Painful di­vi­sions there 50 years on

Kapi-Mana News - - CONVERSATIONS -

cannabis for pain re­lief sends a par­tic­u­larly cal­lous mes­sage, and one that’s ut­terly at odds with public opin­ion.

Back in the 1960s, public opin­ion was even more po­larised over the Viet­nam War, even if the pas­sage of time has dulled the pas­sions in­volved. Last week’s thwarted com­mem­o­ra­tion of the 1966 bat­tle of Long Tan il­lus­trated just how read­ily these painful di­vi­sions can re-emerge. Ul­ti­mately, Viet­nam chose to can­cel the 50th an­niver­sary com­mem­o­ra­tion of a con­flict in which be­tween 250-900 of its troops had died.

Of­fi­cially, Viet­nam still treats Long Tan as a vic­tory, de­spite those heavy losses, and de­spite the strate­gic set­back the Viet Cong in­sur­gency suf­fered in the wake of the bat­tle.

Some 3000 Aus­tralian vet­er­ans – who also re­gard Long Tan as a

‘‘Par­lia­ment’s re­luc­tance to em­brace the med­i­cal use of cannabis for pain re­lief sends a par­tic­u­larly cal­lous mes­sage.’’

vic­tory - had spent a lot of money to at­tend the bat­tle site, and they’ve been of­fended by a last minute can­cel­la­tion de­scribed across the Tas­man as a ‘‘kick in the guts’’. Still, Aus­tralia’s claim to sen­si­tiv­ity about Viet­nam’s sen­si­bil­i­ties felt some­what at odds with the de­ci­sion to restage a Viet­nam War era con­cert by the Aussie singer Lit­tle Pat­tie, as part of the fes­tiv­i­ties. Ul­ti­mately, Viet­nam con­cluded that the solemn oc­ca­sion had not been suf­fi­ciently in­su­lated from po­ten­tially of­fen­sive dis­plays of Aussie tri­umphal­ism.

In New Zealand, the 50th an­niver­sary of the Long Tan vic­tory has been planned to com­mem­o­rate our en­tire Viet­nam War ef­fort. Not far be­low the sur­face, the 1960s di­vi­sions rum­ble on.

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