American Values/4

by Mark Chmiel

April 6 marks another anniversary in the U.S. selective remembrance of the Vietnam War: 35 years ago, at the last minute, the U.S. initiated Operation Babylift, out of Saigon. According to a story today in Britain’s Mirror, “American President Gerald Ford said he feared the victorious communist Vietcong would show no mercy to abandoned infants, especially the ones fathered by American soldiers.”

How touching! How compassionate was Gerald Ford! Ford also has the distinction of pardoning his presidential predecessor Richard Nixon, absolving him for any and all crimes Nixon may have committed while acting as president.

The declassified Nixon tapes reveal the following pertinent exchange between President Nixon and his National Security Agency advisor Henry Kissinger: “I just want you to think big, Henry, for Christ sakes the only place where you and I disagree is with regard to the bombing. You’re so goddamned concerned about the civilians and I don’t give a damn. I don’t care.”

Standard operating procedure: the potential or actual victims of Communism are worthy of American solicitude and the vigorous condemnation of their tormentors, while the actual, countless victims of U.S. aggression in North and South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia are worthy of no such concern (children in the south affected by Agent Orange, or children in the north made deaf by B-52 bombing, for example), and such American architects of their catastrophe as Nixon and Kissinger (among many others) walk and live free, wholly unaccountable.

PJ Griffits VN

Photograph by Philip Jones Griffiths
Quynh Lan, 11 years old, at her home in A Luoi, Vietnam.
Her father was sprayed many times with Agent Orange.