Lan Cao : Vietnam Wasn’t Just an American War [NYT]

[ndlr] Nouvel article sur la guerre, une perspective du côté vietnamien sous la plume de l’écrivaine Lan Cao.

More than 40 years after its end, the Vietnam War remains, for Americans, essentially an American experience, or more accurately, an American metaphor. The continuing American inability and unwillingness to include the Vietnamese perspective also speaks volumes about how the United States relates to the rest of the world. Americans want to be understood but rarely want to understand others.

Hollywood movies have been particularly powerful in shaping America’s Vietnam War narrative. The story line may change, but the backdrop is the same. Chaos, not just wartime chaos, not just the proverbial “war is hell” chaos, but its Asiatic variant — with the inscrutable and unknowable always lurking and pouncing upon the naïve American protagonist. Predictably, as in “Apocalypse Now,” there were fetid rivers, torrid jungles and impassive brown faces as backdrops to an American soldier’s odyssey through the heart of darkness that is Vietnam.

The overarching theme was Vietnam’s meaninglessness and what it did to Americans and America. There was always the tortured, psychologically unglued Vietnam veteran like the one in “The Deer Hunter.” Metaphor takes over as American prisoners of war were forced to endure Russian roulette, a supposedly popular game played in back alleys by natives who seemingly have little value for life. Whether this game existed was irrelevant. It served to symbolize the brutality of war and the lunacies of this particular war.

Lire la suite : New York Times, 22/03/1967.

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Image « à la une » : Soldats sud-vietnamiens lors d’un engagement contre les troupes nord-vietnamiennes près de Khê Sanh © 1971 UPI radio by Willie Vicoy