From:  Bob Morecook

     Date:  April 14, 2020

Subject:  Sleeping with the Enemy

HI Marc,

Hanoi is different now. I was there last summer. When the USSR cratered and changed over to a capitalist country [of sorts - its not America - but there is private business] Vietnam saw the writing on the wall and ditched central economic planning as well. They are a one party country [don't piss off the communists] but economically it is much improved. At least that is how it looked to me. But I don't wanna go live there.

Bob


    From:  Marc Yablonka

     Date:  April 16, 2020

Subject:  Hanoi

Forrest, 
The quote you mentioned, about the Vietnamese calling the Russians "Americans without money" sounds about right. In addition, my impression is that, in spite of the almost indelible French influence that, in many ways, still exists in Vietnam today,  they preferred Americans over the French. When I did a phoner with Pat Sajak, originally for a piece in Vietnam magazine several years ago. Pat told me that actor Michael Caine, who'd just returned from Saigon after starring in the second film version of Graham Greene's novel  "The Quiet American" told him that he (Caine) was told by Vietnamese he met that they preferred us over the French because we were never going to stay. 
Marc


    From:  Forrest Brandt

     Date:  April 13, 2020

Subject:  Sleeping with the Enemy

Thanks for posting Webb’s piece. I agree with much of what he says… BUT the best analysts of the time told Johnson and McNamara that the war was unwinable as early as 1965.  The best I’ve read on the topic comes in the form of Col Harry Summers’ Command and General Staff dissertation, On Strategy. Only a bit over 100 pages, Summers states the the US violated several of Von Clausvitz rules of war, the greatest of these was the failure to take the nation to war - the choice, put the nation on war footing, or as Johnson chose, try and have guns and butter at the same time. That decision led to college exemptions, which led to racial and economic tensions, which led to the civil rights movement merging with the anti-war movement, which led to VOLAR, and on and on. 
My own opinion was based on my weekly trips to Saigon and AFVN. I couldn’t help but notice the number of young Vietnamese men of military age not in uniform, especially around the area of Saigon University. It seemed to me that ARVN was willing to fight to the last American and not beyond that. My interview of a captain assigned as an advisor to the ARVN 25th Division was equally revealing. The 25th was based out of Saigon and filled with the sons of politicians. As a track team, they were pretty good. They could di di mau with the best of them as witnessed in a fight around Bien How Air Base in Tet of 69, when the 25th broke and ran until a mech unit from the First Infantry and a troop from 11th ACR halted the retreat, stabilized the line and then turned the flank of the attacking NVA force. 
Forrest 

    From:  Preston Cluff

     Date:  April 11, 2020

Subject:  Sleeping with the Enemy

Thanks so much, Marc.  One can learn a lot by reading this.  I know I did. 

Preston

    From:  Billy Williams

     Date:  April 13, 2020

Subject:  Sleeping with the Enemy

Corrupt SVN governments and military were a major factor in their defeat. 
Without a stable government in place, there was little hope for success.  Building a structure on loose sand comes to mind.  LTC Vann had the situation pegged as early as 1963. 
I remember running Barry Farber tapes in my first job after getting out of the Army.  Midnight to 6AM shift playing top 40 music.  Farber ran around 4AM to give the DJ a break from having to talk after every record. 
Similar to having Wolfman Jack, Casey Kasem, Barbara Randolph, etc. to break up the Saigon Orient Express shift. 
Billy Williams


    From:  Bob Morecook

     Date:  April 12, 2020

Subject:  Sleeping with the Enemy

Hi Bob, Its Nam related - yes. 

Bob


    From:  Frank Rogers

     Date:  April 11, 2020

Subject:  Sleeping with the Enemy

Hey y’all, 
Ask Dickie about Webb & his writing. Personal revelation of another side of the man. 
FrankR


    From:  Marc Yablonka

     Date:  April 14, 2020

Subject:  Sleeping with the Enemy

Steve, 
I ran that great quote you mentioned ("Never in human History have so many people fled Liberation") by my wife, who along with most of her family, were unable to get out of Saigon after it fell, and, thus, had to endure 16 years of communism before they could. She nodded and said, "Yes! Who asked them to liberate us anyway? We sure didn't!" 
Marc


AFVN Group Conversations

    From:  Marc Yoblonka

     Date:  April 11, 2020

Subject:  Sleeping with the Enemy

The following was written in 1997 by Marine Vietnam vet, former Senator and Secretary of the Navy Jim Webb. It's on the long side but well worth the read and ever so poignant today as we near 45 years since the fall of Saigon April 30th, 1975: 


Marc Phillip Yablonka

Sleeping with the Enemy

Problems of the Handling of the Vietnam War​ and

Vietnamese Opinions following the Defeat of South Vietnam

April 2020


    From:  Bob Morecook

     Date:  April 12, 2020

Subject:  Jim Webb

Hi Marc Vietnam stuff is always welcome here. controversial or not. We been there. Vietnam is what we have in common.

Bob


    From:  Steve Sevits

     Date:  April 13, 2020

Subject:  Sleeping with the Enemy

In 1968 I told Barry Farber (WOR in New York) the Vietnam War would be lost not in the rice paddies of Southeast Asia, but in the halls of Congress.  I was unaware of the following.  It appears that Washington had no wish or intent to win the war.  I call this posture treason. 
Steve 

The claim that the U.S. notified the North Vietnamese government of air strikes ahead of time went viral in early 2015 when an excerpt from General Piotrowski’s book appeared in chain emails: 
“Nearly twenty years later, I saw former Secretary of State Dean Rusk being interviewed by Peter Arnett on a CBS documentary called ‘The Ten Thousand Day War.’  Mr Arnett asked, ‘It as been rumored that the United States provided the North Vietnamese government the names of the targets that would be bombed the following day. Is there any truth to that allegation?’ 
“To my astonishment and absolute disgust, the former Secretary responded, ‘Yes. We didn’t want to harm the North Vietnamese people, so we passed the targets to the Swiss embassy in Washington with instructions to pass them to the NVN government through their embassy in Hanoi.” 
In the book, General Piotrowski also said former Secretary of State Dean Rusk said, “All we wanted to do is demonstrate to the North Vietnamese leadership that we could strike targets at will, but we didn’t want to kill innocent people. By giving the North Vietnamese advanced warning of the targets to be attacked, we thought they would tell the workers to go home.” 


    From:  Forrest Brandt

     Date:  April 15, 2020

Subject:  Hanoi

Don’t know the accuracy of this quote, but it appeared in a Time article a couple of years after the Russians began using DaNang as a port of call. Asked how he felt about the Russians as compared to the Americans a Vietnamese man said, “The Russians are Americans without the money.” 
Forrest


    From:  Marc Yablonka

     Date:  April 15, 2020

Subject:  Hanoi

Bob, 
I haven't been back to Vietnam since 1995, right around the time that the cessation of the US embargo took effect and things began to be better in the cities. I know you're right about Hanoi today. There is even a statue honoring John McCain by the lake where his jet crashed, as I'm sure everyone knows. I'm often sent emails with photos from Vietnam veteran friends who go back, some even preferring Hanoi to Saigon! Several of my own in-laws have gone back. Even my brother-in-law, who spent six years in a communist re-education camp because he was an RVN Marine officer, has been back! Ironically, his eldest son recently married a classmate from Waterloo University, a visa student from Vietnam whose parents were both VC doctors and the families get along! Times have certainly changed! 
P.S. Regarding those "USSR cratered" years in Vietnam, it's worthwhile mentioning that every English professor I met or befriended, whenever they felt free enough to discuss the "Lien Xo" (Soviets), which was not very often, expressed fear and disdain for them! 
Marc


    From:  Rick Fredericksen

     Date:  April 14, 2020

Subject:  Sleeping with the Enemy

Love that quote! 
Rick Fredericksen


    From:  Marc Yablonka

     Date:  April 12, 2020

Subject:  Jim Webb Take 3

Bob, 
Thanks for approving of my posting of the Jim Webb piece in spite of its political leanings. I meant to say by the way that the USG reneged on its promise for continued materiel to South Vietnam should Saigon fall. Left out the verb. Bad form for an English Instructor and writer! 
Incidentally, on Easter Sunday Eve it's perhaps appropriate, when we talk about broken promises in the Vietnam War, to mention the Montagnard hill tribes, whom the CIA and Special Forces promised would be rescued in the event of a communist takeover. Of course, that rescue never occurred. 
I've read more than once that the "Yards" were told to gather on the beach at Nha Trang and wait for US Navy vessels to sail them to freedom. They waited...and they waited...and they waited. For days, finally giving up and returning to the Central Highlands.There, they have endured decades of discrimination for their allegiance to us and because of their Christian and Catholic faiths. They've often been beaten up by agents from Hanoi simply for worshiping at Christmas and Easter. In many cases, they've been forced to intermarry with lowland Vietnamese and forego their language and other customs completely. 
And Rick, regarding the media's role, I know well the opinion of many Vietnam vets, that the media "lost" the Vietnam War. Whether they did or not, I feel, is for others to opine on. But what I can not forgive them for is the manner in which, once Saigon fell to North Vietnamese forces and mass incarcerations and killings in the re-education camps began, the media were nowhere to be found on the issue. 
Ironically, the only person of any notoriety whatsoever that I'm aware of who spoke out about the atrocities committed by the North Vietnamese after 1975 was folk singer/war protester Joan Baez. She took out a full page ad in the New York Times, lambasting the communists for the terror they were perpetrating against the South Vietnamese at the time. 
With apologies to all for going on so long, and a thank you for the honor of allowing me the opportunity to "mingle" among you. It is my esteemed honor to do so! 
Marc 


    From:  Steve Pennington

     Date:  April 14, 2020

Subject:  Sleeping with the Enemy

There was a statement made after April 1975, "Never in human History have so many people fled Liberation."

    From:  Nancy Smoyer

     Date:  April 16, 2020

Subject:  Hanoi

What I found when I went back and have heard from others is that the Vietnamese preferred our presence over the French and Russians because in general we treated them better.  GIs (and Americans) are basically friendly and want to be liked.  I have heard Americans described by foreigners as puppy dogs who want everyone to love them. 
Nancy


    From:  Bob Peetz

     Date:  April 12, 2020

Subject:  Sleeping with the Enemy

Can I share this? 
Winds, Bob


    From:  Marc Yablonka

     Date:  April 12, 2020

Subject:  Jim Webb

Happy Easter all, 
When I posted Jim Webb's 1997 piece yesterday, just so you know, it wasn't because I was taking a position on Jim Webb the man, Marine, SECNAV, Senator or author. I posted his piece because I'm among those who feel that we let a country down on April 30th, 1975. A country that, for better or worse, had been our ally in the fight against a common adversary. And because of that, thousands upon thousands of people who looked to us for assistance in that fight were mutilated and murdered. Those in Congress, and their supporters, who facilitated not only our complete withdrawal from South Vietnam, but also a written promise to support the country with materiel, will forever have South Vietnamese blood on their hands  I think Senator Webb makes that point in his piece far more eloquently than I. 
Again, Happy Easter to all! 
Marc


    From:  Marc Yablonka

     Date:  April 14, 2020

Subject:  Sleeping with the Enemy

Steve, 
Per your comment that you told WOR's Barry Farber that the Vietnam War would be lost in the halls of Congress--In 1992, I spent three weeks in Hanoi. I wasn't "sleeping with the enemy," but I was never really comfortable there either. Nonetheless, I'd been invited through a program at the University of Wisconsin to lecture on the use of American English at a couple of universities in Hanoi. I also managed to do some freelancing that ended up in Pacific Stars and Stripes and a couple other publications. 
The reason I even bring this up is because, during my time there, I met  former NVA colonel Nguyen Ngoc Hung, who was then the Vice Director of the English department of the Hanoi University of Foreign Languages, Hung ended up in the piece I wrote for PS&S. He was also in the late CBS 60 Minutes reporter Morley Safer's book "Flashbacks." 
Over the obligatory tea at our meeting,  Hung said something that I remember to this day. "Even when the Chinese and Russians sold us out," he told me, "we knew we would win when we heard voices...voices from America." 
I will say that, in the Hanoi of 1992, I think the verb "win" should have been used and viewed very subjectively. As I walked the streets and saw the utter, abject poverty the people lived under--fellow professors trying to eek out a living on the equivalent of US$12 a month; universities looking like bombed out Berlin after WWII, without glass in the windows and ancient paint crawling up the walls; black boards that appeared like they hadn't been properly erased since the French era for lack of erasers in country--it didn't smell very much like victory to me. It just seemed like....communism. And to this day, when I read or hear someone say "We lost the war in Vietnam," I could be wrong in so doing, but I remember Hanoi in 1992 and beg to differ. 
Marc