Joy Poss requested on War Stories Bulletin Board for veterans to answer the following questions. The following are my responses.
The "Just War Theory" is the theory that deals with the justification of how
and why wars were fought. It is concerned with the ethical and historical aspects of
warfare. According to many philosophers, a war is just if it meets the following 7
1. Just cause.
Yes, We, the United States of America, signed a treaty with South Vietnam called S.E.A.T.O. Basically, it stated that we would come to aid of another country in case they are attacked.
2. Just intention.
I felt that our intentions were honorable and protective for
the South Vietnamese and for the safety and protection of our National interests. You have to remember the mind thought of America during the 50's
& 60's. In grade school, we practiced duck and cover in case of a nuclear
attack from Russia. The McCarthy hearings (which searched for communist sympathizers
in our Government, entertainment industry, and general civilian population) were
broadcast on TV. The hearings taught impressionable viewers that Communism was
dangerous. The Communist Russian President Kruschev had threatened to bury us during
the U.N. General Assembly meeting in the early 60's while he literally beat his shoe on
the desk. The building of home bomb shelters and having designated fallout shelters
during the Cuban Missile crisis was commonplace. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy
was killed by an assassin who had defected to Russia and then later returned to the
United States. The assassination sort of made John F. Kennedy into a Saint and
a Super-patriot. His one quote was often repeated "Ask not what your
Country can do for you, but what you can do for your Country". It was a
time of patriotism and paranoia.
3. Last resort3. Last resort.
It was in my opinion, better to fight communism in another country then to fight a Nuclear War at home. If we failed to act a large number of countries would have been taken over by the communists, thus giving credence to the Domino Theory.
4. Formal declaration.
You already know we did not declare war against South Vietnam. In fact I do not believe that we declared war on any nation since WW II.
5. Limited objectives.
Our objective was to stop the North Vietnam intrusion into South Vietnam. This was our main objective.
6. Proportionate means.
We had the ability to use better fire power (Air) than the North Vietnamese. The bombing was less then proportionate. The bombings were controlled by politicians and not by the military, and were used as a political tool and not as an effective military tool. I feel that if the politicians had let the military run the war, it would have resulted in a victory with fewer casualties. The North Vietnamese ground forces were larger than the Americans and the South Vietnamese combined.
7. Noncombatant immunity.
During times of war, noncombatants always get hurt or killed. The only thing we can do is try to keep the numbers down. Our enemies know that we will try our best not to inflict civilian casualties during military operations. This is why our enemies position military supplies, communications equipment and headquarters in civilian populated areas including hospital and school locations.
Do you believe that the Vietnam War would fit as a "just" war?
Yes ...see answers for 1 & 2.
What where your thoughts of the Vietnam War?
If we sign a treaty with a country we have an obligation to honor it's terms. At the time of my arrival into Vietnam, I was in favor of coming to the aid of South Vietnam. By the end of my tour in Vietnam, I still believe we needed to be there for our national interests
How were your experiences?
I was a medic with the 1st Cavalry Division, assigned to an aviation unit and later to an infantry unit. I experienced the life of an "remf" (rear echelon mother F------) with the 229th Aviation Unit in Tay Ninh and Dau Tieng. The "remf's" at these two locations got hit by rocket and mortar attacks almost every day. There was one major ground attack in Dau Tieng in February 1969 and another in Tay Ninh in May 1969 which occurred while I was with the 229th Aviation Unit. In May 1969 I went with the 1st Battalion 8th Cavalry (infantry unit). I was able to see the life of a grunt soldier. The hardships which grunts endure were extremely hard, dirty and dangerous. The men were reduced down to their basic instincts. You might want to read the following story about my experiences as a grunt medic. www.1stcavmedic.com/experiences.html
Why do you take up arms?
We had an obligation to come to the aid of South Vietnam through the S.E.A.T.O. treaty.
How did you feel when the idea of death was so close to you?
After June 2, 1969, I accepted that I was a dead man. From that point on, while in Vietnam, all my senses seemed to have amplified. The tastes, smells, music everything seemed so intense and heightened. I have written a story about June 2, 1969 at www.1stcavmedic.com/june_2.html .
Do you feel that the government should consider ethics before going to war?
What is ethics? Is that where scholars and politicians sit around and talk about how a war should be fought, while keeping their hands nice and clean. There is nothing ethical about a war. It is a dirty, dangerous situation where people loose their lives. As for Vietnam, we were obligated to fight with South Vietnam under the S.E.A.T.O. agreement. However, maybe today we are not obligated to abide by any of our treaties, since Congress said it was permissible for the President to lie to the people. Therefore it must be permissible to lie about honoring treaties. If our political leaders do not exhibit ethics, how can our Government have any ethics.
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