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Wasted Lives in Vietnam

An op-ed in the WP by Harold Meyerson laments the embrace by American business of manufacturing in Vietnam because the quasi-Communist government there keeps wages low. What was the point of fighting for democracy there, if we prefer a non-democratic government? The Republicans talk a good game of loving democracy, but a dollar trumps politics for a Republican any day.

A lot of Vietnam veterans have embraced the new Vietnam, but there is a difference between loving your enemies and making a buck off of them because they are being kept in poverty by their government. On the other hand, the lives of many Vietnamese are clearly better today than they were years ago.

We’ve been through this before, when both Germany and Japan came back from defeat in WW II to challenge the US economically. But in that case we defeated the governments, and the challenge came from western style government that we liked. That’s not the case in Vietnam.

For Vietnam veterans, an additional cut is that the people making money from Vietnam tend to be people or children of people who avoided service in Vietnam. I guess this proves to them that they were right — that the war was evil and that Vietnam veterans were sadistic baby-killers. But as a Vietnam veteran, I don’t think that was the case. In most cases those who went to Vietnam were just submitting to the rule of law by submitting to the draft. Others believed the idealistic vision of stopping Communism and creating a better world. Both are being stomped on by American businessmen today. They wear American flag lapel pins and profit from the hardships imposed by the government that defeated America because these money-grubbing businessmen opposed the war and would not serve. They and their children by and large do not serve in the military today in Afghanistan or Iraq.

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