this is Memorial Day again
we are writing letters
to you who sacrificed
Americans listed here on this wall for eternity
and the millions of Vietnamese
what of their names
we remember you in our thoughts and letters
and the anti-war resisters
you too sacrificed
and assisted others in dodging death
and we honor all of you
American and Vietnamese
because that’s what wars do
makes memories of human beings
makes shells of former selves
makes liars of politicians
makes greedy businessmen
war the ultimate racket
that has no end
no ultimate triumph
war takes for granted what makes us human
and leaves us hard, dark,
permanently etched with scars
like a wall
we stand and reflect upon
what have we done?
who did we become?
We all still have the power to change.
In honor and memory of my friend, Bruce Beyer
It is not my personal story that must be told, but the story of US imperial history advanced by that war and carefully concealed both then and now, most recently in the Ken Burns whitewash that omitted everything Americans have a right and duty to know about that tragic debacle – not, as Burns concludes, that it was simply a terrible mistake (however well-meaning of course).
Ho Chi Minh was one of five foreign nationalist figures targeted for removal by the Eisenhower administration under the strategic baton of CIA Director Allen Dulles, whose name – amazingly – was never mentioned by Burns. These figures – Mossadeq of Iran, Sukarno of Indonesia, Arbenz-Guzman of Guatemala, and Lumumba of the newly established DRC as well as Ho – were all populist, socialist leaders who believed in national control of their own resources to benefit their own people, especially those most in need, and were therefore labelled potential “communists” who threatened Western economic hegemony and exploitation. All but Ho were eliminated. It was all about the Benjamins, aka “freedom” for US capitalism and our economic ruling class.
Vietnam was a test laboratory for covert, proxy, psyops and revolution-simulation/instigation methodologies we used concurrently and have used ever since with far less public alarm and opposition than our direct SE Asia war aroused. This has prominently included, inter alia, Operation Condor in 1970s South America, Iran/Contra in 1980s Central America, Serbia/Kosovo in the 1990s, Syria and Ukraine recently, supplementing and refueling our overt military destructions of Iraq and Libya, and Venezuela today. Edward Lansdale’s brilliant “Operation Passage to Freedom” deceptions to splinter Vietnam became a manual for our color revolutions. Our Phoenix Program in Vietnam pioneered methods of infiltration, kidnapping, torture and assassination that reappeared in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Brazil, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador in the 1970s and 1980s under training and direction of the CIA, SOA, USAID, NED and associated stealth proxies. Ambassador John Negroponte and Col. James Steele of infamous Iran/Contra atrocity training and facilitation were both installed in occupied Iraq in 2004 to implement a Pentagon-identified “Salvador option” that was subsequently exported further to Syria by Negroponte’s Iraq deputy Robert Ford, appointed Ambassador to Syria by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2011.
At the height of the Vietnam war, MLK delivered his “Beyond Vietnam” speech in which he identified our country as the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world.” This terrible truth led to his assassination by the US government, as conclusively established in the 1999 civil trial by the King family represented by attorney William Pepper. To the great suffering of millions around the world at our hands since that time, his words remains as true today as then. Investigative journalist Seymour Hersch disclosed on Democracy Now! last year that we are now “conducting war” in 76 countries, and this includes 53 of Africa’s 54 countries according to Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report – all in violation of the UN Charter prohibiting “the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state” and the Nuremberg Tribunal, which declared initiation of war as the “supreme international crime.”
All of this somehow escaped Ken Burns’ attention, so exposure and correction is left to us. Only we American citizens have the power to stop this and have a sacred duty to do so, but can’t stop what we can’t see. VFP must become an instrument of relentless citizen journalism, not simply “actions” without deep instruction in this dark knowledge.
Jack Dresser, Ph.D.
National vice-chair, Palestine and Middle East Working Group, Veterans for Peace
Member, International Society of Political Psychology
Co-director, Al-Nakba Awareness Project