Vietnam: Still an Unjust War

Military enthusiasts in Pennsylvania have begun re-enacting, not the Civil War, but the Vietnam War. The stated purpose is to honor and pay tribute to Vietnam veterans. “It was time for us to be proud of what were called on to do, even though it turned out to be a very unpopular thing,” said one Army veteran.

I know two Vietnam veterans that would disagree. James Glaser and Michael Gaddy are not proud of their service killing in Vietnam.

Since the death of Walter Cronkite, I have heard some conservatives moaning about some things he said during the Vietnam War.  After a lecture I gave earlier this summer, a critic in the audience tried to defend the Vietnam War. But the war in Vietnam wasn’t just a mistake or mishandled, it was an unjust war that senselessly slaughtered millions of Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians for the crime of being “commies,” “gooks,” or just being in the way. 58,000 American soldiers died while helping to perpetrate this slaughter. Why should we pay them tribute? The war in Vietnam is undefendable. It is still an unjust war.

Author: Laurence Vance

Laurence Vance holds degrees in history, theology, accounting, and economics. He has written and published twelve books and regularly contributes articles and book reviews to both secular and religious periodicals.

12 thoughts on “Vietnam: Still an Unjust War”

  1. So what are they doing in their re-enactments? Harrassing the local Asians? Booze and whores were popular, as I recall.

  2. Vietnam is the most misunderstood and historically misrepresented war in modern times. Most people beleive the misconceptions about it. Had it been won, or had things been going better and less soldiers died, maybe it would have been a popular war, who knows? People are funny, and stupid.

    A very one-sided arguement here, nonetheless.

    1. Dave Dave Dave,

      What are you thinking? Had it been won? How does one win an unwinnable war? How does one win an immoral, unconstitutional, unthinkable war? Millions of people killed, maimed and displaced. For what? A popularity contest? To prove how invincible America was militarily? We won every battle and lost the war. Deal with it.

      It's time to wake up and realize that we were lied into an unnecessary war (again) for no earthly reason.

    2. "Misconceptions"? Such as? You are very vague. War is not a popularity contest or a game where the "trophy cup" is victory. Were you around then Dave? I was. It was a terrible period. The country received a terrible scarring. Those were AWFUL years.

    3. Being popular is more important than doing what's right. Or is it, if something is popular that makes it right? Oh wait, wait, wait….I've got it: It doesn't matter how you play the game, it's whether you win or lose. Right?

  3. It was also an unjust war for the guys who were sent there too. Don't forget they had the draft then. The draft is involuntary servitude, – slavery – really.

    1. Getting angry at the vets is wrong. But YOU ARE WRONG in thinking they served their country. They served the military-industrial complex, certain corporate interests and the political and foreign policy "elites" in Washington. Kind of like the guys in Iraq today…..

  4. People who "serve their country" will decline to participate in illegal wars of aggression – "the ultimate crime". When those too stupid or brainwashed to resist participation in an illegal war see war crimes being perpetrated on a daily basis (as happens in most wars), even those have the duty to refuse to participate and will speak up if they seek to "serve their country."

    Even when people are too stupid to see through the propaganda, do not understand International law or the laws and constitution of the United States to which US soldiers swear allegiance, when they break these laws they are criminals even if they are criminals with medals or when they are victorious and thus allegedly, "popular criminals". People who commit war crimes are war criminals no matter what their reasons, no matter what defences they claim. Veteran criminals remain criminals. So each time you see a "vet" or "veteran" of an illegal war remember that by and large the full description being elided is "veteran criminal," even when they are "veteran fools" and criminals only for being too stupid to know better.

    1. Hermit, as I see it, your contempt for stupid people is a monument to your own lack of understanding of the mentality of the average 18 year old male in 1968. Most of us were kids that grew up with a sense of duty to our country. Our information of the world was limited to the local library and television. There was no internet and information was tightly controlled. How would we know that our government would use and decieve us. Its easy to look back on events call people stupid. The truth of the matter is this, It's happening again and we should know better.

      1. People are easily manipulated. I am sorry for what young people, especially men, were manipulated into doing in war and still are. The advertising, pressure, and manipulation are well-funded and aggressive. I am very sorry for what you endured. I

      2. doofratz,

        Just victims of the time? Unconscious lumps of clay with no moral agency or accountability?

        You should give 18-year-olds, even ones in 1968, more credit than that. And remember, there were 18-year-olds in 1968 that opposed the war, so it was possible.

    2. The veterans of Vietnam were mostly working-class men who had no choice in the matter. Their families included men who'd served in all America's 20th-century wars, and in their lights, when the country demanded they serve, they served. Most didn't have the resources to avoid the draft anyway; it was jail or Canada, and dishonor either way in the eyes of their families. We perpetuate the ugly slander that our Vietnam War troops were to blame for the war in order to run interference for the real perpetuators. How many privileged young in the '60s had parents with investments in the war machine? We were all to blame for the war, in a way, but the social strata that most profited from it should bear the brunt of the shame. But, no – we still sit on our fat asses and blame the troops fighting to survive in harm's way. What hypocrisy!

      1. We should take it up with the politicians – not blame the people in the military. The way the military folks were treated during the Vietnam War was not right. Vietnam was a tragedy in more ways than one.

    3. First off, I don't like being called stupid. I saw the anti-war crowd do some pretty radical things back in those days, all the drugs, free love, etc. I am a veteran of the Vietnam war. I did twenty three years service in the U.S. Navy and I am proud of it.

  5. We still bear the scars of the Vietnam. The wounds are deep and for the most part remain unhealed. America's leaders would repeat the same stupid illogic in the Afpakisnam and the Iraqnam. Quagmire is quagmire and the boots die or worse. We waste American treasure and our young for lies. How about America "reenact" the protests that crucified LBJ. Antiwar is antiwar.

  6. There's a big gap in thinking between those who are motivated by a Kantian logic of duty ("Duty, Honor, Country") and who try to work things through in a fact-driven way (the line of Aristotle and Aquinas). I am not a philosopher, but I know that those who jumped to volunteer after 9/11 had many different perspectives. Those who were of the type who would jump in and shovel a neighbor's car out of a snowbank based on decent concepts of neighborliness, and the sure knowledge that some old duffer is going to have a heart attack if they don't, are similar to those who felt the rest of us needed their help (Pat Tillman comes to mind). Later, they realized they had been deceived in various ways about the purposes of the war (Bush looking for bin Laden and WMDs under the couch). Those people are tragic victims of their own good will. It was as though the old duffer in the snowbank turned out to be some kind of organ thief, attracting only the most fit into his trap. A nightmare.

    The Vietnam War was different in that for most of its scourge, it drafted the young and set them against each other. The Baby Boomer generation could thus be gelded a bit. To some it represents a Lost Generation. Needless to say, it was a big generation. And those in it were made to feel guilty for the advantages into which they were born.

    Lessons should be learned from Vietnam. I think about them every time I look at a clothing label which bears the name of that country (not to speak of their alleged puppet master, Communist China). If left to their own devices, such countries must change, broken on the wheel of their faulty economic designs.

    Guns and butter anyone?

  7. Equal parts frustration, vanishing institutional memory, and lingering belief in "American Exceptionalism" are the only logical explanations for why anyone would "re-enact" any aspect of the Vietnam War (and how the heck does one "re-enact" a Fourth Generation war anyway?). I have to believe that the key players behind this (hopefully very short-lived) fad are the small handful of Namvets at one extreme end of the spectrum who, while subconsciously resenting the waste of their youth on this unjust war, never recovered from it and have no other life legacy to leave or memories to cling to other than their "service" in that imperial misadventure. Thus are attempting to distort the historical record into accordance with the NWO Establishment's revisionist ideology in order to redeem themselves and preserve what little remains of their dignity. On the other end of the spectrum are those Namvets like James Glaser and Michael Gaddy who have not only repented for their misspent years in the thrall of the imperial legions, but are doing everything they can to work for peace and to make sure that other young men and women don't make the same mistake they did. The rest of the Namvets, like most Afpakiraq vets of the future will be, are somewhere in the middle, neither proud of their "service" nor repentant of it.

  8. Would someone please explain the difference between obeying orders from Hitler to gas a Jewish person and obeying the US government to shoot at or bomb a Vietnamese person?

  9. We should not be proud of what our murderous government did in Vietnam. It's another case of the conservatives' moral blindness towards war.

    1. May I remind you that JFK (a Democrat) first sent "advisors" to Vietnam, then Lyndon Johnson expanded it a thousand-fold, but Richard Nixon, a "conservative" Republican, ENDED IT.

      1. Conservatives backed the war and are the ones that still defend it. The article I was commenting on was about conservatives continuing to defend the war. I am well aware of the role of Democrats in getting us into the war, but most of them–especially the non-conservative ones–turned against the war, some never supported it, and most of the rest have forgotten about it since getting out of the war caused us no harm. It would be nice if Democratic politicians had actually learned something from that war. As for Nixon, he lied about having some secret, super plan to end the war, secretly expanded it to Cambodia, but after FOUR YEARS finally reached a ceasefire and a deal to end it two years later.

  10. War is a racket. War is for profit. Politicians and defense contractors are the winners. The expendable young men — naive, patriotic, stupid, or just enthusiastically aggressive — are simply workers in the fields of death, employed to harvest the profits of the death merchants. The destruction of their lives, their bodies, and their humanity is just a business expense. And the taxpayers, with the taxman's gun at their heads, foot the bill.

    Really, it's just that simple.

    The moment the pols are forced onto the battle line, and the defense contractors drafted and forced to work for military wages, their businesses nationalized and operated without profit for the duration of the conflict, then you will see an end to war.

  11. Dereliction of Duty by Lt. Col. H. R. McMaster
    … the Vietnam war was not lost on the battlefield, on the pages of the NY Times or on the college campuses. The Vietnam war was lost in Washington, DC by civilian and military leaders who never reconciled what they hoped to accomplish and the costs, while concealing their indecision from the American people. Read the book. Our own war games, in the spring of '64 predicted we would need to invade the North to stop the in insurgency in the South … in the Spring of '64!

  12. I wonder if Americans will "re-enact" the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan 40 years from now? I also wonder what new enemy and war we will have created for ourselves then.

    1. we have been helping those who are less fortunate since 1775. we all know how a peace mongering isolationalist America works. pearl harbor and 9/11 happens. every Marine and Soldier who is deployed overseas. the enemy will fight us in their back yard instead of travel to our country and kill Americans. i am not a red neck. i am not from the deep south or West Virginia, or Texas. i am a Southern Californian who has seen the destruction and abuse of a war lord, a dictator, and a terrorist. i have passed out food, built schools, and killed those who oppose peace. the thing you want.

      Semper Fidelis

  13. "It's another case of the conservatives' moral blindness towards war." You REALLY believe there is a differance between conserva-ibles and liber-atives??? FDR got us into WWII (Liberal), Truman Korea, Eisenhauer (Conservative), Kennedy (Lib) and LBJ got us into the Vietnam quagmire.

    Sorry bud, there's not a dime's difference between the republicrats & demicans or conseva-ibles and liber-atives.

  14. I am wondering… what began the Vietnam war?
    I am kind of blind to the cause. Can some one
    help me out?

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