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18 September 2017


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Larry Mitchell

Tragic day for the Manchus indeed. Reunion with them, including C Co. survivors, last week in San Antonio. KUTF



The army chaplain who baptized me was executed with the sword in PI for having the temerity to preach to his fellow PWs in Camp O'Donnell. he should not have been a prisoner of war at allsince the Geneva Conventions exempt chaplains and medical personnel from being prisoners. According to international law they should be retained in prison camps in sufficient numbers to care for the PWs. pl


Colonel -

I did not watch it. Did Burns mention anything of Major Thomas's OSS 'Deer' Team? The picture linked to below shows Thomas standing between Ho and Giap in July 45. Plus other members of his crew.


Regarding the Philippines: I have come around (partially) to your point of view. I believe that although we could have won the war without the landings, we were duty bound to liberate the islands. They were an associated state of the US, and a protectorate.


Yesterday I saw the first three parts of the "documentary" on Arte TV in Germany. A huge disappointment.

Some of the most obvious points:

It calls the Vietnam war a "civil war" which it certainly wasn't. It was an anti-colonial war beginning with the very first strike against the French.

Diem somehow falls from heaven instead of being installed by the CIA.

Burns covers up the Tonkin Incident by calling the following U.S. attacks "retaliation" for something that we know did not happen. He calls McNamara "brilliant" when the man was a good bean-counter but without knowledge of the human factor. He also lied to get the Tonkin resolution (written two month earlier) through Congress for an ever escalating campaign.

The escalations of the war under Kennedy , Johnson and Nixon were all done for mostly domestic policy reasons. All three men knew that the war was not reasonably winnable. They lied to the public about it. But

Burns depicts them as largely benevolent men who really wanted to bring "freedom" and "democracy" and fight "communism" in Asia. That was their marketing bullshit and Burns repeats it instead of digging deeper into the politics of that time.

Burns fails to check through Soviet and Chinese archives and to understand why they supported the Viet-minh. It had much little to do with "communism" that one would assume. But saying that would diminish the "anti-communism" campaign the U.S. politicians were (and are again) running to justify the war and which Burns still sells.

I noted down several other points that were inaccurate enough to be called lies and coverups. There is also a lack of other viewpoints, national as well as international.

The movie is well made. But it is not a documentary. It is feel-good fiction for the American public.

(Yes Pat. I know you will dislike the above comment and find it anti-American. That will not change the Burns picture and the fact that it is in large important parts an a-historic tale.)



Thanks for not disappointing. Yes it is further demonstration of your blinding hatred of the US. If an anti-American interpretation of the facts is possible, you will state it. Are you sure some GIs did not rape your grandmother? I am curious who you think all those hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese who fought the communists really were. We forced them to fight? Hirelings of the imperialist Americans? Dupes? And why did millions of Vietnamese flee communist rule? If it was not fear of communism that motivated the US in the war, what was it? We wanted the French owned rubber plantations? We wished to corner the world market in fish sauce? Montagnard loincloths and crossbows? pl


I for one miss the nước mắm. I always get a fix when I make it up to Seattle's ittle Saigon. That and the phở gà.



Well, pilgrim, if we had cornered the fish sauce supply you could have been the nuoc mam king of Washington State. I hate the stuff. My Chinese guards (Cholon Chinese) cooked Cantonese for me in Song Be the first year. pl


you managed to drew me into this article, outthere. Down to the author.

I sure was interested in MAC-SOC at the time it surfaced here in the comment section. And to some minor extend I can understand Williamson's excitement about angles of it. Based on that.

so Wayne Morse and I F Stone were right
quote from article:

Yes, no doubt interesting as a side note.

But what exactly is the author's "meta-narrative, if I may"?

The event he alludes to:



I do't understand why Burns did not mention Project 100,000 when he covered the inequity of the draft?

William Fitzgerald


I watched the same episodes and, from my perspective, your observations and conclusions are not correct. The documentary (it is a documentary) was specific in noting that the resolution was drawn up in advance of the events in the Gulf of Tonkin and was held awaiting an event which would enable Johnson to present it to congress. Also, presented quite specifically, was the dubious nature of the first incident involving the Maddox and the almost certainly non-existent attack in the second. The American attacks in response and the passage of the resolution were in retaliation. The fact that there was nothing to retaliate for doesn't alter that and Burns made the whole sequence of events quite clear.

The wars in Indo-China were civil as well as anti-colonial,as the documentary also made quite clear.

As to points of view, the documentary is most specifically concerned with the war and its effects on American society and on Viet Nam and the opinions are those of people at the time and their thoughts in retrospect.

I don't think you're views on Burns' effort are anti-American but, to me, reflect a need to pay closer attention and to put the events of those days in the context of the times in which they occurred.



There has been much complaining that the Vietnam documentary did not mention the truth about US provocation in the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. It didn't go into depth about CIA and US military planning and support for the South Vietnamese navy bombing of the North's coast or sabotage by SNM infiltrators. What these people fail to mention is that the doc explains that President Johnson authorized SVN's shooting up NVN's coast in the beginning of 1964 and that the SVN navy bombed the coast the day before the attack on the Maddox. Also was heard the tape of Johnson telling Mcnemara after the second attack (unproven) that the SVN should use its covert operation to blow up some bridges. The doc explicitly says these actions provoked the GoTI. To fully explore the GoTI would take a documentary of its own.

Being a fairly even-handed treatment the documentary will not please those with strong views on either side. The US and both SVN and NVN political history is excellent, corresponds to what I've read in THE BEST AND BRIGHTEST and FIRE IN THE LAKE. I wish Trump understood it, but he doesn't read or watch PBS. It sounds like foreigners do not understand America's visceral reaction to communism and how that made us appear colonialist.

The most important part of The Vietnam War is the interviews of the men who fought there--on both sides.



A good point. The 100,000 programs was "sold" by LBJ/McNamara as an opportunity for the poor who could not pass tests at above the category 4 level. As you imply it was just vacuuming up the cannon fodder. Nobody wanted these men. The army certainly did not want them. pl



Military Assistance Command Vietnam Studies and Observations Group (MACVSOG). This was a cover name. The actual name was Joint Unconventional Warfare Task Force SE Asia (JUWTF) I was assigned to this group in 1972. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_Assistance_Command,_Vietnam_%E2%80%93_Studies_and_Observations_Group



I remember, Pat.

Sorry I misspelled. Yes, I recall your comments and TTG's responses. TTG met one of your former MACVSOG colleagues, if I recall correctly. Respected him a lot.

The article outthere linked above made me really, really mad. I had to force myself to read it to the end, by then I had a distinct feeling what the author must be like. Thus I had to check.

I had seen the Tonkin passage in the Vietnam series shortly before, and the sequences immediately reminded me of MACVSOC. Meaning: I had the impression it was part of it.

Burns/Novick/Ward did a very, very good job. They made perfectly clear that it was a secret program, via Washington and pilot shot down and war prisoner in NV. Do you remember? You can't be a prisoner of war, since the US hasn't declared war against us.

Burns/Novick/Ward did a very, very good job. Great work. I was surprised when the late Horst Faas, AP, photographer was mentioned. I didn't know he was involved in that. I liked his "Requiem: By the Photographers Who Died in Vietnam and Indochina". Horst was a great man. He did a good Vietnam war photography exhibition nearby. After his last visit to Vietnam he had to spent the rest of his life in a wheel chair. Great man, he was. May he rest in piece.


Hi outthere,

I couldn't seem to get a torrent off that site. It kept asking me to install Flash. I did find two other options. Ones that may be easier for those that aren't familiar with torrents.

One is at https://archive.org/details/VietnamTheTenThousandDayWarTheUnsungSoldiers1313HighDefinition

Here you can either download the torrent or any of the other 5-6 options. I grabbed the torrent and it's downloading the movie fairly quickly even with only one seeder. The other option I'm downloading the movie directly by clicking on the link that says, "5 Original" and it's on the right side of the page.

I am a little puzzled because the direct download is 439MB and the torrent download is 932MB. I kinda thought this was something like 8-9 hours long or thereabout. Would be able to clear that up?

In the meantime archive.org is a great site with an incredible amount of free movies, documentaries, Library of Congress photographs, books etc. It's quite amazing what you can find there and I bet they might have other film footage covering the war, including news footage.

The second option is much simpler. Just click this link on youtube and you can watch the entire thing in 13 parts.


Hope this helps someone.



Don't know why Burns regurgitated the canard that blacks were over represented in the Vietnam War. Here's the percentages based on ethnicity.

RACE AND ETHNIC BACKGROUND... 88.4% of the men who actually served in Vietnam were Caucasian; 10.6% (275,000) were black; 1% belonged to other races. 86.3% of the men who died in Vietnam were Caucasian (includes Hispanics); 12.5% (7,241) were black; 1.2% belonged to other races.




Colonel -

Isn't the British Worcestershire Sauce also fish based? They got it from the Romans.

You missed out by having those Cholon guys cooking. Vietnamese cuisine is tops imho. Ever have the Vietnamese pork meatballs grilled on a skewer, a la Singapore satay? Or roasted waterboo stuffed with lemon grass? And their thousands of varieties of noodle soups are much better than the Cantonese version.

However I did come down with amoebic dysentery one time, probably from a spring roll from a roadside vendor.



I have eaten a great many VN meals and I agree with the Chinese that the Vietnamese are garbage eaters. As an SF and intelligence type I have eaten local chow all over the world and have use for VN food. pl


Colonel -

Strange for the Chinese to say that since Vietnamese cuisine was originally based on Chinese cuisine. The only difference being the later influences of French and Champa cooking on the Vietnamese.



You can have my share. pl

Keith Harbaugh

There has been concentrated effort, for many years, by some
to connect the Vietnam War to, yes, American racism.
As a clear-cut example, consider the following WaPo article:
‘The American War’:
Why you need to understand American racism
to understand what happened in Vietnam

By Alyssa Rosenberg, 2017-09-22

The article begins:

When Americans went to Vietnam,
we thought we were the good guys.
We were fighting for freedom!
We were going to stop communism in its tracks!

There were a lot of problems with that idea.
One of the big ones? American racism.

American policymakers thought that, in general,
Asian people didn’t value individual human lives as much as Westerners did.

[Not just "American policymakers".
Anyone who has read about the Korean War has read about "the human wave tactics" the PLA used against the U.S. Eighth Army.]

They told each other and themselves that the South Vietnamese were too weak and lazy to be good soldiers.

And to help get themselves through the horrors of war,
American soldiers taught themselves to think about North Vietnamese soldiers as if they were less than human.

After some more commentary of this nature,
Alyssa Rosenberg reports asking her first question of filmmaker Ken Burns:
Q: Ken, as I watched the documentary over and over —
and I’ve watched it a lot —
one moment I keep coming back to
is former Marine John Musgrave’s explanation of
how racism helped him deal with
the brutality of the war in Vietnam
by obscuring the humanity of the people he was killing.
It’s so uncompromising and clear in a way that I think
explanations of that kind of sentiment rarely are.
What was it like to hear that part of his interview for the first time?
Notice how Rosenberg is choosing what to emphasize.
Burns responds with:
So you end up with a very wide selection of [former Marine] John Musgrave and you get to that.
And you begin to realize the war business,
but also the very, very essential ingredient, as he says, is
Racism 101, which is what you need in order to keep your young people sane going about their business, right?
Fighting your wars.
It is one of the most profound statements in the film
Again, notice how one part of what Marine Musgrave said is being emphasized.

Okay, enough with me quoting from the Rosenberg/Burns interview.
Let me switch to my [Keith Harbaugh]'s own thoughts on this matter.

While I have no personal knowledge of what went on in Vietnam,
I do have very good knowledge of
how the war was portrayed to Middle America in the 1960s
(I lived in St. Louis and Houston up until 1967).
As I wrote in this blog almost exactly a year ago
(BTW, the comment feature in the URL never works for me.
Clicking on the URL just gives the start of the post.
Does it work for others?)

At Rice the USA was good, the establishment was good, and
the US Army was fighting a war against Communist aggression in SE Asia to save the Vietnamese from Communist tyranny and godlessness.
And that view of the VN War also holds for the milieu in Missouri of my high school years.
I think it was how MOST Americans viewed the war.

Why did I capitalize "most" in the above sentence?
Because in September 1967 I entered a totally different cultural milieu.
Brandeis University seemed to be crawling with people who were, de facto,
disciples of Brandeis professor Herbert Marcuse.
Denigrating mainstream values seemed to be commonplace there.
The campus seemed alive with what I took to be anti-American activism.
Posters attacking America used the spelling "Amerika",
"intending to portray the country as fascist and oppressive and culturally inferior."
I had never seen America spelled in that way before.
Nor why anyone would want to spell it that way.

Other commentators, who are Jewish, have described the attitudes so common there better, and with a deeper knowledge, than I.
In the article linked to by that last URL, David Gelernter writes:

There is scant love lost in either group for organized religion, the military, social constraints on sexual behavior, traditional sex roles and family structures, formality or fancy dress or good manners, authority in general.
Intellectuals have had these tendencies throughout the 20th century, and back to the 19th and into the 18th.


Today’s elite is intellectualized, the old elite was not. Why should that matter? What differences does it make?

The difference is this: the old elite used to get on fairly well with the country it was set over. Members of the old social upper-crust elite were richer and better educated than the public at large, but approached life on basically the same terms. The public went to church and so did they. The public went into the army and so did they. The public staged simpler weddings and the elite put on fancier ones, but they mostly all used the same dignified words and no one self-expressed. They agreed (this being America) that art was a waste, scientists were questionable, engineering and machines and progress and nature were good. Some of the old-time attitudes made sense, some did not; but the staff and their bosses basically concurred. (George Bush [that would be the first George Bush] was elected in part, Brookhiser suggests, because of public interest in restoring these arrangements.)

Relations between the elite and the nation are very different today. The enmity between Intellectual and Bourgeois is sheepman against cattleman, farm against city, Army versus Navy: a cliché but real. Ever since there was a middle class, intellectuals have despised it. When intellectuals were outsiders, their loves and hates never mattered much. Today they are the bosses and their tastes matter greatly.


During the 1960’s and early 70’s, the intelligentsia’s hatred for middle-class society was something fierce.
[That is precisely the attitude that I encountered at Brandeis.
Where "bourgeois" was an epithet, an insult, something to be despised.
The Bourgeois had many enemies at Brandeis, and so far as I could tell, no defenders.
I am glad that Gelernter has described the situation I encountered.]
The ferocity could partly be explained, Podhoretz wrote, by the fact that “despite all the concessions” the middle class had made, “it still refused to be ruled by the intellectuals.”
Today the intelligentsia runs the show, and its hatred for class enemies has been toned down—exactly as Podhoretz would have predicted.
But the hatred is still there, and comes through loud and clear on special occasions. Moreover, it has undergone a portentous change of focus.
It used to be aimed at least partly upward, at the “establishment.”
Now that intellectuals are the establishment,
it is aimed entirely downward, at the public at large.

[Again, that describes what I encountered at Brandeis.
"Smash the establishment", or sometimes more specifically, "Smash the WASP establishment"
was a goal frequently stated in the various campus posters and fliers.
And today, the goals of the anti-fa movement seem not different at all
from the goals of the Brandeis SDS.
Indeed, photos of the posters carried by the anti-fa demonstrators
often mention revcom.us, the Revolutionary Communist Party,
a direct descendent of the SDS.]

Today’s elite loathes the nation it rules.
Nothing personal, just a fundamental difference in world view, but the feeling is unmistakable.

It is worth comparing Gelernter's observations to
those of Paul Gottfried, who is also Jewish, in the two earlier URLs.

Anyhow, back to the commentary on the VN War.
From what I have read, it has been commonplace of people fighting wars
to view their adversaries in negative terms.
If not, why fight them?
In WWI, the Germans were "the Huns", echoing early European barbarians,
rather than representatives of the culture which produced J.S. Bach, Beethoven, Goethe, and, one might add, Martin Luther.
Would a good WASP really want to kill a descendent of Martin Luther?

For a description of the history of demonizing your enemy, see
"Demonizing the Enemy a Hallmark of War"
So why demonize the American soldiers in VN for doing what has always been done?

On opposition to the VN war, I have read in SST Colonel Lang, correctly,
describing the media and campus radicals as being a key part the campaign to force U.S. withdrawal from VN.
Which brings up, or should bring up, the question:
How typical of general American society were those who opposed the war in VN?
As to who the campus radicals were,
we can consult the writing of someone who knows something about that subject,
Mark Rudd, who wrote:

[T]he numbers on Jews in SDS are clear. The author Paul Berman, himself a Jewish veteran of Columbia SDS, in his excellent book, “A Tale of Two Utopias,” gives the following data from reliable sources:
two-thirds of the white Freedom Riders who traveled to Mississippi were Jewish;
a majority of the steering committee of the 1964 Berkeley Free Speech Movement were Jewish;
the SDS chapters at Columbia and the University of Michigan were more than half Jewish;
at Kent State in Ohio, where only 5 percent of the student body was Jewish,
Jews constituted 19 percent of the chapter.
I might add a strange statistic which I became aware of in the course of two trips to Kent State to commemorate the events of May, 1970:
three of the four students shot by the National Guard at Kent State were Jewish.
This, of course, defies all odds.

Keith Harbaugh

"As an SF and intelligence type I have eaten local chow all over the world"
Just a question:
Have you tried the Balkan restaurant "Ambar" in Clarendon?
(I'd give its URL but that might be interpreted as commercial advertising.)
If you have, I'd be interested in your opinion of,
both the food and any other aspect you might have an opinion on.
It's just three blocks from the Clarendon Metro station.



I'll try it. Seems heavily influenced by Turkish food. pl


William, haven't noticed your name around for a long time.

Thanks for your response to b.



Very long winded. You have had this on your mind for a long time. I will abstain from comment on your argument that American Jews are involved in extremist movements in numbers disproportionate to their actual percentage in the population. I have no idea if that is true. Does that carry over for you in the Giraldi article's assertions? I thought Musgrave sounded more than a little deranged. The night light thing was so whacko that I thought at first that it was a joke. IMO the former marine enlisted men seemed to be more extreme in their statements about the Vietnamese than the former army enlisteds. I suppose someone will want to sound off about the wonderfulness of USMC, but the bullets the enemy fired at you weere equally pointed whoever you were. In two years in the field and for a time in a staff job in MACVSOG and STDAT-158 I neve rheard anyone refer to the Vietnames as "gooks." But, what difference did it make what the troops called them? did US soldiers think the communist enemy were less than human? I never heard that either. pl

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