|About the Book|
My reverie is broken by the sound of a jet overhead, its plume providing a patriotic backdrop to the Washington Monument. Haunted by the fresh memory, I fight back the tears. Again, I wonder about the 50,000 American dead, and for the first time IMoreMy reverie is broken by the sound of a jet overhead, its plume providing a patriotic backdrop to the Washington Monument. Haunted by the fresh memory, I fight back the tears. Again, I wonder about the 50,000 American dead, and for the first time I allow myself to think about the 2,000,000+ Vietnamese dead. How did it all begin? I promise myself then and there that I am going to seek a full understanding of the war and how it all got started. This article is the result of my efforts at fulfilling my promise.For twenty years I have treated my Vietnam experience like a bad love affair - on again, off again. Sometimes embracing it with a fierce passion, other times attempting to distance myself from it but failing miserably. Often seeking to understand it, but being too close, too involved to see clearly - and in the end returning to it once again, hat in hand, to start over.In hope of a reconciliation, I have taken the time to do quite a bit of research on the subject of Vietnam, with a specific interest in answering the following questions:Why did the US get involved in Vietnam? Vietnam is thousands of miles away from the US. It was a backwards little country, almost primitive in comparison. What possible interest did the US have in such a place? The public was told from the veryAmerica Why Vietnam? 213beginning that we had to stop the communist menace in Vietnam or other countries would follow suit- that we had to defend the democratic South Vietnamese government against the gathering Red hordes. Was that really true? Did our leaders really believe that? Who were the Vietcong? What was North Vietnam all about? I went through 19 months in Vietnam thinking that the Vietcong constituted an uprising against a democratically elected government- that the Vietcong were essentially some kind of insurgency, a group of upstarts and troublemakers, indoctrinated by the North to cause trouble in the South. Everyone I knew believed the same thing. Were we right? Repeatedly, US soldiers complained about the inability to determine friend from foe. Farmer or cab driver by day, guerrilla by night. We soldiers knew that the towns and hamlets were literally crawling with what we called, Vietcong sympathizers, but that just seemed to be one more crazy thing about Vietnam. We were too busy with the day-to-day affairs of the war to worry about inconsistencies between what we were told and what we knew to be true. Besides, we werent supposed to think about what we were doing. But who were the Vietcong? And why did they fight so hard for so little?Why were we lied to? With the release of the Pentagon Papers, which the government had fought so hard against, the truth about Vietnam could begin to be known. In the Pentagon Papers, all the details about the planning of the war, the scheming, the misguided reasoning, are laid bare. Memos and meeting notes are compiled for your perusal. A solid foundation214 Gaylon Barrowfor understanding our involvement in Vietnam can be found in those pages. Did our government lie to us about Vietnam? Most certainly. Why?Many believe that Russia was behind the North Vietnamese invasion. But did you know that in the beginning of the war there was never any evidence connecting Russia with North Vietnamese military actions in the South? And as for the invasion, there were never any confirmed sightings of North Vietnamese regular forces in South Vietnam until 1965, a full eleven years after the start of our involvement in the Vietnam war. So who were we fighting all this time? Who were we supporting and why? Who were we saving Vietnam from?