The Vietnam War was before my time, but what happened over six thousand miles away and ended over forty-two years ago had an effect on me. It affected my perception of right and wrong and what waging modern war is about. In the Documentary, “The Vietnam War” a film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, showed real stories not just the facts. The interviews with all parties involved in the war, not just the Americans, were fascinating.
Was it right to get involved in Vietnam? Before now I knew not, but now I see. I see the failure of The Vietnam War, each step forward made the step back harder. Looking through the lens of time, I can see the original justification for the war, to contain Communism. Being wrong does not mean you should continue in a wrong cause but to change your ways. The United States got Vietnam wrong; The US should have gotten out before they entered.
When the US put a Catholic leader, Ngo Dinh Diem, in power there was major backlash by the Buddhist population of Vietnam. Ngo Dinh Diem’s anti-Buddhist policies led to an old Monk burning himself in protest. A photo or video of this can not be unseen. It was a call for the US to fix the government they propped up, but The US did not. Was that right to let innocent people die in protest of a harsh government? I would believe not, but The US government still supported the South Vietnamese government. I can see the idea that Communism was needed to be stopped but is an authoritarian-like government that much better? Apparently to the US Government it was yes.
The United States’ entrance into direct war with North Vietnam was due to a mistranslation of the North Vietnamese’s radio orders. A small mistake was very costly. Was it right to enter the Vietnam War? The Vietnamese wanted independence; independence from a colonial power as the US did. Why should The US prevent that from happening? The North Vietnamese fight for Communism to take over the world. They believed in a single country Communism; they did not want to take over the world like Stalin wanted to.
Back in The United States, the anti-war movement was gaining strength, yet the US kept sending more troops into a failing war. The US saw that they were losing and they saw no good way out, so The US went head first. The US were fighting a war up a hill with many boulders pushing them down. It was wrong to send young men, with lives ahead, into their graves. The US were fighting Communism, is that not enough for war? The Vietnamese just wanted independence and if Communism was that bad it would fail and they would become a republic.
The US were fighting a modern war; a war not between two grand militaries, but rather a war between a grand military and a people. It was a guerrilla war in their land. It was destined to fail, the more troops the bigger failure. The French failed with their attempt to keep Vietnam. When they did fail, The US should have seen the impossibility of winning a guerrilla war not in The US’s own land. This lesson should have been learned a long time ago, in The US’s own war of independence in 1776. The US used guerrilla warfare to win their war of independence. If it worked against the British, the great power at the time, it would work against The United State, the modern power. The US tried to counter it; by trying to destroy the country, but they were prevented. They were prevented by the media publicizing it. This in my mind was good, it prevented genocide from happening.
I feel a war that ended over forty-two years ago and was over six thousand miles away from the United States, was wrong. The war was an illegitimate war that caused the unnecessary deaths of decent humans, all in the name of containing Communism. The US knew they would lose, and yet they continued to send their men into war.
Dear George Orwell,
Yesterday was different than today, and today is different than tomorrow. Yesterday the facts were trusted, today I do know which facts are true and which are fabricated, but I still know two plus two equals four. Tomorrow, I believe I will not know a fact from a fabrication and as far as I am concerned two plus two will equal five.
We live in a world of fake news and altered facts that challenge our beliefs and promote the idea that what you think and what you remember might not be correct. In your book, 1984, altered facts were used by the Ministry of Truth to discredit Oceania’s enemies- states, people, and, ironically, the truth.
In your book the people are fooled and tricked by the government openly at the Ministry of Truth. We have no Ministry of Truth, yet we have something worse. We have the Internet, a place where anyone can communicate whatever they want; the truth or otherwise. The Internet has millions of people posting altered facts. Our government cannot prevent this because of the First Amendment. If our government starts to restrict speech, on the Internet or otherwise, it will lead to our government controlling all speech, therefore becoming like Oceania.
These “facts” grow and spread not by a “Ministry of Truth” but by the people and they spread them on the Internet. Some people like Winston know firsthand how “facts” are created; yet when we try to combat them they turn and claim our argument is “fake news!” This idea is a double edged sword, first it swings and creates lies and then on the return it kills the truth we try to tell.
Just a few weeks ago, a rumor circulated that over five thousand dead people voted for Doug Jones. This rumor of voter fraud was created by someone online to discredit Doug Jones’s Senate victory over Roy Moore. It took a statement from the Alabama Secretary of State to attempt to dispel this rumor, but sadly some do not listen.
I see your book as a warning- a warning of what is to come. If we do not combat “fake news,” “alternative facts,” or whatever it is called, we will live in a society like 1984. Your warning is that if we do not fact check, we will be tricked, but if we do fact check, the facts will change. Sadly, I feel fiction is becoming reality.