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Vietnam and the War on Drugs: What We Forget, We Repeat

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History has shown the anti-war protesters to be on the right side of the argument.

By Deborah Peterson Small / Drug Policy Alliance October 20, 2017, 9:25 AM GMT

"I just finished watching the 18-hour documentary series by Ken Burns and Lynn Novice on the Vietnam War. To call it an epic masterpiece is an understatement–to call it a definitive documentary on one of the most complex events in U.S. history is to commit the common sin of oversimplification. Nonetheless, I found the series extremely affecting–as a person who came of age and political consciousness during the era covered, it was a reminder of how much my worldview and life path was a response to all that was happening then. What I will say, is that of all the documentaries I have watched on the Vietnam War era, this one was the most personal, the most human, the most balanced (despite an obvious U.S. bias) and the most accurate in providing historical facts.

When all is said and done, one is left with the ultimate futility of armed combat–aka WAR. The incredible loss of life, permanent injuries to individuals, families, and communities; the decimation of the physical environment and natural resources–just never seems worth it in the end. And I must add that the thing that pains me the most is the realization that in every war of the 20th century and continuing into the 21st century, civilian deaths outnumber military deaths by almost 10 to 1. In a war where the principal measure of success was body count, soldiers were incentivized to see every Vietnamese as a potential enemy and every dead one as an indicator of success. As poignantly noted by the journalist, Joe Galloway, the Vietnam War "turned honorable men into liars" who felt compelled to dehumanize people so that they could kill them. As explained by Marine veteran, John Musgrave, he "wasn’t killing people, he was killing ‘gooks’. This was Racism 101: the necessity of turning people into objects to retain your sanity when you have children fighting wars."

In between my tears, I began reflecting on the parallels between the Vietnam War and the War on Drugs (which ironically was initiated just as the Vietnam War was ending). The initial U.S. involvement in Vietnam was in support of French desire to maintain it's colonial power in Vietnam. After the French army was defeated, the U.S. betrayed its agreement with Ho Chi Minh to hold democratic elections in favor of supporting the corrupt despot Diem. The U.S. public was deceived into believing Ho Chi Minh was not a nationalist seeking independence for his country, but instead solely a communist and implacable foe of America. The tens of thousands of men and women who volunteered to serve in Vietnam believed they were engaged in a fight against communism in support of freedom and democracy. Similarly, the U.S. public was deceived into believing that drug abuse was the country's biggest public safety threat and that a 'war on drugs' was the best approach, because after all, the U.S. always wins...but in declaring a ‘war on drugs’ the government was declaring war on its own citizens in much the same way the Vietnam War seemed to require the U.S. military to destroy villages in order to save them..."

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No mention of the potus that beat the drum... that's odd.

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I guess you have to find one person to blame for everything to make it simpler for you to think about, and of course, it has to be blamed on a Democrat.
Dwight D Eisenhower( a republican and a good POTUS) sent the first troops into Vietnam. JFK increased them but chose to call them advisors. Lyndon Johnson made a mess of it and the American people blame him because so many Americans believe we could have won if he had only shown the WILL. That's not a true statement. It was the same situation as is in Korea, North Vietnam was supported by a power called Red China and if we had nuked them, we'd have been involved in WWIII. Johnson did the best he could with what he had. And in my opinion, on the homefront, Johnson was a great president. He signed the Civil Rights act which doomed his own career because it was the right thing to do. Was JFK a great POTUS-I can remember my parents hiding food in the cabinet for the nuclear war that was coming during the Cuban missile crisis. We BELIEVED we were going to die soon. So did a lot of other Americans. But because Kennedy wasn't hounded by the press so much he was able to pull off a secret deal with Kruschev and the world is still here today. Were it not for JFK's cool head and that he REFUSED to listen to his generals, I might not be here typing this today. Then, of course, we come to Nixon. He couldn't win the war either but Tricky Dick was always super smart, so he said we'll just Declare Victory and leave. It was the smartest thing any president could do. And after his impeachment, Ford was POTUS when the guys came home. There were NO villains in that war except the villain of flag tortillas  who believed this country couldn't lose and had the right to force our way of life on other countries. There's one of them in the White House right now, and he carries a R behind his name. Those kind of people usually do. BTW, I was a flag Tortilla back then too, but I was young and stupid. I had an excuse then. I don't have one now.

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