John Howard’s declaration that history, hindsight and his visits this week to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, have provided no reason for him to review his views on the morality or strategic merit of the Vietnam War should shock Australians. Apart from the disastrous diplomatic implications of his position, these views put Howard at the most extreme edges of thinking on the war. The massive involvement of foreign forces in Vietnam caused untold death and destruction and prevented a local solution to the conflict. Just as important though, the extreme brutality of the war ensured that hard line leaders flourished in the victorious Communist north. Moderates and reformers were marginalised for years. Vietnam is moving on. John Howard isn't. We should be more than alarmed if the same strategic mind is guiding the war on terror and our presence in Iraq.
Published in the Australian Financial Review and Sydney Morning Herald newspapers.