Re:war vs. anti-war.

Sun, 31 Aug 1997 23:15:29 +0000

This is an incredibly interesting thread. I didn't quite expect it be so when
I posted my first response to Joe's announcement. I am impressed that, for
the most part, this is a very civil and intelligent discussion, and I thank
all involved for making it so. My mind is blown that 25 years later the
discussion is so
1) relevant 2) passionate 3) polarized.

My wife and I went to see "Contact" last night and amid all of the
intergalactic, theological stuff running through my head, I found myself
thinking of this discussion. Never more so than when the character of Ellie's
Dad/THE "Alien", speaks of the dichotomy of the human species. "On one hand
you are capable of greatness while you are just as likely to create horror
(something along those lines)". And then to have that scene juxtaposed in my
head with the scene of the crazyness of the encampment by middle America
around the research facility.

Relevance? Maybe in a couple of ways.

We are indeed so small in the great scheme of things and our lives are so
precious -- the issues of our conversation seems almost seem so silly,
barbaric -- almost prehistoric. How much have we as a species really evolved,
all but physically.

Excuse my digression. I'm feeling kind of cosmic tonight.

RE: stuart levitan <>:
<Obviously some, even most, wars are heinous -- but every once in a
while there's one that's necessary.>

That is exactly the point! Some are and some aren't. This one clearly was not!

RE: Henry Beigh <>
<Seems to me that there are those of us who are still on a witch-hunt to
impose the judaeo-christian value of guilt on someone. "Someone has to
be responsible...">

At home we cry law and order. When a murder is committed our society is
committed to holding the perp accountable. Some states even kill killers.
Why then shouldn't the perps of war, whoever they may be, be held accountable
when tens of thousands are killed. Who's been held responsible for Viet Nam:
McNamara, Rusk, LBJ, Nixon, Kissinger, the military-industral complex, the
GI's? Who? Why the hell not?

TO: Bill Ehrhart <>

Hi. I'm the "someone named Miles who says he made the "right" choice during
the Vietnam War."
Yes, I did -- as did hundreds of thousands, probably millions of others did as well.

"Miles Who Made the Right Choice" doesn't quiet understand or get the
relevance of:
<I'd be very curious to know when Miles made the right choice (Was it 1965,
say, or 1971, or when?), and what price he paid for making the right choice
(Did he spend five years in federal prison, say, or live in exile in Canada
for a decade, or what?). Can anyone help me out here--perhaps Miles himself?>

With all due respect, Bill, and with considered seriousness, "What hell
difference does it make?"
You clearly do not agree with what I have previously written. How would you
present an argument that I did not make the right choice, or even that I made
the wrong choice, based on when I made that choice, or how I suffered for it.
Both are irrelevant and I kind of resent the questions and their implications!
However, in the interest of this discussion and with great interest in how
you are going to use the information: "I made my choice as a junior in high
school, I guess it was '66 or '67. I was getting ready for school one
morning, listening to 1010 WINS ALL NEWS ALL THE TIME (NYC), like always. The
newscaster, in what seemed to be the most casual way, related the breaking
story of a Buddhist Monk who just set himself on fire in the streets of
Saigon, in protest of the war. I freaked out. Never having done a political
thing in my life, except for watching the Nixon-Kennedy debates on TV, that
afternoon, with the help of one friend, I organized my first anti-war protest."

As far as how I suffered. That's so besides the point I almost feet that
shouldn't reply.
Lets just say that my scars, and those of thousands of my comrades are so deep
that 25 years later here I am spending my time engaging in this discussion,
rather than reading a bed-time with my kid, or getting it on with my wife.
However, I will quote Paula's wise words: "<I also want to say to those who
seem to see the antiwar movement of the sixties as self-serving antidraft
actions by elite college students, or some big fun sex and drugs party--if you
were there, you'd know; it wasn't like that. We, many of us, gave up careers
and put our hearts and selves and, often enough, freedom, on the line and
sometimes risked our lives trying to
end war...not just the Vietnam war, either.>

TO: Marcella Ruland:
<My father was in the Navy during the Vietnam War... I have and never will see
my father as a potentially wrong and evil man...>

I don't think I could say it any better than Ted Morgan did:

<"...VERY FEW people --and NONE that I know in the antiwar movement-- are even
inclined to "point fingers and say`these are evil people.' Please hear me on
that! "Even" Miles, after his initial comment triggered so many reactions,
clarifies his view (which I tend
to agree with both logically and personally: (1) war is wrong - therefore (2)
leaders are wrong and (3) warriors are wrong-- but this is a very different
proposition from "blame" and "evil." I think Henry Kissinger is an evil
person. I certainly don't think any higher proportion of Vietnam vets are
"evil" than most other groupings that come to mind. And, none of us is
"pure," right? I mean who in the antiwar movement doesn't think he or she
could have done more to bring the war to an end?">

And finally,
TO:Penny Williams:

You are the most difficult to respond to. As our CIC is fond of saying, I
feel your pain.
Truly, I do. You and I were born the same year. My friends left just like yours.

Yes, our losses were, and are, personal, but their context is political.

I don't believe anyone on this list will not be moved by your words:
<1.America's participation in the Viet Nam War was NOT wrong. For me, I will
not allow it to be wrong.
To do so would diminish the value of all the lives lost,...)

I am sorry, but YES, the war in Viet Nam was wrong! It was then, it is now,
and it will always be! The price paid doesn't turn a lump of coal into a
diamond -- no matter how much we want/need to believe that it has. I know that
feeling as though the war was not wrong makes us feel that there was some
kernel of sense to the losses. But it was wrong! I know that feeling that our
brothers did not die "in vain" must make your brother's POW experience just a
little less awful. But alas they did. The tragedy is that they all died in vain.

"The horror. The horror." - Brando as Kurtz, A.N.