and we did it well. The loss of Viet Nam lies solely with the politicians and activists of the left ...."

I base this statement on the fact that we won all the major engagements on the battlefield but that politically we as a nation lost the will to pursue the war to a final and complete victory. The North Vietnamese, on the other hand, had a long term viewpoint and were willing to spill enough of their blood to outlast us politically. The point of several of the comments above and in the article was that this clearly denigrated the immense sacrifice of those of us who served honorably.

I don't believe you can legitimately characterize anything I said or anything in the article you labeled "nonsensense" as indicating that any of us on "the delusional Right" believe we "won" in any meaningful sense.

The very least you can do when you disagree is to attack our actual argument rather than your own straw man.

My question for you regards your statement that "crazy people need love too." Is that statement experientially derived or is it simply an assertion?

dsquared

It is fairly obvious that the USA, had it been prepared to continue to fill its army with conscripts and spend vast amounts of money (money raised by a domestic inflation tax that was still doing damage to the economy several years later), would have the military wherewithal to win a war against a country with a fifth of its population and an economic base about a tenth of its size. In this sense, it is true to say that the Vietnam War "could have been won".

However, it's equally obvious that this would have been an insane course of action for the USA; the possible benefit from having a client state in Indochina was completely out of proportion to the costs of achieving it. "The left", which by 1975 included large chunks of the business establishment of the USA, was *correct* in its assessment that Vietnam was a war not worth winning.

The bitterness of American veterans is correctly directed at the Democratic party, but it should be directed at the Democrats who put them in there, not the ones who got them out.

Karlo

I would agree that we could dream of possible alternative universes in which the war could have been won. I have a hard time with the idea that America was immensely popular and the war was long simply due to politicians' cowardice and failure to stomach the realities of war. The truth is the U.S. didn't pull any punches. U.S. politicians were perfectly willing to sacrifice countless Asian lives (and some U.S. lives as well) in pursuit of their goals.

spencer

Patrick Sullivan --So it was just random chance that the hostages landed in Washington minutes after Reagan was sworn in. Your comment that Carter did not have anything to do with Iran is completely irrelevent to the question of the Reagan people negotiating with Iran. I have never seen any denials from the Reagan people that they did not "cut a deal" with Iran.

G. Hamid

Did I read Karlo right? We should "refer properly to (America's involvement in Vietnam) as genocide." Well, I spent a year there with an Army Evac hospital where we frequently did medical missions,on our own time and at considerable personal risk,to remote villages as well as a leprosarium to treat the locals. We treated countless Vietnamese children at the hospital for illnesses and injuries that were almost never caused by combat. The vast majority of men and women who served in Vietnam treated the local population with respect and did their utmost to avoid civilian casualties.

The statement that Vietnam was genocide is so abjectly wrong it defies description. If anyone wonders why we Vietnam vets can be bitter and angry, it's because of bile like this being spewed by nitwits like Karlo.

George Hamid III 67th Evac Hospital Qui Nhon Vietnam '70-'71

Harry Arthur

Thanks, George. I was a Chinook pilot myself so didn't often have the close-up look at all the good things the vast majority of my fellow soldiers like you were doing.

I do fully agree with your statement that most of us by far went out of our way to protect civilians and to treat them with the respect they deserve. That has always been the way of the American soldier and given what I've seen of our current fine young men and women, will continue to be so, often even at the risk of their own safety.

Patrick R. Sullivan

"Your comment that Carter did not have anything to do with Iran..."

What a bizarre reading of my:

"Jimmy--I will never lie to you--Carter admits, in his memoir, Keeping Faith, that he not only negotiated for their release in October 1980, but had a deal he could have accepted for a phased release of them beginning before the election."

Carter had EVERYTHING to do with Iran, including negotiating desperately to get them released all during 1980, except for a brief period of a few weeks immediately after Saddam Hussein attacked Iran. READ THE DAMNED BOOK I cited if you don't believe me.

Btw, you have to be the worst logician posting anywhere if you operate on the basis of: "I have never seen any denials..."

Patrick R. Sullivan

"It is fairly obvious that the USA, had it been prepared to continue to fill its army with conscripts and spend vast amounts of money..."

Neither thing was necessary. South Vietnam defeated a much bigger invasion in 1972, and would have done the same in 1975 if Clifford Case, Frank Church, Ted Kennedy et al hadn't had the power to cut off all aid to South Vietnam.

By the end of 1972 there were only about 25,000 American troops in Vietnam, and the North capitulated. By spring 1973 that was further reduced to less than 100 advisers. Yet, the North didn't dare break the peace until well after Nixon resigned over Watergate, and the liberals were firmly in control of congress.

We didn't lose a war we weren't fighting in 1975. We gave an ally away to the Communists. Because that's what the likes of John Kerry wanted.

Patrick R. Sullivan

For Spencer's edification, in 'Keeping Faith' which is little more than Jimmy Carter's diary, he said that the situation was so confused in Iran in 1980, that no one was really sure who was in charge of the hostages (especially after the failed rescue mission). As the summer wore on, Jimmy became increasingly anxious to get the hostages out, because:

"Earlier in the year, I had not considered the hostage crisis politically damaging to me. In many ways, it had helped rally the public to my side. Now, however, the grief I felt over the hostages’ continued incarceration was mixed with the realization that the election might also be riding on their freedom."

Jimmy has just admitted that he feels the hostage situation is key to the election, Spence. Ever read anything by Reagan saying he felt the same way?

Then on September 10th, 1980, the West German foreign minister relays a message from the Ayatollah Khomeini, that he is sending an emissary to Europe for the purpose of meeting with someone in the Carter administration about resolving the hostage situation.

The emissary was Sadegh Tabatabai, and according to Jimmy's book, he did indeed have a substantive proposal that was not all unacceptable.

Warren Christopher negotiated a modified proposal with Tabatabai that everyone was happy with, and Tabatabai prepared to return to Iran to report favorably to Khomeini. Here is Jimmy Carter’s description of what happened next:

"As fate would have it, the Iraqis chose the day of his scheduled arrival in Iran, September 22, to invade Iran and to bomb the Tehran airport. Typically, the Iranians accused me of planning and supporting the invasion. By the time Tabatabai finally arrived in Iran a week or so later, the revolutionary leaders had shifted their attention from releasing the hostage to defending their own country against the invaders."

However,after a few weeks of war, Tabatabai is back in Germany to talk some more, and he makes an offer of a phased withdrawal (a tit for tat release of the hostages in four groups).

But Carter rejects it because, he didn’t want to let the Iranians, "single out certain hostages as being more worthy of release than others". (Of course, he'd done just that earlier in the year, when some hostages WERE released.)

But Carter keeps the negotiations open, and they continue into the final week-end before the election. And this is no secret, Carter makes a public statement at the time that he has received a positive proposal from Iran about releasing the hostages. However, nothing happens before the election.

Carter writes in his diary on Nov. 29, 1980:

"We have to remember that [Iran's] Prime Minister Rajai is strongly anti-American, very primitive in his outlook, highly suspicious, and not eager to see the hostages released. We still don't have any sure word, by the way, as to who is in charge of the hostages at this moment....There's no way to tell what the facts might be."

So, if Carter didn't know, how would Reagan?

Carter then comments on this diary entry: "It had become obvious that whichever officials might ultimately make the final decision to release the hostages, their political opponents in Iran would condemn them severely."

At this time Carter tells the Iranians (this time through Algerian diplomats) that he has made his final offer, and if they don't move now they will have to start all over with the Reagan administration.

Which is why the Iranians finally released the hostages; they feared the scary Ronbo.

Karlo

It's all becoming clear to me now. John Kerry was actually (prolonged drum roll) a communist! He was probably working with Jane Fonda and Hillary Clinton and that tiny sliver of the Vietnamese population that defeated both the majority of their own population, France, and the U.S. Man, those commies snuck by us. If it weren't for John Kerry, America would have won the war. Vietnam would be a resurgent Asian tiger, just like the Phillipines, which has been blessed by centuries of Western tutelege.

Harry Arthur

Karlo, I think you have connected the dots.

Peter Jessen

The Vietnam war was won in 1968. General Giap wrote in his book that after TET they were willing to settle. Then the war protestors hit the streets and Giap said they decided to wait us out. It was Ted K who proposed the deauthorization of the war, i.e., not appropriate any more money for it. So we won it three times. And then walked away. For those of us who are Vietnam era vets, who were spat on and called baby killers, etc., there should be no question as to why we could not support Kerry who lied about his fellow soldiers after hightailing it out of thre very early. To hear today's current crop of anti-war folks calling for more soldiers to die and the economy to collapse so it will end suggests very tough times ahead as a nation. It is a profound sadness that those who make their living in media and on college campusses putting down this country can only do so because of the very men they malign. People without shame have no conscience. As more people realize that their influence will wane, but oh the suffering in th meantime.

dsquared

[By spring 1973 that was further reduced to less than 100 advisers.]

and the money (the US airforce remained committed in Indochina, and that was the expensive bit)? In any case, the reduction in troop numbers was only possible as a result of the intentional policy of abandoning the South Vietnamese to their fate. The USA (correctly) did not think it could outspend the Chinese and Russians in a conflict that mattered more to them than to the USA.

[Vietnam era vets, who were spat on ]

This is as far as I can tell, an urban myth; there have been books written about it. If you personally remember being spat on, then you should get in touch with the author.

Harry Arthur

dsquared, perhaps it is an urban myth but when I returned from Viet Nam in 1972 all I know is that I was strongly advised to change from my uniform into civilian clothes for my own safety when traveling through airports to get home.

Of course I declined to accept the advice but it is an understatement to say that the reception, at least on the verbal level, wasn't very nice. Admittedly I was not spat on so didn't end up in jail for any childish retaliation I might have been tempted to take. As for the verbal abuse that I did receive, I just considered the generally smelly, long haired, usually extremely ignorant source wasn't worth the dignity of a response other than a smile.

Perhaps we'll hear from veterans who have a different take on the "mythology."

Harry Arthur

I'm happy to say that the occasional soldier I see in the airport in uniform these days is often greeted with applause and "thank you" - a pleasing change to say the least.

Is it just me or are they all really as young as they look to me?

sym

on a different note, I believe the NY press had the definitive takedown of Thomas Friedman's book, noting that every single one of his metaphors is wrong. For exapmle, the round world is proof of the global interconnectedness that Friemdman argues for, while the flat world is an isolationist view. I really oughtta dig up the link.

dsquared

There was one Vietnam vet who definitely was spat on, of course: Ron Kovic.

Harry Arthur

It was the figurative "spitting" more than any actual "spitting" with which most of us vets still have a problem. And the VVAW were among the worst on that score, including, "they're all war criminals" John Kerry.

TM

This is as far as I can tell, an urban myth; there have been books written about it. If you personally remember being spat on, then you should get in touch with the author.

The author will not be interested in your story unless it includes a police record, a contemporaneous newspaper account, or (maybe!) a letter written at the time.

The book is reviewed here; the single best response was at Hit and Run:

Jerry Lembcke, a Marxist historian, was unable to find any story that convinced him veterans had ever been spit on. Lembcke has also been unable to find convincing evidence that Marxism isn't a workable economic theory; I am not surprised at his inability to find proof of something less well-documented. :)

Actually, reading around a bit, it is apparent that Lembke did approach this research effort with a clear agenda - he was a member of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and was quite intent on rehabilitating his group, and anti-war protestors generally (he wrote in 1998, inspired in part by Gulf War I).

The book is apparently not available in any library in my state, but I especially like this from the review:

Lembcke's most controversial conclusion is that posttraumatic stress disorder was as much a political creation -- a means of discrediting returning vets who protested the war as unhinged -- as it was a medical condition. The image of the psycho-vet was furthered through such Hollywood productions as 'The Deer Hunter' and 'Coming Home.'

Hmm. Lembke forgot to credit noted VVAW spokesperson John Kerry, who said this in his famous 1971 Senate appearance:

But the problem of veterans goes beyond this personal problem, because you think about a poster in this country with a picture of Uncle Sam and the picture says "I want you." And a young man comes out of high school and says, "That is fine. I am going to serve my country." And he goes to Vietnam and he shoots and he kills and he does his job or maybe he doesn't kill, maybe he just goes and he comes back, and when he gets back to this country he finds that he isn't really wanted, because the largest unemployment figure in the country- it varies depending on who you get it from, the VA Administration 15 percent, various other sources 22 percent. But the largest corps of unemployed in this country are veterans of this war, and of those veterans 33 percent of the unemployed are black. That means 1 out of every 10 of the Nation's unemployed is a veteran of Vietnam.

...I understand 57 percent of all those entering the VA hospitals talk about suicide. Some 27 percent have tried, and they try because they come back to this country and they have to face what they did in Vietnam, and then they come back and find the indifference of a country that doesn't really care, that doesn't really care.

And in the Q&A, Kerry was asked about drug use by soldiers. He painted this cheery picture:

Mr. Kerry: The problem is extremely serious. It is serious in very many different ways. I believe two Congressmen today broke a story. I can't remember their names. There were 35,000 or some men, heroin addicts that were back.

The problem exists for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the emptiness. It is the only way to get through it. A lot of guys, 60, 80 percent stay stoned 24 hours a day just to get through the Vietnam-

Senator Symington: You say 60 to 80 percent.

Mr. Kerry: Sixty to 80 percent is the figure used that try something, let's say, at one point. Of that, I couldn't give you a figure of habitual smokers, let's say, of pot, and I certainly couldn't begin to say how many are hard drug addicts, but I do know that the problem for the returning veteran is acute because we have, let's say, a veteran picks up at $12 habit in Saigon. He comes back to this country and the moment he steps off an airplane that same habit costs him some $90 to support. With the state of the economy, he can't get a job. He doesn't earn money. He turns criminal or just finds his normal sources and in a sense drops out.

The alienation of the war, the emptiness of bath and forth, all combined adds to this. There is no real drug rehabilitation program. I know the VA hospital in New York City has 20 beds allocated for drug addicts; 168 men are on the waiting list, and I really don't know what a drug addict does on the waiting list.

Yet somehow, the notion of a drugged-out, unemployed suicidal loser was the creation of Hollywood and Nixon. Got it.

Harry Arthur

TM, excellent! You mentioned the book by "Jerry Lembcke, a Marxist historian", former member of VVAW. Aside from the non-sequitur "Marxist historian", why am I not surprised that a former VVAW member would have an agenda regarding the conduct of our troops both in Viet Nam and upon their return? I'll wager he didn't include the fact that the VVAW considered assasinating Senators as part of their anti-war "peace" effort, that they coached veterans to "recall" various attrocities that never occured, that they worked in concert with the North Vietnamese effort, or even that several of their most prominent members were never anywhere near Viet Nam in any capacity.

Your quote from the "testimony" of the illustrius Lieutenant Kerry (I believe he was still on active duty when he lied to Congress about war crimes) makes my point above precisely. And how for how many years were we portrayed by Hollywood as pathetic loser psychos? The real demonstrable facts are that by far most of us turned out OK, with the possible exception of fanatical right wing Christian conservatives like myself, of course. :-)

I spent my tour in Viet Nam in an Army aviation unit as a warrant officer pilot. We did have drug problems with a minority of our enlisted soldiers, and honestly, a few officers, and the Army as a whole did have a world-wide drug problem in 1972. I believe that actually says more about the culture from which we drafted our soldiers than what they experienced in Viet Nam. The whole society was awash in drugs in the late '60s and early '70s and we took kids off the college campuses (need I say more) and sent them to a country on the other side of the world completely alien to most of them. We could open a whole new thread on why a draftee military is a very bad idea, but that is one of many justified critiques of the Viet Nam conflict (war). Just be thankful for the All Volunteer Army we have today, created by great military leaders such as Norman Schwartzkof, Colin Powell, et al, from the ashes of the Army we were left with after its abuse at the hands of our national command authority in Viet Nam.

Back to the subject - note that Kerry was very careful to say that 60 to 80% only tried drugs and that he really didn't know the percentage of regular abusers - very clever way to impugn soldiers without having to provide evidence, and completely unverifiable. Of course the Senate panel heard what they wanted to hear which was that 60 to 80% of soldiers were regular drug abusers.

In the early '70s the Army and DoD in general instituted random drug testing that eliminated the drug problems, at least within the services, in a matter of a few years. We simply returned them to civilian life where they participated in whatever programs were available or not. Today the volunteer military is for all practical purposes drug-free.

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