Monday, March 07, 2005

Religion kept US married to Vietman conflict?

Sorry, the typo's in the original headline. This is a fascinating theory, though I can't claim anywhere near the academic qualifications to evaluate it:
In the 1950s there were three prominent Asian leaders who were also Christians -- Taiwan's Chiang Kai-shek, South Korea's Syngman Rhee and South Vietnam's Ngo Dinh Diem. This excellent book tells the story of how the US became involved so deeply in supporting the last of these men.

But before looking at what it has to say about him, it's important to explain just what is Seth Jacobs' ruling theory.

Jacobs believes that religion played a far greater part in American involvement in Vietnam's affairs than has hitherto been realized. Asia was perceived by the policy-makers on Capitol Hill as an area about to be taken over by atheists, Communists receiving their orders from the godless citadel of Moscow.
This might be of merely academic interest were it not for the quite extraordinary parallels with the situation today. In 2005, we see once again a heavy American presence in a distant land with strong religious reasons given for that involvement. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld are all reported to hold apocalyptic views about the cosmic battle in which they are involved.

The Axis of Evil, heir to Reagan's Evil Empire, once again puts religion in the front line, and in addition a handful of bizarre books are again credited with lying behind the American administration's thinking.

Dunno about Cheney and Rumsfeld's apocalypticism, and the entire argument may be simply facile. I mean, religion isn't behind the war in Iraq, right?


At 11:33 AM, Blogger Xpatriated Texan said...

I don't think religion is the reason for our wars, if you are saying that "The whole reason we were in Viet Nam was to support a Christian dictator." (which should be an oxymoron).

However, similarities always make it easy to defend someone and differences make it easy to vilify them. Ngo Dinh Diem was chosen by the American government to be head of the Vietnamese government - the people had elected a communist sympathizer. So the religious difference was used to support political disent, not vice versa.

The same is true in Iraq. To be blunt, it is easier to justify killing non-Christians than it is to kill Christians. We aren't in Iraq because they are Muslim, but it doesn't hurt our cause that they are.



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