Tag Archives: Vietnam War

He Said That? 5/23/17

From Nam Vet 0331 Marine Grunt, on a comment on “My War, by Fleabaggs”:

Thanks Mike…Here are some edgy poems written in the early 70’s when the wounds were open and the memories still bleeding. I don’t know if Robert will allow the first one it has some profanity…I don’t talk like that anymore, but I did then, its a blunt raw poem about war. These have been locked away a long time.

Got to Pray…Got to Kill

Crossing stagnant marshes
leeches take turns with the mosquitoes
sucking our blood
flies are swarming
over spots of flesh
festering with jungle rot

a 155 booby trap blew Thomas apart
we just found his boot
with his foot still in it

monsoon season is here
patrols every day
ambushes every night
we hump in the rain
and sleep in the mud

sniper got the lieutenant
right through the forehead

got mortared again
lost three men

we fought all day
torched a vill
found an old mama-san
who was setting a bobby trap for us
it blew her hands off
we just stared as she bled to death
she just glared back

stepped over ole Luke the gook
burnt, charred and gooey by napalm
we call ’em crispy critters

watched the funeral of an eight year old boy
in the vill at hill 65
the V.C. had slit his throat
because his father had helped us

I’ve got the screaming shits again
Had to slit my cammies always squatting
Doc gave me some tiny white pills
told me to eat C-rat cheese
begged, borrowed and stole C-rat toilet paper
my asshole is a faucet…

dry season is here
it was 114 degrees yesterday
humped fourteen hours
seven dudes passed out

platoon got ambushed
purple hearts for everybody
lost half my gun team
and most of the squad
was hit tee tee
by a B-40
but greased their ass
payback is a motherfucker

second platoon was overrun
on no-name hill
gooks in the wire!
Most of the platoon
was K.I.A.
N.V.A. took Tex alive
cut off his balls
and sliced him open
Fuck the Geneva Convention

what’s left of the company
got three days R&R in China Beach
beer and steak
boom, boom and dope
more nicky new guys
back in the bush

on a patrol
lost one man
had a million dollar wound
but he died of shock!
he only had two weeks in country
can’t remember his name

big operation
buck, buck two solid weeks
105s, 155s, phantoms and Puff the Magic Dragon
saved our asses
played some heavy rock and roll
with my lady M-60

in country five months
out of the six I came with
I’m the only one left…

Hear back in the world
Jody has been busy
And the long hairs are rioting.
If I make it back
gonna kick some ass and take some names

Doors got a new jam
“It’s all over for the unknown soldier”
Blood Sweat and Tears got a new jam
“And When I Die”
It’s a rock and roll war

fuck it, it don’t mean nothing

on a four man killer team
we did the J.O.B.
get some Mac Marine
payback is still a motherfucker

Drew a bulls eye on the back
of my flak jacket
Fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke
on my helmet I wrote
Kill First, Die Last, Burn and Destroy
so much for their hearts and minds

the company assaulted on line
swept through a V.C. vill
it was a “Search and Destroy”
but we got it reversed again…

the odds are crazy
don’t think I’ll make my twelve and twenty

company got hit
sweeping through Dodge City
Beacou Med-Vacs
more nicky new guys

I’m in my seventh month
getting close to being short

nothing to eat but C-rats
nothing to drink but river water
haven’t washed in weeks
got use to the smell
but my skin is crawling
dream of frosty vanilla milkshakes
and women with round eyes and big tits

on a patrol
it rained grenades
I got hit again
two weeks on Hill 327
14 nights in a hospital bed!
but they sent me back

during a “Search and Destroy”
all we found were booby traps
lost four men
my old buddies are gone
dead, wounded or crazy
got to saddle up
got to hump
got to dig in
got to stay alive
got to pray
got to kill

it don’t mean nothing.

The Casualty

I laid between the crisp white sheets
trapped in the folds
of the hospital corners
bleeding from wounds
no one could see
dreaming
sweating
floundering
in the surreal nightmare
of my fears, trauma and remarkable survival…
a scarred statistic
unconsciously mourning
his dead youth (Killed In Action)
and not really sure of anything
especially all
once held to be noble
staring up at the ceiling
hour after day after week
counting the cracks
in my mind

Who Was I … What Had I Become?

5 a.m. in Kennedy airport
sitting alone sipping coffee
in an almost empty terminal
staring blankly
trembling slightly
a few silent travelers hurry past
ignoring the slumped teenager
who stared at nothing
but felt everything

In a glass wall reflection
I saw a stranger
stiff in the uniform of his country
owning the heart of a frightened child
and the eyes of a ruthless survivor
a man-boy
caught in a whirlpool of emotions
drowning in a sea of blood
spinning…spinning…lost

The past overwhelmed the present
death and hate battled relief and gratitude
blood lust and gore haunted the survivor
nightmares smothered reality
(reality…what the hell is reality?)
pain mingled with confused fear
who was I…what had I become?

It was time to leave
a moment I had prayed to see for so long
and yet
an empty numbness ached
it was so hard to rise
a weight crushing, grinding me down
hailing a taxi
I headed home
nervous and worried
I had survived the war, but
who was I…what had I become?

All That I Wanted … All That I Found

I wanted to experience life
instead I destroyed it
I wanted to become a man
but became a guerrilla
I wanted to be brave
but became crazy
I wanted to be strong
but turned cold and hard
I wanted to follow my conscience and convictions
but lived by raw animal instincts
I wanted to help defeat my country’s enemies
but found my country didn’t care
I wanted to do what was right
and almost drowned in the wrongs
I wanted to be a hero
but returned a haunted casualty

from the rose colored glasses
of a teenaged idealist
to the sunken glazed stare
of a shell shocked veteran
all that I wanted
and all that I found
are questions screamed in my mind
that never make a sound

My Rage is Blind and So Is My Country

I am sorry
the grinning boy who left
returned such an angry young man
trapped in a gun barrel
impaled on the flag
dreaming with ghosts
and covered with scars
you could never see
never touch
never comprehend

My stolen youth
shattered ideals
broken dreams
and dead eyes
don’t belong anymore
to your pampered Pepsi generation
with their fists in the air
and their heads in the sand

It’s no one’s fault
your love couldn’t kiss
the blood off my hands
or calm the horrors
that scream in my sleep
or soothe the torment
of my betrayed patriotism
or hide your revulsion
from my private hell

I am sorry
your pained doe eyes
wept and pleaded
for the cold hard man
to put down his drink and leave
and for the grinning boy to return
but their innocence couldn’t see
he was killed in action
sent home
and buried alive
by his country’s hostile indifference

I am sorry
my back is to the wall
as my angry pen
spits out these words
but…
the war has stolen my tears
turned my heart into a rock
marooned me with my own blood lust
and left your eyes
reflecting a violent stranger
that scares us both

I’m sorry
your hidden romance
and rebound marriage
to my secret understudy
made it all seem
like a poorly written soap opera
but the show must go on!

Now I am where I need to be
alone
and a thousand miles away
from yesterday
fighting a war in my head
and healing slowly
so very, very slowly
there’s no other way
there’s no one to blame
my country is blind
and so is my rage.

The Unwritten Poem, By the Forgotten Man

Remember the night we first met
and I kept staring
you thought I liked your girlfriend
instead of you
but I didn’t

remember our first date
the picnic at the park
you pushed me in the pond
and laughed while I almost drowned
but I didn’t

remember the first time we made love
it just happened by itself
you were afraid
and thought I was using you
but I didn’t

remember that summer night
we held each other and cried
because we were so happy
and you thought we were being silly
but I didn’t

remember that big fight
and the things we said we didn’t mean
I drove away cursing
and you thought we’d break up
but I didn’t

remember our wedding day
and the joy we shared
we held one another all night
and kissed for hours
you said I fell asleep first
but I didn’t

remember when I answered the call
how brave you were
we talked about our plans
the children we would have
and the life we would live
when I came home from Vietnam
but I didn’t

 

 

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He Said That? 5/18/17

From “My War,” by Fleabaggs:

One of my closest buddies from school got drafted and found himself in Bumdeal Vietnam where nothing ever happened. He’s standing in a wet trench in the Monsoon for hours every day waiting for nothing to happen. Then he gets to go back to a smelly sandbag hooch to rest and his buddy is escaping to La La Land with some pot and a squeeze tube of morphine from a kit. 3 months later he’s sharpening his needle on a nail file and cooking smack over a Zippo, wondering how this happened. He’ll be able to quit pretty easy when he gets home he thought. But I just can’t go back out there tonight without it. Just 8 more months. On the flight home he gathered up what little dignity and self-respect he had left, thinking that he was still a hero for sticking it out. A month later that little shred of hope was gone.

He had no idea how he killed that many old women and babies without remembering at least some of the details. So much for the quitting. 2 years later he died with a needle in his arm. I’m not excusing our bad decisions after we saw the farce that it was. I’m saying that was what happened and that we had lots of help getting to that point. We were not going to disgrace our families by deserting or going to Leavenworth and getting a BCD. So we put on our best pair of man pants, sucked it up and muddled through.

 

My War, by Fleabaggs

This is the most important story SLL will post this month, or maybe ever. It’s an honor to post it. Read it beginning to end and study the pictures. This is the story Americans don’t want to hear, and these are pictures from which they avert their eyes. From Fleabaggs, a Vietnam War veteran:

I have started to write this a hundred times in 49 years. I would like to have used Our War but don’t want to presume to speak for all us Nam Vets still alive who were really there for a year or more. Nor can I speak for all the families of Nam Vets and all the millions of Vietnamese whose major crime was living in Vietnam at the time.

I do presume to speak for myself and my dead buddies who told me their stories as we commiserated in a dark corner of a seedy gin mill where we had been banished. I do presume to speak for some of the families I knew and my mother and the civilians who had an impact on me while I was there. I’m going to show you a picture of a few whose story never made it to the U.S. It’s shocking so stop here if you want to remain comfortably absolved in your sweet fantasy of non-involvement. This is not about “ME,” it’s about us.

Please indulge me while I set the terms of engagement here. I’m not worried about what you think of me or my views. When I say ‘THEY’ you know who “THEY” are so don’t jerk my chain with that kind of stuff. Go back to the Miley video you were watching. When I say “YOU” you know if you are “YOU” or not. If you are not “YOU,” but are offended that I might mean you, go to your therapist and ask her how you became such a thin-skinned oversensitive little prick.

This is not a Rambo story either. For the majority of us guys who were there from Jan. 68 onward, shooting and being shot at was the easy part. The hard part was the rest of what war is about. If you were in Khe Son in 68 or something like that, then yes that was hard. And just to qualify that I know what I’m talking about, I’ve been pinned so low by some guy with a 47 that I was scooping a hole with my cheekbone to get my head lower as my hair was being parted. I was also on my feet moving around 22 or 23 hours a day with very little food. When we got 1 or 2 hours to rest we were so wired we couldn’t sleep. We found a spot to lay down and listen to our heart pound and then back on our feet for 3 weeks straight. TWICE.

Combine that with having seen the proof that it was all staged and I cracked up. When I came to I was trying to choke a buddy and I just started bawling uncontrollably. I was never the same again. In hindsight I realize I made a choice to never feel ever again and set out to do just that.

One of my closest buddies from school got drafted and found himself in Bumdeal Vietnam where nothing ever happened. He’s standing in a wet trench in the Monsoon for hours every day waiting for nothing to happen. Then he gets to go back to a smelly sandbag hooch to rest and his buddy is escaping to La La Land with some pot and a squeeze tube of morphine from a kit. 3 months later he’s sharpening his needle on a nail file and cooking smack over a Zippo, wondering how this happened. He’ll be able to quit pretty easy when he gets home he thought. But I just can’t go back out there tonight without it. Just 8 more months. On the flight home he gathered up what little dignity and self-respect he had left, thinking that he was still a hero for sticking it out. A month later that little shred of hope was gone.

He had no idea how he killed that many old women and babies without remembering at least some of the details. So much for the quitting. 2 years later he died with a needle in his arm. I’m not excusing our bad decisions after we saw the farce that it was. I’m saying that was what happened and that we had lots of help getting to that point. We were not going to disgrace our families by deserting or going to Leavenworth and getting a BCD. So we put on our best pair of man pants, sucked it up and muddled through.

We were typical of the other vets I knew who are gone or are so far into the psychiatric machine they will likely never resurface. We all fell off a Norman Rockwell calendar and into a bankers’ war. It never occurred to us that the government would lie to start a war. Why should we? Our parents would think God lied before they would believe the government would lie. Presidents and Congressman lied sometimes, but not the U.S. government.

We left thinking we were heroes. Our moms gushed with pride at us in our uniforms, the girls went ga ga, we were part of something we could believe in, we marched to John Philip Sousa in boot camp, life was good.  Here is something I posted to describe what it was like for me and so many others I knew. Some people online were giving what I thought were moralizing sermons when they commented on the anniversary of the Mar.16 My Lai massacre and Lt. Calley.

I was there for the 68 TET offensive, the counter offensive and 2 mini Tets. I would never dream of sitting down next to a woman who is 8 months pregnant in the august heat and say “I know how you feel Darlin”. when you’ve been shot at from 50 ft. by someone you can’t see and are required to call in for permission to shoot back. When 2 little boys blow themselves up while trying to blow you up, when you see one of their arms twitching 30 ft. away. When you go without sleep or food while on your feet moving around for 3 weeks twice. When you see Westy dining with Raquel Welch in the light of a patio and you’re heart and guts and balls ache so bad you cry inside. when someone at the airport tries to gently tell you that you have white hippy spit down the back of your Dress Blues. When 45 years later that same liberal hippy wearing birkenstocks extends his faggy hand and says “THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE”. When your family is ashamed of you. When you are treated like a freak at the VA Hospital and you have to see a shrink just to get medical attention. When you no longer have anything to believe in and you fall into booze and drug induced self pity, laying in the gutter with your pants full of crap and you piss yourself just for the warm feeling. When you’re down to 100 pounds with no teeth in a dark parking lot trying to give a blowjob for a drink or a hit. When you cry your heart out wondering what the hell is wrong with you. When you just murdered your dog for protecting your sweet mother over not giving you more drinking money. When she looks at you with hurt and despair and says “how could anything like you come out of my womb. When you’ve turned your back on a desperate woman begging for money with a dead baby because you were brainwashed into thinking she was going to buy weapons with a crummy dollar while never thinking she may have a live baby to feed in an alley somewhere. Then I’ll talk to you about Lt. Cally.   You didn’t rob my buddy and the rest of us of what little dignity we had remaining. You ripped it out of our souls violently and left a gaping sucking wound that never healed. It scabbed over a little but we could always feel it. Meanwhile you let the bankers off free. Some of you didn’t mistreat us but you didn’t defend us. How many of you canceled you accounts in protest or sold your stocks or did anything but lower your eyes and say “I don’t want to hear about that”.

Most of that was from my own story but others turned it inwardly. I never had the opportunity to do what Calley did while on duty. But after my crack up I did indeed take the low road off duty with some American civilians because I knew I could, so I don’t claim sainthood. I was young and wanted to repay someone or anyone. I took the evil and the evil took me. It made me it’s Bitch. It took me places I didn’t want to go and did things I didn’t want to do with people I didn’t want to do it with.

Many more committed a 100 forms of suicide. Violence, drugs, booze, etc. Few did what I did. Before any of that happened though I would like to show you some pictures of what we saw frequently after Tet. Refugees coming in by the thousands from burned out villages with nowhere to go except to the next large village until they reached the bigger cities. We had no idea how to cope with what we saw. 3 months of SERE training don’t prepare you for this kind of suffering. An old man and 2 old women in an alley where he is offering sex with them in desperation. The look on their faces. The woman I mentioned with the dead baby. She was too old to sell her body but not old enough to get the pity of an old Mama San. When I got home people told me I was exaggerating or lying. Do you have any idea how bad that knife feels. The 2 kids in the top picture would most likely end up like the one in the bottom. This was done to him purposely. We saw hundreds of these kids who were maybe 9 or 10. How the one in this picture lived this long is a genuine miracle. They had their bones broken and reset in the most horrible positions but always with one hand able to beg for money. Then they were starved to the point where a leg would look like your thumb. After that they were dragged out at daylight and dragged in at dark for the rest of their unfortunate lives. They were wherever there were Americans with money. This was done with our full knowledge and consent. How? All the reporters, politicians, bureaucrats, USO performers and Top Brass saw this and yet it never got reported to my knowledge. The kids who were cute and unscarred were sold to the sex vendors for sex and torture or anything the new owner wanted. If we break down into chaos because of any of the 100 train wrecks coming and you are separated from your kids and you don’t think this will happen to them, you might want to rethink that. Make arrangements for them even if you don’t believe it will happen here. If you had the money you could buy anything in Saigon. I’ll give you just one of many reasons I know what I know. I shacked up with the sister of the vice president’s mistress for 3 months. There was no welfare or self pity checks over there. Life would chew you up in a New York minute. She had a kid in a convent to pay for in the Philippines. I’m not willing to incriminate myself explaining the money for that or where I got so much info on the real deal. I was young, adventurous, outgoing and curious and people have always wanted to confide in me. I never ask, I let them talk and I don’t violate their inner sanctuary by laughing or putting them down or analyzing them by running it through my sick mind and telling them what they really just said.

Then there were the feral children all over. In spite of my determination not to feel again they always won our hearts over. The affection and care they had for each other in spite of everything was heart warming. They knew the deal and they weren’t about to be caught by the goon squads. No one that I knew could avoid seeing these kinds of things very long and after 3 months here we all knew how phony it all was. Seeing all these people suffer over it just made it harder for us to cope with. After we got home and endured the abuse heaped on us there was no longer anything to believe in for most of us. The results of that kind of demoralization was felt by our families in ways we will never fully know. I went to visit the parents of some of my buddies before the funeral as was the custom for close friends. It’s impossible to describe the hurt and despair. These were the nice guys, not the selfish wretches like me.

I think it’s timely that I waited this long to write this. We haven’t learned from watching this new group of our youth coming home perhaps even more messed up than we were. We seem hell bent on sending even more “over there” to make the world safe. Our own country is nearing civil war and I read comments online of a kind of eagerness to see it that troubles me. I don’t think that group of people knows what that will be like. Killing a fellow human being is incredibly hard, ugly and messy. It will follow you forever and if you do it because you could instead of because you had to, which many will do. I can only pray that it won’t be one of you reading this. There is a fine line between defense and just meanness because you know you can get away with it.

I’m done now. I wanted to write more but it’s not there. I made a promise to God that I would do whatever I thought he wanted me to do fearlessly for the rest of my life to make up for the evil I did in the old one. I don’t know if I have yet but when I do face him shortly I will be able to say I was no coward in these 35 years of peace he has given this undeserving wretch. I was never presumptuous enough to ask him to let me in heaven, I only asked for freedom from the torment in this life and he granted it. I have never taken a dime of anyone’s crazy money or the meds that go with it. Please don’t insult me with that welcome home stuff or thank you for your service stuff. I don’t play that.

I would like to thank Mr. Robert Gore of Straight Line Logic and gifted wordsmith who will soon be the first N.Y. Times best selling author residing in Gitmo for helping me with this and getting it posted. Also the people on TBP who encouraged me to do it.

Sincerely,

Crazy uncle Frankie Fleabaggs who lives in the attic.

Is It Our Duty to Fight When the Deep State Asks? by Bill Bonner

Bill Bonner asks an important question. From Bonner at acting-man.com:

And it’s one, two, three,

What are we fighting for?

Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn,

Next stop is Vietnam;

And it’s five, six, seven,

Open up the pearly gates,

Well there ain’t no time to wonder why,

Whoopee! We’re all gonna die.

Country Joe McDonald

Robert McNamara, next to a map of Vietnam…in 1964 he participated in propagating the “Tonkin incident” lie, a false flag incident which drew the US openly into the conflict (previously “US advisors” had been fighting covertly in Vietnam). By 1968 he became disillusioned and decided to resign – another million people died after he had left the scene. Photo credit: AP

We seem to have opened old wounds and inflicted new ones with our comments on the late Muhammad Ali. Over the last two days the Diary Mailbag has been like the Tet Offensive – with bullets flying and bombs exploding everywhere.

Few argue that the war was a good idea. But some believe it is a young man’s duty to fight whenever the Deep State asks – even with no vote in Congress and no chance that the enemy would ever pose a threat to the homeland.

In any event, whatever the U.S. military was trying to prevent happened nonetheless… and why ever it was trying to prevent it, it turned out not to matter anyway. About three million people died (the number of Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodians killed is very uncertain).

For what? Nobody knows. People are neither pure cowards nor undiluted heroes. It depends on the circumstances. Former secretary of Defense Robert McNamara was surely a coward for not coming forward and telling the nation the truth when it might have done some good.

McNamara is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction – the highest civilian honor awarded in the US. McNamara’s medal was eventually sold at an auction in 2014. Photo via natedsanders.com

In 1968, he accepted his medals – the Medal of Freedom and a Distinguished Service Medal – as a hero. But he didn’t mention that the war for which he was largely responsible was a mistake, even though he said later he had already come to that conclusion. At least another million people died in the war after he left the Pentagon.

It was nearly three decades later that he found the courage to tell the public, with tears in his eyes, that it was “wrong, terribly wrong.” (additional footnote: He went on to serve the Deep State as head of the World Bank).

Judging from our Mailbag comments, half our readers agree with him; they believe the Vietnam War was a mistake and anyone who went along with it was a fool. The other half doesn’t believe we should think about it at all; you did your duty… or you were a traitor. That was all there was to it.

To continue reading: Is It Our Duty to Fight When the Deep State Asks?

Vietnam War at 50: Have We Learned Nothing? by Ron Paul

From Ron Paul on a guest post at theburningplatform.com:

Last week Defense Secretary Ashton Carter laid a wreath at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington in commemoration of the “50th anniversary” of that war. The date is confusing, as the war started earlier and ended far later than 1966. But the Vietnam War at 50 commemoration presents a good opportunity to reflect on the war and whether we have learned anything from it.

Some 60,000 Americans were killed fighting in that war more than 8,000 miles away. More than a million Vietnamese military and civilians also lost their lives. The US government did not accept that it had pursued a bad policy in Vietnam until the bitter end. But in the end the war was lost and we went home, leaving the destruction of the war behind. For the many who survived on both sides, the war would continue to haunt them.

It was thought at the time that we had learned something from this lost war. The War Powers Resolution was passed in 1973 to prevent future Vietnams by limiting the president’s ability to take the country to war without the Constitutionally-mandated Congressional declaration of war. But the law failed in its purpose and was actually used by the war party in Washington to make it easier to go to war without Congress.

Such legislative tricks are doomed to failure when the people still refuse to demand that elected officials follow the Constitution.

When President George HW Bush invaded Iraq in 1991, the warhawks celebrated what they considered the end of that post-Vietnam period where Americans were hesitant about being the policeman of the world. President Bush said famously at the time, “By God, we’ve kicked the Vietnam Syndrome once and for all.”

They may have beat the Vietnam Syndrome, but they learned nothing from Vietnam.

Colonel Harry Summers returned to Vietnam in 1974 and told his Vietnamese counterpart Colonel Tsu, “You know, you never beat us on the battlefield.” The Vietnamese officer responded, “That may be so, but it is also irrelevant.”

He is absolutely correct: tactical victories mean nothing when pursuing a strategic mistake.

Last month was another anniversary. March 20, 2003 was the beginning of the second US war on Iraq. It was the night of “shock and awe” as bombs rained down on Iraqis. Like Vietnam, it was a war brought on by government lies and propaganda, amplified by a compliant media that repeated the lies without hesitation.

Like Vietnam, the 2003 Iraq war was a disaster. More than 5,000 Americans were killed in the war and as many as a million or more Iraqis lost their lives. There is nothing to show for the war but destruction, trillions of dollars down the drain, and the emergence of al-Qaeda and ISIS.

Sadly, unlike after the Vietnam fiasco there has been almost no backlash against the US empire. In fact, President Obama has continued the same failed policy and Congress doesn’t even attempt to reign him in. On the very anniversary of that disastrous 2003 invasion, President Obama announced that he was sending US Marines back into Iraq! And not a word from Congress.

We’ve seemingly learned nothing.

There have been too many war anniversaries! We want an end to all these pointless wars. It’s time we learn from these horrible mistakes.

http://www.theburningplatform.com/2016/04/04/vietnam-war-at-50-have-we-learned-nothing/

He Said That? 8/29/15

After a class for schoolchildren, conducted by the U.K.-based Mines Advisory Group, about the dangers of still unexploded ordnance and the psychological and physical wounds from exploding bombs during the US bombing campaign of Laos (1964-1973) in conjunction with the Vietnam War, a member of the group asked the children what they would say it they met some of the people who dropped the bombs. A young Laotian boy raised his hand:

I would tell him they should pay us money.

Consider the horrifying statistics. The US dropped two million tons of ordnance on Laos, about 2,000 pounds for each of approximately 2 million Laotians. More than 270 million cluster bomblets and four million big bombs were dropped. It’s a wonder anyone in Laos survived, but the bombs’ danger has remained for thirty years. Approximately 80 million of the bomblets and 10 percent of the big bombs did not explode. They litter the Laotian countryside and everyone knows somebody who was maimed or killed stepping on or digging up unexploded bombs.

To date, the US has spent $12 million to remove the live bombs. It spent $13 million a day bombing Laos for 9 years. It recently spent $140 million on its new embassy in Laos. $12 million is a rounding error and an egregious insult. If the US government did to its citizens what it did to Laos’s, personal injury suits would send it into bankruptcy. Those who perpetrated this travesty should be tried for war crimes.

Nothing is going to compensate Laos for the terror, destruction and death inflicted by the US’s nonstop, indiscriminate bombing campaign, or for the danger and devastation caused by unexploded bombs for over three decades. There is nothing untoward about the little boy’s request. What is an unmitigated evil is the pittance offered for remediation, and the complete lack of monetary compensation. Candidates will thump their chests about “American Greatness” during the election season, but America’s treatment of Laos has been pathetic and immoral. If America wants to take the very long road back to greatness, it must address its guilt in Laos, just as it has insisted that Germany and Japan address their guilt for WWII.

The quote, facts and figures come from The National Geographic, “Life After the Bombs,” August, 2015. The one redemptive note in the article is the resilience and spirit demonstrated by the Laotian people since the war.

From the Fall of Saigon to Our Fallen Empire, by Christian Appy and Nick Turse

Every nation whitewashes its wars and the US is no exception. Here’s an outstanding examination of the Vietnam War and the subsequent whitewashing, from Nick Turse and Christian Appy at tom dispatch.com, via antiwar.com:

“It just started out as a simple goodbye song,” James Douglas Morrison told reporter Jerry Hopkins. “Probably just to a girl, but I could see how it could be goodbye to a kind of childhood… I think it’s sufficiently complex and universal in its imagery that it could be almost anything you want it to be.”

To me, the song always was and always will be about the Vietnam War. If you know it – and you will the instant you hear the first notes and the shivering tambourine – you know it as “The End.” And if you know the man who sang that song, it’s probably not as James Douglas but simply Jim. What you may not know about the Doors’ lead singer is that his father, George Morrison, commanded the U.S. Naval fleet during the August 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, an event fraught with missteps, distortions, and deceptions that precipitated an escalation of the American War in Vietnam ultimately ending in millions of casualties and almost unimaginable suffering.

Jim Morrison’s father is not, however, the reason I think of the Vietnam War when I hear that song. I owe that instead to Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 film Apocalypse Now, which begins with “The End” and ends with it, too. When people write about it, they often remark on the naked Oedipal imagery – “Father? Yes son. I want to kill you. Mother? I want to…,” howls Morrison. But whoever selected “The End” as the theme music for Apocalypse Now must have heard what I heard. It begins like bad poetry, mutates into a furious, profanity-laced tirade, only to glide into a creamy, dream-like ending. A smattering of lyrics along the way seem to capture the nightmare atmosphere of the American War in Vietnam.

“This is the end, beautiful friend
This is the end, my only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end…”

Forged in the fading afterglow of World War II, America’s plans for a righteous nation to save a backward people were elaborate indeed. To Washington, the Vietnamese seemed to be

“Desperately in need of some stranger’s hand
In a desperate land…”

America’s moral superiority, its ingenuity, its technological know-how, its military might were unstoppable; with a requisite number of quislings in tow, the fall of those Southeast Asian dominos would be arrested, communism would be stopped, and a Cold War battle won.

“The West is the best, the West is the best
Get here, and we’ll do the rest…”

It turned out that the West wasn’t the best, that all those Pentagon computers and statistical analyses and bombs and artillery shells and napalm and tanks and airplanes and helicopters and rifles and Swift boats and the generals who, as younger men, had defeated Germany and Japan during World War II, and the boys of the milk-and-honey baby boom toting those rifles and driving those tanks and dropping that napalm couldn’t actually do “the rest.” It turned out that Americans never won over more than a minority of the Vietnamese and, despite years of some of the most destructive warfare the world had ever seen, could not defeat the majority of them.

“It hurts to set you free,
But you’ll never follow me,
The end of laughter and soft lies,
The end of nights we tried to die,
This is the end.”

America’s grand plans later revealed themselves to be bankrupt. Bombing millions into slums and refugee camps didn’t necessarily mean those people would follow you. Soft lies mouthed by the military at 5 p.m. each evening were no substitute for actual victories. Laughter and glad-handing and talk of easy triumph were repeatedly blown apart. By the time it was all over, by the time the end had come, the entire American effort had hemorrhaged and bled out in a million hamlets across South Vietnam.

Jim Morrison recorded “The End” in 1966, when the American project in Vietnam still had life in it. Unlike his father, who passed away in 2008, he never saw the end of the Vietnam War, though the writing was already on the wall. He died in France – the country whose war in Vietnam the Americans had bankrolled and then taken over – in 1971.

Today, as TomDispatch regular Christian Appy notes, the end of that war – a time of devastating defeat for the United States and relief, if not liberation, for most Vietnamese – has been rebranded to suit American tastes and so offers a hint of what may come when other ends arrive in our present crash-and-burn conflicts in the Greater Middle East. As in his magisterial new book, American Reckoning: The Vietnam War and Our National Identity, – rightly termed “required reading” by the Huffington Post – Appy examines the lasting impact of the Vietnam War on American foreign policy, culture, and national identity and draws attention to the lessons it offers for today and the many tomorrows to come.

In a 1969 interview, Jim Morrison said that he was once approached by an attractive young woman “on leave” from UCLA’s Neuropsychiatric Institute. She said “The End” was a favorite of the kids in her ward. The woman had puzzled over the lyrics, trying to divine the song’s meaning, trying to break it down and piece it together. “I didn’t realize people took songs so seriously and it made me wonder whether I ought to consider the consequences,” Morrison observed.

Not considering the consequences turns out to be a very American trait, as Appy explains today, and so does refashioning history to make up for it. When the end finally comes in Iraq and Afghanistan, soft lies, willful amnesia, and rampant revisionism are bound to follow fast and furious; where the truth will be found remains to be seen. Sadly enough, a song already almost 50 years old may be as good a place to start as any. ~ Nick Turse

http://original.antiwar.com/engelhardt/2015/04/26/from-the-fall-of-saigon-to-our-fallen-empire/

To continue reading the Christian Appy part of the article: How to Turn a Nightmare into a Fairy Tale 40 Years Later