I spent several evenings recently watching the Viet Nam war series by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. This documentary is one of the prime reasons we should protect our Public Television and radio networks from government interference and defunding. But that's a topic for another time.

I spent several evenings recently watching the Viet Nam war series by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. This documentary is one of the prime reasons we should protect our Public Television and radio networks from government interference and defunding. But that's a topic for another time.
Our society is littered with the remains of victims of that war. Some patriots call for more military action in our current conflicts, while others decry the atrocities of human conflict in a battlefield environment mixed with civilians. We have politicians in Washington making decisions who have had no battlefield experience, with only a couple of exceptions, and nearly all politicians were spared military combat duty during that war.
War has become more impersonal for a number of reasons which tends to desensitize us from the ugly reality. One reason is that armies no longer line up face to face, as civil war opponents did in walls of human flesh within easy range of bullets or bayonets, watching the enemy slaughtered during advances. Opponents now equalize the odds by guerrilla tactics, no uniforms, infiltrating towns and using civilians as human shields. Ambushes, detonation devices, human suicide bombers and road side bombs are equalizers against high-tech weaponry. Use of air strikes and drones results in massive collateral damage to unintended bystanders. As we learned in Viet Nam, it turns citizens against the invaders while the pilots fly high above the fray and are visually isolated from the details human carnage. It's easy enough to execute a drone strike when you aren't covered by the blood of your victim.
My family has its share of soldiers. My wife's grandfather went “over the top” of the trenches twice in WWI. My father was a Captain on Okinawa in WW2. I served with the 12th Military Police Detachment (CID) in the Viet Nam war. My son-in-law is a Navy Commander on Guam. I was a bit reluctant to watch the Viet Nam war documentary that brings back so many memories both good and bad. And it made me upset.
What is so well known today, in retrospect, is that our government lied to us. President Kennedy misrepresented our increasing involvement in the war. President Johnson inherited the war on Kennedy's death and escalated the war on the advice of General Westmoreland and others who apparently felt they and the President would “lose face” if they told the American people how many more soldiers they needed and that we were not, ever, winning.
One shocking Top Secret document shown in the documentary revealed that 70% of the war was waged for political purposes and only 10% to help the Vietnamese people. It was a continuation of the communist scare from Eisenhower's rein, and Johnson simply lied to the public to assure his re-election, at the expense of thousands of American lives, many of whom really did die in vain.
Lies. We have become so accustomed to politicians lying that it no longer seems to matter. The end justifies the means. Win at all costs. Lying has become an accepted tool of leverage and seldom is one held accountable for it. It permeates our society in all manner of misrepresentation – from advertising to sales to labeling to social media. Many like to claim that we are a Christian nation and yet how many of those routinely violate the commandment warning about bearing false witness?
Lies extended the Viet Nam war and killed many young men unnecessarily. What lies are we being told by today's leaders that will result in future wars?

Mike Davis writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.