HANOI, Vietnam – Without a doubt, the United States’ decision to strike Syria as a reaction to an alleged chemical weapon use upon 1,400 innocent people has recently been put to the forefront of world media.
Even if you are not the keenest follower of international affairs, this is something that should not have failed to capture your attention, whichever generation you are.
I was sliding over my Facebook News Feed the other day and one photo got my full attention.
There is no denying that Zuckerberg’s brainchild is now moving beyond the means of connecting with friends across distance. A lot of my friends’ viewpoints on the intended U.S. attack have been pretty straightforward through the consistent flows of personal updates and shares.
The photo was not the first opinion on the hotly debated issue, but it gave me a slight pause, for I saw “Vietnam.”
It was a picture of former U.S. President Lyndon Johnson with a caption underneath saying “Vietnam,” former President George W. Bush by “Iraq & Afghanistan,” his father, former President George H.W. Bush by “Panama, Iraq Somalia,” former President Ronald Reagan by “Beirut & Grenada,” former President Bill Clinton by “Bosnia & Kosovo,” and President Barack Obama by “Libya & Syria.”
All the photos together made a kind of collage with a summary quote from author and anti-war activist Norman Solomon: “War becomes perpetual when it is used as a rationale for peace.”
This photo is undeniably propaganda. The creator did not need to yell out to the world how despicable Obama’s decision feels to him or that he wants it to do the same to many others. It got me!
Though I am young, as a native Vietnamese, I am aware of the repercussions the Vietnam War had on my people. I am not here to elaborate because to some extent, the consequences cannot be well packaged into a paragraph or so. Also, I was born much after the end of war. There are pains that never cross me and presumably different pieces of the past I am too immature to pick up.
But I am not ready to say the Syrian attack is morally wrong because it is no different than what the Vietnamese people endured and triumphed over half a century ago. First things first, there is no war like any other and second, it does not suffice to say this attack would soon turn into war since Obama has said he wants only a limited engagement.
I do not know how much propaganda or rhetorical tools have invaded my daily life, but it would take a lot more photos to beguile me into following either stream of the current for or against a strike.
It is difficult for Obama himself to persuade millions of U.S. citizens into supporting his decision.
Everyone needs to think really deeply before taking a side in a serious issue, before they set out to make any right lies. Even something that is supposedly truth is bound for much doubt, cynicism and strong opposition.
I just hope the wisest voice will come out on top of the discord.
Chi Le is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.