I received an e-mail from a friend that was a forward of a "Letter from a Vietnam Veteran." For purposes of time and space, I will not quote the Viet vet’s letter in full, but only those points to which I specifically responded — which, come to think of it, is just about all of them. Since many of you may have received the same letter, I offer below my response to my misguided friend of the "neocon" persuasion.
It is not yet 4 a.m., but your message below reminds me that I have, figuratively speaking, miles to go before I sleep.
Wow! Are you the same Jim Dandy who came out of the movie theater grumbling about “propaganda” after we saw Fahrenheit 911? I don’t know if you are just trying to pull my chain or if you actually agree with the sentiment (thought would be too strong a word) expressed in “Things to make you think a little” by someone who obviously has not yet begun. I truly hope you do not agree with it. But in case you do, I offer a few counterpoints to ponder.
“There were 39 combat related killings in Iraq in January.
In the fair city of Detroit there were 35 murders in the month of January. That’s just one American city, about as deadly as the entire war-torn country of Iraq.”
Okay, let us say there were 4,000 deaths by automobile accident on U.S. highways in the month of January. Would that justify an even greater number of deaths in Iraq? May I add to my “Jim’s Dandies” file, the principle that Americans should go on killing and being killed in Iraq until people stop killing people in Detroit? Can you explain the relevance of any of this?
“a. FDR led us into World War II.
b. Germany never attacked us; Japan did.
From 1941—1945, 450,000 lives were lost ..
an average of 112,500 per year.”
Yes, it reminds me of Claire Booth Luce’s famous line about FDR: “He lied us into a war!” Actually the full quotation is considerably less damning: “He lied us into a war into which he ought to have courageously led us!” Does anyone believe that the current President could or should have led us into Bush War II without the despicable campaign of misinformation, distortion and outright lies presented to us in the name of "intelligence"?
It is true, of course, that Germany had not attacked us at the start of WWII. But if you were to apply the same rationale to that situation that you were applying to Iraq a couple of years ago, you could have justified our war with Germany on the grounds that, yes, Germany hasn’t attacked us lately, but 20-some years earlier, they sunk the Lusitania, declared unrestricted submarine warfare and dragged us into World War I. (Throw in the Zimmerman letter for good measure.)
But Germany was hardly an innocent with regard to Japan. Germany was very much allied with the Japanese, who did attack us in an early application of the “Bush Doctrine” (After all, the U.S. WAS developing “weapons of mass destruction,” which it could have used and eventually DID use against Japan.) There has yet to be a credible pre- 911connection established between Iraq and Al-Quaeda.
And Germany declared war on the United States, once we declared war on Japan. And Iraq was not overrunning Europe. Nor killing people in Detroit.
And do you really want to argue in defense of the Bush administration that it has not yet gotten as many Americans killed in Iraq as were killed in World War II? Please do something about your war fever, James.
“c. Truman finished that war and started one in Korea.
North Korea never attacked us.
From 1950—1953, 55,000 lives were lost …
an average of 18,334 per year.”
Communist-backed North Korea did, however, invade South Korea on June 25, 1950 and we responded to the aggression then, not 12 years later as we did in justifying a second war with Iraq. Similarly, we DID NOT re-invade North Korea 12 years later because, once upon a time, they had attacked the South. Again, I think it is pathetically weak defense of Bush War II that it has not — at least yet — killed as many Americans as the Korean War did.
“d. John F. Kennedy started the Vietnam conflict in 1962.
Vietnam never attacked us.
e. Johnson turned Vietnam into a quagmire.
From 1965—1975, 58,000 lives were lost ..
an average of 5,800 per year.”
I think the same arguments I have made above concerning Korea apply here. Additionally, the same kind of campaign of half-truths and lies was used by the Johnson administration about Vietnam as Bush, Cheney, McNarummy and Kind O’ Sleazy Rice used to get us into Iraq.
f. Clinton went to war in Bosnia without UN or French consent. Bosnia never attacked us.
He was offered Osama bin Laden’s head on a platter three times by Sudan and did nothing. Osama has attacked us on multiple occasions.
Um, let’s see. Clinton failed to nail Osama and therefore Bush was justified in going to war in Iraq (and Detroit, right?) This author goes from bad to worse.
In the Clinton administration, Vice Predator Gore reportedly wrote a letter to the mother of a “fallen” American soldier, telling her that her son, killed in Iraq, died “in the service of the United Nations.” You conservatives of convenience were loudly and painfully appalled. Yet, there is no reason why Darth Cheney could not write the same kind of letter today. Because despite what the French and the Security Council said, we went into war in Iraq to ENFORCE UN RESOLUTIONS!!! With this Bush, as with his father, it is UN, UN BER ALLES!
Finally, it appears that notwithstanding the frequent and fervent denials of the incredible Bush, we did have bin Laden trapped in Tora Borah and let him get away, while we went in pursuit of “regime change” in Iraq.
The rest of the Vietnam veteran’s argument is even worse. I like to make jokes about Chappaquiddick, too, but I don’t think it fits in this context. You can stretch a lot of truths, as this administration has shown more than most. But not far enough to justify the killing in Iraq by citing the Rose law firm billings or Generalissimo Chiang Kai Reno’s killing campaign in Waco, Texas.
By the way, would you please send me a list of the prominent Republicans who stood up and condemned the siege at Waco while Reno was carrying it out? I’m sure it will be a short list. Even shorter, I think, than the list of the GOP stalwarts who decried the same generalisimo’s Gestapo raid on the Gonzales home in Miami. (I believe you will not find the name “Bush” or “Cheney” on either list.)
Face it, James. The GOP is either the Gang of Prostitutes or should be renamed the GFN — Good For Nothing. Except they’re not the Democrats, right? And if they get another term in the White House, who knows how high the national debt will go? To Mars, maybe. But we’ll still (maybe) have the Republican Congress. Yeah, that inspires me with memories of “Newtsie’s” popgun “revolution.” What was the battle cry? I believe Joe Sobran captured the essence of it in caricature: “Slightly less Socialism in Seven Years!”
And even that was a lie.
Jack (another Vietnam Veteran)
Manchester, NH, resident Jack Kenny [send him mail] is a freelance writer.