In America: Forgotten and Ignored Voices of Southeast Asians.
By John M. Del Vecchio
This post is a follow-up to the essays previously written on the Burns/Novick program. Since the Burns/Novick series ended I have received scores of emails, essays, notes and columns which illuminate various and specific aspects of the history of the Second Indochina War, or of this highly-flawed series itself. Four Southeast Asian voices are included below. At the end of this post you will also find links to a number of significant columns that have appeared in the past few weeks.
A Cambodian voice: The following email is from friend and advisor Saren Thach. In 1967 Saren graduated first in the officer’s class of Ecole Militaire Khmere, and a year later, again first in his class, from Ecole Militaire d’Application as an infantry officer in Prince Norodom Sihanouk’s Army. By mid-1968 he was commanding Khmer units in the Parrot’s Beak, a salient of Cambodian territory protruding into what was then South Vietnam’s III Corps. His service continued in this area under Prime Minister Lon Nol after Sihanouk was disposed. In 1972, as a 1st Lieutenant, he became the Operations Officer for the 39th Infantry Brigade in Svay Rieng Province. Later that year he joined the newly formed Khmer Special Forces, eventually commanding five SF A-Teams in the Cambodian Highlands across from VN’s II Corps. He is a naturalized U.S. citizen, a founding member of the 1st U.S. Army Reserve Linguist Unit. In 1992 he returned to Cambodia using his language skills to aid in the search for missing American servicemen. For a dozen years he served as an analysist with the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency.
Talking about nightmares and memories I have had ton of them and still have them now. Ask my wife how many times she has had to wake me up in the middle of the night with me crying, sobbing… Those things of four decades ago still live in me.
The US started sporadic bombing of the border area in March 1969. At the time Prince Sihanouk was already unpopular in the country because, rightly or wrongly, he let the NVA/VC use the border area from I Corps all the way to IV Corps, for sanctuaries, weapon depots, R&R centers, and hospital complexes. In 1969 I was a 21 years old second lieutenant and was leading a Cambodian platoon in this NVA/VC infested area of Parrot Beak facing Vietnam’s Tay Ninh province in III Corp. [See map: The Cambodian province is Svay Rieng.]Backed up by the villagers’ militia, my platoon had frequent small scale fighting with mostly VC troops. The fighting intensified in May of 1970 when the U.S. began the menu bombings of the border areas by B-52.
The strategic mistake that the U.S. kept on repeating in the final year… (and repeated by Bush and Obama administrations in Iraq and Afghanistan) was that President Nixon announced the American bombings, that the pursuit of fleeing NVA/VC would stop on June 1970, and the incursion would be limited to 20 km inside Cambodia. So to speak we disclosed up front to the enemy our ops plan. All the NVA/VC did was move deeper into Cambodia for safety, and wait until July 1st to move back into same areas.
Tonight’s story (Burns’ episode 8: The History of the World) ignored the fact that NVA/VC used Cambodian territory to fight its neighbor, and that this was the main reason the Cambodian military and people had had enough, and decided to depose Prince Sihanouk on March 11, 1970.
During my three years posting in the border area I witnessed all these events. Sometime NVA/VC columns moved 50 km deep into Cambodia at night just to evade observation from the South Vietnamese side.
In the 1996 Winter issue of Army Reserve Magazine Col. (Ret) Charles Doe wrote about Saren’s 1992 return to Cambodia to aid in the search for American MIA/POWs: “As Major Saren Thach’s convoy entered Cambodia’s “Parrot’s Beak” salient on the Vietnam border, the rusting girder bridge it crossed stirred haunting memories of combat there almost two decades before. ‘The bridge was the only government position in the middle of Viet Cong territory,’ Saren recalled of his duty there as a Cambodian army lieutenant in late 1972. ‘My company was assigned to hold it at all costs.’”
There are a lot of secrets that to my knowledge had not been told about the treachery of Prince Norodom Sihanouk. My three years posting in dangerous border areas provided me with a lot of real, physical, observations, physical contacts and fighting with VC. I keep the memory of my first hand combat experiences to myself, but I’m not afraid of any challenge to the stories. Some can speculate all day long, but for me the facts are the facts. The real war story shouldn’t need to be written or recited only by the left.
[Today, Saren’s homeland, after a period of semi-democratic rule, is quickly reverting to despotic state. The leadership behind this regression have their roots in various communist factions of the past. http://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-cambodia-dictatorship-2017-story.html.]
The original of this article by Dr. Nguyen Ngoc Sang can be found at the following: http://maggiesfarm.anotherdotcom.com/archives/30521-Review-Of-Ken-Burns-Vietnam-PBS-Series.html. His comments on Winners and Losers are of particular interest.
I was fortunate to be part of a joint PBS and local library panel to preview the Vietnam War Documentary by filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick who had spent ten years to complete the eighteen-hour series, which the PBS will air on September 17, 2017.
Although being anxious before an audience of more than 200 participants (mostly American-born except for my young assistant, Dr. Gwen Huynh) I decide to continue with the discussion thinking it is an opportunity to express a Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces soldier’s view about the war inspite of my limited language skill. After the presentation, each of the panelists was asked one question. The film features a North Vietnamese veteran named Bao Ninh who says that there was no winner during the Vietnam War. The moderator asked me to comment on the interviewee’s statement.
To me, in order to determine who won and who lost the war, one needs to answer three fundamental questions: (1) What was the goals of the involved parties? (2) What price did they have to pay? (3) The overall assessment of the war.
A- Goals of Involved Parties
1. According to the Pentagon Papers (Pentagon Papers is a nearly 4,000-page top-secret Pentagon study of US government decision-making in relation to the Vietnam War from 1945 to 1967. An American activist and former United States military analyst, Mr. Daniel Ellsberg, released it through the New York Times in 1971. The document was declassified on May 5, 2011, and has been on display at the Library of President Nixon in California. ), the US got involved in the Vietnam War was to encompass the Communist China, not to help defend South Viet Nam's independence, which was the ruse for the US containment strategy at the time.
2. The North Vietnam’s goal was to "liberate" South Viet Nam by force and to use it as a springboard to spread International Communism throughout Southeast Asia, which was also Ho Chi Minh’s goal since 1932 when he was the leader of the Indochinese Communist Party. Le Duan, Secretary General of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV), who was believed to have said, "We fight the Americans for the USSR and China", must have followed this goal to the letter. If so, the statement represented the true mission of the Communist leaders.
3. On the contrary, the goal of the South Vietnamese leaders was to defend the country’s independence and sovereignty. Since the North Vietnamese Communists enjoyed maximum supports from the USSR, China, the Eastern European Communist Block, and even Cuba, South Viet Nam had no other choice but accepted assistances from the United States and other capitalist countries to fight against the Communist invasion.
1. US casualties included 58,307 KIAs, 1948 MIAs, 303,604 WIAs, and $168 billion spent ($1,020 billion according to some other estimate) for the war. At the peak of the war, the number of the US forces in Vietnam reached 543,000. The other sad thing about the outcome of the war was that the very people who had welcomed the US soldiers who had taken part in other foreign wars would turn around and showed their disdains for the ones returning from Vietnam. Lately, efforts have been made to rectify the wrongs of the past, but the wounds that the Vietnam vets have endured are never going to completely heal.
2. The NVA casualties included 950,765 killed in action, nearly 600,000 wounded, and an estimated 300,000 missing in action. During the war, North Vietnam was one of the five poorest countries in the world. The war also killed two million civilians in North and South Vietnams.
3. The Republic of Vietnam’s casualties included 275,000 soldiers killed in action and about 1,170,000 wounded. The number of missing persons could not be tallied because the RVN had surrendered on April 30, 1975.
C. WINNER AND LOSERS
1. From these observations, I concluded that the United States was the winner because she had achieved the strategic goal of containing Communist China, even by bargaining away the lives of others, including her own servicemen and women.
2. From the same observations, I told the audience that North Vietnam was definitely the loser. After having spent a tremendous amount of human resources including the death of nearly one million soldiers, two million civilians, and almost six-hundred thousand soldiers wounded in action and three-hundred thousand missing North Vietnam ended up dragging the whole country down the poverty pit after the war had ended. Moreover, they lost because their attempt to help China subvert the whole Southeast Asia had failed.
3. The Republic of Vietnam was the loser because it had surrendered unconditionally on April 30, 1975. According to an interview with General Frederick C. Weyand on June 12, 2006, however, the war had been lost not because of the incompetence of the ARVN, but because of the political leaders in Washington D.C. In other words, the RVN had won the battles but lost the war because of the Allies’ betrayal.
4. In conclusion, I told the audience that both North and South Vietnamese people were the losers. The Vietnam War was actually a Communist proxy war initiated by Ho Chi Minh, an internationalist, who had played the role of an enforcer of the Communist ambition of world domination. The war caused unspeakable suffering to the Vietnamese People and deep wounds to the country that have not healed 42 years after the war had ended.
To a participant’s question about the current psychological consequences of the war, I simply answered, "Forty-two years after the war has ended the winning side still considers the conquered their enemy."
Despite the purported time spent on researching and collecting materials, the film still comes across as worn-out Communist propaganda. It still shows the picture of Major General Nguyen Ngoc Loan shooting the Viet Cong (VC) Bay Lop on the street of Saigon, the incident in which Lieutenant William Key ordered the massacre of 128 civilians, and the villagers burnt by Napalm bombs.
My question is why didn’t the filmmakers show the scene of the VC shelling on March 9, 1974, that had killed 200 pupils of Cai Lay Elementary School and the massacre of almost six thousand innocent people of Hue during the VC ‘Tet’ Offensive in 1968? To the film’s claim that Napalm bombs produced by Dow Chemical Company were used to kill innocent villagers, my answer is that that was the unfortunate but unavoidable casualties of the war, any war. The Kim Phuc incident is not unlike the accidental bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Kosovo in 1999 or the "friendly fire" that killed the US and Allied forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria etc. In other words, mistakes in wars, though regrettable, are inescapable. The US mainstream media has chosen to ignore that fact and shamelessly piled on one lie after another. No wonder President Trump disdains them so much.
After the seminar, historian Bill Laurie talked with me about the fact that Bay Lop had been a terrorist who had killed six relatives of General Loan’s subordinate just before the "execution" incident. To him, General Loan action did not violate the Geneva Convention.
It would have been possible for the US to withdraw her troops from the Vietnam Theater before 1969 if the then Commander in chief of the US forces, General Westmoreland, had not applied the "search and destroy" tactics. Military commentators criticized General Westmoreland ("the General Who Lost Vietnam by the media) for his use of massive forces, tactics that are only effective when the enemy accepts the confrontation, to fight an elusive enemy who avoided large operations by moving deeper into the jungles or across the borders of Laos and Cambodia.
Had skillful commanders such as General Harold K. Johnson and General Frederick C. Weyand been in charge, perhaps the American troops could have been repatriated sooner without more casualties, and the US would still have succeeded in the attempt to contain Red China. If that had happened, the casualties that both Vietnams suffered would have been less and the hatreds would not have lasted as long.
Military aid for South Vietnam also reflects the US "washing off the hand" policy. The aid package that had been at $2.8 billion in 1973 was wound down to $1 billion in 1974 and $300 million in 1975, at a time when SVN more than ever needed all the helps it could get to fight against the NVA invasion. The story did not end there. In December 1974, the US Congress decided to cut off all aid, and the Republic of Vietnam, without means to continue the fight, succumbed to the enemy on April 30, 1975. Except for the Communist "Liberation Army" myth bragging about its soldiers "catching" the US airplanes with bare hands, no army in the world that I know of could win a war without necessary weapons and resupplies.
No one can change the history. Those who waged wars on behalf of the international Communists must accept their responsibility for the destruction of the country. History will judge their actions and our descendants will know the truth despite the Communists’ efforts to skew the historical facts.
In order to fight against China’s aggression, the Vietnamese Communists must harness the national strength by reconciling with the people as a whole, and their victims, in particular. Otherwise, they will be a party to the demise of the country.
In conclusion, this is a one-sided, half-truth documentary unworthy of watching. My observation had been posted on Yahoo but was removed 15 minutes later. Let us hope that Mr. Burns and Ms. Novick would have a change of heart and be more factual in their next project about the Vietnam War.
Mr. Ngoc Kim Trinh’s email was passed onto me by R.J. Del Vecchio (my second cousin, a founding member of Vietnam Veterans for Factual History). He began his comment with a quote from William Lloyd Stearman’s column Facts ‘The Vietnam War’ left out, which appeared in The Washington Times on 4 October 2017. Stearman served on the National Security Council under Nixon, Ford, Reagan and G.H.W. Bush. See: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/oct/4/the-vietnam-war-documentary-left-out-certain-facts/
Stearman: "Shortly after I arrived, I learned that in a nearby village two young women, a nurse and a teacher, had just been murdered by the Viet Cong. This convinced me that our cause was just. This was part of the Viet Cong’s intimidating all those who, like the two young women, represented a government presence. By 1972, more than 37,000 people in this category had been murdered by the Vietcong. This was never reported by our news media nor covered in the series."
Mr. Ngoc Kim Trinh’s Story: My father and 2 Uncles were kidnapped by VC from our village at the same night, Sept 14th, 1965 (by lunar calendar), and they murdered them, buried them at the same hole in the sand dunes in our village. I lived in a coastal village in Tam Ky, Quang Tin, about half way between Chu Lai and Da Nang.
I was a little boy back then but still remember vividly that night. The VC came to our house, they told us: Invite my father to learn the policy of the revolution in few days and will be home.
In Vietnamese: Mời Bác ̣đi học đường lối của cách mạng vài ngày rồi về.
We knew they killed my father and 2 Uncles because of my father's jaw and his teeth, and the prescription of the wife of my uncle were found on the sand dunes in our village by a lady walking thru the sand dunes.
Later by Chiêu Hồi, the VCs were caught, we learned that they killed my father and my 2 Uncles at the night they kidnapped them, and our 3 families discovered their remains.
They did not shoot them, they beat them to death, and buried them in a shallow hole.
My father and 2 Uncles, and many more civilians in the village, were murdered for intimidation reason. My father was just a merchant. My 2 Uncles were just farmers, but they were well-to-do in the village by local standard.
As usual, I will broadcast/forwarding your emails/articles about this Vietnam War film that is so biased, very negative, and can be said: pro-commy!
We need more articles like this in English, so we can educate our younger generation.
I think this film has no effect on Vietnamese folks at our ages since they know very well about Communist and Communism, and core reason of conflict in VN from 1955 to 1975, but we are worried about our younger generation being brain washed in school by leftist teachers/professors in liberal schools/colleges. [my emphasis]
The following comments are from Mr. Hoi B. Tran. Mr. Tran “…fought in both Viet Nam wars. From the Dien Bien Phu battle in the North to the long war in the South, in various capacities…” One should note the passion of his critique of the Burns/Novick series. This is common amongst those who escaped the tyranny which befell the region.
To my dear Brothers-in-Arms, Vietnamese & American Veterans of the VN War, Ladies & Gentlemen,
In mid-September 2017, I was extremely excited turning my TV on to watch the new Viet Nam War documentary directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick that my son informed me the previous week. Sadly, after watching only the first episode, I already had real bad impression with this new documentary film and wanted to quit. But I realized it would be unfair if I rate the entire 10 episodes through only the first one. So I tried hard to overcome my disappointment and to stay patient to watch the remaining 9 episodes in order to have a full understanding of this VN War film before expressing my feeling/opinion of its contents. After having watched all 10 episodes, I feel comfortable now to make some honest comments on this film. I’ll be happy and ready to discuss with anyone, Vietnamese or American, who wants to refute the facts cited in my comments below including Ken Burns or Lynn Novick.
Comments on the new VN War series by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick through the eyes of a veteran of the Armed Forces of the Republic of (South) Viet Nam.
Hoi B. Tran – Oct 1, 2017
It is no secret that the Viet Nam War was the most controversial and misunderstood war that the U.S was involved in. It was a war that deeply and bitterly divided the America. It was also a war that U.S veterans were denigrated and mistreated when returning home from Viet Nam after their tour of duty. I remember that the late U.S Pres. Richard M. Nixon said in his book No More Vietnams published in 1985 as follows, and I quote: No event in American history is more misunderstood than the Viet Nam War. It was misreported then, and it is misremembered now. Rarely have so many people been so wrong about so much. Never have the consequences of their misunderstanding been so tragic. End of quote.
As a soldier, I fought in both Viet Nam wars. From the Dien Bien Phu battle in the North to the long war in the South in various capacities. Now as a living witness, I feel compelled to refute the shameless lie by this Viet Nam War series when they praised and glorified Ho Chi Minh as a dedicated nationalist patriot. Additionally, I also want to erase the unjust stains smeared upon the U.S military annals by the bold-faced Vietnamese communist propaganda machine in North Viet Nam stupidly backed by the ignorant, left leaning news media and film makers in the U.S.
1 – Was Ho Chi Minh a true Vietnamese nationalist patriot who fought and ousted the French & restored independence for VN?
On March 9th, 1945 Japanese Imperial forces in North Viet Nam staged a coup d’état and ousted the French Colonists, not Ho Chi Minh. The following day a Japanese envoy met Emperor Bao Dai and granted Viet Nam her independence within Japan’s Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. Following this joyful event, Emperor Bao Dai appointed Prof. Tran Trong Kim to form a legitimate government. While the Vietnamese were enjoying their independence, the US dropped two atom bombs on Hiroshima & Nagasaki in early August 1945 forcing Japan to surrender to the Allied forces unconditionally on August 14, 1945. The capitulation of Japan created a political chaos in North Viet Nam. Ho Chi Minh promptly exploited the chaotic situation and used his armed propaganda units embedded in Ha Noi to seize power. On Aug 28, 1945, he formally declared the country to be the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam (DRV), an independent nation & proclaimed himself President and Minister of Foreign Affairs concurrently. The following week, he and his cadres convened a meeting at the Ba Dinh Square to introduce his government and cited the Declaration of Independence. During this time I was a naïve 10 year-old Vanguard Youth Troop in Ha Noi, North Viet Nam. Along with my group I was very happy singing patriotic songs as indoctrinated by communist cadres to praise Ho Chi Minh in many events.
After becoming President of the DRV, Ho showed his true colors as a vicious communist and a boldfaced traitor. Ho overzealously followed Maoist’s doctrine and launched the inhumane Land Reform Campaign that slaughtered at least from 60,000 to 150,000 landowners that they labeled as wicked landlords and about 50,000 to 100,000 were imprisoned. And with his death squads, Ho liquidated all political opponents if these people were nationalists or non-communist patriots.
The above facts shows that Ho Chi Minh and his ragtag militia forces, the Viet Minh, and his so-called armed propaganda units in North Viet Nam contributed absolutely nothing in expelling of the French forces from Viet Nam and to end French colonial rule in 1945.
2 – Ho Chi Minh was a traitor, a treacherous egomaniac, not a patriot!
A few months after extorting power from Tran Trong Kim’s government Ho showed his traitorous, egoistic character. On March 6, 1946, Ho compromised and signed an agreement allowing French forces to return to Viet Nam for five years and, in return France would recognize his DRV government.
Through this wily move, nationalist Vietnamese people considered Ho a traitor to the cause of revolution. If Ho Chi Minh did not sign that agreement, of course, French forces were not allowed to return to North Viet Nam. If French forces were not in Viet Nam, there would have been no Dien Bien Phu battle in 1954 and Viet Nam was not divided at the 17th parallel after Ho’s forces, the Viet Minh, defeated French forces at Dien Bien Phu garrison. The fall of Dien Bien Phu garrison was because Gen. Henri Navarre, Commander in Chief of the French Expeditionary Forces in the Indochinese Theater, was not aware that the ragtag Viet Minh forces received two hundred heavy artillery pieces and the deadly Soviet built rocket launchers “Stalin Organs”, military advisors, technicians, gunners and troops from the PRC (People’s Republic of China).
The reason Ho Chi Minh received substantial military supplies and manpower from the PRC was because Ho kowtowed to Mao Zedong since Mao won the war and established the PRC in mainland China in October of 1949. Ho Chi Minh wasted no time and immediately sent his representatives to China asking for support and assistance. By January 1950, the PRC and Russia recognized Ho’s government and the PRC began to help Ho with military advisors, weapons and troops to ensure their satellite in Viet Nam would survive.
The bottom line is: If Ho Chi Minh had been a true nationalist patriot, he should have contented with the independence that Viet Nam inherited bloodlessly at the departure of the Japanese after they were defeated by the US. Ho must have known that he was very lucky to be at the right place at the right time to, all of a sudden, become president of the DRV. Under the circumstances, he should live peacefully in North Viet Nam and committed all resources into rebuilding the war ravaged country as well as the dying economy in North Viet Nam at the time. He must have known that if he did not allow French forces to return to North Viet Nam, there was no Dien Bien Phu battle. Without the Dien Bien Phu battle, Viet Nam was not divided at the 17th parallel. Even after Viet Nam was divided, if he had a decent conscience, he should have recognized the RVN in the South as a separate, independent country like East and West Germany or North and South Korea. He should not be too egoistic, too greedy wanting to gobble up the South to satisfy his hegemonic dream. But as a devout communist and a power-hungry man, Ho Chi Minh fervently wanted to take over the South and place it under his control to satisfy his big patrons, the PRC and Russia.
3 - Sullied the United States and the Republic of Viet Nam (RVN).
During the war to conquer the RVN, Ho Chi Minh and the apparatchiks in North Viet Nam employed this motto incessantly on their propaganda machine to push people to go to war: “Fighting the Americans to save our country” and “Liberate our people in the South from the neo-colonial rule of the American Imperialist”. They smeared the RVN government and its Armed Forces as puppets or servants of the “American Imperialists.” They always portrayed the RVN government as a despotic and corrupt regime and the U.S as imperialist. In summary, the North Vietnamese communist leadership had endlessly tried their utmost best to vituperate, sully the U.S, the RVN and people in the South.
Fortunately, history has eyes and time has certain way to bring truth to the surface. Although the long overdue truth could not heal the profound psychological and physical wound the RVN and her ally, the U.S., had to suffer. But the truth did prove that the RVN and the U.S. were not as bad as propagated by the communist and distorted by the liberal U.S. news media and film makers.
Only a few years in the post-war era, the world had a better understanding and a clearer judgment about the ability to govern, the morality and virtue of the North Vietnamese communists after they dropped their mask and exposed their true evil color. After the end of the war they could not survive with their communist doctrine and their dying economy and they shamelessly begged the “American Imperialists” for help. At the present time in shopping malls, travel agencies, restaurants and hotels in Viet Nam most advertising signs are written in English, not in Chinese or Russian. In Viet Nam, girls and boys everywhere, from the metropolitan area to the rural countryside, are mixing in their day to day conversation with the words OK and Bye-Bye to be in vogue. They also celebrate Valentine Day and sing Happy Birthday in English to be fashionable.
The communist propaganda machine and the left leaning U.S news media always accused the former RVN as a corrupt regime. To be fair and honest, no one could deny that every country on this planet earth does have certain form of corruption. But if we compare the corruption between the former RVN and the communist party members and their cronies in the post-war years, the RVN appears amateurish. The communist party members are much more skillful in bringing corruption up multifold through foreign aid and investments, kickbacks from newly authorized businesses and land expropriation! They are much better than the RVN in that they invented the super human trafficking networks. Under the skillful management of the communist regime, Viet Nam is now known as the largest source of providing girls and women to neighboring countries as sex slaves. They sneered at the culture, all form of literary arts, books and music in the South as depraved and were aggressively scouring everywhere to confiscate these materials to discard and destroy them. Sadly, after they took over the South, morality, good old Vietnamese traditions and virtues went into extinction! Prostitution, pornographic materials, venereal diseases, HIV and drugs went rampant in this amoral, depraved society! Communist members are no longer poor communists. They have all become Red Capitalist! These Red Capitalists and their children are living an ultra-luxurious life over their miserable and poor people in Viet Nam. Never in the former RVN did I see politicians and high-ranking generals have multi-million dollar mansion or vacation houses like today’s Red Capitalists. Never did I see children of high-ranking officials of the RVN driving cars that even in the U.S. only some affluent people could afford like Rolls Royces, Ferraris and Maseratis! Just out of curiosity, I was wondering where are those journalists of the 1960 era? Why don’t they come out to criticize the current cruel communist dictators, the corrupt and immoral Red capitalists like they did during the Ngo Dinh Diem or Nguyen Van Thieu government? Where have these hypocrites been hiding?
Now, as a veteran of the former RVN who partook in the war, I want to say it clear to all my Vietnamese and American brothers-in-arms that the U.S. were never defeated militarily by the ragtag army of the North Vietnamese Communist. Through political negotiation in Paris our politicians settled with major world powers and the parties involved to end the war in Viet Nam politically. Following orders, you must withdraw from Viet Nam. The last U.S. military unit left Viet Nam in March 1973. The final collapse of the RVN occurred on April 30, 1975. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the U.S. did not lose the war in Vietnam militarily. You have fulfilled the call of duty admirably and you have fought gallantly. We salute you. We thank you for your service and for helping us in Viet Nam. Ironically, politics dictated the outcome. Don’t be bothered; only ignorant or misled individuals would buy into the notion that America lost the war in Viet Nam militarily. I clearly remember President Richard M. Nixon had said in his November 3, 1969 speech about the Vietnamization of the war: “Let us be united for peace. Let us also be united against defeat. Because let us understand: North Vietnam cannot defeat or humiliate the United States. Only Americans can do that.” I cannot agree more with the late President.
It is outrageous to see some unconscionable people who reaped benefits and opportunities America afforded them to become rich and famous, yet for one reason or another they turned anti American. To these sick people, everything America does is wrong and the enemy is always right. The last advice I wish to convey to my younger generation is: “Never trust the Vietnamese Communists”!!! They have been proven to be evils of the worst kind all through the last half of the 20th Century until the present! They have changed their name from the Vietnamese Communist Party to the Vietnamese Workers Party and from the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam to the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam. They have transformed from poor peasants before 1975 to multi-millionaires and billionaires through plundering and stealing after April 30, 1975. In the bottom of their soul, they have not changed. They are still the inhumane, immoral, deceptive, dangerous, cruel and unpredictable communists. Don’t ever trust or believe them regardless of how sweet or conciliatory they try to convince you.
Additional columns and presentations of interest:
A searing essay by Phil Jennings: http://www.nysun.com/national/justifying-betrayal-of-vietnam-emerges-as-raison/90094/.
Video of the Atlanta Vietnam Veterans Business Association Meeting – Oct 3d, 2017. Every presenter makes significant points. Of particular interest is veteran, now attorney, Cary King. His talk about “stacking witnesses” begins at 9:30. http://www.pba.org/veterans/.
A forum discussion from the Center for Strategic and International Studies may be found at the following: https://www.csis.org/events/discussion-landmark-documentary-vietnam-war-ken-burns-and-lynn-novick. Of the eight panelists three worked as advisors to the film. The discussion reveals a very diverse set of comments, some highly supportive of Burns, some very, very critical of the bias of the presentation.
This column by the daughters of President Nixon will give the reader a more balanced view to his presidency and war policies than those presented by Burns/Novick. Students might wish to compare these arguments with those of presenters in the CSIS video above who explain how the presidential recordings from JFK to Nixon were highly selective. https://www.nixonfoundation.org/2017/09/letter-tricia-nixon-cox-julie-nixon-eisenhower/.
The Vietnam War Documentary: Doomed And Despair is an analysis of the series by Bing West. https://www.hoover.org/research/vietnam-war-documentary-doom-and-despair.
Going beyond analysis of the series, Roger Canfield here explains “Why” these discussions are important: http://www.capoliticalreview.com/top-stories/why-ken-burns-vietnam-on-pbs-matters/.
And finally, the site for Vietnam Veterans for Factual History. There are hundreds of articles, documents and commentaries on this site: https://www.vvfh.org/index.php/news-and-events/burns-documentary.
Please like, forward and share this essay. For the earlier essays, or for more on the need for paradigm shifts in the way we view history and other aspects of our culture, visit: www.peakingat70.com/lets-talk-america/ .
John M. Del Vecchio is the author of The 13th Valley and other works on Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq and veterans issues. He is currently working on: Peaking At 70: Rediscovering America and Self. www.peakingat70.com.