Commitments by Eisenhower of military supplies, financial aid, and some six hundred military advisers had made the United States an interested party in Vietnam’s six-year-old civil war. To deal with the mounting danger, Kennedy authorized funding for an increase of twenty thousand additional South Vietnamese troops and the creation of a task force to help avert a South Vietnamese collapse. The Laotian crisis added to worries about Vietnam.” – Robert Dallek in “An Unfinished Life” [page 354]

EISENHOWER, THEN KENNEDY, began our involvement in Southeast Asia.

U.S. commitments, involvement and escalation in Vietnam did not begin in 1962, with the Obama administration erroneously dating the “start” of U.S. involvement in 1962, untrue.

President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden commemorated a concocted “anniversary” of 50 years since the Vietnam war began today, adding to the tortured legacy of a war that makes those of us who remember the carnage, even as teens, wonder if this insanity will ever end. Pres. Obama made it worse today.

I realize the Administration is also sincerely honoring heroes, but it’s historical malpractice to write Pres. Eisenhower out of Vietnam history. Having the Defense Department join in makes it worse.

John F. Kennedy is responsible for escalation, which was further expanded by Lyndon Johnson, but Pres. Obama’s focus on a 50-year “anniversary” of Vietnam wholly ignores the advisory, and economic angle of Pres. Eisenhower’s involvement, which glosses over how these decisions lead to what happened under Kennedy, then Johnson. See Bush getting distracted by Iraq, which left Afghanistan to simmer, then Obama’s escalation in Afghanistan that commits us to 2024, as another example; see the Iraq Liberation Act during Clinton and how Bush used it after 9/11, with Democrats falling in line out of fear.

Political escalation leads to war and it comes in all forms.

President Obama writes in “Stars and Stripes” today, with a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery as well.

This Memorial Day also holds special significance because it marks the beginning of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. It was 50 years ago ““ January 1962 ““ when U.S. Army pilots on dozens of helicopters transported South Vietnamese troops into the jungles outside Saigon for a raid against enemy forces. It was one of America’s first major operations in Vietnam and another turning point in what would become one of our longest wars.

Today at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., I’ll join Vietnam veterans and their families for a ceremony to begin this 50th anniversary. It will be an occasion to honor the 58,282 names on The Wall”“men and women who gave their lives in that war. We’ll stand with their families, who have borne that loss ever since. And we’ll reaffirm our commitment to never stop searching for the 1,666 service members who are still missing from that war.

Keeping faith with our Vietnam veterans is important, because some of us remember what they came home to face, but ignoring the actual history of how it began is not. It’s just Pres. Obama wasn’t in office when the 50th year came, George W. Bush was, that is, if you include Eisenhower’s Vietnam commitments.

I’m sure Gallup’s snapshot poll on Mitt Romney’s reported lead with veterans had nothing to do with any of this.

Obama and Romney are tied overall at 46% apiece among all registered voters in this sample. Men give Romney an eight-point edge, while women opt for Obama over Romney by seven points. It turns out that the male skew for Romney is driven almost entirely by veterans. Romney leads by one point among nonveteran men, contrasted with the 28-point edge Romney receives among male veterans.GALLUP

As we saw with Pres. George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” stunt, politicians of both political parties use the military all the time for their own purposes. It helps keep the conversation away from what we should be discussing.

In a dangerous world, terrorists will continue to target U.S. interests and our allies overseas, with lone wolves and terrorists dreaming of destroying our country. However, it’s a political tactic of fear and manipulation that ignores a simple reality. The U.S. is safe, with there no threat on earth that can vanquish our country without the retaliation decimating that enemy, with the threat of any terrorist organization being wiped off the face of the planet after an attack.

So what now?

On Memorial Day, we remember warriors and their families, including fallen heroes, who gave their lives for our freedom. Osama bin Laden is dead and 9/11 avenged, al Qaeda is decimated, with cyberterrorism, port security, food safety all larger threats than forces that once brought our nation into wars, including those undeclared.

We are safe, so it’s a gross manipulation of American nationalism, pride and patriotism of our brave soldiers serving today, as well as their families, to say the U.S. military is protecting our freedom. Nothing in Afghanistan threatens our freedom, or in Iraq, or Germany, Japan, or anywhere else our forces are stationed, including South Korea, and Iran.

How we get politicians and partisans off the military complex teat remains unknown, because politicians use propaganda to exploit and market military expansion every election.

President Obama has put us on course toward a “hollow” force. – Mitt Romney

Underneath this ugly truth is the reality we can’t employ our soldiers if we did turn our country from militarization abroad and toward economic development and American corporation partnerships. The only way to world peace is economic prosperity, which doesn’t require a single bomb to drop.

If America was an enlightened nation this would be possible. But the citizenry is asleep and our leaders are small.

American wars are fought by soldiers and their families, no one sacrifices more.

There is another type of hero, one that rarely gets mentioned on Memorial Day. It’s impolitic to do so, but when I think of Vietnam and how I cut my teeth on politics, these patriots loom large.

They are the best of our intrepid reporters and war correspondents, on the field of battle, and investigating war strategy from home and through our politics, who refuse to surrender liberty for a vague notion of “safety,” standing against the politicians, partisans and establishment parties who strip away our personal freedoms in the name of “protection” by lying to the public and manipulating the patriotism that acts like a hook in the American mouth.

As a teen watching what the Vietnam war did to this country, including the community in which I lived and the boys impacted by the draft, the concoction of a 50-year Vietnam “anniversary” by a Democratic administration putting the start of Vietnam in 1962 was a punch to the gut to me. I’m fully aware of the beginning of the U.S. Army helicopter missions to which President Obama refers in “Stars and Stripes.” However, the way politicians begin, commit and escalate wars is not represented in the “anniversary” cited by the Administration. I resent it, because it keeps the citizenry in slumber about how our politicians ramp up our military misadventures that in the modern era will rarely end well, if our involvement ever really ends at all.

No one man starts any war. No one political party begins the carnage. This is an American mindset that is lapped up by our big two political parties and the elite individuals who are allowed to rise through them, the stories then fed to an ignorant populace too lazy to consider facts.

Telling the truth about war and why we now fight, which is a different battle than my Uncle Dick’s WWII generation, is how we honor our veterans, the fallen, and their families.

The ultimate honor of the U.S. military will come when America decides how to adjust our force structure to deal with a dangerous world in which we are safe by admitting no power on earth can destroy the United States, which will come from within, because only a lazy citizenry can do that.

“…Kennedy’s irritation with a press corps that he believed demonstrated an excessively “zealous spirit of criticism and complaint.” On October 21, during a lunch with Arthur “Punch” Sulzberger, the new publisher of the New York Times, Kennedy urged him to get Halberstam out of Vietnam. Sulzberger refused, and Kennedy was left to worry all the more.”  
- Robert Dallek in “An Unfinished Life” [page 679]


DEDICATED TO DAVID HALBERSTAM, one of the vigilant truth tellers of the Vietnam War, who inspired a generation of war correspondents, including Pulitizer winner David Wood, some of whom have died on the field of battle so that we could know the truth, but also includes people like Dana Priest and William Arkin, who endeavor to investigate the growing homeland security threat posed to the privacy and individual liberty of a sleeping American public.