America's Spiritual Death: It's Time to Learn the Dark History of the U.S. You Were Robbed of ... and Oliver Stone Will Help
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Nothing will threaten Americans more in the coming decade than an irrational U.S. foreign policy that, in return for killing a handful of "senior Al Qaeda" leaders (often replaced by more competent deputies), has turned hundreds of millions of Muslims against it including countless potential suicide bombers. This foreign policy has greatly strengthened anti-U.S. forces, destabilized friendly or neutral governments, and as revealed by Wikileaks, vastly increased the danger that materials from Pakistan's nuclear stockpile -- the world's fastest growing and least stable -- will fall into terrorist hands. Today’s U.S. Executive Branch poses a far greater threat to U.S. national security, and to each of us, than to its foes.
Oliver Stone's words below pose basic questions: has Martin Luther King's warning come true? And if so, what can we do to promote the birth of decency, humanity and rationality in this spiritually dead nation of ours?
From Episode 7: "Vietnam, LBJ, Nixon and the Third World: Reversal of Fortune," from Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States”:
--“The accepted mythology of the time was the U.S. lost the war in Vietnam. But as linguist, historian and philosopher Noam Chomsky has pointed out, 'it's called a loss, a defeat, because they didn't achieve the maximal aims. The maximal aims being turning it into something like the Philippines. They didn't do that. They did achieve the major aims. It was possible to destroy Vietnam and leave.' Elsewhere he wrote,'South Vietnam had been virtually destroyed, and the chances that Vietnam would ever be a model for anything had essentially disappeared.'
When an aging and wiser Robert McNamara returned to Vietnam in 1995 he conceded, somewhat in shock, that despite official US estimates of 2 million Vietnamese dead, 3.4 to 3.8 million Vietnamese had perished. In comparison 58,000 Americans died in the fighting and 200,00 were wounded.
The U.S. had destroyed 9,000 of South Vietnam's 15,000 hamlets -- in the north all six industrial cities, 28 of 30 provincial towns, and 96 of 116 district towns. Unexploded ordnance still blankets the countryside. Nineteen million gallons of herbicide had poisoned the environment. Almost all of Vietnam's ancient triple canopy forests are gone. The effects of chemical warfare alone lasted for generations, and could be seen today in the hospital in the South where Agent Orange was used. Dead fetuses kept in jars. Surviving children born with horrid birth defects and deformities. And cancer rates much higher than in the North.
And yet, incredibly, the chief issue in the United States was, for many years, the hunt for 1,300 American soldiers missing in action, a few hundred of them presumed taken as captives by the North Vietnamese. High-grossing action movies were made out of this topic.
No official apology from the United States has ever been issued, and absolutely no appreciation of the suffering of the Vietnamese.
President Bill Clinton finally recognized Vietnam in 1995, 20 years later. Ever since the war American conservatives have struggled to vanquish "the Vietnam Syndrome," which became a catchphrase for Americans' unwillingness to send troops abroad to fight.
For a war that so mesmerized and defined an entire generation, surprisingly little is known about Vietnam today among American youth. This is not accidental. There has been a conscious and systematic effort to erase Vietnam from historical consciousness.
--Reagan: "It is time that we recognized ours was in truth a noble cause. We dishonor the memory of 50,000 young Americans who died in that cause when we give way to feeling of guilt, as if we were doing something shameful."