"War is fear cloaked as courage" - General William Westmoreland
With the recent release of The Post, this quote has been singed in my mind. No other war in American history has scarred us the way that Vietnam did. It crippled the trust the American people had for for their government and instead replaced it with conspiriatory contempt. The war left thousands of veterans with PTSD that are still struggling today without the proper healthcare that they deserve. Most of all, Vietnam was proof that of the fallacy that America the beautiful was in fact not the untouchable protector. The icing on the cake, that our well- intentioned position as the savior of democracy was indeed a lie. Why did we stay there so long? Fear of embarrassment.
No leader, from Truman to Nixon wanted to admit to the world that America did not have a shot at winning a war in this small unknown southeast Asian country. Thousands died in order for one or two to save face. That is the definition of a lack of leadership. Leading would be able to cut loses for the integrity of the people, for the betterment of the whole. Instead we languished in a purgatory of false promises, lies, and manipulated patriotism.
War is nothing new. Cormac McCarthy has a scathing quote in his borderland epic Blood Meridian, ‘before there was man, war waited for him’. The laws of nature were in place, all that was needed was a spark and here we are. War seems to be so primal, barbaric, and in a shrinking world, unnecessary. You want to see courage? In this day and age it will be to forge through the easy answer of going to war and instead talk peace and diplomacy. Tolerance is the new gun. War is childish and reactionary. It is the easiest solution, the path of least resistance, it is the pinnacle of injustice and representative of our own ineptitude.
If we are to have a future, then humans must put away the mistakes of the past. We must throw out the initial lust for blood and instead seek the most difficult path, the one that counters the existence of our species.