Suddenly the war in Vietnam in back on people’s lips here in Europe, more than 40 years after it ended.
“This is the worst crisis since Vietnam,” people are saying as the migrant inflow from the Middle East continues at full speed, with horrific pictures on the TV news of toddlers dying, usually by drowning, on the perilous voyages from particularly Syria and Libya, which are providing by far the most refugees.
Well, it is not quite as bad as Vietnam (and Cambodia) yet: no B.52 bomber strikes or Agent Orange or napalm. But the buster bombs used in Syria are horrible people killers, and the city of Aleppo, bigger than Damascus, is mostly in ruins. Libya, too, is in chaos.
The corpse of a three year old toddler, Aylan Kurdi, was carried, oh so carefully, by a Turkish policeman named Mehmet Ciplak, from the sea’s edge. This incident is being compared by commentators on TV to the little Vietnamese girl, Miss Pham Thi Kim Phuc, running down that road in Tay Ninh province after an air-delivered napalm strike, a poignant scene snapped by Nick Ut of Associated Press in the Vietnam War.
And it is true that British Prime Minister David Cameron, who had been hard-line about migrants, seems to have changed his tune in the last couple of days and is now talking about the possibility of accepting at least 10,000 refugees. He said he would only pick them up from static camps in the Middle East, instead of from the roads crossing Europe with needy migrants, most Syrians, but including Pakistanis, Afghans and Eritreans from the repressive, war-like regime in the Horn of Africa.
Then we have American airman first class Spencer Stone, 23, reacting to the words ‘Let’s go’ from his military friend Alek Skarlatos, 22, as they tackled a Moroccan terrorist gunman on a express train from Amsterdam to Paris after two Frenchmen had been knocked out of action, one of them shot. Seeing these can-do Americans also brought back memories of Vietnam. We saw the French president handing out France’s highest medal for bravery, the legion of honor, to all those who helped disarm and subdue the Moroccan-born terrorist 26 year old Ayoub Khazzani.
Of course, the United States faces its own frustrating problems with illegal Mexicans and those from the poorer countries of Central America, and this includes the mafia slaying of students. About 11 million asylum seekers from south of the border live in the US.
In Europe, Angela Merkel, known as “Mama Merkel” to the migrants, seemed to have been showing the way as to how things should be done, while Cameron had kind of lost the plot. Germany may take 800,000 migrants this year, while Cameron has up to now has taken only 200or so.
Still, there are voices in Germany – not just the right-wing fascist groups in Hungary but in neighboring nations who wonder if Merkel is moving too fast, too soon.
Of course, Germany and Sweden, the two countries most sought after by migrants, have things that still nag at their consciences. (I did my compulsory military service in Germany and know that this is still true today).
Germans still want to live down their Nazi past, and the 6 million Jews they murdered, in any way possible, and Sweden in WWII was neutral, but allowed Hitler’s panzers and military forces, Gestapo and SS men, to cross Swedish territory and ravage small but brave Norway.
The Nazis established a dictatorship there under the odious puppet named Quisling, whose name became a byword for “traitor” throughout the world.