People's History: Vietnam, 1960s (Chap 18)

Like A Rolling Stone, Bob Dylan
For What It's Worth, Buffalo Springfield

Ambitions for control and foreign riches motivate
decisions, as in Vietnam, to bomb and devastate.

The war in Vietnam: the strongest country on the earth
against a tiny peasant colony of France whose birth
of independence under Ho Chi Minh in '45
demanded all the rights that each American alive
should understand. But we resisted, giving foreign aid
to stop their quest, the threat of 'dominoes' a masquerade
while lusting over Asian rubber, tin, petroleum.
The French withdrew, but our imperial intentions, numb
to self-determination, urged us on. A populist
attempt to help the peasants was a form of communist
control to us. We took the south of Vietnam and made
a country. Chosen leader Diem's star began to fade
and we deposed him during 'freedom' talks by JFK.
And now, in '64, the war took hold with LBJ.
The Gulf of Tonkin, though a fake, allowed us to declare
a war against the Viet Cong -- a grandiose affair,
a quarter-ton of bombs for every person in the land.
Napalm, defoliants for villagers who simply stand
and watch a half a million foreign warriors destroy
their fields and huts, with every elder, woman, girl and boy
considered dangerous. Americans were all in shock
at My Lai -- children pushed in ditches, shot. As if to mock
the 'liberation,' soldiers told of "many My Lais" spread
throughout the country. Opposition gathered, surged ahead,
the Tet Offensive demonstrating popular support.
And our response? As if engaged in some barbaric sport,
bomb Laos, and then Cambodia. "So tell us, LBJ,"
said chanters all around our nation, "who'd you kill today?"
With LBJ resigning, that left Nixon's strategy:
withdrawing troops, increasing bombs, inflicting misery
from longer range, with Viet allies using US arms
to finish off the communists and villages and farms.

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