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Tet Offensive - 1968

Giap was prepared to take a gamble. His divisions had been battered whenever they met the American forces in conventional combat and the VC- if not exactly on the retreat -was at least being pushed backwards. Hanoi was perfectly aware of the growing US peace movement and of the deep divisions the war was causing in American society What Giap needed was a body-blow that would break Washington's will to carry on and at the same time would undermine the growing legitimacy of the Saigon Government once and for all. In one sense, time was not on Giap's side. While Hanoi was sure that the Americans would tire of the war as the French had before them, the longer it took, the stronger the Saigon Government might become. Another year or so of American involvement could seriously damage the NLF and leave the ARVN capable of dealing with its enemies on its own. Giap opted for a quick and decisive victory that would be well in time for the 1968 US Presidential campaign.

Giap prepared a bold thrust on two fronts. With memories of the victory at Dien Bien Phu still in his mind, he planned an attack on the US Marines' firebase at Khe Sanh. At the same time. the NVA and the NLF planned coordinated attacks on virtually all South Vietnam's major cities and provincial capitals. If the Americans opted to defend Khe Sanh, they would find themselves stretched to the limit when battles erupted elsewhere throughout the South. Forced to defend themselves everywhere at once, the U~ARVN forces would suffer a multitude of small to major defeats which would add up to an overall disaster Khe Sanh would distract the attention of the US commanders while the NVA/VC was preparing for D-day in South Vietnam's cities but, when this full offensive was at its height, it was unlikely that the over-stretched American forces would be able to keep the base from being overrun and Giap would have repeated his triumph of fourteen years before.

It's highly doubtful that the NVA/VC expected to hold all or even some of the cities and towns they attacked, but the NLF apparently did expect large sections of the urban populace to rise up in revolt With a few exceptions, this didn't happen. South Vietnam's city dwellers were generally indifferent to both the NLF and the Saigon Government but the VC clearly expected more support than it actually got. The object of attacking the cities was not so much to win in a single blow as it was to inflict a series of humiliating defeats on the Americans and to destroy the authority of the Saigon Government. When the US/ARVN forces finally drove the NVA/VC back into the jungle, there would be left behind a wasteland of rubble, refugees, and simmering discontent. Stung by their defeats, the Americans would lose heart for the war and what was left of the Saigon Government would be forced to reach an agreement with the NLF and Hanoi which - after a time - would simply take over in the South. This offensive would begin in January 1968 at the time of the Vietnamese Tet (New Year) holidays.

The village of Khe Sanh lay in the northwest corner of South Vietnam just below the DMZ and close to the Laotian border Khe Sanh had been garrisoned by the French during the first Indochina war and became an important US Special Forces base early on during the second. Its importance lay in its proximity to the Ho Chi Minh Trail. From Khe Sanh, US artillery could shell the trail and observers could keep an eye on NVA traffic moving southwards. If necessary they could call in air-strikes or alert CIA/Meo raiding parties across the border in Laos. Special Forces working with local Montagnard tribesmen also harried NVA traffic in the area and were a definite nuisance to Hanoi. In 1967, the Marines took over Khe Sanh and converted it into a large fire base. The Special Forces moved their base to the Montagnard village of Lang Vei.

Towards the end of 1967, it was obvious that Giap was planning something. Broadcasts from Hanoi were speaking of great victories and of ta king the war into the cities of South Vietnam. Two NVA divisions- the 325th and the 304th were spotted moving into the Khe Sanh area and a third was positioning itself along Rout#9 where it would be able to intercept reinforcements coming in from Quang Tn. The two NVA divisions near Khe Sanh had fought at Dien Bien Phu and the warning was clear Westmoreland picked up the gauntlet and began to reinforce the base despite predictions of upcoming bad weather which could hinder air support and interfere with vital supply planes. Appearances to the contrary, Westmoreland had no intention of duplicating the French mistakes at Dien Bien Phu. American airpower was capable of delivering devastating attacks on concentrations of enemy troops and - apart from anti-aircraft guns - was unopposed. Helicopters and parachute drops by low-flying cargo planes reduced the dependence on re-supply by road.

By late January, some 6,000 Marines had been flown in to reinforce the Khe Sanh garrison and thousands of reinforcements had been moved north of Hue. The NVA build-up also continued; 20,000 North Vietnamese were ultimately moved in around Khe Sanh but other estimates put the number at twice that Initially, Giap would position his artillery in the DMZ and then send his assauIt troops against the fortified hills surrounding Khe Sanh which the Marines had captured in the dogged fighting in 1967. Having captured the hill positions, Giap reasoned, the NVA artillery could be moved onto the heights above the beleaguered base. Then - as happened at Dien Bien Phu - waves of determined infantry would steadily grind away until the defenders were pushed into a corner and finally over-run. The White House and the US media became convinced that the decisive battle of the war had begun. TV news reports were so obsessed with Giap's threatened replay of Dien Bien Phu that day-to-day life at Khe Sanh became lead-story material even when it showed nothing other than anxious Marines waiting for something to happen.

The first attack began shortly before dawn on January 21st, when the NVA attempted to cross the river running past the base. It was beaten back but followed by an artillery barrage which damaged the runway, blew up the main ammunition stores, and damaged a few aircraft. Secondary attacks were launched against the Special Forces' defenses at Lang Vel and against the Marines dug-in on the hills surrounding Khe Sanh but these attacks were aimed more attesting the defenses than anything else. The next day, helicopters and light cargo aircraft flew in virtually every few minutes replacing lost ammunition but the weather began turning worse.

The NVA began a concentrated artillery barrage and moved their troops forward to begin building a network of entrenched positions in which they could prepare for further assaults on Khe Sanh's outer defenses. Anti-aircraft guns and the worsening weather made incoming supply flights difficult running skirmishes designed to break through on Rout#9. Air and supporting US forces moved-up to engage the NVA in running skirmishes around Khe Sanh were intensified and despite the weather- pounded the North Vietnamese hour after hour. Electronic sensors of the types running along the McNamara Line surrounded Khe Sanh. Seismic and highly sensitive listening devices enabled the Americans to monitor everything from normal conversations to radio communications. Overhead, high-flying signal-intelligence (SIGINT) aircraft intercepted communications traffic over the entire front and to and from command centers in North Vietnam. While the world was watching the drama unfolding at Khe San h, however, NVA and VC regulars were also drifting into Saigon, Hue, and most of South Vietnam's cities. They came in twos and threes, disguised as refugees, peasants, workers, and ARVN soldiers on holiday leave. In Saigon, roughly the equivalent of five battalions of NVA/VC gradually infiltrated the city without anyone informing or any of the countless security police taking undue notice. Weapons came separately in flower carts, jury-rigged coffins, and trucks apparently filled with vegetables and rice. There was also a VC network in Saigon and the other major cities which had long stockpiled stores of arms and ammunition drawn from hit-and-run raids or bought openly on the black-market. It was also no secret that VC drifted in and out of the cities to see relatives and on general leave from their units. Viet Cong who were captured during the pre Tet build up were mistaken for regular holiday-makers or deserters. In the general pattern of the New Year merry-makers, the VC's secret army of infiltrators went completely unnoticed.

Tet had traditionally been a time of truce in the long war and both Hanoi and Saigon had made announcements that this year would be no different - although they disagreed about the duration. US Intelligence had gotten wind that something was brewing through captured documents and an overall analysis of recent events but Westmoreland's staff tended to disregard these generally vague reports. At the request of General Frederick Weyand, the US commander of the Saigon area, however, several battalions were pulled back from their positions near the Cambodian border. General Weyand put his troops on full alert but- due to a standing US policy of leaving the security of major cities to the ARVN -there were only a few hundred American troops on duty in Saigon itself the night before the attack began. Westmoreland later claimed to have anticipated Tet but the evidence suggests that he was not prepared for anything approaching the intensity of the attack that came and that he was still concentrating his attentions on the developing battle at Khe Sanh where he thought Giap would make his chief effort. In the early morning hours of January 31st, the first day of ]the Vietnamese New Year, NLF/NVA troops and commandos attacked virtually every major town and city in South Vietnam as well as most of the important American bases and airfields. There were some earlier attacks around Pleiku, Quang Nam, and Darlac but these were largely misinterpreted as the enemy's main thrust by those who were expecting some activity during Tet Almost everywhere the attacks came as a total surprise. Vast areas of Saigon and Hue suddenly found themselves "liberated" and parades of gun-waving NVA/VC marched through the streets proclaiming the revolution while their grimmer-minded comrades rounded up prepared lists of collaborators and government sympathizers for show trials and quick executions.

In Saigon, nineteen VC commandos blew their way through the outer walls of the US Embassy and overran the five MP's on duty in the early hours of that morning. Two MP's were killed immediately as the action-team tried to blast their way through the main Embassy doors with anti-tank rockets. They failed and found themselves pinned-down by the Marine guards who kept the VC in an intense firefight until a relief force of US lO1st Airborne landed by helicopter. By mid-morning, the battle had turned. All nineteen VC were killed, their bodies scattered around the Embassy courtyard. Five Americans and two Vietnamese civilians were among the other dead. The commandos had been dressed in civilian clothing and had rolled-up to the Embassy in an ancient truck. The security of the Embassy was not in serious danger after the first few minutes and the damage was slight but this attack on 'American soil" captured the imagination of the media and the battle became symbolic of the Tet Offensive throughout the world. Other NVA/VC squads attacked Saigon's Presidential Palace, the radio station, the headquarters of the ARVN Chiefs of Staff, and Westmoreland's own MACV compound as part of a 7O0 man raid on the Tan Son Nhut air-base. During the heavy fighting that followed, things became sufficiently worrying for Westmoreland to order his staff to find weapons and join in the defense of the compound. When the fighting at Tan Son Nhut was over, twenty-three Americans were dead, eighty-five were wounded and up to fifteen aircraft had suffered serious damage. Two NVA/VC battalions attacked the US air-base at Bien Hoa and crippled over twenty aircraft at a cost of nearly 170 casualties. Further fighting at Bien Hoa during the Tet offensive would take the NVA/VC death total in Saigon to nearly 1200. Other VC units made stands in the French cemetery and the Pho Tho race track. The mainly Chinese suburb of Cholon became virtually a NVA/VC operations base and, as it later turned out, had been the main staging area for the attacks in Saigon and its immediate area. President Thieu declared Marshal law on January 31st but it would take over a week of intense fighting to clear-up the various pockets of resistance scattered around Saigon. Sections of the city were reduced to rubble in heavy street by street fighting. Tanks, helicopter gunships, and strike aircraft blasted parts of the city as entrenched guerrillas fought and then slipped off to fight somewhere else. The radio station, various industrial buildings, and a large block of lowcost public housing were leveled along with the homes of countless civilians who were forced to flee. The city dissolved into a chaos which took weeks to begin to put right.

The fighting within Saigon itself was pretty much over by February 5th but it carried on in Cholon until the last week of the month. Cholon was strafed, bombed, and shelled but the NVA/VC held on and even mounted sporadic counter-offensives against US/ARVN positions within the city and against Tan Son Nhut airport. B-52 strikes against communist positions outside Saigon came within a few miles of the city When the NVA/VC were finally driven out of Saigon's suburbs, they retreated into the surrounding government villages and fought there. US and ARVN artillery and strike-aircraft bombed and shelled these supposedly pacified villages before troops moved in to reoccupy them. The NVA/VC repeated this tactic again and again in a clear effort to make the Saigon Government destroy their own fortified villages and, by doing so, further alienate the rural population. A month after the offensive began, US estimates put the number of civilian dead at some 15,000 and the number of new refugees at anything up to two million and still the battles went on.

Elsewhere in South Vietnam, the success of the Tet offensive was erratic. Many of the attacks on the provincial cities and US bases were easily beaten back within the first minutes or hours, but others involved bitter fighting. In the resort city of Dalat, the ARVN put up a spirited defense of the Vietnamese Military Academy against a determined VC battalion. Fighting raged over the Pasteur Institute - which changed hands several times-and the VC dug themselves in the central market Fighting in Dalat went on until mid-February and left over 200 VC dead. In cities like Ban Me Thuot, My Tho, Can Tho, Ben Tre, and Kontum, the VC entrenched themselves in the poorer sections and held out against repeated efforts to push them out The biggest battle, however occurred at Hue.

The Buddhist crisis had left bitter feelings towards the Saigon Government in the ancient Vietnamese capital and, within a few hours of their attack, the disguised insurgents supported by some ten NVA/VC battalions had overrun all of the city except for the headquarters of the ARVN 3rd Division and the garrison of US advisors. The main NVA/VC goal was the Citadel, an ancient imperial palace covering some two square miles with high walls several feet thick. NVA troops assaulted the Citadel and ran up the VC flag on the early morning of January 31st but were unable to displace ARVN holding out in the northeast section. Having overrun the city and found considerable support among sections of Hue's populace, the NVA/VC began an immediate revolutionary "liberation" program. Thousands of prisoners were set free and thousands of "enemies of the state" - government officials, sympathizers, and Catholics were rounded up and many were shot out of hand on orders from the security section of the NLF which had sent in its action squad with a prepared hit-list. Most of the others simply vanished.

After Hue was finally recaptured at the end of February South Vietnamese officials sifting through the rubble found mass graves with over 1200 corpses and-sometime later-other mass burials in the provincial area. The total number of bodies unearthed came to around 2500 but the number of civilians estimated as missing after the Hue battle was nearly 6000. Many of the victims found were Catholics who sought sanctuary in a church but were taken out and later shot Others were apparently being marched off for political "re-education" but were shot when American or ARVN units came too close.

The mass graves within Hue itself were largely of those who had been picked up and executed for various "enemy of the people" offenses. There is some doubt that the NVA/VC had planned all these executions beforehand but unquestionably it was the largest communist purge of the war.

US Marines and ARVN drove into the city and, after nearly two days of heavy fighting, secured the bank of the Perfume river opposite the Citadel. Hue was a sacred city to the Vietnamese and apart from the ancient Citadel held many other precious historical buildings. After much deliberation, it was reluctantly decided to shell and bomb NVA/VC positions. Resistance was heavy and sending the Marines into the city without air and artillery support would have meant an unacceptable cost in lives. To many, the battle for Hue reminded them of the bitter street-by-street fighting that occurred during World War lI. The NVA had blown the main bridge across the Perfume River. US forces crossed in a fleet of assault craft under air and artillery cover which blasted away at the enemy-held Citadel. Its walls were so thick that few were killed but the covering fire made the enemy keep their heads down while the Marines and soldiers hit the bank below.

While the ARVN, with US support, fought its way through the streets of Hue block by block, the Marines prepared to assault the Citadel. On February 2Oth American assault teams went in through clouds of tear gas and the burning debris left over from air and artillery attacks. The NVA/VC were pushed into the southwestern corner of the Citadel and finally overwhelmed on February 23rd. Enemy resistance in Hue was finally reduced to isolated pockets and sniper teams. As the Citadel fell, NVA/VC units began retreating- some of them marching groups of soon to be massacred prisoners before them - into the suburbs while their rear guards fought holding actions with the advancing ARVN. The fight for Hue ended by February 25th at a cost of 119 Americans and 363 ARVN dead compared to about sixteen times that number of NVA/VC dead.

The dramatic difference in fatalities makes the battle look a one sided affair But it wasn't! The difference in casuaity figures came largely from the heavy use of artillery and aircraft back-up to devastate NVA/VC positions throughout Hue which reduced large sections of the city to body-laden piles of rubble. Had the commanders decided to preserve the ancient and revered city US/ARVN casualties would have been much higher American wounded during the battle for Hue came to just under a thousand compared to slightly over 1,200 ARVN. Nearly 120,000 citizens of Hue were homeless and, of the close to 6,000 civilian dead, many died in the bombing and shell-fire. Contrary to many reports, large sections of Hue escaped relatively undamaged but after the battle they were forced to suffer days of looting by soldiers from the original ARVN garrison who had spent the previous weeks keeping their heads low. Their commander-who had also sat out the city's Buddhist rebellion against Ky-was later accused of having known about the coming attack for days beforehand. His defense was that he had allowed the NVA/VC battalions into Hue in order to spring a trap! In the villages outside Hue, the battle went on for another week or so as the retreating NVA/VC took over the villages just long enough for them to be destroyed by bombing and concentrated artillery shelling. Civilian deaths and refugees increased.

On February 5th, the fighting died out in Saigon and the Marines prepared for their river assault on the Citadel in Hue. The electronic sensors around the besieged fire-base at Khe Sanh warned of enemy preparations to assault the entrenched positions on Hill 881, which was outside the main camp. Intensive artillery fire broke up the assembling NVA troops but a second planned attack on Hill 881 had gone unnoticed until the Marines found themselves fighting off waves of oncoming North Vietnamese regulars. For half an hour the beleaguered Marines battled the NVA in hand to-hand fighting - even trusting their flak jackets enough to use grenades at close quarters - until the artillery could be brought to bear on the hill and the attackers forced to withdraw.

Two days later, the Green Beret's camp at Lang Vei was attacked by an NVA assault force led by ten Soviet-built, FT-76 light, amphibious tanks. Despite a shortage of anti-tank ammunition three of the armored vehicles were put out of action before the NVA swarmed over the wire. Because of the very real likelihood of an ambush, no relief force was sent and the Lang Vei commander, Captain Frank Willoughby, ordered his men into the jungle, and called down air and artillery strikes directly onto the camp. Of the original force of twenty four Special Forces and 900 Montagnard, only Willoughby and seventy-three others managed to struggle into Khe Sanh. The next day NVA troops overran nearly half of an outer Marine position at Khe Sanh before being blasted back by artillery, aircraft, and armor.

Giap's ambition to win a massive victory against the Americans was thwarted by massive aerial bombardments of NVA positions. B-52's and strike aircraft dropped their loads with pin-point accuracy within a few hundred feet of Khe Sanh's perimeter. During the course of the battle, tons of bombs and napalm were dropped around Khe Sanh. Bad weather and increasing anti-aircraft fire inhibited the steady flow of incoming supplies but the vital cargo planes and helicopters kept coming despite losses. The fortified hills around Khe Sanh were supplied by Sea Knight Helicopters, frequently accompanied by fighter escorts. The battle settled down into a siege. The NVA concentrated on shelling the base and trying to stop the supply planes with anti-aircraft fire while digging in around the camp. Both sides employed teams of snipers to harass each other's movements.

The NVA launched further attacks on February 17th, 1&h, and 29th but massed artillery and air-strikes broke the first up fairly easily while the second involved heavy fighting. In early April, relief forces reached the base. A 1st Cavalry helicopter assault force landed near Khe Sanh as American and ARVN forces hit NVA positions along Rout#9. Khe Sanh was relieved on April 6th and, four days later, Lang Vei was reccu- pied. Fighting continued around Khe Sanh for a time but Giap had long since given up any hope of overrunning the base. The drive to relieve Khe Sanh had gone smoothly and without heavy resistance. From this, many inferred that the whole siege of Khe Sanh had been a feint to cover preparations for the Tet Offensive in the South. And to an extent, this was true but the evidence suggests that Giap's moves on Khe Sanh had a more deadly purpose than simply drawing American attentions away from the South at the critical time. By the middle of February it was obvious that the battle for South Vietnam's cities was failing and that US airpower would deny the NVA another Dien Bien Phu. Seeing the inevitable, Giap seems to have began a slow wind down of the siege before the US counter-attack began.
The After-Effects of Tet

The Tet Offensive and Khe Sanh may well have reminded Johnson and Westmoreland of the Duke of Wellington's dictum: "If there's anything more melancholy than a battle lost, it's a battle won" Giap had been frustrated at Khe Sanh and defeated in South Vietnam's cities. NVA/VC dead totaled some 45,000 anc the number of prisoners nearly 7000. But the shockwave of the battle finished Johnson's willingness to carry on. Westmoreland was pressuring Washington for 206,000 troops to carry on the campaign in the South and to make a limited invasion of North Vietnam just above the DMZ. As the battle for Hue died out, Johnson asked Clark Clifford (who had recently replaced a disillusioned McNamara as Secretary of Defense) to find ways and means of meeting Westmoreland's request.

Clifford and an advisor group looked at the war to date and among others, consulted CIA Director Richard Helms who presented the Agency's gloomy forecasts in great detail. On March 4th Clifford told Johnson that the war was far from won and that more men would make little difference. Johnson then turned to his chief group of informal advisors (which included among others, Generals Omar Bradley, Matthew Ridgway, and Maxwell Taylor; Cyrus Vance, Dean Acheson, and Henry Cabot Lodge). Johnson soon found that they too, like Clifford, had turned against the war. According to Thomas Powers, Johnson's "wise old men" had been told that recent CIA studies showed that the pacification programme was failing in forty of South Vietnam's forty-four provinces and that the N LF's manpower was actually twice the number that had been estimated previously. Not only had Tet shown that the optimism of the previous year had been an illusion but it now seemed that the enemy was far stronger than anybody had thought and that the long efforts to win Vietnamese "hearts and minds" had largely been a disaster

If Tet wasn't a full-scale shock to the American public, it was at the very least, an awakening. The enemy that Johnson and the generals had described as moribund had shown itself to be very alive and, as yet, unbeaten. America and its ARVN ally had suffered over 4,300 killed in action, some 16,000 wounded and over 1,000 missing in action. The fact that the enemy suffered far more and had lost a major gamble mattered little because the war looked like a never ending conflict without any definite, realistic objective. The scenes of desolation in Saigon, Hue, and other cities looked to be war without purpose or end. Perhaps the most quoted US officer of the time was the one who explained the destruction of about one-third of the provincial capital of Ben Tre with unintended black humor: "It became necessary to destroy it," he said, "in order to save it". For many, this oft-quoted statement was not just a classic example of Pentagon double-think but also a symbol of the war's futility. Westmoreland became the parody "General Waste-mor-land" of the anti-war movement.

Being against the war became more-or-less politically respectable for liberal elements. Robert Kennedy spoke of giving up the illusion of victory and Democratic Senator Eugene McCarthy challenged Johnson for the Presidential nomination on a peace platform. He was supported by thousands of students and young Americans opposed to the war. Vocal elements of the extreme right largely supported the war but condemned the Administration for not going all out for victory. The JCS backed Westmoreland but convinced him to settle for half of the over 200,000 additional troops he wanted to take the initiative. The JCS then reported to the White House that the extra men were needed to get things back to normal following the battles of the Tet Offensive.

Johnson's dilemma was complete. He couldn't meet the generals' manpower requests without either depleting Europe of American troops- which was unacceptable- or without calling up the active reserves which would have been a political disaster His most senior advisors had turned against the war and Johnson took another briefing from the CIA analyst whose gloomy reports had soured some of his most hawkish counselors. A few days after this briefing, Johnson went on TV to announce a bombing halt of the North and America's willingness to meet with the North Vietnamese to seek a peace settlement. Johnson then said that he was not a candidate for reelection under any circumstances and would spend the rest of his term in a search for peace in Indochina.

One of those present at the special CIA briefing which convinced Johnson that a change of course was inevitable was General Creighton Abrams, Westmoreland's deputy commander. Shortly after Johnson's turnabout, Abrams replaced Westmoreland as head of US forces in Vietnam. Westmoreland came home to become Army Chief of Staff- a move many saw as a kick upstairs- but, whatever the reasons behind the changeover, Abrams went to Saigon with a mission. He was to institute a program of' Vietnamization" in other words, to take all necessary measures to enable the ARVN to bear the main burden of the fighting and gradually return the chief role of American troops to that of advisors. Vietnamization had always been a feature of America's role in Vietnam but it had been on a back-burner since 1965 when it seemed that Saigon was incapable of doing the job. Now things were to be returned to what they were supposed to have been from the beginning. Vietnamization is usually credited to Nixon but it began in the wake of the Tet Offensive and Johnson's turnabout.

Giap's gamble had another side effect When the Tet Offensive began, many US officials believed that the N LF had offered the Americans a golden opportunity by fighting a pitched battle where it could be defeated in open combat. In effect, the NLF was "leading with its chin" and the massive losses it suffered bear this out The VC was not broken by the Tet Offensive but it was severely crippled by it and, from then on, the North took on the main burden of the war Further fighting in 1968 and the increasing activity of the Phoenix Program further decimated the NLF's ranks and the role of the North grew even larger. The northern and southern parts of Vietnam had ancient cultural and social differences and while the communist cadres at the center of the N LF had managed largely to suppress these natural antagonisms, there still were basic differences in goals and approach. The N LF had gone into the Tet Offensive in the hope of giving a death-blow to the Saigon Government and, if it couldn't capture power directly, it could at least gain a coalition leading to ultimate authority. The NLF's dream vanished in the rubble of South Vietnam's cities and it would be Hanoi that conquered Saigon.

 Jane Fonda Broadcast from Hanoi, August 22 1972
19: 11 Hotel Especen; Hanoi- Vietnam

The following public domain information is a transcript from the US Congress House Committee on Internal Security, Travel to Hostile Areas, HR 16742, 19- 25 September, 1972, page 7671.
Radio Hanoi attributes talk on DRV visit to Jane Fonda; from Hanoi in English to American servicemen involved in the Indochina War, 1 PM GMT, 22 August 1972. Text: Here's Jane Fonda telling her impressions at the end of her visit to the Democratic Republic of Vietnam; (follows recorded female voice with American accent)

This is Jane Fonda. During my two week visit in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, I've had the opportunity to visit a great many places and speak to a large number of people from all walks of life- workers, peasants, students, artists and dancers, historians, journalists, film actresses, soldiers, militia girls, members of the women's union, writers.

I visited the (Dam Xuac) agricultural coop, where the silk worms are also raised and thread is made. I visited a textile factory, a kindergarten in Hanoi. The beautiful Temple of Literature was where I saw traditional dances and heard songs of resistance. I also saw unforgettable ballet about the guerrillas training bees in the south to attack enemy soldiers. The bees were danced by women, and they did their job well.

In the shadow of the Temple of Literature I saw Vietnamese actors and actresses perform the second act of Arthur Miller's play All My Sons, and this was very moving to me- the fact that artists here are translating and performing American plays while US imperialists are bombing their country.

I cherish the memory of the blushing militia girls on the roof of their factory, encouraging one of their sisters as she sang a song praising the blue sky of Vietnam- these women, who are so gentle and poetic, whose voices are so beautiful, but who, when American planes are bombing their city, become such good fighters.
I cherish the way a farmer evacuated from Hanoi, without hesitation, offered me, an American, their best individual bomb shelter while US bombs fell near by. The daughter and I, in fact, shared the shelter wrapped in each others arms, cheek against cheek. It was on the road back from Nam Dinh, where I had witnessed the systematic destruction of civilian targets- schools, hospitals, pagodas, the factories, houses, and the dike system.

As I left the United States two weeks ago, Nixon was again telling the American people that he was winding down the war, but in the rubble- strewn streets of Nam Dinh, his words echoed with sinister (words indistinct) of a true killer. And like the young Vietnamese woman I held in my arms clinging to me tightly- and I pressed my cheek against hers- I thought, this is a war against Vietnam perhaps, but the tragedy is America's.

One thing that I have learned beyond a shadow of a doubt since I've been in this country is that Nixon will never be able to break the spirit of these people; he'll never be able to turn Vietnam, north and south, into a neo- colony of the United States by bombing, by invading, by attacking in any way. One has only to go into the countryside and listen to the peasants describe the lives they led before the revolution to understand why every bomb that is dropped only strengthens their determination to resist. I've spoken to many peasants who talked about the days when their parents had to sell themselves to landlords as virtually slaves, when there were very few schools and much illiteracy, inadequate medical care, when they were not masters of their own lives.

But now, despite the bombs, despite the crimes being created- being committed against them by Richard Nixon, these people own their own land, build their own schools- the children learning, literacy- illiteracy is being wiped out, there is no more prostitution as there was during the time when this was a French colony. In other words, the people have taken power into their own hands, and they are controlling their own lives.
And after 4,000 years of struggling against nature and foreign invaders- and the last 25 years, prior to the revolution, of struggling against French colonialism- I don't think that the people of Vietnam are about to compromise in any way, shape or form about the freedom and independence of their country, and I think Richard Nixon would do well to read Vietnamese history, particularly their poetry, and particularly the poetry written by Ho Chi Minh.
[recording ends]


History of the NVA (PAVN)

The communist in Vietnam resembled many others among the Vietnamese nationlist in that they took their creed from abroad - in this case from Leninism. Ho Chi Minh over the years built a disciplined and purposeful organization that broke its nationalist opponents, outlasted the French and Americans, and finally unified Indochina under its control.

Ho Chi Minh returned from the USSR in 1925 with Borodin's mission to China in order to form a communist movement in Indochina, called first the Revolutionary Youth League and later in 1930 the Indochinese Communist Party. The party in 1930 led a peasant uprising in the central provinces of Nghe An and Ha Tinh and created village "soviets" which were soon crushed by the French military. The party returned to clandestinity. It built a first guerilla base in upland Cao Bang and Bac Son, participating in an abortive-uprising in the fall of 1940. In May 1941 the party formed a broad united front called the League for the Indepedence of Vietnam (Vietnam Doc-Lap Dong-Minh Hoi, or in short, the Viet Minh). (The term Viet Cong, the contraction for Vietnamese communist, was later used by opponents more with the implication of the southern arm of the movement).

The party carefully refrained from challenging the Japanese, and prepared for the day of Japan's defeat. After the French were interned in March 1945 and the Japanese conceded defeat on August 16, the party moved to seize the opportunity. Armed Propaganda Teams demonstrated across the country. On September 2, 1945, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam was proclaimed and the flag of a five pointed yellow star on a red field was hoisted. Ho Chi Minh became the president of the Provisional People's Government.

The Viet Minh moved to mollify the Chinese occupiers, keep out the French and destroy such native rivals as the VNQDD and Trotskyites. The Viet Minh did well in consolidating its position except in the south, where they faced the opposition of the sects and the British and French forces. In March 6, 1946, agreement, the French government, "recognized the Republic of Vietnam as a free state which has its own governmment, parliament, army, and finances and which is part of the Indochinese Federation and the French Union." (But a seperate French controlled Republic of Cochinchina was proclaimed June 1, 1948, with a flag of three horizontal blue stripes on yellow.) Although the French even for a short while helped the Viet Minh combat its nationlist rivals, French policy hardened, particularly as carried out on the scene by Admiral d' Argenlieu. In concert, the Viet Minh took a harsher line, for instance, holding public ceremonies where citizens burned their French diplomas and destroyed their French medals.

The communist army claims its official orgin in the first "Platoon of National Salvation" formed in the 1940 uprising. In December 1944 Ho Chi Minh created the "Vietnamese People's Propaganda Unit for National Liberation," which became in September 1945, with the new republic, the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN). Under the capable General Vo Nguyen Giap the PAVN was built quickly using the concept of a people's war, arms of varied orgin, and a balance of political indoctrination and military professionalism. by 1946 it had about 100,000 men under arms, plus 35,000 paramilitary, and it continued to expand steadily thereafter. It fought with both great courage and heavy casualties, taking at times beatings from the French forces, but also securing major victories at Cao Bang in 1950, over Group Mobile 100 in 1953, and finally at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. The divisions then consisted of the 304th, 308, 312th, 316th, and 320th, and the 351st Heavy Division.

The Indochinese Communist Party, following recongnition by Peking and Moscow of the DRV in 1950, abandoned its clandestinity and changed its name to the Vietnam Workers Party (Dan Lao-Dong Vietnam). with the partition of Vietnam at the 17th parallel as a result of the Geneva agreements, the DRV gained full territoral control of the north. As its soldiers and cadre were "regrouped" to the north, the DRV apparently abandoned its position in the south pending unification of the country under an election to be held according to the terms of the agreement. The election was never held, Diem believing the communists would not tolerate any true one. As the Diem government unexpectedly reduced the chaos of the south and gained control, the communist had to rethink their strategy for the south. They initially, however, were preoccupied with building their own system in the north, partly through the brutal purges of the "land reform" program.

Starting in 1959 several thousand of the "regroupees" southern cadre were again sent to the south and there began again the effort to achieve "a general uprising". There was then announced a purportedly seperate party for the south, the People's Revolutionary Party (Dang Nhan-Dan Cach-Mang), and a broader front organization the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam-NLF (Mat-Tran Dan-Toc Giai-Phong Mien-Nam). Control was retained in Hanoi and discipline over the southerners ensured by the security apparatus. The flag of the NLF was half red, half light blue with a gold star in the center, close to that of the DRV. In December 1963 the Ninth Conference of the Central Executive Committee made the decision for a full effort to take the south, and the Second Indochina War commenced in earnest.

In 1957 the PAVN had been systematically modernized on the Soviet model. Previously officers were designated by function, such as battalion commander, and had no rank and wore no insignia. Following a 1958 law, ranks were established and insignia and epaulets worn. The PAVN soldiers and units sent to the south, in order to maintain the pretense of a separate southern movement, used the functional rank designations of the People's Liberation Armed Force of South Vietnam (PLAF) and their more modest insignia and decorations. Military operations in central Vietnam, however, were controlled directly from the north, and that area was divided into four tactical zones: the CMA Front, Military Region Tri Thien Hue, Military Region 5 below on the coast, and the B-3 Front inland. Military operations further south were controlled by the Central Office for South Vietnam (COSVN), located usually on the Cambodian border directly north of Saigon.

After the "Special war" of 1961-63 against the strategic hamlet program and the shaky ARVN, the communist forces then challenged in "armed struggle" the entering American units. Local guerilla and regional forces were intended to provide a "seething quality in the coordinated struggle", while the main forces carried out "annihilating blows" that would cause "turning points in the war." Put on the defensive by the hard pressing American units, the communists husbanded their forces for a major offensive during Tet 1968. They achieved the desired surprize in attack, and impetus to the anti-war movement in the US, but the southern communist units were so heavily blooded that thereafter the southern communists had little role in the war. The PLAF divisions, the 3rd, 5th and 9th, were largely thereafter staffed by PAVN soldiers infiltrated down the impressive road supply network from the north. The DRV did not acknowledge its direct involvement in the war in the south, and unit designations were camouflaged.

A COSVN directive of early 1971 called for continuing attacks to achieve "piecemeal" victories and to defeat pacification and Viernamization. While achieving on the ground no real victories against the US forces, the communists kept the blood flowing and the bulk of their forces safe in Cambodia. They caused the Americans, just like the French, to grow tired of the political burden and to abandon the war. In January 1973 there were some 220,000 PAVN troops in the south comprising 15 infantry divisions and many independent infantry, sapper, artillery, armor, anti-aircraft regiments, the rear service and other units. Five divisions (304, 312, 320B, 324B and 325) were north of the Hai Van Pass in MR- I and two were south (711 and 2nd). In MR-2 there were three divisions (3rd, 1oth, and 320); in MR-3 two (7th and 9th); and in MR-4 three (1st, 5th and 6th). Other divisions were in the north and Laos.

In the 1973 Paris accord the US gained its prisoners back, but did not get the communist to withdraw their forces from the south. The DRV got the US out of Vietnam, but did not get the US to pull down Thieu and the Republic of Vietnam as it left. But the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam (PRG) did gain status from its participation in the talks. With President Nixon's political collapse, US pledges of continued support for the Republic of Vietnam proved false. The spurious peace disappeared. By 1975 the PAVN was better armed by the Soviets and Chinese than the ARVN was by the US. It also had far more maneuverable battalions. In the major offensive of 1975 the ARVN fell apart and "unification" was achieved. It was a victory of the main force PAVN units, manifested in the Saigon victory parade in May which featured bemedaled. brass bands, tanks, SAM missiles, and only a few southern guerillas.

Victory was also celebrated by the elevation of the name of the state to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the party to the Vietnam Communist Party (Dang Cong-San Vietnam). The PRG disappeared with the formal unification of the country.

The aftermath was disappointing to the communist. Hanoi could manage war, but not peace, and certainly not an economy. The attractions of the rich south, moreover, corrupted veteran cadra; the southerners were resentful of northern control; and a major border war developed with the vicious Khmer Rouge. This was complicated by a deepening quarrel with China, which was angered over Vietnam's proud and ungrateful attitude and deepening ties with the USSR. The PAVN was expanded to some 33 infantry, 12 economic construction, and 6 engineer divisions. In January 1978 it blitzkrieged Democratic Kampuchea but had to leave there for the protection of its client state the 5th, 302nd, 307th, 309th, and part of the 950th divisions. The border war of February-March 1978 with China was a standoff, although the Vietnamese second line border units fought well. The SRV was the most formidable military power of Southeast Asia, but also isolated, impoverished, and heavily dependent on Soviet aid.

Later, tiring of the quagmire in Cambodia and of the economic and diplomatic costs of its intervention there, Hanoi reluctantly and gradually pulled its forces out, leaving the problem to the United Nations. with the distressing collapse of communism in East Europe and the Soviet Union, Hanoi cautiously mended its relations with Beijing. They remained divided over the rancor of history and competing territorial claims on the border and the South China Sea. But they shared interest as two of the only four remaining communist states. Moreover, the SRV, just as the PRC, was proceeding with economic liberalization, while resisting political liberalization. As feared by its SEA neighbors, the international community, and even the US.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This document is taken from two sources "The Orders and Medals of The Communist Governments of Indochina" John Sylvester Jr. And the official document published by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam's Institute of Orders (Vien Huan Chuong). A History of the Democratic/socialist Republic of Vietnam, and Marxist Unification.

 Senior General Vo Nguyen Giap

Senior General Vo Nguyen Giap was, and is, the only PAVN figure known at all well outside of Vietnam, the only PAVN general mentioned in most counts of the Vietnam war, and the only Vietnamese communist military leader about whom a full length biography has been written. The disparity between General Giap and the others-the lone figure standing in the forefront of a legion of shadowy Vietnamese communist generals-assures him a prominent place in Vietnam's history. But history's judgment on him, as general, is yet to be rendered.

The three horses pulling the chariot of war are leadership, organization and strategy. The ideal general in any army would posses to perfection each of these in careful combination. Evaluating the performance of General Giap, therefore, must be in terms of his performance as leader, organizer and strategist, all three. While the jury is still deliberating, this much about him seems reasonably clear: he was a competent commander of men but not a brilliant one; he was a first rate military organizer once the innovative conceptual work was past, a good builder and administrator of the military apparat after the grand scheme had been devised; as a strategist he was at best a gifted amateur.

Giap of course, is a legend, with a larger-than-life image which the party and State in Hanoi, as well as the world's press, have enthusiastically contributed. His metaphoric appellation is Nui Lua, roughly "volcano beneath the snow" meaning a cold exterior but boiling within, an apt description of his personality according to those who know him. Associates also have described him as forceful, arrogant, impatient and dogmatic. At least in earlier years, he was ruthlessly ambitious and extraordinarily energetic, with a touch of vanity suggesting to interviewers that he should be considered an Asian Napoleon. He is said to be fiercely loyal to those of his political faction who grant him unreserved loyalty. He once told an associate that he took a "Darwinian view" of politics, and is said always to have been indifferent to arguments or reasoning based mainly on dogma. He always has been surrounded by political enemies and the victim of decades of sly whispers campaigns so common in Vietnam. (A typical whisper: General Dung, not Giap, planned the final successful at the battle of Dien Bien Phu because Giap had been struck down by diarrhea.)

Vo Nguyen Giap was born, by his account, in 1912 in the village of An Xa, Quang Binh province, although other reports say he was born into a peasant family, but former associates say his family was impoverished mandarin of lower rank. His father worked the land, rented out land to neighbors, and was not poor. More important as a social indicator in Vietnam, his father was literate and familiar with the Confucian classics. Giap, in manner and in his writings, demonstrated a strong Confucian background. At 14, Giap became a messenger for the Haiphong Power Company and shortly thereafter joined the Tan Viet Cach Mang Dang, a romantically-styled revolutionary youth group. Two years later he entered Quoc Hoc, a French-run lycee in Hue, from which two years later, according to his account, he was expelled for continued Tan Viet movement activities. In 1933, at the age of twenty-one, Giap enrolled in Hanoi University. He studied for three years and was awarded a degree falling between a bachelor and master of arts (doctorates were not awarded in Vietnam, only in France). Had he completed a fourth year he automatically would have been named a district governor upon graduation, but he failed his fourth year entrance examination.

While in Hanoi University, Giap met one Dang Xuan Khu, later known as Trung Chinh, destined to become Vietnamese communism's chief ideologue, who converted him to communism. During this same period Giap came to know another young Vietnamese who would be touched by destiny, Ngo Dinh Diem. Giap, then still something of a Fabian socialist, and Diem, who might be described as a right wing nationalist revolutionary, spend evenings together trying to proselytize each other.

While studying law at the University, Giap supported himself by teaching history at the Thanh Long High School, operated by Huynh Thuc Khang, another major figure in Vietnamese affairs. Former students say Giap loved to diagram on the blackboard the many military campaigns of Napoleon, and that he portrayed Napoleon in highly revolutionary terms.

In 1939, he published his first book, co-authored with Trung Chinh titled The Peasant Question, which argued not very originally that a communist revolution could be peasant-based as well as proletarian-based.

In September 1939, with the French crackdown on communist, Giap fled to China where he met Ho Chi Minh for the first time; he was with Ho at the Chingsi (China) Conference in May 1941, when the Viet Minh was formed.

At the end of 1941 Giap found himself back in Vietnam, in the mountains, with orders to begin organizational and intelligence work among the Montagnards. Working with a local bandit named Chu Van Tan, Giap spent World War II running a network of agents throughout northern Vietnam. The information collected, mostly about the Japanese in Indochina, went to the Chinese Nationalist in exchange for military and financial assistance which in turn, supported communist organization building. Giap had little military prowess at his command, however, and used what he did have to systematically liquidate rice landlords who opposed the communist.

On December 22, 1944, after about two years of recruiting, training and military experimenting, Giap fielded the first of his armed propaganda teams, and forerunner of PAVN. By mid-1945 he had some 10,000 men, if not soldiers, at his command.

During these early years, Giap led Party efforts at organization busting which, with the connivance of the French, emasculated competing non-communist nationalist organizations, killing perhaps some 10,00 individuals (although these figures come from surviving nationalist and may be exaggerated). One of the liquidation techniques used by Giap's men was to tie victims together in batches, like cordwood, and toss them into the Red River, the victims thus drowning while floating out to sea a method referred to as "crab fishing." Giap's purge also extended to the newly created Viet Minh government: of the 360 original National Assembly members elected in 1946, only 291 actually took their seats, of whom only 37 were official opposition and only 20 of these were left at the end of the first session. Giap arrested some 200 during the session, some of whom were shot. He also ordered the execution of the famed and highly popular South Vietnamese Viet Minh leader, Nguyen Binh. Giap sent Binh into an ambush and he died with a personal letter from Giap in his pocket. He also was carrying a diary which made it clear he knew of Giap's duplicity, but Binh went to his death in much the same manner in which the old Bolshevik, Rubashov, in darkness at Noon. Giap later confessed to a friend, "I was forced to sacrifice Nguyen Binh."
With the Viet Minh war Giap faced his most challenging task, converting peasants cum guerrillas into fully trained soldiers through a combination of military training and political indoctrination. He built an effective army. Colonial powers always controlled the colonial countryside with only token military forces; they controlled the peasants because the peasants permitted themselves to be controlled. Giap built an army that changed that in Indochina.

In military operations in both the Viet Minh and Vietnam Wars, Giap was cautious and so meticulous in planning that operations frequently were delayed because either they or the moment was premature. Giap's caution and policies led his opponents to underestimate both his military strength and his tactical skill. Although as someone noted, in war everyone habitually underestimates everyone else. Historians, particularly French historians, tend to case Giap in larger than life terms; they write of his flashing brilliance as a strategic and tactical military genius. But there is little objective proof of this. Perhaps the French write him large as a slave for bruised French ego. Giap's victories have been due less to brilliant or even incisive thinking than to energy, audacity and meticulous planning. And his defeats clearly are due to serious shortcomings as a military commander: a tendency to hold on too long, to refuse to break victory to intoxicate and lead to the to the taking of excessive and even insane chances in trying to strike a bold second blow; a preoccupation, while fighting the "people's war," with real estate, attempting to sweep the enemy out of an area that may or may not be militarily important.

Giap always was at his best when he was moving men and supplies around a battlefield, far faster than his foes had any right to expect. He did this against the French in 1951, infiltrating an entire army through their lines in the Red River Delta, and again in advance of the Tet offensive in 1968 when he positioned thousands of men and tons of supplies for a simultaneous attack on thirty-five major South Vietnamese population centers. If Giap is a genius as a general at all, he is, as the late Bernard Fall put it, a logistic genius. General Giap's strategic thinking early in the Vietnam War, from 1959 until at least 1966, was to let the NLF and PLAF do it by the Viet Minh War book. Cadres and battle plans in the form of textbooks were sent down the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Southern elements were instructed in the proper mobilization and motivation techniques, centered on the orthodox dau tranh strategy that had worked with the French and in which Giap had full faith. Certain adjustments might be necessary with respect to political dau tranh and some minor adaptations of armed dau tranh might be required, his writings at this time indicated but essentially the necessary doctrine was in existence and was in place.

What changed Giap's thinking, and his assumption that the war against the Americans could be a continuation of the war against the French, was the battle of Ia Drang Valley,the first truly important battle of the war. Giap's troops veterans of Dien Bien Phu, when thrown against green First Cavalry Division soldiers, experienced for the first time the full meaning of American-style conduct of war: the helicopters, the lightweight bullet, sophisticated communications, computerized military planning, an army that moved mostly vertically and hardly ever walked. Technology had revolutionized warfare, Giap acknowledged in Big Victory, Great Task, a book written to outline his strategic response to the U.S. intervention. The answer he said, was to match the American advantage in mass and movement or, where not possible, to shunt it aside. He was still searching for the winning formula when suddenly he was handed victory. The South Vietnamese Army which had stood and fought under far worse conditions in January 1975, under minor military pressure, began to collapse. Soon in could not fight coherently. Giap was handed a victory he neither expected at the time nor deserved. How much command responsibility Giap had in the last days of the war, in 1975, is debated - much direction had passed to General Dung but is unimportant in terms of distributing laurels, since none was deserved by any PAVN general.

After the Vietnam War General Giap slowly began to fade the scene, withdrawing gradually from day-to-day command of PAVN. General Dung began to take up the reins of authority. Giap was given a series of relatively important short term tak force assignments. He supervised the initial assumption by PAVN of various production and other postwar economic duties. He reorganized and downgraded the PAVN polotical commissar system, as the battle organized Reds and Experts tilted ever more clearly towards the latter. He defended PAVN's budget against the sniping attack of cadres in the economic sector.

When the 'Pol Pot problem" developed truly serious dimensions in late 1977, giap returned to the scene. He spent most of 1978 organizing an NLF style response for Kampuchea, that in creation of a Liberation Army, a Liberated Area, a radio Liberation, and a standby Provisional Revolutionary Government. This was the tried method, but by its nature, slow. Apparently the politburo judged it did not have time for protracted conflict, and so in 1978 opted in favor of a Soviet-style solution: tanks across the border, invasion and occupation of Kampuchea. Giap opposed it, although evidence of this is mostly inferential, holding that a quick military solution was not possible, that Pol Pot would embrace a dau tranh strategy against PAVN and the result would be a bogged down war. Giap proved to be painfully correct and, for the sin of being right when all others are wrong in a collective leadership decision-making process, was eased out of Politburo level politics. Apparently all factions ganged up on him, but his removal was designed to eliminate Giap as factional infighting without tarnishing Giap the legend. It appears he did not resist this power play as he might have done, with possibly bloody consequences, which may be a tribute to his better judgements.

Today Giap still is on the Vietnamese scene, but plays a lesser role. He has taken upon himself the task of lifting Vietnam by its technological boot straps, has become the leading figure in the drive to raise the country's technical and scientific capability. This requires, among other things, soliciting continued Soviet assistance, something Giap is able to do well because of the regard for him in the USSR. He confers frequently with Soviet advisors in Hanoi and in the Soviet Union; in 1980 he went to Moscow three times in a nine-month period.

General Giap has been a prolific writer and he continues to publish although Big Victory, Great Task is more innovative and original. His most interesting book is Dien Bien Phu, while his worst certainly is Once Again We Will Win, his initial assessment of what was required to defeat the Americans which is virtually devoid of correct factual and technical judgments

 Last Saigon Embasy Message

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 The Fonda Falacies

The Fonda Fallacies:

Why Jane Fonda Was Wrong, and Why It Matters Today

Prof. Robert F. Turner *

Jane Fonda is a beautiful and talented actress. But for many Vietnam veterans, she is remembered more as a despicable traitor whose betrayal undermined the sacrifices of millions of American soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen - and in the process contributed significantly to a Communist victory in Indochina that led to the slaughter of millions of innocent human beings and the consignment of tens of millions of others to a Communist gulag that continues to rank among the “worst of the worst”[ 1] among the world's human rights abusers.

My Life So Far is Fonda's attempt to justify the first six decades of her existence. She tells us far more than most would care to know about her difficult childhood, her battles with eating disorders to maintain her trim figure, and her various problems with a series of failed marriages. There are few acknowledged regrets,[ 2] considerably more efforts to rationalize and spin behavior by leaving out essential facts, and an underlying theme that almost seems calculated to be setting the stage for an insanity defense. (There is, after all, no statute of limitations barring a treason prosecution even after passage of a third of a century.)

One of her regrets is the publication of “the photograph.” The infamous photograph-which is hardly the worst of her transgressions while visiting Hanoi-showed a gleeful Fonda sitting in a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun and apparently pretending to shoot down American pilots. But in her autobiography, Fonda dismisses it as a consequence of being “used” and deceived by her otherwise wonderful Communist hosts. She had told them, she asserts, that she did not wish to visit any military installations; and the only reason she happened to be wearing a North Vietnamese military helmet at the time was that it was “required” by her hosts.[ 3]

After decades of taking serious grief even from some of her fellow war critics, Fonda decides to give her readers her “best, honest recollection of what took place.” It seems a North Vietnamese soldier sang her a wonderful song that made her so happy she was giddily applauding his effort when, she writes: “Someone (I don't remember who) leads me toward the gun, and I sit down, still laughing, still applauding. It all has nothing to do with where I am sitting. I hardly even think about where I am sitting.”[ 4]

It is only later, she explains that the implications of what she has done hit her. “Oh my God. It's going to look like I was trying to shoot down U.S. planes! I plead with him [the translator], “You have to be sure those photographs are not published. I am assured it will be taken care of.”[ 5]
She now acknowledges that “[i]t is possible that the Vietnamese had it all planned” and that she was “used.”[6] Interestingly, she still doesn't seem to understand that other portions of her trip might have been “planned” by Hanoi to “use” her. But in this instance it is very difficult to accept Fonda's explanation anyway, as her other behavior in Hanoi is far more consistent with the idea that she knowingly and willingly sat in the gun chair and pretended to shoot down the hated American “war criminals” who she tells us were intentionally targeting schools, hospitals, and dikes in an effort to murder hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians. And she would have had to have been high on drugs to allow some unknown individual to force her into the seat of an anti-aircraft gun and then gleefully pretend to shoot down American planes as a pack of international photographers snapped her smiling face (all the while apparently oblivious to what was happening)-that explanation really fails to pass the “straight-face” test. Furthermore, Fonda's hatred for U.S. pilots and POWs was obvious at the time, and she even admits that her 1973 denunciation of returning American POWs as “liars” for saying they were tortured (which she now admits did occur) was provoked in no small part by her anger over the warm reception they received from the American people.[ 7]

Fonda characterizes her permitting herself to be photographed pretending to shoot down American pilots as a “two-minute lapse of sanity.”[8] And the volume is peppered with little comments suggesting that poor little Jane Fonda really couldn't control her own actions, and that she was pretty much programmed through her life to do whatever was necessary to please the current man in her life. Roger Vadim told people she really wasn't very bright, and she acknowledges that she has “always been numerically challenged” and her poor little mind simply “goes blank” when it comes to understanding details like “bomb tonnage.”[ 9] (I recall hearing her on I believe it was the Tonight Show in the early 1970s talking about B-52 bombers being launched from aircraft carriers in the Tonkin Gulf. Even the modern Nimitz-class carriers only have a total length of about 1,100 feet, or less than one-tenth of the runway length used by the enormous B-52 Stratofortresses.)
Consider her response to being asked whether she enjoyed “being with women” while married to Vadim. (He would often bring prostitutes home to share their bed, and Fonda admits that she was sometimes the procurer.) “I don't know [if I enjoyed it]. I thought I did at the time because I'm so good at becoming whatever my man wants me to be. I can convince myself of practically anything in the name of pleasing.”[10] Ergo, she really should not be held responsible for her treasonous behavior, as she became enamored with what she calls “small-c communism”[11] while married to Vadim and then married an American leftist radical from the “Red Family Collective” in Berkeley.[ 12]
In fairness to the “insanity” defense, Fonda appears to have learned little at Vassar about critical scientific inquiry. When strangers told her that America supported the French colonial cause in 1946 and that American pilots were intentionally targeting “hospitals” and “schools” and using “invisible” bombs to target the dikes of North Vietnam, she carefully recorded these new “truths” so they could be regurgitated to eager college audiences and legislators back in America without the slightest apparent skepticism.

To her credit, Fonda is willing to acknowledge that she should have “listened more” and “talked less” during her years as a Vietnam protester: “Watching some taped interviews years later,” she writes, “I wanted to shout, `Will someone please tell her to shut up?'” (And some think Vietnam veterans never agree with Jane Fonda.)

There are few textual references to serious source materials (she asserts that husband Tom Hayden sometimes quoted the Pentagon Papers,[13] but most of the “facts” she attributes to that source are in reality readily refuted by a careful reading of the documents therein[ 14]), and given the unsupportable factual errors that permeate the volume that oversight is understandable. It may be useful to address a few of the specific myths that remain widely accepted by Americans who do not follow these issues closely, but first a “big picture” view of the origins of the war may be useful.

Why America Went to War in Vietnam

One of the greatest myths of the Vietnam War was that there was no logical reason for America to go to war in Indochina. Fonda writes in her book that “[t]here must be a stepping back, a looking at the big picture,”[15] and then variously suggests that our initial goals in Vietnam were “aggressive”[16] (an issue that will be addressed below), to provide capitalist markets,[ 17] or for other unworthy reasons. Concluding her discussions of the war with “A Final Word,” she writes:

The real question isn't how we prosecuted the war but whether the entire United States enterprise in Vietnam was wrong from the get-go. We sent our men to die there not to help the Vietnamese gain freedom, but to destroy an indigenous nationalist movement because it threatened U.S. influence and control over the country and because we needed to maintain our “credibility as an ally,” to quote the Pentagon Papers. This was a betrayal of what we stand for.[ 18]

One wonders if she has even wondered why anyone thought it necessary to maintain our “credibility as an ally.” So let's very briefly recall some of the events that led to the almost unanimous and bipartisan commitment to defend South Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos from Communist aggression. One might begin with the founding of the Third (or Communist) International (Comintern) in 1919 by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin for the purpose of uniting the Left and promoting a world revolution. Or perhaps a better starting point would be two or three decades later, when it became increasingly clear that Josef Stalin and his comrades were serious about promoting violent revolutions around the globe.

For the record, as numerous Hanoi official biographies have long acknowledged,[19] Ho Chi Minh became a co-founder of the French Communist Party in December 1920 and was soon sent to Moscow for training as a Comintern agent. For the next three decades, he traveled around the world for the Comintern. Indeed, as Hanoi sources regularly confirm, when the Indochinese Communist Party was established in Hong Kong on February 3, 1930, Ho Chi Minh was present as the official representative of the Comintern in Moscow.[20] The term “Indochina” was a French concept for the territories in Southeast Asia it has colonized over the years, but Moscow instructed the delegates to the founding conference to adopt the name “Indochinese Communist Party” rather than their initial choice of “Vietnam Communist Party.” Ho Chi Minh had first left Vietnam in 1911 and did not set foot on Vietnamese soil for another 30 years, when he was sent back by Moscow to establish a new Leninist front organization, the Viet Minh. Ho tried hard to conceal his own Leninist past and the true character of the new front-e.g., by using no less than twenty-eight pseudonyms[21]-and the effort was successful in deceiving some OSS[22] operatives during World War II.[ 23]

In August 1945, Ho actually quoted Thomas Jefferson in his Declaration of Independence for Vietnam. But by 1950 Ho's Leninist character had become clear and both Moscow and Beijing (Mao had seized power in China the previous October) began sending aid to Ho's Viet Minh. The invasion of South Korea by Communist North Korea that June increased western anxiety over armed Communist aggression in Asia. In July 1954, Vietnam was divided at the 17th parallel with Ho's Viet Minh getting the North and non-communist nationalists getting South Vietnam. The following year the United States Senate consented to the ratification of the SEATO Treaty with but a single dissenting vote, thus pledging the United States to come to the defense of South Vietnam, Laos, or Cambodia if they requested assistance in defense against armed Communist aggression.[ 24]

During the Vietnam War, the State Department charged that Hanoi had made a decision in May 1959 to “liberate” South Vietnam. As will be discussed, the partition of Vietnam (like the earlier partitions of Germany and Korea) created separate sovereign states, and the UN Security Council denunciation of North Korean aggression against South Korea is a clear legal precedent for the situation in Vietnam. But Hanoi's defenders in the United States didn't usually challenge that principle. Instead, they alleged that the State Department was “lying” about the allegation of “Aggression From the North” (the name of a February 1965 State Department “white paper” documenting Hanoi's aggression), and they claimed that the “National Liberation Front” had started the “revolution” in South Vietnam independently from Hanoi.

This is no longer a tenable argument, as since the end of the war Hanoi has repeatedly acknowledged its May 19, 1959, decision to send soldiers and equipment provided by Moscow and Beijing into South Vietnam to seize control of the country. For example, the May 1984 issue of Vietnam Courier featured a story detailing the Party's decision and admitting that by 1964, ten thousand troops were being infiltrated into South Vietnam each year. Two years later, the figure was ten-times higher.[ 25]

Colonel Bui Tin was the North Vietnamese Army officer who officially accepted the South Vietnamese surrender on April 30, 1975, at the Presidential Palace in Saigon. He later served as editor of Nhan Dan (“The People”), the Party daily newspaper in Hanoi. When asked in 1995: “Was the National Liberation Front an independent political movement of South Vietnamese?” he replied: “No. It was set up by our Communist Party to implement a decision of the Third Party Congress of September 1960. We always said there was only one party.”[ 26]

Three years ago, an English-translation of an official Vietnamese Communist history of the war was published by the University of Kansas Press under the title Victory in Vietnam. In his forward to this volume, University of Pennsylvania Professor William Duiker notes: “one of the most pernicious myths about the Vietnam War-that the insurgent movement in South Vietnam was essentially an autonomous one that possessed only limited ties to the regime in the North-has been definitively dispelled.”[ 27]

The reality is that decades before Hanoi made these admissions, any literate American who wanted to understand the Vietnam war and had access to a major library could have found North Vietnamese documents (translated by Hanoi into English to make the inquiry easier) that showed clearly the NLF was Hanoi's creation. Hanoi published a three-volume collection of documents from the 1960 Third Party Congress that openly acknowledged the passage of a resolution that stated: “To ensure the complete success of the revolutionary struggle in south Vietnam, our people there must strive to . . . bring into being a broad National United Front . . . “[ 28] Such “united fronts” had long been a central tenet of Leninist strategy. Yet, when Hanoi announced the establishment of the NLF in December 1960, it was widely accepted as authentic in the west.

In December 1961, President Kennedy sent U.S. military advisers to help the Republic of [South] Vietnam defend itself against this Communist aggression. This was consistent with both the bipartisan Containment Doctrine originally enunciated by the Truman Administration and reaffirmed by Eisenhower and Kennedy, and more specifically with the nation's formal commitment to defend the non-Communist regimes of Indochina embodied in the SEATO Treaty, and as such it engendered little national debate. What little congressional criticism there was tended to come from “hawks” who wanted combat units to be sent to South Vietnam immediately. Consider the position of Rep. Paul Findley (R-Ill.), who in 1973 was a strong opponent of the war and chief Republican co-sponsor of the War Powers Resolution. In May 1961, after noting that the Korean War began because our adversaries did not believe the United States would defend South Korea, Representative Findley attacked LBJ's unwillingness to send U.S. combat troops to Indochina by saying:

“U.S. combat forces are the most effective deterrent to aggression, and we should publicly offer such forces to South Vietnam without delay. . . No patriotic American will ever criticize President Kennedy for committing combat forces to protect freedom-loving people from aggression. Every patriot has the right and duty to criticize ineptitude and the too-little, too-late policies which invite aggression.”[ 29]

By 1964, Communist terrorists had been assassinating South Vietnamese civilians and public officials for seven years. Daniel Ellsberg, who Fonda repeatedly praises in her book,[30] wrote of the assassination problem in 1965: “Statistics like these are hard to comprehend in familiar terms; yet the 11,000 civilians assassinated or kidnapped [by the Viet Cong] in 1964 would correspond in terms of United States population to more than 100,000, the 1,500 Vietnamese civic officials [murdered] to more than 15,000 U.S. mayors and councilmen.”[ 31]
Both the American people and Congress were becoming angry at President Johnson's failure to act firmly in response to the growing success of Communist aggression in South Vietnam. Professor Jerold M. Starr, a strong critic of the war and self-proclaimed “activist,” acknowledged: “In early 1964, a majority of Americans expressed dissatisfaction with Johnson's handling of the war in Vietnam. However, after Johnson called for a resolution to permit him to respond to the alleged attacks on U.S. ships in the Gulf of Tonkin, his support zoomed to 85 percent.”[32] To say Johnson's approval “zoomed” is no hyperbole - as this was an increase during a single month of 58 percent, or a full 30-point jump in LBJ's approval rating.[ 33]

One of the many great myths of the war was that LBJ dragged the country kicking and screaming into an unpopular war without the approval of the American people or the consent of Congress. Believing that Truman had erred by not seeking formal legislative authorization for the Korean War,[ 34] LBJ was unwilling to go to war in Indochina without the formal authorization of Congress. His request for authorization was approved unanimously by the House of Representatives and by a vote of 88-2 in the Senate - a combined vote of 504-2, or a 99.6 percent majority. That rounds up to 100 percent, and it is worth noting that the two `nay' votes in the Senate came from men who were defeated in their next election campaigns.

During the Senate debate it was evident that the Senators knew they were authorizing war. Consider, for example, this exchange between Senator Fulbright and Senator John Sherman Cooper, the ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, during the Senate debate prior to either the Senate or House voting to enact the resolution:

MR. COOPER. Does the Senator consider that in enacting this resolution we are satisfying that requirement [the “constitutional processes” requirement] of Article IV of the Southeast Asia Collective Defense treaty? In other words, are we now giving the President advance authority to take whatever action he may deem necessary respecting South Vietnam and its defense, or with respect to the defense of any other country [e.g., Cambodia] included in the treaty?

MR. FULBRIGHT. I think that is correct.

MR. COOPER. Then, looking ahead, if the President decided that it was necessary to use such force as could lead into war, we will give that authority by this resolution?

MR. FULBRIGHT. That is the way I would interpret it. [Emphasis added.][ 35]

The reality is that LBJ - for all of his faults, which were considerable - did not drag Congress or the nation into Vietnam. Congress and public opinion pushed him into the war. When President Johnson first sought a resolution authorizing the use of force to stop a Communist takeover in Indochina, he included a request for money. Congress did not approve that request-it more than tripled it. Indeed, an indication of the strong level of support for the war in the early years can be found by examining the margin by which massive appropriations for the war were approved in each house of Congress over the next few years. In 1966, a $13 billion supplemental appropriation passed 389-3 in House and 87-2 in Senate. The following year-and by this time there were hundreds of thousands of American troops engaged in a major war in Vietnam- a $12 billion supplemental passed 385-11 in House and 77-3 in Senate. And a House amendment to prohibit the use of funds for combat operations over North Vietnam received only three affirmative votes.[ 36]

In 1965, as U.S. troops joined in the fighting in Vietnam, “support for the war rose very considerably” according to Professor John Mueller, a leading authority on public opinion during times of war.[37] In November 1965, when there were roughly 200,000 American soldiers in Vietnam, a Gallup poll asked whether Americans would be more or less likely to vote for a congressional candidate who favored “sending a great many more men to Vietnam.” Of those expressing an opinion, sixty percent said they would be “more likely” to support such a candidate favoring massive escalation of the war.[ 38]

In September of 1966, another Gallup poll asked a sampling of “prominent Americans” (selected from Who's Who) about Vietnam, and sixty percent of those expressing a view favored escalating the war.[39] Throughout the mid-1960s, there remained a broad consensus on the importance of containing Communism and a recognition that North Vietnamese efforts to take over South Vietnam by force was a serious threat. As will be discussed, while many students and some other Americans were taken in by false accusations that the United States was undermining democracy and human rights and was seeking to promote a “dictatorship” in Vietnam, even among critics of the war the “withdraw now” group was greatly outnumbered by the “super hawks” who believed that the war was not being fought with sufficient vigor.[ 40]

A Test Case With Tremendous Potential Implications

It is popular today to believe that the war in Vietnam was an unnecessary war and America should simply have walked away in 1964 or 1965 when things got bad. But that ignores the reality that Vietnam had been recognized as a “test case” by the entire world, and assumes that evidence America lacked either the will or the ability to resist Leninist aggression would not have had grave consequences around the globe. Once again, some background is useful.

After Korea, the Eisenhower Administration had decided that fighting land wars in Asia to contain Communism was unwise, and had instead decided that Moscow could be deterred by threats of “massive retaliation” at a place and time of America's choosing in response to future Koreas. The Army was cut back significantly and most defense resources were put into strategic weapons. Before authorizing another Korean War, it was thought, Moscow would have to contemplate the consequences of a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union itself. And during the late 1950s this clearly did deter Nikita Khrushchev, who stopped supporting “armed struggle” to advance the boundaries of Communism in the short run.

But not all Leninists were in accord with the new Moscow line. In Cuba, Fidel Castro showed that violent revolution could succeed only ninety miles from the United States itself. Chinese Communist Party Chairman Mao Ze Dong argued that although the “Imperialists” headed by the United States were in appearance very fierce, in reality they were but “paper tigers” because their powerful nuclear weapons could not be used against guerrillas who lived and fought among the civilian population of a country.

The deterrent effect of the powerful American strategic arsenal was further degraded by the growth of Soviet offensive nuclear systems. Was it credible to expect the United States to use nuclear weapons against Moscow or other Soviet targets at the risk of losing New York, Los Angeles, or Washington, DC, in order to save Saigon? President Kennedy understood the threat of unconventional warfare and began building up the American ability to deal with asymmetrical threats with Green Berets and other special operations forces.

In 1964-65, Communist China was deeply invested in its “internationalist duty” to support revolutionary movements around the world. It was providing arms, training, and financial support to Communist guerrilla movements not only throughout Indochina, but also in Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, and as far away as Mozambique in Africa. And Central Committee Vice Chairman Lin Biao argued publicly that the struggle in Vietnam would determine the future of Communist world revolution:

The socialist countries should regard it as their internationalist duty to support the people's revolutionary struggles in Asia, Africa and Latin America . . . Viet Nam is the most convincing current example of a victim of aggression defeating U.S. imperialism by a people's war. The United States has made South Viet Nam a testing ground for the suppression of people's war . . . The more they escalate the war, the heavier will be their fall and the more disastrous their defeat. The people in other parts of the world will see still more clearly that U.S. imperialism can be defeated, and that what the Vietnamese people can do, they can do too. [Emphasis added.] [ 41]

Even earlier, on November 20, 1963, the Cuban revolutionary Ernesto “Ché” Guevara had endorsed the view that the struggle in Vietnam was critical to the future of revolution in the western hemisphere. The Vietnam battlefront, he said “is most important for the future of all America . . . At this moment, Vietnam is the great laboratory of Yankee imperialism . . . They know that the victorious end of this battle will also spell the end of North American imperialism.”[ 42]

Had the United States decided to walk away from Vietnam in 1965 or 1966, it would have confirmed that Castro, Mao, Lin Biao, and Vo Nguyen Giap were correct - America could not defeat what Mao called “people's warfare” and others called “wars of national liberation.” And the lesson would not have been lost on those who were watching. Dissidents throughout the Third World would have been tempted to seek Communist assistance - perhaps with the wishful but unrealistic belief that once they had gained power they could simply toss out the Communists. And how many Third World governments vulnerable to Leninist revolution would have relied upon American promises of assistance rather than trying to cut the best deal they could with the Communists in the hope of retaining some form of power or at least saving their lives? Soon, the world would like have seen a dozen or more “Vietnams” - and the United States could not have dealt with even three Vietnams without resorting to nuclear weapons. The outcome of the Cold War was very much at stake.

Fonda's Myths

As a veteran of more than 100 debates, teach-ins, panels, and other programs about the war between 1965 and my entry into the Army in 1968, I encountered the same litany of false accusations, misinformation, and lies day after day. Some of these could be traced directly back to Hanoi's propaganda machinery, others had an unclear origin. But it was an exceptional experience to encounter a war critic who did not seem to be reading from the same script. (It was even more exceptional to find an antiwar leader who would debate me more than once.)
As already discussed, any reasonably bright undergraduate who bothered to do a little research could easily dispel many of these myths. Others were more difficult to assess, because Hanoi had gone to great lengths to make them credible for American audiences. These included Hanoi's May 1959 decision to “liberate” South Vietnam and its control of the National Liberation Front established late the following year. Today, as already discussed, Hanoi brags about its success in deceiving the west on these and other issues.
Ms. Fonda claims in her book that she relied upon the Pentagon Papers first published in 1971 by the New York Times and Washington Post.[43] In all candor, I have serious doubts whether she bothered to actually read through the massive collection of Pentagon documents; for even a cursory reading would have dispelled much of the mythology she clearly continues to embrace.[ 44]

Ho Chi Minh As Vietnam's “George Washington”

Fonda's history of Vietnam covers many of the classic myths of the anti-Vietnam movement, including that Ho Chi Minh was Vietnam's “George Washington.”[45] When she is told that Ho quoted Thomas Jefferson's “all men are created equal” line in his 1945 Declaration of Independence (true), Fonda says “I begin to cry and clap. These young men should not be our enemy. They celebrate the same words Americans do.”[ 46] She was totally clueless to the possibility that Ho quoted Jefferson not because he was a Jeffersonian democrat but rather he was a dedicated Leninist anxious to deceive the west.

Consider also Fonda's discussion of the 1954 Geneva Accords and the 1956 reunification elections:
The division [of Vietnam at the 17th parallel] was to remain only until national elections were held two years later to determine which government would be chosen to represent the whole, united country. The United States pledged to adhere to these terms, yet almost immediately set out to try to destabilize the situation, including canceling the elections. President Dwight Eisenhower wrote in his memoirs that had elections been held, Ho Chi Minh would have won probably 80 percent of the votes.[ 47]

There are so many errors here that one hardly knows where to start. To begin with, Fonda fails to distinguish between two separate documents related to Vietnam that emerged from the 1954 Geneva Conference. The only legal “agreement” signed in Geneva in July 1954 concerning Vietnam was a cease-fire signed on July 20 between Ho Chi Minh's Viet Minh Front and the French military high command. But since France had six weeks earlier recognized the “State of Vietnam” (what became “South Vietnam” and later the Republic of Vietnam) to be “a fully independent and sovereign state in possession of all qualifications and powers known in international law,”[48] France clearly lacked the legal capacity to bind the south-which was totally excluded from the negotiations-to anything. To be sure, there was an unsigned “Final Declaration” of the Geneva Conference (endorsed verbally by some delegates the following day) that did talk about future reunification elections, but the Pentagon Papers correctly note that both South Vietnam and the United States expressly disassociated themselves from that document and demanded that any reunification elections be supervised by the United Nations “to be sure they are conducted fairly.”[49] Since the Communist delegations at Geneva had vetoed the idea of effective international supervision of elections,[50] North Vietnam had a larger population, and in their sham “elections” Ho Chi Minh never received less than 99.9% of the vote,[51] both the New York Times[52] and the Pentagon Papers[53] concluded that South Vietnam and the United States were correct in not agreeing to the unsupervised[ 54] elections.

Senator John F. Kennedy was among many American critics of the idea that a free election could be held in North Vietnam in 1956 or that either the United States or South Vietnam was legally bound by such terms:

Neither the United States nor Free Vietnam was a party to that [Geneva] agreement-and neither the United States nor Free Vietnam is ever going to be a party to an election obviously stacked and subverted in advance, urged upon us by those who have already broken their own pledges under the agreement they now seek to enforce.[ 55]

Great Britain, who co-chaired the 1954 Geneva Conference with the Soviet Union, issued a statement in 1956 expressing its view that South Vietnam “was not legally bound by the armistice agreements since it had not signed them and had protested against them at the Geneva Conference.”[ 56]

This was hardly the first time Ms. Fonda pontificated about the Geneva Accords. When she visited Hanoi in mid-1972, she made a series of radio broadcasts designed to persuade American military forces in Vietnam to refuse to carry out their orders.[ 57] On July 20, 1972-the eighteenth anniversary of the signing of the French-Viet Minh armistice agreement at Geneva (the unsigned “Final Declaration” was considered the next day)-Radio Hanoi carried a Fonda address that said in part:

This is Jane Fonda speaking from Hanoi on the occasion of the 18th anniversary of the signing of the Geneva accords. And once again I'm addressing myself to the U.S. men who are-who have been sent here to fight . . . because I think that we, we have to remind ourselves a little bit about the history of the U.S. involvement in the war. It's, it's, um, something that's been kept from us, and its really important that we understand, uh, what our history here has been . . .

In 1954, the liberation forces of Vietnam defeated the French colonial army at Dien Bien Phu in an historical battle. Following this victory, there was the Geneva conference and the accords were drawn up, the Geneva accords. The two principle points of the accords called for a temporary division of Vietnam into two military regroupment zones, two regroupment zones, separating Vietnam into, temporarily into, a northern part and a southern part. Two years after the Geneva accords, that is to say in 1956, there was to be a general election. It was to be a general election held in which the people of Vietnam, from the north and the south, would elect their president and reunify their country.
However, in 1956 Eisenhower noted publicly that if the elections were held, Ho Chi Minh would have been elected president of Vietnam by 80 percent of the votes, by 80 percent of the people in Vietnam. And this was something that the United States didn't want. And so, a man by the name of Ngo Dinh Diem was installed as president of South Vietnam. Now, this act, which has been very thoroughly documented in the Pentagon papers-and I think we should all read those papers, at least the condensed version of them, very attentively-it clearly shows that this was an act caused by the United States.[ 58]

The allegation that the United States urged South Vietnam not to take part in 1956 elections was a common theme of anti-Vietnam rhetoric during the war, but it is refuted by the Pentagon Papers:
The US did not - as is often alleged - connive with Diem to ignore the elections. US State Department records indicate that Diem's refusal to be bound by the Geneva Accords and his opposition to pre-election consultations was at his own initiative . . . [The US] shifted its position in the face of Diem's opposition, and of the evidence then accumulated about the oppressive nature of the regime in North Vietnam.[ 59]

The Eisenhower Quote on Elections

This alleged statement by President Eisenhower was one of the most commonly heard arguments used by opponents of the war. But, once again, the critics were wrong. Ike's comment (made not in 1956 but in his 1963 autobiography) was that the experts with whom he had spoken agreed that “had elections been held as of the time of the fighting, possibly eighty percent of the population would have voted for the Communist Ho Chi Minh as their leader rather than Chief of State Bao Dai.”[60] He went on to explain in the very next sentence that “the lack of leadership on the part of Bao Dai was a factor in the feeling prevalent among Vietnamese that they had nothing to fight for.”[ 61]

In other words, Ike was talking about the period before the 1954 Geneva Conference and a race between the Communist Ho Chi Minh (still masquerading behind quotations about “inalienable” human rights from Thomas Jefferson[ 62] and the promise of independence from the French), and the corrupt French puppet Bao Dai, who lived on the French Riviera and was pampered by a bevy of French and Vietnamese concubines in return for signing whatever the French placed in front of him. The observation was not that everyone wanted to fight (or vote) for Ho, but that given the choice between a corrupt French puppet and Ho, the people of Vietnam felt they had “nothing to fight for” but preferred independence from France to continued colonial rule. In 1955, after all, Diem defeated Bao Dai by far greater than 80 percent of the vote.

Some observers, like Senator Mike Mansfield (who later became a strong critic of the war), predicted at the time that in a free and fair election, the highly respected nationalist Ngo Dinh Diem-who had refused to serve as a puppet for the French, the Japanese, and Ho Chi Minh's own government[63]-would have defeated Ho.[64] The key issue would be whether the voters were able to learn about what was really happening in each country,[ 65] or whether the Viet Minh would (as in fact it did) control access to information in the north. The Pentagon Papers note:

It is almost certain that by 1956 the proportion that might have voted for Ho-in a free election against Diem-would have been much smaller than eighty percent. Diem's success in the South had been far greater than anyone could have foreseen, while the North Vietnamese regime had been suffering from food scarcity, and low public morale stemming from inept imitation of Chinese communism.[ 66]

The “inept” imitation of Chinese communism was a “land reform” purge that betrayed the Viet Minh's promise of “land-to-the-tiller” and instead collectivized private property, brutally eliminating “class enemies” in the process. Experts estimate that between 50,000 and 500,000 people were killed by the Party during this purge, which so angered the people that there was an uprising in Ho's own home province of Nghe An and Party Secretary General Truong Chinh had to admit publicly that “mistakes” had been made.[67] But the fact that Hanoi intentionally emulated the Chinese campaign-which the Black Book of Communism estimates killed between two and five million people[68]-and Chinh had earlier written that “to be lenient with counterrevolutionaries is tantamount to committing suicide,”[69] suggested to many that the slaughter of “class enemies” fifty years ago was hardly a “mistake.”[ 70]

Alleged U.S. Support for French Colonialism in 1946

Ms. Fonda notes that while living in Paris her (“small-c communist”) friends informed her “at the end of World War Two, when France had to go to war to keep Vietnam as her colony, it was your country that paid most of our military expenses.”[ 71] This was a very popular allegation by critics of the war in America, as well, but it was simply not true. Indeed, as the Pentagon Papers document, in January 1944 President Roosevelt informed Secretary of State Cordell Hull:

I saw [British Foreign Secretary] Halifax last week and told him quite frankly that it was perfectly true that I had, for over a year, expressed the opinion that Indo-China should not go back to France but that it should be administered by an international trusteeship. France has had the country . . . for nearly one hundred years, and the people are worse off than they were at the beginning . . .

Each case must, of course, stand on its own feet, but the case of Indo-China is perfectly clear. France has milked it for one hundred years. The people of Indo-China are entitled to something better than that.[ 72]

Bernard Fall documents in some detail the efforts by American officials to prevent the French from returning to Vietnam at the end of World War II, including the refusal of theater commander General Albert Wedemeyer to permit the French even to board American military planes destined for Hanoi. Later, when the French brought in their own aircraft, Wedemeyer prohibited it from taking off from an American airfield bound for Vietnam.[ 73]

When French diplomat Jean Sainteny finally was permitted to fly to Hanoi accompanied by OSS (Office of Strategic Services, the predecessor to the CIA) officer Major Archimedes Patti, Fall notes that “Patti informed Sainteny that the Potsdam agreements had made no mention of French sovereignty over Viet-Nam and that the French, therefore, no longer had any `rights to intervene in affairs which were no longer of any concern' to them.”[ 74]

Fall adds: “Thoroughly disillusioned, Sainteny radioed his superiors in Calcutta that he was `face to face with a deliberate Allied [U.S.] maneuver to evict the French from Indochina” and that “at the present time the Allied attitude is more harmful than that of the Viet Minh.”[ 75] And Sainteny's perception was certainly correct, as early the following year Ho Chi Minh invited the French military to return to Vietnam and told the Vietnamese people to “welcome” the French back. This was done via a March 6, 1946, modus vivendi signed by Ho and Sainteny. As the Pentagon Papers note:

This Accord taxed Ho's popularity to the utmost, and it took all Ho's prestige to prevent open rebellion . . . [I]n mid-June, the Viet Minh, supported by French troops, attacked the Dong Minh Hoi and the VNQDD [two nationalist groups that refused to “welcome” the French back], as “enemies of the peace,” effectively suppressed organized opposition, and asserted Viet Minh control throughout North Vietnam.[ 76]

United States resistance to the restoration of French colonial rule in Indochina continued through 1948. The Pentagon Papers document that in January 1947 the United States approved arms sales to France “except in cases which appear to relate to Indochina.”[ 77] But after China fell to the Communists in 1949 and North Korea invaded South Korea in June 1950, President Truman concluded that stopping the advance of Communism was of greater importance than preventing the French from returning to Vietnam. At that point, America did begin aiding France.

The Pentagon Papers explain:

[T]he rationale for the decision to aid the French was to avert Indochina's sliding into the communist camp, rather than aid for France as a colonial power or a NATO ally. . . . A reading of the NSC memorandum and the Franco-American diplomatic dialogue of the time indicates that Washington kept its eyes on the ultimate goal of the de-colonialization of Indochina. Indeed, it was uncomfortable in finding itself-forced by the greater necessity of resisting Viet Minh communism-in the same bed as the French.[ 78]

As the situation in Indochina deteriorated, France urged the United States to intervene militarily to prevent a Communist victory. Eisenhower briefly considered this, setting several conditions for any American military involvement. These included that the intervention be multinational involving at least the British (who nixed the idea by refusing to take part), and also that France would have to agree in advance to provide “[a] French guarantee of complete independence to the Associated States [South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia], `including unqualified option to withdraw from French Union at any time.'”[ 79]

The Gulf of Tonkin Incident

Yet another popular myth embraced by Ms. Fonda is that American troops in Vietnam were “dying for a lie.”[ 80] Here is Fonda's summary:
Nixon and Kissinger weren't the first to deceive the American public about the war. Lyndon Johnson, needing to escalate the war to avoid losing it (true for Nixon as well), had claimed that North Vietnamese boats had fired on U.S. ships in an unprovoked attack in the Gulf of Tonkin. Thus he got Congress to pass the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which allowed him to begin bombing North Vietnam. It turned out the Tonkin Gulf incident was a hoax. This terrible deceit aimed at justifying war has, I believe, been surpassed only by what the Bush II administration did to get Congress to authorize sending troops into Iraq.[ 81]

As already discussed, the United States went to war in Indochina to fulfill its SEATO Treaty obligations and in furtherance of the Containment doctrine because North Vietnam had in May 1959 initiated a military campaign to “liberate” South Vietnam. The August 2, 1964, North Vietnamese naval attack on the U.S.S. Maddox was a relatively minor incident during that war,[ 82] but it was no “hoax.” Indeed, North Vietnamese officials have repeatedly acknowledged that it occurred and the incident is commemorated by displays in Hanoi museums.

An Illegal War of American Aggression?

Unsurprisingly, Ms. Fonda is no better at international law than she is at history or math. But like most anti-Vietnam advocates, she tells us “Vietnam was really one country”[83] - presumably suggesting that there was nothing wrong with North Vietnam sending its army into South Vietnam to overthrow the government. “[R]ather than being a defensive war,” as Washington claimed, “it was a war of outside aggression (ours) against the popular will of the Vietnamese.”[ 84]

Ignoring for a moment the reality that the Viets did not expand their control over most of what we once knew as “South Vietnam” until late in the eighteenth century (and less than a century later France divided Vietnam into Tonkin, Annam, and Cochinchina)-and thus the allegation that Vietnam had a long history of unity was a myth[ 85]-Fonda fails to understand that de facto international boundaries are legal bars to aggression too. Vietnam was in the same category as East and West Germany and North and South Korea - “temporarily” partitioned following World War II as a result of the Cold War. But when North Korea invaded South Korea in June 1950, the UN Security Council promptly recognized the act as illegal international aggression and authorized a defensive military response. By the mid-1960s the Security Council was paralyzed by the existence of a Soviet veto with respect to responding to Communist aggression; and, of course, Hanoi had done a sufficient job of masking its conduct that many UN members no doubt did not believe Hanoi was in fact trying to conquer its southern neighbor. But Hanoi's numerous admissions since the end of the war that it decided to liberate South Vietnam in May 1959 have pretty much brought the old legal debates to an end.

Indeed, in connection with a conference marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of the fall of Saigon, scholars at the University of Virginia School of Law had a great deal of difficulty even finding international or constitutional law professors (who three decades earlier had declared U.S. involvement in Vietnam to be unlawful) who were even willing to try to defend their earlier positions. And the debate that finally did take place exhibited the paucity of their case on the merits.[ 86]

The old anti-war canard that it was unconstitutional for President Nixon to use force against Vietnamese Communist forces in Cambodia and Laos is also echoed in Fonda's book, and is easily refuted by turning to Stanford Law School Dean John Hart Ely's War and Responsibility:
The defense of South Vietnam, we have seen, was a project that had been congressionally authorized by the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, and other statutory provisions as well. (There is no doubt that Cambodian sanctuaries were in fact being used as bases for Communist moves into Vietnam.) Thus viewed, it is difficult to understand the theory on which the president needed additional statutory authorization for the drive [into Cambodia in 1970]-any more, for example, than Franklin Roosevelt needed special congressional permission for our landings in French North Africa (at the time a neutral territory) or on various Pacific islands with which we, similarly, were not at war.[ 87]

Dean Ely, it might be added, was hardly a supporter of the Vietnam War as a matter of public policy. He might have added that, like South Vietnam, both Cambodia and Laos were included as “protocol states” to the 1955 SEATO Treaty, and thus were incorporated by reference when Congress formally authorized the use of force in the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.

Nor was the Cambodian incursion a violation of international law. Under the doctrine of State Responsibility, Cambodia had a duty to prevent its territory from being used as a base for illegal armed attacks against its neighbors. And if it lacked the will or the ability to carry out that duty, it was lawful for South Vietnam and the United States to use force defensively against the tens of thousands of North Vietnamese and Viet Cong soldiers operating out of the sanctuaries across the Cambodian border. And even without that right, the fact is that Premier Lon Nol had publicly asked the world community for help in evicting the Vietnamese Communist forces who had taken over its border area. That request made the 1970 Cambodian incursion a lawful act of collective self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter (while at the same time satisfying the requirements of Article IV(3) of the SEATO Treaty).

To Jane Fonda, of course, the Cambodian intervention was another one of Richard Nixon's many “crimes.” She writes: “I was shaking with fury: Here was Nixon, elected by promising he would end the war, expanding it into another country!”[ 88] She is totally clueless to the reality that Hanoi had already “expanded” the war into Cambodia, in flagrant violation of international law, and had been using the sanctuaries as a safe base from which to kill South Vietnamese civilians and military personnel along with substantial numbers of her fellow Americans.

As a policy matter, I might add (as someone who traveled extensively around South Vietnam before, during, and after the Cambodian incursion), the operation was a brilliant military success that broke the back of what remained of the Viet Cong in the Mekong Delta, saved countless lives, and made ending the war on terms favorable to American interests far more likely. There was a tremendous spike in the number of Viet Cong defectors (hoi chanh) after the operation, and they told us account after account about how the Cambodian incursion had left them without supplies and destroyed their moral. (A common theme was that the Americans had captured virtually all of their ammunition reserves - one defector told me his unit had about five rounds for each of their AK-47 assault rifles, or roughly half-a-second's worth of ammo at full-automatic fire. His unit had been told to bury their AKs and dig up old FAL and M-1 carbines until more ammo could be sent down the Ho Chi Minh Trail.)

Bombing North Vietnam

In June 1972, Hanoi began a major propaganda offensive claiming the United States was intentionally bombing the dikes of the Red River Delta, threatening the lives of millions of innocent civilians. The following month, Jane Fonda traveled to Hanoi for the expressed purpose of photographing the damage to the dikes.[ 89]

By Fonda's account, the evil Americans were apparently directing their bombs primarily against schools, hospitals, and churches. From her Paris bedroom in early 1968 she “saw images on French television showing damage caused by American bombers that, en route back to their aircraft carriers, unloaded bombs they hadn't already dropped, sometimes hitting schools, hospitals, and churches.”[90] Her husband Tom Hayden had already been to Hanoi repeatedly (going initially with a man Fonda describes as “organizer Herbert Aptheker” -for some reason she doesn't mention Aptheker's leadership role in the “large-C” Communist Party, USA), and she writes that “All the travelers” from the United States to Hanoi “had returned with reports about extensive bombing of civilian targets, including churches, hospitals, and schools . . .”[91] After arriving in Hanoi for a first-hand look in 1972, she informs her readers she was “told” that eight American bombers she had seen earlier in the day had bombed “a cigarette factory, a hospital, and a brickyard at the height of their working hours, all in Hanoi's outlying area.”[92] She writes of visiting the Bach Mai Hospital and adds that “it has been bombed on numerous occasions over the years” by the Americans.[93] And, of course, she assures the press upon her return to America that “the repeated bombing of civilian targets and dikes was intentional.”[ 94]

In reality, as has been very well documented since the war, the American bombing of North Vietnam was carried out under unprecedented constraints designed to minimize collateral damage and avoid any serious risk of upsetting China or the Soviet Union.[ 95] Professor W. Hays Parks, widely recognized to be among the nation's preeminent scholars on the law of armed conflict (jus in bello), has written extensively on American bombing over North Vietnam. Discussing the dikes issue, Professor Parks writes:

Because Linebacker I operations were planned and executed with a conscious consideration of the law of war, the North Vietnamese were unsuccessful in manipulating international public opinion against the bombing through allegations of indiscriminate bombing. Their one major disinformation effort related to the alleged bombing of the earthwork dikes of the Red River Valley and failed abysmally . . .
Partly in the attempt to rally international public opinion against Linebacker I but primarily to increase the efforts of its people to maintain the dikes and to absolve itself of responsibility for failure to repair the system since the 1971 floods, the North Vietnamese commenced a major propaganda campaign in June 1972 alleging intentional attack of the dikes by U.S. forces . . .

U.S. investigation of North Vietnamese allegations revealed that there was some slight damage to some dikes but that their bombing was unintentional, their damage minor, and that no major dike had been breached. None of the damage was in the Hanoi area or involved the primary dike system protecting Hanoi . . .

The dike issue was complicated by North Vietnamese use of the dikes for military purposes. A large number of dikes served as part of the road network for North Vietnam, which were used to transport military equipment and personnel south to support the offensive in South Vietnam. Because President Johnson declared during Rolling Thunder that the United States would not attack the dikes, the North Vietnamese exploited the situation by placing AAA gun positions, ground-controlled intercept (GCI) radar, and surface-to-air missile (SAM) sites atop or adjacent to dikes, and storing POL alongside or on top of dikes as a shield against attack. All were legitimate targets. The air defenses not only threatened U.S. forces but, in inhibiting bombing accuracy in the attack of lawful targets, were likely to lead to greater incidental civilian casualties. Nonetheless, the Johnson administration denied repeated requests for authorization to attack the air defense sites. When they were finally authorized for attack during Linebacker I, it was with the stipulation that the targets were to be attacked with weapons that would minimize the risk of structural damage to the dikes. This was accomplished through the use of napalm, strafing, cluster munitions, and other antipersonnel weapons.[ 96]

Ultimately, even Fonda concedes today that “the United States may not have been waging an all-out bombing campaign to obliterate the dikes,”[97] but she continues to assert that the dikes (as opposed to military targets located on the dikes) were being intentionally targeted.[98] And the use of antipersonnel weapons is explained as a way of weakening the dikes (to kill “hundreds of thousands of people”) while leaving the damage “invisible.”[ 99]

Jane Fonda describes the twelve-day bombing of Operation Linebacker II surrounding Christmas of 1972 as “massive B-52 bombing of Hanoi that would stun the world”[100]; “saturation bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong”[101]; and “pummeling Hanoi and Haiphong with B-52 bombers.”[ 102] She doesn't mention that when the bombing was over, by Hanoi's own figures, only about 1,600 civilians were killed in Hanoi and Haiphong combined during Linebacker II. Stanley Karnow writes:

The dispatches of a lone French correspondent on the spot, cited in many American newspaper, television, and radio accounts, referred repeatedly to the “carpet bombing” of downtown areas in Haiphong and Hanoi. But Malcolm Browne of The New York Times reported from Hanoi soon afterward that the damage had been “grossly overstated,” and other foreign journalists corroborated his testimony. So did Tran Duy Hung, mayor of Hanoi. American antiwar activists visiting the city during the attacks urged the major to claim a death toll of ten thousand. He refused, saying that his government's credibility was at stake. The official North Vietnamese figure for civilian fatalities for the period was 1,318 in Hanoi and 305 in Haiphong-hardly the equivalent of the Americans' incendiary bombing of Tokyo in March 1945, for example, when nearly eighty-four thousand people were killed in a single night.[ 103]

Professor Parks provides this assessment of the damage caused by this most intense bombing of the entire war:

[Hanoi's] figure does not distinguish between civilians not taking a direct part in the hostilities and civilians killed while working in lawful targets or taking part in the conflict. Nor does the figure differentiate between those civilians killed by errant bombing caused by actions of the defender, as occurred in the bombs dropped on Kham Thien street, or civilians killed by North Vietnamese SAMs or AAA projectiles which, having missed their targets, plummeted to the ground. Hanoi fired more than 1000 SAMs at Linebacker II forces, showing little or no regard for the safety of its own people in their firing, and the area in and around Hanoi and Haiphong became an impact area for North Vietnamese high-explosive ordnance. Undoubtedly, many of the 1318 civilian deaths can be attributed to these North Vietnamese defenses.

Measured against the only standard accepted in principle by nations-the law of war-and accepting Hanoi's casualty figure without qualification, Linebacker II is unprecedented in its minimization of collateral damage and collateral civilian casualties when compared with the intensity of effort against legitimate targets.[ 104]

Professor Parks' observation about the harm done by Hanoi's own SAM missiles, and his earlier cited comments about the way Hanoi routinely used civilian targets to try to shield military activities, add a touch of irony to Fonda's claim that “U.S. bombers took advantage of North Vietnam's unwillingness to fire at them when civilian aircraft were in range.”[ 105] On the contrary, throughout the war Hanoi and its agents in South Vietnam routinely displayed a callous disregard for the safety of noncombatants in both North and South Vietnam. Consider this excerpt from Professor Parks' assessment of the Rolling Thunder operation:

In addition to parking military convoys in civilian residential areas and storing military supplies in such places as the Haiphong cultural center, normally a civilian object protected from attack, the North Vietnamese maximized for military purposes their use of objects enjoying special protection under the law of war. Not the least of these was the utilization of hospitals as AA sites. In relating his experience in attacking the rail facilities and associated equipment at Viet Tri, one pilot noted sardonically:

They had one large complex of buildings just north of town that was billed as a hospital, and [it] was naturally off limits. If it was in fact a hospital, it must have been a hospital for sick flak gunners, because every time we looked at it from a run on the railhead, it was one mass of sputtering, flashing gun barrels.
The 1949 Geneva Convention relating to the protection of the wounded and sick is explicit in providing for discontinuance of protection for hospitals when they are used for "acts harmful to the enemy.”[ 106]

In contrast to the allegations by Fonda and many others that America engaged in “carpet bombing” of North Vietnam and U.S. pilots were instructed to “just drop your bombs wherever you wanted to,”[107] Parks correctly observes that the fact that, in by far the most intense bombing of the entire war (Linebacker II), even Hanoi admits far fewer than 2,000 people died in a twelve-day period is persuasive evidence of the degree to which the United States sought to avoid collateral damage. As Parks has documented in great detail, “Rolling Thunder was one of the most constrained military campaigns in history[108]-and, as a result, America spent more than $100,000 for every truck we destroyed on the Ho Chi Minh trail.[ 109]

Could the War Have Been Won?

Time and again in her book Fonda repeats yet another of the great myths of the Vietnam War-that “[i]t was not a war that could have been won.”[110] Oh, she admits that “we could win battles, and did . . . But we couldn't win the war, at least not by conventional means.”[ 111]

In reality, we won every major battle of the war. And today it is widely recognized by experts who followed the military aspects of the war closely over the years that by the end of 1972 South Vietnam and the United States had essentially won the war. The Viet Cong guerrillas in South Vietnam had been destroyed and were no longer a serious factor, and the North Vietnamese Army's “Spring Offensive” of 1972 had been driven back by the South Vietnamese Army (ARVN) with only American air support. After the war was over, Hanoi admitted that it had lost more than a million troops in the war-nearly four times the combined losses of South Vietnam, the United States, and their allies.[ 112]
And yet people like Jane Fonda continue to spread the myth that the United States was defeated militarily on the battlefields of Vietnam.

Few Americans, if any, could rival the expertise of William E. Colby, who served as CIA Station Chief in Saigon starting in the late 1950s and spent most of the war either in various senior positions in country-including Deputy to the Commander, Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) with rank of Ambassador-or heading the Far East Division at CIA headquarters. In his superb 1989 book, Lost Victory, Colby notes the success of Vietnamization and the importance of the Communists' 1972 Easter Offensive:

This was the test. And the South Vietnamese met it. The North Vietnamese units did not take Hue; they were repulsed in the highlands. The major attack against the Saigon area stalled before the heroism and strength of the South Vietnamese Army. A free Vietnam had proven that it had the will and the capability to defend itself with the assistance, but not the participation, of its American ally against the enemy to the north assisted by Soviet and Chinese allies. On the ground in South Vietnam, the war had been won.[ 113]

Another respected professional who had served in Vietnam through much of the war was Douglas Pike, whose 1966 classic volume, Viet Cong-the first of his six books on the war-was one of those rare books on the controversial war that was praised across the political spectrum. After retiring from the government, Pike served as Director of Indochinese Studies at the University of California at Berkeley for many years before moving his extensive collection of documents and materials to Texas Tech University's new Vietnam Center in 1997, where he worked until his death in 2002.[ 114] Nearly fifteen years after the war ended, Professor Pike provided this account:

I believe we could have won the war in Vietnam. I believe future historians will say that not only could the war have been won, but that we had it won. But in the end it was defeat we snatched out of the jaws, not victory. . . . Had American credibility been maintained this would never have happened.[ 115]

The distinguished military historian Lewis Sorley, in his 1999 volume, A Better War, writes:

There came a time when the war was won. The fighting wasn't over, but the war was won. This achievement can probably best be dated in late 1970, after the Cambodian incursion in the spring of that year. By then the South Vietnamese countryside had been widely pacified, so much so that the term `pacification' was no longer even used . . .

Not only was the internal war against subversion and the guerrilla threat won, so was that against the external conventional threat-in the terms specified by the United States. Those terms were that South Vietnam should, without help from U.S. ground forces, be capable of resisting aggression so long as America continued to provide logistical and financial support and-of critical importance later, once a cease-fire agreement had been negotiated-renewed application of U.S. air and naval power should North Vietnam violate the terms of that agreement.
The viability of such arrangements would be demonstrated in 1972, when the enemy's Easter Offensive was met and turned back after heavy fighting by just that combination of South Vietnamese and American forces and resources. So severely were the invading forces punished that it was three years before they could mount another major offensive, and that despite the complete withdrawal of all U.S. troops in the meantime. At that later fateful juncture, as will be seen, the United States defaulted on all three elements of its promised support and, unsurprisingly, the war was no longer won.[ 116]

Robert Elegant was among the most respected American journalists to cover the war year after year. In 1981, he provided this assessment:
Looking back coolly, I believe it can be said (surprising as it may still sound) that South Vietnamese and American forces actually won the limited military struggle. They virtually crushed the Viet Cong in the South, the `native' guerrillas who were directed, reinforced, and equipped from Hanoi; and thereafter they threw back the invasion by regular North Vietnamese divisions.[ 117]

American POWs in Hanoi provided a similar assessment based upon their observations during the December 1972 “Christmas bombing” of Operation Linebacker II. Admiral James Stockdale, for example, recorded these observations:

At dawn, the streets of Hanoi were absolutely silent. The usual patriotic wakeup music was missing, the familiar street sounds, the horns, all gone. Our [POW camp] interrogators and guards would inquire about our needs solicitously. Unprecedented morning coffee was delivered to our cell blocks. One look at any Vietnamese officer's face . . . told the whole story. It telegraphed accommodation, hopelessness, remorse, fear. The shock was there; our enemy's will was broken.[ 118]

Sadly, thanks initially to the arrogant incompetence of Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara-who refused to consider the consistent advice of America's senior military leaders and the Intelligence Community, and in the process subsequently alienated countless Americans with his “no-win” strategy-and then to the effects of a campaign of lies repeated time and again by people like Fonda, America's will to fulfill the 1961 pledge of John F. Kennedy to “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty,” had also been broken.

Ironically, neither the President nor the American military had lost their will. Most Vietnam veterans were proud of our service and wanted to see our commitment through, and we believed that President Nixon had been both correct and courageous in finally permitting the military to fight the war the way the unanimous Joint Chiefs of Staff had been urging from the start. Recently returned POW John McCain spoke for many of us when he wrote in May 1973:

I admire President Nixon's courage. There may be criticism of him in certain areas-Watergate, for example. But he had to take the most unpopular decisions that I could imagine-the mining, the blockade, the bombing. I know it was very, very, difficult for him to do that, but that was the thing that ended the war.[ 119]

The perception that the United States was winning the military conflict was shared as well by our enemies, who knew from the start they would not be able to resist the American military if we ever took the gloves off. (I am not talking here about intentionally bombing civilian targets or other unlawful tactics, but rather permitting the military to fight the war lawfully without unnecessary constraints being imposed by Washington.) Truong Nhu Tang, who served as Minister of Justice for the Viet Cong's “Provisional Revolutionary Government,” provides this assessment from his perspective in the “liberated areas” of South Vietnam:

As they had in earlier years of conflict (in 1965 for example and 1968), American leaders in 1972 focused on the military dimension of their problem. To the extent that their actions and memoirs reflect their understanding, the spring offensive was to them primarily a battlefield exercise, amenable to the disciplined and effective use of force . . . Against the American military objectives of bracing the Saigon army, inflicting maximum tactical and strategic damage, and demonstrating determination, we were pursuing a mix of political and military objectives. Militarily, the ability of the Saigon army to withstand a major, protracted assault would be tested. At best, the offensive would cause the disintegration of enemy forces. More conservatively, we could hope to take and hold territory where adequate logistical support was available . . . These were the military objectives. Far more important, though, were the political goals. The overriding aim was to get the United States out of Vietnam on the best basis possible and keep her out-thus isolating the Thieu regime. To do this it was necessary to weaken still further Nixon and Kissinger's ability to make war, by bringing domestic opposition to their policies to a head . . .

For its part, the U.S. Congress had already prohibited funds for American operations in Cambodia and Laos, and the Senate would soon pass the Hatfield amendment, requiring the withdrawal of all troops in return for the release of POWs. The idea that continued American intervention was immoral was gaining widespread credence in the United States, according to our intelligence analysts, not only among the militant antiwar groups, but also in the population generally. These were the signs that told us the offensive was a success, and at this stage of the war we received them with as much satisfaction as we received news of any military victory.[ 120]

It is widely recognized by all sides now-save, perhaps, for much of the American press-that both the Tet Offensive and the 1970 Cambodian incursion were decisive military defeats for the Communists. In many ways, both were comparable to the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in the spring of 1954, where Ho Chi Minh's Viet Minh forces suffered more than three times the deaths and nearly twice the total casualties[121] of the French but the political effects of the battle proved decisive in bringing down the French government. Wise Chinese political advisers had urged General Vo Nguyen Giap to delay the final assault from March until early May so it could have maximum impact when the Geneva Conference took up the issue of Indochina-and when the delegates met for their first session on May 8, 1954, the morning papers heralded the fall of Dien Bien Phu the previous day. As the Pentagon Papers later observed, Dien Bien Phu “was to take on a political and psychological importance far out of proportion to its actual strategic value because of the upcoming Geneva Conference.”[ 122]

Discussing the 1972 Spring Offensive, Tang's A Viet Cong Memoir provides this assessment of Tet and the Cambodian offensive:

Indeed, in strictly military terms it was increasingly evidence that American arms were again scoring victories, just as they had during Tet, in Cambodia, and in so many of the pitched battles in which they confronted Vietcong and North Vietnamese main forces. As the summer wore on, our losses had become prodigious, and we began to see that many of the territorial advances could not be sustained . . . The paradox was that, despite this, the spring offensive was for us a decisive triumph. “You know,” said an American negotiator to his North Vietnamese counterpart three years later in Hanoi, “you never defeated us on the battlefield.” “That may be so,” came the answer, “but it is also irrelevant.”

It was irrelevant because the military battlefield upon which the Americans lavished their attention and resources was only one part of the whole board of confrontation. And it was not on this front that the primary struggle was being played out. . . .

The American bombing and invasion of Cambodia largely accomplished its immediate goals (I barely survived it myself). Nixon and Kissinger justified it then and later as an operation that gained an essential year of time. Yet this “victory” arguably did more to undermine American unity than any other event in the war. The America leaders braced themselves to weather a storm of protest that would, they thought, eventually subside. But how does one judge the cumulative effects of one's own body politic of ingrained distrust and ill will? To achieve a year or so of dubious battlefield grace, Nixon and Kissinger incurred a propaganda defeat whose effects are still apparent (fifteen years later) and, to the extent that they have entered the American national psyche, may well be permanent.[ 123]

This is a remarkably insightful assessment of what happened in Vietnam. Even our enemies admit that America did not lose the war on the battlefield. Under McNamara's reign, our military was prohibited from pursuing victory. But even then the Communists could not win any major battles against the far superior American firepower. When President Nixon took off the self-imposed fetters, we won quickly and decisively. By the end of 1972, the Viet Cong had been destroyed, the North Vietnamese Army had suffered tremendous casualties and had been driven far away from cities and population centers, and Hanoi's will was broken. Hanoi had exhausted its supply of SAM (surface-to-air) missiles and was totally vulnerable to American B-52 bombers if it failed to observe the January 1973 Paris Peace Accords. Neither Moscow nor Beijing was willing to replace them. And then-under pressure from people like Jane Fonda who spread false information about our behavior in Vietnam-the U.S. Congress threw in the towel by enacting legislation that made it unlawful for the United States military to engage in combat operations anywhere in Indochina. The military victory for which 58,000 of our brothers had given their lives had been won and then callously thrown away by Congress under pressure from Jane Fonda and her allies in the “peace” movement.

The cause of this is clear. We lost the “political” or “propaganda” war. Moscow, Hanoi, and their Communist allies had coordinated a massive campaign of lies and disinformation to turn the world against America and to divide the American people-lies that continue to divide America and to turn natural allies against us. Within the United States, the campaign was driven initially by hard-core Communists and leftist radicals like Fonda's second husband. But with “facts” and “evidence” provided by Hanoi and Soviet front groups around the world, they gradually persuaded patriotic Americans that their government was propping up a dictatorship, blocking free elections, subverting human rights, and generally-to quote one of their most effective spokesmen-fighting a war in a fashion “reminiscent of Genghis Khan . . .”[124] Partisan liberal politicians like J. William Fulbright, Frank Church, Edward Kennedy, Robert Packwood, Claiborne Pell and Clifford Case deserve a good share of the blame for undermining John F. Kennedy's famous inaugural pledge, as did a remarkably ignorant and irresponsible press.[ 125]

Consequences of the Loss of Indochina

With relatively few exceptions (perhaps most notably, Joan Baez), the leaders of the anti-Vietnam War movement seem oblivious to the realities of what they accomplished. They don't mention the slaughter of millions that followed the Communist conquests in 1975, the human rights catastrophe they caused or the longer-term consequences in places like Angola, Central America, or Afghanistan.

Falling Dominos

Fonda assures us that “[a]ll the Dominoes are still standing.”[ 126] Of course, the original domino theory was that if we did not protect South Vietnam, the Communists would soon take over Laos and Cambodia and then move on Thailand, Burma, Indonesia, and who knows where else? Laos and Cambodia did fall, with catastrophic consequences that will be discussed in a moment.

It is true that Thailand and Indonesia survived, but any assumption that they would have survived an American withdrawal in the mid-1960s must ignore the dramatic improvements in their security situations during the decade leading up to the conquest of South Vietnam. In 1965, both Thailand and Indonesia were economic and political basket cases, ripe for revolution. By delaying Hanoi's victory for another decade, we bought time for both countries to enhance their security.

But what about the Soviet decision in 1975 to start sending tens of thousands of Cuban troops into Angola? Does anyone seriously believe that this was unrelated to their perception that the United States had been left injured on the ropes in Indochina? And was the Soviet decision to permit Moscow-line Communist movements in Latin America to engaged in “armed struggle” for the first time in half-a-century unrelated to perceptions of American will drawn from our abandonment of Indochina? Nicaragua was taken by the Sandinistas (who during the 1960s had openly admitted their Marxist-Leninist character), and Communist guerrillas made significant advances in El Salvador and other countries in the region.[ 127] Tens of thousands died in the process.

Stopping the Killing

Time and again in her autobiography, Fonda tells us her goal in opposing the war was to “stop the killing.”[ 128] Of course, after she and her fellow protesters pressured Congress into outlawing the expenditure of appropriated funds for further combat operations to resist Communist aggression in Indochina, our enemies rather quickly conquered their neighbors to the south and west. For some reason, Ms. Fonda fails to mention that in the next three years, the new Communist regimes slaughtered an estimated three million human beings and subjected tens of millions of others to a Stalinist tyranny.

Well, in fairness she does suggest that there may have been some human rights problems. She writes:

[N]ot all that I have heard about the situation there [in Vietnam since the war ended] makes me happy. In North Vietnam the “hard-liners” won out over more moderate leaders, and they were heavy-handed and disconnected from the people in the southern cities when they set about trying to bring order out of chaos. Thousands of former Saigon administrators and military officials were put into reeducation camps with no rights of appeal. Economic reforms were rigidly instituted without sensitivity to what people wanted and needed in the South. The Hanoi government went about imposing a centralized economy and social order ill suited to local conditions, with almost the same sense of entitlement that had allowed the United Sates to try to reorganize South Vietnamese society according to our westernized concepts: an urban consumer culture. Still, none of this justifies what the United States did . . .[ 129]

With this level of denial, one can only wonder how Fonda might rationalize the “errors” and “excesses” of Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler, and Mao Zedong. Abundant data exist to document the absolutely horrendous oppression that Fonda and her friends helped impose upon the people of Indochina. But Jane Fonda remains in denial. In her autobiography, she writes: “Whatever hardships were foisted on the Vietnamese people by the new Communist regime, the widespread publicity put out by the Pentagon that, should they take over, the Communists would murder hundreds of thousands, even millions, of people turned out to be propaganda to manipulate American public opinion . . . .”[ 130]

Some of Fonda's fellow anti-war activists have recognized what really happened. In the years following the war, as more and more information became public about the genocide in Cambodia and the gulags of Vietnam, several prominent anti-war leaders came forward, acknowledged they had been wrong, and made public apologies. Peter Berger, a war protester involved with “Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam,” acknowledged after the war: “I was wrong and so were all those who thought as I did . . . Contrary to what most members (including myself) of the antiwar [movement] expected, the peoples of Indochina have, since 1975, been subjected to suffering far worse than anything that was inflicted on them by the United States and its allies.”[131] Activist Peter Collier added: “It didn't take long for the utopia we of the Left had predicted for Southeast Asia-once the United States was defeated-to reveal itself as a nightmare of tiger cages, boat people, and political re-education camps.”[ 132]

Writing in Newsweek in 1982, human rights advocate and former war protester Ginetta Sagan provided this account:

Human rights in Vietnam is not a new concern to me. During the years before 1975 I met with representatives of the National Liberation Front who told me of their great concern for human rights in South Vietnam. Where are these leaders today, and where are my colleagues in the peace movement who had so strongly protested political repression by the Thieu regime? . . .

During the last three years friends and I have interviewed several hundred former prisoners, read newspaper articles on the camps as well as various reports of Amnesty International, and have studied official statements from the Vietnamese Government and its press on the resettlement camps. The picture that emerges is one of severe hardship, where prisoners are kept on a starvation diet, overworked and harshly punished for minor infractions of camp rules. We know of cases where prisoners have been beaten to death, confined to dark cells or in ditches dug around the perimeters of the camps and executed for attempting escape. A common form of punishment is confinement to the CONEX boxes-air freight containers that were left behind by the United States in 1975. The boxes vary in size; some are made of wood and others of metal. In a CONEX box 4 feet high and 4 feet wide, for example, several prisoners would be confined with their feet shackled, and allowed only one bowl of rice and water a day. “It reminded me of the pictures I saw of Nazi camp inmates after World War II,” said a physician we interviewed who witnessed the release of four prisoners who had been confined to a CONEX box for one month. None of them survived . . . Today there is no talk in Vietnam about human rights-only about the “dictatorship of the proletariat” and the need to suppress dissidents.[ 133]

Another antiwar crusader, Michael Medved, later wrote: “As events unfolded, and reports of widespread suffering and bloodshed became harder and harder to deny, I felt that those of us that had participated in the antiwar movement had a moral obligation to admit that we had been profoundly wrong concerning the postwar future of Southeast Asia and the nature of the Vietnamese and Cambodian Communists.”[134] And a decade ago, Marxist historian Eugene Genovese asserted that many American radicals were, in effect, “accomplices to mass murder.”[ 135]

Last year the respected human rights group, Freedom House (founded more than sixty years ago by Eleanor Roosevelt), released a list of “the worst of the worst,” the most repressive regimes in the world. And the “Socialist Republic of Vietnam” occupied its usual place on that list.[136] A 2004 article in the Boston Globe about contemporary Vietnam accurately described it as “a country of 82 million human beings - who live under one of the most repressive dictatorships on Earth.”[ 137]

French human rights activist Dr. Jacqueline Desbarats, who has taught at the University of California at Berkeley and served as a consultant to the United Nations, spent years studying the human rights situation in Vietnam after the war and concluded that more than a million South Vietnamese were forcible relocated to “New Economic Zones,” two-and-a-half million were sent through “reeducation,” and more than 100,000 were victims of extrajudicial killings.[138] French journalist and scholar Jean Lacouture, one of Hanoi's strongest supporters during the war, estimated that as many as three or four million city residents were forcibly moved the “new economic zones,” which he described as “a prefabricated hell.”[ 139]

One does not have to rely upon outsiders to get a sense of Hanoi's attitude towards human rights. Ironically and coincidentally, on the first anniversary of Thomas Jefferson's birthday after the Communist seizure of power in South Vietnam, Radio Hanoi explained: “Democracy does not mean offering a chance for the people to choose a certain policy, but implementing a policy and insuring first of all that everyone has sufficient food and clothing and can engage in his studies.”[ 140]

Later that month, Quan Doi Nhan Dan (People's Army) gave this summary of Hanoi's human rights policy: “Of course, proletarian democracy does not bring democracy to the reactionary elements. On the contrary, it is determined to suppress and punish all opposition forces . . . and prevent them from using the press, arts and literature to distort the truth and poison public opinion.”[ 141]

Less than a year later, the same publication featured an editorial on “Human Rights” that said:

We encourage the freedom to express one's ideas for the purpose of accelerating the socialist revolution. But . . . we forbid all acts which oppose the socialist regime and will deprive of all rights to freedom those enemies who view socialism with a grudging eye or who describe all aspects of socialism as . . . having shortcomings. With the counterrevolutionaries . . . our people are determined to deprive them of freedom of speech and to severely punish them.[ 142]

Only a single opposition member of the South Vietnamese National Assembly prior to “liberation” was invited to join the “unified national assembly” set up by Hanoi: Nguyen Cong Hoan, who had been elected in the South as a member of the militant An Quang Buddhists and was a strong critic of President Nguyen Van Thieu. Within two years, he had escaped from Vietnam and he later explained his decision to flee in an article in Newsweek:

The new authorities rule by force and terror. What little freedom existed under Thieu is gone. The . . . secret police are dreaded - worse than any previous Vietnamese regime. There is no freedom of movement or association; no freedom of the press, or of religion, or of economic enterprise, or even of private personal opinion . . . Fear is everywhere. An indiscreet remark can make one liable to instant arrest and an indefinite prison term.[ 143]

In 1969-1970, Doan Van Toai visited the United States as vice president of the Saigon Student Union, where he denounced the war and called for the withdrawal of American troops to cheering audiences at Stanford, Berkeley, and other American campuses. After “liberation,” he was one of hundreds of thousands of South Vietnamese sent off to “reeducation” camps by the Communist victors. After eventually making his way to France, he wrote that “800,000 South Vietnamese citizens-half of them unconnected with the former regime-remained under harsh detention in various prisons and reeducation camps, asserting that “jail conditions under the new regime” were “incomparably worse than under Thieu.”[ 144]

Another Newsweek article quoted a Vietnamese-speaking European resident in Hanoi as saying: “Next to Vietnam's Politburo, China's `Gang of Four' were boy scouts. One day a new generation of leaders will denounce them for having turned the country into a gigantic gulag.”[ 145]

Some of the most damning commentary on the reality of the regime Fonda helped install in southern Vietnam came from European journalists who had been strong critics of the United States and sympathizers with the Viet Cong during the war. Hoping to quell some of the negative publicity it was receiving from human rights groups, in 1978 Hanoi invited four handpicked reporters to visit the “reeducation camps” with the expectation they would continue to serve as regime apologists. Instead, they were shocked by what they witnessed and wrote articles telling the truth.

In an editorial entitled “The Indochinese Goulag,” L'Express editor in chief Oliver Todd reported, “there is an archipelago of camps where mental and physical torture are the rule, not the exception. Today, one can question the numbers, but one can not contest the fact that there are concentrations camps.”[146] In a front-page story, Le Monde correspondent Roland-Pierre Paringaux added, “Vietnamese refugees and opponents of the Hanoi government living in Paris say the total figure is 800,000 . . . and back it up with fully documented details. The Vietnamese authorities counter such allegations with a stolid silence or react with propaganda which cannot help but reinforce one's worst suspicions.”[ 147]

The greatest tragedy occurred in Cambodia, which Fonda doesn't even list in her index and only mentions to express her total outrage over American efforts to defend U.S. forces and the South Vietnamese against the tens of thousands of North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces who had occupied eastern Cambodia and were using it as a base from which to launch operations into South Vietnam.

After Fonda and her friends persuaded Congress to make it unlawful to expend Treasury funds for combat operations to defend any of the non-Communist elements in Indochina, the brutal Pol Pot regime seized power in Cambodia. A 2003 story in National Geographic Today captured the essence of what then happened:

From 1975 to 1979, Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge soldiers killed 1.7 million Cambodians, or 21 percent of the population, according to Yale University's Cambodia Genocide Program.

A soccer-field-sized area surrounded by farmland, the killing fields contain mass graves, slightly sunken, for perhaps 20,000 Cambodians, many of whom were tortured before being killed. The bordering trees held nooses for hangings . . . [B]ullets were too precious to use for executions. Axes, knives and bamboo sticks were far more common. As for children, their murderers simply battered them against trees.[ 148]
To be sure, the figures are not precise. The Black Book of Communism, published by Harvard University Press in 1999, estimates that the Communists in Indochina slaughtered two million Cambodians and one million Vietnamese.[149] Yale University's award-winning Cambodian Genocide Program conservatively estimates that only 1.7 million Cambodians were slaughtered-killing a little more than 20 per cent of the country's population in a few short years.[ 150] (That would be equivalent to slaughtering about sixty million Americans in three years, by way of comparison on a per capita basis.)

Professor R. J. Rummel, Director of the Haiku Peace Research Center at the University of Hawaii, devotes nearly fifty pages to the Cambodian genocide in one of his superb books-volumes which collectively earned him a nomination by a Swedish government official for the Nobel Peace Prize-and concludes that 2.85 million human beings were killed in Cambodia following the Communist victory in 1975.[151] But whereas Hitler slaughtered about one percent of the German population in an average year, and the Soviet Union somewhat less of its people, Pol Pot's regime killed Cambodians at slightly more than 8 percent of the total population per year.[ 152]

Professor Rummel estimates that, over the years, the Communist government in North Vietnam and the united “Socialist Republic of Vietnam” that incorporated South Vietnam following its military conquest in 1975 slaughtered about 1.67 million Vietnamese.[153] This figure includes those killed during the “land reform” and various purges in North Vietnam and the victims of some 24,756 recorded terrorist attacks against South Vietnamese civilians between 1965 and 1972,[154] as well as an estimated 528,000 killed by the government after 1975.[155] This does not include the hundreds of thousands of “boat people” who drowned, died of starvation or thirst, or were murdered by pirates after fleeing Vietnam in desperation in over-crowded small boats in the hope they might somehow find their way to land and a chance at human freedom. Perhaps half-a-million “boat people” managed to make it safely to land. Estimates of those who died range from a few hundred thousand to half of those who fled.[ 156]

Honorable people can argue whether the total human cost of America's abandonment of John Kennedy's pledge-in terms of human lives lost because of the brutality of the regimes that came to power when Congress made it unlawful for the American military to continue protecting victims of Communist aggression-is closer to two or to four million. But anyone who still denies that a “bloodbath” occurred after America abandoned the peoples of Indochina is either lying or totally out-of-touch with reality. To this tragic cost must be added the suffering of the many tens of millions who were consigned to Communist tyranny by our decision to abandon them.

Throughout this period, as one former war critic after another stepped forward and acknowledged the human horrors their protests and produced, Jane Fonda remained loyal to Hanoi and her “small-c” communism. In May 1979, Joan Baez and 83 other anti-war activists published an “Open Letter to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” protesting torture and a range of other human rights violations. In response, Fonda released a statement saying “Such rhetoric only aligns you with the narrow and negative elements in our country who continue to believe that communism is worst than death.”[ 157]

Was It Really “Treason”?

Treason is the only criminal offense defined by the U.S. Constitution, which provides:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.[ 158]

Sitting in an enemy anti-aircraft gun and pretending to shoot down American pilots during a period of major war authorized by Congress probably falls short of this definition. Putting together a stage show (named FTA for “Fuck the Army”[159]) to be shown to thousands of soldiers for the purpose of turning them against their leaders[160] may well also have been protected by the First Amendment. Nor does traveling to the enemy's capital and making nice with enemy government officials clearly constitute “adhering to the enemy.” But in my view it is beyond question that when Jane Fonda illegally traveled to North Vietnam and volunteered[ 161] to make radio addresses directed against American combat forces - addresses which on their face clearly were intended to discourage those forces from carrying out their orders - she gave “aid and comfort” to the enemy and in the process committed constitutional treason.

Indeed, as this review has sought to demonstrate, assisting Hanoi's political warfare offensive was a far more important form of “aid” than would have resulted had Fonda actually fired that anti-aircraft gun and single-handedly shot down a dozen American aircraft. It was more important “aid” than had she thrown one hundred hand grenades at American troops and caused hundreds of deaths. Because Hanoi was not trying to defeat the American military on the battlefield - its strategy from the start was to undermine American moral and ultimately defeat its will to continue resisting North Vietnamese aggression. And no opponents of the war were more valuable to Hanoi than disgruntled Vietnam veterans. Because of this, Fonda helped fund a variety of anti-war coffee houses near major American military bases around the United States, and she was the primary fundraiser for the Vietnam Veterans Against the War's “Winter Soldier Investigation” in early 1971.[ 162]
Fonda's radio broadcasts to American forces from Hanoi were filled with Communist cant about “imperialism” and “class struggle,” and several seemed calculated to promote mutiny. Consider this excerpt from a Radio Hanoi broadcast on July 14, 1972:

This is Jane Fonda speaking from Hanoi, and I'm speaking particularly to the U.S. servicemen who are stationed on the aircraft carriers in the Gulf of Tonkin . . . . I don't know what your officers tell you you are loading, those of you who load the bombs on the planes. But, one thing that you should know is that these [toxic chemical] weapons are illegal . . . And the use of these bombs makes one a war criminal.
The men who are ordering you to use these weapons are war criminals according to international law, and in the past, in Germany and in Japan, men who were guilty of these kind of crimes were tried and executed . . .
The women and the mothers in the United States are weeping for the damage and death and destruction that is being caused to the mothers of Vietnam. Very soon, very soon even the people in the United States who have not yet spoken out will be admitting that this war is the most terrible crime that has ever been created against humanity . . .
Why? Why do you do this? Why do you follow orders telling you to destroy a hospital or bomb the schools?[ 163]

In her autobiography, Fonda expresses shock at the reaction to her Radio Hanoi broadcasts. She writes: “In the period of time right after my return, Representatives Fletcher Thompson (R-Ga.) and Richard Ichord (D-Mo.) accused me of treason. They said I had urged American troops to disobey orders and had given `aid and comfort to the enemy.'”[ 164] But for some strange reason-although she admits that she volunteered to make propaganda broadcasts to American forces-she does not mention that she told them that if they obeyed orders and loaded bombs on the planes, because she alleged the bombs were really filled with poison gas (a blatant falsehood), they would become “war criminals” who could be “tried and executed” after the war. Having said this, she asks: “Why do you follow orders . . .?” And yet she denies having urged American military personnel to “disobey orders.” I'll submit the issue to the reader to decide.

Near the end of July, in a broadcast directed at Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, Fonda made “an urgent appeal for all people around the world.” “There is only one way to stop Richard Nixon from committing mass genocide in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, and that is for a mass protest all around the world of all peace-loving people to expose his crimes . . .”[165] On July 19, 1972, Fonda made yet another Radio Hanoi propaganda broadcast, this time claiming to have met with “seven U.S. pilots” who “asked me to bring back to the American people their sense of disgust of the war and their shame for what they have been asked to do.”[166] According to Fonda, the pilots “all assured me that they have been well cared for,” and she added “I certainly felt from them a very sincere desire to explain to the American people that this war is a terrible crime and that it must be stopped. ”[ 167]

Chapter twelve of Fonda's autobiography is entitled “Framed,” and is intended to make it clear to her readers that all of the charges from angry veterans about “Hanoi Jane” were without foundation. “I am still baffled,” she writes, “by those who feel that criticizing America is unpatriotic . . . ”[168] And the only reason she gives for “apologists for the war” having “orchestrate[d] the myth of `Hanoi Jane'” was that she had made some “angry remarks” when the American POWs returned home in 1973. “I was framed and turned into a lightening rod for people's anger, frustration, misinformation, and confusion about the war. The myth of `Hanoi Jane' lingers today . . . ”[ 169]


For the record, the charge of “Hanoi Jane” still “lingers today” because Jane Fonda willingly (and illegally) went to the aggressor enemy's capital in the midst of a major war and repeatedly made propaganda broadcasts intended to persuade American forces to refuse to carry out their orders. She also willingly reinforced the enemy's propaganda lies by denying American POWs had been tortured. She then returned home, and used her “first-hand knowledge” to deceive congressmen into believing that America was routinely committing war crimes and doing other evil things. And as a direct consequence of her efforts and those of many others, Congress was persuaded to make it unlawful for the United States to continue defending the people of non-Communist Indochina. To finish the story, that legislation permitted her Communist friends to conquer their neighbors in 1975 and carry out the slaughter of an estimated three million human beings. Tens of millions of others continue to be consigned to a totalitarian regime that remains among the “worst of the worst” in terms of denying human freedom.
Because of this clear record of what many believe to have been treason, millions of Vietnam veterans and other Americans continue to view Jane Fonda as a despicable traitor. In my view, the anger is justified. But I could understand it if some readers came away with a different view of Jane Fonda. Rather than an articulate, intelligent, willing accomplice of our nation's enemy who helped bring about genocide and the virtual enslavement of tens of millions of people America had solemnly pledged to protect; some may well read how poor pitiful Jane wasn't really very bright, grew up in a dysfunctional environment where her parents didn't give her enough attention, and spent her life desperately trying to satisfy the “men” in her life. And when she went to live in France and married a “small-C” communist, he and his friends told her so many evil things about her country that she just had no choice but to believe them and to devote her life to furthering their cause. Yes, she committed treason repeatedly in the process and helped bring about incalculable human suffering. It's kind of like when husband Roger Vadim wanted her to bring street whores into their marital bed. In Fonda's own words, “I'm so good at becoming whatever my man wants me to be. I can convince myself of practically anything in the name of pleasing.”[ 170]

Despicable traitor? I think yes. Poor little misunderstood victim as well?

You be the judge.
Prof. Robert F. Turner
August 22, 2005

 * Professor Turner holds both professional and academic doctorates from the University of Virginia School of Law, where in 1981 he co-founded the Center for National Security Law. A veteran of two voluntary Army tours in Vietnam and several visits to Indochina during the war as a civilian, he has studied, written, and taught about the Vietnam War for four decades. The author or editor of more than a dozen books-including Vietnamese Communism: Its Origins and Development (Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 1975) and The Real Lessons of the Vietnam War (Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 2002) - he has taught seminars about the war for both undergraduate and graduate students at Virginia as well as at the Naval War College, where he served as Charles H. Stockton Professor of International Law. The views expressed and responsibility for accuracy of facts are his own.

 [1] Freedom House, “The Worst of the Worst: The World's Most Repressive Societies 2005,” A Report to the 61st Session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Geneva, 2005, p. 109.

 [2] Her only regrets about her role in bringing about a Communist victory in Indochina appear to focus on two brief incidents, allowing herself to be photographed sitting in a North Vietnamese Army anti-aircraft gun (which will be discussed below) and denouncing American prisoners of war as “liars” upon their return to America. Jane Fonda, My Life So Far, p. 324.

 [3] Fonda, My Life So Far, p.315-16.

 [4] Ibid. p. 316.

 [5] Ibid.

 [6] Ibid.

 [7] Ibid. p. 325.

 [8] Ibid. p. 318.

 [9] Ibid. p. 344.

 [10] Ibid. p. 232.

 [11] Ibid. p. 139.

 [12] Ibid. p. 265.

 [13] Ibid. p. 283.

 [14] See, e.g., Robert F. Turner, “Myths of the Vietnam War: The Pentagon Papers Reconsidered,” Southeast Asian Perspectives, Sept. 1972.

 [15] Fonda, My Life So Far, p. 332.

 [16] Ibid. p. 273.

 [17] Ibid. p. 357.

 [18] Ibid. p. 358.

 [19] More than thirty years ago I cited numerous Hanoi sources in documenting this background. See Robert F. Turner, Vietnamese Communism: Its Origins and Development (Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 1975), pp. 1-14.

 [20] Ibid. pp. 15-17.

 [21] Ibid. p. 3 n.5.

 [22] The Office of Strategic Services was set up during World War II and was the predecessor to the CIA.

 [23] Turner, Vietnamese Communism pp. 34-35, 69-70.

 [24] Article IV of the SEATO Treaty provided in part: “Each Party recognizes that aggression by means of armed attack in the treaty area against any of the Parties or against any State or territory which the Parties by unanimous agreement may hereafter designate, would endanger its own peace and safety, and agrees that it will in that event act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional processes.” South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia were designated in an accompanying protocol as protected territories.

 [25] For a reference to this article in the Washington Post, see William Branigin, “Ho Chi Minh Trail Led to Saigon,” Washington Post, April 23, 1985, p. A21.

 [26] “How North Vietnam Won the War,” Wall Street Journal, August 3, 1995, p. 8.

 [27] William Duiker, “Foreword: The History of the People's Army,” in Victory in Vietnam: The Official History of the People's Army of Vietnam, 1954-1975 (Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 2002), p. xvi.

 [28] Democratic Republic of Vietnam, Third National Congress of the Viet Nam Workers' Party (Hanoi: Foreign Languages Publishing House, n.d.), vol. 1, pp. 32-33.

 [29] Congressional Record, May 23, 1961, p. 8587.

 [30] Fonda, My Life So Far pp. 271-72, 339, 354n.

 [31] Daniel Ellsberg, Draft Speech for Robert McNamara, July 22, 1965, available on Mr. Ellsberg's web site at: http://www.ellsberg.net/writing/Draft.htm.

 [32] Jerold M. Starr, ed., The Lessons of the Vietnam War (Pittsburgh: Center for Social Studies Education 1991) p. 175-76.

 [33] Cecil V. Crabb, Jr., The Doctrines of American Foreign Policy (Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 1982) p. 214.

 [34] For a discussion of Truman's efforts to get Congress more involved in the decision to send U.S. troops to Korea in 1950, see Robert F. Turner, “Truman, Korea, and the Constitution: Debunking the `Imperial President' Myth,” 19 Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, Winter 1996, pp. 563-80.

 [35] Congressional Record, vol. 110, p. 18049 (1964).

 [36] Turner, Repealing the War Powers Resolution p. 21.

 [37] John E. Mueller, War, Presidents and Public Opinion (NY: Wiley, 1973) pp. 5, 54.

 [38] George Gallup, ed., The Gallup Poll (Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources, 1972), volume 3, p. 1971.

 [39] Gelb & Betts, The Irony of Vietnam, p. 226.

 [40] Ibid.

 [41] Lin Piao, Long Live the Victory of People's War (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1965) pp. 48-49, 57-58.

 [42] Ché Guavara, “On Solidarity with Vietnam,” Venceremos!: The Speeches and Writings of Ché Guevara (New York: Clarion, 1968) p. 289.

 [43] Fonda, My Life So Far p. 335.

 [44] See, e.g., Turner, Myths of the Vietnam War: The Pentagon Papers Reconsidered.

 [45] Fonda, My Life So Far p. 198.

 [46] Ibid. p. 316.

 [47] Ibid. p. 284 n.

 [48] Turner, Vietnamese Communism p. 93

 [49] Ibid. p. 100; Pentagon Papers, vol. 1, p. 569-71.

 [50] As the Pentagon Papers record, Viet Minh representative Pham Van Dong proposed that reunification elections be supervised by “local commissions,” and Soviet delegate Molotov had demanded that each side be permitted to count the votes in its own territory. Demands for UN supervision were denounced by the Communists as foreign interference in the “internal affairs” of Vietnam. 1 Pentagon Papers, vol. 1, pp. 119, 140.

 [51] Turner, Vietnamese Communism pp. 192-94, 202-03.

 [52] A March 5, 1956, New York Times editorial declared: “To attempt to settle the fate of the free Vietnamese without even consulting them is monstrous. To suggest a `free' election in a Communist territory is to presume the possible existence of conditions and safeguards for which there is neither assurance nor precedent.” “Election in Vietnam,” New York Times, March 5, 1956, p. 22. A month later, on April 6, 1956, another Times editorial added: “Premier Diem is right and duty-bound to reject the proposed elections until the necessary conditions for freedom have been established in the North.” “Conference on Vietnam,” New York Times, April 6, 1954, p. 24.

 [53] “{T]he basis for the policy of both nations [United States and South Vietnam] in rejecting the Geneva elections was . . . convictions that Hanoi would not permit `free general elections by secret ballot,' and that the ICC would be impotent in supervising the elections in any case.” Pentagon Papers, vol. I, p. 247.

 [54] Hanoi would likely have agreed to permit the elections to be “supervised” by the “International Control Commission” established at Geneva, chaired by India and including Canada and Poland as members. But that was because the ICC required unanimity for substantive decisions, and thus Communist Poland had (and regularly exercised) a veto to protect Hanoi's interests. See Turner, Vietnamese Communism, p. 97.

 [55] Quoted in Lewy, America in Vietnam p. 13.

 [56] New York Times, 11 April 1956.

 [57] These broadcasts will be discussed further below.

 [58] Jane Fonda, “Talk on Geneva Accords,” Radio Hanoi, July 20, 1972, 1300 GMT, reprinted in U.S. Department of Commerce, Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS), Asia & Pacific, July 24, 1972, pp. K28-29.

 [59] Pentagon Papers, vol. 1, p. 245.

 [60] Dwight David Eisenhower, The White House Years: Mandate for Change (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., 1963) p. 372.

 [61] Ibid.

 [62] Although a dedicated agent of the Communist International for more than three decades, Ho quoted Jefferson's famous “all men are created equal” passage from the American Declaration of Independence in August 1945 when he declared Vietnam independent of French control. Turner, Vietnamese Communism p. 42” and Appendix E. As intended, this deceived a lot of Americans in the years thereafter.

 [63] “By 1954, following the Geneva Conference, reputable Vietnamese nationalists outside the ranks of the Viet Minh were scarce. Many had been liquidated by the Communists . . . . [Diem] . . . was honest, courageous, and fervent in his fidelity to Vietnam's national cause; even Ho Chi Minh respected his patriotism.” Stanley Karnow, Vietnam: A History 213 (Penguin, 1983), See also, Phillippe Devillers, Historie du Vietnam de 1940 à 1952 at 63 (Diem was a man “known for his perfect integrity, his competence, and his intelligence as far back as 1933.”).

 [64] Mansfield said in 1956 that if a free election were held in Vietnam, “it is likely to be Ngo Dinh Diem's picture that will go into the ballot box and Ho Chi Minh's that will be cast into the dust.” Turner, Repealing the War Powers Resolution p. 14.

 [65] Whatever the intentions of various participants in the 1954 Geneva Conference, it clearly created two sovereign countries in Vietnam just as earlier divisions of Germany and Korea had created two sovereign entities. Pentagon Papers, vol. 1, pp. 285-88; B.S.N. Murti, Vietnam Divided: The Unfinished Struggle (London: Asia Publishing House, 1964) pp. 176-77.

 [66] Pentagon Papers, vol. 1, p. 246.

 [67] Bernard B. Fall, The Two Vietnams: A Political and Military Analysis, p. 156; Turner, Vietnamese Communism pp. 130-46, 163.

 [68] Black Book of Communism p. 479.

 [69] Pentagon Papers vol. 1, p. 41.

 [70] Ibid. p. 163-64.

 [71] Fonda, My Life So Far p. 198.

 [72] Pentagon Papers, vol. 1, p. 10.

 [73] Bernard B. Fall, The Two Viet-Nams p. 68.

 [74] Ibid.

 [75] Ibid. pp. 68-69.

 [76] Pentagon Papers, vol. 1, p. 46. See also, Turner, Vietnamese Communism pp. 51-72.

 [77] Pentagon Papers, vol. 1, p. 30.

 [78] Quoted in Turner, Repealing the War Powers Resolution p. 11. For a general discussion of how effectively the Pentagon Papers refuted most of the factual arguments of the anti-war movement, see Robert F. Turner, Myths of the Vietnam War: The Pentagon Papers Reconsidered.

 [79] Ibid. p. 124.

 [80] Fonda, My Life So Far p. 257.

 [81] Fonda, My Life So Far p. 338-39.

 [82] Looking back on the resolution decades later, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Dante Fascell observed: “My own impression of what happened at that time was that most everybody said, well, the President wants this power and he needs to have it. It had relatively little to do with the so-called [Gulf of Tonkin] incident.” John Hart Ely, War and Responsibility (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993) p. 20.

 [83] Fonda, My Life So Far p. 283.

 [84] Ibid. p. 273.

 [85] One of Hanoi's many propaganda themes during the war was that Vietnam “from Lang Son to Camau” had been united for “thousands of years.” In reality, prior to 1303 the southern boundary of “Vietnam” was close to the 17th parallel boundary set by the 1954 Geneva accords. Between the fifteenth and the latter part of the eighteenth century, the southern boundary gradually moved southward - with the Saigon area being annexed between 1698 and 1797. However, even North Vietnamese accounts acknowledged that true unity between north and south was rare. In 1558, the Nguyen family established an autonomous administration for the southern part of Vietnam (from Hue southward), while the Trinh family ruled in the north. And for most of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Vietnam was divided at the Gianh River in Quang Binh Province (which during the war was the southernmost province of North Vietnam). The two zones were united in 1786, but less than a century later the French seized all of Indochina. The Japanese replaced the French during World War II, and at Geneva in 1954 Vietnam was again divided roughly in half. Turner, Myths of the Vietnam War, pp. 39-40. A map showing the expansion of the Viets appears in the Pentagon Papers, vol. 1, p. 292.

 [86] John Norton Moore & Robert F. Turner (eds), The Real Lessons of the Vietnam War (Durham: Carolina Academic Press, 2002) pp. 99-146.

 [87] John Hart Ely, War and Responsibility p. 32.

 [88] Fonda, My Life So Far p. 241.

 [89] Ibid. p. 295.
 [90] Ibid. p. 192.
 [91] Ibid. p. 292.
 [92] Ibid. p. 296.
 [93] Ibid. p. 300.
 [94] Ibid. p. 321.

 [95] See, e.g., W. Hays Parks, "Rolling Thunder and the Law of War," Air University Review, Vol. XXXIII, No. 2 (January-February 1982): pp. 2-23; and W. Hays Parks, "Linebacker and the Law of War," Air University Review, Vol. XXXIV, No. 2 (January-February 1983), pp. 2-30.

 [96] Parks, “Linebacker and the Law of War, pp. 15-16 (emphasis added). Even Christopher Hitchens, who accuses Henry Kissinger of numerous "war crimes" in Vietnam, acknowledges that there was never an American policy of bombing North Vietnamese dikes. Christopher Hitchens, "The Case Against Henry Kissinger - Former Secretary of State," Harper's magazine, February and March 2001.

 [97] Fonda, My Life So Far p. 322.

 [98] Ibid.

 [99] Ibid. p. 319.

 [100] Ibid. p. 322.

 [101] Ibid. p. 339.

 [102] Ibid. p. 357.

 [103] Stanley Karnow, Vietnam: A History p. 653.

 [104] Parks, “Linebacker and the Law of War, p. 26.

 [105] Fonda, My Life So Far p. 293.

 [106] Parks, “Rolling Thunder and the Law of War,” pp. 20-212.

 [107] Ibid. p. 265 (discussing testimony of the alleged “veterans” who testified at the Winter Soldier Investigation in Detroit, which will be discussed below.

 [108] Parks, “Rolling Thunder and the Rule of Law,” p. 23.

 [109] Ibid. n. 10.

 [110] Fonda, My Life So Far p. 331.

 [111] Ibid. p. 357.

 [112] “1.1 million troops died, Vietnam says,” Baltimore Sun, April 4, 1995, p. 5.

 [113] William Colby, Lost Victory: A Firsthand Account of America's Sixteen-Year Involvement in Vietnam (Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1989) p. 321 (emphasis added).

 [114] For a short biography of Douglas Pike, see: http://www.vietnam.ttu.edu/ vietnamcenter/general/douglas_pike.htm.

 [115] Douglas Pike, “The Origins of the War: Competing Perceptions,” in John Norton Moore, The Vietnam Debate: A Fresh Look at the Arguments (Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1990) p. 87 (emphasis added).

 [116] Lewis Sorley, A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam (New York: Harcourt Brace & Co., 1999) pp. 217-19 (emphasis added).

 [117] Robert Elegant, “How to Lose a War,” Encounter (London), August 1981, pp. 73-74, available on line at: http://www.viet-myths.net/ . (emphasis added).

 [118] Jim & Sybil Stockdale, In Love and War (Annapolis: United States Naval Institute Press, 1984) p. 432 (emphasis added).

 [119] McCain, “Inside Story: How the POW's Fought Back,” p. 114.

 [120] Tang, A Viet Cong Memoir pp. 209-10.

 [121] Bernard B. Fall, Hell in a Very Small Place (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1968) p. 329.

 [122] Pentagon Papers vol. 1, p. 97. A Joint Chiefs of Staff memorandum dated March 29, 1954, noted that French General Paul Ely “recognized the great political and psychological importance of the outcome both in Indochina and in France, but considered that Dien Bien Phu, even if lost, would be a military victory for the French because of the cost to the Viet Minh and the relatively greater loss to the Viet Minh combat forces. Politically and psychologically, the loss of Dien Bien Phu would be a very serious setback to the French Union cause, and might cause unpredictable repercussions both in France and in Indochina.” JCS, “Memorandum for the President's Special Committee on Indo-China,” 29 March 1954, Document 26, Pentagon Papers, vol. 1, p. 457.

 [123] Ibid. p. 211-12.

 [124] United States Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations, Legislative Proposals Relating to the War in Southeast Asia, Apr. 22, 1971, p. 180 (statement of John Kerry). An unpaginated version of this testimony is available on line at: http://www.c-span.org/2004vote/jkerrytestimony.asp.

 [125] For an excellent discussion of some of the problems with media coverage of the war, see Robert Elegant, “How to Lose a War,” Encounter (London), August 1981, pp. 73-90. Available on line at: http://www.wellesley.edu/Polisci/wj/Vietnam/Readings/elegant.htm.

 [126] Fonda, My Life So Far p. 358.

 [127] For an overview of these developments, see Robert F. Turner, Nicaragua v. United States: A Look at the Facts (1987).

 [128] See, e.g., Fonda, My Life So Far pp. 324, 255.

 [129] Fonda, My Life So Far p. 355-56.

 [130] Ibid. pp. 356-57.

 [131] Quoted in James M. Griffiths, Vietnam Insights: Logic of Involvement and Unconventional Perspectives (New York: Vantage, 2000) p. 224.

 [132] Ibid. p. 223.

 [133] Ginetta Sagan, “Vietnam's Postwar Hell,” Newsweek, May 3, 1982, p. 13.

 [134] Griffiths, Vietnam Insights: p. 224.

 [135] Ibid. p. 225.

 [136] Freedom House, “World's Worst Regimes Unveiled,” April 2, 2004, available on line at: http://www.freedomhouse.org/media/pressrel/040204.htm.

 [137] Jeff Jacoby, “Vietnam Today,” Boston Globe, August 8, 2004, available on line at: http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2004/ 08/08/vietnam_today/.

 [138] Jacqueline Desbarats, Repression in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam: Executions and Population Relocation,” in John Norton Moore, ed., The Vietnam Debate: A Fresh Look at the Arguments (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1990) p. 196-97.

 [139] Quoted in Congressional Research Service (Library of Congress), Human Rights Conditions in Selected Countries and the U.S. Response (July 25, 1978) p. 79.

 [140] Radio Hanoi, April 13, 1976.

 [141] Quan Doi Nhan Dan, April 23, 1976.

 [142] “Human Rights,” Quan Doi Nhan Dan, March 24, 1977.

 [143] Nguyen Cong Hoan, “Why I Escaped from Vietnam,” Newsweek, Oct. 31, 1977, p. 25.

 [144] Newsweek, June 26, 1978 p. 17. See also, Joseph Fitchett, “Saigon Residents Found Intimidated by `Occupational Force,'” Washington Post, Nov. 6, 1978, p. A8.

 [145] “Inside Bleak Vietnam,” Newsweek, May 28, 1979, p. 57.

 [146] “The Indochinese Goulag,” L'Express, 12-18 June 1978, p. 105.

 [147] Roland-Pierre Paringaux, “La violation des droits de l'homme au Vietnam: Le régime a systématiquement recours aux arrestations et à la déclation,” Le Monde, Oct. 5, 1978, p. 1.

 [148] Zoltan Istvan, “`Killing Fields' Lure Tourists in Cambodia,” National Geographic Today, Jan. 10, 2003, available on line at: http://news.national geographic.com/news/2003/01/0110_030110_tvcambodia.html. Many scholars believe the actual figure was higher than 1.7 million. See, e.g., Gregory H. Stanton, “Why the Khmer Rouge Murdered Two Million People,” in Moore & Turner, The Real Lessons of the Vietnam War p. 449. For another poignant account of the killing fields, see: http://www.edwebproject.org/susanne/ phnompenh.html. Another study, funded by the U.S. and Dutch governments in cooperation with the British government, concluded that early estimates of as many as 3.3 million deaths were flawed because some individuals were identified more than once by different relatives and concluded that the most accurate figure of those killed in the Cambodian genocide is about two million. Craig Etcheson, Mapping Project 1999: The Analysis (Phnom Penh: Documentation Center of Cambodia, available on line at: http://www.mekong.net/cambodia/toll.htm.

 [149] Stéphane Courtois et al., eds., The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999) pp. 362-66.

 [150] Cambodian Genocide Program, available on line at: http://www.yale. edu/cgp/.

 [151] R. J. Rummel, Death By Government (Transaction publishers, 1994) p. 282.

 [152] Ibid. p. 195.
 [153] Ibid. p. 241, 243.
 [154] Ibid. p. 258.
 [155] Ibid. p. 282.

 [156] Professor Rummel estimates 250,000. Ibid. But the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has reportedly estimate that as many as half of those who fled in small boats did not make it safely to shore.

 [157] Dan Chu, “International Response to the Boat People Tragedy,” available on line at: http://www.danchu.net/.

 [158] U.S. Constitution, Article III, Section 3, clause 1.

 [159] Fonda, My Life So. Far p. 272.

 [160] Ibid. p. 274-75 (When asked whether she and her associates in the “FTA” performances were urging soldiers to revolt, Fonda replied “they're ahead of us on that.”)

 [161] Ibid. p. 304.

 [162] For detailed information on the Vietnam Veterans Against the War's “Winter Soldier Investigation” and other examples of VVAW war crimes propaganda, see http://www.wintersoldier.com.

 [163] These broadcasts can be found in many libraries that receive the Asia & Pacific issues of the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) transcriptions of North Vietnamese radio broadcasts, but are also readily available in the appendix of Henry Mark Holzer & Erika Holzer, “Aid and Comfort”: Jane Fonda in North Vietnam (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co. 2002) pp. 173-97.

 [164] Fonda, My Life So Far p. 321.

 [165] Jane Fonda, Radio Hanoi, July 28, 1972, 2000 GMT, reprinted in Holzer & Holzer, “Aid and Comfort,” pp. 192-93.

 [166] Ibid, August 15, 1972, reprinted in Holzer & Holzer, “Aid and Comfort,” pp. 195-96.

 [167] Ibid. p. 106.
 [168] Ibid. p. 246.
 [169] Ibid. p. 324-25.
 [170] Ibid. p. 232.