Making Sense of the War: Protest and Patriotism

Making Sense of the War: Protest and Patriotism


– Good afternoon, I want
to welcome everybody to this afternoon’s session
on protests against the war. Historians commonly
refer to on the one hand, the war in Vietnam, and
then also the war at home. The Vietnam War was the most
divisive war in our history. It really tore the country apart. We’re still dealing with a lot of that. Just by comparison, World War
I was the other unpopular war, but for the United States, our involvement only lasted 19 months from
April 1917 to November 1918. With Vietnam, historians aren’t
even agreed on the dates. When did it begin? Some people say it began in the 50s under President Eisenhower. Continued you know,
through President Kennedy, President Johnson, and President Nixon. So it was very long and
very bitter experience. Now I think it would be incorrect to talk about the anti-war
movement, singular. Because in fact, there were
many different perspectives, many different movements,
many different events, and so there were a number of movements opposing the war, from
the very, very moderate to the very, very radical. Today we have three perspectives. That’s the best we can do
for a one-hour session. It’d take a 500-page book to really cover the entire
anti-war experience. We have Tom Hagel,
brother of Senator Hagel. He served in Vietnam. They served together in the same unit. Interestingly, coming out of World War II, the Defense Department had a policy where family members
could not serve together. The famous tragedy of the
Sullivan brothers from Iowa, who all served on the same ship, and they all died when that ship was sank. I guess the, you can volunteer to have that rule waived for your purpose. Then we have Chris Reid, Professor of Public Administration at UNO. As an 18 year-old college freshman, she was very involved in
Senator Eugene McCarthy’s campaign for president, which of course forced President Johnson to decide not to run for re-election. Then we have Doug Paterson, Professor of Theater here at
UNO, who was very involved in some very militant
protests against the war. So let’s, we’ll begin. Tom, do you want to tell
us about your experience? – Again, I was over in
Vietnam as an infantryman. I started out as a
member of a cavalry unit as a reconnaissance person,
since I had a Rifleman MOS, and it was up near the DMZ, near, we worked with some Marines for a while. But it was basically a tank group. When you think of cavalry,
you probably all think of John Wayne and horses, this was tanks. But I was a member again, of a platoon that went out ahead of them, and kind of scoped out the area. But in any event, I was up there for I think one or two months, and Chuck was down in northwest, yeah, it was northwest of Saigon
near the Iron Triangle area, and I thought, you know, it’d
be nice if I was in a unit where I at least get to see him you know, maybe once or twice during
our entire time over there, because he had gone over there about, I think it was about a month
and a half before I did. So I put in for a transfer. I didn’t put in a transfer for his unit, I just put in for a transfer, ’cause it never, ever dawned on me that there was even a
possibility of us being together. But to make the long story short, I ended up in the same infantry division, 9th Infantry Division, some battalion. Got right down to the
same company and platoon. So we spent our time together over there, literally with each other every day. And you know, we’ve already
hear a number of presentations about what it was like living that way, and I won’t get into that,
that’s outside I think, the scope of what we’re
talking about today. But when I got back, both of us, and Chuck was asked a
question, I think it was the last question in his
presentation today about, you know, what is it that
this effect have on your life in terms of your career and whatever. And both of us agree
that the primary thing I think it was for both of us, is to say after this experience, we want to do something
that makes a difference. I think it was General who
told us today that that’s what, he was very eloquent in
talking about West Point and what he learned, but that’s hopefully what has controlled our
lives and motivated us. But in any event, got back, he got back, again about a month and
a half before I did. I got back in February of 69,
got a job at the post office, and then started school in August of 69. Now, there was a lot going on in the world other than just Vietnam at that time. A lot of people forget
about what was going on in this country at that time in terms of racial strife,
riots, what have you. But my feeling about the war at that time was that I just wanted
to walk away from it. I didn’t want to talk about it, didn’t want to have
anything to do with it, because I was so incredibly
angry about everything. I felt that we as individuals,
participants in the war had been lied to, which of course, it turned out to be true
later, and that we were used, and put in position where we did a lot of stuff that you know, you can’t reconcile even now. But any event, on the
campus here, started school, took it seriously, and there was certain protests going on. Sometimes, not, I didn’t think that much, and I was a little bit, I
certainly wasn’t a leader in any Vietnam veterans protest
group or anything like that, but I would show up at
a couple to protest, and maybe do my little two cents worth. But it didn’t have any major
effect on me at that time. Since that time, I’ve been involved in a lot of different veterans’ groups, but at that time it really, it wasn’t even on my radar screen. But, the impact I think,
that the Vietnam War has had that so far, I don’t know if
it’s really been talked about, is I think this was the first war that had the result of
de-legitimatizing the government in the eyes of the populous. You go through American history, there’s always been groups of people who have been opposing various presidents, various political parties, what have you, but this, when I look back at history, I think of it, this is the first time where I think there was a mass movement that did not recognize the government. Not just the individual
participants, Johnson, and later Nixon, and what have you, but the government
itself as not legitimate because of the way, again, there was the way that
they conducted the war, lied to the participants,
and then of course threw them by wayside after
they got finished with it. I think we see that today. It’s kind of scary to see that there’s a lot of people
in the country today who, with these crazy conspiracy theories. Some of you may agree
with them, I don’t know. But, who don’t see the government as a legitimate institution, and consequently, they
question everything. Now I’m a strong skeptic
on about everything, and I don’t take everything at face value, but that had a serious impact that I think has carried over to today. This idea that a lot of
people think that well, it’s not just the Democrats, and it’s not just the Republicans, the Libertarians, you pick your group, but it’s the government
itself that is not legitimate, that you hear things about
the government’s involved with trying to get a particular
candidate elected president. That therefore, we can’t believe
anything that they tell us. And that goes, I think, to the very core of our democratic institution. So if we have a lot of
people, and some polls show that more than 50%
believe things like that, then our country is in major trouble, and I think that the
first fires that were lit that led to where we are
today in that regard, was a result of Vietnam. – Thanks Tom, Chris? – Afternoon, so I was 18 years old. Had just started college at a small liberal arts
college in Connecticut, and went up one weekend
with some other classmates to volunteer for Gene
McCarthy, who at that time, was just starting his campaign
against a sitting president, which was a pretty big deal. So I ended up staying up there. Ended up taking a leave
of absence from college, which my parents were not happy about, and so because I was one of
the first volunteers up there, I ended up you know, being
able to get into a position pretty close to Senator McCarthy. Ended up traveling with him
from New Hampshire to Wisconsin, and Indiana, Nebraska, we came
through Nebraska for a week, and then to Oregon and California. So for an 18 year-old, it was
a pretty amazing experience. So I’ve thought a lot about
what kind of observations I wanted to share with you today, and I will definitely get
into that in just a second. But I just want to make a plug for the NET documentary
that Bill Kelly produced along with John Prescott called
The Year Nebraska Mattered. Some of you may have seen it already. If you haven’t, I really
recommend it highly. It talks about the couple of weeks in 68 during the presidential primaries, when just about every
candidate came to Nebraska to campaign, including Senator McCarthy, and I may talk a little bit
more about that in a second. So you know, the people who were working for Senator McCarthy were primarily folks like myself. We were called the Clean for Gene group, and I suppose you know, you could say I was working within the system. I was not one of the
folks who were part of the group who were protesting, say the Chicago Democratic Convention, although you know, there was a lot of overlap between the groups. And Senator McCarthy was
asked by the anti-war movement to run against the war, and so he did, and he was the first one out front. I’ll get back to that
point in a minute as well. So I thought a lot about what observations I wanted to share with you
as someone who was there, literally right next to Senator McCarthy for the eight months
that we were campaigning. So I guess the first thing I
wanted to just say was that he thought long and hard
before he decided to run. He was on the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee for a number of years, and he, and this is kind of
apropos of Tom’s point, he heard a lot of you know,
sort of stuff said to him both behind closed doors
and then at Senate hearings. From you know, Defense
Secretary Robert McNamara, and Secretary of State Dean Rusk about how wonderful everything
was going in Vietnam, and it wasn’t jiving with
what he was seeing on TV and what he was hearing in other places. So he went from being sort of
privately opposed to the war, to making statements publicly, and then deciding to run for president. So you know, it took him a
long time to get to that point. In his book The Year of the People. I brought a copy with me, I’ve had it since I came home from the campaign, he talked about the Senate colleagues that were also opposed to
the war that backed him, and it was the loyal opposition is what they called themselves. They were Democratic senators. He mentions a number of
senators who stood with him, but conspicuously, he never
mentioned Senator Robert Kennedy and so, when Senator McCarthy won the New Hampshire primary
against Lyndon Johnson, and eventually leading to
the president dropping out, saying he wouldn’t run for re-election. Senator Kennedy started to reconsider what he had assured Senator
McCarthy he would never do, which was run for president. So that set up a real tense conflict between the two campaigns, and so I guess one of my takeaway points is that the anti-war issue really became kind of hijacked if you will, by the conflict between the two campaigns. And it got really personal and bitter. Robert Kennedy was considered by many in the McCarthy movement to have you know, kind of been opportunistic
about the whole thing, and not sit up when it mattered. And when he entered the campaign, he really broadened his
appeal to include issues around civil rights and
other issues that were not up front and center with
the McCarthy campaign. And by the way, in that NET documentary, there’s a wonderful clip of
Senator Kennedy in north Omaha campaigning up there,
standing on the top of a car with hundreds of people surrounding him, and it was very emotional. The first time that a
presidential candidate had ever gone to north Omaha. So again, that documentary
is really powerful. But for Senator McCarthy it was, really he was on the
defensive from that point on, and sort of on a downhill slide. And the other point I wanted to make was, Eugene McCarthy often said
that the anti-war movement chose him, and that he did
not seek the presidency nor did he want to be president, and so his kind of
reserved intellectual style and his philosophy
about presidential power just really didn’t click you know, in the way that Robert Kennedy did, who was much more charismatic. So when Robert Kennedy was assassinated, many of his delegates went
over to Hubert Humphrey, and that you know, to folks
who had originally got into the whole thing because of
President Johnson’s I don’t know, I don’t know how to describe, well he was just immensely
distrusted, as Tom indicated, and so the whole campaign
really became more, one of sort of distrust of the presidency, distrust of institutions, and
it was really the beginning of that sort of growing lack of trust in government institutions. So the anti-war movement
really became a part of that broader anti-institutional movement, but it kind of got lost, and
that was really unfortunate, because 68 was really the
year when, as we heard this morning, the war was
really starting to escalate. So I guess the third point
I’ll just leave you with as far as kind of a takeaway point. So of the college
students and other people that I ran into in the McCarthy campaign, people volunteered for
a variety of reasons. Some were, mainly the young
men, they were just playing fear, they were just
fearful of being drafted. They weren’t draft dodgers, but they were just terrified that
they would be called up, and they were working to
sort of get the war ended before that might happen to them. There were students
who were just horrified at the suffering they saw on TV. The first time I think in a war, that we were able to see those images carried right into our
living rooms, and that played a huge role, as I’m sure we’ll
discuss in the next session. And then even young men who just wanted the president to kind of you know, develop a strategy and
get the war over with so that again, they
wouldn’t have to serve. And then there was just the broad, the imperial presidency thing that we were beginning to get more
and more concerned about, and that was one of Senator
McCarthy’s primary issues when he got into the war as well. This broader cultural shift
that Tom was alluding to, you know, the Civil Rights
Movement, sort of opposition to large corporations,
working for migrant workers, unionization and organization
of migrant workers, environmental protection,
racial social justice. I mean, that was all
wrapped up in this campaign. So it was an anti-war issue
for us at the very beginning, but it over time just expanded
to include a lot more. So I guess I’m supposed to really talk about what impact this all had on the broader political
and social landscape. I will just say, well first of
all, if you had ever told me in 68 that I would be
living in Omaha, Nebraska, I would have been, “What?” I mean I had never gone
west of I-95, you know. So I moved out here in 82, oh and I switched from
being a chemistry major to a government major after I got back, to try to make sense out of
everything I had experienced, and so yes, I have been here. So my main experience now is
how is it affecting Nebraska? So I would just again, you know, point you to that NET
documentary, because one of their points was as a
result of that whole year, a whole new generation
of political activists came of age and began to
run for office in Nebraska. Ran against the Democratic Party regulars, who were Humphrey supporters in 68, and began to run, they
were former McCarthy, and to some extent, Kennedy delegates, who decided they were gonna run. And so you had a whole new generation of folks who became active. So yes, distrusting
government on the one hand, that was a really sad kind of legacy. But on the other hand, I
think a new generation who became active, became
of age, became active, and stayed active, many of us did. So, I’ll end with that. – Chris, Doug? – Thank you, I’m glad to
be here with my colleagues. It’s good to be up here to talk about this important subject. During my talk, people ask me sometimes, they’ll say, like you
were talking about Tom, that you know, if I really
am against the government, and my response is, which
government are you talking about? Talking about the public one
that we’re supposed to elect, or the private corporate state
that really runs everything? That’s gonna be a theme in
part of what I say today. I still, I’m old enough to
use glasses now, my god. Anyway, my name is Doug Paterson. I am a theater teacher here at
UNO, been here for 35 years. I was born in Omaha, right
after the second world war, and I grew up in Watertown, South Dakota, graduating in 1964. And what I want to do is pull
the camera back a little bit. We need to get a wider perspective, and I’m surprised we haven’t
gotten to that at this point, but I don’t want to present
a radical perspective. The radical, the extreme
criminal element in all this was and remains the Vietnam War policy. The word ethical was used this morning. There was nothing
ethical about the policy. It was paved with lies
from start to finish, and perhaps even till today. We war-resister patriots were not radical, but fairly reasonable. We rejected the US culture’s
drift into dominance as the central value in life, and championed dialogue and cooperation. We read veraciously, and learned of the criminality behind the
war policy very early on, and we fought against that
war until it was over. I’m not gonna tell my war stories, but I was a militant activist, against the war as a graduate
student at Cornell University, and I did many dangerous
and illegal things, and I was sought out for those
actions, I was never found. I was not, none of us were heroes. Note, we got no praise either. Not even an atta-girl or an atta-boy. What we got was public scorn, even now. We got no thank you for your
service or medals for bravery, or invitations to the White House. Only tear gas, beatings, and arrests, or exiled to Canada, Europe, or jail. We who are our kinds of patriots, we’re veterans of civil wars,
and we got no war benefits. No kumbaya events, such as this. Last night at the dinner,
populated by a lot of suits, I was having flashbacks,
hearing much of the same hollow rhetoric that got
into, and kept us in Vietnam. So here are two stories. Joe Gilchrist at Cornell,
the very top student from out of Oklahoma in
1967, went to Cornell, joined the resistance, got
caught destroying draft records in 1970, went to jail,
and that pretty much destroyed his life for at least a decade. Tim Butts is a Vietnam vet here in Omaha, and is very active in
Vietnam Vets Against the War. For 40 years, he’s been working nonstop for poor and disenfranchised people. I tried to get him to come to this event, but he said his PTSD has
recently been raging again, and he just couldn’t make it. But Joe Gilchrist wasn’t
a hero, an anti-war hero. Tim Butts wasn’t an anti-war vet hero. They were citizens who resisted. Don’t fall for the hero talk, it’s a con. In Bertolt Brecht’s play
Galileo, the little monk says, “Unhappy the land that has no hero.” Galileo responds, “Unhappy
the land that needs a hero.” With hero branding now
a corporate pastime, a truly toxic branding, I
suggest it is this very empty and even sentimental crowning
of various war veterans. Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan,
that stops real recovery. We hear endless the need for healing. Always uttered into stained glass voice, but there’s no healing because
there’s no honest truths. Only nostalgia, war
stories, and sentimentality, which can never, ever heal anything. Rather, we’re in a more and more divided and conflicted and unhappy land. This symposium was advertised
to educate students, so I want to repeat. The Vietnam War was a criminal enterprise. It started after World
War II, with the French trying to re-establish their
colonial rule in Vietnam, and the US covering 80% of
the French costs of the war. It continued with us canceling Vietnamese presidential elections in 1956, because Ho Chi Minh would
have won 80% of the vote. So the US and public
and private government kept creeping and creeping until 1964. Then Democratic President Lyndon Johnson and his Fog of War Secretary
of Defense McNamara manufactured the Tonkin Gulf incident, and students should know about that. Which is a flagrant constructed lie, and which led to the
invasion and the criminal war from 1965 to 1968. It was then sustained for seven more years by the truly criminal Richard Nixon. The war brought us not, was
not brought us by the nation, as General Dempsey said this morning, it was brought by the suits, the rulers. The military opportunists
who knew that in war, there’s a lot of promotion. Vietnam shares the cancerous
con of the decade prize with the war in Iraq, and
that both were started with vicious, manufactured
lies by the suits. And veterans paid and continue to pay a heavy, heavy price for those lies. Let me digress a moment to
remember some other victims of these manufactured wars,
the people and children of Iraq, of Syria, of Afghanistan, and the three million dead Vietnamese, with the country still
recovering from the war that was made on its very ecology. This belief that somehow the United States private corporate sector and
its government and its military has to dominate the world
and get its resources, and therefore has the right to invade and occupy resistant countries has continued from Vietnam up to this day. War-wise, the only difference
between the 1960s and now is the number of wars the United States corporate state can keep it going at once. Then it was one, and now
with Rumsfeld thinking, it’s at least three. Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. But we sure to add Somalia
and Libya and Yemen. Osama Bin Ladin tried a half dozen times to provoke the United
States into a land war in the Muslim world,
and boy did he succeed. Our national government budget
now has committed two-thirds, 66% to war-making and maintaining. In 1925, Calvin Coolidge said, “The business of America is business.” 90 years later, we can honestly say the business of America is
war, and it’s very profitable. There’s one of the legacies, and one of the non-lessons of Vietnam. It paved the way for the
possibility of endless war. Continued by the way, by President Obama, with his Nobel Peace Prize in hand. So I put out this challenge
to the veterans here. The war makers, the war
profiteers, the suits, the war-obsessed, rely
on the assumed consent of veterans, decade after decade. I beg you to subject everything that’s powerful say about war, including everybody said in
this symposium, including me. Subject it to razor-sharp
critical thinking. Both of the two current
candidates for president will probably take us into another war. One of them is war-obsessed, and the other will just grope his way in. (audience groaning) Awe, sorry.
(chuckles) Anyway, don’t fall for it. I certainly didn’t come here to make sense out of the Vietnam War, as
our panel title instructs. I did want to represent
the voice of those millions and millions who protested
for justice and peace. As for patriotism, this has
been taken by the military and the ruling class, and
it’s hard for us to have it, but if I had to answer
the patriotism question, I’d say if it means supporting
endless corporate-based wars, if it means supporting
unrelenting oppression of people of color, of women, gay
people, non-English speakers, non-Christians, two million prisoners, and the mass of poor and homeless people, I’d say I’m decidedly not patriotic. If it means supporting the
rich, white, male ruling class of the United States,
the patriotic response is to dismantle the mechanisms
that sustain that class. One way for me to do
that is to always reject inherited privilege of me
being white, male, straight, a US citizen, educated, and middle class, and to reject by standing
always with oppressed people. But finally, if the patriotism means standing with all the
people of one’s country, with all the people who
have to work to stay alive. If it means standing with all the oppressed in the United States, if patriot means screaming
global climate change when we in Omaha hit 85
degrees on October 28th, right now, after the
hottest September on Earth. If patriotism means standing
with the native peoples of Standing Rock facing off
against the criminal oil cartel with 120 natives arrested last night, just as we were 50 years ago. If patriotism means standing with all of the people of these
united and divided states, which was a glimmer in
the original vision, then I believe I’m one of the
more patriotic people I know. Peace brothers and sisters,
from a veteran of civil wars. Thank you.
(audience applauding) – Thank you, Doug. Actually at the beginning,
I introduced the panel, I realized I forgot to introduce myself. I am the moderator.
(audience laughing) I guess you figured that out. I’m Sam Walker, retired professor of criminal justice at UNO. Chris brought some show and tell. I thought about it yesterday,
and I dug around in the attic, but I couldn’t locate my
FBI file, which I have. Doug, do you have one?
– I do. – Good, so I’m very
proud of it, I earned it. That’s part of my life. I was very active in
the anti-war movement. So I’ve got some questions. I think the first one
probably goes to Chris. Students seemed more politically
engaged in the late 1960s. Do you think that’s an accurate portrait, or are students simply engaged
today in a different way? – Well, it’s a good
question because there was, something happened in 1970, and all of a sudden the activism died. I know this has been written about. I don’t think anyone’s ever come up with a satisfactory explanation, so it just dropped off and then
it was done after Kent State and I don’t think we know what happened. Is it the same today? There’s an obvious connection with the Bernie Sanders movement, I think. I thought about that. The young idealistic people
who work for Bernie, but there was a big gap there,
and I’m not sure why. But you do see a resurgence
of it in this campaign, so I guess the answer to
that second question is yeah. – Here’s a question for Tom. When did your feelings about the war, the opposition to the
war and the anger begin? Was that when you were there, or was that developed
really when you came home and were able to look back? – I think it was, I can’t
put a precise date on it, but it was while I was there, but it was later on in my tour over there, because it became clear to me, even though I was an
uneducated 18 year-old kid, that something was wrong here. For example, I don’t know how many times we would be headed for an operation, and we’d go by bridges
or buildings and that, and South Vietnamese troops
would be sitting around, or laying around in
hammocks, eating and smoking, and whatever else, and
it didn’t seem that, this isn’t the way it’s supposed to be, it’s their country, not ours. Why are we the ones that
are the spearhead here? Again, it grew like that,
and it just seemed like what we were doing wasn’t
making any difference. We were obviously told
that what we were there for was to save these people from communism, which I believed generally was true, but then as things went along, frankly we just kept killing
more and more people, and more and more people, more and more of our people were dying, and it didn’t seem like it
was making any difference. And I’ve often thought
about this, that history, one of the things that history’s taught us is that no guerrilla
movement is ever going to survive and certainly triumph, unless a huge percentage
of the population wants it. And we were victim of that,
I don’t know how many times we were set up in ambushes, whatever, because of the cooperation with the people that we were supposed to be there to save, and that has to tell you something. That if the people that
you are fighting for, dying for, getting maimed
for, are cooperating with the people who are doing it to you, questions need to be raised,
and I didn’t feel like, and certainly the position we were in, we were just lowly grunts,
we weren’t in any position of authority to raise these issues, these are deep policy issues. But that’s when I think
I first started feeling a sense of frankly, betrayal and anger, and I just carried it out
with me after I got out. – Thank you, Doug here’s one for you. So why didn’t you go to Canada,
and underlined, stay there? (audience laughing) Doug? – Was that for me?
– That’s for you, yes. Why didn’t you go to Canada? And as you can see, stay there. – Oh my, well that, that sounds like an invitation to a debate. You know, one of the things
that Che Guevara said when young people went down to Cuba to help pick the sugar
harvest and blah, blah, blah, and be part of the revolution, he said, “No, no, no, no, no.” He said, “Look at you, you
live in the heart of the beast. “You live where it is, you
live where the struggle is.” I therefore for the last 45 years have been engaged in
all kinds of struggles. By the way, it didn’t stop for us in 1970. When I was at Cornell, the
big explosions were in 71, 72. That’s when the riots happened
and the building occupations and just endless tear gas. So my sense is that this is
where struggle needs to happen. This is where we have I think, a corporate state that
is truly oppressive, and so I stand with the
natives up in Standing Rock, and I stand with women
and their struggles. I stand with people of color. I’m working right now the radio, the radio station out at Malcolm X center. We’ve been able, for the last six years, we’ve got that up and on,
so we now have a little power FM station out at
the Malcolm X center. So in a sense, you know,
my sister lives in Canada. So I had a place to go.
(audience laughing) I had a bed, and three hots, and a cot. But this is really where I want to be. Living a life of what I consider
to be struggles for justice is such an honor, it is such
a wonderful way to live. I wouldn’t live any place else. – Thank you, my thoughts exactly. (audience applauding) Chris, if there was a draft today, would there be protests in the streets? – You know, I don’t
know how to answer that other than to say that many of
the people that I worked with in the primaries were there
because they were terrified that they would get drafted. I mean, I don’t know
how else to answer that. I mean the implication is
it would make a difference, but I’m not sure how. – Tom, you want to give that a try? – I think there would
be riots in the streets, but not just the people who are potentially being drafted,
but their parents. Go back in time and take a
look at before the lottery. Where that was a pre-lottery time, where if you got your draft notice and you were 1-As, and that was it. It was across the board, it didn’t matter who your parents were, whatever, other than the ones that had enough money to buy their kids out
through phony doctor excuses. Consequently, so many
people who went in, not all, but so many people went in
were like Chuck and I were. We were young kids from probably
lower-middle class at best. Not particularly well
educated, especially me, and as long as those people,
this may sound harsh, but I truly believe it, as long as those people were the ones that were going over and
getting killed and maimed, we felt as a society bad about
it, kind of bad about it. It’s sad, it’s a sad thing. But as long as they’re
not taking your kid, as long as they’re not taking your kid, then we’ll put up with it. But as soon as the lottery comes in, guess what, then everybody comes out, after enough of these people were killed that brought the lottery in, and it frankly, when too many
kids were getting drafted from the white middle class frankly, then all of a sudden we need a lottery, and that insulated so many of these potential draftees from it. So to answer the question, I think if they did away with the volunteer army, which I think is one of the
results of the Vietnam draft, is that there would be certainly protests. I don’t know about riots in the street, but there’d certainly be protests because the same issues would come up. – Thank you, here’s one, I think we’ll throw it
out for each of you. So let’s just go down the row here. For a politician to get elected, they must be pro-war labeled,
labeled stronger on defense, why haven’t we learned their lessons from Korea, Vietnam,
and now the Middle East? Doug, you want to start? – Well, I’d say, sort of
picking with what Chris said, you know, the Bernie Sanders campaign which just totally surprised everybody. Look at the strata of people,
how many people got behind what was essentially a no
war, no intervention policy. A critique of the corporate state. A critique of the corporate
funding of the government. Talking about climate change and whatever, and all of a sudden there were millions of people doing that,
especially young people. Now I worked for Bernie, but I was struck by how many
young people there were. So in one sense, you don’t
have to do those things, but what it takes is leadership, and one of the things
I’ve been so critical of the Democratic Party, not
a Democrat, not a Republican, don’t have a lot of time for
elections, to be very honest, but one of the things I get
critical of the Democratic Party is it doesn’t have any principles, it’s willing to lose elections over it. Just sticks his finger up in the air, and says, “How could I get elected?” Well I would like to see a party that has some real
principles, like you know, staying out of these various
countries through invasion. – First of all, I think it’s
a pretty complex question. One of them is that we
need to elect people who don’t see use of force
as the only alternative, or certainly the first alternative. We’ve all known presidents
in the recent past who seem to use that
as their first response is to deal with it in
terms of a forceful way. The other part though, is a broader issue. Right now as I sit here with
this crazy election cycle going through, the chickens
have come home to roost. We live in a democracy. When I hear people say, “Oh,
these people that are in, “they don’t believe in
anything, and they just, “they just say whatever it
takes to get them elected.” Don’t come crying to me about it. Have some guts and some integrity to vote for people who
stand for something. All you got to do is turn
on the television anytime in the last few months
especially, and recently, and especially you see the
congressmen and the governors who are so disingenuous, so gutless, that they’ll come out and say, “Well I don’t endorse this
person, but I’m voting for him.” Well come, and that’s exactly what– – Who was that, who was
that, I can’t remember. – We’ll leave that out of it. If you folks don’t know by now, then you’re live on another planet. But that’s exactly what so
much of the criticism is about the institution, that it’s viewed as so
corrupt, but why is it corrupt? It’s corrupt because we keep putting the same people back in
who people complain about. I always love to hear people
say, “Yeah the Congress, “they’re, every congressman, “every senator’s corrupt
and that, but mine isn’t.” Well come on, if that’s true. – I mean ours is, ours is, yes. (laughing) – But again, it’s up to us. This is a democracy, and I think we’ve forgot about the
power we have to sit back, and even though you have candidates that are supported by massive amounts of money and what have you, there’s always some people,
hopefully, that are running that may actually believe in something, a shared belief that you have, and it’s up to us as
members of this society. We are the most important
people in this society. It’s called a citizen, not the president, not congressmen, but the citizens, and it’s up to us to do it, and we have a duty to do it
instead of just being sheep and going along with the process. To think about these candidates. To search out candidates
who believe in something, that’ll stand for
something, and support them. Instead of just going along with what, quite frankly, the two
major parties give us. So again, if we really
are concerned about this, we as citizens have a
duty to do something. – Thank you, Chris? – Yeah, I’m gonna come at this from just a slightly different angle. So the big difference I see between what happened in 68
and what’s happening now, and I don’t disagree with anything that Doug and Tom have said, but when we were first campaigning, and we were running
against Lyndon Johnson, I mean we were told that we were traitors. There was one, I forget if it was the Manchester Union leader or, anyway we, or maybe it was even the
White House that said that a vote for McCarthy would be
greeted with cheers in Hanoi. I mean, there was a sense that, you know, and when you talk about
patriotism and protests, I mean, we were told we were not patriots. So one thing that I do think
has changed for the better is that a candidate like Barack Obama can run opposed to the Iraq War, or candidates can say, “Yeah,
I voted against the war.” And not be labeled as traitors, or people can work for Bernie Sanders and not be labeled as
traitors, and so there has been that change that I
consider to be a positive. – Thanks, we had two
questions from the audience involving the environmental impact of the wars that we fought. One of them specifically
mentioned Agent Orange in Vietnam, but there had been similar impacts in our Middle Eastern venture. Who would like to take that? – Just very briefly,
this is a huge subject that we certainly don’t have
enough time to talk about, but what struck me is that Chuck and I went back to Vietnam, I think it was 1999, and spent I think close to a week there, but I’ll never forget that
when we were coming in, flying in and getting ready to land, I think it was right outside
of Saigon, what struck me when I looked out the window
were nothing but craters. And I mean, the landscape
was nothing but craters, and I thought, this is so
odd, they were full of water, but what they were were bomb craters. What’s been done to that country
is incredible in terms of pollution, you’ve heard all
about the birth defects, and not only the pollution in
terms of the water and that, but the various herbicides that we sprayed that got into the chain
of the foliage over there, and it’s caused all sorts of problems. But this is one of the things that they were talking about this morning, when they were talking about making decisions to go into war. You have to look at the
ramifications afterwards, not just who’s gonna rule the country or what the economic problems are, but the environmental problems, because they have had
incredible problems dealing with birth defects, Agent Orange,
the presumptions of certain connections between Agent
Orange and different maladies. So that’s gonna be part of
the legacy of the Vietnam War. – Okay, anybody else want to take that on? – Just to this, to the
veterans who are here. Veterans know that they’ve
been dealing with the issue of Agent Orange and various other
poisonings for a long time, and the United States government has been dancing around that and didn’t come forward,
and denied people coverage, and still denies people coverage. If we’re gonna stand with
all the people of the United States, we need to
stand for sure with veterans, who were damaged in many ways by that. Yet, in our series so far, we hear that a lot of Vietnam veterans
are doing pretty well. – [Male] We are! – That’s right, thank you. – Alright, we’ve got just
under five minutes left. Does anybody have any
thoughts about some issues that haven’t been discussed
that you’d like to wrap up with? – Do you have any notes left? – Do I have any notes left, I know. Would you like to go first? – The problem with
something like this is it’s such a huge topic that’s it hard to really fully address any of these topics, but one thing I’m hoping, and
it’s kind of encouraged me, is when I look out at the audience, there’s a lot of what I
consider younger people, of course anybody nowadays
is younger than I am, so. But I hope that they walk
away from this symposium with some insights into the future. What they can take away from
this to apply to their future, and I’m sure there’s just
gonna be some of these people that are in the audience
right now, young folks, that are gonna be leaders in one way or another in their community, to learn what they can
from this symposium, and apply those lessons to whatever they do with their lives
to make a difference. – Doug, do you have a wrap up question? – No, I just wanted to sort
of follow up with that. In terms of young people,
that leading a life that isn’t in alliance
with others is terrific. We have a CEC here, where
I think the slogan is you can find your life by
losing it serving others. I think that’s a real true thing. It’s part of a lot of
religious principles. So I would encourage young people to think about the issues
of justice and peace, and the complexities
of economic disparities and the current oligarchy
we’re developing here. Think about those issues and
find out where you stand. Then I’d say take action, join people. You can’t do it by yourself,
join people, work together. – Chris? – I guess I’ve just been
struck over the last, well yesterday afternoon and then today, by the fact that many of
the speakers were very young at the time that they got involved. So I would just echo
what others have said, that you’re never too
young to get involved. Senator McCarthy used to
say he had the most educated work, you know, political force
that anyone had ever seen, so I think that you know, I would just say as.
(chuckles) We might not have been the most self-aware as maybe we are now, but
we felt very strongly about what we were doing
in our various capacities. So yeah, I mean I just echo
what Doug said, get involved. – Alright, I think that wraps it up. I’ve had some very personal points of view on the whole Vietnam experience. – The person who asked me about why I didn’t go to
Canada, are you gonna talk? (audience laughing) – Alright, I want to thank
all of our panelists, and thank everybody for coming here. (audience applauding)

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