VIETNAM: Re Old Wars

Brian D Williams (
Tue, 9 Mar 1999 08:28:18 -0800 (PST)

From: Jeff Davis <>

> What the modern reader will also be unaware of is that joining
&gt;the navy at that time was an act of pragmatism bordering almost on
>cowardice. Almost, but not quite.

Why don't you try telling that to Admiral James Stockdale, who was tortured for 10+ years as a POW. Or any of the rest.

> You see, back then, anyone of military age who wasn't a
>complete idiot was concerned about their personal safety. You
>could get killed in that damn war. But, if you joined the navy,
>you avoided the draft, and with it the army, and the possibility
>of combat. You got to have your cake, and eat it too: the
>recognition of honorable service to your country in its time of
>need, with an absolute guarantee that your butt would never be on
>the line (as in "battle" line). Army, Air Force, and Marines were
>all stationed on Vietnamese soil. Only those in the Navy were
>not, with only a few exceptions. So no one back then thought that
>joining the navy was a cowardly thing to do, they thought it was
>a smart thing to do, damn smart. Many's the draftee who wished he
>had figured that out _before_ he got drafted.

You couldn't just walk in an join the Navy. They had a limited number of slots and the rich and powerful made sure they were reserved for their own kind.

Of course if you really had power you either joined the national guard (Dan Quayle) or limped along on college deferment. (Bill Clinton)

> Yes they did. They were boys out of high school, raised on John
>Wayne movies and rabid anti-communism, who wanted a war like dad
>had in WW2, and their uncles in Korea. A war like on tv where men
>died with heroic grace, where the enemy was an evil sub-human who
>deserved to die, and who did so with cinematic convenience. These
>were boys who were charged up with testosterone and anxious to
>prove their manhood and their patriotism. They would fight,...and
>kill...and die...for the country they loved and which, they
>believed, could do no wrong. They knew nothing about justice,
>nothing about war, nothing about history, and less than nothing
>about Vietnam. In short, they were clueless.

Now you're an expert on everyone who went. We may have been raised on John Wayne movies (people die in John Wayne movies), but most of the people who I know served weren't anxious to go, they did feel it was right, and a duty they owed to country.

> An examination of the facts clearly shows that the US involvement
>in Vietnam was a wholly criminal affair. Those who believed or
>believe otherwise are, to be blunt, wrong. As in two plus two
>equals anything but four. Wrong.

Yes we're all wrong, you're the only one right......

> No one who went through that period, and who learned ANYTHING,
>could repeat the above infantile cliche horseshit. This is "I
>wanna be a hero just like dad."

What is infantile is trying to speak for others.

> And this, this is the worst. No, no it's not. Two MILLION
>Vietnamese murdered; 58,000 clueless American boys murdered.
>Heroes all. Killed for profit, for the vanity of power, for
>bigotry, and for stupidity; that's worse.

Those who served honorably are heroes, on this we agree. You might also be surprised to learn that I agree that Vietnam was a bad idea. Even though I enlisted at the time.

> The people who, for various reasons, protested this crime, who
>understood about injustice and war, and who tried to stop it, were
>heroes as well; but more to the point, they were regular people
>who retained the ability to distinguish right from wrong, and who
>had the courage to act on this knowledge, at a time when cultural
>influences worked almost overwhelmingly against them.

Nonsense, Jane Fonda is a traitor, not a hero. Those who opposed the war on sincere moral grounds and acted accordingly also have my respect.

> In June of 68 I notified my draft board that I was ready to go.
>Stupid. They drafted me, and I served in the army from Sep 68 to
>Jun 70. But I got lucky and did not go to Vietnam.
>I was near clueless back then, as so many of us were. We ALL
>learned something. Some more than others. Getting at the truth,
>especially about the history of "difficult" times,
>can be tough. You will not learn it in school, or find it in the
>mainstream press. But it can be done. If you want the truth
>about Vietnam, read Chomsky.

It seems it was you who did not act according to your convictions.

I am not interested in Chomsky's opinion of the Vietnam War.

> I wrote this because I wanted readers like Randall Randall and
>Harvey Newstrom, who stated that they were too young to experience
>these events first hand, to have a chance at the truth.

You wrote this to express your own opinions, nothing more.

Someone asked about extropian relevance. I feel it has to do with personnel responsibility. I enlisted because that is what I felt was right. I have always opposed the draft and cannot figure out how it can exist in a so-called democracy.

The hypocrisy that some were forced to serve while others (based mostly on economics) were given a pass is something that should never again be permitted.

Semper Fi.

Member, Extropy Institute

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