When one reads the volume of essays, one understands that there is an entire history about Vietnam, and America’s role there that has been ignored, forgotten and misrepresented.
Vietnam changed America. One of the essays “A Vietnamese Perspective on US Involvement in Vietnam” by Bui Diem, puts it well. “It has been said that America lost its innocence and arrogance in Vietnam. As I have already written in other papers, as a Vietnamese, I would say that South Vietnam had no arrogance to lose, but instead lost its innocence and in the process also lost its existence as a free nation’
That arrogance observation is correct. I believe that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake which con be directly tied to arrogance. I also believe that the relative lighter hand used by Obama in the Middle East compared to what his critics demand, has been the proper use of force. I further believe that the mistakes of Vietnam did have one redeeming value; the American public is much less bellicose in 2015 than it was in 1963 when I stepped on the plane to go to Vietnam as a 23 year old lieutenant in the Office of Special Investigations.
Bill Ayers when criticized for his actions in the 1960’s and 70’s, has been quoted as saying that he “wished he could have done more” . His later comments suggest that the quote has been taken out of context. The emphasis has become not a Communist victory, but the end of the war; the killing and suffering.Bill Ayers was right on one count. There was real nobility in some Vietnamese Communists.
But this volume demonstrates another, also true reality: There was also real nobility in the people that struggled against a Communist victory.