CONSEQUENCES of the VIETNAM WAR — the Pinky Show Transcripts Part IV (conclusion)

We explained why the United States became involved in Vietnam. Why did the U.S. think that Vietnam was worth so much killing and dying for? The most frequently-offered explanation, among American historians - is that the United States was in Vietnam in an attempt to stop communist expansion into South East Asia.

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FACT: How long were we in the Vietnam War? Long enough for conspiracy theorists to dream up the idea that the Moon Landing was a hoax — a diversion to take the minds of the American people off the war itself.
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THE CLIFF NOTES, edited from transcripts. Presented here are the real reasons as well as the U.S. government presentation of facts to the American public. 

The Vietnam War memorial is a very powerful place. It's wall has over 58,000 names inscribed on it - the names of all those U.S. personnel who died in Vietnam. When you're there in person it is overwhelming. The 58,000 names represent those who died. About 150,000 more people suffered serious physical injury during the war, and no one can ever know how many more suffered emotionally, psychologically.

• Do we know how many Vietnamese people died in the Vietnam War? The truth is that in Vietnam the devastation of the war ran so deep, and was so widespread, that no one really knows the exact number of people killed or seriously injured during the war years. Most estimates range between three to three and a half million Vietnamese people killed. No one also knows how many of those people were civilian - for political reasons the U.S. military would often add any dead body - man, woman, or child, civilian or not - as a dead Viet Cong or PAVN soldier for their body count. To this day, about 300,000 Vietnamese are still considered 'missing in action'. The numbers are hard to decipher, to say the least.


• The war destroyed Vietnam in other ways as well. First there were the bombs. Vietnam endured the most concentrated, intense bombing history has ever seen. The United States rained 8 million tons of bombs down on Vietnam - that's almost three times the total amount of all the bombs dropped worldwide during all of World War II, all on a country that's a bit smaller than the size of California. The U.S. flattened schools, hospitals, Buddhist temples, crops — everything.

• The U.S. also used biological warfare in Vietnam. The purpose was to destroy the environment to make it hard for the Viet Cong to hide in the forests, or to destroy crops and livestock so that the Vietnamese people might surrender due to starvation and other forms of suffering. More than 6 million acres of South Vietnam were sprayed, including entire villages and farms. This killed thousands of civilians and contaminated land so severely that in some parts of Vietnam, trees have only recently started to grow again. A wide range of crippling and disfiguring birth defects, caused by the teratogens that were put in the chemicals, are another lasting legacy of this vicious warring tactic.


• Millions of Vietnamese became refugees. Nobody knows how many thousands of people perished during this time. An estimated six million unexploded mines and bombs remain in Vietnam and continue to kill farmers and children even today. The lingering effects of the war in Vietnam are too vast to list. How do we put this without sounding stupid or naive? It almost seems like the war was out of control.

• Any war, any conflict, causes tremendous suffering among those involved. It's also true that all wars are not the same; that each war is, in a sense, unique. Many military historians have pointed out that, even by war standards, the Vietnam War was a very cruel and brutal war. From a technological-military standpoint, you have the world's richest and most powerful military, fighting an all-out war against a relatively small, extremely poor, Third World country — you could almost say that the results were predictable. This in itself doesn't really explain why the United States chose to devastate Vietnam to such an extreme - policies that drove its people, its culture, its history, its environment, to the very brink of annihilation.


• Somebody had to decide that they were going to absolutely devastate the country. Do people really make these kinds of decisions? You could say that it was that way by design. Part of the reason why U.S. war planners consciously utilized only the most ultra-violent tactics was directly related to their flawed analyses. Because they mischaracterized the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese as essentially 'proxy armies', the U.S. plan for victory became relatively simple: kill as many people as possible, inflict so much unbearable suffering, that eventually their will would be broken and they would surrender. This is why only the most brutal tactics were chosen - to best exploit the inherent weakness of an enemy who was presumed to be fighting someone else's cause. Which of course also explains why the strategy failed. That this strategy also dovetailed neatly with America's own history of racism and class warfare goes without saying.

• If the leaders in the United States had been able to look at the Vietnamese as fully human, maybe this particular moment in history could have unfolded differently. After reading through all these books and documents, I've come to two main personal conclusions: the first is that in times of conflict or war, for various reasons, people tend to make a conscious effort to strip their enemy of their humanness. I'm convinced this only leads to more pain, and more death. The second is that this doesn't have to happen.
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Iif you just want to know everything right now go back to the first post in this series and watch the video. It requires a 40 min and 23 second commitment. (after the jump scroll down the page to reach the video)

Laotian Chronicles: A Life Story [ an excerpt from the novel I may never write ]

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  1. Cultures in Conflict: The Viet Nam War. Robert E. Vadas. Greenwood Press, Westport, Connecticut/London, 2002.
  2. The Eyewitness History of the Vietnam War, 1961-1975. George Esper and the Associated Press. Villard Books, New York, 1983.
  3. Herbicidal Warfare: The Ranch Hand Project in Vietnam. Paul Frederick Cecil. Praeger Publishers, New York/Westport, Connecticut/London, 1986.
  4. The Illustrated History of the Vietnam War. Brian Beckett. Multimedia Publications (UK), 1985.
  5. The Pentagon Papers: as published by the New York times. Bantam Books, New York, 1971.
  6. A People's History of the United States, 1492 - Present. Howard Zinn. HarperPerennial, New York, 1980, 1995.
  7. A People's History of the Vietnam War. Jonathan Neale. The New Press, New York/London, 2001, 2003.
  8. Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers. Daniel Ellsberg. Penguin Putnam, 2002.
  9. The Truth About the Most Dangerous and Destructive Nation. Raymond Hirashima. Vantage Press, 1978.
  10. The Umbrella of U.S. Power: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Contradictions of U.S. Policy. Noam Chomsky. Seven Stories Press, New York, 1999.
  11. Vietnam. Larry Burrows. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2002.
  12. Vietnam: A Long History. Nguyen Khac Vien. The Gioi Publishers, Hanoi, 1993.
  13. Vietnam and Other American Fantasies. H. Bruce Franklin. University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, MA, 2000.
  14. Vietnam: A Visual Encyclopedia. Philip Gutzman. PRC Publishing Ltd., 2002.
  15. The Vietnam Experience: The Aftermath, 1975-1985. Edward Doyle, Terrance Maitland, and the editors of the Boston Publishing Company. Boston Publishing Company, Boston, MA, 1982.
  16. The Vietnam Experience: The Fall of the South. Clark Dougan, David Fulghum, and the editors of the Boston Publishing Company. Boston Publishing Company, Boston, MA, 1982.
  17. The Vietnam Experience: Raising the Stakes. Terrance Maitland, Stephen Weiss, and the editors of the Boston Publishing Company. Boston Publishing Company, Boston, MA, 1982.
  18. Vietnam Front Pages. Hal Drake (editor). Hugh Lauter Levin Associates, New York, 1986.
  19. Vietnam: The Secret War. Kevin M. Generous. Bison Books, New York, 1985.
  20. Vietnam: The War in the Air: A Pictorial History of the U.S. Air Forces in the Vietnam War: Air Force Army, Navy, and Marines. Col. Gene Gurney, USAF (ret.). Crown Publishers, New York, 1985.
  21. The Vietnam War: An Almanac. John S. Bowman (general editor) & Fox Butterfield (introduction). Bison Books, New York, 1985.