Friday, June 13, 2014

Another fine mess ....

Operation Frequent Wind

What I remember most about the fall of Saigon --- nearly 40 years ago now (April 29-30, 1975) --- was the worry about what had become of my co-workers and friends --- Miss Nghiem, Mr. Suk, Miss Lieu, Mrs. Nguyen and others.

The intelligence-gathering center where I worked, sandwiched between two cemeteries just over the fence from Tan Son Nhut, was a "combined" operation, staffed overwhelmingly by Vietnamese military and civilian personnel.

There never was much social interaction with the military types, but many of the civilians became friends. Mrs. Nguyen was a wonderful cook --- and my friend, George, and I often were invited to share meals in the family apartment in Cho Lon. Now and then several of us would gather at restaurants.

These were among the civilians who would be targeted after the fall because of their association with the South Vietnamese regime --- and the Americans. And I did learn much later that Mr. Suk and Miss Nghiem, at least, had been airlifted to safety.

So I've been thinking now about the civilians who have suffered and will suffer as Iraq unravels. It's always the civilians, most of them innocents ....


I appreciated David Mixner's brief analysis, "Iraq: It Was Only a Matter of Time," for the Web journal Towleroad yesterday. This is a site "with homosexual tendencies," so it's not clear how widely it will travel, but worth reading.

And it's been interesting to watch the Iraq situation rise gradually to the top of the news feeds I follow, although it's not clear how many Americans are especially interested. 

Politicians agree --- President Obama should do something. But it's not clear that there is anything to do that will (a) be effective or (b) not compound the disastrous consequences of the folly launched with the invasion of Iraq.

Another fine mess we've gotten ourselves --- and millions of others who will suffer more --- into.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a member of Veterans For Peace, chapter 161, nothing short of withdrawing from Iraq will do. We have created a worse mess and killed more innocent people in a war that was misconceived and brought down on people who we had no reason to be at war with. In fact, for all the destruction we have wrought in that country, we should be responsible for making them whole, since we attacked them, they did nothing to provoke us. The chain of how we get into these things is so similar to Vietnam it is unforgivable. Maybe you recall when the French were defeated by the Viet Minh, the United Nations established a cooling off period with the country divided into two parts. The final solution was to be fair and free elections to decide who would be in charge of the country of Vietnam. That election never happened. Through a series of puppet leaders who we helped establish, an internal war continued for another decade plus, and when those same puppet leaders did not do our bidding, we helped assassinate these same "leaders". Before it was done, we had dropped more bombs on this very small country than all the bombs dropped in World War II. We had polluted a good share of the country with Agent Orange that continues to plague this country and its people to this day. Some of the munitions dropped in Vietnam have been considered illegal for sometime, such as "gravel" bombs that look like simple rock, but stepped on will tear apart the human body. These are not easily detected as they contain no metal. The destruction of infrastructure both in Vietnam and Iraq is simply unforgivable. With Vietnam we had Catholics and Buddhists; In Iraq we have two different varieties of Muslims and these religious tensions do not go away easily. War only makes these things worse and as can easily be seen, that is exactly what is happening in Iraq and most places around the world we chose to meddle in. It is time we go home and take care of what we need to do for ourselves and our own people before we go and meddle in other people's lives and countries. Sincerely, Steve Hanken