Lessons from Vietnam for Ukraine, by Rick Sterling

How do American military interventions progress? Slowly at first, then escalation, then disaster. From Rick Sterling at antiwar.com:

In April 1965, U.S. President Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ) explained why he was escalating US involvement in Vietnam. With an Orwellian touch, LBJ titled the speech “Peace without Conquest” as he announced the beginning of US air attacks on Vietnam. He explained that “We must fight if we are to live in a world where every country can shape its own destiny and only in such a world will our own freedom be secure… we have made a national pledge to help South Vietnam defend its independence and I intend to keep that promise. To dishonor that pledge, to abandon the small and brave nation to its enemies and the terror must follow would be an unforgivable wrong.”

Johnson further explained, “We are also there to strengthen world order… To leave Vietnam to its fate would shake the confidence of all these people in the value of an American commitment and in the value of America’s words.”

Learning no lessons from the failure and mass slaughter of the Korean War in the previous decade, the US military commenced widespread bombing of Vietnam and sent hundreds of thousands of soldiers.

At the time, spring 1965, about 400 US soldiers had died in the conflict. The war was not yet widely unpopular. Americans who protested against the Vietnam War were a small minority. It would be two years before Martin Luther King’s famous denunciation of the war.

Years later, after hundreds of thousands had been drafted into the military with the deaths of tens of thousands, the war became widely unpopular. Ultimately, over 58,000 Americans and three million Vietnamese civilians and soldiers died in the war. The cost in human lives and wasted resources was immense. The “Great Society” that LBJ hoped to build was stopped by the diversion of human lives, energy and resources into the Vietnam War.

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