By Dave Lefcourt
Re-writing history-or in today's parlance-" revisionism"-particularly military history, is something all countries contrive to do, portraying their "history" favorably, all their actions "patriotic", defending the "mother" country, "fatherland" or here in the US our military "fighting for us", defending "America" and now the "homeland".
For purposes of brevity, the focus of this piece will be on America's latest gambit of "revisionist" history with the Pentagon launching a $30 million program to commemorate the 50 th anniversary of the Vietnam War, which Marjorie Cohn accurately depicts as "$30 million program to rewrite and sanitize its history". [i]
Cohn writes, "For many years after the Vietnam War, we enjoyed the 'Vietnam syndrome', in which US presidents hesitated to launch substantial military attacks on other countries. They feared intense opposition akin to the powerful movement that helped bring an end to the war in Vietnam. But in 1991, at the end of the Gulf War, George H.W. Bush declared, 'By God, we've kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all".
"With George W. Bush's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Barack Obama's drone wars in seven Muslim-majority countries and his escalating wars in Iraq and Syria, we have apparently moved beyond the Vietnam syndrome. By planting disinformation in the public realm, the government has built support for its recent wars, as it did with Vietnam."
Replete with a fancy interactive website ( http://www.vietnamwar50th.com/ ), the effort is aimed at teaching schoolchildren a revisionist history of the war. The program is focused on honoring our service members who fought in Vietnam. But conspicuously absent from the website is a description of the antiwar movement, at the heart of which was the GI movement".
Typical of the "war" department sanitizing the history of that time in America essentially dismissing the hundreds of thousands nationwide protesting and demonstrating against the war-particularly after 1967 on college campuses, at the Democratic National Convention in 1968, the 250,000 thousand demonstrating against the war on November 15, 1969, Nixon bombing Cambodia in the Spring of 1970-there were huge rallies-including yours truly-of college students marching and "meeting up" with each other which the Pentagon now refers to as simply "massive protest".
As to the My Lai "massacre" where some 500 unarmed Vietnamese old men, women and children were slaughtered by Lt. Calley and his men has become the in Pentagon parlance the "My Lai Incident".
Well read Nick Turse's, "Kill Anything That Moves" where he reveals "My Lai" was hardly an "incident", as the Pentagon describes it, and not just a one time massacre committed by crazed GI's that day in Vietnam but something that was occurring on a daily basis. Remarkably, Turses' research was gleaned directly from the Pentagon's own written accounts of the war that were sitting in its vaults gathering dust until Turse dug into the factual record to discover the truth which he later gave light and revealed to the public.
To those of us who came of age during that time, the protests against the Vietnam war was personal and visceral unlike any protest since, including "Occupy".
And for those of you who weren't born yet or too young to take part in the anti-war movement of the late 1960's and early 70's-even reading about that time-it's hard to imagine in today's America-the dynamic fervor and sense of solidarity one felt actually being a part of it, that revolution was in the air and we were part of the vanguard bringing it on.
Getting back to Cohn she quotes, antiwar activists" "Tom Hayden and Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg saying, "All of us remember that the Pentagon got us into this war in Vietnam with its version of the truth. If you conduct a war, you shouldn't be in charge of narrating it".
The antiwar group "Veterans for Peace" (VFP) "is organizing an alternative commemoration ( http://www.veteransforpeace.org/our-work/vietnam-full-disclosure-campaign/ ) of the Vietnam war. This from VFP executive director Michael McPhearson, "One of the biggest concerns for us is that if a full narrative is not remembered, the government will use the narrative it creates to continue to conduct wars around the world -- as a propaganda tool."
Cohn concludes," Unless we are provided an honest accounting of the disgraceful history of the US war in Vietnam, we will be ill equipped to protest the current and future wars conducted in our name".
Well we already have an "honest accounting of the disgraceful history of the US war in Vietnam", Turse's "Kill anything That Moves"; must reading including Cohn who apparently hasn't read Turses' account.