Amerikaanse Viëtnamese basis uitgewis - geskiedenis

Amerikaanse Viëtnamese basis uitgewis - geskiedenis


Die Slag om die Dong Xoai -kamp en die verstommende dapperheid van sy verdedigers

In 1965 het Noord -Viëtnamese leiers beplan om 'n somer -offensief te begin om die gewone eenhede van die Suid -Viëtnamese weermag te vernietig. Vir die eerste keer is die nuutgeskepte VC 273ste en 274ste regimente beveel om by die 271ste en 272ste regimente aan te sluit om 'n aanval en vestiging van “ besmette gebiede ” in die suide.

As deel van die algehele plan is die VC 9th Division beveel om Dong Xoai aan te val. Dong Xoai was 'n distriksdorp wat by 'n kruispad geleë was wat Inter-Voorlopige Pad 13, Nasionale snelweg 1 en snelweg 14 verbind het. Maatskappy. Hulle is ondersteun deur een gepantserde eskader (ses pantservoertuie) en twee 105 mm -haubits.

Dong Xoai was ook die tuiste van 'n Special Forces A-Camp, Detachment A-342, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), wat 400 Montagnard CIDG-stakers en 24 Amerikaanse troepe gehuisves het, waaronder Army Green Barets en Navy Seabees. Die Green Barets was eers sedert 25 Mei daar en die verdediging was nog lank nie klaar nie.

Marvin Shields, 'n Navy Seabee, word postuum bekroon vir sy dapperheid wat hy in Junie 1965 in die Dong Xoai -kamp verdedig het.


Wat is Pho?

Natuurlik, voordat ek die geskiedenis van pho, moet ons eers 'n meer fundamentele vraag aangaan pho, naamlik: Wat in die wêreld is pho?

Baie lesers weet presies wat pho is. Artikels oor pho wat u op die internet vind, definieer die gereg eenvoudig as Viëtnamese noedelsop, tradisioneel gemaak met bees- of hoenderbouillon, gegeur met verskillende speserye en bedek met verskillende kruie. Maar hierdie definisie lyk heeltemal te simplisties omdat dit nie regtig die ryk en intense essensie van beesvleis in die sous bevat nie, wat slegs bereik kan word deur murgryke beesvleisbeen vir baie ure lank op lae hitte te laat prut. Dit beskryf nie die komplekse smaaklae wat deur die kruie en speserye veroorsaak word nie pho. Dit illustreer nie die baie teksture wat die vierkantige rysnoedels, die sagte beesskywe en die knapperige boontjiespruite in die sop skep nie.

Die beskrywing "noedelsop" kan ten minste 'n verkeerde benaming wees. Sop impliseer dat die gereg 'n bykos is, maar eintlik pho self is die hoofgereg. Pho is 'n noedelgereg, en nie 'n sopgereg nie. As u dus êrens op die webwerf die frase 'noedelsop' kry, dan is dit net omdat ek my wag daar 'n oomblik in die steek gelaat het. Pho moet 'Vietnamese noodle' of 'sopnoedel' genoem word, want dit is 'n noedelgereg.

Jy kan nie twee verwag nie bakkies pho gemaak in twee aparte kombuise om ooit dieselfde te proe. Daar is baie pho -resepte, en elke resep verskil effens van mekaar. Maar dit is slegs die gepubliseerde. Daar is talle ander wat deur professionele sjefs gewild gehou word pho restaurante, en ons sal nooit weet wat dit is nie. Die tegnieke vir kook en bereiding van pho wissel dus van sjef tot sjef. Variasies kan ook afhang van watter tipe pho voorberei word. Byvoorbeeld, pho bac, wat pho uit die noordelike streke van Viëtnam is, word heel anders gemaak as hoe pho in die suide van Viëtnam voorberei en bedien word.

Die geskiedenis van pho strek slegs honderd jaar terug in die onlangse verlede van Vietnam. Maar net soos daardie honderd jaar Viëtnam gevorm het tot die land wat dit vandag is, so het die honderd jaar ook die manier gevorm pho het geword. Drie gebeurtenisse in die Viëtnamese geskiedenis het die geskiedenis van pho. Hulle is

  1. Die eenwording van Viëtnam onder Franse bewind in 1887,
  2. Die verdeling van die land in Noord- en Suid -Viëtnam in 1954, en
  3. Die val van Saigon in 1975.

Nota van die redakteur: Hier is 'n artikel oor "Wat is Vietnamese Pho: Think You Know? Think Again", wat bespreek wat is en wat nie pho is nie.


Meer as twee dekades van gewelddadige konflik het 'n verwoestende tol op die bevolking van Viëtnam aangerig: Na jare se oorlogvoering is na raming 2 miljoen Viëtnamese dood, terwyl 3 miljoen gewond is en nog 12 miljoen vlugtelinge geword het.

Hierdie druk het die Johnson -administrasie genoop om vredesgesprekke met die Noord -Viëtnamese en NLF te begin en die bombardement op Noord -Viëtnam op te skort ... Die anti-oorlogsbeweging het die Verenigde State wel gedwing om 'n vredesverdrag te onderteken, die oorblywende magte terug te trek en die ontwerp vroeg in 1973 te beëindig.


Bankrot hoop

Die Tet -offensief kom op die hakke van 'n reklame -blits van 1967 deur die administrasie van president Lyndon Johnson om 'n toenemend skeptiese Amerikaanse publiek te oortuig dat die Viëtnam -oorlog nie die dooiepunt was wat dit blyk te wees nie. Verdedigings- en militêre amptenare het 'n prentjie geskets van 'n verswakte vyand wat in duie stort.

William Westmoreland, bevelvoerder van Amerikaanse magte in Suid -Viëtnam, het tydens 'n toespraak in die National Press Club in November 1967 gesê dat Amerikaanse magte 'n punt bereik het waar 'die einde in sig kom' en dat 'die vyand se hoop bankrot is . "

"Deur 1967 is dit moeilik om te oordryf hoeveel moeite die Withuis gedoen het - en dit het dit selfs genoem - die 'suksesveldtog' propaganda -veldtog om die Amerikaanse volk te oortuig dat die oorlog in die regte rigting gaan, selfs toe hulle intern glad nie seker was nie, 'het Appy gesê.

Die veldtog was miskien te oortuigend, gegewe wat die Noord -Viëtnamese in Januarie 1968 ontketen het, 'n omvangryke aanval wat beklemtoon het hoe ver die Noorde van die nederlaag was. Die Amerikaanse weermag het die groot vyandelike ongevalle as 'n Amerikaanse oorwinning beskou, maar die Amerikaanse publiek het gefokus op 'n vasberade vyand wat mede -landsburgers onaanvaarbaar verloor.

"Vir 'n Amerikaanse publiek wat toenemend deur die argument oortuig word, blyk dit dat daar 'n afwyking is tussen wat hulle vertel is en wat hulle op die grond sien," het Daddis gesê. Kommunistiese vegters het ses strategiese teikens in die sentrum van Saigon gekies, waaronder die Amerikaanse ambassade, die presidensiële paleis en die nasionale radiostasie.

Mediabeelde was volop en skerp.

"Die kantore en huise van die Westerse perskorps was hoofsaaklik saamgevoeg in die sentrum van Saigon, op loopafstand van die paleis en die Amerikaanse ambassade," sê Peter Arnett, 'n korrespondent wat die oorlog vir The Associated Press behandel. Alhoewel die aantal opstandelinge te min was om hul doelwitte te lank te hou, het die mediabeelde die Amerikaners 'n blik gegee op 'n gruwelike nuwe soort geweld.

In Saigon op 1 Februarie het brig. Genl. Nguyen Ngọc Loan, hoof van die nasionale polisie, het 'n man in die openbaar tereggestel wat vermoedelik die hoof van 'n Viet Cong -sluipmoordgroep was. Die AP -fotograaf Eddie Adams en 'n NBC -televisiepersoneel het op film vasgelê die oomblik toe Nguyen die geboeide man deur die kop geskiet het.

Amerikaanse teenaanvalle in die Chinese distrik Cholon in Saigon het vermoedelik honderde burgerlikes doodgemaak. Toneel van verskrikte vlugtelinge wat uit die distrik stroom, straal regoor die wêreld.

Westmoreland het die mediadekking as te versot op "somberheid en ondergang" beskou, het Arnett gesê.

'Met ons kollegas wat destyds in Saigon werk, was ons bedoeling om die werklikheid van wat ons elke dag sien voor ons oë te rapporteer en te fotografeer,' het hy gesê. "Ons dekking was so professioneel as wat ons kon bereik onder moeilike omstandighede. Dat ons dekking gesê het dat die Amerikaanse publiek die siening van die oorlog polariseer, was nie ons bedoeling nie."

Ver in die noorde, net 30 kilometer onder die gedemilitariseerde sone wat noord en suid verdeel, is die stad Hue oorval deur byna 8 000 Noord -Viëtnamese troepe. Die teenoffensief tussen die VSA en Suid-Viëtnam om die stad terug te neem, was die langste, bloedigste slag van die Viëtnam-oorlog.

Die vyand het ingegrawe in 'n massiewe kompleks genaamd die Citadel, wat omring was deur 'n grag en klipwalle, sommige so dik as 40 voet.

Meer as 200 Amerikaanse troepe sterf in die geveg van 25 dae, met 1,584 gewonde 452 Suid-Viëtnamese soldate is dood.

Nadat hy berigte gehoor het van ongekende vernietiging in Suid -Viëtnamese dorpe, het Arnett op 7 Februarie deelgeneem aan 'n persreis na die klein provinsiale hoofstad Ben Tre, wat hy slegs weke tevore besoek het. Daar sien hy die ruïnes van krotte, huise, besighede en restaurante wat erg beskadig is deur Amerikaanse artillerie en lugaanvalle tydens die poging om Viet Cong wat dit tydens die Tet -offensief beset het, te ontwrig. Honderde burgerlikes is dood.

Arnett het 'n onderhoud gevoer met 'n dosyn militêre adviseurs in die stad, wat verduidelik het hoe die Amerikaanse en Suid -Viëtnamese militêre verbindings amper oorval is toe hulle uiteindelik die swaar beskieting versoek het.

'N Uitspraak van een van daardie adviseurs was die hoofrol van die volgende AP -versending van Arnett, wat in die 50 jaar sedert dit geskryf is, dikwels genoem word as die kern van Amerika se kiksotiese betrokkenheid in Viëtnam:' Dit het noodsaaklik geword om die stad te vernietig in beveel om dit te stoor. " subopskrif: Strategiese sukses

Die Noord -Viëtnamese is gedemoraliseer ná hul mislukking.

'Hulle het hulself oortuig dat hulle genoeg steun op die platteland het, dat as hulle die geweld daar verhoog, die mense opstaan ​​en by hulle aansluit,' het Willbanks gesê. Dit het nie gebeur nie. Die Viet Cong het veral groot verliese gely.

Willbanks, wat in 1972 na Suid -Viëtnam ontplooi is, het tydens sy toer nooit enige Viet Cong gesien nie. 'Hulle is in '68 uitgewis en is nie herbou nie,' het hy gesê.

Maar die Tet -offensief het wel ontwikkelings in die VSA aan die gang gesit wat uiteindelik 'n mislukte aanval in 'n strategiese sukses verander het.

Tet het 'n deurlopende interne debat in die Johnson-administrasie verdiep tussen diegene wat die oorlog wou verskerp-veral militêre leiers-en diegene wat veral die burgerlike adviseurs wou verswak, sê Mark Moyar, skrywer van "Triumph Forsaken: The Viëtnam-oorlog, 1954-1965 "en direkteur van die militêre en diplomatieke geskiedenisprojek by die

Sentrum vir Strategiese en Internasionale Studies.

Sommige militêre leiers het 'n venster van geleenthede gesien in die dae nadat Tet begin het toe daar 'n 'tydren-om-die-vlag-effek' onder Amerikaners was, soortgelyk aan wat gebeur het na die Pearl Harbor-aanval in 1941, het hy gesê.

'Nadat Johnson dit duidelik gemaak het dat hy nie meer aggressiewe maatreëls gaan tref nie, het u die openbare steun gesien,' het hy gesê.

Johnson het die maag verloor wat hy vir die oorlog na Tet gehad het, en dit het 'n rol gespeel in sy besluit om die herfs nie 'n tweede termyn te soek nie, wat die weg baan vir Richard Nixon se verkiesing.

'Toe Nixon in die amp kom, besef hy dat die Amerikaanse publiek nie meer hoë vlakke van Amerikaanse troepe of slagoffers sal ondersteun nie, en kondig so aan dat hy stadig troepe sal onttrek, selfs natuurlik, terwyl hy die oorlog na Kambodja en Laos uitbrei en die lugoorlog, ”het Appy gesê.

In 'n ontmoeting met die Suid -Viëtnamese president Nguyen Van Thieu op Midway Island in Junie 1968, het Nixon aangekondig dat 25 000 Amerikaanse troepe teen einde Augustus teruggetrek sou word en dat Suid -Viëtnamese troepe uiteindelik alle gevegsverantwoordelikhede sou aanvaar.

Voor Tet, 'was ons daar om die oorlog te wen', het Willbanks gesê. Alles daarna was daarop gemik om 'die Suid -Viëtnamese magte op te bou, die oorlog aan hulle oor te gee en te vertrek'.

'Ek dink dit weeg swaar op individuele soldate wat steeds gevra word om in die veld te veg,' het Daddis gesê. "Hulle begin die rasionaal agter wat hulle gevra word om op daardie eenheidsvlak te doen, bevraagteken. Waarom stel ek my lewe in gevaar as ons nie eers gaan wen nie?"

Appy is egter nie oortuig deur die bewerings dat "die oorwinning in sig was nadat Tet klaar was en ons het die taak net nie voltooi nie."

'Daar sou nooit 'n militêre oplossing vir die oorlog wees nie,' het hy gesê. 'My punt is dat die oorwinning in Suid -Viëtnam nooit sou gebeur nie, tensy die regering in Saigon die nodige ondersteuning van sy eie mense gehad het om dit te onderhou sonder massiewe Amerikaanse militêre ingryping,' het Appy gesê.

Daddis het gesê Tet bly grotendeels 'n oortuigende verhaal, want dit bly vir sommige die sentrale oomblik in die hele Viëtnam -oorlog waar hulle vra: 'Wat as?'

'Dit is regtig een van die sentrale teenfaktore waarop sommige sal fokus, want dit blyk die oomblik te wees waarop die Amerikaanse poging regtig begin ontrafel.

'Dit bly die belangrikste storielyn, want dit lyk asof die oorwinning binne ons bereik was, ten minste vanuit 'n militêre oogpunt, maar polities weggeneem is deur politici, die media en die publiek wat net nie die ware oorwinning gesien het nie. 'n baie problematiese argument, maar ek dink dit is die rede waarom dit nog steeds 'n sentrale debatpunt is oor wat in Vietnam gebeur het. "

Maar oorlog, volgens Daddis, gaan nie bloot oor militêre oorwinnings en verliese nie.

'Ek is nie persoonlik oortuig van argumente wat daarop dui dat daar 'n militêre oorwinning was nie, maar 'n politieke nederlaag [met Tet], want dit skei onnatuurlik wat oorlog is,' het hy gesê. "Oorlog is 'n baie meer politieke daad as 'n militêre daad."


Nadraai

Die Tet -offensief was verwoestend.

Tagtig persent van Huế is vernietig, en meer as 2 000 burgerlikes daar, wat bestempel is as bedreigings vir die rewolusie, is deur VC -doodsgroepe tereggestel. Duisende burgerlikes is ook dood in die gevegte. Amerikaanse en Suid -Viëtnamese magte het meer as 12,000 slagoffers gely, waaronder meer as 2,600 sterftes.

Die aanval was ook 'n ramp vir Noord -Viëtnam. Van ongeveer 84 000 vegters word vermoed dat tot 58 000 vermoor, gewond of gevange geneem is. Die VC is veral swaar getref en verloor soveel guerrillas dat dit effektief as 'n lewensvatbare vegmag uitgewis is.

Boonop het hulle nie een van hul doelwitte bereik nie. Daar was geen algemene opstand nie, geen Suid -Viëtnamese eenhede het oorgeloop nie, en hulle kon nie een van die stede of dorpe wat hulle in beslag geneem het, vashou nie.

Maar Tet was 'n strategiese oorwinning vir die Noorde.

Elke dag saai media -afdelings grafiese beelde van dood en vernietiging direk in Amerikaanse huise uit. Veral skrikwekkend was beelde van die summiere teregstelling van 'n kaptein van die VC -doodspan deur 'n Suid -Viëtnamese generaal.

Die feit dat die NVA en die VC so 'n grootskaalse aanval uitgevoer het soos Johnson en Westmoreland beloof het dat die oorwinning naby was, het baie Amerikaners die oorlog as onoorwinlik beskou.

Die politieke mening was teen die oorlog, en die Amerikaanse missie het oorgegaan na die versterking van die weermag van Suid -Viëtnam sodat dit alleen kon veg, wat die VSA in staat gestel het om terug te trek, wat dit in 1973 gedoen het. Maar Suid -Viëtnamese magte is vinnig oorweldig en Saigon val in 1975.


Soldate op dwelms

Ek haat wat Viëtnam aan die Verenigde State doen en ek haat wat dit aan ons weermag doen. - Generaal H. Norman Schwarzkopf

Toe my kollega Jim Willwerth vroeër in 1970 na Vietnam gaan werk, het 'n senior redakteur hom 'n louwarm afstuur aangebied, saam met hierdie woorde: "Dit is nog steeds 'n storie ... ek dink."

In my eerste maand of wat het dit gelyk asof die Tyd redakteur was reg. Maar nog voordat die gevegsoorlog tydens die volgende droë seisoen met die inval in Laos verhit het, was daar 'n grootliks onaangeraakte verhaal wat voor my uitgespoel het: die byna totale verbrokkeling van die weermag van die Verenigde State. Soos 'n militêre historikus dit sou stel, het die weermag gedurende die laaste jare van Viëtnam ''n kollektiewe senuwee -ineenstorting' gehad. John Steinbeck se bewering dat "Vietnam almal in die draaikolk getrek het", geld nou vir ons gewapende magte. [Redakteur: John Steinbeck IV, is die seun van die gelyknamige skrywer.]

Larsen op pad na 'n verhaal in 'n Bell "Huey" -helikopter. Fotokrediet: Jonathan Larsen

Ons troepe was so diep dat 'n eksterne vyand skaars nodig was. In 'n tydperk van 79 dae was daar vyf-en-sewentig oordosisse dwelms, meestal van heroïne, wat in Viëtnam in so 'n suiwerheid beskikbaar was dat dit ongesnyde inspuiting byna 'n seker dood beteken. Oordosis dwelms was slegs 'n deel van die probleem. Ander wonde wat self toegedien is, was onder meer 'n gebrek aan dissipline, verlatenheid, rassespanning en morele onduidelikheid. Nie lank na my aankoms het ek gerapporteer dat Amerikaanse weermagte meer sterftes as gevolg van 'nie-gevegsverwante' sterftes begin ervaar het as van die vyand. Die afgelope jaar het die sterftesyfer weens nie-vyandige oorsake met byna dertig persent gestyg.

In Chicago was ek getuie van 'n polisie -oproer, 'n oksimoron as daar ooit een was. Hier in Viëtnam was nog 'n "vriendelike vuur." Benewens die foute wat elke oorlog bywoon, was daar 'n relatief nuwe vloek wat bekend staan ​​as 'fragmentering', die moord of poging tot moord op 'n senior offisier. Bo -op die getalle was selfmoorde, sterftes in motors en oordosisse van dwelms.

In die loop van die oorlog was daar meer as 10 000 sterftes weens nie-vyandige oorsake. John Steinbeck se skatting dat soveel as drie uit vier soldate op dwelms was, lyk nou konserwatief. Soldate rook en dop nie net in die agterste gebiede nie, maar ook op die voorste linies - terwyl hulle personeeldraers bestuur, wapens afvuur of op die poswag se besonderhede plaas. Een kolonel van die lugmag, wat in die steek gelaat is omdat hy in die privaat kwartaal potpartytjies gehou het saam met diegene onder sy bevel, het ter verdediging gesê: "Dit laat my toe om my manne te verstaan ​​en die generasiegaping te sluit."

Ek het onderhoude gevoer met seuns uit die Midde-Weste wat nog nooit 'n dwelm aangeraak het nie; hulle sou my vertel dat hulle 'in die land' aangekom het, vasbeslote om elke dag van hul toer gestenig te word. Op 'n stadium het ek twee soldate na ons woonstel genooi om te demonstreer hoe hulle heroïen in die veld getoets het: hulle tik net 'n bietjie van die wit poeier aan die einde van hul sigarette en rook dit voor hul offisiere. Hulle beweer dat hulle heroïen bo dagga verkies, aangesien die gewrigte maklik raaksien en selfs makliker ruik.

'N Deel van die buro se dekking oor die verbrokkeling van die weermag was 'n storie wat ons aan die einde van 1970 sou opdok.' N Stranger met die naam Rusty Brown het verneem van 'n gebied naby Saigon se Tan Son Nhut -vliegbasis genaamd 'Soul Alley', net 'n kilometer van Saigon af. militêre hoofkwartier en die tuiste van soveel as 500 AWOLs. Die meestal swart inwoners het oorleef op vervalste dokumente, handel in swart markte en valutamanipulasies. Toe die weermag uiteindelik wraak neem, het ek en Brown hierdie gesamentlike verslag ingedien: 'Verlede Sondagoggend, net na 'n burgerklok, het 'n bisarre versameling van 300 Amerikaanse parlementslede, Viëtnamese parlementslede en Viëtnamese uniformpolisie op' Soul Alley 'neergedaal met twee helikopters gewapen met spreiligte, twee V-100 Commando gepantserde voertuie met .50 kaliber masjiengewere en 100 militêre vragmotors en Jeeps. ”

Soul Alley het tydens die oorlog as skuiling vir woestyne gedien. Fotokrediet: Manhai / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Die soldate het die hele gebied afgesluit en 'n huis-vir-huis-soektog uitgevoer, terwyl swaarmoedige GI's en hardnekkige woestyne uit die bed tuimel en in alle rigtings probeer ontsnap-hul vriendinne, vroue en prostitute wat agtervolg is, sommige van hulle is kaal, baie met net 'n pyjamabroek aan, wat in die glans van die kolligte rondhardloop. Toe die beëindiging verby was, het die kommando -aanval 56 vroue en 110 GI's opgelewer, waaronder 'n geskatte 30 woestyne. Dit was die grootste operasie wat die weermag in weke gedoen het.

Die volle omvang van die ontknoping van die Amerikaanse weermag as 'n doeltreffende vegmag sou eers die volgende lente by my tuisgebring word. Ek het 'n wenk ontvang dat 'n Amerikaanse vuurbasis in Chu Lai die vorige aand heeltemal oorskry is, toe ek my kamera en notaboek gryp, 'n militêre vragvlug noord haal en dan 'n helikopter na die basis neem. Tot my verbasing het ek agtergekom ek het die storie vir myself.

Voor my was die smeulende kole wat die mees vernietigende aanval van die oorlog op 'n enkele Amerikaanse vaste posisie gelaat het - Firebase Mary Ann. Ek het 'n onderhoud met oorlewendes gevoer en die geleentheid so goed as moontlik gerekonstrueer. My berig was met 'n interne bylyn en 'n foto wat ek geneem het van 'n verlate soldaat met 'n graaf, waarna die geskiet oorblyfsels van sy basis ondersoek word:

Charlie Company, terug van patrollie, was gereed om te ontspan. Die mans het uit die gemorsaal gekom en in hul bunkers gestrek, na hul kortbroek gestroop en op hul bedjies neergesak. Sommige het deur die strokiesprente gedruk, sommige het gepraat, en sommige het volgens verskeie berigte 'n paar gewrigte gerook. Die wagte was ietwat meer waaksaam - maar nie veel nie. Soos die nag aanstap, het sommige blykbaar oor hul M16's geknik.

In die 13 maande sedert Mary Ann uit 'n bergtop van 4 000 voet gestamp is, het dit baie min mortiere geneem en is dit nooit eers op die grond ondersoek nie. Die aand van die aanval onthou SP/4 Dennis Schulte: 'Dit was stil, soos altyd. Ek het niks gesien nie en niks verwag nie. Ek het na die TOC (Tactical Operations Center) gegaan en met 'n paar vriende gesels tot ongeveer 02:30. Ons het gepraat oor huis toe gaan - soos gewoonlik. "

Tien minute later, nadat Schulte teruggedryf het na sy bunker, het die basis ontplof. Honderde mortierdoppe het met ongelooflike akkuraatheid uit die maanlose lug neergedaal. Die GI's het in hul bunkers vasgekeer en het selfs nie eens die 50 of so Noord-Viëtnamese sappers gesien wat deur die omtrekdraad geglip het nie, maar kortbroek, swart vet en snare vuurpylgedrewe granate (RPG's). Een groep het die 155 mm-houwitsers uitgewis, 'n ander traangasgranaat en tas uit die TOC gegooi en feitlik almal daarbinne doodgemaak of gewond. Metodes het die ander van bunker na bunker gegaan en dit met taspakkies, RPG's en, in sommige gevalle, tuisgemaakte granate uit Coca-Cola-blikkies geblaas. Een GI het lewendig gebly deur dood te speel. 'N Sapper kom op, haal die Amerikaner se polshorlosie en gaan verder.

Teen 4:30, toe die eerste vuurskepe en Medevac -helikopters aankom, was die hele basis in vlamme. 'As gevolg van die rook kon u nie sien nie,' sê Lieut. Mat Noonan, 'n Medevac -vlieënier. 'Ons moes drie keer omring net om te sien waar die pad is.' Noonan het uiteindelik gaan sit te midde van “die ergste bloedbad wat ek nog ooit by’ n Amerikaanse installasie gesien het. Daar was rye en rye lyke - sommige verbrand tot houtskool, ander heeltemal ontkam. Daar was nege lyksakke vol stukkies vleis. ”

Firebase Mary Ann, na 'n hinderlaag in Viet Cong. Fotokrediet: Jonathan Larsen

Van die 231 Amerikaners op die basis was byna die helfte van die slagoffers, met 30 dood en 82 gewondes. Amptenare het my voorgestel dat die werklike tellings hoër was. Daar was twee uiters ontstellende aspekte aan die verhaal. Die eerste was die feit dat slegs een van die 28 Suid -Viëtnamese troepe wat by die basis gestasioneer was, gewond is. Die Viëtnamese gedeelte van die vuurbasis is die nag nie deur mortierrondtes of deur sappers getref nie, en nie een van die Suid -Viëtnamese troepe het tydens die aanval probeer om die GI's te help nie. Omvangryke getuienis wat op 'n binnekant van die werk dui, was so oorweldigend dat die Suid -Viëtnamese bevel onmiddellik 'n ondersoek van stapel gestuur het om kritiek af te weer.

Die tweede ontstellende feit was dat die Amerikaners nie hul eie geestelike verdediging opgestel het nie. Die GI's het wel 'n paar rondtes afgeklim - 12 vyandelike liggame is gevind, waaronder 'n skerp naakte sapper in die omtrekdraad. Maar daar moes soveel meer gewees het. Dit was een van die mees onderstebo "moordverhoudings" van die oorlog. 'N Amptenaar in die Amerikaanse afdeling het vir my gesê:' Iemand daar buite het 'n deurmekaarspul gemaak. Die wagte het geslaap en die skieters het nooit hul gewere in die finale verdedigingsposisie gekry nie. ”

Die laks sekuriteit by Firebase Mary Ann, om nie eers te praat van baie ander Amerikaanse basisse nie, het 'n oop geheim geword - met gapende gate in die omtrekdraad, verdedigende myne met gebrekkige ontstekers en onbewaakte wagposte. Die sappers uit die noorde moes bloot deur die skraal volume van Sun Tzu, The Art of War, blaai om hierdie skrikwekkende aksioma te vind: 'As die vyand 'n deur oop laat, moet u haastig inkom.'

Verwante voorblad -panoramafoto -krediet: Aangepas deur WhoWhatWhyy from manhai / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


Marine Legend: Terwyl hy onder vuur was, het hy drie ure lank van die Dong Ha -brug gehang

Dong Ha, die noordelikste stad van Suid -Viëtnam, het eens met militêre aktiwiteite gewoel.

Die tuiste van die 4de Marines, 'n groot helikopterbasis, en omring deur artillerie -vuurbase, het dit die Marines direk by Con Thien en die oostelike gedemilitariseerde sone (DMZ) ondersteun. Dit was die beginpunt vir die verligting van die beleërde Khe Sahn -garnisoen.

Dong Ha het ook die beste brug oor die Cua Viet -rivier en die direkte benadering tot Hue City, die ou, seremoniële hoofstad van Viëtnam.

Amerikaanse tegnici van die Marine Corps ondersoek die Wright R-1820-enjin van 'n gestremde Sikorsky UH-34D Seahorse-helikopter by die NSAD Cua Viet-toevoersentrum, naby Dong Ha (Suid-Viëtnam), 1 Oktober 1966.

Vyf jaar tevore was daar 50,000 mariniers om te beskerm teen die Noord -Viëtnamese. Op 30 Maart 1972 was daar slegs een bataljon Suid -Viëtnamese mariniers om die wrede aanslag van 30 000 Noord -Viëtnamese gereelde in konvensionele gevegseenhede te stop wat deur 200 hoofgevegtenks versterk is.

Die Noord -Viëtnamese weermag (NVA), wat gereed was vir die aanslag op Dong Ha en die vang van Hue, het nie besef dat daar nog een Amerikaanse mariene in die stad Dong Ha was nie.

'N LCU vervoer 'n 3de tenkbataljon M48 op die Dong Ha -rivier, 6 Julie 1967

'N Leeftyd van voorbereiding

Die enigste Amerikaanse marine was kaptein John Ripley van Radford, Virginia.

Ripley was 'n gewaagde kind met 'n brandende begeerte om te slaag. Nadat hy in 1957 aan die hoërskool gestudeer het, het hy op 17 -jarige ouderdom sy twee ouer broers in die Marines gevolg.

Sy begeerte om te slaag is deur die boorinstrukteurs in die legendariese Marine Recruit Depot van Parris Island omskep in 'n onbedwingbare testament. Die talent en dryfkrag van die jong marinier is erken, en hy het vinnig 'n afspraak by die Naval Academy gekry.

Ondanks die feit dat hy nie voorbereid was op die akademiese strengheid van die Akademie nie, het sy blote moeite en vasberadenheid hom in 1962 'n graad in elektriese ingenieurswese en kommissie besorg as 'n tweede luitenant van mariniers.

John Ripley

By die Basic School in Quantico, Virginia, het hy geleer om 'n infanterie -peloton te lei. By die afstuderen van Quantico dien hy 'n Sea Duty -billet, as 'n geweer- en wapenspeloton -bevelvoerder, en ook as 'n Force Reconnaissance peloton -bevelvoerder.

Ripley het die U.S. Army Parachute-, Jump Master- en Ranger -kursusse en die Navy Underwater Demolitions and Scuba -kursusse bygewoon. In mariene kringe was hy 'dual cool' met 'n Scuba Badge en Jump Wings.

In Oktober 1966 word Ripley die vreeslose bevelvoerder van "Ripley's Raiders", wat op plekke soos Con Thien en Khe Sahn veg. Opmerklik is dat hy vier keer gewond is, maar meer as een Purple Heart geweier het, aangesien beleid destyds onmiddellike ontruiming beteken het.

Marine Corps se skerpskutterspan soek na teikens in die Khe Sanh -vallei

Na Viëtnam het hy 'n lessenaar gekry totdat hy 'n ongewone ontsnappingsmetode gevind het: deur 'n uitruilbeampte by die Britse Royal Marines te word.

Nadat hy die veeleisende Commando -kursus voltooi het, het hy nou die derde mens geword wat 'n "quad bod" (voltooiing van Jump, Ranger, SEAL en Commando Training) gehad het en die Green Beret van die Royal Marines behaal het.

In bevel van troepe in die Royal Marines en die Special Boat Service het hy in Malaya en Noorweë gedien. Toe hy einde 1971 weer 'n lessenaar by die hoofkwartier se marinekorps aangewys is, het hy vrywillig teruggekeer na Vietnam.

Hy was een van slegs 'n paar honderd Amerikaanse mariniers wat in die land gebly het. 'N Leeftyd van voorbereiding sou binnekort op die proef gestel word.

Lede van 40 Commando Royal Marines voer 'n patrollie -oefening uit.

'N Marine kan in die minderheid wees, maar nooit uitgevoer word nie

Kapt. Ripley, wat as senior adviseur by die 3de Bataljon van die Viëtnamese Marine Corps aangewys is, was bekwaam ervare en gereed toe die Viëtnamese weermag dit nie was nie.

Van meer as 500 000 troepe in 1968 was daar nou slegs 27 000 Amerikaanse troepe in die hele Viëtnam. Die Suid -Viëtnamese het op ongedissiplineerde, swak geleide dienspligtiges staatgemaak, en hulle het sleg gevaar in die stryd teen soldate uit Noord -Viëtnam wat in amper elke opsig hulle teenoorgesteldes was.

Die Viëtnamese Marine Corps was die uitsondering. Hierdie strydharde troepe is gedissiplineer deur Viëtnamese wat die Drill Instructor School op Parris Island bygewoon het. Hulle is gelei deur beamptes wat die Basic School in Quantico bygewoon het.

3de Bataljon 3de Marines ’s bevelgroep by Vandegrift Combat Base.

As 'n brandweer het hulle tot ses maande lank gevegte ondergaan, en daarna 'n maand lank teruggekeer na hul tuisbasis voordat hulle terugkeer na aksie. Die 3de Bataljon het onlangs teruggekeer van die opknapping naby Saigon en was op volle sterkte.

Op 30 Maart 1972 val die Noord -Viëtnamese weermag (NVA) aan. Intense artillerie uit die noorde van die DMZ is gevolg deur aanvalle wat die magte wat die noordelike naderings bewaak het, vinnig uitgewis het. Diegene wat nie oorskry en uitgewis is nie, is op snelweg 1 op die vlug geslaan.

3de Bataljon voer 'n Medevac terwyl hy langs die DMZ werk.

Die 3de bataljon is verskuif om die lewensbelangrike brug te beskerm wat deur die Cua Vietrivier by Dong Ha gelei het. Die 304ste en 308ste NVA Infanteriedivisie het suidwaarts gerol met 200 hoofgevegtenks. Op 1 April is die hele 3de ARVN -afdeling, die belangrikste mag in die I -korps, beveel om terug te trek. Die Noord -Viëtnamese het op Dong Ha verval.

Terwyl weermag troepe suidwaarts gestroom het, het die mariniers 'n onmoontlike taak gekonfronteer: 30.000 vyandelike troepe. Die mariniers het hordes vlugtelinge verbygegaan en na die laaste posisies oorgegaan en gehoor 'Verwag baie tenks' oor die radio. Die 3de Bataljon het tien ligte anti-tenk vuurpyle gedra, wat dit byna weerloos gemaak het.

M72 Ligte aanvalswapen wat in Viëtnam, 1968, gebruik is.

Die 20ste tenkbataljon van die Suid -Viëtnamese weermag het aangekom, en die mariniers het aan boord geklim vir die laaste beweging na die brug. Skirmishers kruis reeds stroomop, oor 'n vervalle spoorbrug wat ontwerp is vir voetverkeer.

Ripley het dadelik die tenk waarin hy was, laat afvuur en die vyand teruggeslaan. Masjiengewere en mortiere op die oorkantste oewer het 'n woedende vuurwapen begin teen die tenks en mariniers.

Die Noord -Viëtnamese infanterie hergroepeer en herorganiseer agter 'n klein styging wat hulle teen die tenks beskerm het.

Noord -Viëtnamese T59 TANK gevang deur Suid -Viëtnamese 20ste Tank Regiment suid van Dong Ha.

Die klein kolom mariniers wat op M-48 tenks ry, het stadig voortgegaan, omring deur burgerlike vlugtelinge wat die naderende magte gevlug het. 'N Kolom T-54 tenks wat deur die Sowjet voorsien is, is oor die rivier opgemerk en is deur die 20ste tenkbataljon onder skoot geneem.

Die T-54 het die M-48's oorskry. Die oorblywende T-54's sou hul kleiner teenstanders doodmaak. Die mariniers het geweet dat hulle voor die vyand by die brug moes uitkom. As hul teenstanders oor die weg kom, sou die geveg, en miskien die oorlog, verlore gaan.

Amerikaanse mariniers ry bo -op 'n M48 -tenk terwyl hulle skiet

Die M-48's het ver van die brug af stilgehou. Die mariniers het afgeklim en te voet voortgegaan. Ripley kyk hoe die voorsprong T-54 die brug bereik en begin oorsteek. 'N Marine met 'n ligte tenk tenk vuurpyl het die tenk getref. Die voertuig wat getref is, het teruggetrek na 'n bedekte posisie.

Marines of E Company, 2de Bataljon, 3de Marines, ry op 'n M48A3 tenk

Under enemy fire, Ripley made a mad dash to an old bunker 100 meters from his position and 100 meters from the bridge. Accompanying him was his Vietnamese radioman, Maj. Jim Smock, advisor of the 20 th Tank Battalion.

A vicious cross-river firefight began as Ripley and Smock made the last dash to the bridge, praying there would be a way to bring it down when they arrived.

M48 Patton tank move through the dense jungle in the Central Highlands of Vietnam

The Bridge

A bundle of explosives had been delivered but had not been prepped for use.

The bridge was constructed of steel I-Beams, overlaid with steel decking and two feet of timber sitting atop six-feet-thick concrete supports. The bridge could only be brought down by demolition. Since the deck of the bridge was fully exposed to enemy fire, the only way to set the explosives was by hand and from underneath.

Captain John Ripley ( left ) Advisor to the 3th Vietnamese Marine Battalion and Major Le Ba Binh next right-battalion commander.

From underneath the bridge, Ripley would be able to slide the cases of TNT between the edges of the I-Beams to a point in the middle of the river and set satchel charges to cut the I-Beams. There were six I-Beams in total, creating five “channels” through which he would have to drag explosives.

Once he’d climbed over the fence, Ripley’s legs were shredded by the razor-sharp concertina wire protecting the south end of the bridge. Ripley went hand-over-hand under the bridge amidst enemy fire.

He finally reached the concrete support 90 meters away, and swung himself up and into the channel created by the I-Beams.

Setting charges to cut the beam, Ripley traveled back down the channel. Smock passed him the two 75 lb. TNT cases and satchel charges which Ripley dragged back again. He set the charges to cut the other beam. One channel was rigged, but there were still four more to go.

Two hours later, completely spent, all the channels were finally set for the explosion. Dropping to the ground and curling into a ball, Ripley rested for only a moment. Retrieving primer cord and crimping the blasting caps, he looped the coils over his shoulders and crawled back out, legs dangling and drawing fire.

Having set the primer cord alight with matches, Ripley crawled out once more to set a backup detonator with electrical caps.

Returning to the bunker seemed to take an eternity as Ripley’s legs woodenly refused to move quickly. He ran under fire from the other side of the river. With a gut-wrenching, earthshaking explosion, the bridge was finally destroyed.

Dong Ha Bridge burning four days after destruction, 6 April 1972. At the far right are enemy armored vehicles exposed to air attacks and unable to advance.

The Bitter Aftermath

The Marines and South Vietnamese tankers continued to hold Dong Ha. An attack from the west cut through to Highway 1 south of the city, but the Marines continued to fight, surrounded. One by one, the M-48s were destroyed or ran out of gas.

Ordered to breakout, the surviving tankers shouldered rifles and joined the Marines. Continuing the fight at Quang Tri City, the 3 rd Battalion was finally pulled out of the line. Of the 700 men who had begun the fight, only 52 remained.

A destroyed M48A3 during Vietnam war

The Easter Offensive was beaten by the North’s inability to capture Dong Ha quickly. Eventually, the Northern Troops withdrew. Three years later they would return, this time, for good.

Ripley remained in the Marine Corps, eventually commanding an infantry battalion then an infantry regiment. Always attempting to evade a desk job, he finally found one he enjoyed at the U.S. Naval Academy as an English and History instructor.

Later on, he was the commander of the Naval ROTC unit at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in his native Virginia.

Retiring as a Colonel in 1992, Ripley accepted a position first as the Dean then later as Chancellor of Southwestern Virginia College, and later on still at the Hargrave Military Academy.

Colonel John W. Ripley, USMC.Photo: mtfrazier CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Ripley returned to duty in July 1999 to lead the Marine Corps History and Museums and Historical Center. He passed away on October 28, 2008.

John Ripley earned the Navy Cross for his heroic actions on the bridge at Dong Ha. But the legacy he was most proud of was having commissioned over 500 young Marine officers between his time at the Naval Academy and VMI, a record held to this day.


March 16, 1968 | U.S. Soldiers Massacre Vietnamese Civilians at My Lai

Ronald Haeberle/U.S. Army Women and children were victims of the My Lai massacre on March 16, 1968.
Historic Headlines

Learn about key events in history and their connections to today.

On March 16, 1968, during the Vietnam War, United States troops under the command of Lt. William L. Calley Jr. carried out a massacre of about 500 unarmed men, women and children in the village of My Lai.

The C Company, also known as the 𠇌harlie Company,” of the 11th Brigade, Americal Division, was ordered to My Lai to eliminate the Vietcong’s 48th Battalion. On the night of March 15, Capt. Ernest Medina, the commander of Charlie Company, told his men that all civilians would leave the village by 7:00 the following morning, leaving only Vietcong soldiers and sympathizers. He ordered them to burn down the village, poison wells and wipe out the enemy.

The next day, at 8 a.m., after an aerial assault, Lieutenant Calley’s 1st Platoon of Charlie Company led the attack on My Lai. Expecting to encounter Vietcong soldiers, the platoon entered the village firing. Instead, they found mostly women and children who denied that there were Vietcong soldiers in the area. The American soldiers herded the villagers into groups and began burning the village.

The New York Times provided an account of the massacre from a survivor in its Nov. 17, 1969, edition: “The three death sites were about 200 yards apart. When the houses had been cleared, the troops dynamited those made of brick and set fire to the wooden structures. They did not speak to the villagers and were not accompanied by an interpreter who could have explained their actions. Then the Vietnamese were gunned down where they stood. About 20 soldiers performed the executions at each of the three places, using their individual weapons, presumably M-16 rifles.”

Lieutenant Calley gave explicit orders to kill and participated in the execution of unarmed villagers standing in groups and lying in ditches. There were also accounts of soldiers mutilating bodies and raping young women. Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson watched the massacre from his helicopter. Realizing that civilians were being killed, he landed his helicopter near one of the ditches and rescued some survivors.

The Army initially portrayed the events as My Lai as a military victory with a small number of civilian casualties. A year later, Ronald Ridenhour, a former soldier who had heard about the massacre from other soldiers, sent letters to leaders in Washington alerting them to the events. The Army opened an investigation and in September 1969 filed charges against Lieutenant Calley.

Two months later, in November 1969, the American public learned of the My Lai massacre as the journalist Seymour Hersh broke the story. Several publications ran in-depth reports and published photographs taken by the Army photographer Ronald Haeberle. The My Lai massacre intensified antiwar sentiment and raised questions about the quality of men being drafted into the military.

The Army charged 25 officers, including Lieutenant Calley and Captain Medina, for the massacre and its cover-up, though most would not reach court-martial. Lieutenant Calley, charged with premeditated murder, was the only man to be found guilty he was initially given a life sentence, but after a public outcry he would serve just three and a half years of house arrest.

Connect to Today:

In 2004, 35 years after he broke the My Lai story, Seymour Hersh reported on the torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners by United States soldiers at Abu Ghraib, a prison compound west of Baghdad. The story sparked comparisons with My Lai and reignited the discussion on punitive justice for United States military atrocities committed abroad.

In November 2005, a group of American Marines killed 24 unarmed civilians, including women, children and a wheelchair-bound man, in Haditha, Iraq. As with My Lai, the military at first claimed that enemy insurgents had been killed in the attack before media reports revealed that only civilians had been targeted.

Eight Marines were charged under United States military law, but charges were eventually dropped for all but one, Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, who was able to avoid jail time with a January 2012 plea deal.

In a January 2012 New York Times article. Charlie Savage and Elisabeth Bumiller reported that the case illustrated the difficulty in investigating and prosecuting crimes committed by military members, who are much more likely to be acquitted on murder and manslaughter charges than civilians charged with those crimes. Soldiers can 𠇊rgue that they feared they were still under attack and shot in self-defense,” Mr. Savage and Ms. Bumiller wrote, and the “military and its justice system have repeatedly shown an unwillingness to second-guess the decisions made by fighters who said they believed they were in danger.”

In late 2011, The Times uncovered a classified interview transcripts of United States troops discussing the Haditha massacre, which reveal the scope of civilian killings in Iraq. Marines said that they saw nothing “remarkable” about the massacre and one described it as 𠇊 cost of doing business.” Michael S. Schmidt of The Times wrote: “Troops, traumatized by the rising violence and feeling constantly under siege, grew increasingly twitchy, killing more and more civilians in accidental encounters. Others became so desensitized and inured to the killing that they fired on Iraqi civilians deliberately while their fellow soldiers snapped pictures.”

This week, a United States Army sergeant has been accused of methodically killing at least 16 civilians, 9 of them children, in a rural stretch of southern Afghanistan. Officials say he had been drinking alcohol — a violation of military rules in combat zones — and suffering from the stress related to his fourth combat tour.

What is your reaction when you hear of incidents in which United States troops explicitly target civilians? In your opinion, should soldiers be punished for their actions in the same way that civilians would be? Should wartime atrocities be viewed as unique events or as part of a bigger picture of the dehumanization of war and “history repeating itself”? Hoekom?


The Legacy of the Vietnam War

“American imperialism has suffered a stunning defeat in Indochina. But the same forces are engaged In another war against a much less resilient enemy, the American people. Here, the prospects for success are much greater. The battleground is ideological, not military. At stake are the lessons to be drawn from the American war in Indochina the outcome will determine the course and character of new imperial ventures.”

QUESTION: When the Indochina war ended in 1975 you wrote that our nation’s “official” opinion makers would engage in distortion of the lessons to be drawn from the war so that the same basic foreign policy goals could be pursued after the war. You felt then that in order to keep the real meaning of the war from penetrating the general public they faced two major tasks: First, they would have to disguise the fact that the war “was basically an American attack on South Vietnam — a war of annihilation that spilled over to the rest of Indochina”. And secondly, they would have to obscure the fact that the military effort in Vietnam “was restrained by a mass movement of protest and resistance here at home which engaged in effective direct action outside the bounds of propriety long before established spokesmen proclaimed themselves to be its leaders”. Where do we stand now on these two issues–seven years later?

CHOMSKY: As far as the opinion makers are concerned, they have been doing exactly what it was obvious they would do. Every book that comes out, every article that comes out, talks about how — while it may have been a “mistake” or an “unwise effort” — the United States was defending South Vietnam from North Vietnamese aggression. And they portray those who opposed the war as apologists for North Vietnam. That’s standard to say.

The purpose is obvious: to obscure the fact that the United States did attack South Vietnam and the major war was fought against South Vietnam. The real invasion of South Vietnam which was directed largely against the rural society began directly in 1962 after many years of working through mercenaries and client groups. And that fact simply does not exist in official American history. There is no such event in American history as the attack on South Vietnam. That’s gone. Of course, It is a part of real history. But it’s not a part of official history.

And most of us who were opposed to the war, especially in the early 󈨀’s — the war we were opposed to was the war on South Vietnam which destroyed South Vietnam’s rural society. The South was devastated. But now anyone who opposed this atrocity is regarded as having defended North Vietnam. And that’s part of the effort to present the war as if it were a war between South Vietnam and North Vietnam with the United States helping the South. Of course it’s fabrication. But it’s “official truth” now.

QUESTION: This question of who the United States was fighting in Vietnam is pretty basic in terms of coming to any understanding of the war. But why would the U.S. attack South Vietnam, if the problem was not an attack from North Vietnam?

CHOMSKY: First of all, let’s make absolutely certain that was the fact: that the U.S. directed the war against South Vietnam. There was a political settlement in 1954. But in the late 󈧶’s the United States organized an internal repression in South Vietnam, not using its troops, but using the local apparatus it was constructing. This was a very significant and very effective campaign of violence and terrorism against the Vietminh — which was the communist-led nationalist force that fought the French. And the Vietminh at that time was adhering to the Geneva Accords, hoping that the political settlement would work out in South Vietnam. [The Geneva Accords of 1954 temporarily divided Northern and Southern Vietnam with the ultimate aim of reunification through elections. — editor’s note]

And so, not only were they not conducting any terrorism, but in fact, they were not even responding to the violence against them. It reached the point where by 1959 the Vietminh leadership — the communist party leadership — was being decimated. Cadres were being murdered extensively. Finally in May of 1959 there was an authorization to use violence in self-defense, after years of murder, with thousands of people killed in this campaign organized by the United States. As soon as they began to use violence in self-defense, the whole Saigon government apparatus fell apart at once because it was an apparatus based on nothing but a monopoly of violence. And once it lost that monopoly of violence it was finished. And that’s what led the United States to move in. There were no North Vietnamese around.

Then the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam was formed. And its founding program called for the neutralization of South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. And it’s very striking that the National Liberation Front was the only group that ever called for the independence of South Vietnam. The so-called South Vietnamese government (GVN) did not, but rather, claimed to be the government of all Vietnam. The National Liberation Front was the only South Vietnamese group that ever talked about South Vietnamese independence. They called for the neutralization of South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia as a kind of neutral block, working toward some type of integration of the South with North Vietnam ultimately.

Now that proposal in 1962 caused panic in American ruling circles. From 1962 to 1965 the US was dedicated to try to prevent the independence of South Vietnam, the reason was of course that Kennedy and Johnson knew that if any political solution was permitted in the south, the National Liberation Front would effectively come to power, so strong was its political support in comparison with the political support of the so-called South Vietnamese government.

And in fact Kennedy and later Johnson tried to block every attempt at neutralization, every attempt at political settlement. This is all documented. There’s just no doubt about it. I mean, it’s wiped out of history, but the documentation is just unquestionable — in the internal government sources and everywhere else.

And so there’s just no question that the United States was trying desperately to prevent the independence of South Vietnam and to prevent a political settlement inside South Vietnam. And in fact it went to war precisely to prevent that. It finally bombed the North in 1965 with the purpose of trying to get the North to use its influence to call off the insurgency in the South. There were no North Vietnamese troops in South Vietnam then as far as anybody knew. And they anticipated of course when they began bombing the North from South Vietnamese bases that it would bring North Vietnamese troops into the South. And then it became possible to pretend it was aggression from the North. It was ludicrous, but that’s what they claimed.

Well, why did they do it? Why was the United States so afraid of an independent South Vietnam? Well, I think the reason again is pretty clear from the internal government documents. Precisely what they were afraid of was that the “takeover” of South Vietnam by nationalist forces would not be brutal. They feared it would be conciliatory and that there would be successful social and economic development — and that the whole region might work.

This was clearly a nationalist movement — and in fact a radical nationalist movement which would separate Vietnam from the American orbit. It would not allow Vietnam to become another Philippines. It would trade with the United States but it would not be an American semi-colony.

And suppose it worked. Suppose the country could separate itself from the American dominated global system and carry out a successful social and economic development. Then that is very dangerous because then it could be a model to other movements and groups in neighboring countries. And gradually there could be an erosion from within by indigenous forces of American domination of the region. So this was no small thing. It was assumed that the key to the problem was preventing any successful national movement from carrying out serious social and economic development inside Indochina. So the United States had to destroy it through a process which would become the war against South Vietnam. And, it should be pointed out that on a lower level we were doing the same things in Laos and Cambodia.

QUESTION: So the irony is that the very reason given in the United States for fighting the war — the independence of South Vietnam — is exactly what had to be destroyed.

QUESTION: Do you think this distortion of the war is successful?

CHOMSKY: It’s hard to say. People who lived through the period know better. But younger people who are being indoctrinated into the contemporary system of falsification — they really have to do some research to find out what is the truth. In the general population, people forget or don’t care that much. And gradually what you hear drilled into your head everyday comes to be believed. People don’t understand what you’re talking about any more if you discuss the American war on South Vietnam.

QUESTION: And the role of the anti-war movement?

CHOMSKY: The main effort has been to show that the opposition to the war was of two types. One was the serious responsible type that involved Eugene McCarthy and some senators — who turned the tide because we realized it wasn’t worthwhile or was too expensive or something. And then there were these sort of violent and irrational groups, teenagers and so on, whose behavior had little to do with the war really and whose activity was a form of lunacy. Now, anyone who lived through the period would have to laugh.

But my impression is that the effort to portray the peace movement this way is not working very well. For example, at the beginning of his administration, Reagan tried set the basis for American military intervention in El Salvador — which is about what Kennedy did when he came into office in regard to Vietnam. Well, when Kennedy tried it in Vietnam, it just worked like a dream. Virtually nobody opposed American bombing of South Vietnam in 1962. It was not an issue. But when Reagan began to talk of involving American forces in El Salvador there was a huge popular uproar. And he had to choose a much more indirect way of supporting the collection of gangsters in power there. He had to back off. And what that must indicate is a tremendous shift in public opinion over the past 20 years as a result of the participation in the real opposition to the war in Indochina — which has lasted and was resurrected when a similar circumstance began to arise.

QUESTION: So you see the inability of the government to maneuver as it would like in El Salvador as directly related to the anti-war movement?

CHOMSKY: Oh yes. They even have a name for it: “Vietnam Syndrome”. See, they make it sound like some kind of disease, a malady that has to he overcome. And the “malady” in this case is that the population is still unwilling to tolerate aggression and violence. And that’s a change that took place as a result of the popular struggle against the war in Vietnam.

QUESTION: So you feel it was the group officially defined as the “riff-raff, lunatic fringe” who really was the peace movement?

CHOMSKY: Oh, there’s no question. You can see what happened. There were very extensive grass roots efforts beginning in the mid-󈨀’s, developing quite gradually against tremendous opposition. So that in Boston it was impossible to have an outdoor public meeting against the war until about the fall of 1966. Until then, they would be broken up. And the media more or less applauded the violence and disruption that prevented people from speaking. But gradually that changed. In fact, it reached such a point that by 1967 it was impossible for the President to declare a national mobilization for war. He was restricted and forced to pretend he was conducting a small war. There were constraints. Because of public opinion which by then was considerably aroused by demonstrations and teach-ins and other types of resistance. Johnson had to fight the war with deficit spending. He had to fight a “guns and butter” war to show it was no big war.

And this policy just collapsed. And it collapsed totally with the Tet Offensive in 1968 [the National Liberation Front’s surprise temporary takeover of virtually all of South Vietnam’s cities overnight –Ed.] which led major sectors of American power — corporate power and other centers of power — to realize we could nor carry it off at this level. Either we go to war like in the Second World War, or we pull out. And that was a direct effect of the activities of the peace movement. After this decision was made, then politicians like Eugene McCarthy — whom you had never heard of before that time — came to announce themselves as the leaders of the peace movement.

But by then the basic decision to put a limit to direct American troop involvement had been made. You had to fight for a long time to get the U.S. out, but the basic decision had been made at the Tet Offensive. That’s when the programs related to Vietnamization were put in place, and we began to fight a more capital intensive war with less direct participation of American ground troops.

Incidentally, another reason for this was that the America army began to deteriorate internally because, after all, the United States was fighting a very unusual type of war. It’s very rare for a country to try to fight a colonial war with a conscript army. Usually wars like the Vietnam war are fought with mercenaries — like the French Foreign Legion. The U.S. tried to fight what amounts to a colonial war with a conscript army. And a colonial war is a very dirty kind of war. You’re not fighting armed forces. You’re fighting mostly unarmed people. And to fight that kind of war requires professional killers, which means mercenaries. The 50,000 Korean mercenaries we had in Vietnam were professional killers and just massacred people outright. And the American army did plenty of that too, but it couldn’t take it after awhile. It’s not the kind of job you can give to conscripts who are not trained to be murderers.

QUESTION: And they had also heard of the anti-war movement’s ideas against the war back home.

CHOMSKY: Exactly. It was a citizen’s army, not separated from what’s happening in American society in general. And the effect was that, very much to its credit, the American army began to crumble and deteriorate. And it became harder and harder to keep an army in the field.

QUESTION: Are you aware of any other time in history when soldiers came home from the war and organized against their government as many Vietnam veterans did through the Vietnam Veterans Against the War organization?

CHOMSKY: It’s rare. For example, it’s happening now to a certain extent in Israel with reservists who are also fighting a war against a civilian population in Lebanon. And it’s the same kind of phenomenon. If they just kept professional military men involved they could probably carry it off. But reservists are connected with the civilian population. That’s why countries like France and England used mercenary forces to carry out these kinds of wars.

Let me make one final point about the peace movement which is often forgotten. When you look back at the internal documents that we have now you can see that when the big decision was made around the Tet Offensive in 1968 — about whether or not to send a couple hundred thousand more troops — one of the factors was that the Joint Chiefs of Staff were concerned that they would not have enough troops for internal control of the domestic American population. They feared tremendous protest and disruption at home if they sent more troops to Vietnam. This means that they understood the level of internal resistance to be virtually at the level of civil war. And think they were probably right about that. That’s a good indication from inside as to how seriously they took the peace movement.

There are indications that the huge demonstrations of October and November of 1969 severely limited Nixon’s ability to carry out some of the plans for escalating the war that he had. The domestic population was not under control. And any country has to have a passive population if it is going to carry out effectively an aggressive foreign policy. And it was clear by October and November of 1969 just by the scale of opposition that the population was not passive.

So those are all important events to remember. Again, they’re sort of written out of history. But the record is there and the documentation is there, and it’s clear that that’s what happened.

QUESTION: What is the current U.S. foreign policy toward Indochina?

CHOMSKY: Well, towards Indochina I think the main policy is what’s called “bleeding Vietnam”. Even conservative business groups outside the United States are appalled at what the United States has been doing.

We fought the war to prevent Indochina from carrying out successful social and economic development. Well, I think the chances of that happening are very slight because of the devastation, because of the brutality of war. But the U.S. wants to make sure it will continue. And therefore we first of all of course refused any reparations. We refused aid. We try to block aid from other countries. We block aid from international institutions. I mean, sometimes it reaches a point of almost fanatic effort to make them suffer.

For example, there was one point when the United States prevented the government of India from sending a hundred buffalo to Vietnam. (The buffalo stock in Vietnam had been decimated by American bombing.) We prevented them by threatening to cut off Food for Peace aid.

So in every conceivable way the United States has tried to increase the harsh conditions of life in Indochina. And right now one of the main ways we’re doing it is by supporting the Khmer Rouge on the Thai-Cambodian border.