The Vietnam Effect… Or Lack Thereof

Posted: July 9, 2014 in Dirk Tripp, Foreign policy, government, history, politics
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Submitted by Dirk Tripp, former Marine.

The American experience in Vietnam once had a real bite to it. Second only to the Civil War in the way it affected the American psyche. These two wars go hand in hand in that respect, for they were both firsts when it came to seeing the blood, and guts, and bones of dead Americans in living color. After the Civil War we sure kept waging war on the Native Americans, but after Vietnam we actually stopped the killing for a minute, took a pause, and actually reflected on what we had done. We had allowed our government to manipulate us at the cost of 58,000 dead, hundreds of thousands injured, and trillions of dollars spent. We let it get so bad that we took it out on the troops. The government became so hated that it didn’t matter if you were a brave, honorable, patriotic warrior, you were just another government dog. The damndable misery of it is that the mistreatment and disrespect we showed the troops when they came home from Vietnam was the saving grace that actually made Americans very weary of any kind of future war. It took us treating our best and bravest like complete dog shit to improve our knowledge of how bad the handling of Vietnam really was, and that fact is still just as pathetic today as when we first learned it.
There for awhile what we learned about Vietnam really did take. No president, until G.W., dared even contemplate entering this nation into a protracted war. Ronald Reagan, a man who built enough nuclear weapons to explode our entire solar system never, ever came close to crossing the imaginary line that Vietnam had written in the sand. H.W. did take us into some heavy conflicts, but by george, he took sufficient force, kicked some ass, and came home quick. He understood well that the American people would not tolerate any sort of long war. Bill Clinton bombed the ass off the Balkans, but refused to ever put boots on the ground. When he did put our boots on the ground in Somalia, once Soldiers were lost, he pulled us outta there quicker than he did that cigar. The stigma of Vietnam on the American people made it absolutely impossible for any president, or congress to send us off to war with no clear cut end. The all around horror of our experience in Southeast Asia had become branded to the American soul and seemingly could not be removed. Then came September 11, 2001, and in a blind panic, we forgot we had a soul at all.
Since that day it is as if the Vietnam War never happened. Sure we run our mouths about how we all support the troops now, but most of us don’t sacrifice a single damn thing, or even a decent period of thought to what our troops have actually gone through. In the most horrific way possible we have turned hard earned truths learned in Vietnam into a catch phrase that every Tom, Dick, and Jane can recite to make them feel better about themselves, “we support the troops,” to which I say, “bullshit.” If we actually supported the troops this ‘war on terror’ would have been won long, long ago. That’s the thing, just like in Vietnam, our government has no idea how to prevail in this conflict, and more than likely, would prefer it go on into infinity. The exact same political horse shit that wasted untold American treasure in Vietnam has been at work here ever since 9/11, and not that many people seem to give a rat’s smelly ass about it. It’s enough to make a feller cuss, and so I do. I was lucky enough to be a kid and grow up during a time when America’s political leaders dared not take us through long wars. Those days made our boys and girls sacrifices in Vietnam worth something. In a round about way their deaths and wounds probably saved the lives of countless Americans by making us count the cost of war. That cost is exactly what it has always been, and it has always been unacceptable. What will it take to teach us again? As stupid as it’s looking, it may need to be from outer space, the size of Vietnam, and traveling at about thirty thousand miles per hour strait towards our sorry cans. Really is pitiful.

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