Revisiting Vietnam American RadioWorks
  Vietnam Scrapbook

Paul Kemp
Oakridge, Oregon, USA

I was in college in '67-'68, looking forward to a career in the diplomatic service. Two things really colored my view of the war, which I hadn't paid much attention to. One, was reading Dien Bien Phu, which warned us not to get involved in Viet Nam. The other was a visit to one of my classes by a returned Green Beret who, in one breath, told us about the importance the Vietnamese placed on their water buffalos - and how their children kept watch over them - and then said our soldiers used them for target practice from their helicopters.
I decided to drop out of college, traveled the country, resisted the draft, got arrested, tried, and given a Conscientious Objector status.
Some of us saw the wrongness and futility of the war from the beginning. We resisted and refused to do the will of the defense contractors and their congressmen. We tried to stop the slaughter. Events proved us right. Where is our story going to be told?
Over the years, I have watched the way our international relations have been handled, and I'm glad I avoided a career in the diplomatic corp. Viet Nam was not an isolated incident, but part of our modus operandi. It led to a lot of misery in Iran, Iraq, Cambodia, etc. You can't change people's minds with bombs. Every country where we imposed a dictatorship w/ CIA funding, we sowed the seeds of more conflict and oppression and corruption.
When are we going to agree on the lesson of Viet Nam? We were wrong, we need to admit it, apologize to those whose lives we ruined, and stop making the same mistakes.
Thanks for listening. America needs to come to terms w/ its past and quit thinking, "If we had let the military run the war, we could a won it!"


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