“And Fala Hates Wah”

“I hate war, Eleanor hates war, and our dog, Fala, hates war” – attributed to FDR, 1941.

I heard from the friend who sent the Kerry/Fonda picture yesterday. Not only are we still speaking but find we are not poles apart after all. And she says she heard the picture may be doctored. No matter. Friendships were lost in the 1960’s over these issues. I hope it does not have to happen all over again 40 years later.

Excerpts from personal observations I shared in my reply:

I never was a Fonda fan, actually. I enlisted in the Army. I was proud of my tour in Vietnam and I thought (at the time) that we were doing the right thing. That was before the butchery began. Imagine my shock and anger … that Nixon and Kissinger could cozy up to a Saigon regime more corrupt than Hanoi’s, carpet bomb the rice fields from B52’s, and napalm women, children and civilians in the villages of the plains and central highlands.

That’s mind-boggling. That’s like the Surgeon General cozying up to pimps and pushers.

Rather than going over as freedom fighters and liberators for an oppressed or threatened people, I saw our friends sent as cannon fodder, truly as pawns of hopelessly cynical and corrupt global chess players.

We were not defending freedom in Southeast Asia after about 1966. We may have meant to. We may have thought we were. But we’d traded fighting for freedom for defeating the north at all costs. And the cost was terrible. To send a young soldier or marine to replace one who had died in that place was a travesty. Battlefield tactics and conditions devolved down to a state that degraded the living and defiled the dead. To die that another could fill your boots, fulfilling the same horrible circular loop, was to die in vain.

I ended up learning not to hate either the pacificists or the hawks. Each movement attracted extremists who sacrificed people and principles to build their own power bases. They always do. They always will.

(Concerning) how I had come from the hawk position to the dove position: I hadn’t changed at all. What had been changed is the realization that we’d all been betrayed.

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