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.
11 months ago