New Atlanta Vietnam Veterans Business Association Video Sets the Record Straight
The late Harry G. Summers, Jr. (1932-1999), Colonel of Infantry and distinguished faculty member of the Army War College, often called people’s attention to the fact that considerable differences in the treatment of the Vietnam War can be seen in the literature published in academia and that published by the veterans who served during the war. Summers also called attention to the fact that the perspective of the veterans differs considerably among themselves as to the time frame of their involvement and their role.
In addition, academic and media people, tend to lump the whole experience, tactics, and strategies of the war together, when four Presidential administrations were involved. Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Gerald Ford faced dramatically different situations and applied after some learning curve dramatically different thinking, tactics and strategies subject to increasingly politicized and predictably unwise Congressional limitations.
As a veteran of the Vietnam War, I have found that the left-leaning bias of the media and academia has firmly implanted a largely false narrative of the war filled with myths and outright propaganda. Many of these myths and deceptions found their way into such venues as Ken Burns’ “highly acclaimed” but often shamelessly distorted TV series on the Vietnam War. As a graduate student at Stanford, I witnessed the same propaganda broadcast by English-language Communist Chinese Radio into Thailand and South Vietnam repeated by campus antiwar organizers. As a former Air Force intelligence officer and actual combat veteran, I knew it all to be lies. But students with little actual knowledge of the war and academic and social pressures to conform were easy targets for deception.
In making presentations to civic and other groups on the Vietnam War, I start with four overall facts needed to understand the Vietnam War:
First, the Vietnam War was a proxy war with the Soviet Union with both China and especially North Vietnam having a major role. In January 1961, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev announced the Doctrine of Wars of Liberation and specifically mentioned South Vietnam as a target.
Second, major decisions were orchestrated or approved step by step by the leaders of the Soviet Union.
Third, under the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) of 1955, the United States, as well as the UK, France Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, the Philippines, and Pakistan were obligated to protect South Vietnam, Laos, and potentially Cambodia.
Fourth, The Vietnam War was a two-front war with Southeast Asia being the war front, and the homeland of the United States including public institutions and Congress being the home-front. Marxist war and political strategies make the enemy’s home front a primary target.
Fortunately, the Atlanta Vietnam Veterans Business Association ((AVVBA) has just released a 47-minute video, introduced by award-winning actor and patriot Sam Elliot that sets forth the truth and explodes the myths and propaganda that plague public understanding of the Vietnam War: Click below to open and feel free to forward.
I had the honor of participating as one of the veteran scholars as a speaker in this video. I simply elaborated on many of the points in my 2011 book, Lessons from the Vietnam War. However, I urge everyone to get this video into the hands of veterans, their families, and those who value truth in history. Your members of Congress, state legislators, educators, and patriotic citizens also need to see this. Our country is in deep trouble because so many of our people have been influenced by false narratives of history. Provide some refreshing and perhaps nation-saving truth.
I will just add a few but very important facts that are also covered in the video and that should be much better known.
I have written elsewhere a series of articles on the Thirteen Biggest Mistakes of the Vietnam War. All thirteen major mistakes were made by politicians. Eleven were made by a politician who refused to listen to experienced military advice. Lyndon Johnson had NO military input into his bombing decisions and his disastrous “Operation Rolling Thunder.” Secretary of Defense McNamara was like-minded and had six major confrontations with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Pacific Commander Admiral U.S. Grant Sharp. General William Westmoreland did not recommend winning with massive U.S. ground forces. A huge increase in American troops was the only choice left after Johnosn and McNamara rejected strategic bombing and closing off enemy sanctuaries in Cambodia, Laos, and North Vietnam.
Read Admiral Sharp’s 1978 book, Strategy for Defeat, Vietnam in Retrospect. Sharp was a USNA graduate from Chinook, Montana, who had won two silver stars as a destroyer commander during WWII. He also proved a determined and courageous fighter for truth and sound military strategy.
We also now know that former President Eisenhower privately advised Johnson to follow the recommendations of the JCOS, but Johnson listened to McNamara and his civilian whiz kids instead.
Following, Johnson, President Nixon eventually Vietnamized the war and brought U.S. troops down to 24,000 support personnel. Nixon crushed the North Vietnamese with strategic bombing in December 1972, resulting in a January 1973 Paris Peace Treaty. However, the 1974 Congressional elections were heavily influenced by Nixon’s Watergate problems and the massive Soviet-financed propaganda campaign on the American home-front. Congress essentially left South Vietnam and Cambodia defenseless against a major Soviet-financed North Vietnamese armored invasion in 1975. More South Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Lao civilians died—3.5 million—as a result of that Communist takeover than died in 20-years of war. But the U.S. media out of willful ignorance and its partisan political biases buried the truth and continued their repetition of the liberal establishment party line.
In 1998, the highest ranking Soviet intelligence officer ever to defect, Col. Stanislav Lunev, published a book, Through the Eyes of the Enemy. In it, he confirmed that the main Soviet foreign military intelligence agency, the GRU, and the KGB “helped to fund about every antiwar movement in America and abroad, and during the Vietnam War. The Soviet Union gave $1 billion to American antiwar movements, more than it gave the Viet Cong.” This would be equivalent to more than $5.4 billion in 2023 dollars.
This should not be a surprise. In 1970, the U.S. House Committee on Internal Security published a report on “Subversive Involvement in the Origin and Leadership of the New Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam and its Predecessor Organizations.” I covered some of this in Chapter 19, “The American Front” of my book. In his 2012 book, Losing the War for U.S. Public Opinion during the Vietnam War, Marco P Giorgi gave this precise summary:
“Realizing they were not likely to win on the field of battle against American forces, the North Vietnamese communists opened up a new front on American soil. The weapons were propaganda and agitation…the antiwar movement undermined public support for the Vietnam War through the mass media, the alternative press, and protests.”
I also strongly recommend Louis A. Fanning’s 1976 book, Betrayal in Vietnam.
The real irony of this, according to defected Soviet Colonel Stanislav Lunev, is that the famed GRU (Soviet foreign military intelligence), equivalent to the CIA and British MI6, funded most of the American antiwar movement and later privately bragged within the GRU organization that the GRU had won the Vietnam War.
Watch the AVVBA video. It could help save our country from past, present, and future false narratives that put politics ahead of truth and the common good.