“At the end of my military career, some 40 years later, that [Vietnam] war had a lot to do with the way I handle myself in the wars that we're in right now, part of which means to make sure that the American people know what's going on - to put a face on that, to put a face on those we've lost. I was a big advocate for opening Dover [Air Force Base] to the public and the families for just that reason. We want people to know what's going on and to consciously say “yes” or “no” -- we will continue this, or we won't continue it. The Vietnam War began, the American people didn't support the men and women in uniform, and that is not the case now.”

– Mike Mullen, retired admiral and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in an interview with the Daily Princetonian. Mullen is teaching U.S. Military and National and International Diplomacy to 19 students at Princeton this semester.

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Don_Bacon
Don_Bacon

Mullen, as usual, doesn't know what he's talking about. I feel sorry for his 19 students. There is no evidence for the statement that "The Vietnam War began, the American people didn’t support the men and women in uniform."

It's typical for failed US leaders to distract the American people from the real issues, to remove blame from themselves, and this is such a case.

from The Vietnam Veterans Against the War:

"The facsimiles of spat-upon veteran stories that are surfacing now confuse the public dialogue surrounding the war. Debate about the war itself and the politics that got us into it is being displaced by the phony issue of who supports the troops. Everyone supports the troops and wishes them a safe and speedy homecoming. It's the mission they have been sent on that is dividing the nation and it is the mission that we have a right and obligation to question."

So what we've had in Iraq and Vietnam is repeated votes in the congress to fund stupid wars "to support the troops" with its purpose being to avoid the fictitious situation claimed by Mullen. That's one terrible result of Mullen-think.

Mullen is a fine example of The Peter Principle. I don't doubt that he's a nice guy and probably was an adequate naval commander, but he was no Fox Fallon, which is why he got promoted into the top slot where he was ineffective, while Fallon got fired.

DHMazur
DHMazur

I have great respect and admiration for Adm. Mullen, but I disagree with the breadth of the statement he makes here.  He is perpetuating the myth that has been repeated so many times that everyone simply assumes it must be true: that the American people (especially those who were against the war) treated Vietnam-era service members with disdain.

It is important to remember the founding principle of the Vietnam Veterans of America:  "Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another."  Note that the VVA did not speak of abandonment by those who opposed the war or by civilians in general.  Its founding principle reflected a belief that Vietnam veterans had been shunned by older veterans.  These were the men who served in WWII and the Korean War, the men who made up the core of traditional veterans' organizations.  While they strongly supported the Vietnam War, they believed this new generation of veterans was less worthy of the brotherhood.  Somehow, their disrespect and disdain has come to be remembered as acts of scorn by opponents of the war.  It's a terribly convenient, but inaccurate, recollection by today's conservatives.

Polls of Vietnam veterans taken in 1971 showed that 94% reported receiving a "friendly" reception from civilians their own age.  If we're going to make accusations about who did or didn't support the Vietnam veteran, we ought to be specific in assigning responsibility.

A former Air Force officer and author of "A More Perfect Military: How the Constitution Can Make Our Military Stronger"


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