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Letters: Vietnam today

May 08, 2013
  • Some see parallels between the rushed evacuation of Saigon in 1975 and the exits from Iraq and Afghanistan today.
Some see parallels between the rushed evacuation of Saigon in 1975 and the… (Neal Ulevich / Associated…)

Re "The Vietnam syndrome," Opinion, May 5

Frank Snepp, a former CIA analyst who was in Vietnam during the fall of Saigon in 1975, worries that we may not have learned the lessons of our war in that country. He may have missed the most important lesson.

Vietnam today is a small country that represents no great threat to the United States or its allies. The collapse of South Vietnam didn't lead to falling dominoes or global disaster.

We should ponder this outcome when we hear warnings of doom about our withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan or our refusal to intervene in Syria.

Donald G. Marshall

Downey

Snepp bemoans the reality of un-smooth transitions of power from American forces to our "friends" (lackeys) in South Vietnam in the 1970s and now in Afghanistan and Iraq. He says the local folks we select as our partners are shady and corrupt.

How can this be otherwise considering that our push to expand Pax Americana since the 1950s has been based on half-truths and lies? Perhaps what Snepp and others should be criticizing is the initial decision to intrude into the internal affairs of Vietnam and Iraq in the first place.

As for Afghanistan, the old saying that "Afghanistan is the place where empires go to die" should have been heeded by George W. Bush and Barack Obama. But imperial ambition does not seek wisdom for an ally.

Bob Teigan

Santa Susana

Snepp declares that "one major ingredient of both the Afghanistan and Iraq experiments was the use of American dollars to buy off insurgents, wean them from their Al Qaeda or Taliban suitors and win the indulgence, however grudging, of the leadership in Kabul or Baghdad."

Other "ingredients" added to the "experiments" included the defoliant and herbicide Agent Orange in Vietnam and depleted uranium munitions in Iraq, both of which have been linked to thousands of birth defects and untold suffering.

The planet isn't a lab, and countries that are no actual threat to the United States should not be seen as mere experiments.

Charlene Richards

Los Angeles

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