Tuesday, November 30, 2004

No More Vietnams

Yellowstone's burning, Yellowstone's burning,
Look ye yonder, look ye yonder,
Fire, fire; fire, fire;
And we CAN'T use water!

In 1988 a string of dry lightning storms swept over Camp Loll and up into Yellowstone. The Loll Staff, in our niavety and "ignorance", rushed into the forest to put out the fires. When we called the Forest Service for help, we were scolded. "Don't you know that fires are a natural part of the ecosystem!" "Fighting fires in the wilderness is a crime!!!" Two weeks later the same Forest Service was in camp training us to fight fires. They showed us the secrets of "shake and bake" fire shelters, and entreated us to report and to fight all fires. Meanwhile, up in Yellostone, the "let it burn policy" had engulfed America's greatest natural treasure in flames. My life and that of my grandchildren will pass before the devastation of that stupidity will scar over; it willnever heal. At the Fire Museum at Grant Village they will tell you the fire of '88 was good for the park - that Yellowstone is a natural system and needs to be let alone - they are lying. They are trying to cover their shame and stupidity, and after they pump their sunshine, you can drive up the road and see the destruction that once was Yellowstone. (Note: The Park Service has changed their policy, they have learned their lesson, but they have not learned to tell the truth.) The searing blasts of Islamic Fanaticism are crashing down on our truth parched nation. We are being told that fighting such fires is a crime.

Thank you Dannyboy2 - You suggested reading No More Vietnams by Richard Nixon. Where has this book been all my life? Where was this truth when the lightening bolts of relativism were crashing down on my beliefs about the war in Vietnam? Why didn't I know that a man I admired as much as I do Richard Nixon; a man I am proud to say I voted for, for President, and have long wished I could vote for again; had told the truth I needed to know? Richard Nixon provided the shield against the flames of fiction that sweep over our understanding of war! As recently as last fall a WSU professor tried to teach me that the U.S. was to blame for the genocide in Cambodia. As recently as this morning, I was shouted down by Mr. Brimhall in the coopy room. He claimed America was murdering innocents in foreign lands for nothing. When he could not answer my arguments he sent a blazing wall of vindictives in my direction but I was safe beneath my "tent of truth".

No More Vietnams should be a text book in every History and Political Scienc class in the country: reading it should be a duty. Many of you know I teach a class in Great Books. Among the purposes of the class is to encapsulate great literature into bite sized chunks for quick and easy consumption. The class also serves to entice and challenge deeper study and discussion. Knowing how busy you are - I will give a "Great Books Report" on No More Vietnams. I hope it will engender some vigorous discussion. If Nixon and I are wrong - please help me see that; if his words are true; we will all be better for hearing what Nixon had to say.

To make "taking it in" easier, I will provide a chapter by chapter presentation of the book here in the Agora. My wife got my copy of the book for $2 off e-bay. Sadly it is out of print!

No More Vietnams, Arbor House , New York, 1985

From the Dust Jacket:

"In Vietnam, we tried and failed in a just cause. No More Vietnams can mean we will not try again. I should mean we will not fail again.
-- from No More Vietnams
by Richard Nixon

CHAPTER ONE - "THE MYTHS OF VIETNAM"

1. "Vietnam has been the subject of over 1,200 books, thousands of newspaper and magazine articles, and scores of motion pictures and televison documentaries. The great majority of these efforts have portrayed one of the following conclusions as fact: [I have chosne 15 out of 22 given by Nixon]
*The Vietnam War was a civil war.
* Ho Chi Minh was a nationalist first and a Communist second and had the support of a majority of the people of Vietnam, North and South.
*The National Liberation Front was a revolutionary movement independent of North Vietnam.
*The Viet Cong won the hearts and minds of villagers through humanitarinan policies.
*The Geneva Declaration of 1954 leagally bound Diem's government and the United States to unify the two halves of Vietnam through elections.
*The agreements of 1962 "neutralizing" Laos prevented the widening of the war.
* Most American soldiers were addicted to drugs, guilt-ridden about their role in the war, and deliberately used cruel and inhumane tactics.
*American blacks constituted a disporportionate number of the combat casualities.
*The United States lost the war militarily.
*U.S. secret bombing in 1969 and ground attacks on the Communist bases in Cambodia in 1970 were responsible for bringing the Communists into power in Cambodia in1975.
*It was a calculated policy of the United States to bomb civilian targets in North Vietnam.
*The percentage of civilian deaths in the Veitnam War was higher than in other wars.
*The antiwar demonstrations in the United States shortened the war.
*The domino theory has been proved false.
*Life is better in Indochina now that the United States is gone.
All of these statements are false." (pgs 9 -10)

2. "Antiwar activists had proclaimed that therr would be no bloodbath in South Vietnam if the Communists won. But while the blood may no be on their hands, they cannot sleep comfortably at night as they think of the 600,000 Vietnamese who have drowned in the South China Sea attempting to excape Communist tyranny; of tens of thousands more imprisoned in "reeducation" camps, and of the unhappy lot of millions of others condemned to live under Communist rule." (pg 11)

3. "Even more tragic is what has happened in Cambodia, one of the fallen dominoes of Southeast Asia. When we withdrew our support from the anti-Communist Cambodian government in 1975, 7 million people lived in Cambodia, about the same number who live in Austria today. Three years later Pol Pot's new Communist government had murdered and starved to death over 2 million." (pgs 11 - 12)

4. They [U.S. antiwar circles] cannot bear to look in the mirror, because if they do, they will see who must share the blame; those who opposed the U.S. war effrot and in doing so gave support to theCambodian communists - who, once they came into power, pulled the triggers and dug the mass graves." (pg 12)

5. "Vietnam was a crucially important victory in the Soviet Union's war for control of the strategically critical Third World." (pg 12)

6. "Thus did our Vietnam defeat tarnish our ideals, weaken our spirit, cripple our will, and turn us into a military giant and a diplomatic dwarf in a world in which the steadfast exercise of American power was needed more than ever before." (pg 13)

7. "... when we could have kept South Vietnam afloat by keeping our commitment to provide military aid at a level commensurate with Soviet support of the North, Congress refused. The American people, by then exhausted, discouraged, and confused, tacitly accepted a congressional decision that led to a defeat for the United States for the first time in history." (pg 14)

8. " Those who began and exclated the war in Vietnam in the 1960s did not give the American people victories and did not effectively explain the justice of what we were fighting for." (pg 14)

9. "Those who parrot the slogan "No more Vietnams" in opposing American efforts to prevent Communist conquests [global terorism] in the Third World base their case on four articles of fiath:
*The war in Vietnam was immoral.
*The war in Vietnam was unwinnable.
*Diplomacy without force is the best answer to Communist "wars of national liberation." [terror]
*We were on the wrong side of history in Vietnam.
The time has come to debunk these myths." (pg 15)

UNDER THE FOUR MYTHS:

Myth I: The Vietnam War was Immoral.

10. "Many who were seeing war for the first time were so shocked at what they saw that they said this war was immoral when they really meant that all war was terrible. (pg 160)

11. "Sadly, their voices were joined with those of others who did not like the war becasue they did not support its aim: resisting Communist aggression in South Vietnam ... It was not that the war was immoral, but rather that their pretensions to a higher morality dictated that the United States should lose and the Communists should win." (pg 16)

12. "While they [antiwar activists] could be charged with naivete for overlookintg Ho's murderous policies in North Vietnam, some deserve credit for condemning, however belatedly, the genocide in Cambodia. Certainly today the record is clear for all to see: A Communist peace kills more than an anti-Communist war." (pg 17)

Myth II: The Vietnam War was unwinnable.

13. "Defeat came only when the Congress, ignoring the specific terms of the peace agreement, refused to provide military aid to Saigon equal to what the Soviet Union provided for Hanoi." (pg 18)

14. "During Vietnam many decided that wars such as the one being waged against the North Vietnamese were unwinnable because victory by Communist revolutionaries was inevitable. They believed that a liberationist surge was sweeping the Third World and there was nothing the Western world could do, or should do, to stop it." (pgs 18 -19)

15. "Today it is one symptom of the Vietnam syndrome to the extent that it makes Americans ashamed of their power, guilty about being strong, and forgetful about the need to be willing to use their power to protect their freedom and the freedom of others." (pg 19)

Myth III: Diplomacy without force to back it up is the best answer to Communist "wars of national liberation." [Global Terorism]

16. "Some do not want the U.S. to help non-Communist governments because they think it would be better if the Communists took power. Others believe that the use of military power by the U.S. has become irrelevant in Third World conflicts becasue we used power so ineptly in Vietnam." (pg 19)

17. "As a result, in the post-Vietnam 1970s, while rhetoric about the limits of power and the promise of creative diplomacy clouded the American ploitical landscape, the Soviet Union and its proxies licked their chops and gobbled up South Yemen, Ethiopia, Angola, Mozambique, Afghanistan, and Nicaragua, and the Ayatollah's mullahs plunged Iran into the Middle Ages. (pg 20)

18. "Any nation that decides the way to achieve peace is to use only peaceful means is a nation that will soon be a piece of another nation. (pg 20)

Myth IV: We were on the wrong side of history in Vietnam.

19. "During the Vietnam era, an astounding number of otherwise thoughtful people gave our side the white glove test while eagerly seeking to justify the far more brutal actions of the enemy ... A hue and cry was raised against the United States when an isolated incident of mass murder by American forces at My Lai was revealed; yet when the West learned of the massacre by Communist at Hue,were twenty-five times as many civilians as at My Lai died in what was anuything but an isolated incident, Amnesty International indulgently chalked the crime up to "the merciless tradition of the war" rather than to the merciless bestiality of the Viet Cong." (pg 21)

20. "... The Communist PR blitz, the intellectual dream machine that, ever since the Russian Revolution in 1917, has been tricking Western intellectuals into looking at slavery and seeing utopia, looking at aggression and conquest adn seeing liberaton, looking at ruthless murders and seeing "agrarian reformers," looking at idealized portraits of Ho Chi Minh gazing beneficently upon the children gathered around him and seeing a mythical national father figure rather than the brutal dictator he really was." (pgs 21-22)

21. "Examining the Vietnam experience ... teaches us that it is not wars such as Vietnam, but rather waging them ineffectively and losing, that leads inevitably to tragedy." (pg 23)

22. "The antiwar movement did not have a decisve effect on the outcome of the war from a military standpoint, but it has had a decisive impact on the political battles that have been waged ever since. The protesters' rioting and bombing, all undertaken in the name of peace, ended with our withdrawal from Southeast Asia. Most of the Physical damage has been repaired. The intellectual and psychological damage, however, still poisons our foreign policy debates. Ten years [thirty years] later the same distrotions about the war that made antiwar activists into heroes on the campuses are still accepted as fact on televison, in newspapers, and incollege classrooms. Before we can cure ourselves of theVietnam syndrome, we must purge our diet of the intellectual junk food that helped make us sick to begin with." (pg 23)

END OF CHAPTER ONE

All these quotes are much stronger in context; I encourage you to read the entire book. I have tried and will continue to try to provide you with an overview of Nixon's arguments anhopefully stimulate your own.

16 comments:

A_Shadow said...

I greatly respect your ideas and how you seek knowledge and understanding in the world, but I do have to ask: Why is it that you believe what happened in Yellowstone was wrong?

That I happen to currently disagree with. I do hold the stance that the best thing for nature is to be left to its own devices. It was just fine before us, and will be just fine without us. I don't agree with removing our presence, however.

I too have witnessed the "destruction" left by that fire, but I would be hesitant to call our actions there wrong. Essentially, fire is as inevitable as death. In Yellowstone's case you could merely delay it. It is part of the cycle of life that we can't yet escape.

As for it's conjunction with the Vietnam War, I doubt that it's a very accurate fit. We aren't able to draw the same ethical and moral boundries, and thus the tactics and weapons used are different. If it could be absolutely proven without a doubt that when we left Vietnam there was a huge loss of life, so staggering, that it would turn the stomaches of anyone. We could win any debate that said the war was unjust. But when talking about living things, that most Americans would likely assume are the same as inanimate objects such as a table, leaving Yellowstone to it's fate doesn't ruffle many (if any) feathers about what we did there. It's just hard for a rational person to get as passionate about trees as they would about a country of millions of people.

I don't think that the war in Vietnam was unjust, or unwinable. But I don't think that we would have liked how we would have to end it. For us to be victorious against a force as fluid and cunning as terrorism and the VietCong in Vietnam, we would have to remove them, and remove their power base. That's Machievellian. You have to absolutely crush your opponents. I don't believe that the U.S. could do that to an opponent, while maintaining the moral high ground. We could do that to a forest fire with no regret, but to completely annhialate terrorism and evil, there needs be evil. It then becomes a question of whether you would continure to fight the current evil with moral tactics, or become the next evil by annhialating your enemies at all costs.

Beef Jerky said...

A_Shadow, I'll have to disagree with you. Putting out the fire in Yellowstone is like treating rabies. It was pure chance that the "bite" happened to begin with. Should we let nature take its course and let the infected die, or should we do all we can to prevent that death from happening? This goes perfectly well with our vow to fight communism. Admistering the vaccine (meaning "us" as the vaccine) to communism at all costs during the Cold War is what eventually brought the USSR down. An oppostion that does not easily give up - that's what we are and should be. And it seems to me that we did a beautifully job of destroying Sadam Hussein's totalitarian regime - which is a direct argument against your final conclusion in your comment.

Dan Simpson said...

Lysis, I am glad you liked the book. You know, I found it by complete chance. When I was assigned a book on Vietnam, I was frankly not looking forward to it. I had never really liked the view a lot of historians put on it. I just ran across this book in the Layton library.

One of the best things I remember from the book was when Nixon revealed that the famous Buddhist monk who set himself on fire as a protest, was part of a communist organization that contacted western media and let them know the time and place that it would happen.

Rapps said...

Well I like the boy scouts. You can always count on them to start a fire.

A_Shadow said...

Well it seems then that we have some things that need be debated here. Granted, when someone is infected with something such as rabies it need be treated. Communism can certainly be attributed to such a view as being the rabies of the world. That can be cured. Fire to yellowstone translates to old age to humanity. You can no more stop the aging process than you can prevent a forest fire from happening. While I was at yellowstone there were at least two fires in progress within the ground's boundaries. Tell me how then, how may we stop something that's as natural to the world as growing old?

The problem with arguing that the forest need never catch fire, that catching fire is a bad thing and destroys it's beauty ignores the natural science and biology involved with just such a forest. I'm sketchy on the exact numbers, but the gestation period for the release of pine tree seeds from a pinecone is many times greater WITHOUT fire. By adding fire, new seeds are instantly released to replace the previous forest.

Again, taking the biological factors into account. Also utilizing that which I have just shared, new trees won't grow in competition with the elder trees (at least not at an appropriate number to sustain a population), new seeds won't be released fast enough, and old trees will live for a comparitively long time. That's assuming that we fight fires, and never allow the natural process to continue. Looking down the road, what do you think would happen to such a populace? It dies. Trees still age and die just as any organism. If we were to employ your plan of fighting fires to the current times, then the juevenille trees that were seeded directly after the 1988 fire would grow old, flourish and die. Assuming that they weren't struck down by the eventual volcanic collapse of the area. There would eventually be no Yellowstone, because no new trees were allowed to grow.

That's a little off from talking about the analogy, but as I said. Fire is more like an old age factor for forests. Larger forests have fires more often for obvious reasons such as the ammount of fuel therein. As for comparing it to world terms. There aren't really any solid old age factors to compare to. It is a belief that a developing nation would trend like America or Brittain. But that's because there aren't many other scenarios that have been put forth.

Communism was a disease, more akin to the Black Plague. I say that because it was so readily cureable, and yet it inflicted death and fear on much of the world. America's persistance in fighting Communism worked in only one way: It outlasted it. Much the same as how humanity overcame the Black Plague. We outlasted it, and a chance event happened to crumble it all to the ground. Communism is a lie, they fell because of their lies, and the fear associated with telling the truth. Eventually a person will be tired of being afraid, shot and killed. That's what happened to mainstream communism. But don't forget that China is the largest communist nation ever, in population anyways.

America didn't administer any antidotes to communism. There were none that we could use, none that we new of. It died out (in Russia) of it's own time, things that needed to be done. If America had been able to kill communism, I don't believe we would have ever seen the rise of a communist nation, and by far, China would not today exist.

A_Shadow said...

Because I hate feeling like I was offering up second-hand, unverified facts. Here is a quote from wikepedia:

"Ripe cones may remain on the plant for a varied amount of time before falling to the ground; in some fire-adapted pines, the seeds may be stored in closed cones for up to 60-80 years, being released only when a fire kills the parent tree."

Here is the direct link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinophyta#Reproduction

Lysis said...

Shadow - Four things to think about:

First, Yellowstone is not a naturaly system. You need to read PLAYING GOD IN YELLOWSTONE. It explains how Yellowstone was artificially created and must be artificially maintained. And although fire does help Lodge Poll Pines, though not other species, to reseed - drive along any logging road and you'll see they don't need that much help.

Second, I'm sure glad that modern medicine didn't have your attitude toward disease - most of us would be dead!

Third, The West fought against Communism very hard and at great cost.

Forth, China only calls itself a Communist country, it is a dictatorship but its economic success is based on Capitalism.

Love your ideas, thank you for your comments.

A_Shadow said...

I'm a little puzzled by what in my statements could have scared you about medicine? I just didn't realize that I was saying anything that would lead you to believe that I didn't care. Quite the contrary.

By bringing up the Bubonic Plague, I was simply inferring the great similarities between the actions and steps taken to deal with it, and the similarity in dealing with Communism. They both had a huge thing in common: Fear. No one saw how easy it was to cure it, no one cared to think about it. Instead we just cordoned off infected areas such as North Korea, China, Cuba, and Vietnam and considered them uncureable. I'm merely saying that we've reacted to both with a great fear and superstition, and later learned how readily a cure is. Simply cleaning one's self will cure the Bubonic Plague, or at least prevent its spread. And simply switching on a floodlight of truth, and an influx of money, would surely collapse any communist nation.

To further explain my point, or to perhaps make it simpler. America's "fight" with communism seems more like burying the dead. Our treatment was more of a bloodletting, even litterally, than an actual cure. It's apparent to me in life that you get much less of a positive response by trying to force someone out of an idea, even a wrong one.

I would hesitate to point out any Chinese economic success, but there are very capitalist aims and goals. That's inherent in China wishing to be the best. It's evident in their futile attempt at a space program. Though they have made it work, it makes you wonder at the sacrifices the people have had to make for it...

Silver Lining said...

Regarding China, if you look at the growth numbers, particularly the sustained growth numbers, you can see significant economic success, success achieved through the use of capitalist economic ideas. It is in the political and social arena that the Chinese crack down if you will and attempt to maintain a communist dictatorship.

You talk about the sacrifice of the Chinese people to accomplish what they have. I suppose it is very hard to say. If you want a fascinating look at the sacrifice of the Chinese people for the Chinese government to be what it is, read Red China Blues. Mr. Brimhall recommended this book to me some time ago. It is a fascinating look at communist China.

As far as medicine and trees, it is easy to take from your comments about letting nature, and I believe the term was old age, take its course, that there is question as to how far modern technology and medicine should be employed to fix ailments. After all, you stated that forest fires are simply nature's old age and that we shouldn't interfere. I really didn't want to jump into the fray here when it came to the tree thing as that wasn't the real issue of the post. It is, however, a question I have had since A_Shadow's first post. At what point do we stop interfering with modern science to manage disasters of many kinds? I would be interested to know.

To Lysis and DannyBoy2, I would be interested to know, as you have both read this book by Nixon, what he says about his own political stance on pulling out of Vietnam.

Dan Simpson said...

Silver lining, as Lysis has read it more recently than I, I will defer to him for more accurate response. I will say that to my memory, he talks about how the war was ended by treaty. Much like Korea, there was a line drawn between the North and South and the South was supposed to have free elections to decide their direction. We left, the North, ignoring the treaty, poured across the border stopping any real elections and proclaimed that the people chose communism. Nixon states that we failed the peace because we refused to enforce the directives of the treaty. (interesting the parallel with Iraq. Some wanted us to ignore the fact that Hussein was trampling all over the rules he agreed to as part of the cease fire, and when we tried to enforce them, we are charged with starting an unjust war.)

A_Shadow said...

Well... I have an answer for you all, but in effort to avoid a very lenghty what-to-do about it on Lysis lovely blog here, I'll post it as an essay on mine. I'll post you the link when I have it finished in a day, or so. I'm sorry, but my beliefs are deep rooted in science and also - I'm a bit long winded. Lol.

So if you do indeed care why I would advocate something like natural death and death by old age, I will give you a some what lenghty answer. My blog is shadae.blogspot.com if you'd simply like to await it's arrival there. Sorry I couldn't exactly do it now, such little time...

Lysis said...

As a partial answer to Silver Lining's question on Nixon's feelings "on his own stance on pulling out of Vietnam," I refer you to quotes #7 and #13 above. I will present his detailed arguments as they develop in the chapters I will outline in the future. It is interesting to note that in the 1980's Congress passed laws that were aimed at preventing the War against Communist Aggression from being fought even in our own hemisphere. With that in mind - please read quote #11 above.

Shadow - I am looking forward to reading your ideas and am eager to comment on them.

A_Shadow said...

It is posted, but it's far from what I had hoped for. I suppose I should have done something far better, but better this than to post no rebuttle, perhaps.

It has little to do with Vietnam and Yellowstone, so if you're looking for that, I failed to represent anything new there.

The easiest way is to read it is to navigate to shadae.blogspot.com.

I doubt it's worthy for you to do it, though. I'm not very proud of the wreck that it is.

BaddKarma said...

Always remember who started Vietnam, Kennedy, a Democrat

Anonymous said...

Learn how to spell or type, whichever one is your problem here.

Dr. Health said...

We could win any debate that said the war was unjust.