President Obama, on a Presidential visit to Vietnam, signed a number of trade agreements with Vietnam. He also authorized the sale of American defense equipment to that country.
While that is not unusual, (we nearly always eventually sign agreements with those we have been at war with), it never the less proves that we've simply got to get a better grip on how we wage war.
55,000 American men died in Vietnam. Another half million or so came home with fewer limbs than they left home with. Another million, those who made it out, suffer from PTSD, Agent Orange, or from homelessness.
And, here we are, fifty years later, buying shrimp and Nike shoes from Vietnam. And, even as thousands of our soldiers, missing in action, remain unaccounted for, we're ready to sell Vietnam tanks and planes and defense electronics.
It seems a vicious circle. A million Americans died fighting Germany, and then they became our largest trading partner. Japan attacked us, and a million men died, hop-scotching across the Pacific, their bodies scattered across a hundred island beaches...then we rebuilt Japanese factories...and then bought their automobiles and VCR's and Sony televisions.
And, in the Civil War the North and South battled...and 750,000 men lost their lives...so many that the Civil War literally erased a whole generation of young men during those four bloody years. And now we watch Alabama play Rutgers, and northerners vacation in Florida, and New Yorkers travel to New Orleans for Mardi Gras.
So, it's pretty clear; the grown-ups need to "grow up". We've got to stop sacrificing our young people. We've got to stop making the young people the only "losers" on our bloody little wars.
Having spent more than my own share in those wars, I'm firmly convinced that, if we passed a law that said only those men and women fifty and older will fight our wars, there would be far fewer of them.
I'm not saying that some wars are not justified...I'm simply saying let's "re-arrange the deck chairs" and send the older folks to fight our wars. They've already had their fair share of living and loving...and it might just change our attitudes about warfare.
General Robert E. Lee, in my mind our greatest general, once said "it is good war is so horrible, otherwise we could grow to fond of it".
Sad. Damned Sad.