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Archive for the ‘Vietnam’ Category

It didn’t have to end this way: Marigold and the lost chance to end the Vietnam War in 1966

Posted by Charles II on January 15, 2012

James G. Hershberg, via National Security Archive:

Who Murdered “Marigold”?

Warsaw, Poland. December 6, 1966: a date which should live in diplomatic infamy. Five thousand miles away, the Vietnam War is raging, with the dead piling up and the escalating violence poisoning international affairs and American politics. Early that morning, the Pentagon informs President Lyndon B. Johnson at his Texas ranch that 6,250 U.S. military personnel had been killed in Vietnam (and Laos) since January 1961, when his predecessor, John F. Kennedy, took office[a] —but few imagine that 52,000 Americans are still to die, along with millions of Vietnamese on both sides of the 17th Parallel. Outwardly, the bloodshed shows no sign of subsiding.

Yet, far from Southeast Asia’s jungles and rice paddies, in this grey, frigid Central European city, a secret breakthrough for peace seems imminent. The United States and North Vietnam lack diplomatic relations and, relying on combat to resolve their clashing visions, appear stuck in a Catch-22 that precludes direct negotiations: Hanoi insists it will not talk until Washington stops the bombing it began in early 1965, and Washington maintains just as stubbornly that it will not halt the raids until assured that Hanoi will pay a reasonable price, such as curbing its support for the Communist insurgency fighting to topple the US-backed regime in Saigon.

But on that cloudy Tuesday, after months of furtive machinations by Polish and Italian intermediaries (with the Soviets lurking in the shadows), Washington and Hanoi have agreed that their ambassadors to Poland will meet to confirm a ten-point outline of a settlement, or at least a basis for direct talks.

Here are the US deaths by date:

1957 – 1
1958 – 0
1959 – 2
1960 – 5
1961 – 16
1962 – 53
1963 – 118
1964 – 206
1965 – 1,863
1966 – 6,144
1967 – 11,153
1968 – 16,589
1969 – 11,614
1970 – 6,083
1971 – 2,357
1972 – 640
1973 – 168
1974 – 178
1975 – 160
1976 – 77
1977 – 96
1978 – 447
1979 – 148
1980-1995 – 66


Almost all of those men, and millions of Vietnamese could have been saved, and soldiers and civilians been spared casualties and illness, had those talks gone forward.

Posted in history, veterans, Vietnam | 5 Comments »

Do many small wars add up to a very large one?

Posted by Charles II on May 10, 2009

Tom Hayden at The Nation, via Small Wars Journal:

In Iraq, the dark side first involved the 2003-2004 American-sponsored round-ups and torture, only leaked to the American public and media by a US guard in Abu Ghraib. In addition, as many as 50,000 young Iraqis, mostly Sunnis, have been held in extreme conditions in detention centers across the country (some of them now being released under the pact negotiated between Baghdad and Washington). Then there were the unreported, top-secret extrajudicial killings described chillingly in Bob Woodward’s The War Within, which were so effective that they reportedly gave “orgasms” to Gen. Petraeus’s top adviser, Derek Harvey. Woodward writes that these killings, in which the Pentagon was the judge, jury and executioner, based heavily on local informants, were “very possibly the biggest factor in reducing” Iraq’s violence in 2007. It is likely that death squads were carrying out the revived version of a “global Phoenix program,” as advocated by Gen. Petraeus’s leading counterinsurgency adviser, David Kilcullen, in the Small Wars Journal (November 30, 2004). Jane Mayer, in The Dark Side, confirms that Phoenix became a model after 9/11, despite the fact that military historians called it massive, state-sanctioned murder, and clear evidence that 97 percent of its Vietcong victims were of “negligible importance.”

Then there’s this cheery bit from Afghanistan:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in terrorism, Vietnam | Comments Off on Do many small wars add up to a very large one?

LBJ Knew Traitors When He Saw Them

Posted by Phoenix Woman on December 6, 2008

Blue Texan passes along this story:

In a segment aired at the news conference, Johnson tells Sen. Everett Dirksen, the Republican minority leader, that it will be Nixon’s responsibility if the South Vietnamese don’t participate in the peace talks.

“This is treason,” LBJ says to Dirksen.

“I know,” Dirksen replies, very softly.

Confronting Nixon by telephone on Nov. 3, Johnson outlines what had been alleged and how important it was to the conduct of the war for Nixon’s people not to meddle.

“My God,” Nixon says to Johnson, “I would never do anything to encourage the South Vietnamese not to come to that conference table.” Instead, Nixon pledged to help in any way Johnson or Rusk suggested, “To hell with the political credit, believe me.”

For Johnson and his top advisers, it wasn’t a matter of whether Nixon was telling the truth but whether accusing Nixon of meddling would give the appearance that Johnson — rather than Nixon — was using the war to influence the election.

Nixon was, of course, lying:

On October 31, 1968, President Lyndon Johnson announced on live television that the North Vietnamese government had agreed to continued peace talks in Paris, and to a cessation of attacks on South Vietnamese cities. In return, the U.S. would immediately stop bombing North Vietnam, and peace talks, this time including the Vietcong and the South Vietnamese government, would resume on November 6.

Almost overnight, LBJ’s “October Surprise” delivered a much-needed shot of adrenaline to the moribund campaign of his Vice President and would-be successor, Hubert Humphrey, who had been trailing Richard Nixon in the polls throughout October.


But Nixon had an October surprise of his own. In the days leading up to LBJ’s announcement, the Nixon team met secretly with Anna Chan Chennault, a wealthy supporter of Chiang Kai-shek, co-chair of Republican Women for Nixon, and confidante of South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu. At Nixon’s behest, Chennault informed Thieu that Nixon would secure a better deal for his country, and that the Democrats were effectively prepared to sell out Saigon in order to secure peace at any price, as the phrase would later go. If Chennault could convince Thieu to stay away from the negotiating table, LBJ would look foolish, and the Democrats’ eleventh-hour gambit would fail.

And that’s exactly what happened.

Posted in LBJ, Nixon, rightwing moral cripples, Vietnam | 9 Comments »

Just Give It Up, Ace

Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 19, 2008

The aptly-named Orson Swindle was recently hauled out to be a “witness” to “prove” the truth of Reverse Ace John McCain’s “cross in the dirt” story — you know, the one that sounds suspiciously like an event recounted in Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago, and which McCain, despite having addressed his life as a POW at length in articles written as early as 1973, didn’t bother to mention until 1999?

Well, Andrew Sullivan notes that as recently as the spring of this year, Mr. Swindle was singing a different tune. From The Politico’s April 4, 2008 edition:

“I don’t recall us talking specifically about our faith,” says Orson Swindle, one of McCain’s closest friends and a fellow POW. “We talked about our friends, families, our resistance posture, and that our country didn’t seem to have the will to win.”

Belief in a higher power helped them survive the routine torture and daily indignities, Swindle says. “It would help us endure what we had to endure. But we knew God wasn’t going to come down and wave a magic wand.”

Just give it up, Ace. Not even the magic incantation of Noun+Verb+POW is going to get you past this one. The reporters you feed barbecued ribs at one of your eight houses may not understand the intricacies of your lies on other subjects, but this is simple enough for even them to comprehend.

Posted in 2008, Corporate Christianity, John McCain, liars, Professional Christians, Republicans acting badly, Vietnam | Comments Off on Just Give It Up, Ace

Another anniversary to remember

Posted by Charles II on March 19, 2008

As we remember the 5th anniversary of the start of the American occupation of Iraq, Gareth Porter reminds that the obliteration of the village of My Lai fell at almost the same time of year:

For decades, it has been generally accepted that the My Lai massacre of as many as 400 Vietnamese civilians by US Army troops on March 16, 1968, was a violation of official policy directives on the treatment of civilians in South Vietnam….
Documentary evidence from US Army archives shows, however, that the Peers report misrepresented a key directive from the top commander in Vietnam, General William C Westmoreland, describing it as calling for a blanket policy of humane treatment of civilians in villages controlled by the communist movement.

The directive in question, a copy of which has been obtained by Inter Press Service, makes it clear that the policy of humane treatment did not extend to civilians in areas which had been under long-term communist rule, as was the case with My Lai. …

The Peers report found that the troops who entered My Lai and three other hamlets of the village of Son My had been led to believe that everyone in the village should be killed. Testimony before the Peers inquiry also showed that the platoon leaders involved in the operation had been given that same message by two company commanders. 

So, if you didn’t flee from your home when the communists came, you were the enemy and could be killed without remorse.

Even if you were two years old.

Posted in Iraq war, Vietnam | 3 Comments »

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 1929-1968

Posted by Charles II on January 21, 2008

DemocracyNow has a good presentation. The TV footage is particularly good. It wasn’t just southern policemen using excessive force. Not to diminish the power of his speeches, but the most memorable quotes go to our liberal media:

Time magazine called the speech [in 1967] “demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi,” and the Washington Post declared that King had “diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people.”

Plus ça change…

Posted in Media machine, mediawhores, poverty, priorities, racism, Vietnam | Comments Off on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 1929-1968

Mind The Giap

Posted by Phoenix Woman on December 9, 2007

 Back during the 2004 presidential campaign, the inveterate liars of the right wing movement were circulating a charming little update of the old anti-Semitic Dolchstoßlegende (wherein Jews and intellectuals were blamed for Germany’s losing the unwinnable First World War)  that Hitler rode to electoral victory in the 1930s:

In a recent release of general Giap’s (North Vietnamese general) memoirs, it is now known the full extent of the media and the “peace and love” movement of the sixties, and the damage it has caused. Read this direct quote from the book: “What we still don’t understand is why you Americans stopped the bombing of Hanoi. You had us on the ropes. If you had pressed us a little harder, just for another day or two, we were ready to surrender! It was the same at the battles of TET. You defeated us! We knew it, and we thought you knew it. But we were elated to notice your media was definitely helping us. They were causing more disruption in America than we could in the battlefields. We were ready to surrender. You had won!” Heard that on Rush earlier

But of course, this turns out to be 100% made-up bullshit.  Here’s the debunking:

Did VVAW lengthen the war by protesting it?

The suggestion that VVAW lengthened the war comes from convicted arms dealer, perjurer, and media personality Oliver North. In a cited quote from North (Greg Lewis, “Fellow Travelers, Useful Idiots, and Other Innocents”, Washington Dispatch, 2/19/2004), North alleges that Giap in a 1985 book stated that John Kerry and VVAW lengthened the war and insured the ultimate Vietnamese victory. Giap published no 1985 book. THERE IS NO SUCH QUOTE in either of General Giap’s two post-war publications (Vo Nguyen Giap, Unforgettable Months And Years, Southeast Asia Program, Dept. of Asian Studies, Cornell University, 1975 or How We Won the War (coauthored by Van Tien Dung) RECON Publications, 1976).

This particular slander on VVAW and Kerry was disseminated on the Internet from a column in the Washington Dispatch by Greg Lewis, February 19, 2004. (Complete article: In reaction to responses to his original column, on March 2, 2004, Greg Lewis retracted his initial accusation against Kerry with: “A few weeks ago in a column about Kerry, I referred to what has turned out to be an ‘urban legend.’ Specifically, based on a ‘news’ item that appeared on, I repeated a reference to a volume of memoirs supposedly published by North Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap in 1985 as the source of an assertion by Colonel Oliver North. After a reader requested a reference to Giap’s 1985 “Memoirs,” I did research that convinced me no such volume exists. For that matter, I haven’t been able to verify through Fox News that Colonel North actually made the comments he is said to have made and which I repeated. My apologies to Colonel North and to readers for including inadequately verified material in my piece on Kerry.”

Complete article:

In light of the nutjob cons running around trumpeting that “the surge is working!” when it really isn’t, I figured it was time to get this debunking revived in time to counter another revival of this variation of the Dolchstoßlegende.

Posted in 2008, anti-Semitism, anti-truth, antiwar movement, Busheviks, conservativism, Democrat-bashing, Flying Monkey Right, Fox Noise, half-vast rightwing conspiracy, Iraq war, John Kerry, mythmaking, rightwing moral cripples, Rush Limbaugh, The smear industry, Vietnam | 2 Comments »

Justice, 30 years delayed, begins to be applied for Cambodia

Posted by Charles II on August 1, 2007

In the long, slow, frustrating grind to make the Nuremberg principles apply to those who imagine themselves above the law, a small victory. Ian MacKinnon in The Guardian:

Judges investigating the Khmer Rouge genocide last night charged the first suspect with crimes against humanity for his alleged part in the deaths of 1.7 million Cambodians in the Killing Fields.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Vietnam, world news | Comments Off on Justice, 30 years delayed, begins to be applied for Cambodia

Iraq Developments

Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 30, 2007

While the Republican congressional caucuses, unwilling to defy the boy-king on Iraq, are playing around with their latest attempt at Potemkin legislation that pretends to withdraw us when it really doesn’t, events are moving to force our hands:

Basra should be handed over to Iraqi control by the end of the year, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, the head of Britain’s armed forces, has predicted.

The Chief of Defence Staff said he expected a decision to be taken in the next couple of months. “We are very close to being able to hand over Basra in my judgement,” he said. “Just when we will reach that point is at the moment uncertain but I am fairly confident it’ll be in the second half of the year.”

The number of British troops in Iraq has been cut from 7,000 to 5,500 this year and is due by a further 500 when the Army leaves a base in central Basra shortly.

The exit timetable is expected to be discussed by George Bush and Gordon Brown when they hold talks at the President’s Camp David retreat this weekend. The Bush administration is under mounting domestic pressure over Iraq but a decision on its next moves may be delayed until a review of its troop “surge” in the Baghdad area is completed in September.

I wonder if Bush has any flipping clue that the Brits are telling him “Get out now while you can, you fool”.  They — and their counterparts in our Pentagon — are looking at a scenario that looks disturbingly like this:

AT THE Army College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Major Daniel Morgan is studying the lessons for Iraq of the Soviets’ chaotic exit from Afghanistan in the late 1980s. The roads were choked with tanks and heavy weaponry, making the demoralised soldiers easy prey for guerillas.

“The Soviet Army actually had to fight out of certain areas,” said Morgan, who has served twice in Iraq.


The Soviet rout from Afghanistan is one of the worst-case scenarios that a rapid withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq could provoke. “They had to airlift out of Kandahar, the fighting was so bad,” Morgan recalled. Another nightmare image remains familiar decades on – the helicopters taking off from the roof of the US embassy in Saigon, leaving desperate Vietnamese allies to their fate.

The safest way to withdraw, in the words of a Pentagon official, would be to conduct orderly handovers, area by area, to Iraqi forces – “you take down one flag and run up another”. But a study by logistics experts for US Central Command recently concluded that it would take two years systematically to turn over territory, bases and equipment to the Iraqis.

And, as the Soviets found in Afghanistan, once it is obvious the US is on the way out, the political and security situation could rapidly come unstuck.

The problem is that staying is not an option.  If we stay, the situation turns from Afghanistan or Vietnam to Khartoum.  Or the Teutobergerwald.

Posted in Afghanistan, Iraq war, Vietnam | 1 Comment »

Cause And Effect 101 With Mark Shields

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 23, 2007


(Stolen from

In his latest column “Who Lost Iraq?“, Mark Shields, the great dispenser of what passes for Beltway Media Liberalism in this day and age, states the following:

Still, the high political stakes of the continuing debate over funding the war in Iraq were starkly put by Republican Sen. Kit Bond of Missouri: “If we pass legislation that loses the war, then the people who vote to pass the legislation that ends the war are going to own it. That failure will be their (read, Democrats’) failure.”

Remember Vietnam and the electoral price paid by Democrats who led the national effort — with increasing public support — to get U.S. troops out of that long war in Southeast Asia? Democrats, who have held the White House only 12 years since the tumultuous antiwar campaign of 1968, remember painfully that, following the fall of Saigon, tough-talking Republicans prospered at the polls by pointing fingers at antiwar Democrats for the “loss ” of Vietnam.


Democrats actually did well in 1974, the year they defunded the war: They picked up 49 seats in the House and three seats in the Senate. If that’s paying an electoral price, it’s one I’m sure they’d love to pay again in 2008. Granted, they had the fall of Nixon via Watergate to help them out, but it was their own decision to push the hearings and impeachment process that made this possible.

Ah, you say, but Saigon fell in 1975! Yeah, and guess what? The Democrats won the White House, picked up a seat in the House and kept the same number of seats overall in the Senate. The crummy economy under Ford and his pardon of Nixon were enough to convince most Americans to vote for Carter despite his many gaffes — or what the press reported as ‘gaffes’. If Republicans ever really “prospered at the polls” because of the Democrats’ moving to end the Vietnam War, there sure doesn’t seem to be much evidence of this, at least not in 1974 or 1976.

Posted in 2008, Democrats, Iraq war, mythmaking, peace, Republicans, Vietnam | 2 Comments »

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