My argument in the piece was that this effort was worthwhile, because the U. For now, reader response, pro and con. With the craziness now continuing to descend on within D. I am one, US Army - , only the first 2 years active duty, no combat. The other day some politician indirectly insulted Tammy Duckworth in a most unseemly fashion. McCain seemed to be an outsized heroic figure to non-veterans because of his own PR machine and the general ignorance of non-veterans [about the military]….
Each was a better man than McCain. But, McCain was a good Senator. He turned out to be a better Senator than he was a Naval officer or pilot. From our friend and experienced political writer Mike Lofgren , on the mixed role of veterans in politics:. During the s there were sporadic laments about the decline in number of military veterans in Congress: the World War II generation was dying off, and even the Korean war vets were thinning out.
But the trend was definitely downward. Now we are getting a new crop of veterans from GWOT. The question is not whether their service in the military is admirable, but whether they bring, as a group, some distinctive perspective that alters the political dynamic on Capitol Hill and the institution's civic reputation. In line with the predominant trend of the last decade, they tend to become representatives of the partisan agenda of whichever party they belong to.
This is not to criticize them for it: they have no more "obligation" to be independent than a former banker or lawyer or house painter. But outsiders should not overly valorize military service to the unrealistic point that it is assumed vets will behave markedly differently than any other class of people once they enter politics.
In a way, this should be reassuring: they are not some praetorian guard with a special ethos, but an American cross section with broadly the same views as the rest of us. I am not sure that Scott Taylor's present imbroglio in Virginia's second district meets the principles of civic service that communitarians want, nor do Duncan Hunter, Junior's shenanigans represent the kind of wisdom we are looking for in a legislator. As for being able to see beyond petty partisan bickering, neither Tom Cotton nor former representative Allen West appear to have anything distinctively different to offer.
The notion that a different class of legislator will save representative democracy in America may be a form of emotional escapism. The current partisan political culture is so all-enveloping that it is probably a wish-dream to assume that one occupational class is immune to it.
And finally for now, in similar spirit, about the different generational effects of service in uniform:. My observations of some Vietnam-era vets has been that they are almost to a man decidedly right of center. My husband is a Vietnam vet and also a staunch progressive, therefore Democrat. His buddies with whom he has occasional contact are quite the opposite. Some of their comments, which I have read, were disturbing and distasteful from mostly naval officers. Even so I found this a tremendously revealing series.
I recommend it very highly. Please find a way to watch—now, or in the many streaming and download alternatives they are making available.
The Imperial Background.
For one example of an avenue of criticism, see this review by veteran Asia-hand correspondent Jim Laurie, who was on-scene in Vietnam and Cambodia during the war. Both Burns and Novick have stressed the idea that the divisions generated by the Vietnam war prefigure the polarization of Trump-era America.
To me, that seems a little too pat. Donald Trump was on one side of the Vietnam class-war divide, with his student deferments and mysterious physical disqualifications.
War of - Wikipedia
It is remarkable in interleaving the accounts of participants from opposite sides of the same battle— the Americans and South Vietnamese, but also the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong—all describing what they were afraid of, what their plans were, how they reckoned victory and defeat in struggles for control of a particular hill or hamlet. It offers abundant evidence of battlefield bravery and sacrifice, on all sides—but precious few examples of political courage or foresight, especially in the United States.
The White House recordings from both men are spell-binding. Please watch. Further on the theme of linkages between Vietnam and previous American engagements, a reader makes the evocative connection to the first war that troops of the newly formed United States ever fought. It is about as inaccessible now as then, even following designation as a national historic site. SC requires a course on state history for all public school students in the 8th or 9th grade. I took the class in or My teacher emphasized the role of SC in the American Revolution.
We dug deep into British strategy and the tactics of SC partisans to undo British work. At home, I watched the network news on TV with my parents. Irregular forces, such as those of General Marion and other guerrilla leaders in SC disrupted British movement and communications while the Continental Army remained a viable military threat in the field….
In " Making Bricks without Straw ", John Dederer argues, not with complete success, for the proposition that the Mobile Tactics of Mao and Giap are the same in essence as the tactics used in SC in the last year of the Revolution. Army in Vietnam. In any case, it is useful, when looking at all the jungle footage on display in Burns documentary, to consider the situation of British Troops and their commanders as they wandered the swamps of the SC low country looking for fighters such as General Marion.
This was alien land. More ahead. I can also draw a straight line from my service to my cynicism with the U. On the flip side, having played sports at an overseas base myself, the experience of the baseball player blows my mind a bit.
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Was this position morally ambiguous? Yes, I still think the Vietnam War was and is a morally ambiguous moment in American history. However, I also have the utmost respect for those who opposed the war. MLK and Muhammad Ali displayed a courage that just did not need to exist in the era of Iraq with an all volunteer military. But that brings up the other fascinating thing to me—the quote of yours about being unable to affect national policy.
The Vietnam War ended. They are endless, nobody has enough skin in the game to put on large-scale protests, and the DOD has largely insulated the average civilian from exposure to the wars rather than openly debate whether this is how American power should be used. They are talking of an Afghan viceroy in the White House!?
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There was no Gulf of Tonkin incident, just a highly covered invasion and then 14 years of mission creep around the world because people are scared of terrorism. More Americans died then, returning service members had a far less positive experience than I did, and your baseball contributor highlights the waste that came in a large army of draftees. But I do think there is much we can and should learn from Vietnam and the past 16 years as we wrestle with how best to apply American power in the current and future, and how best to check American power with American democracy.
Second Sino-Japanese War
I believe, however, that Mr. I remember hearing Mr Jacobs use that term at a town hall meeting in his district he was my rep in in reference to the chest thumping in congress over Nicaragua and other Reagan-era misadventures. A reader who served in Vietnam writes:. Like many of my generation, I made my way through college during the s receiving annual draft deferments and not giving much thought to their receipt.
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As a college freshman in , I am not sure I had heard about Vietnam, recalling that the cover of Time did have stories about Laos. Of course by the spring of , we all knew about Vietnam.
As a graduate student in — the deferments continued and then ended abruptly after the Tet Offensive and the North Korean capture of the Pueblo. I eventually received a draft notice in the spring of while still in graduate school and reported to basic training in June and eventually landed in Vietnam in August When I attended infantry training in the fall of , I found myself as a minority, as most of those training for the infantry were non-white soldiers.
It was clear to me at that time that the draft had primarily caught those with no ability to seek an escape route, which primarily meant those from minority and low-income white families. Interestingly, in basic training at Fort Bragg during the summer of , there were more than a few graduate students and law students who had made it through two years of law school before being drafted [or perhaps enlisting in advance of the draft].
My point in writing these comments to you is that I long ago resolved in my own mind the conflict over how some of my generation avoided service in Vietnam or otherwise did not. We have observed this issue resurfacing from time to time over the years—often in dealing with presidential politics with candidates who would have been draft-eligible during the s.
Life was unfair occasionally before Vietnam and has continued so afterwards.
I have sensed in conversations in recent years with some of my contemporaries who missed the draft a general discomfort in discussing the whole issue of Vietnam and the draft. I do not bring it up in those conversations. I believe we should consider restoring the military draft but doubt that will occur. From one of many readers who disagree:. Wrong from a strategic and political perspective, sure; maybe even immoral. But criminal? I have no quarrel with, and indeed admire, those who refused to serve and endured significant sacrifice as a result of that choice.
But at the same time, I find no fault with those who obeyed the law, complied with the draft, and served during the war. Full disclosure: I write this as one who had the benefit of a student deferment during my college years, at the end of which the draft had been discontinued. I start by saying that I was briefly in the military during Vietnam.
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Like most young people, I took an extreme view. I was a domino-theory conservative. My experiences changed my mind as to the value of the war, as I saw little chance of our achieving our stated goal.
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