The Vietnamese blogosphere in the past couple of weeks has fired up with speculation over the US military intervention in Syria. Sadly, support for such action is near unanimous. And I am perplexed. These are people that I would normally consider “progressive”. They deride the Communist party’s propaganda. They question whether sacrificing millions of Vietnamese on the battlefield against the US was necessary and could be justified.

I read a lot and rarely comment as I don’t see much point in back and forth bantering. But all my buttons were pressed when a well-followed blogger wrote this post that likens US intervention in Syria to someone stepping in when witnessing a neighbor’s domestic violence. He mentions Iraq and says even no WMDs were ever found, the whole world was a happier place because Saddam was removed. Such appalling hawkish rhetoric compelled me to write the following comment, which receives 7 thumbs up and 42 thumbs down:

Why do “progressive” bloggers like you all support the US attacking Syria? A few days ago, you wrote a couple of entries on Martin Luther King, and I wonder if you know the following famous quote of his: “Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness….” You mention Afghanistan and Iraq; why don’t you mention how torn-up those two countries are right now? In life (and in politics) there exists more than 2 poles: pro-Russia, and pro-US. It’s not “Either you are with us, or you’re against us” like in the words of G.W.Bush. That mentality is so backward like how Vietnam used to be in the old days. (And even today?) Of course the US is powerful and they will do what they want, not minding either the UN or NATO. But war is not the answer here. There is only a small group that profits from war from selling weapons and reconstructuring. The common people everywhere suffer. Those that are bombed, that’s obvious. But Americans too, as they will have to pay the hefty price tag of war. It pains me when people like you, most of who were born and raised during the Vietnam-American war, could talk about war so lightly.

This is the comment in response to mine with 50 thumbs up and 1 thumb down (not mine):

Yesterday, after watching the news, my kid asked me: “Why do countries like war?” I see that you think similarly to my child. No one likes war, but when you see poor people in tatters on the street, do you ask yourself “Why do they have to be poor and have such a hard life?” And do you ever ask yourself “Why do people have to die?”
Such is the law of survival. It is harsh to say so but in life when there is injustice and poverty (due to society’s exhausted resources) war takes place. Or simply when a conflict is not resolved through dialogue, fighting is the quickest way to end things.
People die during war. But people die without war too. Can you imagine that in Vietnam in 1945, there was no war, and still 2 million people died of hunger. Or in North Korea in 2005, 2006, millions died. Why?
Mawkish rhetoric like “Peace is the dominant trend in the world today” only works with kids. We only need to ask those leaders “can you sacrifice some of your privileges for others?”, how many people would be willing to?

I don’t exactly follow his line of argument at the end. Needless to say I don’t agree that war is an option and a normal part of life. That it has always been a part of human history doesn’t make it normal, acceptable, and inevitable. And I know people still die in other painful circumstances besides armed conflict, but that fact does not negate the horror of war. Quick fixes is not long-lasting. The North Vietnam – South Vietnam – American war ended 38 years ago. Today we are still dealing with the consequences. Agent Orange babies. Children maimed by landmines. PTSD vets. Families scourging the earth looking for bodies of their loved ones. Vietnamese hating and calling each other names like “traitor” and “oppressor.”

I have been called a starry-eyed idealist many times. And that’s ok. I will not be shamed for believing in peace, love, and understanding.

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