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Bill Maher: His Vietnam Delusion

Bill Maher had a panel on Politically Incorrect this past Memorial Day that was curiously unbalanced.  He did not have one anti-war veteran on it. 

Maher could have had Vietnam vet Ron Kovic, about whom the movie "Born on the Fourth of July" was made.  Maher could have had Vietnam vet Brian Willson, who lost two legs when a train ran over him while he was protesting U.S. aid to the Nicaraguan contras. 

But no, who does Bill Maher put on the panel? None other than former South Vietnamese Premier Nguyen Cao Ky

I couldn't believe my eyes!  Ky seized power in a 1965 military coup, and presided over a puppet regime that was notorious for corruption, and the torture and murder of political opponents.  Maybe Maher can have Chilean ex-tyrant Augusto Pinochet on his next panel.  Better yet, how about former Ugandan strongman and purported cannibal Idi Amin!

There's actually a reason to Bill Maher's madness.  You see, self-proclaimed (ad nauseam) libertarian Maher says the Vietnam War was a noble cause, that we had to show the Russians somewhere that we were willing to fight, and that Vietnam happened to be the place.  Maher probably feels that Ky, a US-installed dictator with virtually no popular support, was an icon of Asian democracy.

What a hypocrite Maher is. As a libertarian, Maher feels the U.S. government has no right to tell its own citizens what to do. But apparently the U.S. government has the right to go across the world to tell the Vietnamese what to do, and to kill two million of them when they don't obey us!

Maher would probably argue that we were fighting Communism.  But Maher would be using geopolitical rhetoric to avoid incontrovertible historical facts:

In 1954 the French colonialists were defeated by the Vietnamese at the
battle of Dien Bien Phu.  Under the Geneva Accords, Ho Chi Minh's forces were to go to the northern part of the country, the French forces to the southern part. The country was to be unified after elections in July, 1956.

But the U.S. refused to allow elections to be held.  The reason?  The CIA had advised Eisenhower that Ho Chi Minh would receive 80% of the vote in a free election.

So much for our commitment to democracy. And to Bill Maher's noble war theory.

Even on its own terms, Maher's theory fails. Our "taking a stand" (over millions of Vietnamese graves) didn't stop the Russians from invading Czechoslovakia at the height of our Vietnam involvement in 1968, nor Afghanistan 11 years later.

If Maher is now 45, he was 17 when the war ended.  Conveniently, he missed having to fight in his noble war.

Bill Maher holds many admirable progressive positions, for example, his strong support for animal rights.  It's amazing and sad that he's so deluded about the Vietnam War.

*  *  *


Since the Vietnam War is long over, one might ask, "Who cares what Bill Maher thinks about this topic?"

The answer lies in Maher's assertion on his show last week that the many violence-based U.S. interventions in Central America during the late 1980's were necessary to "stop Communism" there.

Maher is again, this time in Central America, justifying supporting brutal pseudo-democracies in order to prevent what he asserts would have been a "Communist" takeover.  I guess Maher would have us remember, as supporters of intervention gravely warned back then, that Managua, Nicaragua is only a two day drive from Harlington, TX.

While Maher's blithe statements supporting mass murder under U.S. auspices -- and sometimes direct control -- are incredibly annoying, again, what's the difference? That was then, this is now.

Unfortunately, now is looking a lot like then. As noted elsewhere here, the Bush administration is gearing up with diplomatic personnel and funding to intervene in the upcoming Nicaraguan elections.  And Bush is gung-ho about getting the U.S. involved militarily in the civil war in Colombia.

It would be terribly counterproductive to have someone with Bill Maher's visibility on national television justifying such U.S. interventions.

Maybe he won't though, given the demise of the Soviet Union and, at least for everyone but the farthest right fringe, the end of the "Communist menace."

It's true that "narco-terrorism" is the latest bugaboo offered to justify such U.S. interventions.  But Maher may well not buy the "we have to fight the narco-terrorists" line, since, as a self-proclaimed libertarian, Maher is in favor of legalizing drugs.

We'll have to wait and see what Mr. Politically Incorrect has to say on the subject.


On the topic of the World Trade Center attack, Bill Maher had as a guest on his Politically Incorrect program comedian Tommy Smothers, famed for being fired by CBS for speaking out against the Vietnam War.  Did any fireworks ensue?  See Bill Maher & World Trade Center Terrorism.

In connection with Afghanistan and the war on terrorism, Bill Maher has been making statements that are historically inaccurate and misleading.

Finally: What is really upsetting, is that sometimes Maher is amazingly brilliant.  Check out his thoughts on the connections between global economic injustice, domestic economic Injustice, and political leadership.

More finally: April, 2005: Unfortunately, all that great talk goes down the tubes when Maher espouses neo-con positions about Iraq.


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