Chapter 8

The Vietnam War


Men were designed for short, nasty, brutal lives. Women are designed for long, miserable ones. —Dr. Estelle Ramey

The North Vietnamese, supported by communist China and the USSR, were pitted against the Western allies of capitalism led by the United States. This conflict quickly escalated into a regional war with virtually the same players, except this time the pawns were the Vietnamese people and the prize was more than just ideological. With growing technology developed by the Industrial Military Complexes, both superpowers began to see that the Cold War tensions needed to let off some steam. And so it was that a U.S. president would be assassinated and replaced by social misfit Lyndon Baines Johnson. This unfortunate episode railroaded the U.S. economy into not only an expensive war, but also into social reform that would eventually sow the seeds for bankruptcy. Like President Truman before him, Johnson would disallow victory in Vietnam. Why? For the very same reason as we saw in Korea. The CFR, the Illuminists' secret group in the United States, were now calling the shots. The U.S. President is merely a pawn, back then and today.

In the Vietnam War, which lasted from the mid-1950s until 1975, the United States and the southern-based Republic of Vietnam (RVN) opposed the southern-based revolutionary movement known as the Viet Cong and its sponsor, the Communist Democratic Republic of Vietnam (the DRV, or North Vietnam). The war was the second of two major conflicts that spread throughout Indochina, with Vietnam as its focal point. The First Indochina War was a struggle between Vietnamese nationalists and the French colonial regime aided by the United States. In the second war, the United States replaced France as the major contender against northern-based Communists and southern insurgents. Communist victory in 1975 had profound ramifications for the United States; it was not only a setback to the containment of communism in Asia but a shock to American self-confidence.

U.S. intervention in the war in Vietnam was based on belief in the “domino theory,” which held that if one Southeast Asian country were allowed to fall under Communist control, others would follow like a row of dominoes. There was also an increasing concern for the credibility of U.S. opposition to communism after the Castro government came to power in Cuba in 1959. U.S. president John F. Kennedy responded to a request for help.

The South Vietnamese situation became critical by mid-1963. Buddhist monks protesting religious persecution dramatized their case by immolating themselves in the Saigon streets; they attracted worldwide attention. Frustrated and fearing the war would be lost, the United States supported a military coup that overthrew South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem on November 1, 1963.

Instability marked by a series of coups in the next two years provided continued weakness for the communists to exploit. Hanoi decided to escalate the violence and increased the strength of the People’s Liberation Army (PLAF) in the South, in addition to some 35,000 guerrillas and 80,000 irregulars. Whereas individual members of the DRV’s People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN) had infiltrated the South for some time, the first complete tactical unit arrived in December, moving along the newly completed Ho Chi Minh Trail. Most forces fighting in the South continued, however, to be locally recruited; they were outnumbered by the ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam), but guerrilla strategy was not predicated on superior numbers. Increasing Soviet as well as Chinese aid fueled the resistance.

That John F. Kennedy was determined not to see Vietnam lost was borne out by his actions throughout 1963. It was Kennedy who decided South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem needed to be removed from office — not because Diem was engaging in repression against Buddhists, but because Kennedy had become convinced Diem was an impediment to winning the war. As a result, when prodding from Washington failed to work, it was Kennedy who authorized the coup that resulted in Diem’s overthrow and Kennedy’s subsequent assassination on November 1, 1963.

The latter was not desired by Kennedy, but it was extremely unfortunate for him not to foresee such a result. Those who insist Kennedy was ready to wash his hands of Vietnam and abandon the South never seem to consider that if this were indeed the case, then why did Kennedy meddle so much in South Vietnamese politics right up to the eve of his death? Since the South was not in any immediate danger of collapse, it would have been far simpler for Kennedy to disengage than to engineer a coup against Diem.

Some revisionists claim otherwise about Kennedy and Vietnam. Kennedy aides Dave Powers and Ken O’Donnell claimed that Kennedy had privately revealed his intention to withdraw, but only after the 1964 elections, when it would be politically far more feasible to do so. This assertion has to be taken with a grain of salt. The O’Donnell/Powers story appeared in 1971 at a time when America was still deeply embroiled in Vietnam, and when all the Democrats who had originally supported the commitment were now against the war, especially since it was Richard Nixon’s war by that time.

But five years earlier, when Vietnam had not yet torn the nation apart as deeply as it would by 1967 and 1968, the attitude in the Kennedy camp was entirely different. All of them had put aside their distaste for Lyndon Johnson to support the initial commitment because, in their minds, Vietnam was perceived as having been a Kennedy operation. Not until late 1966 and 1967, when Vietnam was now seen in the public perception as having been entirely started by Johnson, was it safe for the Kennedy faction to be anti-war without being anti-John F. Kennedy. And by 1971, no one in America even remembered Vietnam as having once been a Kennedy operation. Therefore, when the context of when O’Donnell and Powers wrote their memoir is taken into account, one cannot call this confirmation of Kennedy’s real intentions.

More importantly, the active policy makers, including Secretary of State Dean Rusk, insisted Kennedy never discussed pulling out at any time. Even more telling is the fact that when Lyndon Johnson did make the decision to go to war a year later, the advice he took came entirely from Kennedy holdovers, including Rusk and others. The only voice raised in opposition to a commitment was that of Undersecretary of State George Ball, but he had never held more influence over Kennedy than the others.

In point of fact, the one person who knew Kennedy better than anyone else, Robert Kennedy, was willing to let history know exactly what his brother’s intentions in Vietnam had been as early as 1964 and 1965, the critical period before it had truly become “Johnson’s War.” In a series of oral history interviews for the Kennedy Library, Robert Kennedy said that “it was worthwhile for psychological, political reasons” to stay in Vietnam.

At any rate, it's erroneous to think that John Kennedy's purported plans for a pullout only when the election was over should somehow cast Kennedy in the hero's mold. If that were, in fact, true, then what the John F. Kennedy partisans are saying is that Kennedy was prepared to lie to the American public, and to the South Vietnamese people and their government, about his commitment to South Vietnam — and all for the sake of pure politics. At the same time, Kennedy would have been willing to jeopardize America's credibility with its allies. All of them would have wondered if America was serious about keeping its  commitments, if he, in fact, went through with such a cynical betrayal of the South. It stretches the imagination to think that a man of Kennedy's political savvy would have been willing to sacrifice American credibility in such a cynical fashion by promising to defend the South in 1964, then throwing them to the wolves in 1965.

With John Kennedy ambivalent about what he’d do in the future, but still determined to hold the line and not see the war lost if he could help it, the motive behind the “fascist coup d’etat” goes completely out the window. As noted, it depends on a belief that John Kennedy was both naive and cynical — that he thought he could retreat from Vietnam without being subjected to the same kind of backlash that he himself had stoked as a Congressman against the Truman Administration over “who lost China.” Had he taken that risk, then he would surely have lost his ability to get domestic legislation through the Congress as well.

Given his belief in the global struggle between East and West, his acceptance of the domino theory, his conviction that Vietnam was the testing ground for combating “wars of national liberation,” his often zealous commitment to counterinsurgency, and his determination to never appear soft on communism, Kennedy might well have been compelled, as conditions worsened, to commit more American troops to Vietnam. It is clear that his harsh public rhetoric made disengagement more difficult. And his clumsy and unprincipled acquiescence in the coup tied the United States closely to the eight military governments that briefly succeeded Diem.

Indeed, by overthrowing Diem, and ushering in a period of instability that lasted until the accession of Nquyen Van Theiu in 1967, John Kennedy left Lyndon Johnson with the unpleasant dichotomy of either "go-in full scale" or "pull-out completely" in 1964, when that decision had to be made. By removing Diem, there could be no “Vietnamization” option for Lyndon Johnson because the conditions made it impossible. Facing the detrimental political risks that had plagued John F. Kennedy, Johnson virtually had no choice but to increase the American role. The decision was ultimately made for Johnson  — not by the industrial military complex but by the legacy of John F. Kennedy’s actions.

In Washington, Johnson moved rapidly to oppose the insurgents. He authorized the CIA, using mercenaries and U.S. Army Special Forces, to conduct covert diversionary raids on the northern coast, while the U.S. Navy, in a related operation, ran electronic intelligence missions in the Gulf of Tonkin. Johnson appointed General William Westmoreland to head the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV), increased the number of advisors to 23,000, and expanded economic assistance. After warning Hanoi that continued support for the revolution would prompt heavy reprisals, the administration began planning bombing raids on the North.

An incident in the Gulf of Tonkin served to justify escalation of the U.S. effort. On August 2, 1964, an American destroyer in international waters involved in electronic espionage was attacked by North Vietnamese torpedo boats. Unharmed, it was joined by a second destroyer, and on August 4 the ships claimed that both had been attacked. Evidence of the second attack was weak at best (and was later found to be erroneous), but Johnson ordered retaliatory air strikes and went before Congress to urge support for the Tonkin Gulf Resolution. There were just two dissenting votes.

Thirty years after the Tonkin incident, in a 1994 article entitled “30-Year Anniversary: Tonkin Gulf Lie Launched Vietnam War” (Media Beat, July 27, 1994), Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon wrote:

"Thirty years ago, it all seemed very clear.

“American Planes Hit North Vietnam After Second Attack on Our Destroyers; Move Taken to Halt New Aggression,” announced a Washington Post headline on Aug. 5, 1964.

That same day, the front page of the New York Times reported: “President Johnson has ordered retaliatory action against gunboats and ‘certain supporting facilities in North Vietnam’ after renewed attacks against American destroyers in theGulf of Tonkin.”

But there was no “second attack” by North Vietnam,nor “renewed attacks against American destroyers.” By reporting official claims as absolute truths, American journalism opened the floodgates for the bloody Vietnam War.

A pattern took hold: continuous government lies passed on by pliant mass media...leading to over 50,000 American deaths and millions of Vietnamese casualties."
 

Cohen and Solomon continue:

"The official story was that North Vietnamese torpedo boats launched an “unprovoked attack” against a U.S. destroyer on “routine patrol” in the Tonkin Gulf on Aug. 2, and that North Vietnamese PT boats followed up with a “deliberate attack” on a pair of U.S. ships two days later.

The truth was very different.

Rather than being on a routine patrol Aug. 2, the U.S. destroyer Maddox was actually engaged in aggressive intelligence-gathering maneuvers, in sync with coordinated attacks on North Vietnam by the South Vietnamese navy and the Laotian air force.

“The day before, two attacks on North Vietnam...had taken place,” writes scholar Daniel C. Hallin. Those assaults were “part of a campaign of increasing military pressure on the North that the United States had been pursuing since early 1964.”

On the night of Aug. 4, the Pentagon proclaimed that a second attack by North Vietnamese PT boats had occurred earlier that day in the Tonkin Gulf, a report cited by President Johnson as he went on national TV that evening to announce a momentous escalation in the war: air strikes against North Vietnam.

But Johnson ordered U.S. bombers to “retaliate” for a North Vietnamese torpedo attack that never happened."
 

After a Viet Cong attack in February 1965 on U.S. Army barracks in Pleiku, the United States commenced Operation Rolling Thunder, a restricted but massive bombing campaign against North Vietnam. Protection of air bases then provided the rationale for introduction of fifty thousand U.S. ground combat forces, which were soon increased. The American public, however, was not told when their mission and tactics changed from static defense to search-and-destroy, nor was it asked to bear the war’s cost through higher taxes. Desiring both “guns and butter,” Johnson dissimulated, ultimately producing a backlash that full public and congressional debate at this point might have avoided. The public never fully supported a war whose purposes were deliberately obscured.

The decision to escalate slowly, to bomb selected military targets while avoiding excessive civilian casualties, and to fight a war of attrition to avoid possible confrontations with the USSR and China, seriously misjudged the nature of the enemy and the strategy of the people’s war. Attrition’s only measure of success was a body count of the enemy dead, but Hanoi was prepared to suffer enormous casualties in a prolonged war. Because the DRV fought a total war with a totally mobilized society, it could sustain high losses yet continue infiltrating as many as seven thousand men a month virtually indefinitely.

Political cadres won support from, or at least neutralized, the Southern peasantry. Weak in air power, the Viet Cong fought from tunnels and retreated to sanctuaries in Cambodia when threatened. They made mines and booby traps from unexploded U.S. ordnance and relied on ambush and sabotage of the vulnerable and increasingly extensive U.S. bases. Their intelligence penetrated the top levels of the RVN. They set the level of action, and could slip away at will.

U.S. attrition strategy depended on inflicting increasing pain through massive firepower against the north- and Viet Cong-held areas until the revolutionaries found the cost too high. Territory gained was “cleared,” but not held, because the United States lacked the enormous numbers that occupation would have required. In addition to bombing, the Americans and their allies relied on the latest military technology, including napalm, white phosphorus, and defoliants, in an effort to hold down casualties. Agent Orange and other chemicals cleared vast areas of jungle, depriving the Viet Cong of cover as well as rice. There was a worldwide outcry over the use of chemical warfare and concern about its effect on the health of civilians and U.S. personnel.

In addition to conflict on the ground, sea, and in the air, there was the struggle for what President Kennedy had termed the “hearts and minds” of the people. The Americans attempted to “search out and destroy” the enemy, increasingly composed of urban elements that had little sympathy with the millions of refugees who were the by-product of the intensive bombing and defoliation. “Strategic hamlets” gave way to “revolutionary development,” but the military junta headed by Nguyen Van Thieu, who took power in 1967, was unable to devise a successful pacification strategy. Ultimately, it resorted to Operation Phoenix, begun in 1967 to neutralize the Viet Cong infrastructure through arrests, imprisonment, and assassination. Phoenix was advised by a CIA-supported U.S. program.

As the war escalated, Johnson relied increasingly on selective service for manpower. The draft hit American youth unequally. Although student deferments ended with increasing troop call-ups, thousands of middle- and upper-class youth avoided service through a variety of stratagems, obtaining deferments that ultimately placed the heaviest burdens of combat on America’s poor and minority groups. Draftees never constituted more than 40 percent of troop strength, but their use increased opposition to the war.

Opposition to the war grew with increased U.S. involvement. Leftist college students, members of traditional pacifist religious groups, long-time peace activists, and citizens of all ages opposed the conflict. Some were motivated by fear of being drafted, others out of commitment, some just joined the crowd, and a small minority became revolutionaries who favored a victory by Ho Chi Minh and a radical restructuring of U.S. society. College campuses became focal points for rallies and “teach-ins,” lengthy series of speeches attacking the war. Marches on Washington began in 1965 and continued sporadically, peaking in 1968 and again in 1971. Suspecting that the peace movement was infiltrated by communists, President Johnson ordered the FBI to investigate and the CIA to conduct an illegal domestic infiltration, but they proved only that the radicalism was homegrown.

Movie actress and left-wing radical, Jane Fonda, saw fit to visit Hanoi, capital of North Vietnam. Her actions in doing so resulted in her photograph being displayed on urinals all through the military bases both in Vietnam and at home. She became reviled by the troops for this act of treachery. Her father, movie icon Henry Fonda, reportedly never forgave her for this act of stupidity. Later POWs would recount the damage to their morale in seeing and hearing this woman’s blatant act of treason.

Although the antiwar movement was frequently associated with the young, support for the war was actually highest in the age group twenty to twenty-nine. The effectiveness of the movement is still debated. It clearly boosted North Vietnamese morale; Hanoi watched it closely and believed that ultimately America’s spirit would fall victim to attrition, but the communists were prepared to resist indefinitely anyway. The movement probably played a role in convincing Lyndon Johnson not to run for reelection in 1968, and an even larger role in the subsequent victory of Richard Nixon over the Democrat Hubert Humphrey. It may ultimately have helped set the parameters for the conflict and prevented an even wider war. Certainly, its presence was an indication of the increasingly divisive effects of the war on U.S. society.

After reports that North Vietnamese torpedo boats attacked a U.S. destroyer in the Gulf of Tonkin in early August 1964, the president ordered retaliatory bombing raids. To bolster the U.S. position in Vietnam, combat troops were sent to the area. By the year’s end, 184,000 Americans were in the field, and by 1968 there were more than 538,000.

At home, meanwhile, tensions and frustrations in the black ghettos had exploded into violence. In 1965, Watts, a district of Los Angeles, had been the scene of 34 deaths, 900 reported injuries, and property damage estimated at forty million dollars. In 1966 and again in 1967 the ghettos were still in turmoil. There were large-scale riots in Newark, Detroit, and some smaller cities, with looting and burning, many deaths, and charges of police brutality. President Johnson sent federal troops to establish order in Detroit, where the rioting was the most violent.

The president also appointed a commission to study the reasons for the riots. The report concluded the United States was splitting into two nations, one black, the other white. It recommended changes in American society, in government, and in business, but it was generally ignored.

In the spring of 1968, there was another rash of riots in the black ghettos. Martin Luther King, Jr., was killed by a sniper’s bullet in Memphis in April. Robert F. Kennedy, a brother of the former president and a supporter of civil rights, was shot and killed in Los Angeles in June.

By late 1967, the war was stalemated. Johnson urged Westmoreland to help convince a public growing more restive that the United States was winning. Although he promised “light at the end of the tunnel,” increasing casualties as well as growing disbelief in public pronouncements — the “credibility gap” — fostered increasing skepticism. U.S. strategy was clearly not producing victory, and Johnson began a limited reassessment.

Attacks on cities began on Tet, the lunar holiday, January 30, 1968. Hitting most provincial and district capitals and major cities, the Viet Cong also carried out a bold attack on the U.S. embassy in Saigon. The attack failed, but the attempt shocked U.S. public opinion. The Tet offensive continued for three weeks.

Although they failed in their military objectives, the revolutionaries won a spectacular propaganda victory. While captured documents indicated that the Viet Cong were planning a major offensive, its size, length, and scope were misjudged, and the Tet Offensive, as it was publicized in the U.S. media, seemed to confirm fears that the war could not be won. The public opposed the war in direct proportion to U.S. casualties, and these had topped a thousand dead a month. Tet appeared as a defeat, despite official pronouncements to the contrary. The media’s negative assessment proved more convincing than Washington’s statements of victory because it confirmed the sense of frustration that most Americans shared over the conflict.

The Tet offensive was a major turning point in the war. Although the communists lost forty thousand men, they had proved their ability to strike even in supposedly secure cities. The Viet Cong, who had surfaced in anticipation of a general uprising that did not come, were decimated in the fighting or destroyed later by police.

Johnson ordered a study of the Vietnam situation when 206,000 additional troops were requested. An inquiry by Defense Secretary Clark Clifford led to the rejection of the request. However, 20,000 more troops were sent in the next three months, bringing U.S. troop strength to a peak of 549,000. At the same time, the south was urged to do more in its own defense.

Tet crystallized public dissatisfaction with the war. That the public turned against the war solely because of media coverage is doubtful; the number of “hawks” who wanted stronger action probably equaled the “doves” favoring peace, but the public as a whole clearly disapproved of the lack of progress. Further evidence of this came in March, when the antiwar senator Eugene McCarthy, running against the president, won 42 percent of the vote in New Hampshire’s primary election.

So devastating was the onslaught that Johnson admitted he could no longer unify the country and keep the war out of politics. He chose, therefore, not to run for re-election in 1968. On March 31, Johnson restricted bombing above the 20th parallel, paving the way for negotiations, and withdrew from a re-election bid. With Johnson’s withdrawal and the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, the democratic nomination went to Vice-President Humphrey, who supported the war; the Republicans nominated Richard Nixon.

Communists believed in “fighting and talking,” which the United States now adopted as well. Negotiations began in May but quickly stalled over Hanoi’s demands for a total bombing halt and NLF (National Liberation Front of South Vietnam) representation at the bargaining table. In November, Johnson agreed to these terms. This aided Humphrey’s campaign, but Nixon was victorious.

Vietnam continued to be an issue. President Nixon proposed a phased withdrawal of United States forces. He favored a policy of “Vietnamization,” or turning the defense over to the South Vietnamese. In June and September of 1969, he announced successive withdrawals of twenty-five then thirty-five thousand troops. But the actions were too little, too late and the protests mounted. Vietnam moratorium days were organized by college students.

During the election campaign, Nixon made vague promises to end the war. He was determined, however, to maintain credibility, preserve Thieu, and defeat the Communists. He and his foreign policy advisor Henry Kissinger downplayed bilateral negotiations and turned to great power diplomacy. They conceptualized a strategy of detente, which involved harmonizing relations with the Soviets through trade and an arms-limitation agreement, while encouraging Moscow to abandon Hanoi. Normalizing relations with China would create a “China card” that could be played against the Soviets if they demurred. They hoped this linkage of diplomacy could produce “peace with honor” in Vietnam and allow a face-saving U.S. departure. The Soviets, however, recognized the Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG) formed by the NLF in June 1969.

No progress was made in the peace talks, either. The NLF and the North Vietnamese were unwilling to make concessions, and the South Vietnamese were basically opposed to negotiation. Neither side wished to lose on the diplomatic front what it thought could be gained on the battlefield.

The Vietnamization process continued. Daily combat operations were turned over to the South Vietnamese, who received the latest U.S. technology and support, and bombing raids were conducted against communist bases in Cambodia. ARVN remained poorly motivated and relatively ineffectual in combat, but its assumption of the brunt of the fighting reduced U.S. casualties and enabled the United States to begin troop withdrawals.

At home, the new administration sought to lessen opposition by substituting a lottery system for selective service. President Nixon called on the “silent majority” of Americans to support his diplomatic efforts for an “honorable peace,” but by the spring of 1970, public opinion was two to one against the war. When the public learned that same year of the massacre of more than three hundred civilians in the hamlet of My Lai by U.S. troops, it reinforced beliefs that the war was a brutal, dehumanizing, and pointless affair from which the United States should withdraw.When Nixon ordered troops into Cambodia and resumed the bombing of North Vietnam, many college campuses exploded with riots.

Nixon disliked confining the conflict to Vietnam instead of striking at communist sanctuaries and supply points in neighboring neutral countries. Cambodia had provided him with the opportunity. In April 1970, a coup toppled the neutralist regime of Prince Norodom Sihanouk, who was replaced by the pro-U.S. Lon Nol. Sihanouk had tried to preserve Cambodian neutrality by quietly accepting North Vietnamese infiltration as well as U.S. bombing, but Lon Nol announced plans to interdict movement of Communist troops. When Hanoi then increased its pressure on Cambodia, U.S. forces were sent across the border. They were withdrawn again by June 30, but bombing raids continued until the end of the war.

The Cambodian incursion triggered protests in the United States. At Kent State and Jackson State universities, six students were killed in confrontations with police and National Guardsmen. One hundred thousand marched on Washington. Congress also protested, symbolically terminating the Tonkin Gulf Resolution. Criticism abated when U.S. troops were pulled out of Cambodia, but patience with the conflict was wearing thin. Deficit financing of the war brought uncontrolled inflation, which further soured the nation on the war.

Heavy losses in Laos delayed a new communist offensive, but the failure of negotiations in 1971 led to a renewed attempt at a military solution. In March 1972, Hanoi launched a major conventional invasion of the South. Its aims were to demonstrate the failure of Vietnamization, to reverse ARVN successes in the Mekong delta, and to affect U.S. morale in a presidential election year. The VC/NVA forces encountered initial success, routing ARVN troops and overrunning Quang Tri province.

The United States anticipated the spring offensive, but underestimated its size and scope; U.S. forces numbered only ninety-five thousand, of whom six thousand were combat-ready. President Nixon retaliated with an intensified bombing campaign, providing air support to areas under attack in the South and striking fuel depots in the Hanoi-Haiphong area. He also informed Hanoi indirectly that he would allow Northern troops to remain in the South if they made peace before the election. When the DRV rejected this offer, Nixon ordered the mining of Haiphong harbor, a naval blockade of the North, and massive sustained bombing attacks. The DRV began to evacuate Hanoi, to build a pipeline from the Chinese border, and to develop means to neutralize mines. U.S. planes bombed the Red River dikes, but damage was mitigated by constant repairs and unusually low rainfall.

Ultimately, U.S. bombing enabled ARVN to halt the offensive. The DRV won territory in the South, but its casualties from the air war were heavy. The bombing did not stop infiltration and materiel from reaching the DRV from China and the USSR. Even in victory, ARVN showed continued vulnerability: its desertion rates reached the highest levels of the war.

Infiltration persisted despite the Cambodian incursion. Seeking to cut the Ho Chi Minh Trail, ARVN forces invaded Laos in February 1971. But intelligence provided by Communist agents within ARVN enabled the North Vietnamese to prepare a trap. The operation, intended as an example of the success of Vietnamization, escaped disaster only through U.S. air support. The campaign may have delayed a new communist offensive, but three months later, party leaders began planning another one for the spring of 1972.

Withdrawals dropped troop strength to 175,000 by the end of 1971, exacerbating effects on troop morale even as it dampened protest at home. No one wanted to be the last American to die in a war the country considered a mistake. Drug and alcohol abuse became widespread among U.S. servicemen, and morale plummeted. Racial conflict grew as black soldiers, stimulated by the civil rights and black power movements, increasingly resented fighting a “white man’s war.” Declining morale was not limited to Vietnam. The military capabilities of the army worldwide declined, and the navy and air force also suffered. Veterans of Vietnam formed their own antiwar organization.

Negotiations throughout 1971 made only limited progress. Kissinger offered to withdraw all U.S. troops within seven months after American POWs had been exchanged, but would not abandon the Thieu regime. Meanwhile, playing on the Sino-Soviet split, the United States moved to normalize trade with China; Nixon and Kissinger both visited Beijing (Peking), after which Nixon traveled to Moscow in May 1972. While improving relations with the United States, both China and the USSR nonetheless increased aid to Hanoi, in order not to be seen as abandoning their ally.

Only after the Easter Offensive did negotiations become a top priority. In three weeks of intensive negotiations in late September and October, Kissinger and North Vietnamese representative Le Duc Tho shaped an agreement withdrawing U.S. troops, returning POWs, and providing for a political settlement through establishment of a tripartite council of reconciliation. Thieu, however, rejected it because it permitted Viet Cong forces to remain in place in the South, and Nixon supported him. Angered by this turn of events, the North Vietnamese released the history and text of the negotiations.

In 1972, the president visited both China and the Soviet Union. The first visit helped to develop economic and cultural exchanges with the Chinese, and the second resulted in a treaty limiting the use of strategic weapons. By October, the United States and North Vietnam had agreed to a cease-fire in Vietnam, the return of American prisoners of war, and the withdrawal of all U.S. forces.

Nixon, re-elected by a huge majority in November 1972, then ordered massive bombing north of the 20th parallel. For 12 days beginning on December 18, B-52s rained bombs on Hanoi and Haiphong. Women and children were evacuated and the cities defended with Russian-made surface-to-air missiles (SAMs). Fifteen B-52s were downed, forty-four pilots captured, some sixteen hundred civilians killed, and Bach Mai hospital destroyed. More than 36,000 tons of bombs were dropped, exceeding the total for the entire 1969 to 1971 period.

In December 1972, as the United States resumed the bombing of North Vietnam, the president claimed that the enemy had not bargained in good faith. After the bombing, both sides were ready to resume negotiations: Hanoi had been seriously damaged and its stock of SAMs exhausted, while in Washington an angry Congress discussed limitations on the war. Six days of intense negotiations produced an agreement only slightly different from the October terms. Thieu was ignored. Nixon informed him that further resistance would lead to termination of U.S. aid, whereas compliance would guarantee the return of U.S. air power in case of communist violations. Thieu refused to sign the agreement but did not actively oppose it.

The Paris Accords, signed January 31, 1973, brought U.S. withdrawal and the return of the POWs but little else. Only a few civilian advisors and military personnel would remain. The Americans agreed to aid postwar reconstruction of the DRV, a bargaining ploy the North took seriously. The United States withdrew all of its troops by the end of March.

By the fall of 1974, U.S. aid fell from 2.56 billion dollars in 1973 to 907 million dollars in 1974 and 700 million dollars in 1975, as congress abandoned Vietnam for more pressing priorities elsewhere. Diminished aid hurt the RVN, but equally damaging was a 90-percent inflation rate, massive unemployment in the wake of the U.S. pullout, and increasing corruption. Thieu remained convinced that Nixon would not abandon him, but the Watergate crisis forced Nixon to resign in August 1974.

Debate over the loss of Indochina was minimal, but the attempt to find “lessons” in the defeat engaged the United States for the next decade. Kennedy’s domino theory was proved invalid, as no further nations in Southeast Asia adopted communism. Isolationist in the wake of war, the United States eschewed further interventions, and even limited covert operations, until Ronald Reagan became president in 1981. Inflation caused by the war costs and fueled by OPEC’s Middle East Oil crisis, which surfaced months after the last American troops were withdrawn from Saigon, racked the U.S. economy for the next eight years. The social wounds of this divisive war were then and continue to be slow to heal. Frustrated and angry in defeat, America at first rejected its veterans as symbols of defeat in a war generally agreed to have been a mistake.

The war’s statistics were grim: 2 to 3 million Indo-Chinese killed, 58,000 Americans dead, the expenditure of three times the amount of U.S. bombs dropped on both theaters during World War II; overwhelming devastation in Indochina. The war may have cost the United States more than 200 billion dollars.

This war, unlike the Korean War, required almost a decade to satisfy the power-lust and greed of the twisted minds of the political machine. Not only was ideological superiority sought, but also the covert prize of offshore oil deposits. Both superpowers were well aware of the huge offshore oil reserves which had been identified off South Vietnam.

In the same fashion, the socialists undermined national support for this war in the allies' home states, whilst the capitalists profited merrily from the military escalation. Lyndon Johnson, as a recognized sociopath, accommodated his supporters in the United States by escalating the war and introducing social reform that was clearly economically suicidal. American families for the first time would be subjected to a daily dose of a bloody war as television crews captured their sons being slaughtered on the Vietnamese battlefield. Once again the political treachery, which had been demonstrated during the Korean War, surfaced. Military commanders were continually perplexed by the confusing signals emanating from their government. Morale, both on the battle front and at home, waned as the troops slowly recognized the treachery and the citizens of the allied nations back home began to see through the treasonous behavior of their politicians.

As the consummate opportunist and puppet of the capitalist Industrial Military Complex, Richard Nixon would escalate the war to satisfy his supporters. Having done so, he would negotiate a final withdrawal of all American troops in 1973. His reptilian mind, driven by ego, would also destroy the social fabric so delicately woven within American society. Riots and insurrection in the home states of the allies became commonplace. In 1971, Nixon supported the G-7 abandonment of the real value of international currency, which would see the final implementation of paper gold. This act of treason was the last piece in the puzzle, enabling the elitist shadow manipulators to bankrupt both ideological opponents — communism and capitalism.

With the removal of the real value of international currency and the American withdrawal from South Vietnam, we saw the reconstituted OPEC oil cartels of the Middle East suddenly escalate the price of crude oil. This single act transferred one third of western capital to the oil producers' banks in twelve months. It also set off a long and devastating period of global inflation as the price of crude oil impinged on every level of our consumer society. With the South Vietnam oil deposit safely in the hands of the USSR, OPEC was free to blackmail the world — and they did. The oil cartels, flush with confidence that they had western society at their mercy, relentlessly gouged higher and higher prices for their precious resource. Gas lines were seen for the first time in the United States.

The end of this era saw the humiliation of Watergate for Nixon and the beginning of the economic demise of the global economy. The nemesis of the global economy would prove to be the crippling effect of a prolonged period of high inflation together with the continual expansion of social entitlements financed by the “borrow and spend” policies of western nations. This can be seen as the result of the G-7 scrapping of the real value of money. The “borrow and spend” policy, fashioned by Western socialists, would tear the fabric of society asunder, as generations of citizens would either be enslaved by social dependency or tyrannical taxation regimes.

One of the great problems in our modern society is the propensity for citizens to either forget or never become exposed to our planet’s history. The main contributing factor to this forgetfulness or ignorance is the pressure under which we are all forced to live our lives. The seven-second television sound byte together with watered-down and slanted news stories form the substance of our news gathering. One of the first accomplishments of both communist and socialist doctrine is the control of public broadcast and the media.

During this period post World War II, the usurpation of the world’s media outlets began. What was acknowledged as a free press in the earlier part of the century, soon became anything but free. The capitalist elite, oblivious to freedom of information and motivated by greed and power, would slowly gobble up all independent media outlets until they became coalesced into a few hands. This hijacking of the free press played right into the hands of the western socialists who utilized their newfound ally on a daily basis. Propaganda and brainwashing of society would not only become a well-honed craft, but also a daily occurrence. The gradual socialization of western societies was guaranteed.

The mind-controlling popular press began to establish dominance over many of those who were free thinkers. The mind-numbing prospect of a nuclear holocaust being "deterred" by the Cold War provided an ideal opportunity for the spin doctors of socialism. As the free press waned, the mind-controlling media conglomerates emerged. And the media tycoons were either totally oblivious or lacking in conscience with regard to their actions. The victims were, as always, the people. They either succumbed to the mind-control propaganda or remained in ignorance. Either way, the process of global socialization continued unabated. Any free thinkers who remained to voice their distressed anguish were silenced by the socialist machine.

During this period of global confusion and political unrest, many draconian pieces of socialist-inspired legislation were spirited through the western democracies’ legislative bodies. This legislation, drafted by lawyers and enacted by politicians, ensured that future generations of citizens would lose their constitutional rights, liberties, and freedoms. In the main, they were directed toward capitalism and designed to empower the state in a way that would be unconstitutional as well as, in many cases, illegal. In this way, the socialists of Western society laid the foundation for the monumental buildup of the size of government, continuing their attack on the middle classes and the concept of free enterprise.

This gradual usurpation of freedom by the strangling effect of rafts of socialist legislation, together with the creeping effects of worldwide taxation regimes, would guarantee enslavement either by dependency, debt, or taxation. All participating nations in this socialist mindset of Western society would suffer enormously as their societies, founded righteously on the family unit and virtues, were torn asunder. As the citizenry became more confused and fearful  — not only the threat of nuclear holocaust, but also the “red tape” effect of a emasculating bureaucracy — the process fed itself. It became a vicious circle with the state “knee-jerk” reacting to the fears of confused citizens. All the while the family unit, although a topic of popular concern, was being ripped apart.

History records that when any previous civilization or society has suffered a rebellion against the concept of family, the civilization or society has eventually become suicidal. The family and universal virtues — principles, ethics, morals and values representing the long evolutionary struggle from the primitive savage to a neocivilized society — are the foundations upon which our very existence depends. Without family and virtue, civilization cannot hold. We simply will not survive, and if we do, it will be as a savage, desensitized population.

Nature provides a pattern by which all species in the evolutionary chain of life are governed. The hominid of Bloom’s theory of the evolutionary struggle is richly demonstrated in post-modern society. As individuals, families, communities, and the state have come under increasing social pressures, the reptilian emerges in all. The genetic pattern is prevalent in every mortal. The trick is to develop the civilized membrane of the neocortex, so that the reptile nature, savage and barbarous, is contained. We will discover how this reinforcing civilized membrane of the neo-cortex portion of our hominid brain is reinforced in a later chapter that deals with solutions.

Let us attempt to put some of these concepts into perspective, so that we can clearly identify the root cause of our later emerging problems.

At the heart of the twentieth-century crisis was the bitter confrontation between Marxist communism-socialism on the one hand and capitalism on the other. This is a class and caste struggle between two philosophies. On the one hand, the Marxist doctrine dictates global domination of all subjects in obedience to a centralist government. Freedom and liberty are relegated by each citizen to the state. The state becomes "god" — dealing out favors and benefits depending on compliance with centralist policy. On the other hand, capitalism becomes a monopolistic system, whereby goods and services are controlled by the elite. Both the communist-socialist and capitalist systems are fatally flawed. Both simply ignore human rights, human values and human life. The inalienable (non-transferable) rights bestowed on mortals of the realm are God-given. They are not bestowed on mortals by the state or commerce.

This dichotomy would eventually bring civilization to its knees, as the relentless pressure of enslavement creates unrest, wars, and rumors of wars, until finally a climax is reached. It is in the hope of clarifying the failure of our modern civilization and demonstrating the choices which remain that this book is dedicated. As partly civilized hominids, we are afforded the opportunity of utilizing our God-given free-will, of breaking the pattern of our inherited natures. Only time will tell whether we succeed or not.

With the slow emergence of the socialist manifesto in the west and the totalitarian states of the east and Asia, the lines were drawn between the two opposing forces. In the middle, as history always records, were the innocent citizens. In the communist regimes, the citizens were disenfranchised and made totally dependent on totalitarian forms of government. In Western society, the citizens were becoming indoctrinated and brainwashed into a gradual acceptance of social dependency, national debt and tax enslavement.

So why did generations of partly civilized hominids apathetically allow this to happen? The answer lies in Bloom’s theory of the triune brain. The reptile nature, once released, displays incredible levels of not only savagery, but also fear. And it is through fear that hominid has always been controllable. Through fear, religious and political institutions have controlled the masses over millennia of time. Up until the twentieth century, monarchies and political systems prevailed, using the power of the fear-based religions to control the masses. This century has seen a transition of that power from the church to the state, whereby religious leaders were replaced by lawyers and politicians. This was described in earlier chapters as the "secular revolt," and it has been instrumental in destroying our societies. At the helm of this secular revolt is the undeniable hand of the Marxist-inspired Communist  Manifesto — and other unrecognized hands.

Chapter 9

Knowledge Without Wisdom