Post-Memorial Day Weeping And Seething
I had started something else, but was forcefully diverted. It will be published after, but I begin this on Memorial Day, 2015. Today on my favorite radio talk-show program, the entire program is set aside for callers memorializing those who died in America’s service. Accounts of lost children spouses and friends, some partners in battle, one of whom died in the caller's arms, left a sentimental man like myself wrung out. The sentiment is particularly stark when you were a boy in the then popular culture wake of the WWII triumph over evil and celebration of liberty and its civil and commercial fruit, who now watches that shared civic pride dissolve into a short-sighted narcissism and the dissolution of America’s ideals that were the engine of its unprecedented progress. With the substructure decaying, the historic edifice cannot survive as the unique center of innovation and social progress that it long was.
Those accounts are sobering and moving of course. But obviously along the way, discussion of Vietnam was raised. And the host lamented how contemporary students are taught that the Vietnam War was a foolish and immoral war, soldiers obviously having fought and been killed or injured needlessly. What a brutal message to send to their family and friends. Fortunately, most of those have a higher moral standard than the frivolous imaginings of insulated academic and media personnel. The supposed "morality" of these is usually an abstraction that is disconnected from human reality, and posited only in policies and cultural parades. As with other “progressive” policies, what happened in actual life was incidental. The high-minded policies were enshrined in public celebration and in text for admiration and self-congratulation.
The left are proud of their voluminous legal proscriptions of freedom and the majestic diktats of their chosen judges. That the poor and middle-class that they rhetorically champion have stalled or fallen in their real income, is of little consequence. As they bewail "income inequality” and the relative income span, their policies only exacerbate that matter. The wealthy progress as the poor and middle class do not. And be assured: the media and academics who champion these policies have no personal experience of the deprivations they impose on the lower classes. The suppression of lower incomes is the reality. But progressives glory is in the innumerable number and pages of law and regulation. The only way to know the detailed law relative to any activity is to search and study what is relevant to every specific action. At its conception and founding, America was intended to never be this way.
But if our legal state is chaotic and ugly, America’s record in the past half-century of abandoning military efforts for an unable and vulnerable people we had set out to defend is outright disgusting and shameful. As with progressive social policy, the disparagement of efforts like in Vietnam and now Iraq, give no consideration of the literally enormous human carnage and misery that follows in the wake of our abandonment. There were many who left the Democratic Party when they saw the millions of people robbed, killed and put in camps after we left. Jane Fonda still says that was all our fault. And now Rand Paul says “the hawks in our (Republican) party” are responsible for the development of ISIS, even though the Bush administration passed on a stabilized and peaceful Iraq before Obama prematurely withdrew all of our forces. I know ideology can define reality, but it’s hard to imagine that Paul could be serious. I wrote recently that while I still think Jeb Bush is unsuited to the demanding task of leading a reversal of this nation's moral and civil oblivion of the constitutional principle that built it, I was feeling that however in sadness, I would prefer him as a president to Chris Christie. And now, Bush rises another notch in the pecking order of my Republican preferences. Or more accurately I should say that another has fallen past him.
Linked below is a short video at prageruniversity.com of how we squandered the sacrifices and actually surrendered a victory in Vietnam. It and these callers reignite the total disgust I remember watching South Vietnam fall as a teenager, the grasping of doomed Vietnamese at the last helicopters departing Saigon. Not only were the tens of thousands of American sacrifices wasted, but millions of IndoChinese were subsequently slaughtered and many millions more suffered under communism afterward. And now, Democrats again have surrendered whom and what Americans had fought to defend in Iraq. And what terror has befallen those we abandoned? That's an incidental concern. We are out of there and have PEACE! Even Republicans now quickly say they would not have gone to war in Iraq "if they'd known then what we know now," which is surely one of the most frivolous and morally vacuous phrases ever conceived; perhaps an apt summation of pop-culture foolishness. Not even a mention of the demonstrative killings, rapes and enslavement?
Dennis Prager often asks the Vietnam War critics what they think of the Korean War. And they usually say they don't know much about Korea. Of course, the posturing and frivolous baby-boomers and their progeny were children or unborn during the Korean War. But the basic elements were the same as Vietnam, the north taken by communism and America defending the south from its advance. But President Eisenhower threatened utter destruction and drove the North Koreans and their Chinese patron to a settlement. South Korea was spared and American forces remained near the border with North Korea for almost 72 years since. Now South Korea is a vibrant industrialized and civilized Democracy. Like Japan a few decades before, their electronic products came to fill American homes, usually dominating their markets. And also, first entering their market at the economy end, South Korean automobiles now span that market, including the luxury class. North Korea meanwhile oppresses and starves its people with its non-production. You've probably seen the night satellite shots of the Korean Peninsula with its line between the glittering south and the dark north. Prager calls North Korea the world’s largest concentration camp. South Korea has flourished, but South Vietnam was overrun, brutalized and held captive.
Sometimes I criticize and haggle with the left. And sometimes I'm just seethe with scorn and hatred for the human misery they cause. Among Republicans, the foreign policy of Ron Paul is practically little different. And I've watched in astonishment as he shrugged his shoulders and shook his head at the potential brutalization of other peoples. His son Rand Paul's rhetoric has been a bit more practical. But he still speaks of American comfort and expense usually to the exclusion of growing foreign suffering and threat to America and the rest of the globe. They will say America can’t be the world’s police. And it’s true we can’t do everything. But we must calculate what we can do to keep the world stable and ourselves safe. Here is The Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens on that matter.
Like his father, Rand Paul is clear about fiscal and monetary priorities domestically. And like his father, he would defend an assaulted America...perhaps in response to great carnage and destruction he did little to prevent. Jeb Bush is more ambiguous about domestic priorities. But like his even more ambiguous father and brother, he wouldn't turn a blind eye to foreign threat and oppression. For his domestic ambiguity, Bush should be lamented. For his foreign dereliction, Rand Paul should be scorned.
And here is Bruce Hershensohn on how we squandered victory, our servicemen’s effort, and freedom and many lives in Vietnam.