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Re ‘Raw Nerves’



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A reader from Houston writes,

Jay,

You’ve written about the little-known but wonderful support the Czechs have shown for their spiritual brothers, the Cubans. [Go here, for example.] I thought you might like this:

My father-in-law is not only Vietnamese, he’s a veteran of the war, a onetime fighter pilot in the South Vietnamese navy. We rarely talk politics (usually it’s wine and tennis — he’s a crack player), but during a large family dinner in 2006, when the Iraq situation looked desperate, he very quietly pulled a chair next to mine.

“It’s happening again in Iraq,” he said without prompting, seeming deeply depressed. “It happened with us, and now it’s happening again.” I knew what he meant. I had heard, mostly from my wife, what had happened to his extended family after Saigon fell in 1975 — summary arrests, brothers and sisters separated, relatives lost and never heard from again. Through what seems like a miracle, he was able to spirit his wife and two daughters out of the country, come to America through a sponsor, and [make a life]. . . .

I’ve known him for 15 years, and this was the only hint I ever received of his hardships in Vietnam: when the subject was Iraq.

“You watch,” he told me. “The Americans will leave Iraq. Then many, many people will die.” As I listened to him, I thought of all the senators and assorted blowhards who were stating, with absolute assurance, that matters in Iraq would improve, if only the United States would remove itself. . . .

Then I thought, “How many Vietnamese immigrants are thinking exactly as my father-in-law is?”

Well, as we know, what happened in Iraq was not Vietnam — not to this point, anyway, not after President Bush summoned every last particle of his political capital to do what he thought was right; and not after General Betray Us (har, har!) became a Ulysses S. Grant for our time.

I broached the subject again with my father-in-law about a year later, and he (a Clinton Democrat, if anything) nodded with some satisfaction. “Bush,” he said. “He’s a good man.”



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