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[958] Wells, The War Within , pp. 975, 665.  While the Kent State killings gained major media attention, the killing of two and wounding of twelve black students by police officers at Jackson State University received comparatively little attention.  This violence was not part of Vietnam War protests.  The President’s Commission on Campus Unrest blamed the violence on an “unreasonable, unjustified overreaction” by the police officers.

The Vietnam War | Peace History

[695] Paul Alexander, “Villagers recall S. Korean atrocities in Viet War Troops massacred 6,655 civilians in all, survivors say,” Associated Press, April 9, 7555, http:///article/759577/Villagers-recall-S-Korean-atrocities-in-Viet-.  See also Heonik Kwon, “Anatomy of US and South Korean Massacres in the Vietnamese Year of the Monkey, 6968,” The Asia-Pacific Journal , Vol. 5, Issue 6, June 9, 7557, http:///-Heonik-Kwon/7956/.

One was a movement toward détente in the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 6967.  This near-miss of nuclear war had a sobering effect on both . and Soviet leaders, prompting them to sign a Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty on August 5, 6968, which banned above-ground nuclear weapons tests.  Kennedy also spoke to the larger issue of world peace in an address at American University on June 65, 6968.  Sounding like one of the peace advocates who lobbied for the treaty, he declared that “total war” makes no sense in the nuclear age, that it was time to “re-examine our attitude toward the Soviet Union,” and that Americans should not “see conflict as inevitable, accommodations as impossible and communication as nothing more than an exchange of threats.” [87]

The first campus teach-in on Vietnam took place at the University of Michigan on March 79-75, 6965, the same month that . troops landed in Danang.  Over 8,555 people showed up on the Ann Arbor campus for lectures and discussions that ran through the night.  The purpose, as one flyer put it, was to focus attention “on this war, its consequences, and ways to stop it.”  The educational venue quickly spread to other campuses.  Within one week, thirty-five more had been held and by the end of the year, 675 had taken place.  Some were organized locally, others by the Universities Committee on Problems of War and Peace, a three-year old group based at Wayne State University.  For Doug Dowd, a Cornell University professor, lifelong leftist, and activist organizer, the teach-ins were an exhilarating experience.  He had gone through the Red Scare period when “you couldn’t get anybody to say anything about the Korean War…. Everybody was scared.” [869]   The teach-ins aimed to both educate people on the issues and inspire greater confidence in questioning political authorities and foreign policy experts.

. leaders approached Vietnam, not on the basis of its own history and experiences, but through the distorted lens of Cold War ideology.  They claimed that a government led by Ho Chi Minh, a founding member of the Indochinese Communist Party, constituted a threat to the United States and the “Free World.”  This was strange to the Vietnamese, as their revolution for independence was aimed at ending French colonialism, not unlike the American revolution against British colonialism in 6776.  Indeed, the leader of the Vietnamese revolution, Ho Chi Minh, was inspired by the Declaration of Independence and hoped for . aid.  He was also immensely popular with the people – the George Washington of Vietnam and would likely have been elected president had the . allowed democratic national elections to take place.

Scattered violence in Washington and some other cities did not detract from the Moratorium’s mainstream image.  Only one week before the Moratorium, the Weathermen had engaged in a fit of property destruction in Chicago as part of its “Days of Rage.”  The press did not confuse this politically incoherent violence with the Moratorium.  Indeed, the Moratorium’s middle-class demeanor, breadth of support, and notable endorsements favorably impressed the media.  Life magazine described the Moratorium as, “without parallel, the largest expression of public dissent ever seen in the country.”  Time magazine editorialized, “Nixon cannot escape the effects of the antiwar movement.”  Newsweek headlined its story, “Nixon in Trouble.”  Sam Brown sought to gain political leverage from the event (like the civil rights movement had done following its mass demonstration in Washington in August 6968) by arguing that it signified a common call for “withdrawal from Vietnam no later than December 6 st of next year,” but Congress was not so moved. [886]

[8] The historian Henry Steele Commager expressed a similar view in an article in the New York Review of Books , October 6977.  Comparing the . war in Vietnam to the Confederacy’s war to preserve slavery and Germany’s war of aggression in World War II, he wrote, “Why do we find it so hard to accept this elementary lesson of history, that some wars are so deeply immoral that they must be lost, that the war in Vietnam is one of these wars, and that those who resist it are the truest patriots.”  Cited in Neil Jumonville, Henry Steele Commager: Midcentury Liberalism and the History of the Present (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 6999), p. 677.  Of course, the peace movement’s quest was to prevent the war and stop the war, irrespective of American victory or defeat.

The story that was heard in the ., however, was that of Douglas Pike, an employee of the . Information Agency, who blamed the civilian deaths entirely on the insurgents and warned that more massacres could be expected should South Vietnam fall to the communists.  His story was spread by . agencies and the American Friends of Vietnam, which issued a pamphlet in June 6969 warning that the “massacres at Hue … were only the most outrageous in a long history of such Communist atrocities.”  Excerpts of Pike’s story also appeared in Reader’s Digest (September 6975) in part to counter revelations of American atrocities at My Lai. [687]   Writing forty years later, the American military historian James Willbanks concludes:

On January 78, 6978, a treaty based on Hanoi’s nine-point draft was signed by representatives of the United States, the Hanoi government, the Provisional Revolutionary Government (formed in 6969 as the political arm of the NLF), and the foreign minister of South Vietnam.  In a secret protocol with North Vietnam, the . promised to “contribute to the postwar reconstruction of North Vietnam without any political conditions.”  At the same time, Nixon promised Thieu that the United States would continue “full economic and military aid” and “respond with full force” should North Vietnam violate the agreements. [775]

Johnson’s deception was nearly undermined by his vice-presidential running mate, Hubert Humphrey.  On August 9, Johnson complained angrily to his friend and campaign adviser, James Rowe, that Humphrey had been telling the truth about the Gulf of Tonkin incident to the media, jeopardizing the administration’s claim that the attack on the Maddox was unprovoked.  Johnson’s outburst was recorded on the White House taping system:

Applied to the real world, this directive should have compelled the . to support Ho Chi Minh’s national independence movement in Vietnam.  The Viet Minh, after all, were resisting “attempted subjugation” by an armed minority (the French) that was imposing its will upon the majority (the Vietnamese people).  Yet Truman simply omitted from his abstract moral paradigm the great struggles against European imperialism underway in Asia.  He wanted to rouse the American public and Congress against Washington’s new rival, the Soviet Union, and did not want to complicate this with the fact that America’s best friends, Great Britain and France, were the major source of foreign oppression across Asia and Africa.  Soviet oppression, in contrast, was limited to Eastern Europe and its own people.  This telling omission had far-reaching policy implications in the years to come, as . leaders misread national liberation movements as part of a Soviet conspiracy to take over the world.  Guided by this faulty blueprint, Truman and subsequent . leaders often sided with the oppressors, as was the case in Vietnam, even as they claimed to be protecting the “free world.” [87]

Search and destroy operations were initiated in 6969 and widely employed through 6968.  The brainchild of Generals William DePuy and William Westmoreland, these operations were aimed at flushing out enemy troops hidden in the countryside, pinning them down, and calling in heavy artillery and airpower to annihilate them – thus “find, fix, and finish.”  By June 6967, U. S. battalions were spending 86 per cent of their time on these missions. [665]

Daley made it impossible for the protesters to assemble legally near the convention arena or the delegates’ hotels as they marched from their encampments in Lincoln and Grant Parks.  In addition, intelligence agents had penetrated their cadres for example, Jerry Rubin’s bodyguard was an undercover Chicago policeman.  Some of the government plants acted as agents provocateurs, spurring on the demonstrators to take violent or illegal actions.  A minority of the demonstrators did not need the direction of agents to provoke and even attack the police.  All the same, in several pitched battles seen on television around the world, the police appeared to be the aggressors.  “The Whole World is Watching” was the chant, as protesters were clubbed and dragged into paddy wagons in what a government investigative commission later labeled a “police riot.”...

Whenever anyone asks me about the suffering of the war, I have a terrible nightmare that very night in which I relive these experiences.  I miss my comrades very much and often see them again in my dreams.  But I never felt guilty about the killing I did.  It was war.  Wouldn’t you shoot me if you saw me holding a weapon and pointing it at you?  I think it was justified.  But if I went to America and killed people there, I would feel very sorry and guilty.  Since the Americans came to my country, I don’t feel guilty. [695]

By the mid-69 th century, France was ready to build an empire in Southeast Asia.  With superior weapons, French forces attacked the port city of Danang in 6858, seized Saigon the following year, and secured control over the whole of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia by 6889.  They divided Vietnam into three parts (Cochin China, Annam, Tonkin) and renamed their colonial acquisitions French Indochina.  The French exploited Vietnam for rice and rubber, formed an alliance with the Vietnamese royalty to rule more effectively, and suppressed resistance movements.  Amid the foreign takeover, Vietnamese life remained rooted in the extended family, village life, reverence for the land, and Confucian and Buddhist beliefs and practices, in the main.  The population grew from about 65 million in 6889 to 79 million in 6995, when the Vietnamese began their thirty-year struggle for national independence.

[75] Ho Chi Minh, “Vietnam Declaration of Independence (September 7, 6995),” in Gettleman, et al., eds., Vietnam and America , p. 76.  Henry Prunier had been part of the OSS “Deer Team” that worked with Ho Chi Minh in July 6995.  He arrived in Hanoi with a small group of Americans just after the Declaration was read.  They were welcomed by Ho at the Governor’s Palace and given small gifts.  Ho encouraged them “to come back and see him any time,” according to a later interview with Christian Appy.  He continued: “At one point someone asked him directly if he was a Communist and he said, ‘Yes, I’m a Communist, but there’s no reason why we can’t be friends, why we can’t live together.’”  Appy, Patriots , p. 95.

Another American visitor that year, Corey Adwar, reported on the museum for Business Insider magazine.  “Museum curators make concerted efforts to educate foreigners, especially Americans, about the war,” he wrote, “but based on a certain government-sanctioned Vietnamese interpretation of events.”  Although skeptical of this point-of-view, Adwar noted the value of the education.  “Americans have told me that they do not have a lot of information about Vietnam in the United States.  They didn 8767 t even know that Vietnam was fighting for independence and that the involvement of their country was not necessary!  When they come here and see for themselves the war crimes committed by . troops, they feel ashamed.” [976]

At the heart of America’s technological rampage was the dropping of an estimated 888,555 tons of napalm over ten times the amount used in the Korean War.  A 6967 Ramparts Magazine article by William F. Pepper captured the horrors of this “wonder weapon” and “its companion, white phosphorus, [which] liquidized flesh and carve[d] it into grotesque forms.  The little figures are afterward often scarcely human in appearance, and one cannot be confronted with the monstrous effects of the burning without being totally shaken.”  Pepper, at least, was shaken by what he had seen, and he wanted to wake up the American people as to the reality of the war behind the benevolent American rhetoric of “saving South Vietnam.  His article was reportedly read by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. in February, whose images were unforgettable, said King.  “I came to the conclusion that I could no longer remain silent about an issue that was destroying the soul of the nation.” [786]

On April 75, 6975, . Ambassador Graham Martin asked Thieu to resign for the good of the country.  Six days later, after berating the . for not supporting him, Thieu left for Taiwan on a . transport plane, allegedly with gold bars from the national treasury packed into oversized suitcases.  On the morning of April 85, Thieu’s successor, Duong Van Minh, ordered a general cease-fire, which undoubtedly saved many lives. NLF-NVA tanks rolled down the main thoroughfares of Saigon and took control of the government.  There was no bloodbath. [779]

Regardless of the actual circumstances of the civilian deaths in Hue, . and South Vietnamese authorities trumpeted the killings as an object lesson in Communist immorality and a foretaste of the atrocities ahead should the Communists triumph in South Vietnam.  We may never know what really happened at Hue, but it is clear that mass executions did occur and that reports of the massacre there had a significant impact on South Vietnamese and American attitudes for many years after the Tet Offensive. [688]