Posted by Jack Heslin on 13:28:22 12/27/22
Who remembers the costs of the Vietnam War? I do.
In 1957 American President Dwight Eisenhower welcomed President Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam to Washington DC where enthusiastic crowds lined the streets to welcome President Diem. There is a short video of the event available on-line for those who might be interested. Ike welcomes Vietnam Chief.
Some of us can remember a young American President, John F. Kennedy who, in his famous inaugural speech of 1961, said We shall pay any price, bear any burden for the success of liberty. None of us knew that those words would lead to more than 58,000 Americans killed in a ten-year war in SouthEast Asia which would cost approximately 160 billion dollars, close to 1 trillion in today s dollars. None of us knew that the Vietnam conflict, it was never a declared war by the American Congress, would so fracture America that the wounds of that time would still fester in the American psyche to this day.
Is America going to repeat a history of foreign wars that will cause the next generation to bleed for yet another country, halfway around the world, that America has no treaty commitments with? Will the ever-escalating financial costs to the West to support the failed Ukraine government, lead to an economic disaster that could take a generation to recover from?
As we watch Western Europe and America s role in the Ukraine conflict grow by the day it is worth remembering the past and the costs in American blood and treasure.
The recent visit by the Ukraine President to Washington DC reminds me of the visit by President Diem in 1957. The political voices of support, today, for President Zelenskyy, sound like the political voices of the 1950 s and early 1960 s. The incrementalism of the President Kennedy administration putting American Special Forces advisors into Vietnam led to the first major battle of the war involving American servicemen in the battle of Ap Bac, January 2 3 1963. Three American advisors were killed and eight were wounded. Five American helicopters were shot down and destroyed. One might argue that the Battle of Ap Bac was the beginning of the ten year long war which would not end for America until the January 1973 peace agreement was signed in Paris.
After the treaty was signed America mostly abandoned South Vietnam which led to the catastrophic defeat of the Republic of South Vietnam. Some would argue that the power vacuum created when America abandoned South Vietnam led to the enormous loss of life in Cambodia at the hands of the communist Khmer Rouge under the leadership of the Marxist dictator, Pol Pot regime in 1975. Does anyone remember the domino theory ? Of the five remaining Communist countries today four of them are in Asia.
Will there be an Ap Bac of the Ukraine conflict? My hope is that America does not have a repeat of the Vietnam War. My hope is that political leaders will look back, read what was said by politicians during earlier conflicts, remembering the mistakes made and not repeat them in today s world.