Civil Discourse Now

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Veterans Day and the Hotel Metropole in Hanoi

In March 2015 The Metropole Hotel in Hanoi was reopened after renovations. Media reported Vietnamese dignitaries arrive in Bentleys, Benzes, and other cars that one reasonably may describe as “luxury” cars. Vietnam is a country with which the U.S. trades.
Today is Veterans Day. On November 11, 1918, the Treaty of Versailles took effect at 11 a.m. and brought an end to World War I. The carnage was so horrific that some called it the “war to end all wars.” Of course, there was a bigger war to follow - launched on September 1, 1939. One may surmise horrific carnage, however, is not a barrier to warfare.
The United States has gone longer than any time in our history without a declared war. WWII ended September 2, 1945. Since then this country has committed troops to military “actions,” most notably in Korea, Vietnam,, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
Article I, sec. 8 of the Constitution provides the “Congress shall have Power ... To declare War...” The next clause indicates The Framers’ attitude toward standing armies as it gives Congress the power to “raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;...”
This country bankrolled the French, after WWII, in their military efforts in what we called French Indochina, i.e., Vietnam. The French military was defeated at the battle of Dien Bien Phu and withdrew. By the time the United States committed troops on a massive scale, after the Gulf of Tonkin incident, our elected officials and leaders of our military, as The Pentagon Papers revealed, knew a military victory in Vietnam was impossible. Still theGulf of Tonkin Resolution gave President Johnson the authority “to take all necessary steps, including the use of armed force, to assist any member or protocol state of the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty requesting assistance in defence of its freedoms.” Johnson said of the Resolution: “Like Grandma’s nightshirt, it covered everything.”
Over sixty thousand (60,000) U.S. personnel died in Vietnam. There is no accurate account of how many Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians died between1964 and 1973. We know the Tonkin Gulf incident, the pretext for U.S. military escalation in Vietnam, was not what this country was told, at the time, that it was:
“Long before the war was over, it was discovered that the Gulf of Tonkin incident as portrayed by the administration was a fraud. Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings in 1968 established that any North Vietnamese action in the Gulf of Tonkin was far from ‘unprovoked’. The Maddox had been involved in covert action against North Vietnam. It was also established that plans to bomb North Vietnam had been drawn up before the Gulf of Tonkin incident. Architect of the Resolution, National Security Adviser Walt W. Rostow said of the incident, ‘We don’t know what happened, but it had the desired result.’”
Nigel Crawthorne, “Vietnam: A War Lost and Won,” 2017 ed., p. 38.
If the United States had not been involved on the massive scale of 1964-75 in Vietnam, the same Vietnamese dignitaries, in 2015, would have pulled up to the Metropole Hotel in Hanoi for its reopening. The 60,000+ military personnel would not have died there; nor would all the Southeast Asians who lost their lives.
On this Veterans Day we should re-think the ways in which we create veterans, and divert the Pentagon’s budget for new toys to programs to help those who have served.

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