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Not a mistake



An unnecessary war

I used to wonder why anybody would go into the American armed services after the war in Vietnam.

But now, we have an unnecessary war for our own time.

And now, we still have people defending a war that... well, it's unnecessary. You can't do much worse than that.

I wasn't in Vietnam. I was born the year of the Gulf of Tonkin "incident," a minor or fabricated* interaction between seagoing vessels, the "beginning" of the Vietnam war, 1964.

The Gulf of Tonkin Incident was an opportunity for the American government to escalate military action. They called it police action then, and would for several years. Indeed, they never officially called it a war, did they? But a lot of people killed each other,* so I'd say it was a war.

That's the tricky thing about langauge, and the language of war is the worst. For example, the Iraq war of 2003 is over now, isn't it? People are still dying. The American occupation is over, isn't it?

— October, 2004 Nijmegen, The Netherlands

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"Not a one. No boats, no wakes, no ricochets off boats, no boat impacts, no torpedo wakes — nothing but black sea and American firepower."

— James Bond Stockdale, who retired a Vice Admiral, highly decorated. Stockdale led the air squadron over the Gulf of Tonkin the night of the "event that never happened" (4 August, 1964.)

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* The Americans killed more than two million Vietnamese, often making no distinction between military and civilian targets. (To be fair to the American soldiers, there often was no distinction between the Vietnamese soldier and civilian.)

About 50,000 Americans were killed and three times that many wounded.

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