It was 40 years ago today that the last troops from America’s criminal war against the people of Vietnam scurried ignominiously onto a helicopter on the roof of the US Embassy in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) and fled the country where US forces had killed some 3-4 million people in the name of “fighting Communism.”
It’s hard to celebrate the end to that nightmare conflict, which is still destroying lives in Indochina thanks to the thousands of tons of carcinogenic Agent Orange defoliant which American planes spread across the land in a vain effort to starve out the peasants and to destroy the jungle to deprive Vietnamese fighters of cover.
Many of the generals who lead today’s imperial wars and who cooly contemplate new bloody conflicts against Syria, Iran, Russia or China, “earned” their initial promotions and battle “cred” by contributing to the slaughter in Vietnam. Many of today’s politicians, like Sen. John McCain and Secretary of State John Kerry, got their start committing war crimes in Vietnam. Henry Kissinger, one of the country’s greatest living war criminals, and a key architect of the US war against the people of Vietnam, has grown fat and rich on the reputation he gained for ruthlessness as President Nixon’s national security director and later Secretary of State.
While we may not celebrate April 30, it is a good time to reflect on how that wretched and criminal war directly produced the dysfunctional war-mongering nation and society that we live in today. There is a direct link between the hundreds of billions of dollars wasted on that decade-long military mayhem in Vietnam, and the hollowed-out cities of today’s United States, the schools that crank out fodder for more wars and new workers for the low-wage service-sector jobs that are all that is left in an economy that no longer makes anything but burgers and bombers.
Today as you read this article, armed US soldiers are patrolling the streets of Baltimore, and police who are hard to distinguish from occupying troops are doing the same in cities across the country, as tens of thousands of people protest the police murder of a young man arrested for running away from two cops who looked at him funny. Freddie Gray hadn’t done anything wrong when two Baltimore bicycle cops rode by and decided to harass him, causing him to flee.