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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Vietnam and My Generation


I grew up in the Vietnam era. By the time I was old enough to know, most of us knew that the war in Vietnam was a huge mistake. We had seen the footage on TV. We heard about the massacres of civilians. Our side, we thought, had never massacred civilians before. We learned about all the terrible things that were happening and we protested. We protested with rallies, we protested with letters to the editor or articles, we protested with songs. And the more we protested, the more we felt that war was just not the best way to resolve any issue.

As a matter of fact, in my opinion, the Vietnam War and its predecessor, the Korean War, did a lot to damage the heroic image of the military in the US.

World War II was the classic war of Good vs. Evil. Hitler epitomized the evil in this world and, while his partners in war (Mussolini of Italy and Tojo of Japan) weren't quite as evil as he was, the US and its allies had right on their side to the extent that they were fighting this evil. And after WWII, people saw war as a way to deal with evil, a way to fight the enemies of righteousness, liberty and freedom.

Unfortunately, most of the people who are around today didn't live through WWII. Most of the information we have about war is from M*A*S*H, the very popular TV show (from a movie that came from a book) about doctors in the Korean War. Though the program took place during the Korean War, we all knew in out heart of hearts that they were really talking about the Vietnam War.

And that left us with a bad impression of war. Part of that impression is well-deserved. War, after all, is fought by young men (and women), people who have their whole lives ahead of them unless their lives are cut tragically short. War causes destruction of lives and of property leaving many people dead and many more homeless and mourning dead relatives.

But there are times when war is necessary. And, because of the bad taste Vietnam and Korea left in our collective mouths, and on our collective psyches, people have a hard time understanding this. They have a hard time understanding that, had Israel lost any of the wars it has been involved in, from the 1948 War of Independence, to the 1956 Sinai Campaign, the 6 Day War of 1967, the 1973 Yom Kippur War and on and on to the recent Lebanon War, Israel would have ceased to exist.

So Israel is condemned for defending itself. But that's not the only issue with war in the recent past. The US and Israel both need to fight to survive. We need to fight evil in every form.

But because we in the US fought an unfortunate war that lasted for over 10 years and was broadcast into our living rooms in every gory detail, people still think, as Benjamin Franklin said, that there's never been a good war or a bad peace. But I disagree with both ends of that statement. WWII was a good war. What we have now with terrorists and Islamofascists is a bad peace.

And, so, we need to see that Vietnam is not the only face of war. We need to realize that in some cases, war is the only answer. We cannot afford to allow our distaste of war to cloud our judgment. We need to be strong and show the enemies of freedom that they can't get away with threatening our lives and our way of life. We need to be the Supermen and fight for Truth, Justice and the American Way. And we need to do it now.

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