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by Karl Grobe
Tuesday, May. 27, 2008 at 2:07 AM
"Did marxism and nationalism win the war while capitalism and nationalism won the peace? Tom Hayden asked. The domino theory, the justification of Washington governments, turned out to be dreadfully wrong.
LESSONS FROM VIETNAM
By Karl Grobe
[This article published in: Frankfurter Rundschau 3/11/2008 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://www.lebenshaus-alb.de/magazin/004899.html.]
Tom Hayden is in Vietnam again, for the first time in peace. The civil rights activist, war critic and co-founder of the US students’ movement (SDS) had visited the country four times, once with Jane Fonda. At that time, the US decimated North Vietnam. General Curtis LeMay wanted “to bomb the country back into the Stone Age.” In the latest issue of the leftist weekly “The Nation,” Hayden writes, this plan seemed dissolved in thin air. Hayden’s and Fonda’s unauthorized travels to the foreign country were scandals for the US of presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon.
Now in Hayden’s visit, 36 years after the Christmas bombing, Santa Claus dominated the streetscape. The world market of the consumer age outstripped the pictures of the revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh. US warships made goodwill visits to Vietnam. All this only occurred with the approval of the still dominant communist party. Hayden asked: “Did Marxism and nationalism win the war while capitalism and nationalism won the peace?”
The domino theory, the justification of Washington governments, turned out to be dreadfully wrong. In 1975, South Vietnam fell like a domino but not its neighboring states. The victorious communist party led Vietnam into the globalized neoliberal world with the methods of one-party rule. Among the old friends whom Hayden saw again thirty years after his first visit, not all agreed with the development. However “War Never Again” was still true as in Germany after 1919 and after 1945.
Hayden heard this phrase from Bao Ninh, the author of an anti-war novel that was also published in the US. Bao Ninh saw an American for the first time in October 1967. He was 15 at that time. A fighter bomber was shot down; the pilot escaped in a parachute and landed in Truc Creek Lake. Vietnamese pulled him out of the water. Later he was severely tortured.
The pilot was John McCain. According to his memory, medical help was first granted him when the North Vietnamese found out his father was an admiral. He later signed a confession that he was an air pirate – words that show he was coerced. He still suffers today in the after effects of torture.
History has indirectly caught up with both the combat pilot and the war critic three decades ago. McCain certainly not one to quickly withdraw soldiers from Iraq is seeking the presidency for the Republican Party. Hayden is engaged for the candidate who opposed the Iraq war from the start, Barack Obama. The US is a belligerent state as in the Vietnam time. That foreign policy goals can be attained with other means is hardly discussed in periods of patriotic rhetoric. McCain has the old answers. Hayden raised new questions about the costs of imperialism.
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