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I wonder if George W. Bush and Tony Blair had visited the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City when they were younger, whether their collective deadly waltz into Iraq might ever have happened.
I’m in the historic south Vietnam city, formerly known as Saigon. Today I visited perhaps the city’s most important attraction, if one can call it that. Among the many things that strikes you about this place is the almost eerie silence within, even though it’s packed with visitors from around the world. Those who come here are largely on a voyage of discovery and it is a distinctly uncomfortable one.
Things happened during the Vietnam war, things that today seem impossible to countenance. There were atrocities on both sides of course and this Blog is not the place for politics. But in a world as troubled as ours, it is sobering to think of the mass slaughter that is still being conducted today, so often in the name of someone’s god, some 41 years since the Vietnam War (known here as the Resistance War against America or, simply, the American War) ended.
Some 3 million Vietnamese were killed during the war, 2 million of them civillians. Two million were injured, 300,000 were unaccounted for; and many hundreds of thousands were (and continue to be) affected by the deadly remnants of war – unexploded land mines, Agent Orange contamination and so on. Add in the terrible cost of lost lives of foreign military personnel (including 58,000 Americans) and you truly wonder how nearly half a century on mankind has found itself where it is today.
I’ll let some of the images from the museum close out this Blog. These are not comfortable images and nor should they be. Taken by some of the world’s bravest photo-journalists (many of whom died in the conflict), they tell this terrible tale of the horror of war better than any words ever will.