Maine Writer

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Saturday, May 27, 2006

Henry Kissinger Said What?

My husband and I were absolutely dumbfounded on Friday night (May 26) while watching the NBC Nightly News, when anchor Brian Williams briefly reported on "Kissinger's Vietnam Pledge to China".

"Say It Ain't So?" Because my husband is a Viet Nam War Veteran, we were shocked and left in a state of disbelief when Williams revealed how recently released Kissinger papers about the Viet Nam War showed a lack of interest in how the war torn country would be governed after the American withdrawal.

In other words, papers from 1972 revealed, our Secretary of State Henry Kissinger told China that the United States could accept a communist takeover of South Vietnam after a withdrawal of U.S. troops, even as the war against the communist North Vietnamese dragged on and the deaths (US and South Vietnamese) mounted. Over 45,000 Americans were killed during the Viet Nam War, which dragged on through the 1960's and into the 1970's.

My husband served twice in Viet Nam - once with the Seabees (Mobile Construction Battalion MCB-71) and again on the USS Intrepid (CVS-11).

Moreover, our family lived in Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines during 1975 - that's when Saigon fell and tens of thousands of Viet Namese refugees landed on Philippine shores seeking refuge from the communist takeover of their country.

Mr. Kissinger's remarks were included in a collection of papers from National archives released Friday (May 26) by George Washington University's National Security Archive, a research group that obtained them through declassification requests, reports The Seattle Times (May 27, 2006).

This information appears to give credibility to the "decent interval" theory posed by historians who say the United States was prepared to see communists take over South Vietnam as long as it happened long after a US troop withdrawal, just to save political face.

Now, let me get this straight. How is Mr. Kissinger any different than Jane Fonda here?

If Jane is labeled a traitor for courting the enemy during the Viet Nam War, then I believe Mr. Kissinger is equally a traitor for not supporting his own government and our troops fighting in the same war.

What was that ridiculous "domino theory" all about? Weren't we in Viet Nam to prevent a communist takeover of Southeast Asia? One country goes "red" and they all start dropping like dominoes, we were told. Consequently, we sent in our very best to fight for the freedom of Southeast Asians who really cared less about democracy; but a lot about the money Americans drowned into their economies through avarice, corruption, sin and (yes) even in foreign aid. Well, now we have a big, black and beautiful wall in Washington DC, to remember those fine and very young people who believed we were really fighting in Southeast Asia to protect the world from - ahhhhh (?) .....what? From communists? From "dominoes"? From what?

Did Henry Kissinger really say, in a meeting in China on June 22, 1972, that North Vietnam (our enemy) was a "permanent factor" in the war torn country and, furthermore, that Americans had no interest in destroying the communist government or even defeating it?

This heresy riddled foreign relations discourse deserves a full US government investigation, even if the news is already 35 years old. My husband and his generation who left homes, families, children, jobs and their futures to stand by the United States in the controversial Viet Nam War, deserve much better than to read a short press release from The Seattle Times or hear a brief Brian Williams nightly news report.

This foreign policy debacle will fuel more "anti- Iraq" war rhetoric than anything Osama Bin Laden can say on one of his sporadic video tapes - it's like our country is imploding on convenient political nuance. Those names carved on the big, black and beautiful memorial wall, likewise, deserve the respect of a government apology. Perhaps, even paid retribution to families for the suffering endured by their completely unnecessary losses.

In other words, Mr. Kissinger didn't give a damn about our American troops in Viet Nam.

Where is Senator John McCain on this issue? Is he waiting to hear what the Religious Right is saying about this before he comes out swinging? Frankly, those years Senator McCain spent in a North Viet Nam prisoner of war camp didn't mean anything at all to Henry Kissinger. Neither did the lives of tens of thousands of Vietnam Nam's refugees - those who made it out alive and those who didn't. I recall a C-5 airplane crash trying to evacuate orphans out of Saigon, and most aboard were killed - these innocents were also victims of Henry Kissinger and whatever it was he said in those recently released papers.

Apparently, Kissinger acknowledged that a communist takeover of South Vietnam by force might be tolerated if it happened long enough after a US withdrawal.

"HELL-O?" Well, Mr. Kissinger, what the hell took you so long to get the United States out of Viet Nam - like, it took over 20 years?

This "....Said What?" outrage, sort of makes President William Jefferson Clinton and President George W. Bush look like war heroes. After all, they apparently knew enough to stay out of Southeast Asian killing fields where the foregone conclusions were already pre-determined by the whim of the back-door politics of the day.

Whatever Mr. Kissinger said, my husband feels betrayed by the government he took an oath to defend when he left me and our baby son to fight in Viet Nam.

Mr. Kissinger, might try to defend what he said in 1972, claiming his comments were meant to placate the Chinese.

What kind of historic rhetoric is that….."say what?”.

There are billions of people in China. So, all the Chinese need do is simply relocate about 5 million or so people into North Vietnam and – poof (!) – the entire country is taken over by communists.

Mr. Kissinger sure had a goofed up ego if he thought his comments would placate the Chinese.

More to the point, who will apologize for Kissinger's disrespectful and wrongful behavior towards our Viet Nam War veterans, both living and deceased?

And, even more important, how will this apology be rendered?