Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Vietnam: What Was It About?

This from a piece in today's (7/21/15) NY Times:

HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam — Taking a puff from a hookah and a sip from her beer, Thuy Truong, a 29-year-old tech entrepreneur in a black cocktail dress, pondered the question: What were her thoughts on the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon?

“Forty years ago?” she yelled over the body-rattling roar of nightclub music. “Who cares!”

It amazes me how little the Vietnamese hate us, despite a war in which some three million of them died. They don't bear the kind of grudge we would if the tables were turned.

The Vietnamese lack of hatred astounds me, I am tempted to say, much as their unquenchable desire to persevere, despite all odds, might have LBJ, Nixon, Westmoreland etc.

Then I remember the key fact that they won that war. We lost it.

Could it be that losing leaves deeper scars? Especially in a country such as ours, with our winning war record, our exceptionalism?

If that's the case, it helps explain why we Americans are, in a way, more scarred by that horrible intervention of ours than the Vietnamese who suffered the brunt of it.

Having said that, having ventured my poor effort to explain, I come back to where I started, namely a kind of bafflement.

Ok, they've won, they've moved on, even from the contours of their victory.

That NY Times piece goes on:

“In Hanoi, [said Luong Thi Hai Luyen, 29, who came to Saigon from her native Hanoi] we think about the future, saving for the future,” she said. “Here they don’t think about yesterday — or tomorrow. They live in the moment.”

So what the hell — WTF — was that hideous bloodletting about, anyway?

Not that I regret my opposition to it, not at all. Only that I am now asking the kind of question I couldn't have then.

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