There is always the potential to hit raw nerves when discussing the US on a forum like Medium, as I guess the majority of people are US citizens.
Having said that, the problem with the ‘fog of war’ being that the first casualty is the truth, I doubt anyone anywhere is able to give an accurate and true assessment of any wars. The stories that remain are the ones the victors like to tell, or those that make the various sides able to live with themselves: stories of cruel and unjust victimization by the losers, or being ‘invited in’ by whichever parties seem to have overstepped the line in terms of creating mayhem and inflicting death.
Against that background, arguing over the finer points of any war — especially the convoluted Viet Nam war — would be an exercise sans fin. But when you say The Americans did not know what a quagmire of a mess they were entering, this sounds like a lame excuse for what actually happened. To say that a nation that now spies as a matter of course on its own citizens had not done its homework before invading a country half way around the world can be seen as adding stupidity to the list evils involved. Was it really so, I wonder.
I no longer watch films and one reason is because they are all colorations of the facts. Two of the last ones I saw were G I Jane and Top Gun — rather sick-making fictional tributes to the very real military empire that is the US. Both were big hits as far as I know — Top Gun in particular blending sexual attraction (Take My Breath Away) in with military glory. That sort of mind manipulation is arguably why we have such a sick world. So I do not think commercially produced media is a balanced source of anything, given emotions such as those embodied in nationalism are involved. The film-making team know they have to ‘tell a story’ to add interest; who wants to watch anxious individuals running about for an hour and a half killing and maiming one another? But that is essentially what war is, albeit it can drag on for years or even decades. Reality is not understood from a cinema seat.
I have to point out that your response is a selected set of anecdotes re-enacted in a manner that obviously makes you feel you have in-depth knowledge. That may be the case as regards what you cite, but they are only anecdotes and details. If you zoom out from the details, Viet Nam was just one of a long list of military interventions where US culture has since concocted yet another set of excuses for yet another set of bloody actions in a foreign nation. Right from the start (Gulf of Tonkin) it relied on selling lies to the US public. At what point do you imagine that might have changed? It was certainly still going strong in 2003 with the WMDs in Iraq.
When you write So the Americans were asked to help make his country more civilized, I do not doubt that might be right. But all sorts of people all around the world are hungry for power and would be more than happy to have the US give them a leg up in that department. That does not change that a nation has to own its actions. The US was not forced into Viet Nam; it picked its side and fought a rather disgusting war which to this day still has visible effects. My father and brother visited it recently.
Once in, no president wanted to be the one to call us losers and pull out.
This is closer to the truth; an acknowledgment that national pride was at stake and prioritized over any sense of national moral conscience. Of course, even many people in the West could see the senseless barbarity of dropping all sorts of crap on defenseless civilian peasants, and many protested — but national pride is a terribly blinding state of mind. So-called leaders prefer their political glory and power base over the very lives their fellow human beings. And citizens can encourage them in that inhumanity. That is a tragedy of our human culture, and it is certainly not unique to the US. It is just exemplified in the US because it is such a huge imperialist power base.
Like John the TIB you often use the word ‘We’ when referring to US actions. So that you know who you are talking to, I should tell you that I never use that word when referring to anything done by the UK administration. I choose not to identify with that country on the rather silly basis that I happened to be born on a particular island off the West of Europe. I am somewhat responsible for actions taken there inasmuch as I have paid taxes to the government, but I am certainly not going to try to justify my role in those actions by embracing any form of UK nationalism. The point is, those in charge do not represent me, and so I feel no need to justify their often-wicked actions. I want a free mind — not one sold to the government at my expense. As long as you and others see yourselves as US citizens in the nationalist sense, your mind will remain colored and not impartial or able to see a bigger picture. This is basic psychology. Again, the US has no exclusivity on this, people who identify with their nations are basically the same the world over in this respect.
As regards your other points about Trump’s rogue political behavior compared to the Democrats business-as-usual agenda, I don’t see that even Trump is going to upset the apple cart in a significant way. He has already signed another huge arms deal with the Saudis — one of the most openly barbaric and misogynistic regimes on the planet — often accredited with funding ISIS, and certainly funding the Clinton Foundation — and all despite his promises of scaling back that sort of US activity.
The first time I ever heard the word ‘duopoly’ to describe the running of the US it had instant appeal for overcoming this myth that your votes are ever going to change much.
Amidst national apoplexy over the current state of US politics, the outsider can see that all the fuss reduces to so much inconsequential froth; it would be business-as-usual no matter who was elected. The MIC and other deep-state entities are too powerfully entrenched. Today’s US elections are effectively just to keep the public hoodwinked into the idea that they have a say.
The fact is the nation’s economy largely runs off war and the petrodollar. ISIS is a hugely overstated threat, as is Assad — all such hyped media horrors serving to intimidate the US population into consenting with all the militarism. Such a gag is one of the oldest tricks in the imperialist’s play book.
Maybe no one can stop the juggernaut of an empire. But that does not mean you have to fall for its propaganda.