58,257 young Americans killed
3,000,000 Vietnamese killed
Martin Luther King"As I ponder the
madness of Vietnam and search within
myself for ways to understand and respond to
mind goes constantly to the
people of that peninsula. I speak now not of the
soldiers of each side, not of the junta
in Saigon, but simply of the people who have been living under the curse of war
for almost three continuous decades now. They must see Americans as strange
Beyond Vietnam: A Time to
Riverside Church in New York, New York
The Vietnamese people proclaimed their own independence in
1945 after a combined French and Japanese occupation, and before the Communist
revolution in China. They were 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 that has poisoned the international
atmosphere for so long.
With that tragic
decision we rejected a revolutionary
government seeking self-determination, and a
government that had been established not by China (for whom the Vietnamese have
no great love) but by clearly indigenous forces that included some Communists.
For the peasants this new government meant real
land reform, one of the most important
needs in their lives. For nine years following 1945 we denied the people of
Vietnam the right of independence.
For nine years we vigorously supported the French in their abortive
effort to recolonize Vietnam. Before the end of the war we were meeting eighty
percent 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 did not. We
encouraged them with our huge financial and military supplies to continue the
war even after they had lost the will. Soon we would be paying almost the full
costs of this tragic attempt at recolonization.
After the French were
defeated it looked as if independence and land reform would come again through the
Geneva agreements. 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, Premier
The peasants watched and cringed as Diem ruthlessly routed out
all opposition, supported their extortionist landlords and refused even to
discuss reunification with the north. The peasants watched as all this was
presided over by American influence and then by
increasing numbers of American troops who came to help quell the insurgency
that Diem's methods had aroused. When Diem was overthrown they may have been
happy, but the long line of military dictatorships seemed to offer no real
change - especially in terms of their need for
land and peace.
The only change came from America
as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments which were
singularly corrupt, inept and without popular support. All the while the people
read our leaflets and received regular promises of peace and democracy - and
Now they languish
under our bombs and consider us - not their fellow Vietnamese - 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 the aged.
They watch as we poison their water, as we
kill a million acres of their crops. They
must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to 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 the children
selling their sisters to our soldiers,
soliciting for their mothers. What do the
peasants think as we ally ourselves with the landlords and as we refuse to put
any action into our many words concerning land reform? What do they think as we test
our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new
medicine and new tortures in the concentration
camps of Europe?
Where are the roots of the independent Vietnam we
claim to be building? Is it among these voiceless ones? We have destroyed their
two most cherished institutions: the family and the
village. We have destroyed their
land and their crops. We have cooperated
in the crushing of the nation's only non-Communist revolutionary political
force -- the unified Buddhist church.
We have supported the enemies of the peasants of Saigon. We have corrupted
their women and children and killed their men.
Liberators? Now there is
little left to build on - save bitterness. Soon the only solid physical
foundations remaining will be found at our military bases and in the concrete
of the concentration camps we call fortified hamlets. The peasants may well
wonder if we plan to build our new Vietnam on such grounds as these? Could we
blame them for such thoughts? We must speak for them and raise the questions
they cannot raise. For these too are our brothers.
At this point I
should make it clear that while I have tried in these last few minutes to give
a voice to the voiceless on Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those
who are called enemy, I am as deeply concerned about our troops there as
anything else. 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 where armies face each other and seek to
destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know
after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for
are really involved. Before long they must know that their government has sent
them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated surely
realize that we are on the side of the wealthy and the secure while we create
hell for the poor.
The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper
malady within the American spirit, and
if we ignore this sobering reality we will find ourselves organizing clergy -
and laymen - concerned committees for the next generation. They will be
concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and
Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be
marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end
unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy.
Such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as
sons of the living
Martin Luther King Jr.
"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 the White House in mid-1966. I
think I know as well as anyone the ebb and flow of the
Vietnam tides inside the
White House." -
November 22, 1963 Jack Valenti, co-founder
of the advertising and political consulting agency Weekly & Valenti, is in
charge of the press
coverage when John F.
Kennedy is assassinated.
Jack Valenti, born in Houston,
Texas, began work as an office boy for the Humble Oil, now
assassination, Jack Valenti flew on Air Force One back to Washington as Special
Assistant to Lyndon Johnson and lived in the
2007 Jack Valenti publishes "A
Very Human President."
"An individual who breaks a law that
conscience tells him is
unjust, and who willingly accepts the
penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the
conscience of the community over
its injustice, is in reality
highest respect for law." - Martin Luther King, Jr
"In early August 1964, Lyndon Johnson used a murky
set of events in the Gulf
of Tonkin, off the coast of North Vietnam, to launch full-scale
war on Vietnam. Lyndon Johnson and
secretary of defense Robert McNamara told the American public there was an
attack by North Vietnamese torpedo boats on American destroyers. It later
turned out that the Gulf
of Tonkin episode was a fake, that the highest American
officials had lied to the public." -
August 1964 USS
Maddox, a navy destroyer is operating in the
Tonkin Gulf off the
coast of North Vietnam in support of South Vietnamese operations.
inclement weather, the Maddox reports to CINCPACFLEET that it has been engaged
by North Vietnamese patrol boats.
Careful analysis of the ships radar
systems determine that the Maddox had in fact not been engaged.
images on the radar screens were induced by a malfunction of the ships radar
caused by the inclement weather.
Lyndon Baines Johnson chose to ignore
those facts and pressed the case for war in the media, before Congress, and the
American people with a presentation by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.
McNamara characterizes the attack as "unprovoked" and claims that there
was "unequivocal proof" of an "unprovoked second attack against the USS Maddox
on August 4th".
Congress passes Joint Resolution HJ 1145 leading to the
increased involvement in Vietnam.
The entire story behind the alleged
attack has been detailed in the National Security Agency Signals Intelligence
(SIGNET), reports declassified on 1 December 2005.
Included in the
release of comments is an article first published in early 2001 by NSA
historian Robert J. Hanyok in the NSA's classified journal, Cryptologic
There was no 2nd attack against the USS Maddox on August 4,
"The Government of Vietnam (GVN) lacked legitimacy
with the rural peasantry, the largest segment of the population. The peasantry
perceived the GVN to be aloof, corrupt, and inefficient. South Vietnam's urban
elite possessed the outward manifestations of a foreign culture. 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, paternalistic and,
at worst, predatory." - Eric Bergerud
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 Johnson.
1975 Barry 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 gave up his position and went back to his old job as
vice-president of Time Magazine.
2009 Jiverly A. Wong, a Vietnamese War refugee and immigrant to America,
kills 13 people and wounded four others, firing 98 shots from two handguns in
about a minute
PROJECT 100,000November 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 civilian society.
Poverty in America pockmarks its victims
inwardly. If unchecked and unreversed, that inner ghetto of the poverty-scarred
personality of these men can fester into explosive frustrations of bitterness
and violence. Chronic failure in school throughout their childhood, they are
destined to a downward spiral of defeat and decay in a skill-oriented nation
that requires from its manpower tool an increasing index of competence,
discipline, and self-confidence.
Their average reading score is a bare
sixth-grade level; and 14 percent of them read at a third-grade level or less.
Many are poorly motivated when they reach us. They lack initiative. They lack
pride. They lack ambition. 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 from now.
Men who would have formerly been draft rejectees are
termed New Standards men. But 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 Defense Department with no detriment
whatever to its primary role is particularly well equipped to salvage
them." - Robert McNamara
"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 -
so-called Category IV's. Men with IQ's of 65 or even lower. They were, to put
it bluntly, mentally deficient. Illiterate. The young men of Project 100,000
couldn't read, so training manual comic books were created for them. They had
to be taught to tie their boots. The cold, hard statistics say that these
almost helpless young men died in action in the jungles at a rate three times
higher than the average draftee." - Joseph L. Galloway
pointing out how a key element in a US decision seriously to escalate the war
had been the 1965 Vietnamese attack on the US Pleiku Air Base the day a senior
US official arrived in Saigon. The US was determined it could not be humiliated
in this way." - Gregory Clark
The easiest way to get rid of the vaccine
induced brain damaged.
The Phoenix ProgramThe Phoenix Program was the collection of intelligence information
identifying officials of National Liberation Front which had within each
village cell a secretary; a finance and
supply unit; as well as information and culture, social welfare, and
proselytizing sections to gain recruits from among the civilian
population.Between 1968 and 1972 the Phoenix Program neutralized 81,740
National Liberation Front members, of whom 26,369 were assassinated.
"The problem was, how do you find the people on the blacklist? It's not
like you had their address and telephone number. The normal procedure would be
to go into a village and just grab
someone and say, 'Where's Nguyen so-and-so?' Half the time the people were so
afraid they would say anything. 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.' Then that night Phoenix 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.
Wounded 3 times.
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