“Three decades after the U.S. defeat in what Vietnamese call the American War, and just three years since the two nations signed a bilateral trade agreement, U.S.-branded hotels such as Sheraton have opened. U.S.-based tour operators are venturing in. And today, a United Airlines jet touches down in Ho Chi Minh City (still called Saigon by many), marking the first commercial American air link to Vietnam since the war.” — USA TODAY
I think I read some where that the US now does $5 Billion in trade with Vietnam. Flash back to the bloodiest days of “the American War,” and imagine you’re a U.S. soldier being ordered to risk your life to save the South Vietnamese from a life under Communism (I think that’s why we were there). If you could have looked into the future and seen that we would one day be trading partners with Communist Vietnam, would you still have been willing to lay down your life because politicians back in Washington decided it was vital to U.S. foreign policy?
So now our young men and women (and Iraqi men, women and children) are dying for a different foreign policy (I think it’s the War On Terror). Just for fun, let’s pretend it’s 2035 and the U.S. has just signed a new trade agreement with Osama bin Laden. Seems ridiculous. Obscene. But no more impossible than the USA TODAY story above would have seemed in 1970.
Should a young man or woman be asked to lay down their life fighting an enemy that will one day be a trading partner? If we use WWII as an example, I guess the answer is “yes.” We were on the right side in that war and we do lots of business with Germany and Japan (and Italy).
But, somehow, that just doesn’t feel right to me. If I’m going to risk my life to kill the other guys, I don’t want to kiss and make up down the road. Never. Ever. That’s why I would have made a poor soldiar and an even worse Secretary of State.