Skip to comments.Dropping The Bomb on Vietnam Myths
Posted on 11/13/2005 3:25:47 PM PST by Daralundy
Last week, co-author of Stolen Valor: How the Vietnam Generation was Robbed of its Heroes and its History B.G. Burkett, shed light on wide-spread and completely false misconceptions surrounding the Vietnam War. While trying to raise funds for a Texas Vietnam memorial, he realized that the media's influence and false coverage had altered the memory of Vietnam for the worse.
Correlating Burkett's lecture and the Vietnam War with something the UD core esteems, Thomas G. West, politics professor, drew upon Plato's image of the cave in his introduction.
"We here at UD read Plato's Republic and are shown Plato's cave, but what does that mean in the real world? Plato's cave suggests that the human condition is that we are all living underground chained in, with our eyes riveted on the wall in front of us where we see nothing but shadows made by people hiding behind us. We think the shadows are reality," he said.
West explained how Plato's Cave is still pertinent today. "If that image is true, it means that we as Americans and UD students for the most part believe a lot of nonsense; we believe things that are just not true. Another thing that we learn from the philosophers is just how hard it is to get out of the cave. We talk about the cave, but most people who talk about it are still in the cave. They say, 'well I've done the UD core curriculum-I'm out of the cave, I'm wise, I'm a philosopher' but when you ask them about current events you get the standard opinions," he explained.
(Excerpt) Read more at udallasnews.com ...
All Burketts are not the same.
This is unbelievable, but it sounds typical of lib propaganda apparati.
His research found that the stories of returning Vietnam vets being heroin addicts, wife-beaters, and violent criminals were far from the truth. He found that vets had higher income and lower rates of crimes that they committed than the national average.
I read an article that stated flat-out that 25% of all Vietnam vets have experimented with heroin and that 50% were addicted to one or more drugs upon return to the states. It's been a long time, I sure would like to find that article again and call out the author on it, because it is total crap.
Today it's the war of "torture."
Myths, myths, damn lies and the "anti-war"-MSM complex, Rats, and more.
During the 2004 election at least one Freeper posted the opinion that he'd be glad when all the old folks were dead so there would be no more talking about Viet Nam. Many elsewhere agreed.
Well, if they all only knew how much today's "anti-war"-MSM complex resembles the 1960s and 70s maybe they'd realize how you really can learn from history.
Few in the "anti-war"-MSM complex want a victory by radical Muslims unlike before when the "anti-war"-MSM complex favored their Ho in Hanoi. But today's "anti-war"-MSM complex do want the U.S. to be humiliated. IMO. Thus their turn to twist and lie, twist and lie, twist and lie . . . .
Excellent article! Very much worth bookmarking.
That is news to me (though not a surprise). The anti-American Media has done well to keep that fact from my attention for forty years.
Thanks for posting this.
This may well be one of the most "view-changing" articles I've ever been privileged to read.
Not only do I find it refreshing of my view of my country/government in the way it prosecutes wars it has to fight, but it also dramatically highlights the power of the press to "bend" reality and to affect opinions that become concrete, widely held and magnificently in error.
At the time the Communists had lots of "wars of liberation" going on worldwide and supported by the Soviets. Little mention was made of SEATO in the MSM after Kennedy.
Yet another similarity to today, when was the last time the MSM said anything about the U.N. resolutions leading up to actions against Saddam?
"Back, around the late 70's Teddy Kennedy had a $10 million government grant to have a building in Boston for all the homeless Vietnam veterans. Several of guys gave testimonies about how they ended up on the street after Vietnam, but I got the military records of those individuals and virtually none of them were Vietnam veterans," he said.
Burkett said other investigations have shown that very few "homeless veterans" were in the military.
Saying "I'm wise, I'm a philosopher" is a contradiction in terms. Sophistry is the claiming of wisom, and philosophy is the rejection of the claim of wisdon (reckoning that any claim of a virtue is the vice of arrogance) and steadfast openness to facts and logic - being a "lover of wisdom."
A claim of objectivity is the journalist's stand-in for a claim of wisdom; I doubt that "unwise objectivity" is logically possible. In any case objectivity is a virtue and it would be arrogant for me to claim that I have it.
Combine arrogance with the systematic superficiality of speaking only of very recent events - as if every day's events were of equal significance - and you have in journalism a perfect storm of tendentiousness. Naturally journalists propose that they are superior in virtue to the Vietnam vet - if they did not obfuscate the issue it would be all too obvious that the contrary is true.
Here's a link to a wonderful article about Vietnam by Freeper marron:
11,465 who died were under 20. Which means, that 11,364 were 19 years. little/small difference twixt 18 & 19 years old.
I was 20 when I went and I was "the kid" (for awhile).
I was thinking the same thing. In fact I was thinking the MSM has greatly improved its propaganda techniques.
I did not say that. I was taking this author at his word and I think he was right. I was simply noting how well MSM propaganda has worked.
I thank you for serving our country!
As good as the article is, the book is even better. The research Burkett did and listed in this book make sit worhty of being required reading in our schools. That will never happen, though, too many leftist socialists still brainwashing our young how evil we reall are for Viet Nam.
If any have no read this book, please find a copy and read it, excellent reading and a lot of myths dispelled.
It wasn't unpopular. Both major parties supported the war for the first 3 years of major US force involvement. The Democratic party, only, then split over the war. It did not decide against it, it split down the middle. The Republican party was in favor of continuing the mission. So were the American people, and the Dems lost power at the presidential level because of their split, and southern defections (they had their own civil war over desegregation at the same time, which the Republicans always favored back to Eisenhower days).
US forces were not worn down by guerillas. The guerillas were utterly defeated by the end of 1968 and no longer a factor. Main force units infiltrating the country from the north, sustained the war. They had borne the brunt of the major engagements for years already, but after 68 they were all that was left, really.
US forces were not withdrawn due to popular opinion moving against the war after Tet. Half the Democratic party - the left half - moved against the war, because they wanted the north to win. As fellow communists. The American people remained in support. Nixon deliberately transfered security responsibilities from US ground forces to ARVN forces, supported by extensive US air power, in order to reduce US losses and maintain political support at home. Successfully - he kept that support.
By 1972 nearly all US ground forces had been withdrawn, and Nixon was able to end the draft. The north invaded the south with conventional military forces, both across the DMZ directly from the north, and through Laos and Cambodia, where they had been operating for years. ARVN fought them off with strong US airpower support. The Dems nominated a peace candidate in favor of immediate withdrawal. Nixon defeated him in a landslide - the peace platform got its chance at the polls and lost completely. Nixon had full public support for his ARVN plus US air approach.
Nixon then forced the north to the bargaining table with extensive air attacks on downtown Hanoi. The north backed down.
By mid 1973, the US public supported everything that had been done, US forces were basically gone but US airpower remained ready to support SVN, SVN was independent and free and defended by its own armed forces. There was no defeat, ARVN had successfully withstood the north's best shot with US air support, which wasn't going anywhere. Moreover, by making his trip to China Nixon had divided the major powers supporting NVN.
Then came Watergate and the left's destruction of the Nixon presidency over matters unrelated to the war, aided by Nixon's hamfistedness and sleazy domestic political operations. Until that happened, the war was not lost, it was in all essentials won.
The left took power in the 1974 congressional elections, right after Nixon resigned. It passed resolutions that prevented any US airpower support for SVN. At the same time, the USSR sent enough modern tanks and armored vehicles to NVN, to give them more armored fighting power than the Germans invaded Poland with in 1939.
There wasn't a guerilla anywhere in SVN at this point. The country was secure, under ARVN control.
The north then attacked the south across its borders with massed armor in a classic "blitzkrieg" - no guerilla anything involved. The south begged for US airpower support against the Russian armor. Ford wanted to comply. The US congress forbid him to do so. The NVN armor then ran over the ARVN, leading to the famous scenes at the US embassy - three years after major US forces had left.
Notice, the ARVN were the last to give up.
The NVN proceeded to kill a million people in SVN, and a million more fled the country in rickety boats.
Simultaneously, the Khymer Rogue took over Cambodia and killed several million people.
The left cheered both. I swear I am not making this up.
That is what actually happened in Vietnam. It was lost in the Watergate building, not the rice paddies. US Congressional orders and thousands of Russian armored vehicles were the minimum winning coalition, not disgruntled peasants in pajamas.
It is amazing how few Americans know this completely history. The left has consistently protrayed the conflict as though Nixon did not exist, and as though the country stopped supporting the war as soon as the Democratic party split. They confuse opinion among the new left with the opinion of the whole country.
In fact, the whole country abandoned them the instant they stopped supporting our troops. And only empowered them when it thought the war was over as an issue, and domestic corruption was the issue they thought they were voting on.
Most excellent post sir. I would recomend to you an excellent book by Mark Woodruff entitled "Unheralded Victory: the Defeat of the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army" in which he makes a convincing case for the utter military defeat of the NVA and VC by the US, using many refeerences and quotes from the opposing forces.
I attended the "Vietnam and the Iraq War" presentation given at the University of Chicago Law School by Professor Geoffrey Stone 20 January 2005. As a veteran of the Vietnam War from August of 1969 to January of 1971, serving as an infantry squad leader in a mechanized infantry company, and with another unit as a tank commander on an M48A3 tank; I was keenly interested in the form that the lecture might take. After a cursory reading of Professor Stone's curriculum vitae, I suspected that Professor Stone's take on the South East Asian conflict might indicate a general disapproval of the United States war effort. My suspicions were proven correct. The lecture was an attempt to paint the American war effort in Vietnam as misguided at best and an imperialistic effort to establish SE Asian capitalistic hegemony at worst. The antiwar left was portrayed as being noble and idealistic rather than populated by a hard core that actively hoped and worked for a US defeat, the US government as destructive of basic civil liberties in its attempt to monitor their activities, and the North Vietnamese and Vietcong as nationalists who wished to preserve their unique culture against an imperialistic onslaught. He described the South Vietnamese government in terms that were heedless of the South Vietnamese governments struggle to survive a relentlessly ruthless Communist assault while he stated the South Vietnamese government was engaged in an unwarranted assault on human rights. He neglected to mention ANY of the numerous genocidal atrocities of the Vietcong (VC) and North Vietnamese Army (NVA). He described the Tet Offensive as a surprise for the United States in which 1100 American soldiers died and 2300 ARVN soldiers, and not much more about it.
I challenged Professor Stone on the following. The reason that the United States opposed nationwide elections that were to be held in accordance with the 1954 Geneva accords was due to the murder and intimidation campaigns carried out by Ho Chi Minh. This fact is in Professor R. J. Runnel's book Death by Government, in which he cites a low estimate of 15,000 and a high figure of 500,000 people in the murder by quota campaign directed by the North Vietnamese Communist Party Politburo that would have made the election a corrupt mockery. This campaign stipulated that 5% of the people living in each village and hamlet had to be liquidated, preferably those identified as members of the "ruling class." All told says Runnel, between 1953 and 1956 it is likely that the Communists killed 195,000 to 865,000 North Vietnamese. These were non combatant men, women, and children, and hardly represent evidence of the moral high ground claimed by many in the antiwar movement. In 1956, high Communist official Nguyen Manh Tuong admitted that "while destroying the landowning class, we condemned numberless old people and children to a horrible death." The same genocidal pattern became the Communists standard operating procedure in the South too. This was unequivocally demonstrated by the Hue Massacre, which the press did a great deal to downplay in its reporting of the Tet Offensive of 1968.
I pointed out that the National Liberation Front was the creation of the North Vietnamese Third Party Congress of September 1960, completely directed from North Vietnam. I pointed out that the Tet Offensive of 1968 was a disastrous military defeat for the North Vietnamese and that the VC were almost wiped out by the fighting, and that it took the NVA until 1971 to reestablish a presence using North Vietnamese troops as local guerrillas. I pointed out how the North Vietnam military senior commanders repeatedly said that they counted on the U.S. antiwar movement to give them the confidence to persevere in the face of their staggering battlefield personnel losses and defeats. I pointed out the antiwar movement prevented the feckless President Lyndon Johnson from granting General Westmoreland's request to enter Laos and cut the Ho Chi Minh Trail or end his policies of publicly announced gradualist escalation. The North Vietnamese knew cutting this trail would severely damage their ability to prosecute the war. Since the North Vietnamese could continue to use the Ho Chi Minh Trail lifeline, the war was needlessly prolonged for the U.S. and contributed significantly to the collapse of South Vietnam. The casualties sustained by the NVA and VC were horrendous, (1.5 million dead) and accorded well with Gen. Ngyuen Giaps publicly professed disdain for the lives of individuals sacrificed for the greater cause of Communist victory. To this day the anti-war movement as a whole refuses to acknowledge its part in the deaths of millions in Laos and Cambodia and in the subsequent exodus from South East Asia as people fled Communism, nor the imprisonment of thousands in Communist re-education camps and gulags.
When he tried to say that United States should have known it could not put down a local popular insurgency, I pointed out that the final victorious North Vietnamese offensive was a multidivisional, combined arms effort lavishly equipped with Soviet and Chinese supplied tanks, self-propelled artillery, and aircraft. I pointed out to him that it was the type of blitzkrieg that Panzer General Heinz Guederian would have easily recognized. I said how I didn't recall seeing any barefoot, pajama-clad guerrillas jumping out of those tanks in the newsreel footage that showed them crashing through the gates of the presidential palace in Saigon. This spectacle was prompted by the pusillanimous withdrawal of Congressional support for the South Vietnamese government in the wake of the Watergate scandal, which particularly undermined this aspect of President Nixons foreign policy. It should be noted that a similar Communist offensive in the spring of 1972 was smashed, largely by US air power; with relatively few US ground troops in place.
There were legions of half-truths and omissions that this professor spoke to in his extremely biased lecture. When I asked him why he left out so much that was favorable to the American effort in Vietnam, he airily dismissed my argument as being just another perspective, but tellingly he did not disagree with the essential truth of what I said.
He was totally unable to relate how the situation in Iraq is comparable to the situation in Vietnam, so I volunteered a comparison for him. A seditious near traitorous core of anti-war protesters is trying to undermine U.S. efforts there with half-truths, lies, and distortions. I said that in that respect, the war in Iraq and the war in Vietnam are very similar. A significant difference is that thus far the current anti-war movement has not succeeded in manifesting contempt for the American military on the part of the general U.S. public as it did in the Vietnam era.
When I was in Vietnam, I recall many discussions with my fellow soldiers about the course of the war in Vietnam and their feelings about it. Many, if not most felt that "We Gotta Get Outta this Place," to cite a popular song of the time by Eric Burden and the Animals, but for the most part they felt we should do it by fighting the war in a manner calculated to win it. I do not recall anyone ever saying that they felt the North Vietnamese could possibly defeat us on the battlefield, but to a man they were mystified by the U.S. Governments refusal to fight in a manner that would assure military victory. Even though there was much resentment for the antiwar movement, and some (resentment) toward career professional soldiers, I never saw anyone who did not do his basic duty and many did FAR MORE THAN THAT as a soldier. Nineteen of my friends have their names on the Vietnam War Memorial Wall in Washington DC. They deserve to have the full truth told about the effort for which they gave their young lives. The U.S. public is not well served by half-truths and lies by omission about such a significant period in our history, particularly with their relevance toward our present fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Why did the W.W.II "greatest generation" let it happen? It could never have happened when they were in uniform and "over there" and their fellow citizens worked 24/7 here.
They were caught flat footed. The "reporters" mostly dated from W.W.II. They were trusted. TV was new and the ultimate medium for news.
The American press was later praised by NVN general Giap as his "most valuable guerrilla."
IMO, had the Tet offensive not been widely reported as "proof" that the war was hopeless it's very possible that the North Vietnamese would have gotten serious about peace talks shortly afterwards and those deaths that occurred due to the prolonged war and the Communist victory would not have occurred.
North Vietnam's "most trusted man in America," Walter Cronkite, has blood up to his flying eyebrows.
I've got to add about Watergate. Yes Nixon covered up. LBJ did not cover up his bugging of Goldwater. He didn't have to. The press did it for him. They never bothered to report it. It's politics. Bugging the opponent is what they do. The same press that blasted Nixon's dirty tricks laughed about the Democrats Dick Tuck's dirty tricks. Go figure. I think we have.
W.W.II was the last time the left supported the U.S.A. in war. We were after all helping defend their Uncle Joe's workers' paradise.
Here is a short synopsis of just what happened during the TET Offensive of 1968:
Myth: The Tet Offensive Was a Communist Victory The 1968 Tet offensive was a total and complete miltary disaster for the North Vietnamese Communists no matter how you look at it. If you measure victory by territory gained or enemy killed, the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong failed dismally in their attacks.
The NVA and VC had counted on a "People's Uprising" to carry them to victory, however there was no such uprising. They did exactly what the American military wanted them to do. They massed in large formations that were incredibly vulnerable to the awesome fire support the U.S. Military was able to bring to bear on them in a coordinated and devastating manner.
The NVA and VC attacked only ARVN installations with the exception of the US Embassy in Saigon. Despite reports to the contrary by all major television news networks and the print media, the VC sapper team of 15 men never entered the chancery building and all 15 VC were dead within 6 hours of the attack. They caused no damage to any property and managed to kill 4 US Army MPs, and one Marine guard. The South Vietnamese Police tasked with guarding the Embassy fled at the first sound of gunfire.
The NVA/VC launched major attacks on Saigon, Hue, Quang Tri City, Da Nang, Nha Trang, Qui Nhon, Kontum City, Ban Me Thout, My Tho, Can Tho, and Ben Tre. With the exception of the old imperial city of Hue, the NVA/VC were forced to retreat within 24 hours of the beginning of the offensive. In the process they suffered devastating losses among the southern VC cadres. Using the southern VC as the spearhead of these attacks was an intentional device on the part of the North Vietnamese politcal leadership. They did not want to share power with the southerners after the war, so they sent them out to what was inevitable slaughter. The NVA mainforce battalions were held in "reserve" according to Vo Nguyen Giap, in order to "exploit any breakthroughs".
In the first week of the attack the NVA/VC lost 32,204 confirmed killed, and 5,803 captured. US losses were 1,015 KHA, while ARVN losses were 2,819 killed. ARVN losses were higher because the NVA/VC, reluctant to enter into a set-piece battle with US forces, attacked targets defended almost exclusively by South Vietnamese troops.
Casualties among the people whom the NVA/VC claimed to be "liberating" were in excess of 7,000, with an additional 5,000 tortured and murdered by the NVA/VC in Hue and elsewhere. In Hue alone, allied forces discovered over 2,800 burial sites containing the mutilated bodies of local Vietnamese teachers, doctors, and political leaders.
My personal participation in that war was restricted to cutting circles in the ocean off North Vietnam, and yet even there I could see a war that was so completely different from the mythology that had already taken root when I returned to the States that I felt like I'd dropped into an alternate universe. I have come to conclude that that's precisely what it is - a fantasy world created and populated by people who either hated the United States or wished to compensate for their own cowardice, or both.
So many of the antiwar enthusiasts have vested interests in pretending that the war was something other than it was - their self images depend on it utterly. Watch how they react to these correctives, hear their impassioned denials - and wonder why they feel them so very threatening.
RE: Undermining U.S. efforts with half-truths, lies, and distortions. "[I]n that respect, the war in Iraq and the war in Vietnam are very similar."
I wonder if university employees refuse to acknowledge facts that dispute their paradigm in a manner that scientists often resist facts that don't square with accepted "knowledge?"
Or are they just hate-America SOBs?
But this got me thinking. I've read that General Giap opposed the Tet plan but he was ordered to do it. The NV Communist Party was sure there'd be a "popular uprising."
Now what gave them that impression, I just asked myself.
The American press!
The NV CP was watching too much American network news and reading too many American newspapers! All those reports of the hated American, the "atrocities," the "puppet" South Vietnamese government -- everything pointed to instant success for a "popular uprising."
It was the classic "rope a dope!" The American press pulled it off! They were on our side after all.
Thank you for providing the facts and figures on the enemy's disaster.
Why do some university and MSM employees refuse to acknowledge facts, I wonder.
Some other myths that Stolen Valor by Burkett debunked were that mostly poor, minorities fought there. Not true at all blacks were about 10% of the force in VN which is about 2% less than the national average. The lowest economic classes were also under-represented in VN it was mostly a war fought by middle class and upper middle class proportionate to national demographics. Burkett had excellent references for all his statistics. Guess that's why the rats hate his book.
This can be made a part of a student's curriculum immediately. Homeschool!
I don't have children but I am a big proponent of that. I see the recent decision by the 9th Circus Court concerning 'sex education' and, while I find what was happening with the 'sex survey' infuriating, I have to say that, IMO, if you put your children in tax-funded gooberment skools you have to accept their curriculum.
I don't believe the Feds have any business in education but since the people have demanded it they will get what they asked for and that means government rules.
Want to raise your kids 'your way?' Home school them. Or private schools. Vote down funding for gooberment skools every chance you get.
I got ya now. Thanks for straightening that out.
left MSM has consistently protrayed the conflict ...
And they are doing it again in the current conflict with terrorism. They steadfastly refuse to report things that show any positive light on the US and they consistently lie and distort things as far as they can to undermine our anti-terror efforts. IMO.
CBS went after Bush with a vengance but had no interest in investigating hanoi john kerrys' traitorous past.
Also, I can't believe that the republicans did not expose him during the last election. IHHO, this was HUGH miscalculation on their part. They seem to always want to play nice. What suckers they are!
Here's a link on hanoi john kerry and what he did to us vets and his country:
Thank you for your service and thank you for that post.
It is the same guy. Read "Stolen Valor"
I am just about permanently past caring 'why.'
And no one can even make a good guess as to how many hill tribe people and others were butchered in Laos by the Pathet Lao and NVA forces who occupied the country throughout the war.
It's ten below zero today, my computer room is a relatively comfortable 50, and I am on the laptop since the big iron is running without cache for reasons known only to itself. Applying the famous Plato's cave metaphor to something so shallow as newspaper readers and MSM TV watchers seems a waste of 2000+ years of serious thinking. The writer should stick with Aristotle's lists of things.
You're saying that just because Plato's cave metaphor demolishes any idea of arguing from the assumed "wisdom" of MSM consumers, we shouldn't use it??? Wouldn't that be "a waste of 2000+ years of serious thinking?"
It's a waste of mystical depth and ancient giants. The modern media culture is better explained by Marcuse's historical approach--we are becoming the news media and the news media is replacing myth. Our heroes are on the sports page and we wonder why a Civil Rights figure should share headline space with righteous Cowboys and Eagles.