By Michael D. Benge

The Washington Times
April 6, 2002

Abandoning Our Allies

Last Saturday's editorial in the Washington Times, "Visions of another Vietnam" (March 29) cites the desires of many in the major news media "hope to relive their glory days…when they were a part of a great unwashed movement that undercut our fighting men in Vietnam by sapping the strength of much of the American public."

Although in part, this may have been true, the editorial left out the most important cause that sapped the strength of the public; that the politicians in Washington chose to direct the war in Vietnam and chose a strategy to lose the war rather than win it.

The real difference in the two wars is that this time Washington is leaving the decisions to the generals in the field, with President Bush's only directive -- "Fight the war to win."

We went to Vietnam for the right reason - to fight to keep the people of Vietnam free from communist oppression. Once again, the American people are sacrificing their lives to free the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein and his tyrannical regime. However, like during the Vietnam War, the media are once again propagating the myth that the United States is in Iraq for oil and not to free it's people.

Saddam is a hybrid of Joseph Stalin and Hitler, and his atrocities against the people of Iraq are both sickening and legendary. History has proven what happens when you do not topple tyrannical, fascist regimes - the genocide will continue. It has been more than 27 years since American forces pulled out of Vietnam and left the fate of the people of Vietnam in the hands of the communists - and the genocide continues. Tens of thousands of people have been, and continues to be, tortured, imprisoned and murdered by the brutal communist regime in Hanoi.

Evidence of the genocidal policy of the Vietnamese communist regime toward the ethnic \minority Montagnard Christians continue to trickle out of the Central Highlands, genocide similar to Saddam's policy toward the Kurds. Imprisonment for the Montagnards is to be put in re-education camps similar to Hitler's concentration camps for the Jews. Montagnard women are raped and forcibly sterilized, lepers are left unattended, more than 50 pastors have been imprisoned, and the people are regulated to such small parcels of land they are unable to grow enough food to feed their families.

Those who have attempted to flee to sanctuary in Cambodia are hunted down like animals and "disappeared." Large numbers of decaying corpses have been found floating in the rivers with the Montagnard men having been hogtied and their Achilles heels cut, and the women with their breasts sliced off. "Are you beginning to see a pattern here when brutal fascist regimes are not toppled?"

The Montagnards were our most loyal allies during the Vietnam Was who fought alongside American servicemen, often dying in their place. Without these abandoned allies, many more American names would be on that somber black granite wall - the Vietnam Memorial. The real parallel that can be drawn between the Vietnam and the Iraq Wars is the abandonment of our allies.

As with its Montagnard allies, the U.S. Government abandoned the Shi'ites to the brutal Saddam regime after the Gulf War, yet our policy makers had the audacity to expect a popular uprising when we arrived a second time. "Fooled once, shame on you, fooled twice, shame on me."

Based on the record of abandoning our allies, doesn't it seem somewhat hypocritical for the U.S. to criticize our former European allies for abandoning us?

Mike Benge
Falls Church

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