We Were Soldiers (2002) is a movie based on We Were Soldiers Once …. and Young: Ia Drang: the Battle that Changed the War in Vietnam (1992)

A previous post is entitled:

I have begun to view We Were Soldiers (2002), while pausing to read The Water Will Come (2017)

The 2002 movie is based on a book entitled We Were Soldiers Once … and Young: Ia Drang: The Battle that Changed the War in Vietnam (1992).

A blurb outlines the narrative that unfolds in the above-noted book and subsequent movie:

In November 1965, 450 men of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, under the command of Lt. Col. Hal Moore, were dropped by helicopter into the Ia Drang Valley and immediately surrounded by 2,000 North Vietnamese soldiers. Three days later, not three miles away, a sister battalion was chopped to pieces. These actions constitute some of the most savage and significant battles of the Vietnam War. The Americans faced nearly certain destruction. How they persevered – sacrificed themselves for their comrades and never gave up – makes a vivid portrait of war at its most devastating and inspiring.


Opioid crisis has killed more Americans than the Vietnam War

The opioid crisis has claimed more American lives than the Vietnam War.

A June 7, 2018 Toronto Star article entitled: “Opioid epidemic deadlier than Vietnam War, study says.”

The opening paragraphs read:

Slightly less than 1 per cent of all Americans who died in 1968 lost their lives while serving in the Vietnam War. Yet even the toll of that conflict’s bloodiest year was less significant than that being caused by the opioid epidemic. According to new research, a staggering 1.5 per cent of all American deaths in 2016 were attributable to opioids.

Young adults are being particularly hard hit by opioids, which now account for 1 of every 5 deaths of Americans aged 25 to 34. Dr. Tara Gomes of St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, who led the research, emphasized the “immense contribution of opioid deaths to overall mortality among young adults, and the burden that this will have on society today, and into the future.”


In 2016, 64,000 people died from drug overdoses in the U.S., more than the number of Americans killed in the wars in Vietnam and Iraq combined

A June 23, 2018 Atlantic article is entitled: “An ‘Overprescription of Opioids’ That Led to a Crisis: But the director of National institute on Drug Abuse also pointed to economic factors.”

The opening paragraphs reads:

In 2016, 64,000 people died from drug overdoses in the U.S., most of them due to opioids. That’s more than the number of Americans killed in the wars in Vietnam and Iraq combined.

Three factors led to those numbers, Nora Volkow, director of National Institute on Drug Abuse, a part of the National Institutes of Health, said at the Aspen Ideas Festival, which is cohosted by The Aspen Institute and The Atlantic. First, the epidemic was started by a healthcare system that sought to minimize pain and suffering. Physicians were taught that those with pain wouldn’t get addicted to pain medication, she said. “Unfortunately, those beliefs were completely wrong,” she said. What it resulted in was “an overprescription of opioids,” Volkow said.


The above-noted Atlantic article warrants a close read.

Click here for previous posts about opioids >

Robert S. McNamara changed his views about the Vietnam War

In his role as Secretary of Defence, Robert S. McNamara played a key leadership role in the Vietnam War. In time his views about the war changed dramatically.

Books by or featuring Robert S. McNamara include:

Argument Without End: In Search of Answers to the Vietnam Tragedy (1999)

In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam (1995)

High-quality strategic thinking is a key ingredient for any large-scale project

The strategic thinking that gave rise to the Vietnam War led to tragedy. The tragedy was compounded, as Robert S. McNamara has outlined, by a failure of both sides to understand where the other side was coming from.

Books I’ve found of interest, regarding strategic thinking, include:

Harvard Business Review on Decision Making (2001)

Guide to Decision Making: Getting It More Right than Wrong (2012)

The Decision Book: Fifty Models for Strategic Thinking (2018)

In my anecdotal experience, in community self-organizing and related projects, I’ve found it highly useful to consult with people widely, before strategic thinking is brought to bear during the initiation of any major project.

Many community-based projects are too big for one or a handful of people to complete.

For such projects, high-quality strategic thinking is a key ingredient, to ensure that human agency manifests itself in such a way that people actually have an impact, and a project has traction.

I have often found it essential to talk about strategy (as in brief, one-time, off-the-record conversations) with individuals whose experience and wisdom vastly exceeds my own.


A May 13, 2019 Yale Environment 360 article is entitled: “Fifty Years After, A Daunting Cleanup of Vietnam’s Toxic Legacy: From 1962 to 1971, the American military sprayed vast areas of Vietnam with Agent Orange, leaving dioxin contamination that has severely affected the health of three generations of Vietnamese. Now, the U.S. and Vietnamese governments have joined together in a massive cleanup project.”

An Aug. 9, 2019 CNN article is entitled: “Southwest pilot flew his Vietnam veteran father’s remains back to the place where he last saw him 52 years ago.”


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