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Frank Dorell forwarded me your essay concerning Bob Kerrey and the Vietnam war. Very well stated and on target, as you always are.
I talked to the technicians at Wright Patterson AFB in Dayton who developed the first miniaturized phonograph player, and the USAF produced a million of them with a tiny record that was a campaign speech by Ngo Dinh Dziem, and when they dumped them into "South" Vietnam (another major lie, that is was two countries, when even the South Vietnam Assembly resolved that it was one county and could not be divided, especially by an arbitrary "military demarcation line" set by the Geneva accords for the sole purpose of separating hostile forces until an election occurred) people were fascinated by the toy, and it gave free publicity and a rigged "election" result to put him in as president.
Allen Dulles and Cardinal Spellman (read: CIA and Knights of Malta) took Diem out of a US seminary, introduced him to John F. Kennedy, and promoted him as the savior of democracy in Vietnam. Eventually, the CIA had him executed to put in even more venal leaders, Thieu and Ky, trained in France by the previous colonial forces.
Vietnam, once the rice capital of the world, now imports almost all of its rice due to what Agent Orange and the bomb craters did to the soil and the separation of fresh and salt water.
I once compiled a book, which I never wrote, called Our Unassessed Heritage: Ecocide, Ethnocide and Genocide in Vietnam. The entire trophic ecosystem was shattered there, Bubonic plague became pandemic for the first time since the Middle Ages, and the native and indigenous multi-cultures were exterminated.
As you note, the war continues to this day in its horrible effects, and people here and there are still dying from it. Three times as many veterans committed suicide on returning home as died in combat, over 150,000, when the VA cut off releasing statistics in the 1970s. The Vietnamese government under Thieu and Ky similarly refused to release further statistics when the birth defect rates reached 25%.
I worked with GIs and with returning veterans of that war for years, and they are all haunted by the lie and what they were forced to do. There is still hardly any forum for the truth that must be told before this country can heal or take enough responsibility to change. Denial and national amnesia are what the system wants so it can continue to fight its wars abroad and here at home.
"Vietnam syndrome" as they call it, continues to keep them from trying to draft GIs again, and from even issuing live rounds to ground troops in Saudi Arabia until they entered Kuwait, fearing they would turn the loaded guns against the white officer corps instead (as had happened in Vietnam), and from allowing live press coverage anywhere near the front lines, who may be openly in revolt.
"It's bad for the morale of the soldiers and back here at home," Gen. Alexander Haig said about media coverage of wars. Haig opined, "You can't determine foreign policy based on the lowest common denominator of public opinion. Do you know that if you polled the American people about the US carrying out a war abroad, the vast majority would say no? Now how are you going to base a foreign policy on that?" Instead, we have a domestic policy of lies, denial and the death of democracy.
Kerry's admission opened up a door for a dialogue that has been waiting to happen for decades. Almost 5 years ago draft resister David Harris, in his book Our War  called for forums nationwide between veterans and protesters to get at the heart of the lie of that war and to heal ourselves. The Vietnamese sent a lovely offer to Kerry to heal himself by returning to help rebuild the country, as you suggest to him, and as many veterans have done already.
Senator Kerry is also in a position to call for reversing the decision on paying war reparations to Vietnam, which was blocked ostensibly because of the (phony) POW/MIA movement and Vietnam's supposed reluctance to help locate people. Never mind that they could not locate their own war dead due to a serious lack of survival resources. Rather, we demanded they put our dead or missing first on the agenda. Now they cooperate in the searches but the policy of no reparations remains intact.
Many talk about charging Kerrey with a war crime, and note that he seems to be lying about what his unit really did that night once he was forced to address it by another veteran's confession. The mainstream press has been bent on continuing the silence, and has been working hard to forgive Kerrey of things he has not even forgiven himself for.
The "fog of war" defense did not work when we took the German and Japanese forces to trial after WWII. And the officers were charged, not the second lieutenants. It might be proper to put the architects on trial here, like Kissinger and McNamara and those who remain.
But more important than that by far is opening the can of worms of the reality of the war in Vietnam and facing the part all of us had in it, whether we fought, resisted, supported from afar or ignored it.
In 1936, Thomas Merton was prescient in saying that "If America fights Hitler, we will become Hitler." In fact, the Nuremberg defense most commonly used by Hitler's henchmen was that they had learned about genocide, sterilization, and concentration camps from the United States and its treatment of the indigenous population here. Until we face our long history of genocide, we will continue to involve each new generation in its continuance.
Thanks for saying what you did, I hope we can organize an ongoing discussion while the door is open a crack. I'd be glad to help it along. And "coming clean" about our participation and our family's is the most important possible first step to getting at the truth and letting go of the pain we have held in secret for so long. Had we been able to talk about it honestly in the 1970s more of the veterans of Vietnam would be alive today.