Saturday, February 16, 2008

Iraq: This Generation's Viet Nam

Frank Dudley Berry, Jr. writes an interesting piece titled Boomers and the Vietnam Shrug posted in American Thinker:
Back in 1963,[...]

...a speech that Dr. Thomas Dooley had given to a group of nuns, reporting on his experiences in Southeast Asia between 1954 and 1960.[...]

He was the author of three solid books about conditions there, the most well-known being 'Deliver Us From Evil', published in 1956.[...]

The subject was the same as the books, Dooley's first-hand impressions of the refugee camps in Haiphong and the repulsive cruelty of the the Stalinist regime from which they fled. I still remember him describing the exact meaning of the title 'Deliver Us from Evil' , which only indirectly referenced the Scriptural passage. The direct reference had to to do with an incident which Dooley had personally witnessed and in which he even participated.

Three young Vietnamese children had been brought to the border by the police of the North Vietnam. Their vocal cords had been cut (or tongues cut out, I forget which) as punishment for treasonable speech. When Dooley asked the guard how children so young could possibly have committed treason, the guard asked him, Dooley, to recite the Lord's Prayer. When Dooley reached the phrase, 'And deliver us from evil', the guard stopped him.

"That is the treason", he declared, "for there is no evil in the People's Republic of Vietnam."[...]

But as the 60's lengthened, and Vietnam became more controversial with each passing year, that base insight was lost.[...]

This transformation of the dialog from a limited political issue to a great, sweeping moral condemnation that was absurdly blind to the actual facts of Vietnam has had huge repercussions. It was catastrophic for the people of Southeast Asia.[...]

But the fact was that Tom Dooley had been telling the plain, unvarnished truth. The Vietnamese people -- the real flesh-and-blood kind, that live and die, suffer and hope (not the mythic 'People' of immemorial Leftist cant) -- began running from Ho Chi Minh in 1955. They kept running for the next two decades, as far south as the land would take them, then into boats and the open sea when the land ran out. The war was a dumb war, unwisely formulated, stupidly communicated, even more stupidly fought. But it was a just cause and a moral undertaking. It was the protest, with its utter contempt for the actual human reality, that was immoral.

Tom Dooley had it right. I heard him clearly enough back in 1963. But by 1968, I'd stopped listening. So had everybody else.
Back in 2003, we saw clearly that the Iraqi people-- the real flesh-and-blood kind, that live and die, had long suffered at the hands of Saddam Hussein. Ignoring him would have been catastrophic for the Middle East. In 2008, many stopped listening.

No comments: