In his May 11 letter, “U.S. knew what it wanted in Iraq,” Peter Morrissey claims that to this day the world still can’t pin down exactly why the United States invaded Vietnam — “except possibly to replenish the military industrial complex.” I thought I might take a stab at it anyway.
America fought in Vietnam for the same reason the Mafia don uses violence: to gain “credibility.” If someone in the neighborhood refuses to pay “protection money,” the don sends his thugs to burn down the store, thereby sending a powerful message to everyone in the neighborhood.
Vietnam was going to become communist. The U.S. could not let that successful defiance of U.S. hegemony stand as an example to other countries in the region. So, in this light, Vietnam can actually be viewed as a success: The country was virtually destroyed by the U.S. (mainly the south), and any surrounding countries toying with the idea of becoming communist saw the devastation resulting from that path.
And this is the same reason the U.S. continues its embargo against Cuba. We were told it was because Cuba was a Soviet satellite, but when the Soviet Union fell, the official reason for the embargo immediately switched to some idealistic notion of concern for the Cuban people and democracy. Cuba has been continuously victimized by successive U.S. governments for the simple reason that it cannot be allowed to stand as an example of successful defiance of U.S. hegemony.