YOUR INVITATION TO HELP

RE-AMERICANIZE AMERICA

by Bob Anderson, PhD, CMSgt (Ret)

What are we fighting for?  Many of you have followed the articles I have written for the past 18 months, some while in Iraq and some after I returned.  It was these articles that were the seed from which our new What Are We Fighting For?™Association, and the new What Are We Fighting For? website grew.  I want to say thank you to those who have been around for a while and welcome to the new folks that are coming aboard.

Part of our mission is to tell the “other side of the story” that the major media outlets seem never to discover.  We will be telling the stories of daily heroism not only over seas but here in the United States.

          We will honor our fallen.  We will honor their families and we will honor those that have been honoring them.  Folks like Steve Newton with Silver Flag Families of America, David Bancroft with USA Patriotism, Tony Dukes with Red, White and Blue Outdoors, Doug Besherse with Bowhunting.net.  Then there is Malcolm Brown who is trying to get the National Veterans Museum built in Houston, Texas.

          We will also introduce you to folks like Deborah Tainsh, Maria Edwards, Tina Thompson, Hazel Strickland, Teresa Newsom and Karen Turcotte; these ladies are totally engaged in honoring the fallen and supporting the troops still serving and educating our elected officials in the process.

          I’ll also be introducing you to the What Are We Fighting For?, Inc. staff.  Dear Friends and great Americans that have joined me and Pam in this new project.  You’ll also be meeting our friend, Dave Bond.  Dave is the Vice President of West Coast Operations for What Are We Fighting For?, Inc.  He was my Commanding Officer from 1976-78 and a dear and treasured friend ever since.

          How are we going to proceed?  We will tell you facts about what is going on in the country today, you make up your own mind.  We will give you our opinions, you form your own.  I like the attitudes of Mark Twain and Will Rogers who were commentators during their time.  Rather than become swamped by the “death, doom and destruction” that exist in every time frame; rather than become jaded and cynical by the corruption that always exists in politics and government; rather than become defeated by what seemed like insurmountable obstacles – they told the truth and they used humor to make the truth go down easier.  Unfortunately, there is not a lot to laugh about if you follow the news as reported by the media. 

          I have to say though; I don’t really care about Britney.  So she shaved her head, I’ve been doing that since ’95.  Who ever is thrown off of American Idol is not going to impact my universe – I just met Toby Keith – that’s a real American Idol. 

          I invite you to meet some REAL people.  I invite you to read some REAL news. I invite you to learn how to impact the future of this great country.  I invite you to learn how to defend your family and property.  I invite you to learn how to get your elected politicians back to representing the desires of those that elected them instead of focusing on staying in power.  I invite you to help us invite an old and dear friend back into our schools, government buildings and homes – you remember him – his name is God.

          These and many more things are What We Are Fighting For. Join me, Pam, David and the entire What Are We Fighting For?, Inc. staff.  Help us re-Americanize America.

Yes, Our Cause In Vietnam WasNoble

by: – T.L.Foster, Peoria, Illinois.

Republican presidential candidate RonaldReagan has been drawing fire from certain quarters for his recent affirmationthat Americafought for noble motives in Vietnam.

Specifically, Reagan told the Veteransof Foreign Wars in Chicagothe “Vietnam Syndrome”had made Americans timid and apologetic fortheir opposition to communist aggression.

“Well, it’s time werecognized that ours was, in truth, a noble cause.We dishonor the memory of 58,000 youngAmericans who died in that cause and over a quarter of a million wounded whenwe give way to feelings of guilt as if we were doing something shameful.”Reagan said.

Reagan’s image of the contemporaryAmerican fighting man is somewhat removed from the currently approved Hollywood stereotype of a drug-crazed zombie orneo-fascist psychopath in G.I. fatigues. But Reagan is absolutely right.As individuals and as a nation, wegenerally fought for noble motives in Vietnam.

To say that is not to say the war wasbeing fought wisely by any means. But then the soldiers in the front lines didnot know that the politicians of the U.S.A. were using them to fight anddie in a war that the U.S.government had no intention of winning or even tying such as in Korea.

But those such as George McGovern,Ted Kennedy, Frank Church and Jimmy Carter who supported the war while it wasgoing on under Democratic leadership, but ultimately called it“racist,” bear a heavy burden when they go beyond questioning thewisdom or practicality of our effort in Southeast Asia to condemning ourmotives.

Perhaps the strongest answer tothat is to look at what followed our withdrawal from Southeast Asia.Nothing producedmore scorn among ardent anti-war liberals than the “domino theory.”The idea that if North Vietnam conquered South Vietnam it would also conquerLaos,Cambodiaand Thailand.Generally speaking the rest of Southeast Asiawould also fall if South Vietnam did.Well, we left and North Vietnamconquered South Vietnam,took Laosand Cambodiaand is currently probing Thailand.

The left wingers also laughed atthe idea that victory by North Vietnam and the Khmer Rouge would befollowed by repression and mass executions. But all Vietnam today is a prison, withtens of thousands in concentration camps and tens of thousands of pathetic“boat people” fleeing their doomed homeland.

In Cambodia, the communist Pol Potregime practiced genocide on a scale proportionately greater than even Hitlerwith the Jews.Where was our humanrights President during this holocaust ?

The young Americans who shouldered armsduring the long Vietnamstruggle may have shared some of the popular misgivings about the war, but theydid their duty as fully as any of their forefathers and they did carry theextra burden of scorn from many in their homeland.It is a burden that they are long sinceentitled to put down.For most ofthem, there was nothing at all ignoble about their performance !

From: “The PeoriaJournal Star” newspaper

Peoria, IllinoisSeptember 6,1980..

GUESTOPINION

WE’REGOING TO WIN THE WAR IN VIET NAM!

Opinionby Don Bendell

           Some of us went and fought and bled.Some died. Some stayed home and cried out against our fight. Some, with headsdraped in hooded cloaks of shame and fear, went to Canada, most claiming disdainand loathing for that far-off war, not admitting actually succumbing to an innerfear of death or of wounding in a foreign land.

           We won every major battle, in the tradition of our forefathers at St MereE’Glise, Normandy, San Juan Hill, and we left our virgin naiveté in thosesteaming emerald jungles of fear, or in the muddy larvae-laden waters of thelowland paddies checker-boarding the giant green and brown,  dirty spongecalled the Mekong Delta.

           Then came Tet, 1968, and it was more like Christmas for those of us who becamemen in less than one year’s time. Those black-pajamaed shadow warriors andkhaki-clad dedicated soldiers of Hanoi, came up out of the ground, like AK-armedhuman coatimundis bravely, sometimes insanely, hurling their bodies, thousandsof them, at the staccato blazing fire of M-16’s, M-60’s,  and manyother weapons of choice of our GI’s and Marines. We did not have to lookbeyond the moonlit bloodied bodies in the barbed wire perimeters across the darkjade countryside to see the tide was about to change in that bitter war. LikeG.I. Joe or Sergeant Rock, with drops of real blood, and the acrid smell ofnapalm in our nostrils, we lit our cigarettes with shaky hands, patting oneanother on sweaty shoulders, trying hard to pretend it was just another day atthe office.

           But, our forever protectors, those camera-toting, micro-phone-holding,self-appointed arbiters of information, back home in the World, said otherwiseon network newscasts and in daily written tomes. It was the “Communist’ssuccessful Tet Offensive,” not  even close to its true back-breaking rolein the communist’s insurgency effort. The serpent’s head was severed, butthen, following the media’s lead,  one shimmering ray of light made themdecide to grip with worn yellow fingers and just hold on. Those holding thattiny beacon of hope for Hanoi had names like Kerry, Fonda, and McCarthy, and sothe North Vietnamese waited for the tide to turn, and so it did.

           Politicians, who had been telling our jets to fly over Sam Missile factories inthe north, without “dropping deadly eggs” on civilian factory workers justto satisfy political-correctness, finally caved in to those who stayed andplayed, those who called us the crazies, baby-killers, and war criminals.

           Some guys in suits in Washington and Paris said that we lost that war, but I didnot. I did not surrender or even lose a battle. It was the same with all mybrothers in blood, my trauma team.

We weregiven a mission, and many; like me, still work to accomplish it, to this day.Oh, I know the well-worn Hollywood stereotype, a fatigue-clad, bearded hippywith PTSD and a Bottle of Ripple, under the local urban bridge in aflea-infested K-Mart economy model sleeping bag, right? I think not. Actually, less than one half of one percent of Viet Nam vets have ever beenarrested, our personal income is one-fifth higher on average than all similarage groups, 2/3rds of us were volunteers not draftees, and Viet Nam veterans asa group are more successful and have more education than any similar age group?No, we were not all “black and poor.” In fact, 13%  of the USpopulation during the Viet Nam War was black, and 12% of all American fightingmen in Viet Nam were black.

58,000heroes died in Viet Nam and millions more, who were all heroes, came home, butwe were not treated as heroes by our neighbors like our soldiers were from allother wars. It was inexpedient, and oh so uncomfortable, to do so. People wouldactually have to admit to nationalism, maybe even patriotism in those days,hardly a way to make the A-party list of the intelligentsia.

Thefiercely pro-American nomadic, proud Montagnard tribespeople, who I lived andfought beside in 1968 and 1969, are still being decimated, executed,forcibly-sterilized, and falsely-imprisoned at the hands of the Vietnamesegovernment in Hanoi, and led by the storm trooper-like secret police, the CongAn. To a lesser extent, the Cham minority, as well as some Buddhist sects,suffer discrimination as well.

So far, weare being selective in the carrots we dangle for Hanoi, but there are those inCongress who are pushing hard, and have been for years, to fill the pockets oflobbyist buddies from the Rice Bowl and to fully normalize relations with Hanoi.As we successfully fought, with quills and not spears, to deter an infiltrationinto the White House by those with no honor, who would use the blood of fallenheroes to try wash away their betrayal, so we must all stand with the ethnicminorities in Viet Nam, as well as those of the greater population who are mereserfs for the aristocracy of Hanoi and other population centers. 

TheVietnamese citizenry, both lowlander and highlander alike who value theblessings of human freedom and national enrichment of liberty and democracy,taught me a valuable lesson. I have been patient. We shall win this horrible waryet.  Between February and November of 2004, we fought a major and gloriousbattle and stood in triumph at the end, and victory is now in sight.

Dr.Rice, Mademoiselle Secretary, those in power in Hanoi refer to the Montagnardtribespeople as “Moi,” which in their dictionary means “Savage,” but intheir everyday slang means, “Nigger.” They refuse to allow us to freelyexamine or monitor suspected human rights abuses in the Central Highlands or toallow the free travel back and forth of their indigenous mountain people. Asbrazen as Saddam Hussein’s treachery, their’s has simply been shrouded insecrecy and hidden behind a curtain of bamboo. It is time for us to talk andthem to listen. We patiently await your response. When the Montagnards and allVietnamese are no longer suppressed, then my brothers and I will finally befree, too, of the pledge we who wore the green beret made, to always help ourMontagnard brothers and sisters who always helped us. On that day, our war willhave been won, and we will point to Heaven in victory and praise.

Don Bendell served as anofficer in four Special Forces Groups, including a tour on a green beret A-team(Dak Pek) in Vietnam in 1968-1969, and was in the Top Secret Phoenix Program, isa top-selling author of 21 books, with over 1,500,000 copies of his books inprint worldwide, a 1995 inductee into the International Karate Hall of Fame, andowns karate schools in southern Colorado. His pro-Bush/anti-Kerry editorialswere widely-published in newspapers and magazines, and circulated by millionsall over the world on the internet. He has been interviewed on FOX NEWS LIVE andon many radio shows and speaks all over the country.

Permission is hereby granted to reprint, copy, or pass this on wherever and towhomever you choose. This is posted on my website with other politicaleditorials: www.donbendell.com.

Blessings,
Don Bendell

Why We Fought & Why We Would Do it Again

Against a backdrop of political mismanagement and social angst, history has failed to respect those who gave their all to the war in Vietnam.

By James Webb

Forty years ago, Asia was at a vital crossroads, moving into an uncertain future dominated by three different historical trends. The first involved the aftermath of the carnage and destruction of World War II, which left scars on every country in the region and dramatically changed Japan’s role in East Asian affairs. The second was the sudden, regionwide end of European colonialism, which created governmental vacuums in every second-tier country except Thailand and, to a lesser extent, the Philippines. The third was the emergence of communism as a powerful tool of expansionism by military force, its doctrine and strategies emanating principally from the birthplace of the Communist International: the Soviet Union.

Europe’s withdrawal from the region dramatically played into the hands of communist revolutionary movements, especially in the wake of the communist takeover of China in 1949. Unlike in Europe, these countries had never known Western-style democracy. In 1950, the partitioned country of Korea exploded into war when the communist North invaded South Korea, with the Chinese Army joining the effort six months later. Communist insurgencies erupted throughout Indochina. In Malaysia, the British led a 10-year anti-guerrilla campaign against China-backed revolutionaries. A similar insurgency in Indonesia brought about a communist coup attempt, also sponsored by the Chinese, which was put down in 1965.

The situation inside Vietnam was the most complicated. First, for a variety of reasons the French had not withdrawn from their long-term colony after World War II, making it easy for insurgents to rally the nationalistic Vietnamese to their side. Second, the charismatic, Soviet-trained communist leader Ho Chi Minh had quickly consolidated his anti-French power base just after the war by assassinating the leadership of competing political groups that were both anti-French and anti-communist. Third, once the Korean War armistice was signed in 1953, the Chinese had shifted large amounts of sophisticated weaponry to Ho Chi Minh’s army. The Viet Minh’s sudden acquisition of larger-caliber weapons and field artillery such as the 105-millimeter Howitzer abruptly changed the nature of the war and contributed heavily to the French humiliation at Dien Bien Phu.

Fourth, further war became inevitable when U.S.-led backers of the incipient South Vietnamese democracy called off a 1956 election agreed upon after Vietnam was divided in 1954. In geopolitical terms, this failure to go forward with elections was prudent, since it was clear a totalitarian state had emerged in the north. President Eisenhower’s frequently quoted admonition that Ho Chi Minh would get 75 percent of the vote was not predicated on the communist leader’s popularity but on the impossibility of getting a fair vote in communist-controlled North Vietnam. But in propaganda terms, it solidified Ho Chi Minh’s standing and in many eyes justified the renewed warfare he would begin in the south two years later.

In 1958, the communists unleashed a terrorist campaign in the south. Within two years, their northern-trained squads were assassinating an average of 11 government officials a day. President Kennedy referred to this campaign in 1961 when he decided to increase the number of American soldiers operating inside South Vietnam. “We have talked about and read stories of 7,000 to 15,000 guerrillas operating in Vietnam, killing 2,000 civil officers a year and 2,000 police officers a year – 4,000 total,” Kennedy said. “How we fight that kind of problem, which is going to be with us all through this decade, seems to me to be one of the great problems now before the United States.”

Among the local populace, the communist assassination squads were the “stick,” threatening to kill anyone who officially affiliated with the South Vietnamese government. Along with the assassination squads came the “carrot,” a highly trained political cadre that also infiltrated South Vietnam from the north. The cadre helped the people prepare defenses in their villages, took rice from farmers as taxes and recruited Viet Cong soldiers from the local young population. Spreading out into key areas – such as those provinces just below the demilitarized zone, those bordering Laos and Cambodia, and those with future access routes to key cities – the communists gained strong footholds.

The communists began spreading out from their enclaves, fighting on three levels simultaneously. First, they continued their terror campaign, assassinating local leaders, police officers, teachers and others who declared support for the South Vietnamese government. Second, they waged an effective small-unit guerrilla war that was designed to disrupt commerce, destroy morale and clasp local communities to their cause. And finally, beginning in late 1964, they introduced conventional forces from the north, capable of facing, if not defeating, main force infantry units – including the Americans – on the battlefield. Their gamble was that once the United States began fighting on a larger scale – as it did in March 1965 – its people would not support a long war of attrition. As Ho Chi Minh famously put it, “For every one of yours we kill, you will kill 10 of ours. But in the end it is you who will grow tired.”

Ho Chi Minh was right. The infamous “body counts” were continuously disparaged by the media and the antiwar movement. Hanoi removed the doubt in 1995, when on the 20th anniversary of the fall of Saigon officials admitted having lost 1.1 million combat soldiers dead, with another 300,000 “still missing.”

Communist losses of 1.4 million dead compared to America’s losses of 58,000 and South Vietnam’s 245,000 stands as stark evidence that eliminates many myths about the war. The communists, and particularly the North Vietnamese, were excellent and determined soldiers. But the “wily, elusive guerrillas” that the media loved to portray were not exclusively wily, elusive or even guerrillas when one considers that their combat deaths were four times those of their enemies, combined. And an American military that located itself halfway around the world to take on a determined enemy on the terrain of the enemy’s choosing was hardly the incompetent, demoralized and confused force that so many antiwar professors, journalists and filmmakers love to portray.

Why Did We Fight? The United States recognized South Vietnam as a political entity separate from North Vietnam, just as it recognized West Germany as separate from communist-controlled East Germany and just as it continues to recognize South Korea from communist-controlled North Korea. As signatories of the Southeast Asian Treaty Organization, we pledged to defend South Vietnam from external aggression. South Vietnam was invaded by the north, just as certainly, although with more sophistication, as South Korea was invaded by North Korea. The extent to which the North Vietnamese, as well as antiwar Americans, went to deny this reality by pretending the war was fought only by Viet Cong soldiers from the south is, historically, one of the clearest examples of their disingenuous conduct. At one point during the war, 15 of North Vietnam’s 16 combat divisions were in the south.

How Did We Fight? The Vietnam War varied year by year and region by region, our military’s posture unavoidably mirroring political events in the United States. Too often in today’s America we are left with the images burned into a weary nation’s consciousness at the very end of the war, when massive social problems had been visited on an army that was demoralized, sitting in defensive cantonments and simply waiting to be withdrawn. While reflecting America’s final months in Vietnam, they hardly tell the story of the years of effort and battlefield success that preceded them.

Little recognition has been given in this country of how brutal the war was for those who fought it on the ground and how well our military performed. Dropped onto the enemy’s terrain 12,000 miles away from home, America’s citizen-soldiers performed with a tenacity and quality that may never be truly understood. Those who believe the war was fought incompetently on a tactical level should consider the enormous casualties to which the communists now admit. And those who believe that it was a “dirty little war” where the bombs did all the work might contemplate that it was the most costly war the U.S. Marine Corps has ever fought. Five times as many Marines died in Vietnam as in World War I, three times as many as in Korea. And the Marines suffered more total casualties, killed and wounded, in Vietnam than in all of World War II.

Another allegation was that our soldiers were over-decorated during the Vietnam War. James Fallows says in his book “National Defense” that by 1971, we had given out almost 1.3 million medals for bravery in Vietnam, as opposed to some 1.7 million for all of World War II. Others have repeated the figure, including the British historian Richard Holmes in his book “Acts of War.” This comparison is incorrect for a number of reasons. First, these totals included air medals, rarely awarded for bravery. We awarded more than 1 million air medals to Army soldiers during Vietnam. Air medals were almost always given on a points basis for missions flown, and it was not unusual to see a helicopter pilot with 40 air medals because of the nature of his job.

If we compare the top three actual gallantry awards, the Army awarded:

*      289 Medals of Honor in World War II and 155 in Vietnam.

*      4,434 Distinguished Service Crosses in World War II and 846 in
            Vietnam.

*      73,651 Silver Stars in World War II against 21,630 in Vietnam.

*      The Marine Corps, which lost 103,000 killed or wounded out of some 
            400,000 sent to Vietnam, awarded 47 Medals of Honor (34 
            posthumously), 362 Navy Crosses (139 posthumously) and 2,592
            Silver Stars.

Second, although the Army awarded another 1.3 million “meritorious” Bronze Stars and Army Commendation Medals in Vietnam, this was hardly unique. After World War II, Army Regulation 600-45 authorized every soldier who had received either a Combat Infantryman’s Badge or a Combat Medical Badge to also be awarded a meritorious Bronze Star. The Army has no data regarding how many soldiers received Bronze Stars through this blanket procedure.

Atrocities? We made errors, although nowhere on the scale alleged by those who have a stake in disparaging our effort. Fighting a well-trained enemy who seeks cover in highly contested populated areas where civilians often assist the other side is the most difficult form of warfare. The most important distinction is that the deliberate killing of innocent civilians was a crime in the U.S. military. We held ourselves accountable for My Lai. And yet we are still waiting for the communists to take responsibility for the thousands of civilians deliberately killed by their political cadre as a matter of policy. A good place for them to start holding their own forces accountable would be Hue, where during the 1968 Tet Offensive more than 2,000 locals were systematically executed during the brief communist takeover of the city.

What Went Wrong? Beyond the battlefield, just about everything one might imagine.

The war was begun, and fought, without clear political goals. Its battlefield complexities were never fully understood by those who were judging, and commenting upon, American performance. As a rifle platoon and company commander in the infamous An Hoa Basin west of Da Nang, on any given day my Marines could be fighting three different wars: one against terrorism, one against guerrillas and one against conventional forces. The implications of these challenges, as well as our successes in dealing with them, never seemed to penetrate an American populace inundated by negative press stories filed by reporters, particularly television journalists, who had no clue about the real tempo of the war. And one of the most under-reported revelations after the war ended was that several top reporters were compromised while in Vietnam, by communist agents who had managed to gain employment as their assistants, thus shaping in a large way their reporting.

Most importantly, Vietnam became an undeclared war fought against the background of a highly organized dissent movement at home. Few Americans who grew up after the war know that a large part of this dissent movement was already in place before the Vietnam War began. Many who wished for revolutionary changes in America had pushed for them through the vehicles of groups such as the ban-the-bomb movement in the 1950s and the civil-rights movement of the early and mid-1960s. In this regard, it is interesting to note that the infamous antiwar group Students for a Democratic Society was created at the University of Michigan through the Port Huron Statement in 1962 – three full years before American ground troops landed at Da Nang. The SDS hoped to bring revolution to America through the issue of race. They and other extremist groups soon found more fertile soil on the issue of the war.

Former communist colonel Bui Tin, a highly placed propaganda officer during the war, recently published a memoir in which he specifically admitted a truth that was assumed by American fighting men for years. The Hanoi government assumed from the beginning that the United States would never prevail in Vietnam so long as the dissent movement, which they called “the Rear Front,” was successful at home. Many top leaders of this movement coordinated efforts directly with Vietnamese communist officials in Hanoi. Such coordination often included visiting the North Vietnamese capital – for instance, during the planning stages for the October 1967 march on the Pentagon – a few weeks before the siege of Khe Sanh kicked into high gear and a few months before the Tet Offensive.

The majority of the American people never truly bought the antiwar movement’s logic. While it is correct to say many wearied of an ineffective national strategy as the war dragged on, they never stopped supporting the actual goals for which the United States and South Vietnam fought. As late as September 1972, a Harris survey indicated overwhelming support for continued bombing of North Vietnam – 55 percent to 32 percent – and for mining North Vietnamese harbors – 64 percent to 22 percent. By a margin of 74 percent to 11 percent, those polled also agreed that “it is important that South Vietnam not fall into the control of the communists.”

Was It Worth It? On a human level, the war brought tragedy to hundreds of thousands of American homes through death, disabling wounds and psychological scars. Many other Vietnam veterans were stigmatized by their own peers as a classic Greek tragedy played out before the nation’s eyes. Those who did not go, particularly among the nation’s elites, were often threatened by the acts of those who did and as a consequence inverted the usual syllogism of service. If I did not go to a war because I believed it was immoral, what does it say about someone who did? If someone who fought is perceived as having been honorable, what does that say about someone who was asked to and could have but did not?

Vietnam veterans, most of whom entered the military just after leaving high school, had their educational and professional lives interrupted during their most formative years. In many parts of the country and in many professional arenas, their having served their country was a negative when it came to admission into universities or being hired for jobs. The fact that the overwhelming majority of those who served were able to persist and make successful lives for themselves and their families is strong testament to the quality of Americans who actually did step forward and serve.

On a national level, and in the eyes of history, the answer is easier. One can gain an appreciation for what we attempted to achieve in Vietnam by examining the aftermath of the communist victory in 1975. A gruesome holocaust took place in Cambodia, the likes of which had not been seen since World War II. Two million Vietnamese fled their country – mostly by boat. Thousands lost their lives in the process. This was the first such diaspora in Vietnam’s long and frequently tragic history. Inside Vietnam, a million of the south’s best young leaders were sent to re-education camps; more than 50,000 perished while imprisoned, and others remained captives for as long as 18 years. An apartheid system was put into place that punished those who had been loyal to the United States, as well as their families, in matters of education, employment and housing. The Soviet Union made Vietnam a client state until its own demise, pumping billions of dollars into the country and keeping extensive naval and air bases at Cam Ranh Bay. In fact, communist Vietnam did not truly start opening up to the outside world until the Soviet Union ceased to exist.

Would I Do It Again? Others are welcome to disagree, but on this I have no doubt. Like almost every Marine I have ever met, my strongest regret is that perhaps I could have done more. But no other experience in my life has been more important than the challenge of leading Marines during those extraordinarily difficult times. Nor am I alone in this feeling. The most accurate poll of the attitudes of those who served in Vietnam – Harris, 1980 – showed that 91 percent were glad they’d served their country, and 74 percent enjoyed their time in the service. Additionally, 89 percent agreed that “our troops were asked to fight in a war which our political leaders in Washington would not let them win.”

On that final question, history will surely be kinder to those who fought than to those who directed – or opposed – the war. 

Reprint with permission of James Webb.  His website is at:http://www.jameswebb.com

James Webb served as a rifle platoon and company commander with the Fifth Marine Regiment in Vietnam. A former secretary of the Navy, he is the author of “Fields of Fire” and “Lost Soldiers.” He also was the creator and executive producer of the film “Rules of Engagement.”

What’s Wrong With Vietnam?

By John E. Carey and Honglien
September 8, 2006

For the last three weeks, Vietnam has detained an American who was born in Vietnam and works in conjunction with an anti-communist group that wants a multiparty system in Vietnam.
Cong Thanh Do, 47, of San Jose, California, has been held in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam without charges since August 17, 2006. He was visiting family in Vietnam, and traveling with his wife and son according to family members in California and Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Dung.

Mr. Do is a member of “The Peoples Democratic Party of Viet Nam,” which is what might be called “the movement” or “the underground,” to put it in the parlance of WWII.

In a letter from Reporters Without Borders on September 6, 2006, that organization asked the U.S., French and Finnish ambassadors in Hanoi to intervene.

The letter said in part:

“Five people are currently imprisoned in Vietnam for having expressed democratic views on the Internet. Contrary to the claims of the Vietnamese authorities, none of them is a terrorist, criminal or spy. These men have been punished for using the Internet to publicly express their disagreement with the political line of the sole party. They are non-violent democrats.”

Vietnam is a communist nation. Many of us have forgotten what that means.

Vietnam has no freedom of press, no freedom of speech and no opposition party. Internet access is severely restricted and monitored in Vietnam.

On August 28, 2006, Vietnam announced the release of prominent dissident and pro-democracy activist Pham Hong Son. Son was originally sentenced to five years in prison. His crime? He translated articles from the U.S. State Department web site for an online journal. The articles were titled “What is democracy?”

Vietnam tightly controls freedom of speech and many western web sites are blocked and not accessible.

In Vietnam, starting in the 2006-2007 school year, all high schools must provide accredited and extensive IT education to all students. Each high school must also be equipped with a computer center with at least 25 computers connected to the Internet.

These reforms are dictated by the Communist Party’s Ministry of Education and Training.The Vietnamese leaders believe that by making their youth more computer savvy, the nation will reap the great benefits of a surging economy for many years to come.

But the Vietnamese leaders, like the Communists in China, want to control the internet, read all email, monitor usage by individuals , and limit access to many western sites. Prohibited search words include “democracy,” “freedom,” and “declaration of independence.” Many sites Americans take for granted are prohibited in Vietnam and China: like my own Washington Times (most articles much of the time).

Also in August, Vietnam received international attention when it arrested staff members who worked for a foreign bank. The government of Vietnam was demanding their employer pay “compensation” to a state-owned bank for the $5.4 million it lost in speculative foreign-exchange trades.

The Wall Street Journal reported on August 28, “the appalling treatment of staff of the Dutch bank ABN-AMRO, caught up in what even Vietnamese regulators say were legitimate business transactions. The story highlights how, for all its strides toward a market economy, this Communist state is still not always a safe place to do business. In Hanoi, Tom O’Dore, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce Vietnam, says ‘This particular case reeks of human-rights abuses.’”

“They’re criminalizing what appears to be a legitimate business transaction,” Mr. O’Dore says.

“This is very bewildering in a country that’s trying to get into WTO and sends an inappropriate message to the U.S. Congress.”

Vietnam is trying to enter the WTO and they are trying to get most favored trade status from us here in the USA. They are taking a lot of steps to make themselves look as free and normal as European democracies but the truth is difficult for them to cover over.

Despite some window dressing appeals to the west, like releasing prisoners that they can easily re-arrest just after they get whatever they want from us, the leaders of Vietnam do not seem to completely grasp how shallow their small acts of kindness seem when they arrest someone like Mr. Do for weeks without a formal charge.

Yes, Vietnam has been releasing prisoners to impress the west with their “reforms of government.” Vietnam has released, in fact, more than 5 thousand prisoners; but only 4 of them are prisoners of conscience, and most of the rest are communist officers who were sentenced to jail for their “crimes of corruption.”

Vietnam’s record on Human Rights is no joke. Cong Thanh Do, like most Vietnamese-born Americans who return to Vietnam, was visiting family. Often the parents and grandparents stay behind in Vietnam and American family members naturally want to visit.

We don’t hear much about Vietnam. They have no missiles. They pose no apparent threat to their regional neighbors. But the leaders in Vietnam terrorize their own people and this places them into a special category that should interest all of us. Religious repression continues in Vietnam. In Vietnam, police are allowed to hold suspects without charges for more than a year.

The case of Cong Thanh Do stands as testament to how far Vietnam still has to travel before foreign governments can have faith in their words; as opposed to their continued actions in opposition to normally accepted international norms of civility and freedom.

Vietnam seeks entry into the World Trade Organization. Some in America say WTO entry will make Vietnam institute more relaxed laws toward those now deemed dissidents.

But WTO entry is no panacea, with China’s 2001 accession failing to halt its abuses.

In the case of the staff of the Dutch bank ABN-AMRO, The Wall Street Journal said, “In the free world, governments don’t go around abducting a competitor’s staff over a business dispute. Until state-owned companies are forced to live with the consequences of bad business deals — or resolve disputes through the legal system — Vietnam can never expect to become a full-fledged member of the world business community.”

In the case of Cong Thanh Do there is simply no excuse for the conduct of Vietnam. Mr. Do only wants to leave Vietnam and return to his home in the United States.

Vietnam needs to start behaving as other civilized nations act. And Vietnam needs to start acting in accordance with its own long-term self-interests.

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