Archives For global politics

The War That Never Ends

November 12, 2017 — Leave a comment

In watching The Vietnam War, a viewer, hearing American officials pondering options, is tempted to burst out “stop, no, make the other choice.” But those making decisions did not know how the story would turn out. They had to act with the experiences they had lived through, not those we have accumulated since, based on imperfect knowledge and the typical set of “all bad” options.


But this comes only after 100 minutes of almost unceasing negatives on the war: from a Vietnam Veterans Against the War-heavy focus on the minority of veterans who bitterly opposed to it to Jane Fonda in Hanoi, John Kerry’s Senate testimony, drug-addicted U.S. soldiers, the Pentagon Papers, My Lai, and extensive footage of South Vietnamese army (ARVN) troops retreating in Laos and initially in the Easter Offensive (although ARVN soldiers won that battle). The plurality of Americans still supporting the war, which in that period included most veterans, got little airtime. A viewer could easily ask whether Burns and Novick were describing the same country that gave Nixon an overwhelming victory in 49 states in the 1972 election.


But beyond Vietnam-specific lessons, The Vietnam War lays out in a non-didactic, illustrative manner strategic truths of great import, including for us today. The four that matter most are about containment, incremental versus major war tactics, definitions of victory, and the criticality of determination in conflict.


At the very least, this demonstrates that decreased democratic turnout had as much if not more of an impact in the election than Trump’s ability to rally supporters. Of course, none of this is to absolve Trump supporters for making unwise voting decisions, but if Coates wants to prove that white supremacy was the dominating force fueling the rise of Trump, he must demonstrate that all other possible motives are implausible—which he doesn’t.


The danger of proceeding in this way is not simply the acceptance of logical fallacies. Using a single factor to explain the election forfeits a golden opportunity to grapple with the layered motives that are always in play in human affairs. And a popular discourse that assumes the worst about Americans has a chilling affect on the rest of the country, tears at the fabric of our institutions, and accelerates the disintegration of our social and civic bonds.


I agree with the sentiments of this article and have found it to convey my personal opinions on the French election best. France is in dire straits and this presidential election is not going to solve the overarching problems which have plagued France for decades. Like in the US, France is divided and in search of an identity. Moreover it is stuck between two ideological opposites vying for control of the helm of the nation. The future in my estimations is bleak with increased possibilities of war and civil strife.


WIN/Gallup International’s global survey shows three in five willing to fight for their country