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That ‘Awful Specter’



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No, this post is not about the former senator, Arlen. It is about a far touchier subject, Vietnam. I addressed it in yesterday’s Impromptus. And, to make the subject even touchier, I related it to Afghanistan. Obviously, one could publish a lot of emotional mail. I won’t. But I’d like to publish one letter, and then leave the subject for another day.

Dear Mr. Nordlinger,

You should bring up Vietnam. [Without apology, he means.] It should be in people’s minds as we prepare to “cut ’n’ run” once more. [The man’s entitled to his opinion, to his perception of things.] The country should remember our national humiliation, and the “reeducation camps,” and the boat people, and all that the Vietnamese people had to endure, after standing with us and their own freedom, only to be sold down the river . . .

They should remember our 55,000 dead.

I was there twice, 1969 and 1971. I served in the U.S. Air Force, working with the Vietnamese Air Force. I knew some of the people who are now names on a wall.

The only reason for going to war is to win. It is not to “show” anybody anything or to “demonstrate resolve.”

As you said, far too many people don’t want to be reminded of Vietnam — the “specter of Vietnam.” But if we are not reminded, this country will do the same thing to the Afghans and to ourselves. And possibly to the Iraqis.

Sorry for the emotional outburst, but you (obviously) nicked a nerve.

It should be elementary: If you have sacrificed blood and treasure — especially the blood — make it worth it. Accomplish the goal (if it is at all accomplishable). Otherwise — why the blood? What do you say to the families of the dead? To the maimed, to all the affected?

You get the picture. I’ll drop this for a while.



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