Saturday, January 13, 2007

Iraq and Vietnam

Now that America is bogged down in Iraq, the word 'Vietnam' comes up again, saying that there are parallelism between the two.

Vietnam fortunately find their way to peace after Americans left. Sure, there was chaos in Vietnam after Americans left initially. There were many misunderstandings between the two sides. There were many sufferings initially because of mistrusts and fears.

When the international community breaks Vietnam into the North and South, our family also breaks up due to the different location that we live. We have different propagandas due to the location we live. The South portrays the North as ruthless. The North portrays the South as being oppressed by the Americans and need to be liberated. Some came in from the North with a small bag of rice to give us South people, because they thought Americans oppressed us and we are starved to death down here. Obviously, they soon find out that they have been misled ... the South has plenty due to the influx of money coming from Americans. I watched the propaganda everyday, but find it hard to believe. We are the same people ... how can we be that different? Also, some of my family members are up there. When Americans left, the family is reunited. Just as our family is reunited, many other families in the country get reunited ... and the country, as a whole, comes to peace.

Many people are upset at the Iraqis for not fighting. It's their country. I have mixed feelings about it. Like Iraq, Americans come in Vietnam, declaring the other side 'Communism' is bad, and we have to fight them. What they call 'communism' is also part of our family, or at least some of our family members are with them. I wonder if it's the same with the Iraqis, just replace 'terrorism' with 'communism', that is some of the family members are part of this group, but they are also a part of their family as well.

Also, the South is heavily influenced by Buddhism, who believe in reincarnation. The plant that you are eating could be your 'uncle' reincarnated. They have issues about taking the life of ants, flies, let alone human beings.

Bottom line, it's impossible to live on this earth and not sinning, although you want to make decisions to minimize your sin as much as possible. For example, you can choose not to eat the plant, and thereby not ending its life, but then you would starve to death. What happen if you have a family to take care of, therefore, to a plant, yes, you have ended its life and have sinned against it, but then, you save your family's life.

This was the culture I was raised in. So when a North Vietnamese came in and pointed a gun to my head, asking for the whereabout of my father and his troops, I didn't say anything. I wasn't going to be one who point the way so he can find them and harm them. He then pointed the gun at another little girl's head and pressured me to say. It's strange, losing my life wasn't a big deal, but losing another's life because I choose not to say was a tough decision. In the end, I choose not to say. I've been watching these propagandas saying that North Vietnamese are ruthless - I want to witness if he is such or it is just propaganda. I want to observe what transpire through him as he pull the trigger and takes someone life, especially someone who presents no threat to him. It wasn't fear that I felt, it was more of a curiosity. If he is still a human being, he will find it hard to pull that trigger. In the end, he walked away.

Americans didn't understand the culture in Vietnam. What is the Iraqis' culture? What do they believe? How do the Shiites different from the Sunnis? Can they be differentiated on the streets? Are there something in common between them? As I understand, the Shiites are more religious, and the Sunnis are more secular. However, they have coexisted before, so why is it such a problem now?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A Surge in Troop Level

President Bush has decided to increase in troop levels.
President Bush said this is a new strategy ... we'll see.

One of the criticism that the reason the US is losing is because they are using the same strategy as they did in Vietnam. They move in, clear it, move out, then the 'insurgent' move back in. Now, they say, they will stay longer, give the time for the Iraqis to 'stabilize' themselves ... for how long, who knows.

While our young men sacrifice their lives hoping to secure the peace, Bush too should learn to secure the peace by making peace with his adversaries, or at least, he should attempt to. If he can learn to make peace, he could potentially save a lot of lives, because it's his decision that put many lives at risk. And the first step is stop labeling his adversaries bad names, stop fueling their hatred.

It's true that Osama bin Laden then and Zarqawi more recently have called their people to rise up against the US. It's true that there has been many suicide bombers causing great harm when they blow themselves up. It's true that they have armed themselves, and can potentially cause great harm. We shouldn't ignore them, we should pay attention, and we should take care not to inflame them, and worsen the situation. If possible, we should listen to their cries.

The world is becoming dangerous because of these weapons. When people get angry, they'll try to communicate first, but if they feel ignored, with weapons in hand, they often use that to get their message across. The increase in violence is not just in the world over there, it's also in our cities. We need to learn to listen so they don't feel to need to turn to violence to get their message across.

And with Bush's reluctance to 'talk and listen' to the 'other' side, and makes the decision to solve things the 'military' way, our young men's lives will continue to be at risk.

I hope and pray for a good outcome in Iraq. Let us visualize a good outcome for Iraq ... that they achieve peace and stability.