Do you recall the justification that U.S. officials used for sending more than 58,000 American men to their deaths in the Vietnam War? They said that communism was so bad and such an enormous threat to the United States that it was necessary to stop the North Vietnamese communists before they came to the United States and took over the federal government. In fact, even today die-hard anti-communist crusaders, especially conservatives, still claim that those American soldiers were sacrificed in a worthy cause.
Then would someone please explain this photograph to me? It’s a photograph of U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter passing in review of a military honor guard during a welcoming ceremony at the Defense Ministry in Hanoi this week.
Yes, that’s Hanoi, as in (North) Vietnam, the city on which the U.S. government dropped some 20,000 tons of explosives during the Vietnam War.
It’s just my own humble opinion, but that’s just plain disgraceful. A high U.S. government official passing in review of a Vietnamese communist military honor guard? Jane Fonda, call your office.
It gets worse.
According to a website called DefenseNews.com, “The US and Vietnam signed a defense agreement Monday, a document which officials hope will grow the military relationship between the two nations and will eventually lead to co-production of military equipment.”
If it’s really possible for someone to turn over in his grave, I’ll bet that today the cemeteries in which those 58,000 American soldiers are buried are rumbling.
Let’s get one thing clear: Vietnam is still governed by a communist regime, the same communist regime that ruled over North Vietnam during the Vietnam War. New governmental officials, same regime.
There is one thing the U.S. anti-communist crusaders were right about during the Cold War: Communism is bad. It impoverishes people. And it oftentimes entails a tyrannical regime, such as the one that still rules over the Vietnamese people. There is no such thing as freedom (or economic prosperity) under communism.
But where the anti-communist crusaders were wrong was in claiming (1) that America needed a totalitarian-like national-security establishment (i.e., a vast permanent military-industrial complex and super-secret intelligence agencies with totalitarian powers) grafted onto America’s original governmental system and (2) that “national security” required America to respond militarily to communist regimes.
The fact is that the United States could have done without the entire national-security establishment and it’s much-vaunted, meaningless term “national security” and lived in peaceful coexistence with Vietnam, the Soviet Union, Cuba, China, Nicaragua, Grenada, and other communist regimes.
How do we know this? Look at Vietnam. It’s still headed by a brutal communist regime. And yet the U.S. national-security establishment is not invading the country again to save the Vietnamese people (and the American people) from communism. That’s how it could have been throughout the Cold War, including with the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, Nicaragua, Chile, Guatemala, and other nations governed by communist regimes.
According to the Shanghai Daily, “Carter, for his part, claimed that the statement is to further strengthen the defense relationship between the two countries for the years to come….”
Isn’t that just great? So, now we have the possibility of that American soldiers will be sacrificed in a war defending communism. I wonder if the soldiers who die in the defense of communism will be buried next to the 58,000 soldiers who were sacrificed in the war against communism.
Let’s examine what’s actually going on here.
This “defense agreement” with a communist regime shows where the real power of the federal government lies — with the national-security branch of the federal government, the branch that is actually based in Virginia as a counterweight to the other three branches which are located in Washington.
Did you hear any debates in Congress about whether the United States should enter into a defense agreement with the communist regime of Vietnam? Nope. That’s because Congress, the president, and the federal judiciary play a subservient role to the national-security branch. Who cares what the elected representatives of the American people think about entering into a “defense” pact with a communist regime. All that matters is that the Pentagon thinks it’s a fine thing.
Moreover, the national-security establishment is rapidly losing ways to continue striking fear in the hearts and minds of the American people. U.S. troops are out of Iraq and most will soon be out of Afghanistan. That leaves just drone assassinations in the Middle East, periodic bombings, and support of the Israeli government and Middle East dictatorships to engender the necessary anger and hatred that leads to anti-American terrorist attacks. That might not be enough to generate the necessary fear of terrorism within the American people to support the massive national-security establishment and its never-ending infringements on the rights, privacy, and liberty of the American people.
New official enemies are necessary, especially to keep the flow of weaponry going for U.S. arms suppliers who are part and parcel of the U.S. military-industrial complex. That’s why the U.S.-led NATO, another Cold War dinosaur, ginned up the current crisis with Russia in Ukraine and why the U.S. military is ginning up a crisis with China over a bunch of islands in the South China Sea. When the war on terrorism is in danger of faltering, a good safe bet is to go back to the communist threat posed by China and Russia (but not Vietnam and maybe or maybe not Cuba).
Thus, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that that DefenseNews.com article stated:
Vietnam buys more than 90 percent of its defense materiel from Russia. The offer of co-production is hence a win-win for both sides. The US can expand its defense industrial reach while also chipping at some of the foreign military control of Russia, while Vietnam can wean itself off of a sole-source provider for its gear.
The most important lesson to be learned about all this is twofold:
One, the decades-long Cold War was never necessary. There was never a need for the totalitarian-like national-security apparatus to have been attached to our federal governmental system. The United States could have lived in peaceful coexistence with communist regimes, just as it is doing with Vietnam today, without a vast military establishment and super-secret agencies like the CIA and the NSA with omnipotent totalitarian powers.
(On a related note, see this article, “The Roots of Rapprochement: When Castro Talked Peace Back in 1963, JFK Listened” by former Washington Post reporter Jefferson Morley, posted today at the website JFK Facts.)
Second, the United States doesn’t need to have a national-security establishment establishing foreign relations for the United States, especially with communist regimes. All that needs to be done is to dismantle the national-security establishment and to liberate the private sector of American people to travel and trade wherever they want, including Vietnam and Cuba. That’s the best way to weaken communist regimes, unlike the way the U.S. national-security state does it, which strengthens them.
In other words, no “defense agreements.” No commitments for U.S. soldiers to die for communism. No military invasions to stop communism. No manufactured crises. No coups, foreign aid, or assassinations. Just the original U.S. governmental structure under the Constitution and economic liberty for the American people.
That’s the key to freedom, peace, and prosperity. That’s the vision the American people should be leading the world toward.