How To Lose A War

I am a Vietnam veteran. I make no claim that my service in the Vietnam War was in any way significant: if you could calculate such a thing mathematically I might make it into the fourth or fifth decimal place. But I was there, and spent another 2-1/2 years in service in the United States after returning.

I am unable to express adequately my loathing and contempt for the press members who covered the war and reported on it so mendaciously. I watched them and came to realize that they were deliberately aiding and abetting my country's enemies. The uniformly vicious opposition to the war they generated is the root of all the unrest and antagonism in the USA today: as bad as these people were 50+ years ago, they're much worse now. The current generation of "journalists" was recruited and trained by the liars of long ago. They—like their mentors—are incapable of objectivity, they are filled with hate for America, and actively doing their best to tear down the society in which we live. Perhaps some of these people should read "Nationalist In The Vietnam Wars: Memoirs Of A Victim Turned Soldier" by Nguyên Công Luân, a man who lived through the resistance to first the French and later the Communists. A tough read but it is the truth, spoken by someone who saw it first hand from start to finish, a counterweight to better than a half-century of lies.

If there is a physical symbol of the "anti-war movement" and its aftermath today, it's the so-called "Vietnam Veterans Memorial" in Washington. That black-lined ditch is a gratuitous insult to the men with whom I served, offered up by a child architect, Maya Lin. She was (and probably still is) unable to comprehend not only the war but the men who served in it and indeed the very concepts of patriotism and honor. It's a monument to the media perception and presentation of the war, nothing more. That's why her design was chosen.

So I offer here a recommendation to read not only Luân's book but the astonishing and prescient essay "How To Lose A War," published in 1981 by Robert Elegant, himself a distinguished senior reporter and journalist, a specialist in Asian affairs. He was there and he watched the process of lies and distortions in action. It is as scathing an indictment as could be found of the deceit and deception in which the press of the day knowingly engaged, with malice in mind.

Addendum, January 15, 2024

Today is the 54th anniversary of my departure for Vietnam. It's been a long time. Two days ago, the Washington National Cathedral held a memorial service, billed as "A Celebration of Character and Courage." About damned time that somebody recognized those things in a generation of soldiers, sailors, and airmen who were more or less uniformly vilified and insulted by an ungrateful nation.

As much as I appreciated the gesture, however, there were some things that bothered me. First, it was not a government-sponsored event (although Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin did have a cameo appearance because he'd been invited). Instead it was organized and sponsored by:

"The Air & Space Forces Association and 40 supporting organizations are planning an afternoon event at the National Cathedral for Vietnam Veterans, former POWs, Medal of Honor recipients and Gold Star families, with remarks by the Secretary of Defense (invited), Ross Perot Jr, and Colleen Shine"

Furthermore, it was not an apology in any sense for the way we were treated. I would have been satisfied if a few of those prominent anti-war protestors had stood up and admitted their error and told me they were sorry. Their numbers are legion, but among them I'd have certainly included the Draft-Dodger-In-Chief William Jefferson Clinton; former President Jimmy Carter, whose indefensible pardon of draft evaders and deserters came on his first day in office; and most especially "Hanoi Jane" Fonda, a traitor who should have been put in front of a firing squad half a century ago.

The bottom line is that while I thank the individuals and organizations who provided this long-delayed tribute, like everything else it was—and is—too little, too late. Especially for the 58,000 people who gave "...the last full measure of their devotion..." to a country that demanded it of them but never even bothered to say "Thank You" afterwards.