“Without a Righteous Cause: Views from the Asian American Vietnam Veterans Organization”

Before the internet, cell phones, ESPN, play station, AIDS, and global warming, there was a conflict that pitted the mightiest industrial nation on the planet against a tiny Asian nation fighting for its independence and right to self-determination.

This conflict was the Viet Nam War; it was in the 1960s and 1970s. Young men like us either enlisted or were drafted into the U.S. military, indoctrinated, then sent off to the distant jungles in the Viet Nam to kill people who looked like us. They told us it was to protect and defend American democracy.

In Viet Nam, we watched and at times participated in the destruction of villages, the indiscriminate killing of people, young and old. We saw and felt the death and maiming of friends and fellow soldiers. Being a soldier in a country that we had no business being in, then coming home to see people of color in our communities fighting for basic civil and human rights, it didn’t take long to figure out that the war had nothing to do with “democracy.”

Forced to fight without a “righteous cause” or “moral basis,” confusion, anger and low morale prevailed. When a soldier is ordered to fight in an unjust war and oppresses other people, it can result in atrocities such as the massacre of elders, children, women and men in the Vietnamese villages of Mai Lai.

It took the collective voice of the American people to finally end this unjust voice.

Today, many of us are fathers of young men and women that are enlistment age, and we see a responsibility to share our experiences and views. We believe they need to be heard because it has been suppressed by those who blindly support the Bush Administration’s war in Iraq.

The AAVVO, supports our troops in Iraq. But they, along with the American people, have been deceived. “Weapons of mass destruction” and “Operation Iraq Freedom” is deceitful policy that has killed of over 3,000 U.S. soldiers and more than 60,000 Iraqis.

Our troops in Iraq face many of the horrors that we did in Vietnam. The U.S. has intentionally bombed and destroyed civilians, commercial and business districts, schools, hospitals, mosques, churches, shelters, residential areas, historical sites, private vehicles and civilian government offices. The U.S. has committed war crimes by utilizing cluster bombs and depleted uranium on the Iraq people. In a shameful incident, U.S. soldiers in Al Mahmudiyhan kidnapped, gang-raped and murdered a 14-year old Iraq girl after killing her parents and five-year-old sister. In the small village of Al Hamdania, seven Marines are on trial for the murder, kidnapping and conspiracy to cover up. And the world knows Abu Ghraib prison, formally the Baghdad Correctional Facility, as the place where Iraqi prisoners have been abused and tortured by U.S. military personnel.

Billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars have been spent on this illegal war, while supporters of the Bush family have profited a billion times over. Halliburton in 2003 alone has been awarded government contracts for $10.8 billion. Amazingly, they rank seventh in the top ten corporate war profiteers.

Internationally, 50 nations have officially condemned of the U.S. invasion and occupation.

We as the AAVVO, oppose Bush’s illegal war in Iraq. We support 1st Lieutenant Ehren Watada’s refusal to obey orders to deploy to Iraq, based on the war being illegal and immoral. To take such a stand on principal against the U.S. military and U.S. government, and to face the consequences of that stand takes tremendous courage. This is the same type of courage that the Heart Mountain Draft Resisters demonstrated during World War II when they challenged the constitutional legality of drafting Nisei’s into the armed forces when the Japanese people were illegally put into concentration camps.

As veterans of the Viet Nam War, we urge you to seek out the truth and education yourselves about the war in Iraq. The young people in the military—most from poor and working class backgrounds—need to be brought home and given help to be able to re-enter civilian life and earn a decent livelihood. The responsibility to bring them home belongs to all of us.

We say, “Support the troops by bringing them home; and take care them when they get here.”

—AAVVO and friends


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