Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Sirens of Success

"In Greek mythology, the Sirens were dangerous and beautiful creatures, portrayed as femme fatales who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island."

There are successes and victories which in the end are nothing but setbacks and defeats. Those successes and victories have their own euphoria and are enticing but only set one up for a bigger setback and defeat. This is the case with the anti-war activists who are against the intervention by the United States and other Western countries in Syria.


Other than their ideological premonitions one thing that calls them to action, particularly the old timers among them, is the chimes of success of the anti-war movement in the 1960s and 70s. That anti-war movement became massive and helped to push the U.S. and its allies out of Vietnam.

The communists, socialists and the anti-war left are generally giddy about the experience of the anti-war movement of some three decades ago and try to draw upon that experience tutoring the new generation of the activists. They are good at reminiscing about that experience but totally impotent to viewing that experience in the light of real events since then.

The balance sheet is very clear, the anti war movement and its aftermath have been a disaster for the entire anti-war left and have only delayed the dissolution of communist ideology in Vietnam. It is true the anti-war movement succeeded to push the U.S. out of Vietnam. That was a loss in a battle which in the end the U.S. won the war, the Cold War. Interesting is that the gain of the left in the anti-war movement, after a brief growth, has been a rapid disintegration. The backlash against that anti-war movement only helped the rightist groups, a minority in the U.S. politics to gain undue influence complicating important social reforms.

The trend of politics in the U.S. since the anti-war movement are clear. Another anti-war movement is unlikely to gain much influence. What influences the U.S. policies is more about the practicality of the direct military interventions and the new generation who are confronting these questions are not attracted to ideologies.

Now if we go beyond the U.S. politics, how about at the international level, was North Vietnam's military victory and the flight of many anti communist Vietnamese a victory for progress? I do not think so. After all is said and done it was a social and political defeat for the Vietnamese who were left behind. Can anyone in his right mind think that if North Korea could overrun the south, the victory of North Korea in the Korean war in the 1950s would have been a victory for the Koreans, particularly for the South Koreans. That scenario did not happen thanks partly to a weak anti-war movement in the U.S. If anyone of my comrades on the left yet believes that outdated view, that a North Korean victory was the progressive outcome, make sure that you do not utter it loudly in South Korea, they might send you to an insane asylum. It would not be an stretch of imagination to think that a victory by the U.S. in maintaining the partition of North and South Vietnam would have created a stark contrast between the two on par with North and South Korea. Thanks to the assistance of the anti-war movement the Vietnamese are now burdened with the task of climbing out of the communist hole that they have dug for themselves!

How about if we move beyond the U.S. internal political changes and the setbacks the Vietnamese received. What could have been the other possibilities? We know the defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan was like the last straw that broke the camel's back and became the beginning of the unraveling of communism. Now if this defeat would have happened in Vietnam, it would have been quite possible that this unraveling could have begun much earlier. For one thing the Iranian revolution, which was heavily influenced by communism, could have escaped its present predicament.

Thinking about the possibilities are endless and I am not trying to relive a dream world. By these contrasts I want to bring to the attention of the anti-war enthusiasts that their peace loving of the past was in practice, parades for decadence and reaction. I participated and helped organize those demonstrations against the U.S. intervention in Vietnam and it took me a long time to free myself from the euphoria of that success. The German people had a hard time to come to terms with their street parades in adoration of Hitler and its consequences. It is hard to turn off the Sirens.

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