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Lessons from The Fog War: Evil for the Good to Happen

Updated on November 28, 2019
Rhylee Suyom profile image

Rhylee Suyom has hopped in three different worlds: the academe, the corporate, and the media. He enjoys being with nature and his family.

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Lessons from The Fog War: Evil for the Good to Happen

Wars are at times inevitable, and good men should not become passive bystanders in the advent of such event. The Vietnam War, in all the participation of other nations, has been hotly debated whether the US involvement was really necessary or not. While many still argue, this short piece attempts to show lessons on the war subject to personal scrutiny of those who may share the view of the writer or the author of the literary piece in discussion.

General Giap’s two-pronged strategy appeared to be promising known as the Tet Offensive of 1968. This was when the American people were convinced that they were practically winning the war. It was much a political success and a military success as the reputation of the American president during that war would make or break the political power of the leader in position. However, the gamble turned out to be a failure that it resulted to a strategic defeat for the United States since the government lost the confidence of the people, who did not believe in the success propaganda. Americans began to doubt if the war was indeed for the betterment of the country.

The Power of Tet

Tet had a devastating effect on US morale because the American thought they were winning in the war only to realize otherwise. The American public was swayed to disapprove of the offensive leading to the eventual pullout. Initially, the people were supportive thinking that the president was in control of the situation. However, following the Tet Offensive, the average Joe became doubtful leading to a nationwide clamor for the termination of support in Vietnam. With the credibility of the government at stake and even efforts by the government to persuade and convince the public for support that the US was winning, the public got fed up with the assurance without any tangible evidence that the war will end eventually and even triumphant on the side of democracy.

Johnson’s Take on Tet

Johnson’s interpretation of the Tet was different as he announced that the bombing in North Vietnam will cease and there were attempts to establish peace talks. As the public protested more and more about the war, Johnson then announced that he would not run for the second term anymore. The way to leave the Vietnam war would be on the hands of the next president.

The Vietnamization and Its Downfall

The failure of Vietnamization strategy surfaced as the US troops had a gradual draw down and that it resulted to massive protests about the war. Given that, eventually, revealing the weaknesses of the ARVN troops. This was the strongest signal that the Vietnamization strategy was not going to work. Although the main thrust of this strategy was to equip the South Vietnamese, it resulted to the fall of Saigon and the formation of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Despite the promise of success, the result was a complete failure as the two events happened despite the claimed strategy. A deal was signed to end the involvement of the United Statements in the Vietnam war which was signed by Kissinger and Le Duc. However, this was eventually violated by both parties. Eventually, the war ended on April 30, 1975.

Agent Orange and Its After Effects

Agent Orange was a chemical that stripped the leaves off the trees and was a toxic chemical which killed a lot of people (01:24:12-13). This kind of herbicide was toxic that those who were exposed to it died which made the people think what law could have permitted the use of this as it caused the death of both soldiers and civilians. Even before its use, Agent Orange was an initial experiment which caused the damage and death of many. McNamara cannot remember he permitted or have signed the execution of the use of Agent Orange, but he was certain that it was used during his time as Defense Secretary.

King and His Effort to Stop the War

Martin Luther King, given his influence on people, led protests the war. With his influence on the public, this has made a tangential impact on the end of the Vietnam War. He engaged in a symposium along with the senators who go against the war and they managed to convince the public even more that the war should be stopped. The peace movements called for people to act and many were convinced that the US should not have gotten involved in the war. The demonstrators who got a larger number helped in getting the attention of those in power. The public showed disapproval with what was happening in Vietnam. They saw the violation of the rights of the Vietnamese and the troops as well that many people sought for the war to end.

The Fog of War Clearing the War

The Fog of War clarified the actions, issues, and events that transpired during the war under McNamara’s time as Secretary of Defense. He shared his principles that guided him and led him to push the war that America got engaged with and how he justified his actions and his decisions which people most frowned upon. In this documentary, he explains the Colds War, Vietnam War, and Cuban Missile Crisis and the ideologies or rules on war operating behind these events. He saw these as instruments and necessities for the society itself. War was needed and what makes it justifiable.

The Author’s Final Solution

Norman Morrison burned himself to death as a form of protest.This then led to McNamara stating that “in order to do good, you may have to engage in evil” (01:25:18). This has strengthened his belief on the power of war. He believes that there should be a time that there should be engagement in minimal evil to foster goodness. He believed that by doing evil, good can be promoted. It is a form of sacrifice so that many would be saved. He made use of an example in the history to show how war can be used for the common good. Personally, it can go with the saying one must be rude to be nice. That in evil, goodness may happen for the good of many. One should engage to evil but minimize it. For the sake of the public, there should be minimal engagement in evil which can be in the form of war to save the majority and reap its benefits.

REFERENCE

Morris, E. (2003). “The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara”. United States: Sony Pictures Classics, Film.

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    • Rhylee Suyom profile imageAUTHOR

      Professor S 

      6 months ago from Angeles City, Pampanga, PHILIPPINES

      True indeed Jacqueline. Good stories are often marred by the horrors of war, and as mad as it may seem, desperate times call for desperate measures to win wars such as the case of 'suicide kids.' People should always educate the masses about these horrors and exploitation. Those who suffer most during and after wars are the most vulnerable such as kids and women. No one wins in these wars except the economic hitmen and war mongers. At the expense of many, they wantonly profit and at times they are even called war heroes when all they did was exploit the weak and corrupt the poor.

    • profile image

      Jacqueline G Rozell 

      6 months ago

      My cousins who fought in Vietnam said the atrocities could not be counted. When the American soldiers first arrived they would give food to the children they saw on the streets, even take them into restaurants and cafes to feed them. In a short while they were warned to actively avoid them as little ones as young as four, five and six years old were being strapped with explosives under their clothes and told to pull the strings when close to the Americans. Soldiers died before catching on to this. They couldn't help the "suicide kids" and it literally drove some of them mad. These were young boys, barely 18, who had been drafted and who had never experienced such abject cruelty and evil toward a child. Then there were the soldiers who left behind their offspring who were outcasts by the Vietnamese... the American government wouldn't take them in without the fathers adopting them and often the mothers would abandon them As for the .chemicals that did so much harm... it took years for symptoms to show up and initially the government denied any responsibility. Perhaps that's the real horror.. the lack of responsibility to which governments will admit. "Tell the truth and shame the Devil," my aunt used to say. I don't think governments have any shame unless they want to pretend to it during an election year.

    • Rhylee Suyom profile imageAUTHOR

      Professor S 

      6 months ago from Angeles City, Pampanga, PHILIPPINES

      I cannot agree any better Lorna... Just hearing stories of my grandparents, and reading about the travails of people during WWII make me want to just forget about these dark historical chapters. I must admit that those who had been most negatively impacted by wars are usually the little ones and women; they had to endure so much. This malignant surge should be stopped and avoided at all costs if possible by working more on similarities than by focusing on differences. Each has to make this world a better place.

    • Lorna Lamon profile image

      Lorna Lamon 

      6 months ago

      As a pacifist I abhor all wars which never achieves anything other than the cost of human life and the destruction of countries. Vietnam is yet another example and the use of chemical warfare, which many people are still suffering the effects of today is heinous. In years to come I hope all countries will look back at their history of war and hang their heads in shame. If they put as much effort into saving our planet as they do in engaging in war, this world would be a better place.

    • Rhylee Suyom profile imageAUTHOR

      Professor S 

      6 months ago from Angeles City, Pampanga, PHILIPPINES

      Hi Jacqueline. I am sorry to know about your loss. Much of what I have read and heard of from the 'war' have always been a sad note and waste of precious life. There are also a handful of Filipino soldiers who participated in the 'intervention' who did not go home. Truly, war is something that we would want to avoid, if possible, at all costs yet there are times it was necessary. May you find peace in knowing that those who died for a great cause did not die in vain...

      God bless us all.

    • profile image

      Jacqueline G Rozell 

      6 months ago

      Agent Orange was causing death in Veterans long after our involvement in Vietnam was over. Painful, lingering deaths of mysterious cancers that doctors were slow to diagnose and for which treatments had not been established. How do I know that? Because my family fought for America in Vietnam, was exposed to Agent Orange, and died from it. My Aunt has a letter from the military acknowledging their culpability and the settlement was substantial. We would much rather have had John to live a healthy and long life.

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