Thursday, September 28, 2017

Vietnam was a resource war

I've been pleased to see the war in Vietnam is getting more attention lately ... as a model for American's failures in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria, it's perfectly reasonable to ask, "Why was this allowed to happen again?"

Vietnam began as a war fought to throw out a long-time colonial aggressor (the French, who occupied Vietnam for 60 years, controlling all of its wealth).  The Americans were fools to think they could take over as colonial occupiers after the French defeat by Vietnamese "freedom fighters" in 1954.

The propaganda lies used to get the American people to support a massive invasion of Vietnam are not so different from the lies that are used to support America's current aggressions.

"We can't just let Vietnam fall to the 'Red Chinese'!"  Or to the Taliban, al-Qa'eda or ISIS.  Right?

Vietnam became a war to extend and expand the American empire.  Pure and simple.  An ignoble war against a proud and noble people.  And victory went to the better protagonist.

What I could never understand, though, was why Vietnam (Laos and Cambodia) were worth going to war for?  For what natural resource?  Cinnamon, maybe?  

Not rubber, surely ... rubber had been synthesized by the 1960's.  

Guess what I learned?

Natural-rubber (latex) remains an extremely important commodity even today.  Airplane and truck tires are almost entirely natural-rubber; and radial automobile tires use natural-rubber in their sidewalls (the earlier bias-ply tires were synthetic).  No Boeing 747 ever landed on synthetic rubber tires, and none is likely to anytime soon.

Natural-rubber accounts for 40% of the world's total consumption of rubber ... and that percentage is rising (if slowly).  

Only natural-rubber can be steam-cleaned in a medical sterilizer and then, even if taken from sanitizing temperature and quickly frozen, will still remain flexible.  

The highest technology machinery all requires high-performance natural-rubber hoses, gaskets, and O-rings. 

Hospitals use natural-rubber (latex) gloves ... and you really don't want to trust a synthetic rubber condom.

Natural-rubber ... it's a resource worth ... well ... at least two million lives, right?

Learn a little history ... it's fun.

... the polyestered Kiwanis boys, the merchants and farmers, the pious churchgoers, the chatty housewives, the PTA and the Lions club and the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the fine upstanding gentry out at the country club. They didn't know Bao Dai from the man in the moon. They didn't know history. They didn't know the first thing about Diem's tyranny, or the nature of Vietnamese nationalism, or the long colonialism of the French – this was all too damned complicated, it required some reading – but no matter, it was a war to stop the Communists, plain and simple, which was how they liked things, and you were a treasonous pussy if you had second thoughts about killing or dying for plain and simple reasons.
Excerpted from: The Things They Carried (1990)
Tim O'Brien received his draft notice on June 7, 1968 and served his tour of duty in 
Vietnam in1969 and 1970