The Vietnam War

Reading Kevin Nguyen’s piece on Ken Burns’s The Vietnam War got me thinking about so much, namely the jingoistic attitude of many Americans… and also this picture, which I conveniently saw this morning.

A lot of Americans have always thought of our country as heroic and infallible, but many of the wars we’ve fought suggest the opposite… we are a hyper-militaristic state that often imposes our way of life on other countries or invades them for resources. We’re falling apart because our go-to is often violence, which leads to violence and further division in retaliation, and it’s just a cruel cycle.

I’ve also been thinking about the protest music the fledgling American anti-war movement was beginning to spur around the time of the Vietnam war. I recently was introduced to Phil Ochs’s music and it’s wonderfully satirical, and pretty biting at that.

Here’s a quote from Ochs about the second song:

In Vietnam, a 19-year-old Vietcong soldier screams that Americans should leave his country as he is shot by a government firing squad. His American counterpart meanwhile is staying up nights thinking up ways to deceptively destroy his health, mind, or virility to escape two years in a relatively comfortable army. Free enterprise strikes again.[8]

Phil Ochs

Ah yes, capitalism, imperialism and The American Way: bringing freedom for all yet again!

3 thoughts on “The Vietnam War

  1. I really connected to the line of, “A lot of Americans have always thought of our country as heroic and infallible, but many of the wars we’ve fought suggest the opposite… we are a hyper-militaristic state that often imposes our way of life on other countries or invades them for resources.” America’s ego tends to get in the way of democracy and turns power into a pissing contest that nobody ever wins.

  2. Yeah, war in general is very hard to justify. I would argue that war is actually unjustifiable 99.9% of the time with the exception being in self defense. It is never ok to hurt or kill other people except in the interest of direct self preservation. And yeah, people really don’t understand that wars are fought by the masses but they’re fought for the few, the rich, the powerful. And protest music is great. I love music in general and I’ve certainly got a soft spot for music with a purpose.

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