Is It Our Duty to Fight? - Vivek Kaul's Diary
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Is It Our Duty to Fight?

Jun 11, 2016

  • 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

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.

Hero or Traitor?

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 US 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.

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.

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Jungle on Both Sides...

'What do you think?' we lobbed a softball at a cousin who had done two tours in 'Nam.

'I think I was an idiot for getting mixed up in it. The smart boys stayed in college...or went into the National Guard...or found some way to dodge out of it. I went in because I didn't have anything better to do.

'But your readers should give us all a break. Most of us didn't know what the hell we were doing. We did what we were told. We did what we had to do. Or we did whatever we could get away with.

'And you never know what will happen. I was a lieutenant in the Army. I was an engineer. I was supposed to be building runways and roads.

'Like Ali said, I had no quarrel with the Viet Cong. I didn't want to be there. And I damned sure didn't get in a fight with them. But you never know...

'One time, we were coming back from a patrol. I was leading it. We had just three Jeeps...four men to a Jeep. It was supposed to be a safe area. But I knew something wasn't right. It was too quiet.

'Then we came around a bend...I heard shots....and all Hell broke loose. One of my men slumped over. We couldn't tell where the shots were coming from. It was a jungle on both sides of the road. So we just blasted away with everything we had.

'Then I noticed that one of the guys behind me was just sitting there. It was the strangest thing. The middle of a firefight...and he was just sitting there.

'I yelled at him, 'What's the matter with you? Help us out here!'

'He said he couldn't. He said he was a conscientious objector.

'What the hell? How did a conscientious objector end up in my Jeep with the VC shooting at us? It took me a couple seconds to process that information.

' gun barrel was red hot from shooting. I pressed it to his forehead and I told him that if he didn't pick up his gun I was going to blow his head off.

'People are funny. I think I would have done it. And he got the message. He started firing his gun. I bet that to this day he's got a circle on his forehead.

'Patriotism? Fighting Communism? It's all bullsh**. We fought because we had to. Or we didn't know any better.'

BILL BONNER Founder, Agora Inc

Bill Bonner is the President & Founder of Agora Inc, an international publisher of financial and special interest books and newsletters.

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1 Responses to "Is It Our Duty to Fight?"

atanu gupta

Jun 11, 2016

Beautiful.heart touching.

Equitymaster requests your view! Post a comment on "Is It Our Duty to Fight?". Click here!