(Sgt. Donald Duncan - there were signs early on Vietnam wouldn't work)
Sgt. Donald Duncan was the first U.S. soldier decorated with the Legion of Merit Medal in the Vietnam War. He had credibility and he was acknowledged as a hero. When he started voicing his doubts that our involvement in Vietnam was anything but disastrous, it raised eyebrows. So the war hero was quickly dismissed and his warnings gone largely unheeded. Sounds familiar.
In 1966, shortly after Ramparts Magazine published his piece "Dying For A Lie", in which he exposed the hypocrisy of our Vietnam excursion for what it was, he went on the talk show circuit, including this one, From The Capitol for ABC Radio.
George Watson (ABC News): “Sgt. Duncan, you say, and I quote; ‘our men are dying for a lie in Vietnam and corrupting the very word democracy’. What do you mean by that?”
Sgt. Donald Duncan: “Our administration is being continually pointing out, not only to the public but to the soldiers going over to Vietnam that we’re going there to preserve freedom, or to introduce freedom and democratic institutions. Just the opposite is true of course. There are fewer democratic institutions within South Vietnam now than there was, let’s say, in 1954. When you ask people to fight for freedom and fight for democracy then hopefully you are doing exactly that which of course we’re not.”
He was not warmly received by the mainstream media, but his message sent up a warning signal that Vietnam was not the noble war we were told it was. He would later testify before the International War Crimes Tribunal regarding the use of torture in Vietnam by Special Forces Green Berets (of which he was one).
All the warning signs were there. One of the issues it painfully brought up, and one which still holds true today in our present circumstances, is that the U.S. is very good at waging war, but completely inept at waging peace. It failed in Vietnam and it is rapidly failing in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It's that thing about learning from mistakes . . . or not.