Vietnam? Not So Much
“Sometimes the light's all shining on me. Other times I can barely see. Lately it’s occurred to me: What a long strange trip it’s been.” The Grateful Dead
I have been reading this book, The Embers of War, about Vietnam in the 1940’s and 1950’s, when the US was just getting involved there, as we say. And all of a sudden I was “blinded by the light.” For the US, it was never really about Vietnam. Rather, it was about the United States and preserving the status quo here, preserving the regime that was being established, that had been established at least since the end of World War II.
How can you preserve a political order best? It’s rather simple. By dying for it and/or killing for it. And that’s what Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon used Vietnam for, for dying and killing American soldiers – and others – in order to fortify, to preserve, and even to extend the national security state that had been created after World War II.
That’s why we never seem to learn from “our mistakes” in Vietnam: Because our actions weren't mistakes and the same strategy is being used today, dying and killing in order to perpetuate our flawed, our unrepresentative, our oligarchic political order."Winning" in Vietnam or Afghanistan or Iraq or anywhere isn't important. What's important is the dying and the killing because that blood offering is that which renders our establishment secure.