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PeaceTrees Vietnam. Reversing the Legacy of War.
September 20, 2002 1:20 AM   Subscribe

PeaceTrees Vietnam. Reversing the Legacy of War. "A group of American volunteers, including Vietnam War veterans, helped Vietnamese victims of the war move Thursday into a newly built 'peace village' on the site of a former U.S. Marine base. The 100 families who will live in the village lost relatives or limbs in explosions of bombs, shells or other ordnance left over from the war. PeaceTrees Vietnam, the Washington State-based nonprofit group which sponsored the $385,000 project, says it spent months digging out 339 pieces of ordnance both American and North Vietnamese to make the 100-acre site safe."

Beautiful project and story....but one can't help wonder how many years will pass before we reverse the legacies of today's (and tomorrow's) wars.
posted by fold_and_mutilate (39 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
That's very touching. Thanks! Although I'm a little wary about the broad generalizations the writer draws about what the Vietnamese are like.

It agrees with everything else I've heard, that the Vietnamese really want to like Americans, if we'd let them. Vietnamese Communism, the first decade of which was disastrous, is now slowly withering on the vine, and capitalism is creeping in at the edges. We could probably help the process along if we'd start working on normalizing relations and trade.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 2:26 AM on September 20, 2002


You can never reverse the legacies of war, you can only dampen the affects. Most healing comes with time and forgetfulness.
At 28 years of age I can't say that Vietnam has had any real affect on me (of course it goes differently for the Vietnamese, I'm sure), and my children will consider it just another in a long line of wars to "protect America and the free world" - how soon we forget.

50's - Korea
70's - Vietnam
90's - Gulf War
00's - Repeat 90's
posted by bramoire at 3:26 AM on September 20, 2002


Peace now reigns on what was once a senseless, bloody battlefield.

I have to take exception with the first line of the article, although I salute all efforts to memorialize the bravery and courage of all participants in the Viet Nam war.

To categorize the Viet Nam war as "senseless" is irresponsible at best, and malicious Hollywood leftism at worst.

There was nothing senseless about the prevention of North Korean and Viet Kong communist genocide in Viet Nam. There was nothing senseless about the 58,000 deaths and 200,000 casualties of Americans who gave their lives to protect the South Vietnamese, not even counting the military casualties of other nations who were involved in that conflict.

That there is peace now in that region is good, but let's not forget the people who gave their lives to make it possible.
posted by hama7 at 3:28 AM on September 20, 2002


Hama7, Vietnam was senseless in the fact it never should have happened to begin with.
The Vietnamese fought against the Japanese in WW2, and should have regained their independence. Instead, the US agreed to hand it back to the French even though American policy was anti-colonial. When the French realized they couldn't hold it alone, they used the spectre of communism to bring US troops into the conflict, even though the Vietnamese and Chinese distrust each other immensely.
If you can give me one good reason why US troops were put in a position to become casualties in the first place, then maybe we can talk.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 4:35 AM on September 20, 2002


hama7,

The lens you see through needs a good cleaning. Vietnam WAS a senseless war. Where the hell do you get this Hollywood leftism crap? Obviously you weren't around during Vietnam and your comments are an affront to many who were.
posted by nofundy at 4:58 AM on September 20, 2002


Vietnam was senseless in the fact it never should have happened to begin with.

Well in retrospect, you can say that that about any war.

It did happen, and many lives were lost. To call it "senseless" is not only ignorant, but is an affront to the soldiers and civilians whose lives were lost.
posted by hama7 at 5:00 AM on September 20, 2002


I think you can reverse the legacy of war and this is a brave example of it. Now all it needs is time. Even if you couldn't, gestures like this are never empty and trying to reverse that legacy is valuable enough as an exercise of will and - let us not forget - friendship.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:02 AM on September 20, 2002


and malicious Hollywood leftism at worst.

"Hollywood leftism"?
Rush Limbaugh's on MeFi!!!

(insert decades-old Jane-Fonda-in-Hanoi joke here)
posted by matteo at 5:18 AM on September 20, 2002


Hama7, it seems you're on a whole other plane of reality.
The very fact that so many soldiers and civilians lost their lives is the REASON the Vietnam conflict was senseless. US troops shouldn't have been in Vietnam to begin with. They were fighting against people who should have been their allies, under the mistaken belief they were fighting the spread of communism. Post-WW2 Vietnam looked to the United States for support, for friendship. Instead, there was war and destruction with nothing achieved. That is the definition of senseless.
And no, not every war is senseless. WW1 certainly was, but WW2 actually improved the world, by forcing the US out of isolation and re-energizing democracies in western Europe.
Trust me, I respect the sacrifices of the soldiers who did go to Vietnam. The wall in Washington is the most brilliantly designed memorial I have ever visited. It looks like nothing at a distance, and at the start it's just a few names, then a few more. There's no dramatic surge, just a slow, steady decline. By the time you stop and realize you've just passed thousands of names, you're literally in over your head, and you still have a long way to go. Truly captures the tragedy of Vietnam, that so many had to give so much for so little.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 5:25 AM on September 20, 2002


GhostintheMachine beat me to it: to talk about the horrific losses of the Great War (the best example) and not describe them as 'senseless', would itself be an affront to the lives that were lost. Some conflicts do take the piss out of Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori. Vietnam was one of them. There's a difference between 'senseless' and 'meaningless'. And with more nuance, between 'meaningless' and 'without meaning'.
posted by riviera at 5:29 AM on September 20, 2002


that so many had to give so much for so little.

If you think that "so little" is what we are seeing today in terms of a peace memorial in Vietnam, then fine. It's very progressive to denigrate the sacrifices made in Vietnam, but I for one will have no part of it.

Yes, Vietnam was controversial, but only controversial for American leftist civilians. Participants (soldiers) have a completely different outlook, in that they were there under command of the U.S. military, as requested by the South Vietnamese, and were thwarted in part by the politics in Washington D.C. at the time.

Americans (and others) were sent to Vietnam to fight, and fight they did; against a genocidal enemy on par with the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia. They did the right thing.

No matter how many times you watch "Full Metal Jacket" or "Platoon".
posted by hama7 at 5:50 AM on September 20, 2002


hama7,

From your statements I find it dificult to believe that you have had any conversations with any veterans of Vietnam. Had you actually conversed with them you would have come away with a far different opinion. And this "leftist" bullshit again. The people who opposed the war were neither left nor right and there was no Rush crap-spewer to give the protests any sort of political slant. People from ALL political persuasions rose up to oppose an unjust war. The genocide happened not from hanoi but from the Pentagon orders. Get it right or shut up. BTW, Full Metal Jacket and Platoon were written by authors who had intimate knowledge of the conflict, unlike you. Perhaps you should sign up and serve in the upcoming conflict and get a little of that proud justice of the defenders of all things good and right?
posted by nofundy at 6:27 AM on September 20, 2002


Hama7, give me a freakin' break. There's just so much wrong with your argument, I don't know where to begin... so I won't bother.

Go fight your demons elsewhere. I'm NOT attacking US troop actions in Vietnam. I don't care if they did the "right" or "wrong" thing. Their actions are beside the point (aside: militarily, they did their job as well as in any other US war. They won virtually every battle. This is not about the soldiers).

They didn't have to be there to begin with - that's my argument. It was senseless for the US government to send troops into a situation they (the gov't) didn't understand, with no clear purpose, to ends contrary to their best interest.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 6:33 AM on September 20, 2002


(looking back)

...geez, this is all in response to a link about tree planting. We derailed a Boy Scoutesque post with US foreign policy mistakes. Is this all MeFi is about? Where's the Friday flash games already?
posted by GhostintheMachine at 6:37 AM on September 20, 2002


Yes, Vietnam was controversial, but only controversial for American leftist civilians.

Speaking as a middle-of-the-road Briton, I find this statement just too sad to be risible ...
posted by walrus at 6:46 AM on September 20, 2002


From your statements I find it dificult to believe that you have had any conversations with any veterans of Vietnam

Well, know-it-alls, my father is a pretty good Vietnam resource, gassed, grenaded, bombed and all.

Leftists, including communist-sympathizers and "peace-for-peace-sake peace-niks were the bane of the honorable men and women who served their country during that time.

The United States armed Forces DID have to be in Vietnam, in order to protect Vietnamese civilians from politicized communist genocide.

I am so glad that a memorial of peace has been put in place in Vietnam for future generations.

May peace prevail.
posted by hama7 at 6:56 AM on September 20, 2002


Sadly america used to be anti-colonial, now it too wants 'its place in the sun'. (With lots of lovely black gold)
posted by johnnyboy at 7:04 AM on September 20, 2002


Sorry, just to clarify what the fuck is a lefist anyway. I don't know what is happening, I suppose it is too much to ask some to stop their crass cold war tarring and ignorant generalisations.
posted by johnnyboy at 7:09 AM on September 20, 2002


The United States armed Forces DID have to be in Vietnam.

Say it three times, and it's true.
posted by walrus at 7:14 AM on September 20, 2002


Ganesh in a go-kart, way to totally de-rail a very nice thread with a good link by dredging up stuff that doesn't even matter anymore (in that nobody can change it). Learn the lessons from Vietnam, but don't start new flame wars because of it, at least not in this thread.
posted by Ufez Jones at 7:16 AM on September 20, 2002


And for what it's worth, here's the blue nile Land Mine Removal project.
posted by Ufez Jones at 7:19 AM on September 20, 2002


At least this derailment has given us a lovely phrase to conjure with: peace-for-peace-sake peace-niks. Mm!
posted by robself at 7:21 AM on September 20, 2002


Hama7, go read a book, any book, really. Educate yourself before you embarass yourself further. Get out of the shadows. You need perspective on this. You're just regurgitating sad, tired diatribe and a lot of pent-up hostility. Next you'll be espousing the communist domino theory.

(And on preview, sorry Ufez. I tried to get it back on track, I really did. Sometimes I just can't help myself.)
posted by GhostintheMachine at 7:25 AM on September 20, 2002


Learn the lessons from Vietnam, but don't start new flame wars because of it, at least not in this thread.

Too late bud, the first line of the article started it.
posted by hama7 at 7:25 AM on September 20, 2002


Hama7, go read a book, any book, really. Educate yourself before you embarass yourself further

How sad.
posted by hama7 at 7:27 AM on September 20, 2002


How sad.

Yes, for you.
So your dad is your single source of all things Vietnam, eh? Is your dad perchance a big fan of Rush? Does daddy happen to be an extremist right-winger? Have you considered that there's a whole other world of opinion out there contrary to what daddy thinks?

What Ghost said. Here's your sign.

May peace reign forever. An aside: I saw a picture of an anti-war protestor holding a sign in Nashville on Wednesday during Dubya's visit that read: "Fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity" WooHoo!!
posted by nofundy at 7:37 AM on September 20, 2002


They didn't have to be there to begin with - that's my argument.

Thanks to JFK for that.


It was senseless for the US government to send troops into a situation they (the gov't) didn't understand, with no clear purpose, to ends contrary to their best interest.

Thanks to LBJ and Robert Mcnamara for that.


I personally don't think America should have gotten involved in Vietnam. If the North Vietnamese wanted to kill the entire population of S. Vietnam, then have at it I would have said. Same goes for Bosnia, Iraq and every other place where we wind up pulling our holier than thou police duty. I see no point in putting our troops in between two(or more, Bosnia) opposing sides of indigenous people trying to decide the fate of their own country. THEN, tying their hands behind their back so as to make them ineffective to boot.

BUT, once we decided to get involved, or rather, get our troops involved, it should have been managed in a much different way, and not from DC.
posted by a3matrix at 7:37 AM on September 20, 2002



BUT, once we decided to get involved, or rather, get our troops involved, it should have been managed in a much different way, and not from DC.


Yes sir. And as far as I am concerned, Somalis should have been able to carry out their genocidal pograms too. But they couldn't because of U.S. interference. Another example of the United States meddling in the affairs of other countries when racist genocide is at stake.

American bastards!
posted by hama7 at 8:11 AM on September 20, 2002


In an effort to escape the flame wars, I will simply say nice post Foldy, once again.
posted by tr33hggr at 8:49 AM on September 20, 2002


Yeah, thanks, foldy -- it's nice to have a bright spot amid the gathering clouds.
posted by languagehat at 9:06 AM on September 20, 2002


They didn't have to be there to begin with - that's my argument.

Thanks to JFK for that.


Thanks to Ike. Or, thanks to Harry T., actually

And, more American GI's died in Central and South America during the Reagan years then they died in Vietnam during JFK's admittedly brief thousand-day presidency
posted by matteo at 9:08 AM on September 20, 2002


"And, more American GI's died in Central and South America during the Reagan years then they died in Vietnam during JFK's admittedly brief thousand-day presidency"

stats please and no covert action quarterly stuff.

"Pol pot regime..."
guess who liberated Cambodia...The very same vietnamese, whilst we stood by with our thumb up our butt.
posted by clavdivs at 9:37 AM on September 20, 2002


Senseless:

The Vietnam war cost two-thousand-million dollars every month (I believe that's what Americans refer to as a billion? Sorry, and how many months did it go on for?)

vs.

PeaceTrees Vietnam, the Washington State-based nonprofit group which sponsored the $385,000 project.

I know that it's old school economics but I know which I buy from the guns or butter equasion. [sings] All we are saying, is give war a chance... [\sings]

Thank you Foldy for an apposite illustration that there's more to the USA than ugly American posturing
posted by dmt at 9:49 AM on September 20, 2002


(Most people haven't read the book. The "Ugly American" character is a good guy.)
posted by dhartung at 10:06 AM on September 20, 2002


dhartung: Superficially yes, the engineer and his wife were ugly in the Vogue sense of the term but it was the political appointee ambassador to Sarkham who was really 'ugly' but I'll concede you the general point.

Besides, the coruscating sequel, The Deceptive American is a more engrossing read. Shades of A Bright Shining Lie.

Hama7, please can I ask you to at least look at that last title - it a hero who went to Vietnam to do the right thing and lost faith with the official narrative.
posted by dmt at 10:20 AM on September 20, 2002


Aargh! Sorry, the sequel was The Deceptive American (see previous link), which I was trying to say had shades of A Bright Shining Lie...
posted by dmt at 10:23 AM on September 20, 2002


They didn't have to be there to begin with - that's my argument.

Thanks to JFK for that.

Thanks to Ike. Or, thanks to Harry T., actually


One bad decision, followed by another, and another and another.

As for the reference to Somalia. Yet another case in which we need not have intervened. But we did, and yet again became the world police, and just when it was about to all culminate, we get our nose bloodied, and our esteemed leaders cave into to polls and public opinion, and like thieves in the night, we leave.

No one interfered with Great Britain and the US when we had our squabbles. Nor should we try and force our great peace and higher standards on others. Very hypocritical to believe that we can go to war, but no one else can.

The most recent, he has WMD and he is not allowed to is just over the top.
But he has them and will use them ! SO WHAT THE FUCK ARE OURS FOR !! Decorations I guess.

I think that the US is due for some introspection into our own policies that we try to apply abroad.
posted by a3matrix at 10:54 AM on September 20, 2002


"A compelling novel about the horror and waste of the Vietnam War--from the North Vietnamese point of view." Offered with the hope that "horror and waste" sounds a little more respectful than "senseless."

Also don't miss "Paradise of the Blind," by the same author.
posted by sheauga at 11:21 AM on September 20, 2002


At 28 years of age I can't say that Vietnam has had any real affect on me

It has, just in ways that aren't neccessarily that direct. If you live in a major city, there's probably a large number of southeast Asian immigrants, something that is at least in part attributable to the war.

Also you've probably come in contact with at least on person who served in Vietnam, a relative or a boss or co-worker. The experiences of these men, and by extension the whole country went along way towards shaping our modern attitudes on warfare--dove and hawk alike. Hawks want have some kind of compensatory experience to "avenge" our losses, doves use the war as an example of the quagmire of interventionism gone wrong. So the ghost of the war hovers over the whole country whether we were cognizant during that time or not.

So, actually, Interesting post, F&M. On a related note I recall that Vietnam Vet author W.D Ehrhart wrote a book about returning to Vietnam after the war. The books main thesis being that the only people who could truly understand him and his fellow veterans were the men they had fought against. I had meant to read it as I'd enjoyed Erhart's other work, but had forgotten it until this moment. Thanks for the memory jog.
posted by jonmc at 11:29 AM on September 20, 2002


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