Tuesday, November 7

Who Asked For It?

R. Porrofatto:
doghouse, I suggest, for your own well-being, that you stay away from the Orson Scott Card piece that's fouling the air presently. It's a kitchen sink of crapola—he even throws in the "Congress lost the Vietnam war" turd. It would be like bungee-jumping without the big rubber band.

Well, I already had, via Roy, where, basking in his hospitality we spoke of Card's spirited efforts at protecting the War on Terra™ brand name, and had a great time as a couple of readers of Card's other fictional output noted the distinction between his sci-fi platitudes and his terrestrial Kill Everybody Who's Not Like Me ethos. This is the wonderful thing about the Internets. Other people read science fiction, so I don't have to.

But let's begin right where much of our current mess began, namely You Know Where:
You know: If America withdrew from Iraq and Afghanistan and exposed everyone who had cooperated with us to reprisals.

As happened in South Vietnam. The negotiated peace was more or less holding after American withdrawal. But then a Democratic Congress refused to authorize any further support for the South Vietnamese government. No more armaments. No more budget.

In other words, we forcibly disarmed our allies, while their enemies continued to be supplied by the great Communist powers.

Misstatements about Vietnam and American involvement there ought always to be corrected when they're used as political darts, and, as always, we remind readers of our simple, if somewhat biased rule: if you served, or were exempt from service, during the war you are entitled to give free rein to your opinions provided you respect others who served. If, like Orson Scott Card, you did not avail yourself at the time of your opportunity to personally join in a cause you now believe was righteous you may proceed without reference to that fact only so long as you display a reasonable understanding of the history. "Reasonable" does not include any reference to the Congress, the Liberal New York Times, or your fellow citizens letting you down by being insufficiently willing to spend other people's blood. And what you, dear reader, are probably thinking now is correct. There is an as yet unexplained force in the universe which seems to prevent this from ever occuring.

The negotiated peace...

Rule #1 in poker: if you've got a tell, try to hide it at least beyond the first three words out of your mouth.

No one, or no one outside the era's Nobel Peace Prize committee, actually imagined the Paris accords were anything other than Nixon's minimal conditions for getting his ass out of there, toute suite. We essentially had to waterboard Thieu to get him to agree. Even at a time when people were accustomed to disbelieve anything coming from Authority those "peace accords" were the Comedy Hit of the Year.

was more or less holding after American withdrawal.

At this point the people of "North" Vietnam--we're basically the only nation on the globe which recognized two Vietnams--had been at war for thirty five years. They could not be absolutely certain the Americans had actually left. And the accords called for democratic elections in the South and eventual reunification. Thieu's dedication to that agreement was, shall we say, called into question. That is to say the accords were never going to hold for longer than it took the North to figure: a) it was rested and refit; b) the US was not going to return; and c) there wasn't going to be a reunification otherwise.

But then a Democratic Congress refused to authorize any further support for the South Vietnamese government.

That Congress--both Democratic and democratic, since the public that elected it was long since sick of a war it had been told for ten years was six months from victory--cut aid to South Vietnam by about 30%, from $1 billion to 700 million, for fiscal 1975.

God only knows--certainly no American taxpayer knows, to this day--how much of our military and economic aid money wound up in somebody's Swiss bank account, but by unanimous agreement the amount is substantial.

No more armaments. No more budget.

In other words, we forcibly disarmed our allies,

Not "no more", per above, and South Vietnam already looked like a military warehouse with no lock on the door. We'd armed them beyond their wildest imaginings, and kept it up for a quarter century, if you count our bankrolling the French. Were they ever supposed to fight on their own? We'd been promising that since 1962.

while their enemies continued to be supplied by the great Communist powers.

Just for the record: the Vietnamese were supplied by one foreign power, the USSR. China permitted the supplies to move through its territory. The Chinese and the Vietnamese were, and are, suspicious of each other.

What, exactly, does Mr. Card want here? A blank check, same as he demands for the War on Terra? No public input, no Congressional oversight; some bozo who manages to get elected President despite the fact that most people don't like or trust him can commit us to such an exercise in perpetuity, whether or not it's efficacious? Pfui.

The message was clear: Those who rely on America are fools. We didn't even have the decency to arrange for the evacuation of the people who had trusted us and risked the most in supporting what they thought was our mutual cause.

I'm not sure what this is supposed to mean or from whence it comes. We spent $40 million on rescue operations, including (the numbers are a bit sketchy, as might be imagined) something like 40,000 people rescued by plane, 140,000 rescued by naval operations, and 40,000 homeless infants airlifted.

Disaster? Of course, but that disaster didn't begin when "Congress cut off funds." It began when we decided to prop up the French colonialists, including footing 75% of the cost of French military efforts to reestablish their claim over the Indochinese who had bravely fought the Japanese for five years while the French capitulated. Or take it back to the 19th century, to the Europeans who sought to convert all those poor heathens to Roman Catholicism if you'd rather. That's who the so-called South Vietnamese were--the converted petty officials and servants of the French ruling class. That's who made the decisions than ended in 360,000 American casualties. Send a little vitriol their way, why doncha?


Doug said...

Card is such a disappointment to me. I -- having no taste perhaps -- really enjoyed his science fiction. Then he has to go and emit whacked out political rants. I have similar feelings about Dennis Miller.

mikesess said...

Doghouse, thanks for laying this out. If more Americans were willing to take a long, sober look at the real history of Vietnam, and learn the lessons we purchased with a huge amount of blood, we could become a better nation.

As long as some people continue to think we were somehow "stabbed in the back" in order to lose, we're doomed...

R.Porrofatto said...

Yes, I saw at Roy's that my warning was too late, but I'm glad to see you survived in one piece. I'd like to know the brand and/or dosage of whatever you use to fortify your spelunking in these dark regions, because the beta-blockers no longer do the job for me.

It's no surprise when political hacks spew abject nonsense, but it's infuriating when supposedly intelligent citizens like Card demonstrate willful stupidity in such an egregious manner. This particular bullshit, which is usually phrased even more idiotically as "when Democrats in Congress cut off funds to support our troops in Vietnam," reaches its official apotheosis (more like apologeosis) from Nixon's Ace Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird here:
...we withdrew most U.S. forces from Vietnam while building up the South's ability to defend itself. The result was a success -- until Congress snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by cutting off funding for our ally in 1975.

And it's no surprise to see that it's still promulgated by right-wing interns today.

You've managed to knock the wind out of this crap without even breaking a sweat, and it just shows how easily talk-radio factoids* succumb to actual truth. What always bugs me about this one, which its proponents never really address, is the toxic delusion that continuing to fund Thieu at previous levels would have 1.) dissuaded NV from ever invading once US troops were withdrawn and the bombing stopped, and 2.) prevented the NVA from achieving victory over a crumbling ARVN once they did. (Not to mention that throwing more money at the abysmally corrupt Saigon government would only have meant extra planeloads of gold for Thieu et al to lubricate the exodus.)

Thanks for the exegesis. Needless to say, Orson Scott Card is an idiot.

*used, once again, in its sadly disappearing original meaning of something that comes to resemble a fact, but isn't.

isabelita said...

So the French fuvkover of Vietnam was similar to the British fuckover of India, but smaller in scale. Just musing; it sprung out at me.
And now the fuckwits running the US have been trying to set up their own Raj in Iraq...

Richard Slay said...

Let's just reduce the Vietnam War to one sound bite to put everything else in perspective.

We killed one million Vietnamese.

That oversimplification is based on common knowledge:

Estimates of Vietnamese dead - 1 to 2 million.
Ability of the Army of South Vietnam to hurt a fly without US arms shipments - zero.
Ability of the Army of South Vietnam to hurt a fly north of the 17th Parallel regardless - zero.

Logically, most people died from US bombings. Many more people died from American-made bombs dropped from American-made planes flown by South Vietnamese pilots on orders from the American command.

And in a larger sense, the CIA entirely fabricated the Diem government - for Christ's sake, they found Diem hiding out at a Maryknoll seminary in the US and offered him the puppet gig. (Nowdays we like to find 'em at Unocal.) So all the people who died on both sides died because of a choice made by our own leaders. As Colin Powell said, you broke it, you own it.

So yes, say it and repeat it until it's as much of a cliche as Weapons of Mass Destruction. We killed a million Vietnamese. That's the thing every apologist for that War and the current War (600,000 dead and rising fast) must be forced to justify first. I would like to say it to Madeline Albright first. She's the one who was asked if the Iraqi sanctions were worth it given that they had led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands - and she said yes! Damn it, make everyone, especially "liberals" justify the killing of a million non-whites in the name of our sacred Western values. Make them do it over and over again until the truth becomes obvious - the lives of a million non-whites is worth less to most Americans than getting any trivial little thing that they feel they deserve - cheap gas, destroying other cultures and religions, enforcing Western standards of feminism, just generally getting to feel superior. I want the whole world to see us say it.