Many of my generation who witnessed and bore witness to the Vietnam War carry in persistent memory the irreparable injuries Washington inflicted on the people of Indochina and America, and on the dignity and interests of the United States as well. Reading H R McMaster’s 1997 book Dereliction of Dutysharply brought back to the surface those memories of a war that was always more about China than about Vietnam – both in its inception and its conclusion.
With and because of the way the war ended, US-China relations improved dramatically, but for the last few years attitudes in the US toward China have been regressing to where they were in the 1950s and 1960s. This negative tendency began with the Barack Obama administration’s call for a pivot to East Asia, which seemed to mean expanding the wars in the Middle East eastward once again. More recently, the Bannon-Bolton clique around the White House proclaims its thirst for war. In the peculiar phrasing of the new director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, reminiscent of the Japanese concept of total war, China poses “an all-of-society threat.” The children? The language?