I began reflecting on the parallels between the Vietnam War and the War on Drugs (which ironically was initiated just as the Vietnam War was ending).
The initial U.S. involvement in Vietnam was in support of French desire to maintain it’s colonial power in Vietnam.
After the French army was defeated the U.S. betrayed its agreement with Ho Chi Minh to hold democratic elections in favor of supporting the corrupt despot Diem.
The U.S. public was deceived into believing Ho Chi Minh was not a nationalist seeking independence for his country but instead solely a communist and implacable foe of America.
The tens of thousands of men and women who volunteered to serve in Vietnam believed they were engaged in a fight against communism in support of freedom and democracy.
Similarly the U.S. public was deceived into believing that drug abuse was the country’s biggest public safety threat and that a ‘war on drugs’ was the best approach – because after all the U.S. always wins…but in declaring a ‘war on drugs’ the government was declaring war on its own citizens in much the same way the Vietnam War seemed to require the U.S. military to destroy villages in order to save them.
Yet the Vietnam War was not winnable – in much the same way as the war on drugs is not winnable.