By Kyle K. Mann
I’m sitting here looking at my beautiful view, distressed and angry. 40 years ago today the Vietnam War ended. We have learned nothing. Nothing!
Today should be designated as a National Day of Shame, for all the lives lost in a pointless cause. Business should stop. Traffic prohibited. Television and even internet access blocked. Awwwk! Yes even the Internet. We should all be sitting quietly in deep reflection.
I am grinding my teeth as I look back, and look forward. What can we expect in the next 40 years? It doesn’t look good.
Here is a one minute clip of our likely next president, Hillary Clinton, justifying her vote for Bush’s Iraq War. Watch this, goddamn it.
Why is Hillary Clinton, or any Republican, taken seriously in this country? Really? This is now a top presidential candidate?
We Americans killed millions of people in Vietnam, when Hillary was a goddamned Goldwater Girl Republican. Then only a few decades later, Americans killed another million or so in Iraq, a war she voted, as you see, to support as a Senator. That war is still raging.
Wow, that’s all hard to believe. One looks at those burning facts with incredulity.
In the movie ‘Aliens,’ Sigourney Weaver’s character Ripley is outraged by the corporation rep, Burke (brilliantly acted by Paul Reiser) who sent people to their deaths. “Those people are dead, Burke!” she yells in his face, vowing to see that “they nail your hide to the wall.”
Here’s an audio clip (it’s the second one down) of the scene, for reference:
It’s this level of righteous wrath that we failed to summon after Vietnam that has betrayed us, and the entire planet, to further misery, death and destruction. Nixon and Kissinger should have been tried, and jailed. LBJ should have been reviled and dishonored, his bones dug up and lashed publicly. There should have been real accountability. There wasn’t any. William Calley was a symbolic scapegoat.
Now, we face the consequences of letting these people get away with War Crimes. President Obama’s complete failure to investigate, and prosecute, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and numerous others is itself a crime. Of course, Obama has committed his own War Crimes since he took office, so no wonder.
40 years, and here we are, failing to stop the further evil, failing to nail hides to the wall. And worse, we are getting ready to elect either a Republican or Hillary Clinton to be the next Commander-in-Chief, with predictable consequences. I feel sick.
I’ve been trying to write a nice, sober commentary for days, but finding myself failing. Perhaps it’s the fact that I did something few Americans have done: I visited Vietnam as a tourist.
It was 1996. We flew in by day to what is now Ho Chi Minh City, and I looked out the window at all the round ponds. They were everywhere. How nice, I thought. Then it dawned on me.
Those are bomb craters.
Later, I stood staring at the familiar outline of the former American Embassy, where 40 years ago today the last copters made their famous and ignominious last evacuations.
The question is huge: why were we there? So that a few war profiteers could make bank on the profits? Is that all it was? Communists, bah. What crap that all was.
In Vietnam in 1996, kids in their 20’s would walk up to us. Are you Americans. Yes, we are. Why did you make a war in our country. A pause. I don’t know, but I was against it. A lot of us were.
Perhaps more notably, not one of the Vietnamese who had actually survived the war wanted to talk to us at all.
Haunting memories. But valued ones. We need to change things in this country, and fast. We need to resolve to stop war madness. 9-11 should not be allowed to be a blank check for global war.
All I can do now is write. I’ve been gassed at protests, and I’ve marched and picketed. It wasn’t enough. I’m done. Still, we all have to do what we can.
It’s 40 years later, and I say, Shame on America. Shame on us all, except those who risked everything, like Daniel Ellsberg. Or later, those like Brian Wilson (the protester, not the musician) who lost three limbs to a munition train. Or the few current heroes, like Kiriakou, Snowden, Manning, Ray McGovern and Medea Benjamin and the group Code Pink, among others.
But these are drops in the bucket. The shame is crushing. The evil is overwhelming.
I feel too soul sick to write any more.
Kyle K. Mann
April 30, 2015