Dick Cheney’s failure to serve in Vietnam

August 27, 2011 | By | 6 Replies More

At The Nation, John Nichols reviews each of warmonger Dick Cheney’s four 2-S draft deferments that allowed him to not serve in Vietnam in the 1960’s. He explained himself decades later, but doesn’t even mention this aspect of his life in his new book, In My Times. Here is an excerpt from Nichol’s article:

Twenty-three years later, when Cheney appeared before the Senate to plead the case for his confirmation as George Herbert Walker Bush’s defense secretary, he was questioned about his failure to serve. Cheney responded that he “would have obviously been happy to serve had I been called.” In a more truthful moment that same year, Cheney admitted to a reporter, “I had other priorities in the ’60s than military service.” Cheney’s lie to the Senate has never caused much concern, but that “other priorities” line has dogged him. After he selected himself to serve on the 2000 Republican ticket, former Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jesse Brown, a Vietnam veteran disabled by a gunshot wound to his right arm, said, “As a former Marine who was wounded and nearly lost his life, I personally resent that comment. I resent that he had ‘other priorities,’ when 58,000 people died and over 300,000 returned wounded and disabled. In my mind there is no doubt that because he had ‘other priorities’ someone died or was injured in his place.”

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Category: History, hypocrisy, Propaganda

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Mike M. says:

    Bullshit. I have to applaud Dick Cheney for having the wits and the guts to dodge serving in Vietnam. Kudos to Cheney for having “other priorities”. Finally, a spark of wisdom and humanity from Cheney that lends a bit of redemption to his otherwise tarnished legacy.

    That quote from Jesse Brown is pure and complete nationalistic bullshit propaganda. We need to wake up and get beyond this type of mindless warrior rhetoric. This is the type of utter shameful nonsense that people continue to spout, and people continue to lap up. It’s language and dimwitted attitudes like this that perpetuate the idiocy of war. Pathetic.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      I don’t think Cheney should have served. I posted this because it is yet another display of hypocrisy. Cheney should have know better than to throw young Americans into mindless combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. [I don’t object to using American forces to hunt down the perpetrators of 9/11; I do object to having expanded the Afghanistan operation beyond that]. Between Iraq and Afghanistan, Cheney has sacrificed thousands of lives for no good reason, and he should have known better, based on his decision to evade service in Vietnam. But that is the mark of a Chickenhawk: Avoid putting your own ass at risk, but throw others into war in service of jingoistic glory.

    • Gotta agree with Erich on this one. It’s not that Cheney (like so many others of his stripe) ducked service in Vietnam, but the hypocrisy of his patriotic stance on military force and the fact that he didn’t serve. Quayle was the same way. These men could get out. A lot of people had “other priorities” during the Vietnam War and could not get out of serving unless they were willing to flee the country, which of course branded them to the likes of Cheney as cowards and traitors. It’s the double standard that’s offensive, particularly when you see their campaign strategies in attacking Kerry on his war record. Cheney’s position was vile.

  2. Mike M. says:

    I don’t disagree with the points and perspectives of Erich’s or Mark’s replies. They’re solid…I’m with you on all that. However, Cheney’s position may have been “vile” as Mark stated, but ONLY when you view it in retrospect, knowing as we do now the history of Cheney’s pro-military actions, attitudes and stance. His decision to not fight in Vietnam may have been wise and idealistic when he made it in the 60’s, and only looks ugly and hypocritical today in light of our current knowledge regarding Dick Cheney’s post-vietnam behavior.

    • I’ll agree with you there. But that’s, I believe, the point of the piece, that apparently this is someone who has no problem sending other people’s sons and daughters to fight and die for his so-called freedoms, but at the moment it was his turn he had “other priorities.”

      I didn’t go, either. Not because I made a moral decision but because my lottery number was high and the draft ended shortly after I turned 18 and as a rather feckless youth I let life carry me past it. I would not myself judge anyone’s motives for not going—unless it became a contradiction later. So, sure, this is all about hindsight—and about those who make policy.

  3. Jim Razinha says:

    Cheney is unapologetic about his massive character flaws.

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