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Vietnam War Statistics and Facts 1
Church Committee Report On Diem Coup-1963
South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem and his brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, were assassinated during a coup by Vietnamese generals on November 2, 1963. Evidence. Before the Committee indicates that the
United States government offered encouragement for the coup, but neither desired nor was involved in the assassinations. Rather, Diem's assassination appears to have been a spontaneous act by Vietnamese
generals, engendered by anger at Diem for refusing to resign or put himself in the custody of the leaders of the coup.
On one occasion, General Duong Van Minh ("Big Minh") outlined to a CIA officer the possible assassination of Nhu and another brother, Ngo Dinh Can, as one of three methods being considered for changing the government in the near future. The Saigon Chief of Station, who recommended that, informed ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge and Deputy Chief of Mission William Trueheart 2 of this possibility
"We do not set ourselves irrevocably against the assassination plot, since the other two alternatives mean either a bloodbath in Saigon or a protracted struggle which would rip the Army and the country assunder." (CIA cable, Saigon Station to DCI. 70/5/63) Upon being informed, Director Monet sent two cables. The first stated "[the cannot be in the position of stimulating, approving, or supporting assassination," and the second directed that the recommendation be withdrawn because "we cannot be in position actively condoning such course of action and thereby engaging our responsibility therefore." (CIA cable, DC1 to Saigon, 10/5/63; CIA cable, DC1 to Saigon, 10/6/63)
2. THE ABORTIVE COUP OF AUGUST 1963
On May 8,1963, South Vietnamese troops in the City of Hue fired on Buddhists celebrating Buddha's birthday (and carrying the Buddhist flag contrary to edicts proscribing the flying of religious flags) killing nine and wounding fourteen. This incident triggered a nationwide Buddhist protest and a sharp loss of popular confidence in the Diem regime.2
On May 18, United States Ambassador Frederick E. Nolting met with Diem and outlined steps which the United States desired him to take to redress the Buddhist grievances and recapture public confi-
1 Trueheart is currently a consultant to the Select Committee.
2 Senator Gravel Edition. The Pentagon Paper, The Defense Department History United States Decision-making on Vietnam. pp. 207-208. Volume II. Becton Press. Boston (hereinafter cited as Pentagon Papers). Former Public Affairs 0fficer of the U.S. Embassv in Saigon, John Mecklin, in his book. Nation in Torment. An Intimate Account of the U.S. Role in Vietnam. Doubleday and Company, 1965 (hereinafter cited a8 Mecklin),at pages 158-60 described the vulnerability of the Buddhists to Communist infiltration
during this period noting that it “offered a classic opportunity for a Communist sleeper play.”
dence. These steps included admitting responsibility for the Hue incident, compensating t.he victims, and reaffirming religious equality in the country. On June 8, Madame Nhu, the wife of Diem?s brother, Nhu, publicly accused the Buddhists of being infiltrated with Communist agents. Trueheart, in the absence of Ambassador Noltin protested her remarks to Diem and threatened to disassociate the United States from any repressive measures against the Buddhists in the future. (Pentagon Papers, p. 308) Shortly thereafter, Madame Nhu
mented on the self-immolation of Quang Due and other Buddhist monks by stating that she would like to furnish mustard for the monks' barbecue. On June 12, Trueheart told Diem that Quang DUC'S suicide
had shocked the world and again warned that the United States would break with his government if he did not. solve the Buddhist problem.(Pentagon Papers, p. 208)
Lucien Conein, a CIA officer in Saigon1 testified that the Buddhist uprisings were the catalyst that ultimately brought down the Diems regime. (Conein, 6/20/T& pp. 42-44) These events led the United States to apply "direct, relentless, and tablehammering pressure on Diem such as the United States has seldom before attempted with a sovereign friendly government." (Mecklin, p. 169)
By July 4, 1963, Generals Minh, Don, Kim, and Khiem had agreed on the necessity for a coup.2
In his final meeting on August 14 with Ambassador Nolting, Diem agreed to make a public statement offering concessions to the Buddhists. This statement took the form of an interview with the columnist, Marrerite Higgins, in which Diem asserted that his policy toward the Buddhists had always been conciliatory and asked for harmony and support of the government.
Shortly after midnight on August 21,1963, Nhu ordered forces loyal to him to attack pagodas throughout Vietnam, arresting monks and sacking the sacred buildings. Over thirty monks were injured and 1,400 arrested. The American Embassy was taken by surprise and viewed the attacks as a shattering repudiation of Diem's promises to Nolting. (Pentagon Papers, p. 210) 3
On August 24,1963, the State Department sent a cable (Deptel243) to the new Ambassador in Vietnam, Henry Cabot Lodge. The telegram was prepared by Roger Hilsman, Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs, and Under Secretary of State Averell Harriman, and was approved by President Kennedy. (Pentagon Papers, p. 235) Dephl 243 told Lodge to press Diem to take "prompt dramatic actions" to redress the grievances of the Buddhists :
We must at the same time also tell key military leaders that US would find it impossible to continue support GVN [South Vietnamese Government] militarily and economically unless above steps are taken immediately which we recognize re-
1Conein testified that he had known the generals involved in the coup "for many gears. Some of them I had known back even in World War II. Some of them were in powerful positions. and I was able to talk ,to them on a person to person basis, not as a government official.? (Conein, 6/20/75, p. 17.)
2 Conein's After-Action Report stated that: "The majority of the officers, including General Minh, desired President Diem to have honorable retirement from the political scene in South Vietnam and exile. As to Ngo Dinh Nhu and Ngo Dinh Can, there was never dissention. The attitude was that their deaths, along with Madame Ngo Dinh Nhu, would be welcomed." (Conein After-Action Report, 11/l/63, p. 10.)
3Conein testified that the raids might have been timed to occur when no American Ambassador was in Vietnam (Noltlng had left a few days before and his replacement. Henry Cabot Lodge, had not yet arrived) (Conein, 6/20/75, p. 21).
quires removal of the Nhus from the scene. We wish give Diem reasonable opportunity to remove Nhus but if he remains obdurate, then we are prepared to accept the obvious implication that we can no longer support Diem. You may also tell appropriate military commanders we will give them direct support in any interim period of breakdown central government mechanism * * *. Concurrently with above, Ambassador and country teams should urgently examine all possible alternative leadership and make detailed plans as to how we might bring about Diem's replacement if this should become necessary. A cable on Aupust 25 reported the result of a conference among a station representative. Lodge. Trueheart, General Harkins [Commander, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV)] and General Weede (Chief of Staff, MACV). They accepted Deptel 243 "as a basic decision from Washington and would proceed to do their best to carry out instructions," (I.G. Report, C, pp. 7-8) but believed that Diem would refuse to remove his brother from his position in the government.
Early in the morning of August 26, 1963, the Voice of America in South Vietnam placed the blame on Nhu for the August 21 raids and absolved the army. The broadcast also reported speculation that the United States contemplated suspending aid to the South Vietnamese Government.1 (Pentagon Papers, p. 212) Later on that same day, Lodge presented his credentials to Diem. CIA officer Conein and another CIA officer were told to see Generals Khiem and Khanh, respectively, and to convey to them the substance of Deptel 243, but to remind them that "We cannot be of any help during initial action of assuming power of state. Entirely their own action, win or lose." (DC1 to Saigon, 8/26/63).
A message from the White House on August 29 authorized Harkins to confirm to the Vietnamese generals that the United States would support a coup if it had a good chance of succeeding, but did not involve the United States armed forces. Lodge was authorized to suspend United States, aid at his discretion. (Deptel 272, 8/29/63) A cable from the President to Lodge on the same day stated :
I have approved all the messages you are receiving from others today, and I emphasize that everything in these messages has my full support. We will do all 14!hat we can to help you conclude this operation successfully. Until the very moment of the go signal for the operation by the Generals, I must reserve a contingent right to change course and reverse previous instructions. While fully aware of your assessment of the consequences of such a reversal, I know from experience that failure is more destructive than an appearance of indecision. I would, of course, accept full responsibility for any such change, as I must also bear the full responsibility for this operation and its consequences. (Cable, President Kennedy to Lodge 8/29/63)
In a reply cable, Lodge stated:
1. I fully understand that you have the right and responsibility to change course at any time. Of course I will always respect that right.
2. To be successful, this operation must be essentially a Vietnamese affair with a momentum of its own. Should this happen you may not be able to control it, i.e., the "go signal" may be given by the generals. (Cable, Lodge to President Kennedy, 8/30/63)
1 In a cable to Harriman, Lodge complained that the VOA broadcast had "complicated our already difficult problem" by eliminating "the possibility of the generals" effort achieving surprise." Lodge further warned that "the US must not appear publicly in the matter, thus giving the "kiss of death" to its friends" (Cable, Lodge to Harriman. (8/26/63).
A cable from Saigon dated August 31,1963, stated :
This particular Coup is finished. Generals did not feel ready and did not have sufficient balance of forces. There is little doubt that GVN [South Vietnamese Government] aware US role and may have considerable detail. (CIA Cable, Sta. to Hq. 8/311/63)
Deptel 243 and the VOA broadcast set the tone for later relations between the United States representatives and the generals. Big Minh who had initial doubts about the strength of, American support, grew in confidence.
3. THE NOVEMBER 1963 COUP
American dissatisfaction with the Diem regime became increasingly apparent. On September 8, AID Director David Bell, in a television interview, stated that Congress might cut aid to South Vietnam if the Diem government did not change its course. (Pentagon Papers, p. 214) Lodge suggested a study to determine the most effective methods of cutting aid to topple the regime. (Pentagon Papers, p. 214) On September 12, with White House approval, Senator Church introduced a resolution in the Senate condemning the South Vietnamese Government for its repressive handling of t he Buddhist problem and calling for an end to United States aid unless the oppressive measures were curtailed. (Pentagon Papers, pp. 214-215)
In mid-September 1963, two proposals for dealing with Diem were considered by the Administration. The first contemplated increasingly severe pressure to bring Diem in line with American policy; the second involved acquiescing in Diems actions, recognizing that Diem and Nhu were inseparable, and attempting to salvage as much as possible.
It was decided to adopt the first proposal, and to send Secretary of Defense McNamara and General Taylor on a fact-finding mission to Vietnam. (Pentagon Papers, p. 215)
On October 2, McNamara and Taylor returned to Washington and presented their findings to the National Security Council. Their report confirmed that the military effort was progressing favorably, but warned of the dangers inherent in the political turmoil and recommended bringing pressure against Diem. This pressure would include announcing the withdrawal of 1,000 American troops by the end of the year, ending support for the forces responsible for the pagoda raids, and continuing Lodge's policy of remaining aloof from the regime. The report recommended against a coup, but suggested that alternative leadership should be identified and cultivated. The President promptly approved the recommendations. (Pentagon Papers, pp. 215-216)
On October 3, Conein contacted Minh. Minh explained that a coup was being planned, and requested assurances of American support if it were successful. Minh outlined three courses of action 1 one of which was the assassination of Diem's brothers, Nhu and Can. (Conein, 6/20/75, p. 25; cable, Saigon to Director, 10/5/63) The Station cabled on October 5 that it had recommended to Lodge that "we do not set ourselves irrevocably against the assassination plot, since the other two alternatives mean either a blood bath in Saigon or a protracted struggle." (Cable, Saigon to Director, 10/5/63)
1The other courses of action were the encirclement of Saigon by various military units and direct confrontation between military units involved in the coup and loyalist units.
A cable from the CIA Director to Saigon responded that :
(W) e certainly cannot be in the position of stimulating, approving, or supporting assassination, but on the other hand, we are in no way responsible for stopping every such threat of which we might receive even partial knowledge. We certainly would not favor assassination of Diem. We believe engaging ourselves by taking position on this matter opens door too easily for probes of our position re others, re support of regime. et cetera. Consequently believe best approach is hands off. "However, we naturally interested in intelligence on any such plan."
McCone testified that he met privately with the President and the Attorney General, taking the position that 'our role was to assemble all information on intelligence as to what was going on and to report it to the appropriate authorities, but to not attempt to direct it,." (McCone, 6/6/75, p.62) He believed the United States should maintain a "hands off attitude." (McCone, 6/6/75, p. 62) McCone testified:
I felt that the President agreed with my position, despite the fact that he had great reservations concerning Diem and his conduct. I urged him to try to bring all the pressure we could on Diem to change his ways, to encourage more support throughout the country. My precise words to the President, and I remember them
very clearly, was that Mr. President, if I was manager of a baseball team, I had one pitcher, I'd keep him in the box whether he was a good pitcher or not. By that I was saying that, if Diem was removed we would have not one coup but we would have a succession of coups and political disorder in Vietnam and it might last several years and indeed it did. (McCone, 6/6/75, pp. 62-66)
McCone stated that he did not discuss assassination with the President, but rather "whether we should let the coup go or use our influences not to." He left the meeting believing that the President agreed with his "hands-off" recommendation. (McCone, 6/6/75, pp. 62-63)
McCone cabled the Station on October 6 :
McCone directs that you withdraw recommendation to ambassador (concerning assassination plan) under McCone instructions, as we cannot be in position actively condoning such course of action and thereby engaging our responsibility therefore (Cable, CIA to Saigon, 10/6/63)
In response, the CL4 Station in Saigon cabled Headquarters :
Action taken as directed. In addition, since DC&I Trueheart was also present when original recommendation was made, specific withdrawal of recommendation at Mcone's instruction was also conveyed to Trueheart. Ambassador Dodge commented that he shares McCone's opinion. (Cable, Saigon to CIA, 10/7/63)
Conein, the CIA official who dealt directly with the Generals,2 testified that he was first told of McCone?s response to the assassination alternative by ambassador Lodge around October 20. (Conein, 6/20/75, p. 35) Conein testified (but did not so indicate in his detailed After-action Report) that he then told General Don that the United States opposed assassination, and that the General responded, "Alright, you don't like it, we won't talk about it anymore." (Conein,6/20/75, p. 36)
The United States increased pressure on Diem to mend his ways. On October 17, General Richard Stillwell (MACV operations chief) informed Secretary Thuan that the United States was suspending aid to the Special Forces units responsible for the pagoda raids until they were transferred to the field and placed under Joint General Staff (JGS) command. (Pentagon Papers, p. 217) On October 27, Lodge traveled to Dalat with Diem, but did not receive any commitment from Diem to comply with American requests. (Pentagon Papers, p. 219)
On Oct.ober 28, Conein met with General Don, who had received assurance from Lodge that Conein spoke for the United States. Don said that he would make the plans for the coup available to the Ambassador four hours before it took place, and suggested that Lodge not change his plans to go to the United States on October 31. (LG. Report, C, p. 37; Pentagon Papers, p. 219)
On October 30, Lodge reported to Washington that he was powerless to stop the coup, and that the matter was entirely in Vietnamese hands. General Harkins disagreed and cabled his opposition to the coup to General Taylor. (Pentagon Papers, p. 220) A cable from Bundy to Lodge dated October 30 expressed White House concern and stated that "we cannot accept conclusion that we have no power to delay or discourage a coup." (Cable, Bundy to Lodge, 10/30/63) A subsequent cable on that same day from Washington instructed
Lodge to intercede with the Generals to call off the coup if he did not believe it would succeed. The instructions prescribed "strict noninvolvement and somewhat less strict neutrality." (Pentagon Papers, P* 220)
Late in the morning of November 1, the first units involved in the coup began to deploy around Saigon. The Embassy was given only four minutes warning before the coup began. (Cable, MACV to Joint Chiefs of Staff, 11/l/63) An aide to Don told Conein to bring all available money to the Joint General Staff headquarters. Conein brought 3 million piasters (approximately $42,000) to the headquarters, which was given to Don to procure food for his troops and to pay death benefits to those killed in the coup. (Conein, 6/20/75, p. 72) 1
Conein was at the Joint General Staff headquarters during most of the coup. (I.G. Report, C, pp. 4142) At I:40 p.m., the Generals proposed that Diem resign immediately, and guaranteed him and Nhu safe departure. (Conein After-Action Report, p. 15) The palace was surrounded shortly afterwards, and at 4: 3O pm. the Generals announced the coup on the radio and demanded the resignation of Diem and Nhu. Diem called Lodge and inquired about the United States' position. Lodge responded that the United States did not yet have a view, and expressed concern for Diem's safety. (Pentagon Papers, p. 221)
According to Conein's report, Minh told Nhu that if he and Diem did not resign within five minutes, the palace would be bombed. Minh then phoned Diem. Diem refused to talk with him and Minh ordered
the bombing of the palace. Troops moved in on the palace, but Diem still refused to capitulate. Minh offered Diem a second chance to sur-
1Passing money to the coup leaders was considered sometime prior to the coop. On October 29. Lodge cabled that a request for funds should be anticipated. (Cables, Lodge to State, 10/29/63, and 10/30/63) Conein received the money on October 24, and kept it in a safe in his house.
render half an hour later, telling him that if he refused he would be "blasted off of the earth,". Shortly before nightfall an air assault was launched on the Presidential Guards barracks. (Conein After-Action Report, 11/l/63, pp. 17-18)
At 6: 20 on the morning of November 2, Diem called General Don at the Joint General Staff headquarters and offered to surrender if he and Nhu were given safe conduct to an airport. Shortly afterwards, Diem offered to surrender unconditionally and ordered the Presidential Guard to cease firing. According to Conein, an escort for Diem appeared in front of the palace at 8 :00 a.m., but Diem and Nhu were not present. (Conein After-Action Report, 11/l/63, p. 24)
Conein testified that he left the, JGS headquarters amidst preparations by the Vietnamese generals to house Diem and Nhu there under proper security. After his return home he received a telephone call and was told to come to the Embassy. At the Embassy he was told that orders had come from the President of the United States to locate Diem. He further testified that he returned to JGS headquarters about 10 30 a.m. and asked General Big Minh where Diem was. After some discussion, Conein stated, Minh said that they were behind the General Staff Headquarters, but professed that they had died by their own hand. Minh offered to show the bodies to Conein but Conein declined because he feared that doing so might damage United States interests. (Conein, 6/20/75, pp. 55-57).
The details of Diem's and Nhu's deaths are not known.l There is no available evidence to give any indication of direct or indirect involvement of the United States.2
1Conein speculated that Diem and Khu escaped through a tunnel from the palace and fled to a Catholic Church in Cholon. He opined that an informant must have identified them and called the General Staff headquarters. (Conein After-Action Report, l/11/63, p. 23) A CIA source stated that Diem and Nhu had left the palace the previous evening with a Chinese businessman and arrived at the church at 8 :00 on the morning
of November 2. Ten minutes later they were picked up by soldiers and forced into an army vehicle. (Cable, Saigon to State, 11/2/63) Minh originally told Conein that Diem and Nhu had committed suicide, but Conein doubted that Catholics would have taken their own lives in a church. (Conein, 6/20/75, that on November 16, 1963, 56) The Inspector General's Report states a field-grade officer of unknown reliability gave the CIA two
photographs of the bodies of Diem and Nhu in which it appeared their hands were tied behind their backs. (I.G. Report, C, pp. 43-44) The source reported that Diem and Nhu had been shot and stabbed while being
conveyed to the Joint General Staff headquarters.
2 It must be noted that on October 30, 1963. Ambassador Lodge notified Washington that there might be a request by key leaders for evacuation, and suggested Saigon as a point for evacuation. (Cable, Saigon to Washington, 10/30/63) Conein was charged with obtaining the airplane. Between 6 :00 and 7 :00 on the morning of November 2, Minh and Don asked Conein to procure an aircraft. Conein relayed the request to a Station Officer at the Embassy who replied that it would not be possible to get an aircraft for the next twenty-four hours, since it would have to be flown from Guam. Conein testified that a Station representative told him that Diem could be flown only to a country that offered him asylum and that the plane could not land in any other country. There were no aircraft immediately available that had sufficient range to reach a potential country of asylum. (Conein, 8/20/75. p. 54)
Sec. of Def., Comptroller Office,
Report called "Air War in Indochina"
By Leonard Magruder
President - Vietnam Veterans for Academic Reform
PART 1 of a 10 part series- Dan Rather Refuses to Debate the Issues
Part 2 of a 10 part series -Goldberg confesses to CBS bias - but leaves out Vietnam
Part 3 of a 10 part series-How The National Media Lied About The Tet Offensive
Part 4 of a 10 part series -"How CBS suppressed the Magruder expose of "The Uncounted Enemy."
Part 5 of a 10 part series -The Campaign Against PBS
Part 6 of a 10 part series -Only liberals could play in the 60's
Part 7 of a 10 part series -Issues The Media Never Touched On
Part 8 of our 10 part series -Poll showing today's students disagree with 60's protesters suppressed by "Newsday"
Part 9 of a 10 part series -An interlude on education - the primary mission of V.V.A.R.
Part 10 of our 10 part series-From a New History By a Vietnam Vet And Historian
In light of the scandal a few months ago involving Dan Rather and Democratic Party fundraising, we decided to share an incident involving him in 1986. Mr. Magruder, President of V.V.A.R. , because of his long involvement with Vietnam veterans, was invited by Dr. Theodore Kennedy, Professor of Anthropology at the New York State University at Stony Brook, to help him put together the largest symposium on Vietnam ever assembled. "As National Coordinator Mr. Magruder has responsibilities for helping design the program and contacting and inviting some of the leading figures of the Vietnam period to speak." (Lawrence Journal World, Oct. l0, l986) "The first of its kind in the country and a model for other universities." (Newsday, Sept. 6, 1986.) It was the most comprehensive , in-depth examination of both the war in Vietnam and the "war on the home front" ever put together, unique because of the participation of some 800 Vietnam veterans.
There were 60 speakers from all over the country, representing the military, the media, the protestors, the government, and academia. Among those invited and who spoke were Bruce Hare- Prof. of Philosophy, Stony Brook Univ., Kenneth Steadman - Director, VFW, General William C. Westmoreland, Jan Scruggs -Vietnan Veterans Memorial, Leroi Jones (Baraka)- activist and poet, Florynce Kennedy - Co-founder, N.O.W, Allen Ginsburg - poet and activist, Senator Eugene McCarthy , David Horowitz- co-editor, Ramparts, Hung Van Ho- Army of South Vietnam, and William Gibbons, National Defense Division.
The media was singularly under-represented. In the beginning Dr. Kennedy spent hours on the phone with representatives of the New York national media emphasizing the national significance of the Symposium and the need for them to cover it. When this failed Mr. Magruder wrote the following open letter to Dan Rather, reviewing the performance of CBS during the war and challenging him to a debate at the Symposium. Copies of the letter were hand-delivered by students throughout the New York media community.
Dear Mr. Rather:
As you are probably aware , numerous sociological studies have documented the fact that during the 60's the television networks were strongly biased on the subject of Vietnam in the same left/liberal direction as the universities that educated their reporters. One of the best of these studies is The News Twisters , by Edith Efron, a book that CBS desperately tried to suppress.
The quantitative data in this and other studies show that the networks consistently misinformed and even lied to the American people. Reporting by CBS, ABC, and NBC over an extended period in 1968 show a steady drumbeat of anti-government voices, unified in an assault on the war. Little or no opinion in support of the war was allowed on any of the three networks even though as late as Oct. 1969 the majority of Americans, according to pollster Lou Harris, still supported a military victory in Vietnam.
The data also shows that the networks never allowed the true neo-fascist views and tactics of the New Left and the S.D.S. to be known, protecting them as part of a larger body of "harmless" or "idealistic" youth and using them to project an image of "youth in revolt against the war" and in general actively helping to promote their Marxist version of the war. The data shows how , through biased editorial selection, the views of the left had a virtual stranglehold on opinion on the war. If fact, reporter and enemy opinion constituted a majority of opinion advocating a unilateral bombing halt. Out of 37 such statements , one third came from enemy sources. Said Senator Margaret Chase Smith, "The press has become more sympathetic to the enemy than to our own national interest." (Congressional Record, June 16, 1971). Said Theodore White, the highly respected author of The Making of the President series, "There is a new avante garde which dominates the heights of national communication and has come to despise its own countrymen and its traditions."
On occasion, as in the case of the Vietnam War, the university and the media act as an unelected counter-government, certain that they only know what is best for the nation. But if the world view that they share is in fact closer in its basic philosophical assumptions to those of totalitarianism than to those of the Judeo-Christian majority, the danger is obvious, they can misinform and mislead the country. There is, therefore, great fear abroad in the land that in another time of crisis, the university and the media, unless reformed, may again allow themselves to be manipulated by enemy propaganda or exploit the crisis to further ideological interests hostile to the national interest.
One of the most significant consequences of the Vietnam conflict was its exposure of the breakdown that has occurred in intellectual and journalistic circles with regard to objectivity and truth. The truth is that the left-liberal media, informed in its analysis of world events by the impoverished moral sensibility of secularism and hostile to traditional American values, and wanting to see Hanoi win the war to prove those values
wrong withheld information from the American people throughout the war. In particular, it created a "disaster" image of the Tet Offensive (perpetrated 15 years later in The Uncounted Enemy - CBS) because it served its ideological purposes, even in the face of incoming victorious reports from the battlefield. Said Ronald Reagan, "CBS under World War II circumstances would have been charged with treason."
The philosophy of life that allows for such blatant disregard for truth is rampant throughout the New York media and Eastern academic circles. Said Theodore White in Newsweek, "I regard the growing gap between the cult that dominates New York intellectual thought today, and the reality perceived by thoughtful people elsewhere , as a political fact of enormous importance and danger."
Part of the problem was no doubt touched upon by Carolyn Lewis, former Associate Dean of the Columbia School of Journalism when she wrote in The Washington Monthly recently, "So lacking in intellectual substance is the Columbia curriculum in journalism that students can go through the entire program without having to read a book."
Another part of the problem is revealed in two well-know studies done by Columbia University and George Washington University that show that media persons, almost all college educated and liberal, "not only differ sharply on moral issues from attitudes of the general public, but shun religion and actively seek to reform society towards their views." Search Institute, in its landmark study of the importance of religion on Capitol Hill said, "An important factor in our national ignorance of religion on Capitol Hill is the
national press. A predominant characteristic of the media elite is its secular outlook. Perhaps the reporters and commentators are unable to recognize religious influence when they see it."
It follows that they would also not be able to recognize the true danger of an ideology such as atheistic Communism. It is no accident that Howard K. Smith, the noted television newscaster, warned during the 60's that "the media is not giving a true picture of Vietnam," and that the reporters are "especially naive about Communist intentions and Ho Chi Minh." Bias in the media, he said, was "massive" and "anti-American."
The facts seem to be clear. Television networks are dominated by a world-view contemptuous of majority traditional values and they actively seek to impose their views on the rest of America. In this they serve as the propaganda arms of the academic establishment. In summary, it seems that "liberal" today means uneducated, uninformed, and naive. For the media, with the power it yields, to have no understanding of the significance of contemporary events makes it a very dangerous force in American society and clearly in need of a thorough airing of the problem.
I hope you will accept my invitation to join me in airing the problem at the Symposium - Courage." Leonard Magruder
Mr. Rather did not respond to the letter. And when the Symposium ended, the press release prepared by Mr. Magruder summarizing the findings of the Symposium was uniformly boycotted by the New York media. More on that in Part 2. Stay tuned.
Mr. Magruder is not a Vietnam veteran. As a college professor (psychology) he was outspoken over many years in support of the troops in Vietnam and the cause, and became deeply involved with them when they returned. Until he
moved to Kansas he was an Associate Member of the Suffolk , N.Y. Chapter of VVA.With the support of a number of these Vietnam vets who joined his Board
of Advisors, including the VVA chapter President, he founded Vietnam Veterans for Academic Reform, a national organization with a student auxiliary at the Univ. of Kansas. He is sending out this series to regional and state Vietnam vet leaders, plus other vet leaders, vets in Congress, and the national media, to let people know what was accomplished, but was suppressed by the media.
By Leonard Magruder
In part l of this series on how the media suppressed stories related to Vietnam Mr. Magruder recounted how Dan Rather refused an invitation to debate the many issues with regard the performamce of the media during the Vietnam War at the Stony Brook University Vietnam Symposium of l986. "The media pretty well snubbed the entire event," said Mr. Magruder, who served as National Coordinator, "and when I sent out a final press release summarizing the findings of the Symposium, the largest ever held, it was completely ignored by the New York national media."
Following are extracts from that press release:
The key to the success of the Symposium was that for the first time hundreds of Vietnam veterans and students had been brought together in a direct learning situation, stimulated by an outstanding panel of speakers, 60 in all, from all over the country representing the military, the media, the government, veterans organizations, academia, and the war protestors. Funding for the project came from private individuals. Over $35,000 was raised for honorariums and speaker fees. Each session of the Symposium, most with a number of speakers, covered a different topic related to the Vietnam War. These included:
l) The History of Vietnam and American Involvement
2) How America's Youth Responded to the Call
3) The Views of Veteran Organizations (VVA,VFW,American Legion ,etc.)
4) The War as Seen by General Westmoreland
5) Protests and Counter-Protests at Home
6) The Performance of the Media
7) The Turning Points of the War
8) The Return of the Vietnam Veteran
9) The Story of the Wall by its Founders
10) The Adjustment and Reassimilation of the Veteran
11) The POW/MIA Issue
12) The Views of the South Vietnamese
13) The Lessons of the War
14) The Vietnam Veteran as Emerging Leader
In general, said Mr. Magruder in an interview, representatives of the military and government were not only highly responsive to invitations to participate, but all had given of their time at no cost. Most former war protestors who were invited, he said, either declined the invitations or had asked for fees which were in many cases prohibitive. The representatives of
the national media who were invited, such as Dan Rather, Mike Wallace, Tom Brokaw, Sam Donaldson, Peter Jennings, and Ted Koppel, did not respond, making the media singularly underrepresented.
Aspects of the war that had been neglected over the years but had been brought out by the speakers at the Symposium included; the humanitarian and idealistic dimensions of American involvement, the subversive aspects of the campus "peace" movement, the true intentions of Communist North Vietnam to conquer all of Indochina, the ruthlessness and barbaric tactics of the Viet Cong, the use of the American media to influence public opinion against the war, the succumbing of American journalists and intellectuals to Hanoi propaganda, the bravery and victorious record of the American soldier, the genuine thrust for freedom of the South Vietnamese, the abandonment by liberals in Congress of South Vietnam, the views of the Vietnam veteran towards the war protestors and the media, and the true status of the POW/MIA issue.
Asked what he thought were the main themes emerging from the Symposium, Magruder said that while he could not speak for either Dr. Kennedy or the Vietnam veterans, that as a psychologist and sociologist the themes that he saw emerging from the Symposium seemed to include at least the following five points:
l) The majority of veterans fully understood their mission in Vietnam to be to stop Communist aggression from the North, do not view their mission in Vietnam as having been "immoral", take a certain amount of pride in their accomplishments on the battlefield, and are proud to have served their country. This is quite at odds with the image perpetrated on campus and in the media of the veteran as a "dupe" of American "imperialism", waiting for the war protestors to save them. 2) The majority of veterans do not view the war protestors as having been either "idealistic" or as "moral heroes", and view their interpretation of the war as naïve, false, and damaging to their efforts. Most of them recognize that the war protests were engineered by Marxist and other ideologues on campus who were partisan to Hanoi and manipulated gullible students to further the self-interests of both groups. 3) Most veterans expressed concern over the fact that many former draft evaders and war protestors now occupy prominent positions on campus and
continue in their writings and lectures to perpetuate a false understanding of the war and its veterans offering themselves to students as a "moral elite," while in general striving to avoid debate on the issues with the veterans. 4) A majority of veterans appear to be deeply dissatisfied with the media, particularly national television, for having portrayed a view of the war more sympathetic to that of the war protestors than to the majority of
Americans including themselves. They are particularly unhappy that their considerable military achievements such as at Hue, Khe Sahn and other battlefields during the Tet and other large offensives were portrayed by the media to the American people either negatively , or as defeats, and that these impressions have never been corrected. 5) A majority of veterans appear to hold the campus and the media largely responsible for the tragic outcome of the war, and blame those two institutions for having created a false image of them and the war that made their return home very difficult.
Asked what he thought was the most significant contribution of the Symposium,
Mr. Magruder said that it was undoubtedly the changing perception by students of the Vietnam veterans from the false stereotypes of the anti-war movement and the media, to one of citizens who had acted responsibly in answering the call to duty, who successfully fought an especially difficult war to a peace treaty, and who had returned home to totally unfair treatment as a result of misinformation spread by the campus and the media.
Equally important, he said, was the change that is coming about in student perception of the war protestors and the draftdogers as considerably less than the moral heroes they portray themselves to be, as a result of becoming aware, at the Symposium, of the ideological and often self-interested motives behind their behavior.
Asked about the problems the symposium had faced Magruder said that the biggest problem was that media coverage had been scanty and biased. What little there had been focused primarily on General Westmoreland's visit, and the three articles on this in the campus newspaper had been unduly critical and harsh, causing some veterans to observe that many on campus, and in the media, seemed to be trying to avoid the issues.
Also, he said, there had been some harassment by the leftists and Marxists on campus. One professor, a well known leftist, gave a lengthy speech on the "vested economic interests" behind the war, (an idea universally hooted down by the veterans), had coached his students into giving him a standing ovation, had encouraged his students to heckle others on stage, and had lodged a complaint with the Dean about the presence on campus of the American flag in a color guard to honor General Westmoreland.
Mr. Magruder is President of Vietnam Veterans for Academic Reform, the national organization and the student auxiliary at the Univ.of Kansas. Speaking in Lawrence today he said, "Looking back, it borders on a national tragedy that an event of this scope, made possible by the contributions, in terms of time, effort, and money, of so many, and designed to help the American people arrive at some correct historical conclusions with regards the war, was so neglected by the media, as well as by many on the University
faculty, who largely shunned the event.
Significant new insights on the Vietnam Era by General Westmoreland, David Horowitz, Sen. Eugene McCarthy, Bobby Seale and Al Santoli and so many others went totally unreported by the media, nor would they send representatives to engage in the dialogue. Nor has much changed . I noted yesterday a recent article by Richard Kolb, Editor-in-Chief of VFW Magazine in which he quotes Vietnam vet Milt Copulos as saying "There's a wall 10 miles high and 50 miles thick between those of us who went and those who didn't, and that wall is never going to come down." And vet David Carrad, who wrote in the Wall Street Journal," Until my generation passes from the scene, I doubt there will ever be any reconciliation of views on the war between those who went and those who did not." It is the guilt of those who didn't go that will always cause any effort to heal in a Symposium to be less than successful. For thirty years, the tissue of lies that had to be told by those who would not serve has been rotting the heart out of this society. Look at the experience of David Horowitz at Brown and Arizona State. The spirit of the leftist thugs of the 60's is still with us. For 30 years the university has been unable to
tolerate a dissenting opinion, or discuss an issue rationally, continuing to serve as the Depositer of the Lies or as Paul Hollander, noted sociologist at U. Mass. writes, "the major reservoirs of the adversary culture." Why don't our universities finally face the truth about Vietnam, rejoin and help our failing society ?"
The Tet Offensive, which was portrayed by the New York liberal media as a defeat for the U.S. was in fact, as Westmoreland and all historians agree, an almost disastrous defeat for the North Vietnamese. Not only did they lose half of the 90,000 troops they had committed to battle, the Viet Cong was virtually destroyed. Contrary to the expectations of the North, the people of the South took not one step to assist the invaders. Instead, they rose up in revulsion and resistance, with the government and the people galvanized into unity for the first time and volunteers for the South Vietnamese army almost doubling.
In the U.S., the facts made clear by the Tet Offensive, that the war was not just a "civil war", that the South clearly did not wish to live under Communist rule and welcomed American aid, and that it was the North Vietnamese who were engaged in "genocide" and "aggression" with the mass murders at Hue and the rocket attacks on helpless civilian populations, should have ended the arguments of the "peace" movement. It was the moment of truth for those in the universities and the media. They failed the test. The
lying continued with renewed fury.
The New York media, recognizing an opportunity to manipulate the news to effectively impose its view of the war on the American people now created, and deliberately sustained, an image of "disaster", even in the face of incoming battlefield reports that contradicted that image. This image was taken seriously by advisors to President Johnson, totally altering the outcome of the war at the very moment when victory might have been possible. The liberal media robbed the United States government and the American people of the ability to make critical judgments about their most vital security interests in a time of war.
The true reason for the tragic change in policy after the Tet offensive is seen in what Johnson now told Westmoreland, that to pursue the war more aggressively was politically unfeasible, that he had "no choice but to try to calm the protesters lest they precipitate an abject American pull-out." (America in Vietnam, Levy, 1978) In one of the most incredible phenomenon in the history of warfare, there was during this period, thanks to the media, no logical connection between what was actually happening in Vietnam and
response on the home front. The response to victory was despair. This is what the media calls the "psychological victory," which they themselves created.
And to their everlasting shame, the "peace" movement responded to any hint of success by American forces at Tet with panic, fearing that their own country might win the war. As presidential candidate George McGovern said to Vietnam vet and former Sec. of the Navy James Webb, "What you don't understand is that I didn't want us to win that war." (American Enterprise Mag. May/June 1997)
The April-June 1986 edition of The National Vietnam Veteran's Review had a front-page article (with photo) titled "Professor Calls for Congressional Investigation of Media's Treatment of the Vietnam War." During that period Mr. Magruder had distributed a "Request to Congress" to most members of Congress calling for a Congressional investigation into how it came about that a major American victory had been reported to the American people as a defeat .The request was supported by twelve large Vietnam veteran organizations, and General Westmoreland. As stated in the N.V.V.R. article,
"General Westmoreland, who has already made one call to the Steering Committee, stated publicly this week, "Professor Magruder's project is an extremely important issue and I support his efforts l00%."
Copies of the material Mr. Magruder sent to Congress were distributed to news organizations throughout the National Press Building in Washington, but no mention of it ever appeared in print. The media has always tried to dismiss the charge of having lied about the Tet Offensive as a right-wing fantasy, but in his material distributed to Congress Mr. Magruder quoted from 21 standard histories and commentaries on the Vietnam War, as follows:
"The enemy has been hurt badly; he committed a total of about 84,000 men. He lost 40,000 killed." (Report of General Earle G. Wheeler, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on the Tet Offensive. Feb. 27, 1968) (Note: the allies lost 927. This is the disaster for the North Vietnamese that CBS called a "stalemate.")
"The Allied counter-offensive following Tet destroyed the Viet Cong based in the South and was a major defeat for the North. Yet despite this victory the press in the United States turned Tet into an American defeat." (Great Battles of the 20th Century - Sir Basil Liddell Hart)
"The Viet Cong was suffering severe casualties. .. but this situation was not being reflected in news reports or on television in the United States." (The Unmaking of a President - Herbert Schandler)
"Following Tet, the enemy was completely vulnerable (but) the most powerful country in the world did not have the will power to meet the situation. (Strategy for Defeat - Admiral Sharpe)
"The North Vietnamese regulars and the Viet Cong guerrillas were defeated utterly on the battlefield. Granted the American superiority at that time, there is at least the probability that North Vietnam forces could have been destroyed." (Crossroads of Modern Warfare - Drew Middleton)
"The impression created by the press and television coverage of the offensive was of a great defeat for the Americans and the South Vietnamese. (Why We Were in Vietnam - Norman Podhoretz)
"The war still could have been brought to a favorable end following the defeat of the enemy's Tet Offensive. But this was not to be. Press and television had created an aura, not of victory, but defeat. (A Soldier Reports- General William Westmoreland)
"Newsmen countered official claims of a Communist defeat by saying that even if it were true (which they refused to accept as they did the official account of enemy losses) the communists had achieved a psychological victory. (The Vietnam War - an international panel of historians)
"This is the only war lost in the columns of The New York Times. They created an image of South Vietnam that was as distant from the truth as not even to be a good caricature. There were those who invented, distorted, and lied. (Certain Victory - Dennis Warner)
"Visitors to the Lyndon Johnson Library are told, "While the President was reading reports from the war that made it clear that the enemy had suffered a severe military loss (Tet), newspaper and TV gave the impression that the loss was ours and that defeat was imminent." (New York Times News Service)
"COSVN, Viet Cong Headquarters, in its internal report #6, March 1968, admitted the Tet Offensive had been a failure. "We failed to seize a number of primary objectives. We also failed to hold the occupied areas. In the political field we failed to motivate the people to stage uprisings." (The Magruder Expose - Leonard Magruder)
"For the first time in modern history the outcome of a war was determined not on the battlefield but on the printed page and television screens never before Vietnam had the collective policy of the media sought, by graphic and unremitting distortion, the victory of the enemies of the correspondents own side." (Encounter-British journalist Robert Elegant)
"It was the massive military defeat of the Viet Cong and NVA that proved the main turning point in the United States resolve. In military terms it was a massive defeat for Giap. However, on the television screens of the United States Tet turned into a victory for the Communists." (Vietnam - Ian Beckett)
"Jack Fern of NBC suggested to producer Robert Northfield that NBC do a documentary showing that Tet was indeed a decisive military victory for the United States. "We can't," said Northfield, "Tet is already established in the public mind as a defeat." (Between Fact and Fiction - Edward J. Epstein)
"When General Westmoreland publicly announced that the Tet Offensive had been a major defeat for the Communists and a major victory for the Allied forces, a fact obvious to anyone who viewed the events dispassionately, he was treated like a self-deluding fool by the news media." (Battles and Campaigns
- Tom Carhart)
"The Tet Offensive proved catastrophic to our plans. It is a major irony of the Vietnam War that our propaganda transformed this debacle into a brilliant victory. The truth was that Tet cost us half our forces. Our losses were so immense that we were unable to replace them with new recruits." (Truong Nhu
Tang - Minister of Justice - Viet Cong Provisional Revolutionary Government -The New York Review
Oct. 21, l982)
"The military's conflict with the Saigon press corp was the crucible of the debate over the Order of Battle. But CBS chose not to explore that conflict and to have done so the network would have had to bare its own archives of the period, including Walter Cronkites's milestone commentary which declared, following Tet, that an American victory was unlikely and that a truce must be negotiated." (A Matter Of Honor - Don Kowit)
"Though it was an overwhelming victory for South Vietnam and the United States, the almost universal theme of media coverage was that we had suffered a disastrous defeat. The steady drumbeat of inaccurate stories convinced millions of Americans that we had lost a major battle." (No More Vietnams -Richard Nixon)
"The myth was created (by the media) that the war was unwinnable, and that had a decisive effect on American resolution. (War in Peace- Sir Robert Thompson)
"Rarely has contemporary crisis journalism turned out, in retrospect, to have veered so widely from reality. Essentially the dominant themes of the words and film from Vietnam added up to a portrait of defeat for the Allies, Historians, on the contrary, have concluded that the Tet Offensive resulted in a severe military-political setback for Hanoi in the South. To have portrayed such a setback for one side as a defeat for the other - in major crisis abroad - cannot be counted upon as a triumph for American journalism and it could happen again." (Big Story - 2 vols. - Peter Braestrup)
"If there is to be an inquiry related to the Vietnam War, it should be into the reasons why enemy propaganda was so widespread in this country, and why the enemy was able to condition the public to such an extent that the best educated segments of our population have given credence to the most incredible allegations." (Final Report - Chief of Military History - U.S.Government)
When does this inquiry begin ? The last four years of the war, the lives lost, and the final abandonment by the U.S. of the peoples of South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, were prices paid to indulge the tantrums of the campus 'peace' movement and the New York liberal media. America, through the lack of moral and intellectual sophistication of its liberal academics and journalists had succumbed to the most successful propaganda effort the world has ever seen. How the campus and the media lied about Vietnam is the one
great trauma in the tissue of American history that has never been dealt with.
On Jan. 23, l982, eight months after Professor Magruder resigned his position at Suffolk College, N.Y. to protest that media and campus had lied about Vietnam, CBS ran a 90 minute documentary on prime time television titled The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception, produced by George Crile and
narrated by Mike Wallace. The program charged that U.S. military intelligence in Vietnam under orders from General Westmoreland had conspired to deceive President Johnson , the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Congress and the American people by systematically underreporting enemy strength to make it appear that Westmoreland was winning the war. This was done, CBS claimed, through the reduction of estimates of infiltration in the five months prior to the Tet Offensive, and by deleting from the Order-of-Battle village civilians who supported the Viet Cong; the SS and the SSD. The purpose of the deception, according to CBS was to lead people into believing that the U.S. was winning a war which in fact, according to CBS, it was losing. This "conspiracy", said Mike Wallace, led to complete unpreparedness for the Tet Offensive, unnecessary loss of American soldiers, and in the final analysis, to the loss of the war.
The program was believed without reservation by almost the entire American press. "From The Nation to The Wall Street Journal" said Renata Adler in Reckless Disregard, "No serious journalist or publication called any element of the ninety-minute program into question. Editorials simply treated the broadcast as true." This was massive testimony to the nation's depth of ignorance on the Vietnam War, as a result of years of distortion by the media. They had lied so often on the subject they were in a fog.
Professor Magruder immediately recognized the large number of serious discrepancies and outright lies in the film. Stunned, he realized that CBS had just given him a classic example of the kind of lying he had just given his job to protest and immediately began research to expose the film.
On March 28, l982, 150 copies of a 21- page single spaced article documenting that the CBS film had been one long series of lies from beginning to end, were hand delivered by Mr. Magruder and his students throughout the upper echelons of the New York media, as well as sent through the mail.
Among those receiving copies at CBS, in addition to CBS executives, were Mike Wallace, Dan Rather and George Crile. Executives and newscasters such as Frank Reynolds, Sam Donaldson, Roger Mudd, Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw, and John Chancellor of ABC and NBC also received copies, along with executives, editors, and columnists of The New York Times, Newsweek, Newsday and The Washington Post. Approximately thirty copies were delivered to leading columnists such as Tom Wicker, Harriet Van Horne, and Anthony Lewis.
The fully documented article proving that CBS had lied to the American people on a massive scale, just as they had often done during the Vietnam War, and particularly during the Tet Offensive, was immediately covered up by the entire New York liberal media establishment.
On May 29, l982, two months after the cover-up of the Magruder expose the story broke with a cover article in TV Guide, Anatomy of A Smear: How CBS Broke the Rules and 'Got' General Westmoreland , by Don Kowit and Salley Bedell, based on copies of CBS interviews for the film. The article, while not as lengthy or detailed as the Magruder expose, was nevertheless more than enough to show that the CBS documentary was in serious trouble.
The article showed that CBS had paid and then coached persons in what to say, had deliberately angered Westmoreland to make him appear guilty on film, had refused to include in the film corrections that he has requested, refused to include evidence by Walt Rostow that Johnson had been fully informed as to the increased infiltration , the upcoming Tet Offensive , and the Order-of-Battle controversy, had lied about its efforts to contact General Phillips Davidson, head of intelligence in Vietnam, and had rejected testimony by George Carver , head of CIA intelligence that would have
totally invalidated the thesis of the CBS film. It also proved that the statement in the film by Col. Gaines Hawkins that he had been given an enemy troop estimate ceiling by Westmoreland was contradicted four times by statements from Hawkins to George Crile as found in the interview transcripts and that CBS had deliberately inserted a response by Westmoreland where it did not belong in an effort to discredit him.
When General Westmoreland received his copy of the Magruder expose he wrote Professor Magruder a personal letter in which he stated, "You have done an exhaustive bit of research and I congratulate you. I am sending your letter and its enclosures to my lawyer." (letter, Sept. l3, 1982)
In his expose Magruder wrote that in the film Mike Wallace failed to tell his viewers that the entire thesis of the CBS film, based on a charge made by Sam Adams, a CIA analyst, had been thoroughly investigated and dismissed by the House Select Committee on Intelligence in 1975 and fully aired at the time in the press. Adams, a Harvard graduate sympathetic to the leftist views of antiwar leaders, and who testified on behalf of Daniel Ellsberg at his trial, had hoped by his estimate of 600,000 Viet Cong to force Johnson to pull out of the war. He strongly believed in the Marxist concept of the
'people's revolution', and consistently tried to prove through his figures that it was the 'people' who were fighting, unaided by the North, the same naive myth propagated by the campus 'peace' movement and the New York media cult.
Wallace also failed to inform his viewers that Adams, in an article in Harper's Magazine in May l975 and again at the House investigation, was primarily concerned that the CIA, not General Westmoreland, had suppressed his estimate of Viet Cong strength. The subtitle of his article was A CIA Conspiracy Against its Own Intelligence. Said Rufus Taylor, Deputy Director of the CIA from 1966 to 1969, in a letter of response to the Adams article in the July, l975 issue of Harper's, " We could perceive no merit in presenting Sam or his conclusions to the President." Wrote James Graham, of the Board of National Intelligence in the same issue of Harper's, "and his assumption that these findings were generally accepted within the CIA is a distortion of the facts." He charged Adams with conveying a "misleading impression of a single-handed and lonely struggle to get the truth out about the war to the White House against the massive opposition of countless knaves and cowards." The truth, said Graham, was that , "In my twenty five years in the CIA I never saw an analyst given more individual attention, more opportunity to present his evidence and state his case ." But his case was so bizarre that no one would buy it, except for Mike Wallace, and CBS.
Wallace failed to tell his viewers that at no time had the CIA ever taken Adam's estimate of 600,000 Viet Cong seriously. This estimate upon which the CBS film rested was dismissed by President Johnson's own Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, and both branches of the CIA; the Directorate of
Intelligence and the Office of National Estimates. The key statement in the film by Wallace that the CIA was "at war with Washington to accept Adams estimate," was not true. George Crile, the producer of the CBS film, had to have know these facts. He had been editor for the Adams article in Harper's in 1975, from which all of the above statements were taken. Furthermore, all of this had to have been know by most of the liberal columnists, such as Anthony Lewis of The New York Times, who had received copies of the Magruder expose, as much of that expose was based on their own articles published at the time of the House investigation of the Adams charge. They knew that the CBS film was a smear against Westmoreland based on lies, yet they said nothing as it served their ideological purposes.
Quoting from President Johnson's memoirs, The Vantage Point, Magruder showed not only that Westmoreland had kept Johnson and the American people informed as to the conditions in Vietnam at all times, but that Johnson was fully informed of the Order-of-Battle controversy, the increased infiltration of Northern regulars, and the general timing and purpose of the approaching Tet offensive. Both Johnson and Westmoreland in their books had criticized the U.S. media for not passing on to the American people their warnings about the coming Tet Offensive. The press would later use the public dismay over Tet (which they themselves created) as an excuse to try to discredit earlier optimistic statements by Johnson and Westmoreland. The press deliberately neglected their warnings about Tet in order to set them up for criticism.
A number of sources were cited by Magruder where CBS could easily have found official military record of the increased infiltration which Mike Wallace charged Westmoreland with suppressing. He also showed that Maj. Gen. McChristian, who was portrayed in the film as having his intelligence warnings suppressed by Westmoreland, leaving the military unprepared for the Tet Offensive, was quoted by Jack Anderson in a column on Oct 31, 1975 as saying, "There was sufficient data to predict the offensive in the spring of 1968," and that Westmoreland took his information,"very seriously."
The CBS film was a final desperate attempt by the media to nail down the 'peace' movement's view of the war. It backfired miserably, resulting in complete exposure of exactly how the media, (and the university), as Mr. Magruder stated at the time of his resignation in protest, had lied about Vietnam. The falsification in the film of the Tet Offensive as a defeat was a repeat of how CBS had portrayed the offensive at the time.
So incompetent was Adams that in his article he estimated American lives lost in the Tet Offensive at 10,000. The accepted figure is 927. Magruder pointed out that a final CIA evaluation of Adams as an analyst, shortly before his resignation under pressure, described him as "marginal" at conducting research, and as having lost "balance and objectivity."
The entire thesis of the CBS-Wallace film, that it was a conspiracy by the military to conceal enemy strength to support Johnson's claim of progress that led to a devastating surprise victory by the Communists at Tet, and that the Adams estimate was then accepted, leading to Johnson's resignation and ending the war, is one long, sustained lie, as Westmoreland said, "a cruel hoax reprehensible and irresponsible." The film was an insult to the intelligence of the American people and a slander against those who served in South Vietnam, by the very ones who did the most to betray both national
interests and the American people."
On Sept. 13, 1982, General Westmoreland sued CBS for 120 million dollars for libel, labeling the film "vicious, false, and contemptible." Mr. Magruder now knew that his resignation to protest that the media had lied about Vietnam was about to be vindicated in one of the largest suits ever filed against the media. Westmoreland had stated in his letter that he had sent the expose Magruder had sent him to his lawyer, Dan Burt. On Feb. 4, 1984, Mr. Burt wrote to Mr. Magruder thanking him for his analysis. It is possible that Burt may have used the expose as a guide in planning his attack on CBS, as up until the time of the trial the Magruder expose remained prehaps the best detailed account of the lies in the film. Therefore it is understandable that it was with great satisfaction that Mr. Magruder sat back on Oct. 10, 1984 and watched (on ABC) the first of a parade of generals and colonels who would testify that CBS had lied.
The trial, which ended with an apology to Westmoreland by CBS, destroyed the credibility of CBS-News for decades to come.
This is an account of a national campaign that was waged by Mr. Magruder that forced PBS stations to show a documentary on Vietnam, narrated by Charlton Heston, that it had tried to suppress. The film detailed how CBS had misled the nation about the Tet Offensive. Martha Bayle, in The Wall Street Journal said, "Television's Vietnam: The Impact of Media", attacks the liberal bias of contemporary news coverage of the 1968 Tet Offensive. It suggests that reporters (especially TV reporters ) turned a U.S. military victory into a political and psychological defeat. PBS has refused to give air time to the film."
By spending $6000 of his own money to show the film on various television stations around the country Mr. Magruder exposed the issue creating a landslide defection on the part of station managers who had been told by PBS executives not to show the film. In addition, he wrote a letter to all 314 PBS station managers appealing to them to defy PBS Headquarters and show the film.
That summer, Mr. Magruder, along with Col. Chuck Allen, publisher/editor of the National Vietnam Veterans Review, discussed the issue in an hour long interview on CBS affiliate WFNC, Fayetteville, N.C.
At the Vietnam Veterans parade in Chicago Magruder paid for a continuous showing of the film on in-house television throughout his four day stay at the Americana Congress Hotel, reaching the thousands of Vietnam veterans who were staying there. The afternoon of the parade about 50 vets showed up with posters that read "Media and Campus Lied About Vietnam" on one side and "PBS Show the Film" on the other and a protest was held in Grant Park. In addition, with every showing in Chicago and elsewhere viewers were urged to
use a number that Mr. Magruder had arranged for with Mr. Joseph Redota of the White House to call President Reagan and tell him what they thought about the film.
280 out of 314 stations finally showed the film. William Criswell, Station Manger of WUSI/TV, Olny, Illinois, wrote on Aug. 26, 1986, "You should be pleased to know that this station has been at sword's point with PBS powers-that-be for more than a year on the issue of bias. I have written to PBS President Bruce Christiansen and others protesting the one-sided presentation of America's role in world politics. We aired Television's Vietnam: The Impact of Media, on Monday , August l8. It will be repeated Sat., Sept. 14." A number of station managers wrote Mr. Magruder saying they were defying the ban and would show the film. Wrote Ruth Ann Barnes, Director of WNET/13 in New York, "This is to let you know we have decided to air the AIM program."
Pat Buchanan, in a handwritten note from the White House said, "All the best with your new endeavor." Anne Higgins, writing for President Reagan, said, "The President's views on this subject are well know, and he will continue to express his concern that a flawed sense of our own history can lead to mistaken judgements about present policies as well as our future
course." Reagan had written to Charlton Heston about the film, "Great, .. something every American should see - but then we know TV will never help them to see it." (AIM Report, March 1986). Mr. Magruder was happy to be able to write Reagan and tell him that the American people had now seen the film, that the cover-up had been defeated. General Westmoreland wrote, "I congratulate you on your success in the showing of the AIM film on PBS stations around the country." (letter, Sept. 24, 1986)
The Washington Inquirer of Sept. 25, 1986 said, the most dedicated in this endeavor (fighting the boycott) was Leonard Magruder, who had been campaigning on behalf of Vietnam veterans causes for the last six years. He quit his professional post to protest against the treatment of Vietnam vets . Magruder recently held a Washington press conference in which he accused the media of basing its analysis of events in Vietnam on a liberalism hostile to
the American values of freedom and democracy and which created and sustained a disaster image of the Tet Offensive." The United Press, The Washington Post, and The New York Times all sent reporters and photographers to this conference but did not report on the story when they heard that it was critical of the media performance in Vietnam.
Mr. Magruder said that while his successful national campaign to break the PBS boycott had been treated fairly in over two dozen local newspaper articles, radio, television newscasts and talk shows, the story had been suppressed at the national level. Word had gone out from PBS to contain the story. Local editors were appalled by this development. Obviously, a story about a private citizen spending thousands of dollars to successfully reverse a decision by PBS not to show a film about Vietnam was a national story. Some editors, such as Mr. Donald Gillem of The York Times-News, York, Nebraska, considered this highly unethical and made special appeals to representatives of the wire services to see that the story was carried nationally, but they were rejected. In Topeka and Kansas City the Associated Press refused to place mention of press conferences by Mr. Magruder on the day calendar, which simply informs reporters of upcoming events. In other places, such as Lincoln, Nebraska, the wire services boycotted the news conferences that were held by Mr. Magruder. "The national media," said Mr. Magruder, "went on an orgy of suppression over this issue."
"The PBS campaign," he said, "was our response to the betrayal by CBS of the Suffolk College Rally for returned Vietnam veterans. Millions of people now know how CBS lied about Vietnam . For millions of Vietnam vets Dan Rather now became the symbol of a liberal media that had lied about their efforts in Vietnam, and The CBS Evening News program slipped into third place apparently as vets turned it off." Wrote Victor Goodpasture, a columnist for The Daily Kansan, the daily newspaper of the University of Kansas, "Mr.
Magruder showed the documentary on campus last semester and also on Lawrence Cable Television. It ought to be shown to all journalism students and then discussed. It was this type of reporting that changed attitudes towards the war and eventually led to a Communist victory in South Vietnam. The media did a disservice to the American soldiers and the American people."
In a lecture at the University of Kansas following the PBS campaign Mr. Magruder said, "Thuong Nhu Tang, Minister of Justice of the Viet Cong Provisional Revolutionary Government said in an article in The New York Times of Oct. 21, 1982 that the Communist losses in the Tet Offensive were "so immense that they were unable to replace them with new recruits." They lost half their troops, some 40,000 dead. (the U.S. lost 926) But the media
portrayed this as a U.S. defeat and CBS said that the United States couldn't hope to win the war." The Daily Kansan, April 2, 1986.
The following is from material handed out by Mr. Magruder in a one-man protest in the late 60's at the University of Colorado the day after a massive and violent anti-war protest. During the 60's he did this at a number of universities.
Covered by all Denver and Boulder newspapers and television stations, the national media refused to report the protest, refusing to let Mr. Magruder join the debate on the issues of the hour. Only liberals could play. At the time Mr. Magruder, a psychologist, was Special Consultant to the State of Colorado in the field of mental retardation. But the material that he handed out that day to the students was incompatible with the media's "advocacy journalism" at a time when the most inane statements on Vietnam of obscure liberals were being given national attention.
It was this suppression of opinion contrary to views on the war by left/liberals in the university and the media, and the use of these institutions as instruments of indoctrination and propaganda that created the polarization and breakdown in national debate in the 60's leading to the tragedies in South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. The campus 'peace' movement
ended up on the side of tyranny and genocide. He wrote: "Nothing more enrages the academic proponents of a naturalistic, and therefore "value-free", world view than the incurable moralism of the American people. To combat the fact that the average citizen sees the present conflict in terms of morality, tyranny versus freedom, the university has conceived the ultimate hypocrisy, it has projected an absolute moral judgment, "the Vietnam War is immoral," from nihilistic philosophical foundations. The vehemence of both faculty and students, and their need to avoid dialogue at all costs, flow from the need to mask that hypocrisy, hoping the public will confuse the vehemence for certainty and go along. But adult America, all of whom are for genuine peace in the world, has not fallen for it. It has conspicuously not joined the marches because it correctly senses the true underlying message, which is, we do not believe in truth or morals, we will not sacrifice for democracy, we do not care if millions are slaughtered or enslaved, we want only to be left in peace, to pursue our sloth, our sex games, and our drugs. Certainly if South Vietnam, and with it all of Southeast Asia, falls to Communist aggression and slavery, the guilt will lie forever with the cowardly conspiracy between faculty and student hypocrisy that blunted U.S. efforts to stop that aggression."
The main issues, he said, were "The failure of the social sciences with regard to contemporary social ills, the ignorance of students on Communism and basic philosophical and theological alternatives, the indoctrination of students and their manipulation by left/liberal faculty to influence national policy, the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the student anti-war movement, and the regressive movement on campus back to witchcraft, astrology, and drugs as sources of truth and self-fulfillment." The Boulder Daily Camera.
Two months later Mr. Magruder led in a protest at the American Psychological Association Convention in Washington, D.C.. A major issue had to do with the misuse of psychology in the service of the anti-war movement: "With regard to the role of psychologists in relation to the Vietnam War, the lies about the war spread by the campus 'peace' movement and the media have had a devastating impact on the returned veteran, leaving many shocked
and creating unnecessary feelings of guilt." For many, the resulting suffering was worse than the war, and was borne in silence for years. What little help was available was found in the "rap group" where again the veteran was betrayed. Anti-war oriented psychologists encouraged veterans into becoming active in the anti-war movement and encouraged them to convert
their acts of killing in the line of duty into atrocities, so as to resonate better with the lies that by now permeated American society.
Other psychologists charged the war with having created a "killer instinct" for which there was not the slightest shred of evidence. Said the noted sociologist Charles Moskos, "psychologists tried to portray the soldiers as variously, wanton perpetrators of atrocities or proto-fascist
automatons." There was nothing in contemporary psychological or psychiatric theory, with its moral relativism, that could come to grips with the code of the soldier, "Honor, Duty, Country". The mental health community prostituted itself to forward its politics, using the suffering of the veterans to do so. The social scientists, who through their naïve secular and humanistic theories of man had played a major role on campus in betraying the war effort, now had to lie about the veterans of the war. The lying was compounding itself." The protest, which created considerable stir at the Convention, was totally ignored by the Washington media.
From one of two 15-minute special news broadcasts with Mr. Magruder on KYFC-TV in Kansas City, Missouri.
"One myth propagated by the 'peace' movement is that the American soldier, because of his involvement in an "immoral " war, would, and later did, lose the war. The truth about the progress made following the Tet Offensive, from 1968 on, was never told to the American people.
The world's foremost authority on People's Revolutionary War, the Communist developed strategy that was used in South Vietnam, is Sir Robert Thompson, who as Secretary of Defense of the Malaysian Federation defeated the Communist insurgency in that country. As observer of the Vietnam situation throughout its history, and himself critical of earlier American strategy, he nevertheless was able to report as follows to President Nixon in
"I was very impressed by the improvement in the military and political situation in Vietnam as compared to all previous visits, and especially in the security situation, both in Saigon and the rural areas. A winning position in the sense of obtaining a just peace, whether negotiated or not, and of maintaining an independent non-Communist South Vietnam has been achieved. We were most impressed by the remarkable success of the pacification program, we were able to visit areas and to walk through villages that had been under Viet Cong control for years. With increased security and improved communication, the economy is expanding rapidly. The seeds of democracy are also being planted at the village level. At the higher political level these is no question but what the government of President Thieu is not only more stable that any other government of the past few years, but that its performance is steadily improving. On the military side there has been a steady improvement in both performance and morale."
Where had all this progress come from, if not from the efforts and sacrifices of the American soldier? (For the full scope of the true tragedy of Vietnam, that it was a war that had been won and then thrown away to placate those at home who would not serve, we now have new histories that fill in what happened after 1968. None of this progress was made known to the American people by the media. Two of the most important of these books are "Unheralded Victory: The Defeat of the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army", by Mark Woodruff, and "A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam" by Lewis Sorley
From a speech Mr. Magruder gave on the occasion, with 50 Vietnam veterans, of the symbolic retaking of Grant Park during the Chicago Parade weekend, from those who protested at the Chicago Democratic Convention in 1968 and did not serve. Mr. Magruder later presented the flag used in the event to General Westmoreland in a ceremony during the Houston Parade weekend. Although reporters from Chicago papers were present at the event, they refused to report on it, arguing that there were still too many in Chicago who were against the war. That is absurd. Former war protesters wept openly in regret in the streets, and had to be comforted by the veterans as the hugh parade, with its countless wounded, passed by. This was never mentioned by the media.
"We need to remember just how treasonous the campus 'peace' movement actually was. Commentary of Feb. 1980, reported that 28% of all college students at the time supported the Viet Cong while 51% of those in the campus 'peace' movement favored a Viet Cong victory. Said Jane Fonda to students at Michigan State on Nov. 22, 1969, "If you understood Communism you would pray on your knees that we would some day be Communists."(she obviously knew nothing about atheistic Communism) "The anti-war movement", said the S.D.S. in literature out of Antioch College, "rests on three main elements, the Trotskyites, the Communist Party, and the radical pacifists. A number of its leaders, such as Dave Dellinger, were self-confessed Communists and Marxists. 'Peace' movement leadership let North Vietnam provide tactical advice and help coordinate demonstrations.
Said Guenter Lewy in "America in Vietnam", the most comprehensive and best balanced study to date of the war, "it was obvious that many of these men and the organizations and committees they spawned were not so much for peace and against the war as they were partisans of Hanoi, whose victory they sought to hasten through achieving American withdrawal from Vietnam." For this reason, the general public had nothing but contempt for the campus 'peace' movement. A poll by the University of Michigan showed that reactions to "Vietnam war protestors" was "by a wide margin the most negative shown to any group." The Harris Poll showed, at the height of the war, that 69% of the public believed anti-war demonstrations were "acts of disloyalty against the boys fighting in Vietnam." 65% agreed that "protesters were giving aid and comfort to the Communists", and 64% felt that they were "not serious, thoughtful critics of the war, just peachiness and hippies having a ball." (Reported in "America in Our Time," by Godfrey Hodgson.)
Later, in a letter published in The Lawrence Journal World, Mr. Magruder wrote, "Robert McNamara , in his recent memoirs, said that U.S. policy in Vietnam was "gravely flawed" and the war was unwinnable. According to the enemy, it was McNamara's policies that were "flawed", and the U.S. could have won the war. Bui Tin, a colonel on the general staff of North Vietnam, and the man who accepted the surrender of South Vietnam on April l0, 1975, was recently interviewed in The Wall Street Journal. "If Johnson had granted Westmoreland's request to enter Laos and block the Ho Chi Mihn trail, Hanoi could not have won the war." It was McNamara who advised Johnson on this. On McNamara's bizarre policy of "graduated response" bombing, Bui Tin said, "It didn't worry us, we had plenty of time to prepare alternative routes and facilities." On the effectiveness of Westmoreland's strategy he said, "We were losing base areas, control of the rural population. And our main forces were being pushed out to the borders of South Vietnam." Of the crucial Tet Offensive he said, "Our losses were staggering. If American forces had not begun to withdraw under Nixon they would have punished us severely; we suffered badly in 1969 and 1970 as it was."
The American people never had any idea of just how seriously the enemy was mauled. Here are the figures for just the five main offensives, from "Vietnam in Military Statistics", a major history of the Vietnam War by Micheal Clodfelter.
1968 - The Tet Offensive, U.S. -1,829 KIA (Killed In Action), South Vietnam - 2,788 KIA, Communist forces - 45,000 KIA
1969 - U.S. - 9,414 KIA, South Vietnam -21,833 KIA, Communist forces -156,954 KIA
1970 (includes Cambodian Incursion) U.S.-4,221 KIA, South Vietnam - 23,346 KIA, Communist forces - 103,638 KIA Laos Invasion (Lam Son 719 ) (with U.S. air support) South Vietnam - 3,800 KIA, Communist forces -13,668 KIA
1972 -Easter Offensive (with U.S.air support)- South Vietnam - 15,000, Communist forces - 83,000
From "Unheralded Victory", by Mark Woodruff: " During 1966 the North Vietnamese Army suffered approximately 93,000 killed. In 1967 the casualty figure climbed to over 145,000. By the early 1970's General Giap was publicly admitting that his forces had suffered at least 500,000 killed during the war. The actual number of Communist soldiers killed during the war: 1,100,000."
Compare this to approximately 58,000 American forces killed. That is a 19 to 1 ratio. How was this war lost? Certainly not on the battlefield. The media never made any of this clear to the American people. Nor did they ever make clear the enormous sacrifices of the South Vietnamese, who lost approximately 250,000 in the war.
It was McNamara's flawed policies, the impact of the campus 'peace' movement, and the media that cost America the war. Of the 'peace' movement Bui Tin said, "It gave us confidence that we should hold on in the face of battlefield losses through dissent and protest America lost the ability to mobilize a will to win." As to the argument of the 'peace' movement that the Viet Cong was an independent South Vietnamese political movement, Bui Tin said, "It was set up by our Communist Party to implement a decision of the Third Party Congress of September 1960."
The 'peace' movement lied to America. Carrying the flag of the enemy it succumbed to Hanoi propaganda and ended up on the side of genocide and tyranny. As for McNamara's views, they are nothing but a cover-up for his own incompetence.
It is absolutely time to demand that the media, and the university, stop hiding out on the subject of Vietnam and re-enter into dialogue with the rest of America, especially its Vietnam veterans, as to what really happened. We cannot go into a world-wide war on terrorism with this hugh a hole in our history. Holding on to, and perpetuating myths has too great a potential for creating a lethal, paralyzing polarization. The media , and the campus, must find the courage to consider 'second thoughts', as have David Horowitz and so many others, now describing what they did in the 60's as "treason." They fell for enemy propaganda and it is time they admitted it.
As the Chief of Military History- U.S Government wrote in his Final Report, "If there is to be an inquiry related to the Vietnam War, it should be into the reasons why enemy propaganda was so widespread in this country, and why the enemy was able to condition the public to such an extent that the best educated segments of our population gave credence to the most incredible allegations."
And to tell the truth about Vietnam is by definition to bring about the long hoped for reformation of American education. The lies told in the 60's metastasized through the years to create intellectual trends on campus that are betraying the American student. These must be challenged. We can't fight a war with dummies either.
From "To the Vietnam Veteran" a speech delivered by Professor Magruder at the first rally on any American campus to honor the Vietnam veteran with over 400 persons attending. (It was at this rally that Magruder resigned his position to "protest the damage done to the veterans by the erroneous views of the left/liberals in the media and the university in the 60's and their perpetuation of these views. Although a reporter from "Newsday" was present the newspaper did not publish the event." ("The Compass", college newspaper, (May 11, 1981) "Clearly newsworthy, but because of their bias no news organization in New York would touch such a story." (Noted newscaster Bill Jorgenson - NBC-TV)
From the speech:
As Arthur Egendorf, a Vietnam veteran and principle author of the study by the Center of Policy Research on the problems of the Vietnam veteran said, "For the first time in our history homecoming was as difficult as, if not more difficult than, the battle itself." A whole new psychiatric category, "delayed stress syndrome" has become necessary to describe what was largely the impact on the returned American soldier of attitudes at home based on lies that had been told about the war by the media and academia. The Vietnam Veterans Leadership Program of Houston, in a booklet it produced to challenge these lies said, "The misinformation currently disseminated about Vietnam ultimately reflects upon the motives, convictions, values, and integrity of those who participated in the war; it is imperative that the record be set straight." (The impact of these lies is the subject of a documentary made by Mr. Magruder, How the Campus Lied About Vietnam, based on interviews with Vietnam vets and available at no cost by e-mailing Magruder44@aol.com) "Following a semester of study of the Vietnam War last year, 240 of my students, after they had received their grades so the voting would be objective, voted overwhelmingly (85%) that in their opinion the war had been justified, that there was nothing wrong in trying to save South Vietnam from Communist tyranny. It was not, they agreed, the U.S. government that had misled the nation. The campus 'peace' movement, which said that the war was "immoral", that the motive was "imperialism", that the domino theory was "absurd", that the war was only a "civil war", that Ho Chi Minh was only a
"nationalist", and that America was engaging in "aggression" and "genocide", misled the nation.
Puzzled as to why the students of this generation could see the truth so clearly, while those of the 60's could not, the students concluded that faculties, to serve their own largely leftist and Marxist ideologies, had misinformed their students, who, in turn, used the misinformation to serve their own purposes, primarily to avoid the draft.
The 'peace' movement, the students decided, was never really concerned for peace. Although it cloaked itself in an aura of great moral purpose, it in fact gave aid and comfort to the enemy, marched under the flag of the Viet Cong, allowed Hanoi to dictate its agenda, and turned its back on the American soldier. When the soldiers returned it tried to stereotype them, with the help of the media, as dupes or drug-crazed "baby killers". That those who did all the suffering in Vietnam should on their return be asked to bear additional suffering at the hands of the very ones who had betrayed them, was, the students concluded, absolutely unconscionable."
Said Mr. Magruder, who is now President of Vietnam Veterans for Academic Reform at the Univ. of Kansas in Lawrence today, "I am certain that if this experiment was done again, with students free from the pressures that existed in the 60's, the results would be the same." On the failure of the media to report on the rally and this experiment he said, "The suppression of this event and experiment by the media was predictable in view of the stand taken by the students. The media (reporters from "Newsday" and "The New York Times" who were present) refused to report on the events of that day largely because of the posters the students carried which read "Abbie Hoffman Was Wrong", "War Protestors Were Wrong", "The New Left and the S.D.S. were wrong." Other posters said that Dave Dellinger, Tom Hayden, Jerry Rubin, Jane Fonda, Daniel Ellsberg, William Sloan Coffin and others were "Wrong."
As I said in my speech that day, even though there is now nothing that opponents of the war can point to today that vindicates their position, it is imperative for them that they continue to urge the nation to ignore the correct historical conclusions. To admit to having been wrong would be to face, not only guilt, but disproof of their ideological assumptions and loss of prestige and power. They must of psychological necessity take the position that they were right, the matter is over, and there is nothing to discuss, thereby leaving the Vietnam veteran to suffer for the perpetuation of their lies.
The fact that the matter is not over, and there is still plenty to discuss is seen in recent commentary on the Kerrey incident. Writes Ellen Goodman "As time goes on, "our war" recycles with less frequency, but with equal ferocity. Every time we think we have achieved that mystical/medical word "healing" something happens to remind us that the scar is a zipper, ready to reveal wounds that still lie close to the surface." Writes columnist Mark Shields, " How conflicted about their own actions are all the middle-aged males on the press bus or in positions of public and private leadership who, through the testimony of friendly physician or graduate school deferment artfully evaded the nation's military call?" The problem is academics and media persons won't let the issues be raised. For example, my current 10 part
series on Vietnam goes out by e-mail to 40 professors at the University of Kansas. Already l4 of these professors have e-mailed me back to remove them from my list. They say things like "I don't want to hear what you have to say." There is the problem. Those who opposed the war have never had the courage to try to defend their position with the veterans . Until they find that courage what Vietnam vet Milt Copulos said recently in "VFW Magazine" will no doubt continue to be true, "There's a wall 10 miles high and 50 miles thick between those of us who went and those who didn't, and that wall is never going to come down." There is then, a fault line, between those who served and those who didn't, many of the latter now entrenched in our universities, which could lead to another, even more dangerous, polarization as the current war on terrorism continues. As was stated in the Manifesto of V.V.A.R., placed on record with the White House in the late 80's, "A major lesson of Vietnam is that American foreign policy should henceforth take into consideration that the liberal university and media, largely apologists for secularism and therefore hostile to the traditional values of the American majority, have created within our society a large and dangerous bloc lacking in the intellectual and moral foundations necessary to defend freedom. The lesson of Vietnam is epitomized in the title of a book written by former Congressman John LeBoutiellier, "Harvard Hates America." Or as the noted sociologist Paul Hollander of U. Mass recently wrote, "The university is the reservoir of an adversary culture."
The entire psychology by which persons in the media and academia must continue to lie about Vietnam rests obviously on their guilt over having turned their backs on a struggle for freedom. The only solution is a massive aknowledgement of bankruptcy, betrayal and guilt by our intellectuals, especially in the humanities and the social sciences, and immediate exposure
of their basic assumptions about life and human nature to re-examination in debate with philosophers and especially theologians, because in the final analysis the conflict in the U.S. over Vietnam was ideological.
To tell the truth about Vietnam at this time is by definition, to demand a reformation of our universities as the metastasizing of the lies they told in the 60's is corrupting our entire culture.
We are almost at the end of this series on Vietnam and the media. The final part will be a selection on the media from a just finished book on the Vietnam War by one of its veterans. And there will be one part after that on the issues that cannot be discussed in today's campus newspapers, as the result of the "advocacy journalism" of the 60's continuing into our times.
But before we share that we would like to say a word about the primary mission of Vietnam Veterans for Academic Reform, and that is education reform.
The first part of this report is from a one-hour talk Mr. Magruder gave on radio station KAW recently in Lawrence, Kansas. This is followed, however, by material that was not reported by the media. Vietnam Veterans for Academic Reform has held four protests on the Univ. of Kansas campus in recent years. The university newspaper, The Daily Kansan would not report on the substance of any of them, showing that not much has changed.
From the radio talk:
"Those who fought for freedom for South Vietnam will continue to speak out against the growing totalitarianism on the American campus, as seen in multiculturalism, dormitory re-education, gender feminism, sensitivity training, speech codes, political correctness, historical revisionism (particularly on the Vietnam War), leftist attacks on America and democracy, postmodernism, and deconstructionism."
We also concerned about why American students rank so poorly in international competition, (19th) as well as the seriously flawed approaches to education being fostered by the social sciences, such as "approximate" spelling and math, massive grade inflation to assure "self-esteem", "look-say" over the proven superiority of phonics in reading, dropping of the multiplication table, serious historical revisionism by gender feminists, literature chosen on the accidental basis of gender, class, and race, and the attack on excellence, standards, and honors. The perpetuation of these failed approaches by the education establishment strikes us as perversity and utter folly, a total betray of its charge and something this nation should not put up with any longer. Our social scientists and educators now stand speechless before the specter of a collapse they themselves engineered. The nation is under no further obligation to indulge them with the whole future of the nation now at stake.
We are also concerned about the psycho noxious impact of humanistic psychology on students. There is significant research showing that the "psychological conditioning" courses in high schools, (sex education, values clarification, affective education, death education, drug and alcohol courses etc.) are resulting in significant rises in violence, abortion, teen-age pregnancy, AIDS , racism , drug and alcohol abuse.
The impact of the social sciences on secondary education is a growing national disaster, as the flawed theories of humanistic psychologists (Rogers, Maslow, Kohlberg, etc.) produce students who are intellectually incompetent, morally confused, sexually absorbed, and socially maladjusted. The emphasis in these theories on feelings ("trust the organism" -Rogers) to the neglect of reason is the most profound failing of 20th century psychology. This, combined with the teaching that "there is no right or wrong", is the direct cause of the rise of the sociopathic personality in our time.
The first warning that these "psychological conditioning" courses in high schools would produce sociopaths, or "killer kids", antedated the first student killing at Pearl, Mississippi by four months, and appeared in material V.V.A.R. distributed at the Univ. of Kansas in its second protest , ignored by the university newspaper. The protest also dealt with certain developments in higher educations, as follows:
"Multiculturalism"- enforced cultural relativism, rooted in a seething hostility towards the predominance of democratic and Judeo-Christian values in Western civilization, and riddled with the simplistic buzzwords of humanistic psychology. "The result can only be the fragmentation , re-segregation, and tribalization of America." - the noted liberal historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr.
"Self-esteem"- quintessential humanistic psychobabble, source of dumbed down textbooks, the deception of parents in grade inflation, and the "new racism" on campus. Creates make-believe uniqueness, an absolute barrier to personal growth.
"Sensitivity training" - the dormitory as re-education camp, teaching students "proper" beliefs about race, gender, and sexual preferences, sources of rising rates on campus of pregnancy, abortion, AIDS, and date rape. Social scientists teach students to view sex as a non-moral, non-romantic recreational activity, something like football.
"Speech Codes" - hunting licenses to track down and punish those who are not in step ideologically with the social sciences, denying students the right to disapprove of something, such as homosexuality.
"Political correctness"- forcing conformity to the moral relativism of the social scientists through administrative harassment, with immunity for left/liberal academic thugs who beat up dissident guest speakers .
"Gender feminism" - "The most destructive and fanatical movement to come down to us from the 60's. It certainly deserves its place in the halls of intellectual barbarism. Women's studies are abysmal swamps of irrational dogma and hatred." Robert Bork "Deconstructionism" - tendentious mumbo-jumbo, using the classroom to propagandize for self-congratulatory nihilism. A massive attack on conscience and the values of Western civilization.
"Postmodernism"- the New Left of the 60's come to power, with all the distinguishing characteristics of fascism; social contructionism, cultural relativism, rejection of individual identity, rejection of transcendence, science and reason. Fueled by the anti-humanism of Heidegger, who along with Paul de Man (deconstructionism) were both Nazi apologists.
We call on all the universities of America to begin reform by adopting something like the following Charter of Purpose of Bellarmine College in Lousiville, Kentucky:
"This college calls upon all member of the academic community to address themselves to ultimate questions about reality and human life: the meaning of God, freedom, society, suffering and death, care and hope. It is when men and women have come to grips with questions such as these, and have achieved some measure of careful considered response, that they begin to advance towards educational maturity."
It is the position of Vietnam Veterans for Academic Reform that by neglecting these questions the university is in the vanguard of moving society in an increasingly sociopathic direction. There is now no alternative but to acknowledge a massive moral, intellectual, and scientific bankruptcy on the part of the social sciences and the humanities and to call for immediate exposure of their basic assumptions to re-examination in debate with philosophers and especially theologians. We also call for an immediate moratorium on all psychological conditioning courses in our high schools and universities and a march by l,000,000 Vietnam veterans and 3,000,000 parents on the National Education Association in Washington in demand of reform.
The critics scoffed when the majority argued that the loss of South Vietnam to Communism would threaten America. That it has, but in a manner unforeseen. It isn't that foreign armies threaten us, it is that when Southeast Asia fell, the New Left, the S.D.S. and other radicals on campus were encouraged, strengthening the leftist attack on American values. They cowered so long in the classroom to avoid the battlefield they became tenured professors, now dominating our universities and brainwashing students with their alien and totalitarian philosophy. We call on all veterans to join us in this struggle for freedom from tyranny on a new battlefield - the university. We urge all veteran groups to be ready to march in protest when blatant oppression of student rights appear on any nearby campus, and to call in the local newspapers and complain. It is time to reclaim our educational systems from those who want only to impose on them their own alien agendas, hostile to democracy and traditional American values.
A Vietnam veteran who has just finished a new history on the Vietnam War has just given me permission to quote from his chapter on the media, but wishes however, to remain anonymous. I can think of no better way to end this series, "Vietnam and the Media" than to look at the conclusions of someone who was there,and is anaccomplished historian.
There were some worthy, honest, and intelligent reporters in Vietnam and Southeast Asia, Dickey Chapelle, Robert Shaplen, Liz Trotta, Peter Braestrup, Hugh Mulligan, Keyes Beech, Neil Davis, Denis Warner, were among those who objectively, and without resort to sensationalism, conveyed elements of truth, parts of the puzzle, to the American public. Their efforts notwithstanding, the fog of nonsense spewed out by others obscured and effectively censored honest, logical, comprehensive reporting, denying the American public information needed to develop accurately informed opinions. News media malfeasance was complemented by brilliant manipulative Hanoi propaganda, and a corresponding U.S. government inability or unwillingness to make a case for its own efforts. The American public could not hope to understand what was taking place, and does not today.
No one, least of all South Vietnamese, American or other allied forces, was oblivious of or happy with the endemic corruption and incompetence, yet, because of flawed and narrowly focused "reporting" the story of South Vietnam's progress and improvement remains untold. American reporters never wrote or televised stories about CDR, Phan Quang Dan, Gen. Ngo Quang Truong, Gen. Nguyen Khoa Nam, the 81st Biet Kich, the Hau Nghia RF, Col. Mach Van Truong, Gen. Le Minh Dao, Tran Ngoc Chau, Col. Ha Mai Viet, writer Nguyen Manh Con, or RVN Marine Sergeant Van Luom, who stood alone on the Dong Ha Bridge and knocked out the lead tank in an NVA armor column with a shoulder-fired antitank missile, an act, in the words of an American witness, of inspiring "defiance and bravery."
Knowing little of this, the American public was understandably disenchanted. The news media seldom, if ever, accompanied American or Australian troops on MEDCAPS or DENTCAPs (Dental Civic Action Projects extremely welcome to rural people with painful tooth conditions) In the first six months of 1969 more than 200,000 villagers received medical care and 15,000 received dental care from the 3rd U.S.Marine division alone. Instead the American public was subjected to repeated coverage of the My Lai atrocity , which, like the photo of Gen. Loan, was considered symbolic and representative of the entire war.
Wolfgang Leonhard, a Soviet commuist agent before defecting to the West, was tasked with analyzing western news media stories. He and his colleagues were puzzled over superficial news coverage predominating in the newspapers they read. "Generally, we could only shake our heads over them, and often we were exceedingly disappointed. There was usually not even mention of the really significant events that were causing endless discussions amongst ourselves and on which we were passionately eager to read a serious Western commentary. "They don't seem to know what is going on " was the main theme of our conversations when we talked to each other on the subject." One of the more tragic ironies of Vietnam and the news media failure is that there were many fascinating and positive stories to be told. The American people would have appreciated seeing hour-long specials on, for example, U.S. Marine Corps CAP units, a squad of 14 Marines living in one hamlet for their entire tour, working with and defending "their " hamlet alongside local PF. USMC CAPs had a higher voluntary extension rate than among their line unit counterparts. Why? It would have made for a good story. It would have been equally enlightening to see programs showing U.S. troops helping an orphanage, or volunteering to teach English. The American public deserved to know about a VNAF Skyraider pilot who had been shot down five times, and continued flying, despite his several fused vertebrae. They deserved to know that American forces could take on the NVA, in their own backyard, and prevail. Something might have been learned from Americans who volunteered for three, four, five, six, or even seven tours as advisors, choosing to serve in Vietnam again and again, not as bloodthirsty and uncaring killers, but as very normal, decent human beings who could eloquently and convincingly explain their motivations, which was ultimately to see Vietnamese people have a life of peace and decent government. Geopolitics and the Cold War, all relatively abstract concepts, were not a primary concern, taking a back seat to basic human concerns for that which is fair. Americans would have benefited by hearing of Captain Nguyen Quy An, Lt.Vu Tung and Warrant Officer Nguyen Quang Hien of the famed 219 Kingbees. Were it not for the action of these men, John Litter, Bob Stratliff and Wiley L . Craney, by their own testimony, would have been killed or captured after their helicopter had been shot down in Laos. They were rescued by Captain An and his crew while under fire and surrounded by NVA. Captain An would later lose both his hands by keeping control of a burning helicopter, saving the lives of others on board who would have died had the flame-engulfed chopper fallen from the sky.
Americans were mesmerized by the NVA 25-day hold on Hue City in 1968, and presumably would be similarly impressed by the 92nd Ranger Battalion 400-day stand at the remote base of Tong Le Chan. Completely cut off, resupplied only by air, the 92nd held, with ambulatory wounded refusing evacuation. Had a VA unit held out for over 400 days, surrounded and cut off, it would have made headline news. The 92nd Rangers did it and nothing was said. Had a handful of VC high school boys held off an allied attack it would also would have made headlines. A handful of high school boys did resist VC/NVA forces at the "Troung Thieu Sinh Quan", a junior high school military academy for sons of RVNAF (South Vietnamese) military fatalities. They resisted to the end in 1975, with twelve and thirteen year old boys sending younger kids home, staying in their barricaded school and fighting on. Many of them were killed and when the Communists came in they fought them. The Communists could not get into that academy. NVA forces eventually surrounded the school, threatened to level it with rockets, kill everyone inside, and negotiated a surrender. This last stand would presumably have had all the drama and "human interest" for a "big story" and had VC adolescents been involved opposing RVNAF , the story would undoubtedly have been trumpeted to the American public. To this day next to nothing has been said or printed, and the cadets at Troung Thieu Sinh Quan are not even a footnote to history.
Coverage of these stories could have gone on and should have gone side-by-side with negative reporting on corruption, civilian casualties, drug use, and other presumed universal evils of American involvement in Southeast Asia. It is neither suggested nor desired that blemishes or morally repugnant aspects be ignored or covered up. It is asserted, however, that it would have been far more honest to have contrasted examples of deplorable behavior with other aspects, not in the least rare, of which many Vietnam veterans are familiar with and participated in. Fairness and objectivity also demand that equal coverage be applied to the VC/NVA shortcomings and ruthless excesses shown in proportion to their existence and occurrence. Had all this been done the American public would have been able to understand something, and certainly much more than the psuedo-understanding derived from the "shoot-em-up-bang-bang" reporting they were continually exposed to. For any number of reasons, "positive" news did little for a reporter's career or ego, a career based on finding or inventing "stories" accentuating the negative while heightening public discontent.
Ignorance of military and Southeast Asia matters, of communist revolutionary warfare, fueled by potential for lucrative career advancement, unwilling or unable to report on South Vietnamese or Laotian troops except in cases of failure, apparently enthused by the visual impact of war and the destruction it causes, sometimes disdainful of South Vietnamese if not American troops while ignoring Australian, Korean, Thai, and New Zeland forces, the news media proved incapable of depicting Vietnam, and Hanoi's War, in its entirety . The American public saw the same "bang-bang" every year, and were misled into assuming nothing had changed, nothing was accomplished. Allied temporary defeats were portrayed as permanent setbacks, while victories and accomplishments went unreported, or were, with smug theatrics, cast aside as government propaganda.
News media misrepresentation not only misled and uninformed the American public, but also prohibited its ability to think and make logical inferences on its own.
In the final analysis, Vietnam, Southeast Asia, Hanoi's war, and American involvement could not be, and cannot be, understood, in good part because of media failings, moral, intellectual, and otherwise. Without recognizing this, and knowing that what was reported was not the all-comprehensive truth of the matter, the subject itself cannot be understood. Overall, and efforts of responsible reporters notwithstanding, the nature and extent of news media failure in Vietnam exceeds that of allied military forces who were attempting to and succeeding, despite documented lies and bumbling, to stop Hanoi's War. Many people died and millions more have greatly suffered simply because the whole story was never told. And because what was portrayed in media reporting was demonstrably not, to use the famous Cronkite phrase, "the way it is."
This bitter judgement is itself based on beliefs articulated by Robert Elegant, himself a journalist : "Illusionary events reported by the press as well as real events within the press corps were more decisive that the clash of arms or the contention of idologies. For the first time in modern history, the outcome of a war was determined not on the battlefield but on the printed page , and above all, on
the television screen."
"Looking back, I believe it can be said that South Vietnam and American forces actually won the limited military struggle. They virtually crushed the Viet Cong in the South, the "native" guerillas who were directed, reinforced, and equipped from Hanoi, and thereafter they threw back the invasion by regular North Vietnamese divisions. Nonetheless, the war was finally lost to the invaders after the U.S. disengagement because the political pressures built up by the media had made it quite impossible for Washington to maintain even the minimal material and moral support that would have enabled the Saigon regime to continue effective resistance".
(Editor's note: Elegant, a highly acclaimed British reporter on Vietnam, later added these terrible words: "never before Vietnam had the collective policy of the media sought by graphic and unremitting distortion, the victory of the enemies of the correspondents own side."
Could this possibly be the truth about the performance of the U.S. media in Vietnam? In ending this series, from my extended observation and study of the media while on the home front during the war, this is certainly the way it looked to me. And many others. Said Senator Margaret Chase Smith, "The press has become more sympathetic to the enemy than to our own national interest."(Congressional Record, June 16, 1971)
292026Z APR 75
TO: ALL DOD COMPONENTS
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES:
AS THE LAST WITHDRAWAL OF AMERICANS FROM VIETNAM TAKES PLACE, IT IS MY SPECIAL RESPONSIBILITY TO ADDRESS TO YOU, THE MEN AND WOMEN OF OUR ARMED FORCES, A FEW WORDS OF APPRECIATION ON BEHALF OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.
FOR MANY OF YOU, THE TRAGEDY OF SOUTHEAST ASIA IS MORE THAN A DISTANT AND
ABSTRACT EVENT. YOU HAVE FOUGHT THERE; YOU HAVE LOST COMRADES THERE; YOU
HAVE SUFFERED THERE. IN THIS HOUR OF PAIN AND REFLECTION YOU MAY FEEL THAT
YOUR EFFORTS AND SACRIFICES HAVE BEEN FOR NAUGHT.
THIS IS NOT THE CASE. WHEN THE PASSIONS HAVE MUTED AND THE HISTORY IS WRITTEN, AMERICANS WILL RECALL THAT THEIR ARMED FORCES SERVED THEM WELL. UNDER CIRCUMSTANCES MORE DIFFICULT THAN EVER BEFORE FACED BY OUR MILITARY SERVICES, YOU ACCOMPLISHED THE MISSION ASSIGNED TO YOU BY HIGHER AUTHORITY. IN COMBAT YOU WERE VICTORIOUS AND YOU LEFT THE FIELD WITH HONOR.
THOUGH YOU HAVE DONE ALL THAT WAS ASKED OF YOU, IT WILL BE STATED THAT THE
WAR ITSELF WAS FUTILE. IN SOME SENSE, SUCH MAY BE SAID OF ANY NATIONAL EFFORT THAT ULTIMATELY FAILS. YET, YOUR INVOLVEMENT WAS NOT PURPOSELESS. IT WAS INTENDED TO ASSIST A SMALL NATION TO PRESERVE ITS INDEPENDENCE IN THE FACE OF EXTERNAL ATTACK AND TO PROVIDE AT LEAST A REASONABLE CHANCE TO SURVIVE. THAT VIETNAM SUCCUMBED TO POWERFUL EXTERNAL FORCES VITIATES NEITHER THE EXPLICIT PURPOSE BEHIND OUR INVOLVEMENT, NOR THE IMPULSE OF GENEROSITY TOWARD THOSE UNDER ATTACK THAT HAS LONG INFUSED AMERICAN POLICY.
YOUR RECORD OF DUTY PERFORMED UNDER DIFFICULT CONDITIONS REMAINS UNMATCHED. I SALUTE YOU FOR IT. BEYOND ANY QUESTION YOU ARE ENTITLED TO THE NATION'S RESPECT, ADMIRATION, AND GRATITUDE.
JAMES R. SCHLESINGER, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE.
By Patrick Hayes
There's something wrong with a society where a large number of teenagers are no-nothing, uneducated, ignorant, emotionally dead and directionless garbage. Tough words? Maybe, but what words do we tell the families of slain and injured police officers, and other citizens, who have fallen pray to this tide of useless scum, living off society at the expense of us all, knowing there are no consequences for their actions? Recently, there were two handgun attacks on law enforcement officers in New Mexico by youths who thought nothing of shooting a cop. The two officers were wounded, one suspect was killed (by a veteran cop), the other wounded (by a rookie). Nationally, teen-involved shootings and shootings at police officers are on the rise. The question is, why?
Bottom line - an entire generation of teens (with more to come) are growing up without self-respect, much less respect for anyone else. They have no goals, no direction and certainly no discipline. They learn nothing from their TV shows, their computer and video games, and their Playstation II - nothing, that is, except reckless and needless violence, without consequences. And many parents of these "children" prove there are no consequences. If today's teens and twenty-something's have it so tough, how did our society survive the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the movement west and the building of a country, the Great Depression, two world wars, not to mention the centuries upon centuries of all our forefathers who had it even tougher?
Would today's teens have survived those tests of character? Obviously not. So why are we pandering to them now? Why is "discipline" a politically incorrect word to use in the same sentence as "children" or "teens"? Why don't teachers have the support of parents when those parents are told their son or daughter needs a little "guidance" - or in old-fashioned parlance - discipline? Like many other Americans, I am really tired of listening to the whining from the Left: the sociologists, the psychologists and the ever-present liberal
An apologist, telling us that everyone has an excuse for their actions. They didn't receive enough love, their mother didn't read to them, their father was aloof, or absent. So this becomes carte blanche for this societal garbage to do anything for kicks? "They're just kids, so send them to treatment rather than prison," is becoming a worn cliché, especially after these "kids" commit bloody, reckless, needless murder and other acts of violence. We have become not only a teen-violent society, but also a society of "victims"
and "losers." Andrea Yates in Texas murdered her five children in deliberate cold blood and claimed it was "a woman's thing," and received the staunch support of feminists and other left-wing activists. Her children, however, won't have the opportunity to become restless juveniles. Another prime example in this country of the completely left-wing, mindless, useless parenting are the parents of Johnny "bin" Walker, the Taliban fighter from northern California. Rather than neglected, this kid was given everything he wanted - apparently never denied anything - and still ended up in an Afghan prison where an American former Marine and CIA officer was murdered! "But," we hear, "Johnny has problems." BS! Johnny's only problem should be facing down a firing squad!
There is something inherently wrong with a society that protects the maladjusted perpetrators at the expense of the rights and freedoms of law-abiding citizens, while giving little or nothing to the few who volunteer to serve. However, at least since the draft-dodger left the White House, the current administration has moved to improve the lot of the American military - a step in the right direction, but why do these young men and women who protect our country appear to stand alone? Military obligation as a part of citizenship is as old as the Greeks, who required their young men to serve - and in serving, learned what being a citizen
really meant. Romans, from 17 to 60, considered service in the militia to be a great honor. There are still young men and women in the United States who feel it a privilege to wear their country's uniform.
But there are many others, thanks to the re-emergence of the American Left in the 1960s, who have, certainly since the Vietnam War, denigrated serving their country and fostered the "do your own thing" mentality on the youth that has grown up since the 1970s. The result, as argued previously, is another lost generation.
How many generations can we afford to lose?
Two of the elements that run through our history is that men usually have had to go to war, or at least serve their country at some point in their lives and, war or not, there was always a direction to follow, or objectives to be achieved - and historically, men gained that direction and discipline in their own lives by serving in the military. Anyone think it a little strange that the mass "problems" with teenagers began soon after the draft ended in 1973 - with the crop of Dr. Spock-guided parents? Yes, there have been extended periods of time when there was no conscription in the United States. However, there were other societal "norms" that gave
individuals their sense of dignity, discipline and direction - such as family and the extended family, a sense of belonging, a sense of honor, and a sense of personal pride. Today's "family" usually consists of a single parent with children, or a combination of two divorced families uniting - for a while - usually with a collection of confused and rootless offspring without direction, belonging, pride, and dignity and certainly without discipline. The current threat of terrorism is an aberration. The threat of violence from criminals - who are getting younger all the time - is a constant in our society.
The question is, what, as an advanced society with all the rights and privileges of such a society, do we do?
Today, we are engaged in a very violent, civilian-threatening war against worldwide terrorism. Yet, much of the military, and certainly National Guard and Reserve units, are under-strength, under-trained and under prepared for the threats the country faces.
Maybe, just maybe, the answer to both dilemmas facing the country is reintroducing conscripted service - the draft. No one would argue that the draft would immediately solve societal problems, or that the military wants society's misfits. But it may be a place to start. When you have a society that has grown so soft and ignorant that its young members know nothing of where they came, depending on a small cadre of ill-trained and ill-equipped volunteers - which continues to get smaller - to hold the line and protect them, then we invite the common threat of victimization, as we witnessed on Sept. 11, 2001. The Left will tell us that there were many reasons why we were attacked on September 11, but there is one primary reason that the attack was so successful. We, as a nation, were unprepared, we were weak and we were ignorant. We as a nation are now led by a Congress with the likes of Tom Daschle, Joe Biden, Ed Kennedy, Pat Leahy, Joe Lieberman, Chuck Shumer, and Hillary Clinton, to name but a few, none of whom has ever served a minute in uniform, who seem to be out of touch with the majority of Americans. They lack the knowledge, but more importantly, they lack the experience to be able to make, much less comprehend, decisions of life and death made on a battlefield.
Two years of conscripted military service for every male of 18 years of age would, I believe, bring the sense of direction, purpose and discipline back to a country that is adrift in a violent and threatening sea. Although the skipper and crew are sound, the ship's hull and rudder seems to be spineless and lacking direction. With a reinstated draft, it would no longer be necessary for most recruiters to be scouring the bottom of the barrel for warm bodies. From the Defense Department's position, it would no longer be necessary to lower the standards to such a level that it becomes a dangerous proposition to field such troops who are ill-trained, ill-equipped, ill-led, with a total lack of discipline. Two years of conscripted service for every able-bodied male, without college deferments or family-purchased "get out of draft" cards, would change the complexion of crime in this country. Young men would again be given direction and a meaning to their lives, if only to know that they want to do something other than serve in the military following their term. Regardless, that training would remain with them for the rest of their lives and help guide them to be productive citizens, possibly even elected officials. But at least they would learn to make that decision and have those goals, enhanced by the
self-discipline and self-respect gained in no-holds barred military environment. Once in uniform, the time-wasting "sensitivity training" and other anti-military nonsense invoked by the Clinton crowd that worked to devoid the services of their raison d'etre - to fight and win wars (or as another former Marine recently reminded me, to close with and kill the enemy) - need to be addressed. The military must get back to basics: bayonet practice and rifle marksmanship, leadership and responsibility. Pregnancy and the military is an oxymoron.
The military is not a social science laboratory. It is what keeps us protected from the barbarians at the gate. Like the Greatest Generation, we need to again produce a generation of men who believe in themselves, but more importantly, believe in their country, unlike the crop of spineless handwringers currently holding sway in the U.S. Senate.
Patrick Hayes is a contributing editor to Defense Watch. He can be reached at Gyrene65@netscape.net.