Viet Nam was America’s War. The Middle East War is Not.

Viet Nam was America’s War. The Middle East War is Not. May 7, 2024

Vietnam Dead Memorial Wall, source Wikimedia Creative Commons share alike.

Senator Bernie Sanders made a very stupid comment a few days ago. He said that the war in the Middle East is “Biden’s Viet Nam.” 

I like Bernie Sanders. I think he is a sincere and independent-thinking man who really cares about the American people and who has a fully functioning moral code that he applies to his work in the United States Senate. But in this particular instance, Bernie is just spinning yarn. 

The war in the Middle East is NOT America’s war. It is a war between two entities — one of them a strong ally of America — who have been going at one another for decades.

It is, like all wars, an ugly business. It is, like all generational hatreds, based on thinking and behavior that has grown increasingly bitter and more unhinged from the moral requirements of human decency as the two sides inflict suffering on one another. As in all wars, regular people are the ones who suffer most. 

The war in the Middle East is not anything like Viet Nam. 

In the first — and most important — consideration, Viet Nam was America’s war. America itself was at war. 

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by David Shankbone

My husband gets special benefits from the government because he served IN TIME OF WAR. America’s war. With American troops and American dead. 

My brother in law was a 100% disabled veteran because of injuries he received in the Viet Nam War. I believe that those injuries, including the psychological harm done to him, contributed to my brother-in-law’s death. 

I have friends who are disabled veterans from injuries in the Viet Nam War. Many of them continue to suffer physically and emotionally because they were rifle-carrying soldiers — those ubiquitous “boots on the ground” that Fox News commentators are always wanting to send here and there — in a hot, killing AMERICAN war. 

58,000 Americans died in the Viet Nam War. 

8.7 MILLION Americans served in the Viet Nam War. 

There was an involuntary military draft. 

Boys I knew were scared of the draft. Young men left this country and went to Canada to avoid the draft. 

There are a lot of graves with my friends in them who were killed in the Viet Nam War. I remember the Vice Principal in our high school announcing over the speaker one morning that if students didn’t behave, they had a place they could send them and that place was Viet Nam. 

Many of the protestors were college students who were receiving a temporary deferment from the draft for school. That’s all young men talked about; how to avoid the draft. Nobody wanted to go half way around the world to fight in a war that all the boys who went to Harvard and Yale, the sons of the corporations who were making money from the thing, seemed exempt from fighting. 

Senator John McCain was a prison of war in Viet Nam. He suffered injuries from the torture he endured that lasted until the end of his life.

Boys I knew, grew up with, played with; boys I cared about; died in Viet Nam. They’ve been lying in the ground for decades now. They gave their whole lives. 

Not one American is dying in the Middle East because of an involuntary draft into the American military. This is not an American war. 

We may very well destroy this country if we indulge our passions over somebody else’s war so much that we end up electing a traitorous wannabe dictator who calls our fallen soldiers ‘losers” and “suckers” and has claimed in open court that he should have — in fact already does have — total immunity from the law and could order the American military to kill his political rivals without any legal consequence. 

If we get so worked up over somebody else’s war that we burn down our own house by putting a monster in charge of it, then the consequences will be ours for real and forever. If we throw away America by electing Trump with his plans for blood vengeance to another term, we will never get it back. 

The war in the Middle East is not anybody’s Viet Nam. But it could be the end of our democracy. 

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