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.
Bill could have had Vietnam vet Ron Kovic, about whom the movie
"Born on the Fourth of July" was made. He 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 Bill 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 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
Maher would probably argue that we were fighting Communism. But
Maher would be using geopolitical rhetoric to avoid incontrovertible
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,
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 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
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
* * *
Since the Vietnam War is long
over, one might ask, "Who cares what Bill Maher thinks about this
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 Bill 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.