Wednesday, May 25, 2016
While PM Trudeau is enjoying a wedding anniversary break in Japan today, POTUS Obama is on his way there after a brief visit to Viet Nam. Many of us grew up with news footage from "Nam" even though this wasn't our war, and then there were the films such as Platoon, and Born on the Fourth of July and Full Metal Jacket, and...I'll stop there. We saw this conflict through an American lens which increasingly cloudy as the morality of the war was and protests mounted. Think of the killings at Kent State and the song Ohio by Neil Young.
The Viet Cong communists were the evil enemy, and if Viet Nam fell, so would all of Southeast Asia in the "Domino Effect." Yet there was Obama announcing a new trade agreement which would allow the sale of US manufactured weapons to the Vietnamese government. No matter that Viet Nam has a lousy human rights record. Apparently Canada and the United States share the motto "show me the money" when it comes to selling military hardware to suspect nations.
On Friday Obama will visit Hiroshima, one of the two Japanese cities obliterated by American nuclear bombs during WW2. Japan was one of the evil enemies (certainly guilty of terrible atrocities) although surrender was inevitable at the time the bombs were dropped. Hundreds of thousands of civilians perished, some vaporized in an instance, many suffering agonizing deaths due to radiation poisoning. During the visit neither nation will take responsibility for its actions, with a carefully orchestrated tour of the Hiroshima museum.
What do we make of all this, beyond the ceremonial presentations by children and the handshakes between leaders. Perhaps we can all pray on Friday, even just a few moments of reflection and silence to consider the folly and the pointlessness of the wars we glorify during and after the fact. We might go a step farther and repent of violence and bloodshed which is committed in the name of national interests. What curious creatures we are, in need of God's grace and Christ's forgiveness.