What did we get in exchange for those killed during the Vietnam war? Nothing. The communist North Vietnamese won the war and today rule all of Vietnam.
As regular readers of the blog know, I was in Vietnam for the better part of thirteen years. My job was signals intelligence support of U.S. troops in combat, both army and Marine Corps, all over South Vietnam. After the withdrawal of U.S. military forces in 1973, I headed the covert National Security Agency (NSA) operation in Vietnam and escaped under fire when Saigon fell in April 1975—as I have just detailed here in a series of blog posts under the rubric “The Sad Month of April.”
I will always be grateful that I was never wounded during my years in combat, during the fall of Saigon, or in any of my assignments after 1975 (still classified). Granted, coincident with my escape from Saigon, I came down with amoebic dysentery and pneumonia. Worse, I developed a malady we didn’t have a name for back then, Post-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI). That’s a sickness that is never cured. The sufferer must learn to cope with the flashbacks, nightmares, irrational rages, panic attacks, and depression.
I wish I could look back in pride at what my sacrifice during the Vietnam war bought for our nation, but I can’t. We gained nothing and lost much. In the process, the war we engaged in caused well over a million deaths. The American people considered it a shameful war. And we behaved shamefully at its end, abandoning allies who had fought by our side.
Did we learn by our mistake? Not as far as I can tell. Following our military actions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, we forsook our allies and withdrew, leaving the men who were our partners to their fate at the hands of our enemies. Our sacrifice and theirs were far greater than any benefit gained.
So our wars have cost us greatly and achieved little. When will we ever learn?