FOR HEGEL, the contradictions that drive history exist first of all in the realm of human consciousness, i.e. on the level of ideas - not the trivial election year proposals of American politicians, but ideas in the sense of large unifying world views that might best be understood under the rubric of ideology. Ideology in this sense is not restricted to the secular and explicit political doctrines we usually associate with the term, but can include religion, culture, and the complex of moral values underlying any society as well.
At the 1860 Republican convention in Chicago, Chase and Seward were the favored candidates. Lincoln was a dark horse. In national politics, he had served only in the House, and only for one two-year term--1847-49: he had left Congress 11 years earlier! Lincoln had only three things going for him: he was considered a political lightweight, who could easily be manipulated by the power brokers; he himself was from Illinois, so the convention hall was located on his own stomping-grounds; and both he and his campaign manager--David E. Davis--were extraordinarily-adroit politicians.
Every year, there is a certain amount of energy generated by the sun. This energy radiates in all directions, so there is only a small given percentage of it that falls on the earth. The total amount of solar energy available to our planet per time unit has a hard limit — what is called the photosynthetic capacity of the planet. This energy can be used in any number of ways. Plants turn solar energy into sugar; animals turn plant sugar into kinetic energy. Animals can eat other animals, and obtain the energy stored in their bodies, which they obtained from plants, which they obtained from the sun. But none of these conversions are perfect, and some energy is lost in each one; this is why an animal that eats other predators is almost unheard of. Also, each individual likely used some of the energy, before it was taken by the next link in the chain. As animals, we are always at least one step removed — and as omnivores, we’re just as often two steps removed. Also, we’re only one of millions, if not billions of species, all sharing the same, set amount of energy from the sun.
The lengthening of bombard barrels had an equally important indirect effect. In the early years of the fifteenth century, with the shorter-barreled bombards, a rather complex loading process had to be employed.116 The gun crew filled the chamber with gunpowder for the rear three-fifths of its length. The next fifth was left empty, and the last fifth filled by a soft wood plug cut to fit the chamber bore exactly. Then the cannonball was fixed in place in the barrel with soft wood wedges. Finally, to get the tightest possible seal (thus minimizing pressure loss to windage), wet mud mixed with straw was put in place and allowed to dry. After the bombard had been fired, it had to be allowed to cool before more powder could be packed in.117 This elaborate procedure so slowed down the firing process that one master gunner, who achieved the remarkable feat of firing his bombard three times in a single day and hitting different targets each time, was forced to make a pilgrimage from Metz to Rome, because it was thought that “he could only have been in league with the devil.” 118
This new involvement will have many consequences in and what can you make for instance the cost of a war, the loss and gain of jobs, and physical side effects....
In 1995, the Vietnamese government estimated NLF-NVA military casualties at 1.1 million killed and 600,000 wounded over the course of twenty-one years – the period of direct American intervention (1954-75). U.S. casualties, in contrast, were 58,200 killed (including 10,800 in non-hostile situations) and 305,000 wounded. For every American soldier who died in Vietnam, nineteen NLF/NVA soldiers died. At the end of the war, the NLF-NVA had 300,000 soldiers missing in action as compared 2,646 American MIAs.
When I got home, I think everybody, including myself, was sick of the war. We abhorred it. It was not only cruel, it was absurd. Foreigners came to our country from out of the blue and forced us to take up arms. Don’t you think that’s absurd? We just wanted to be prosperous and live like other people. Of course we had to fight to protect our country but we were really sick of the war. Deep down we didn’t like it. Casualties were enormous. And not just that – our savings, our houses, our plants and animals, everything was wasted by that war.
The U.S. lost the war, but the NLF and Hanoi government can hardly be said to have won it. After initial euphoria, the Vietnamese came to terms with the war’s devastation. Ta Quang Thinh, a NVA nurse who was severely wounded in a B-52 bomb attack while on duty in the south, returned to the north in 1971. In an interview with Christian Appy many years later, he reflected:
South Vietnam suffered in more ways. Some 1,200,000 people were forcibly relocated through “pacification” programs and five million became refugees between 1964 to 1975. The urban population swelled from 15 percent in 1964 to 40 percent in 1968, to 65 percent in 1974, undermining the social fabric of the country. Normally a rice exporter, South Vietnam had to import 725,000 tons of rice in 1967. Hunger and starvation were side effects of the war. The U.S. also conducted its chemical war in the south, spraying nineteen million gallons of toxins on five million acres, with some parts of North Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia sprayed as well. The debilitating effects of this chemical war still linger.
In the aftermath of the war, the country was renamed the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The new government imposed three-to-ten-year prison sentences on former South Vietnamese military officers and government workers, and generally sought to “re-educate” all southerners in the ways of socialism. Hundreds of thousands of southerners fled the country, many eventually settling in the United States, Australia, Canada, or France. Millions of others set about the task of reconciliation after so many years of warfare. The U.S. reneged on Nixon’s promise to provide reconstruction funds as the Vietnamese sought to rebuild their country and heal the division between north and south.
Fighting in Vietnam nonetheless continued. In lieu of setting up unification elections, as stipulated in the Paris treaty, Thieu declared in November 1973 that the “Third Indochina War” had begun and went on the offensive. The NLF and NVA responded in kind, and with more success. Their final offensive to take Saigon was launched in March 1975. On April 2, Madame Nguyen Thi Binh, the Provisional Revolutionary Government representative who had signed the Paris treaty, offered to halt the NLF-NVA offensive if Thieu were replaced by a leader who would implement the terms of the Paris agreement. Thieu refused and lashed out against the NLF-NVA troops surrounding Saigon with every weapon at his command. The U.S. military, which came under the command of President Gerald Ford after Nixon was forced to resign on August 9, 1974 (due to the Watergate scandal), provided Thieu with monstrous 15,000-pound CBU-55 bombs originally intended to clear landing zones in the jungle.
Public opinion shifted during the war. In the fall 1964 election, a majority of Americans voted for a presidential candidate who promised not to send “our boys” to Vietnam. Once combat troops were sent, however, the majority endorsed the war, in keeping with patriotic support for American troops abroad. A Gallup poll taken in June 1965 reported that 66% favored continued U.S. military involvement as opposed to 20% who favored withdrawal. Only one year later, support for the war had begun to wane. A Gallup poll taken in June 1966 reported 48% in favor of continued involvement and 35% in favor of withdrawal.