Neo-Neocon posted a great piece yesterday which deserves to be read in it’s entirety:
I’d like to try to tackle the difficult question implicit in Dean Esmay’s comment, which, as I see it, is, “Where were you in the mid- to late-70s, oh bleeding-heart Vietnam War protesters? Didn’t the terrible aftermath of the Vietnam War convince you that you had been wrong to work so hard for US withdrawal? And, if so, why not?”
The first reason many who were antiwar during the Vietnam era have not really faced up to the negative consequences of their actions for the people of South Vietnam is that it is ordinarily incredibly difficult–for human beings of any stripe, whether liberal or conservative–to admit to an error of that magnitude. It is human nature that most people will do almost anything to avoid doing so. How many people can tolerate the terrible irony of having (in most cases, with the best of intentions) inadvertently, and with great naivete, caused the very thing they were desperately trying to prevent–the further suffering of the Vietnamese people? To acknowledge the situation of the South Vietnamese people who were left behind to the tender mercies of the North Vietnamese Communists would be to acknowledge an almost unbearable situation–one in which, like Romeo, whose best friend Mercutio was killed as a result of Romeo’s efforts to stop the fighting (Mercutio: I was hurt under your arm. Romeo: I thought all for the best.), the very thing they had tried to prevent would have occurred as a result of their activism.
There were other approaches to dealing with the problem. One was to simply ignore it. That wasn’t as hard as one might think. After the American involvement was over, my recollection is that the news of Vietnam started to drop off the front pages and the evening news. Now that our own lives and the lives of our loved ones weren’t on the line via the draft, the whole story of the suffering Vietnam people could be allowed to recede into the background and join all the other sad tales of suffering around the globe, becoming part of that vast wail of humanity that we must somehow block out in order to have some joy in our own lives. The effort that a person would have had to have made at the time to learn more about what was happening in Vietnam after the withdrawal, once it no longer was front page in-your-face news, was one that not many people were likely to make. Remember, again, how long the war had been, and how much news we had assimilated over the years; how many hopes dashed, how many fears felt and horrors viewed. People were only too happy to have Vietnam recede into the background after all those terrible years of concern.
Here is an article I came across the other day, on the fall of South Vietnam. Please read the whole thing, although it’s long. I’m not a historian, and I’m sure there are people who will question the story detailed in this article. But, if it is true (and I have found as yet no reason to doubt it), it is beyond chilling. I want to draw your attention in particular to the phrase “little-known battle;” by the time the events described here were occurring (1975), few in the US were paying much attention, because we no longer had much of a military presence in Vietnam. The events described were a violation of the Paris Peace Accords by the North Vietnamese, who were emboldened by the fact that they knew the US had lost the will to do fight, or to assist the South Vietnamese in fighting.
I am new to her blog but it seems like she has taken an interesting journey from the Left to the Right. Well worth reading, especially since she is an excellent writer.
Dean over at Dean’s World, the originator of the question Neo-Neocon is answering, has some added thoughts.