life is death in
death on sandy beaches in curling waves
hovers, head three feet in the air
floating in crystal blue over
mysterious kaleidoscope of rainbow scales
hammerhead shark surfaces
a killer whale gently nudges the
the porpoise joins with a nod and a flip of his tail
one with the dominion of
hanging in blue
sky at the edge of
seekers returning to
there is no medicine
for the illusion of sanity
and madmen are held
accountable for their actions
58,257 young Americans killed
3,000,000 Vietnamese killed
Martin Luther King, Jr."As I ponder the
madness of Vietnam and search within for ways to understand and respond with
compassion my mind
goes constantly to the people of that peninsula.
A Time to
Riverside Church in New York, New York
I speak not of
the soldiers of each
side, not of the junta in Saigon, but simply of people who have been living
under the curse of war for
three continuous decades now.
They must see Americans as
people proclaimed their own
independence in 1945 after a
combined French and Japanese
occupation, and before the Communist revolution in China.
led by Ho Chi Minh.
Even though they quoted the
American Declaration of
Independence in their own document of freedom, we
refused to recognize them.
Instead, we decided to support France in its
reconquest of her former colony.
Our government felt then that the
Vietnamese people were not "ready" for independence, and
we again fell victim
to the deadly Western arrogance.
tragic decision we rejected
government seeking self-determination, a government established by
clearly indigenous forces.
For the peasants this new government meant
real land reform.
For 9 years we have denied the people of Vietnam the right of
For 9 years we supported the abortive effort to
Before the end of the war we were meeting 80% of
the French war costs.
Even before the French were defeated at Dien Bien
Phu, they began to despair of the reckless action, but we encouraged them with
military supplies to continue
the war even after they had lost the will to continue.
almost the full costs of this tragic attempt at
After the French were defeated
it looked as if independence and land reform would come again through the
But instead there came the US, determined that Ho
should not unify the temporarily divided nation, and the peasants watched again
as we supported one of the most vicious modern dictators -- our chosen man,
The peasants watched and cringed as
Diem ruthlessly routed out
opposition, supported extortionist landlords and refused to discuss
The peasants watched as
American influence and
then American troops came to quell the
insurgency that Diem's
methods had aroused.
The only change came as we increased our troop
commitments in support of governments which were singularly corrupt and without
All the while the people read our leaflets and
received regular promises of peace and democracy - and land reform.
they languish under our
bombs and consider us the real enemy.
They move sadly and
apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into
concentration camps where minimal
social needs are rarely met.
They know they must move or be
destroyed by our bombs.
So they go - primarily women and children and
as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their
They weep as the bulldozers roar destroy the precious trees.
They wander into the hospitals, with at least twenty casualties from
American firepower for one "Vietcong" inflicted injury.
So far we may
have killed a million of them - mostly children.
They wander into the
towns and see thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in
packs on the streets like animals.
They see the children, degraded by
our soldiers as they beg for food.
They see children
selling their sisters to
soldiers, soliciting for their
What do the peasants think as we ally ourselves with the
landlords and as we refuse to put any action into our many words
What do they think as we test our latest weapons on them,
just as the Germans tested out new
medicine and new
tortures in Europe?
Where are the roots of the independent Vietnam
we claim to be building?
Is it among these voiceless ones?
destroyed the two most cherished
institutions: the family and
We have destroyed their land and
We have coöperated in the crushing of the
nation's only non-Communist revolutionary political force - the Unified
We have supported the enemies of the peasants of
We have corrupted their women and children and killed their
Liberators? Now there is little left to build on -
Soon the only foundations
remaining will be found at military bases and in the
concrete of the
concentration camps we call
The peasants wonder if we plan to build our new Vietnam on
blame them for such
We must speak for them and raise the questions they cannot
For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in
Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing
process that goes on in any war .
We are adding cynicism to the
process of death, they must know after a short period none of the things we
claim to be fighting for are really involved.
The more sophisticated
surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy and the secure while
we create living hell for the
is a symptom of a far
deeper malady within the American spirit.
If we ignore this sobering
reality we will find ourselves
organizing clergy - and laymen -
for the next generation.
They will be concerned about
They will be concerned about
will be concerned about Mozambique and
We will be marching for these
and attending rallies without end.
Such thoughts take us beyond
Vietnam, as sons of the
living God."- MLK
"I sat in on every Vietnam meeting in which
Lyndon Johnson was
engaged, from the day of John F. Kennedy's assassination to the day I left.
I know the ebb and flow of Vietnam tides inside the
White House." -
November 22, 1963
Jack Valenti, co-founder of advertising and consulting agency Weekly
& Valenti, is in charge of
press coverage when
Jack Valenti, born in Houston, Texas, began work as an
office boy for the Humble Oil, now
After the assassination, Jack flew on Air Force One back to Washington
as Special Assistant to Lyndon Johnson staying in
the White House until
"I was once a young man, very much like the young men and women
who have gone to Iraq and Afghanistan as US military soldiers.
believed that the United States had a sacred mission to spread democracy.
Vietnam was my generation's war.
It was in Vietnam my journey
toward a different kind of knowledge began.
One hot sunny morning in
April 1969 I found myself in a small Mekong Vietnamese fishing village that had
just been bombed.
I was overwhelmed in grief as I looked into the eyes
of young, napalmed, blackened mothers with dead children hundreds of
I gagged witnessing this horrible scenes of carnage." - S. Brian
2007 Jack Valenti publishes "A Very
"The Government of Vietnam (GVN) lacked legitimacy
with the rural peasantry, the largest segment of the population.
peasantry perceived the GVN to be aloof, corrupt, and inefficient.
urban elite possessed outward manifestations of a
This small group held most of the wealth and power
in a poor nation, and the attitude of the ruling elite toward
the rural population was, at best,
at worst, predatory." - Eric
1968 Richard Nixon
orders Anna Chennault, his liaison to the South Vietnam government, to persuade
the leaders of South Vietnam to refuse a cease-fire being brokered by Lyndon
The Secret Go-Between Who Helped Tip the 1968
Anna Chennault helped Nixon sell out peace to win the
Zorthian - head of Joint US Public Affairs Office which ran the
propaganda of the Vietnam
War "complains that some of the 'embedded' journalists of that time
were so dumb that they could not take signals."
Barry Zorthian gives up
and returns as vice-president of TIME®.
April 3, 2009 Jiverly A. Wong, a Vietnamese War refugee, kills
13 people and wounds four others, firing 98 shots from two handguns in about a
A Letter from J. Wong
What prompted mass killing in Binghamton remains a
The Phoenix Program
was the collection of intelligence information identifying officials of
National Liberation Front.
It was beleived village cell staff
function was distributed to:
a general secretary;
welfare, finance and supply units;
information, culture and
'neutralizes' 81,740 National Liberation Front members, of whom 26,369
"The problem was, how do you find the people on the
It's not like you had their address and telephone number.
The normal procedure would be to go into a village and grab
Half the time the people were so afraid they would say
Then a Phoenix team would take the informant, put a sandbag
over his head, poke out two holes so he could see, put commo wire around his
neck like a long leash, and walk him through the village and say, 'When we go
by Nguyen's house scratch your head.'
would come back, knock on the door, and say, 'April Fool, motherfucker.'
Whoever answered the door would get wasted.
As far as they were
concerned whoever answered was a Communist, including family members.
Sometimes they'd come back to camp with ears to prove that they killed
people." - Lieutenant Vincent Okamoto, intelligence liaison officer for the
Phoenix Program, recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross
Mark David Chapman moves to Chicago.
He works for World Vision with
Vietnamese refugees in a resettlement camp at Fort Chaffee in Arkansas, after
training at the Sabra and Shatilla camps in Lebanon where fascist Phalange
November 7, 1967
"PROJECT 100,000 - a program to
salvage the poverty-scarred
youth of our society at the rate of 100,000 men each year - first for two
years of military service, and then for a lifetime of productive activity in
Poverty in America
pockmarks its victims inwardly.
If unchecked and unreversed, that
inner ghetto poverty-scarred personality of these men can fester
into explosive frustrations of bitterness and violence.
failure in school throughout childhood destine them to a downward spiral of
defeat in a
skill-oriented nation that requires from its
an increasing index
of competence, discipline, and
Their average reading score is a bare sixth-grade level; and 14% of
them read at a third-grade level or less.
Many are poorly motivated when
they reach us.
If nothing were done to give them a strong sense of their
own worth and potential, they, their wives and their children would almost
inevitably be the unproductive recipients of some form of the dole 10 years
Men, formerly draft rejectees, are termed New
The men themselves are never informed that they are
in this category.
Hundreds of thousands of men can be salvaged from the
blight of poverty, and the DoD - with no detriment whatever to its primary role
- is particularly well equipped to salvage them." -
Forest Gump - a New Standards man
"Beginning in 1965 and for nearly three years McNamara each year
drafted into the military 100,000 young boys whose scores in the
mental qualification and
aptitude tests were in the lowest quarter - Category IV's.
IQ's of 65 or even lower.
They were, to put it bluntly, mentally
The young men of Project 100,000 couldn't
comic books were created for them.
They had to be taught to tie
Statistics say these almost helpless young men died in
action in the jungles at a rate three times higher than the average draftee." -
Joseph L. Galloway
"McNamara noted a 1965 US decision to seriously
escalate the war was due to a North Vietnamese attack on the Pleiku Air Base
the day a senior US official arrived in Saigon.
US was determined it
could not be humiliated in this way." - Gregory Clark
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