View Full Version : Seven Myths About the Vietnam War

09-24-02, 12:16 PM
by William F. Jasper

A shorter version of this article originally appeared in the March 25, 2002 issue of THE NEW AMERICAN.
Reprinted with permission.


Three decades after pulling out of Southeast Asia, America remains hostage to a relentless barrage of distortion, myths, and outright lies about the Vietnam War.


Myth #1: The United States was defeated militarily in Southeast Asia.

Myth #2: The impact of the Pentagon's Rules of Engagement on our military capabilities in Vietnam has been greatly exaggerated.

Myth #3: The North Vietnamese (Communists) won, ultimately, because they occupied the moral high ground. They were fighting for their homeland against a foreign invader.

Myth #4: The Vietnamese who fought against us were more nationalists than Communists. However, the Communists were willing to help them free their country from the French - and later, American - invaders.

Myth #5: Claims by conservatives and the military that media coverage of the Vietnam War was unbalanced, hostile toward the military, or even anti-patriotic and subversive are not substantiated by the facts. Many scholarly studies have shown that the media coverage, on the whole, was fair and accurate.

Myth #6: It was America's pathological anti-Communist obsession that caused our leaders to get us involved in the Vietnam quagmire.

Myth # 7: All of America's POWs were returned following the 1973 peace agreement, and Vietnam is now cooperating to find the remains of all the unresolved MIAs.

Napoleon is reputed to have cynically remarked that "history is a fraud agreed upon."(1) A similarly cynical attitude is more than justified when it comes to the usual "history" of the Vietnam War, as presented by the prevailing liberal-left voices of the mass media, academia, and Hollywood. For the past four decades, the American public has been subjected to a relentless barrage of distortion, propaganda, myths, and outright lies concerning the war in Southeast Asia that claimed the lives of 58,000 of America's sons and left hundreds of thousands of others physically and psychologically wounded.

While many Americans, especially those under the age of 40, view the Vietnam War era as ancient history, the ghost of Vietnam is still very much with us, greatly affecting our culture, our beliefs, and our political, social, and military policies. Innumerable journalists, commentators, activist professors, politicians, novelists, and historians have stolen the truth and substituted the most contemptible lies. Consider, for example, the late, celebrated historian Henry Steele Commager. Author of many influential books and articles and an activist in many Communist front organizations and radical-left groups, Mr. Commager aggressively denounced U.S. military actions in Indochina and regularly distorted the facts concerning what was happening during the war.(2) His distortions did not stop once the U.S. had pulled out of Vietnam. In 1998, for instance, he wrote the introduction to Loren Baritz's book, Backfire: A History of how American Culture Led Us into Vietnam and Made Us Fight the Way We Did. Commager praised this anti-American propaganda assault as "the first full-length and scholarly account of why we got into Vietnam in the first place, why we fought it as barbarously as the Japanese in Manchuria or the Germans in Poland, and why we deserved to lose it - indeed why we did have to lose it if we were to find any kind of ultimate peace."(3)

Incredible! Can the overall performance of American troops in Vietnam truly be compared to the brutal rape of Nanking by the Imperial Japanese invaders of China or the atrocities of Hitler's forces in Poland? Such an obscene defamation of America's armed forces - of America's sons, fathers, grandfathers, and husbands - so blatantly contradicts the facts as to seem possible only from the hand of an enemy propagandist. Yet, this abominable screed came from one of our country's most highly praised historians. Many other prominent academics, journalists, commentators, and politicians share Mr. Commager's distorted views and have propagated them in the minds of millions of unsuspecting Americans. In what follows, we hope to inject some truth into the poisonous smokescreen that has clouded popular thinking and discussion concerning the Vietnam War.




09-24-02, 07:36 PM
bump so it wouldn't be mythed ;)