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Vietnam - Horrors of War. Henry Kissinger’s “mad and illegal” bombing: What you need to know about his real history — and why the Sanders/Clinton exchange matters. Vote Hillary, get Henry.

Henry Kissinger’s “mad and illegal” bombing: What you need to know about his real history — and why the Sanders/Clinton exchange matters

That seemed to be the message Hillary Clinton wants to send; she’s spoken highly of Kissinger in her last two debates with Bernie Sanders. Last night, Sanders fired back at Clinton for seeking foreign-policy wisdom from the Vietnam-era secretary of state. “I find it rather amazing,” Sanders said, “given that I happen to believe that Kissinger was one of the most destructive secretaries of state in the modern history of this country. I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend. I will not take advice from Henry Kissinger.” Maybe Kissinger will be the Dick Cheney of this campaign, angling for a shot at a dark-lord VP, you know, like Cheney himself. In my most recent book, “Kissinger’s Shadow,” I tried to use Kissinger as a window onto both the collapse of the national security state, brought about by Vietnam, its reconstruction on new footings reading to meet the challenges of 1970s and beyond. As I wrote a few months ago for TomDispatch: “Delusional and reflexive invocations of American exceptionalism”: What the GOP field won’t admit about our history may make everything worse.

The Vietnam War ended 40 years ago, yet this brutal episode continues to haunt America and affect our foreign policy, our culture, and our national identity.

“Delusional and reflexive invocations of American exceptionalism”: What the GOP field won’t admit about our history may make everything worse

The war left more than 58,000 Americans dead in combat and an estimated 3 million Vietnamese dead, including many civilians. Indeed, U.S. wartime policy encouraged the dislocation and destruction of civilians in the war zone. And the catastrophic war left the idea of American exceptionalism in tatters as the conflict came to be seen by many citizens as unnecessary and immoral, undermining the basic American belief that the United States is the greatest force for good in the world.

In his study of the Vietnam War and its legacy, Appy considers official documents, personal narratives, and cultural artifacts including books, music, and movies. “American Reckoning” has been praised for its original research, compelling narrative, and fresh perspective on recent history. No, certainly nothing dramatic. A great deal must change.

They died for Henry Kissinger’s “credibility”: The real history of our Vietnam immorality. Détente with the Soviet Union and the opening to China were significant breakthroughs in their own right.

They died for Henry Kissinger’s “credibility”: The real history of our Vietnam immorality

Indeed, a positive appraisal of the Nixon administration’s foreign policies is predicated on our viewing them this way. But Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger did not view them in isolation at the time. Instead, both men believed that Moscow and Beijing, keen to extract economic and strategic benefits from an improved relationship with Washington, would apply pressure on Hanoi to agree to peace terms permitting a full American withdrawal. On this topic their reasoning was misguided. It did not accord sufficient respect to North Vietnam’s fiercely guarded status as an independent actor, or indeed to the ideological solidarity that existed on at least a bilateral basis between Hanoi and its two Marxist-Leninist patrons.

So when the United States withdrew from Vietnam in January 1973, when “peace” was finally achieved, it came at a horrendous cost. Get Out Of Viet Nam. Burying Vietnam, Launching Perpetual War. Photo Credit: Keith Tarrier/Shutterstock.com To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com here.

Burying Vietnam, Launching Perpetual War

The 1960s -- that extraordinary decade -- is celebrating its 50th birthday one year at a time. Happy birthday, 1965! How, though, do you commemorate the Vietnam War, the era’s signature catastrophe? After all, our government prosecuted its brutal and indiscriminate war under false pretexts, long after most citizens objected, and failed to achieve any of its stated objectives. So what exactly do we write on the jubilee party invitation? For a little perspective on the 50th anniversary, consider this: we’re now as distant from the 1960s as the young Bob Dylan was from Teddy Roosevelt. In the post-Vietnam decades, our culture has buried so much of the history once considered essential to any debate about that most controversial of all American wars that little of substance remains. An American Tragedy How quickly times change.

How Did the Gates of Hell Open in Vietnam? Photo Credit: Keith Tarrier/Shutterstock.com November 30, 2014 | Like this article?

How Did the Gates of Hell Open in Vietnam?

Join our email list: Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email. To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com here. For half a century we have been arguing about “the Vietnam War.” Now, in Kill Anything that Moves, Nick Turse has for the first time put together a comprehensive picture, written with mastery and dignity, of what American forces actually were doing in Vietnam. It has been Turse’s great achievement to see that, thanks to the special character of the war, its prime reality -- an accurate overall picture of what physically was occurring on the ground -- had never been assembled; that with imagination and years of dogged work this could be done; and that even a half-century after the beginning of the war it still should be done. Yet it would not have been enough to simply accumulate anecdotal evidence of abuses.