February 1, 2023

Vietnam: The Beginning of the End 50 Years Ago

For many Vietnam combat veterans, the Paris Peace Accords were only the beginning of the end of the Vietnam War.

Last week, a milestone passed almost unnoticed. It was on January 27, 1973, that the Paris Peace Accords were signed, officially called Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Viet Nam. It was signed by the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, the Republic of Vietnam, the Provisional Revolutionary Government (Viet Cong), and the United States, and established the terms for the release of all PoWs and the U.S. withdrawal, the latter not being codified until the disgraceful fall of Saigon two years later on April 30, 1975. Perhaps there will be some retrospective discussion of that in 2025.

Among the uninvited “negotiators” in Paris providing aid and comfort to the enemy before the official negotiations was the traitorous John Kerry, a wealthy white-privileged cohort of Hanoi Jane Fonda. Fonda, as you recall, actually took her traitorous show to Hanoi during the war, posing on NVA anti-aircraft guns. She did so as our friends Leo Thorsness, Roger Ingvalson, Bill Gauntt, and many others who had been shot down by the NVA were being tortured in the nearby “Hanoi Hilton.”

Kerry was a commissioned Naval officer when he met with NVA communists in Paris, in direct violation of the UCMJ’s Article 104 part 904, and U.S. Code 18 U.S.C. 953. That meeting, and Kerry’s subsequent coddling of communists while leading mass protests against our military in the years that followed, also place him in direct violation of our Constitution’s Article III, Section 3, which defines treason as “giving aid and comfort” to the enemy in time of warfare. Not only was Kerry never prosecuted, but he would eventually be elected to the U.S. Senate by his leftist Massachusetts cadres, and beyond all absurdities, would succeed Hillary Clinton as Barack Obama’s feckless secretary of state.

But I digress…

The 50th anniversary of the Paris Accords passed with hardly a whimper … mostly because of how the generations since have been conditioned to think about Vietnam. But a Wall Street Journal article by Barton Swaim captured my sentiments well.

Like Swaim, as a teenager I recall in the late 1970s and later how Vietnam was portrayed in popular culture. He writes: “Popular culture had basically one message on the Vietnam War: that it was conceived in American arrogance, was perpetrated by American savages, and accomplished little but psychological devastation and national disgrace. Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘Apocalypse Now,’ Oliver Stone’s ‘Platoon’ and ‘Born on the Fourth of July,’ Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Full Metal Jacket,’ Brian De Palma’s ‘Casualties of War’ — these and a thousand other productions, documentaries and articles told my generation that the war had been a gigantic fiasco that turned those who fought it into war criminals and frowning, guilt-ridden drug addicts.”

That pop media portrayal hardly represents the vast majority of Vietnam combat veterans I have known over my lifetime — heroic men like two of our grassroots writers, brothers Roger Helle and Ron Helle. But combat can take a very heavy toll on veterans, and I am well aware of how that has manifested in the lives of generations of vets.

Swaim continues: “The Vietnam War doesn’t lend itself to unambiguous interpretations in the way many wars do. But with media-generated myths no longer dominant, and with the pain of losing 58,220 servicemen subsiding, are Americans ready to think about the whole thing anew?”

In an interview with Ronald Reagan’s former Secretary of the Navy James Webb, who commanded a Marine rifle platoon in Vietnam, he recounted a different interpretation of Vietnam from a reputable 1979 poll: “Of Vietnam veterans, 91% said they were glad they served in the military, and 74% said at some level they enjoyed their time in the military. And 2 out of 3 said they would do it again.”

As for whether the war was worth fighting, Webb recalls a conversation with Lee Kuan Yew, who founded modern Singapore: “In his view, America won — only in a different way. We stopped communism, which didn’t advance in Indochina any further than it reached in 1975. We enabled other countries in the region to develop market economies and governmental systems that were basically functional and responsive to their people. That model has stayed, and I like to think it will advance, even in Vietnam.”

Webb was and remains critical of those directing the war from their armchair posts in DC. For example, he notes “the arrogance and incompetence of Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and his much-ballyhooed bunch of civilian Whiz Kids whose data-based ‘systems analysis’ approach to fighting our wars had diminished the historic role of military leadership.” He is highly critical of the anti-war protests by groups like Students for Democratic Society. He observes: “They were founded before there was a Vietnam War. … The goal of these revolutionaries was to dissolve the American system, and they thought they would accomplish that through racial issues. They didn’t get any traction — until about 1965 and the Vietnam War.” And he is critical of the Leftmedia talkingheads and scribes of the era, who “were articulate, were from good schools, had important family connections.”

Webb laments the “divorce” between the “upper strata” of Americans and those who actually do our warfighting: “The military draws mainly from people within a certain tradition. It’s a tradition of fighting for the country simply because it’s their country.” That disconnect is captured in a novel by Webb, Fields of Fire, in which a combat veteran is yelling at anti-war protestors: “I didn’t see any of you in Vietnam. I saw … truck drivers and coal miners and farmers. I didn’t see you.”

Notably, of the significant military recruiting difficulties under Joe Biden as commander-in-chief, Webb notes that when civilian politicians are “going into the military to purge ‘whites with extremist views,’ do they know what they’re doing?” He follows: “A lot of the U.S. military comes from a certain cultural tradition, and right now a lot of parents are saying to their kids, ‘Don’t go. You want to have your whole life canceled because someone said you were at a meeting where there was a Confederate flag or whatever?”

Swaim notes that in a 2016 candidate debate, Webb was asked by CNN’s Anderson Cooper: “You’ve all made a few people upset over your political careers. Which enemy are you most proud of?” Webb responded: “I’d have to say the enemy soldier that threw the grenade that wounded me, but he’s not around right now to talk to.” Swaim notes, “The liberal commentariat disparaged him for boasting that he’d killed a man.”

On Biden’s horrendous surrender and retreat from Afghanistan, Webb concluded: “The way they left was horrible, disgusting. People said it looked like the fall of Saigon. No, it did not. The evacuation from Saigon was brilliant. In 1975, we had refugee camps all over the place ready to take people in. … These places were ready to go before the fall. We got 140,000 people out of there. What this administration did was a disgrace. There was no excuse for it.”

For many Vietnam combat veterans, the Paris Accords were only the beginning of the end of the Vietnam War. Unlike veterans returning from previous wars, many Vietnam veterans were treated as baby-killing pariahs. I profiled in a footnote how one highly decorated Cobra pilot dealt with a protester on his return.

Earlier this week, General Mike Minihan (USAF) wrote to his command officers: “I hope I am wrong. My gut tells me we will fight in 2025. Xi [Jinping] secured his third term and set his war council in October 2022. Taiwan’s presidential elections are in 2024 and will offer Xi a reason. United States’ presidential elections are in 2024 and will offer Xi a distracted America. Xi’s team, reason, and opportunity are all aligned for 2025.”

Biden and his leftist cadres have demeaned and degraded our military warfighters, many of whom are leaving with a dearth of qualified replacements. As was the case with the Taliban in Afghanistan, Vladimir Putin in Ukraine, and now Red Chinese dictator Xi Jinping over Taiwan, the feckless ineptitude of our national Democrat leadership is an open invitation for conflict with the enemies of Liberty worldwide.

Finally, for those who don’t know our history, it was another socialist Democrat Party president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was avoiding involvement in Europe’s conflict with a National Socialism tyrant, when we suffered a surprise attack by the strongest military power in Asia, and ended up drawn into a multi-front World War…

Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis
Pro Deo et Libertate — 1776

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