From Vietnam Veterans Against the War,

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Could Ukraine Be About Oil?

By Allen Meece

Before the second invasion of Iraq, President George Dubya was wondering what to call his bold battle. "How about Operation Iraqi Liberation?" he asked. An advisor said, "No, that spells 'OIL' and would give us away."

2022 minus 1964 makes fifty-eight years since my destroyer was chased out of the Tonkin Gulf by five torpedo boats doing fifty knots while my Sherman Class destroyer was struggling to muster 28 knots. We were firing our five-inch guns at them as fast as we could to keep them more than five miles away and out of torpedo range. We knew destroyers sink ten minutes after being hit by a torpedo.

I was twenty years old when I saw the torpedo boats closing and the dust falling out of our ceiling wires from the recoil throughout the ship from our every gunshot.

The Navy told us in bootcamp that we were protecting democracy against the monolithic communist bloc that wanted to take over Vietnam as the first falling domino in a plan to own the world. That included dominating America. We assumed that included taking our girlfriends and our cars. We had to fight. After we got over there, it seemed like we were just bullying a little guy who wanted to rebuild his country after French colonial exploitation. He wanted to be left alone to be independent and free, the same as we wanted to be. So what if they used socialist techniques to do that? Frontier America started that way.

My multimillion-dollar warship was four hundred feet long and had a crew of two-hundred and fifty. It was running from a fast motorboat that had four torpedoes and a crew of five. It wasn't a fair fight and it didn't seem right. It didn't feel like an American thing to do, killing little guys with big, expensive high-tech weapons because they exercised their sovereign right to run their country their way. They lived half-a-world away and weren't hurting us.

We had a multibillion-dollar aircraft carrier waiting outside the Gulf with five thousand people and a squadron of fighter jets that we radioed for help. By the time they scrambled and reached us, the enemy boats could not be found.

Eleven years later and fifty-eight thousand American military deaths later, we turned around and walked away from Vietnam after we had enough of the bloody stalemate. We finally left them alone without an adult explanation for the madness and no apology for the atrocity the CIA started.

Here's an adult explanation for those ten years of insane violence; we were "protecting American Interests." What does that mean? American Interests are corporate global revenue streams. Sorry, world. American government is being purchased by its corporations that believe a healthy revenue stream is worth a war.

In America, the propaganda of commerce has perfused our culture so much that we believe that capitalism means democracy and freedom. So America has to go to war to protect sacrosanct democracy and never acknowledges that it is about capital gains; killing for profit. We won't admit to the possession of that much disrespect for human life.

Today, Vietnam is a "most-favored" trading nation. Americans go to that lovely country to enjoy good vacations and get treated cordially. We mutated their plants and people with Agent Orange chemical defoliant and dropped more bombs on them than we did on the rest of the world in World War II. That's a lot of tonnage.

With total respect and love for our injured and fallen comrades in arms, one could plausibly say that the Vietnam-American war was a ghastly decade of waste. The lesson of Vietnam is that our entire country and its government can be wrong, horribly wrong for a long time. Citizens have a duty to deny service to an erroneous war. Probably, if you can manage to look behind the veil, you'll see that every war is a "grave" error.

Us Vietnam vets expected that our lesson was horrible enough to never be forgotten. It perhaps would have been worth our sacrifice if the government never did anything like that again.

Twenty-five years later came the invasion into Afghanistan and two whole decades of wastage and fear of death for thirty-eight million Afghans. Again, we walked away after failing to turn them into a suburban Little America. Again, we made no apology for leaving the country worse than we found it. We'll send them some welfare checks, maybe. Dollars can make anyone happy. Can't they?

And now I am hearing the same emotional war cries I heard before. Our President is making brutish threats to the Russian President for invading Ukraine, saying, "there will be severe consequences, heavy prices to pay." That is not diplomacy, that is saber-rattling. It encourages a descent to anger and violence. An intelligent leader would know that any amount of difficult diplomacy and empathetic counseling with the distressed Russian leader named Vladimir Putin, is better than warfare. It might actually be better for the world if Russia were allowed to annex Ukraine. That is too hard to judge. There is too much propaganda out there and not enough truth data about the Ukrainian story for the casual citizen to perceive what's going on.

But, except for World War II, the history of American foreign wars is indisputable: Don't go there!

Our war department is called the Department of Defense for a very good and basic reason. The DoD is for defending, not offending. There is a United Nations to handle foreign problems and we should support the UN and not be like misinformed cops who do more harm than good because they work for "business interests." They work for the profiteers, not for peace. And war is extremely profitable for the monster aerospace and 'defense' industries.

Oh, to help you consider what this latest war stuff might be about, hear what the US International Trade Administration says; "Ukraine has approximately 900 BILLION cubic meters of proven reserves of natural gas." Same old story: Shout loud and often about freedom but go to war for the energy which is there. Energy is THE American Interest.

"Hell no, we won't go," we said in 1964. History proved us correct. Don't go there this time either…

Allen Meece is the author of "TIN CAN" a Vietnam War naval novel of the Tonkin Gulf Incidents. It is available online from

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