We are on the precipice of another revolutionary upheaval in America. Forty years ago, the United States found itself involved in a conflict it didn’t really want to fight in Viet Nam. The evening news bombarded Americans at the dinner table with televised footage of our embattled young men being bloodied and battered by the enemy. The daily ritual of showing our young men coming home in coffins at an ever increasingly alarming rate as the 1960’s wore on became too much for Americans, thus Viet Nam created a new movement in America that decried bloodshed, for any reason, and declared that making love and not war was the answer.
Lost in the television and print media, who took their cue from TV, coverage was the fact that in Viet Nam, the United States never lost a major battle. I’m sure this is news for some reading this column because, ever since the fall of Saigon to the communist North Vietnamese, the media has portrayed Viet Nam as an American defeat, which is absolutely not true. But nor was it a victory either. For America, the war in Viet Nam officially ended in 1973 when we signed a cease-fire truce with North Vietnam.
Less than two years later, when the North Vietnamese broke the truce and invaded South Vietnam, the United States Government, reeling from a weakened presidency in the aftermath of Watergate and controlled by a Democratic Congress that was war weary, refused to fund the South Vietnamese Government in order to defend themselves from the communist siege. Viet Nam became a united communist country in 1975.
Forty years later, once more America is fighting a war it doesn’t want to fight and once again, Americans are being bombarded with news footage of our soldiers bloodied and battered and of the turmoil and unrest in a foreign country that Americans have decided is irrelevant to them. Once more, despite the fact that there is no possible way for the insurgent terrorist armies to militarily defeat the armed forces of the United States, the enemy insurgents are relying on Western media to disunite America, as they did with their Viet Nam reporting, in order to defeat our military. Like his predecessor, Lyndon B. Johnson, George Bush’s presidency is becoming increasingly obsolete. Once more, emboldened activists for “peace” are heralding the trumpet of retreat for U.S. soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
And as the activists become louder and garner more attention and support from Americans though the media, the beginnings of a revolution storm is brewing. The war in Iraq is taking its toll on America by distracting the president, his cabinet members, as well as the Congress from pressing issues that demand attention now, whether it is the unmitigated influx of third world illegal immigration or the development of nuclear weapons in North Korea and Iran, countries with unstable and dangerous leadership.
It is now too late and the die has been cast. After this Fall’s congressional and state elections, and regardless of who controls the Congress, the next five years in America will be one of upheaval, disunity and chaos. The 2008 presidential election will be the most fiercely fought election since 1968. It will be coarse and brutal, spilling out into the streets as various groups, who no longer view themselves as Americans first, will finally feel secure in their numbers and change the direction of the country much as the activists of forty years ago did.
The force of the coming implosion will only be mitigated by world events outside of our realm. Those coming events will hurt American citizenry and once more force us to look within ourselves, just as our forefathers have done, for the fortitude and strength needed to sustain our fragile democracy. That the answer is not one of certainty, because our forefathers have either been forgotten or are not respected and even despised by some groups who will never consider themselves to be Americans first, is a frightening prospect to those citizens who call America home.
Richard Barrett, BA in English Literature writes about the human condition.