THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

MJ Rosenberg Headshot

The Blumenthal Case: Me, I'm Just Glad I Didn't Serve In Vietnam

Posted: Updated:

What is it with these liberal politicians who have to pretend they wanted to serve in Vietnam? If they did, there were plenty of ways to do so.

In my case, I could have called my draft board in Poughkeepsie, New York and said "I want in."

But I didn't. Like all my friends -- but unlike some of my close family members -- I avoided going by accepting college deferments. Then I got a high number in the draft lottery and that was that.

I spent the "Vietnam era" in school and protesting the war. I opposed it then and I was right. History has shown that Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon (and their various aides) lied us into, and then kept us in, a war that should not have been fought. LBJ lied about the war almost from day 1 of his Presidency and was, appropriately, driven from office because of it. Nixon, for his part, knew the war was lost from his first day in office but allowed 25,000 Americans to die in pursuit of his illusory "peace with honor."

Am I supposed to be apologetic because I had Vietnam all figured out at 18? I'm not. I do honor the men and women (women weren't combatants but they served and died in other roles) but I wish they hadn't gone either.

If it is true, as some have said, that all men are, by definition, regretful about not serving in their generation's war, then I have to admit I'm an outlier.

But not much of one because I have never met a man who avoided service in Vietnam and regrets it. But then, none of my friends are politicians.

America owes the Viet vets far more than we can ever give back to them, not because the war was right. It wasn't. But because they gave everything they could out of love for country and in the tragically mistaken belief that their leaders would not lie to them. Of course many (particularly the poor) were simply drafted and went because -- unlike people like me -- they had no choice.

I think that Richard Blumenthal devotes so much of his public life to helping these guys -- not because he really wishes he went but because he feels terrible, as we all should, about how LBJ, Nixon and a generation of American politicians used these men, abused them, and then forgot them.

And no one was ever held accountable -- just like another more current war I could name.

Think of it. If America does not hold accountable those who make calculated political decisions that young Americans will die (or be maimed for life) when there is absolutely no necessity for it, why should any of us be surprised that so many Americans have no faith in government at all?