Thursday, October 28, 2004

Recovering POWs

Am I being a total asshole by saying that the US should not be spending millions of dollars in usually unsuccessful attempts to recover the remains of US soldiers killed in Vietnam? If you have time check out the article on these missions by Caroline Alexander in the October 25 issue of The New Yorker. (I would link this but The New Yorker only keeps their current issue on their website) I should say that Alexander's not really criticizing these missions. But I am somewhat critical of them. Yes, it's all fine and good to give some closure to the families of these dead soldiers and sometimes giving them surviving possessions of their family members. In most circles, I would be considered a heartless bastard for criticizing this and maybe I will be here too. But there is one example in the article of a mission that cost millions of dollars that produced nothing more than a class ring. And I can't justify spending those kind of resources on soldiers that died 30 years ago. Call me a jerk, but I'd rather spend those resources on soldiers in Iraq or maybe helping the millions of unemployed and underemployed in this nation, or funding some Superfund sites.

Also, this whole process is a continuation of American imperialism in Vietnam. Perhaps that sounds too strong, and perhaps it is. But there are millions of Vietnamese who are unaccounted for from the war with America and we don't spend one damn dime on them, yet we hire Vietnamese workers to go into villages and ask about these dead Americans. Don't you think the Vietnamese might want to be left alone? Don't you think that they have war wounds to deal with as well? Don't you think they might like some closure too?

My heart goes out to the children of soldiers killed in Vietnam who never knew their fathers. I understand that these missions mean a lot to them. However, I also think we should spend our money on the living. Somehow I think that this nation should have higher priorities than spending millions of dollars for a single mission to recover remains in Vietnam while veterans of that war are homeless on the streets of America.