TOP 20 VIETNAM WAR QUOTES
The Vietnam War Team www.thevietnamwar.info
This e-book is un-copyrighted meaning you can copy, edit, share, smile, laugh at or do whatever you want with it. Credit is much appreciated but not required. First Edition. The Vietnam War Team. www.thevietnamwar.info
Limit of Liability/Disclaimer of Warranty: While the designers, contributors, editors, and authors have put their best efforts in preparing the Top 20 Vietnam War Quotes e-book, they make no warranties or representations with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this book. Should you have any feedback or suggestions, please email us at [email protected]
. Organizations and/or websites mentioned herein do not mean that the author endorses them or the information that they might offer. This e-book is for educational and informational purposes only and the Vietnam War Team explicitly disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the content herein.
DEDICATION To those who served and sacrificed in Vietnam. We will never forget.
QUOTES 1. “FINALLY, YOU HAVE BROADER CONSIDERATIONS THAT MIGHT FOLLOW WHAT YOU WOULD CALL THE "FALLING DOMINO " PRINCIPLE. YOU HAVE A ROW OF DOMINOES SET UP ; YOU KNOCK OVER THE FIRST ONE, AND WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE LAST ONE IS THAT IT WILL GO OVER VERY QUICKLY .” – D WIGHT D. EISENHOWER, 1954. During the Cold War, Communism and its ideology became widespread across the world. In Europe, most eastern countries had established their own Communist regimes under Soviet spheres of influence. In Asia, Communists continued to take control of China and North Korea in 1949 and 1953 respectively. In early 1954, as the French failed to re-establish their colonial control in Indochina, Vietnam was in danger of falling under the rule of Viet Minh, a Communist-led organization. That chain of events incited fear in Western democracies that in a few more years the Communists would expand and take control of Southeast Asia, thereby annihilating the free world1.
A map made in 1950 depicts the "Domino Theory" (Bettmann/CORBIS)
www.thevietnamwar.info | 1
In a news conference on April 7, 1954, President Eisenhower first described that chain of events as the so-called “Domino Theory” which held that if one country falls to Communism, its surrounding countries would follow in a domino effect. The theory continued to be used by preceding administrations as a legitimate reason for the U.S. to intervene all over the world including sending economic and military aid to non-Communist South Vietnam, which led to the Vietnam War.
2. “NOW WE HAVE A PROBLEM IN MAKING OUR POWER CREDIBLE, AND VIETNAM IS THE PLACE ” – JOHN F. KENNEDY, 1961. After the World War II, the U.S. and Soviet Union became two rival superpowers. In 1949, their rivalry during the Cold War was heating up in Asia when the Chinese Communists led by Mao Zedong took control of the mainland China. In 1953, the Korean War, which cost nearly 37,000 American lives, ended in a stalemate. A year later, the U.S. suffered another setback when the French – their ally was defeated by the Viet Minh backed by Soviet Union and China. When John F. Kennedy, the youngest person ever to be elected President, took office in 1961, he acknowledged that in order to maintain the world's respect for the U.S., they must not ignore the escalating Communist assaults on South Vietnamese government. Particularly after the “Bay of Pigs” fiasco as well as his relatively poor performance against Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev at the Vienna summit, Kennedy did not want another defeat on his hands. He was determined to re-establish U.S. - as well as his own - “credibility” in the world by first increasing economic and military aid to South Vietnam in their war against the North Communists.
U.S. President John F. Kennedy delivers his inaugural address after taking the oath of office at Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 20, 1961 (AP Photo)
www.thevietnamwar.info | 2
3. "DON'T LISTEN TO WHAT THE COMMUNISTS SAY, BUT LOOK AT WHAT THEY DO." – NGUYEN VAN THIEU, SOUTH VIETNAMESE PRESIDENT . In 1945, Nguyen Van Thieu joined the Viet Minh led by Ho Chi Minh with goal to liberate Vietnam from the French colonialism. However, he left after just one year when realizing that “Viet Minh were Communists … They shot people. They overthrew the village committee. They seized the land.”2 Thieu then moved to Saigon and joined the Vietnamese National Army (VNA) of the French-backed State of Vietnam. He rose up to a general in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), became head of a military junta, and then President from 1968 until April 21, 1975 when he resigned and left the nation nine days before the fall of Saigon. The quote was originated from the Bible and modified by Thieu to denounce the Communist duplicity. On the one hand, the Communists preached about justice, democracy, humanity and such, but on the other hand, their actual actions were all about violence, killings and that they could do almost everything to achieve their goals. At the time it circulated, the quote was used for propaganda purpose to alert South Vietnamese people not to fall for Viet Cong’s lies. The quote is still popular today among oversea Vietnamese people to mock the Communist government at home.
4. “IF ONE HAS NO COURAGE TO DENOUNCE, IF ONE BOWS TO MADNESS AND STUPIDITY , HOW CAN ONE EVER HOPE TO COPE WITH THE OTHER WRONGS OF HUMANITY EXPLOITED IN THE SAME FASHION BY COMMUNISTS?" – MADAME NHU, 1963.
Mrs. Ngo Dinh Nhu fires a .38 pistol (Larry Burrows/Time Life Pictures via Getty)
www.thevietnamwar.info | 3
Tran Le Xuan, popularly known as Madame Nhu, was the wife of Ngo Dinh Nhu who was brother and chief adviser to the first South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem. As Diem was a bachelor, she was considered as the First Lady of South Vietnam. After married Nhu, Madame Nhu converted from Mahayana Buddhism (her family’s religion) to her Roman Catholicism (her husband’s religion). In early 1960s, Madame Nhu became an active supporter of Diem who pursued pro-Catholic policies that antagonized many Buddhists. In June 1963, during the Buddhist crisis in South Vietnam, a Buddhist monk by the name of Thich Quang Duc immolated himself in downtown Saigon in protest against the government's favoritism of Catholicism. In return, Madame Nhu publicly ridiculed the Buddhist suicide as a “barbecue” and said that she would be “glad” to provide gasoline if the Buddhists wanted to have another one3.
Thich Quang Duc burns himself to death on a Saigon street on June 11, 1963 to protest against an alleged persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government (AP Photo/ Malcolm Browne)
After the New York Times criticized Madame Nhu in an editorial for being callous, she replied to the press with a letter, in which she defended her behavior as an action of “courage” to denounce the actions of “madness and stupidity” – the words she used to describe the self-immolation of Quang Duc. These comments apparently inflamed Nhu's repression policy of Buddhist protests and highly damaged American faith and support for Diem regime, which later led to Diem and her husband's assassination in a coup to overthrow them.
www.thevietnamwar.info | 4
5. “WE ARE NOT ABOUT TO SEND AMERICAN BOYS NINE OR TEN THOUSAND MILES AWAY FROM HOME TO DO WHAT ASIAN BOYS OUGHT TO BE DOING FOR THEMSELVES” – LYNDON B. JOHNSON , OCT. 1964. During his campaign for President in 1964, Lyndon B. Johnson, as a peace candidate, pledged not to send “American boys” to Vietnam and that the Vietnamese had to fight for themselves. In November, he easily defeated Republican candidate Goldwater by a massive landslide with 61 percent of the popular vote. However, Johnson, sharing the same vision with his predecessors, firmly believed in the “Domino Theory”, which was to stop the Communist "aggression" and influence upon their surrounding countries. In early 1965, just a few months after being re-elected, he soon ignored his promise and became a central figure in the U.S. direct involvement in Vietnam. In fact, Johnson quickly escalated American roles in South Vietnam following the Gulf of Tokin incident whose resolution allowed him to wage the war in Vietnam without a formal declaration of war by Congress. On March 8, 1965, under his command, the first U.S. combat troops were dispatched to Da Nang, which marked the beginning of American involvement in the ground war.
6. “TELL THE VIETNAMESE THEY 'VE GOT TO DRAW IN THEIR HORNS AND STOP THEIR AGGRESSION , OR WE'RE GOING TO BOMB THEM BACK INTO THE STONE AGE.” – GEN. CURTIS LEMAY, MAY 1964 Curtis E. LeMay was a former chief of staff of the United States Air Force. He became widely known as an expert in strategic bombing which was used effectively in Pacific Theater during the World War II. After the war, LeMay began to reorganize the Strategic Air Command (SAC) into an effective instrument of nuclear war. He served as Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force from 1961 until his retirement in 1965. The quote was cited from his 1965 autobiography “Mission With LeMay: My Story” co-written with McKinlay Kantor as a sturdy response to North Vietnamese aggression. LeMay advocated a massive bombing campaign against North Vietnam's industrial plants and infrastructures which he thought could end the war more quickly than a counter-insurgency warfare which might take years with no assurance of efficacy. However, his advice was ignored. Instead, an incremental policy of bombing against North Vietnam was implemented. Bombing restrictions were also imposed by President Johnson for geopolitical reasons, as he surmised that a massive bombing campaign would bring the Soviets and Chinese more directly into the war. As a result, the campaign failed to either destroy significant quantities of enemy supplies or diminish their ambitions. Some military historians have concluded that LeMay's theory was eventually proven correct based on the success of Operation Linebacker II, an aerial bombing campaign against North Vietnam conducted eight years later. However, consideration must be given to significant differences in terms of both military objectives and geopolitical realities between 1968 and 1972, including the impact of Nixon's recognition and exploitation of the Sino-Soviet split to gain a "free hand" in Vietnam and the shift of Communist opposition from an organic insurgency (the Viet Cong) to a more conventional mechanized offensive which was by its nature more reliant on industrial output and traditional logistics.
www.thevietnamwar.info | 5
7. "EVERYTHING DEPENDS ON THE AMERICANS. IF THEY WANT TO MAKE WAR FOR 20 YEARS THEN WE SHALL MAKE WAR FOR 20 YEARS. IF THEY WANT TO MAKE PEACE, WE SHALL MAKE PEACE AND INVITE THEM TO TEA AFTERWARDS ." – HO CHI MINH, NORTH VIETNAMESE LEADER, DEC. 1966. Ho Chi Minh (1890 - 1969) was a Vietnamese Nationalist revolutionary, who led Vietnamese insurgents against many so-called “invaders” such as Japanese, French, and United States as well as his political rivals. In the First Indochina War, Ho and his Viet Minh emerged victorious against the French in battle of Dien Bien Phu. In the Second Indochina War, known as the Vietnam War, he led North Vietnamese people fighting against the U.S. and South Vietnam to reunify the country. One year after the first U.S. troops arrived in Vietnam, when asked by Martin Niemoller, a German antiNazi theologian and Lutheran pastor, that if North Vietnam would fight to final victory, Ho replied without the slightest hesitation “by 'final victory' you mean the departure of the Americans, then we will fight to final victory.”5 He declared that the war depended on the Americans and that he and his people were willing to fight for 10 years or 20 years, no matter how long it was, until the last Americans left and Vietnam was reunified. The quote demonstrated his and North Vietnamese people's patience and strong determination to reunify the country, and that they would fight to achieve that goal at all costs. The U.S. probably underestimated those patience and determination. They thought if they just pushed a little harder with more bombings and attacks, North Vietnamese people would give up. Nonetheless, after a long-drawn-out war, the U.S. was the one who had to withdraw from Vietnam.
8. “ONE OF THE GREATEST CASUALTIES OF THE WAR IN VIETNAM IS THE GREAT SOCIETY... SHOT DOWN ON THE BATTLEFIELD OF VIETNAM” – MARTIN LUTHER KING, 1967. During his speech at the Nation Institute, Los Angeles on February 25, 1967, Martin Luther King strongly criticized the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. He stated that American casualties in Vietnam were not just physical causalities. As a matter of fact, by involving deeply in the war, the U.S. government had violated the Charter of the United Nations, ignored the principle of self-determination of Vietnamese people and particularly stagnated the implementation of Great Society*. M. L. King argued that the U.S. involvement and spending on the Vietnam War had choked off the Great Society plan. Billions of dollars were lavishly expended in Vietnam rather than committed to anti-poverty programs, which resulted in many of the programs being eliminated or reduced in funding. Both at the front and at home, the poor had to bear the country’s burden. According to King, “the bombs in Vietnam explode at home.”6 * “Great Society”, named by Richard N. Goodwin, was a plan of President Johnson against poverty and racial injustice. This “War on Poverty” included large-scale investments on education, transportation, health, arts and cultural institutions and environment as well as civil rights.
www.thevietnamwar.info | 6
Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his speech
9. “I SEE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL.” – WALT W. ROSTOW, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER, DEC. 1967. On May 20, 1953, using a phrase that would haunt Americans in later years - "Now we can see [success in Vietnam] clearly, like light at the end of a tunnel" - Gen. Henri Navarre declared his optimism about the outcome of the First Indochina War. Nonetheless, the French tasted a bitter defeat at the hands of the Viet Minh in just one year later. When Americans began to involve themselves in South Vietnam, they ran into the same kind of military problems that had plagued the French. In 1967, after two years of military involvement, American public started to question about the escalation of the Vietnam War and the capability of the U.S. military. However, many American leaders, including Walt W. Rostow, optimistically reassured American people about Vietnam’s situation. In late 1967, Gen. William Westmoreland, commander of the Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV), likewise asserted that the U.S. "had turned the corner in the war." However, the optimism did not last long. On January 29, 1968, the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces launched a series of massive attacks, known as the Tet Offensive. Those surprised attacks proved that the Communists were not weakened and the end of the war was nowhere in sight. Even though Tet Offensive was a military failure for the Communists, it was indeed seen as a great psychological victory for them. In fact, the offensive shocked American public, damaged Johnson administration’s credibility, peaked anti-war protests and therefore marked a major turning point in the war.
www.thevietnamwar.info | 7
10. “WE SEEM BENT UPON SAVING THE VIETNAMESE FROM HO CHI MINH, EVEN IF WE HAVE TO KILL THEM AND DEMOLISH THEIR COUNTRY TO DO IT ....I DO NOT INTEND TO REMAIN SILENT IN THE FACE OF WHAT I REGARD AS A POLICY OF MADNESS WHICH , SOONER OR LATER , WILL ENVELOP MY SON AND AMERICAN YOUTH BY THE MILLIONS FOR YEARS TO COME.” – GEORGE MCGOVERN, U.S. SENATOR, APRIL 25, 1967. Since 1963, George McGovern was one of the very first Senators who challenged the increasing U.S. military involvement in Vietnam. In January 1965, he proposed a five-point plan advocating a settlement involving a federated Vietnam with local autonomy and a U.N. presence to guarantee security and fair treatment7. In November 1965, McGovern visited South Vietnam for three weeks and what he saw deeply upset him. The statement, spoken in 1967, described his point of view on the U.S. involvement in Vietnam as “a policy of madness”. To save Vietnam from Communism, Americans had caused tremendous destruction to the country including killing innocent civilians as well as destroying their lands and forests. In total, over two million Vietnamese people were killed during the war8. U.S. aircraft dropped around 7 million tons of bombs9 on Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia – more than twice the amount dropped in the whole World War II. By using the infamous Agent Orange and other defoliants, the U.S. army destroyed about 7,700 square miles of forests — six percent of Vietnam’s total land area10, which also caused adverse health effects on millions of people. In addition, the war cost the United States some 58,000 lives, impeded many welfare programs and brought down its economy to the crisis of the 1970s. Those severe consequences put a big question mark over the benefits that the U.S. deep involvement in the war brought to both Vietnam and the United States.
11. “I'M NOT GOING TO BE THE FIRST AMERICAN PRESIDENT TO LOSE A WAR” – RICHARD M. NIXON, OCT. 1969. During his 1964 presidential campaign, Lyndon B. Johnson declared himself as a peace candidate. Nevertheless, he became the first President who sent combat troops to Vietnam after just a few months in office. A few years later, despite increasingly high U.S. casualties in Vietnam as well as massive nationwide protests, he still refused to bring troops home and stated that he did not want to become “the first American President to lose a war.”11 Nixon, nine months after his election, said the same thing to Stewart Alsop of Newsweek. By 1969, the war stuck in stalemate. On the battlefield of Vietnam, although its casualties kept increasing, the U.S. did not make much progress. On the home front, the numbers of people against the war increased dramatically. Anti-war protests and demonstrations occurred across the nation. During this time, the Congress passed a resolution that deplored past executive excesses and recognized no Presidential commitment to continue the war12. However, Nixon claimed that as Commander of Chief he possessed authority to order the armed forces abroad without congressional approval and ignored the resolution13. The President and Congress were now on a collision course. In April 1970, without consulting Congress, he launched an invasion of Cambodia.
www.thevietnamwar.info | 8
12. "WHO IS THE ENEMY ? HOW CAN YOU DISTINGUISH BETWEEN THE CIVILIANS AND THE NON -CIVILIANS? THE SAME PEOPLE WHO COME AND WORK IN THE BASES AT DAYTIME , THEY JUST WANT TO SHOOT AND KILL YOU AT NIGHTTIME . SO HOW CAN YOU DISTINGUISH BETWEEN THE TWO? THE GOOD OR THE BAD ? ALL OF THEM LOOK THE SAME." – VARNADO SIMPSON, A U.S. SOLDIER FROM CHARLIE COMPANY OF THE 23RD INFANTRY DIVISION, 1969. The quote portrayed the tricky situations that American soldiers had to face in their daily jobs in Vietnam. They had to not only endure the harsh climate and difficult terrain in Vietnam but also face an unusual enemy - the Viet Cong. American soldiers who were unfamiliar with Vietnamese language and culture encountered many problems trying to live in concord with South Vietnamese peasants. In fact, many peasants had the feeling of hatred toward America as a foreign invader. Their relationship became even worse after Gen. Westmoreland implemented the aggressive strategy of “search and destroy”. U.S. troops began to search for Viet Cong in countless villages across South Vietnam, which were suspected of harboring or supplying the enemy. In an attempt to discover information about the Viet Cong, American soldiers sometimes tortured the peasants. If evidence was found of the Viet Cong being in the village, the people were punished. As a result, many peasants gradually inclined to support the Viet Cong. Under the peasants’ support, the Viet Cong could easily blend in. And by wearing the same clothes and acting the same way as peasants, they were virtually indistinguishable from one another. Thus, the missions of eradicating the Viet Cong often seemed impossible to American forces.
A Marine escorts a suspected Viet Cong member, August 1965
www.thevietnamwar.info | 9
Additionally, the troops now could be easily ambushed by the “ghostly” enemies. Depressed by the fear of getting killed from nowhere, American soldiers were put under stress all the time. Those psychological burdens provoked paranoia, fearfulness, frustration in American soldiers, and gradually eroded the relationship between American soldiers and Vietnamese civilians.
13. “WE BELIEVE THAT PEACE IS AT HAND. WE BELIEVE THAT AN AGREEMENT IS WITHIN SIGHT ” – HENRY KISSINGER, SECRETARY OF STATE, 1972. In October 1972, peace talks between Kissinger and Le Duc Tho reached a new breakthrough when North Vietnamese leaders had changed their negotiating position to get the agreement signed soon. They believed that President Nixon could make more concessions on negotiations before, rather than after, the upcoming Presidential election in November14. In mid-October, even though there were some issues to be finalized, Kissinger was satisfied with the new terms and informed Nixon that the final agreement would be signed on October 31.
Presidential adviser Dr. Henry Kissinger claims that “peace is at hand” in Vietnam in a White House news conference (AP Photo)
In a press conference at the White House on October 26, 1972, Kissinger announced that “peace is at hand”. The announcement, occurring just twelve days before the election, led to the 1972 October Surprise and contributed to Nixon’s landslide victory. However, South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu was outraged and refused to accept the treaty unless there were significant changes. His actions and new demands infuriated Hanoi15. On December 16, the peace talks stalled and broke down. Since Kissinger's announcement had raised expectations of a settlement among American public, Nixon ordered the Christmas Bombing to force Hanoi to return to the negotiating table as well as to convince Saigon to sign the cease-fire agreement16, and more importantly, to ease the public pressure on the government.
www.thevietnamwar.info | 10
14. “IF THE AMERICANS DO NOT WANT TO SUPPORT US ANYMORE, LET THEM GO, GET OUT ! LET THEM FORGET THEIR HUMANITARIAN PROMISES!” – NGUYEN VAN THIEU, SOUTH VIETNAMESE PRESIDENT, APRIL 1975. In 1973, President Nixon, in a letter to convince Thieu to sign the Paris Peace Accords, had promised a “full force response” if the settlement would be violated by the North Communists. However, when the NVA and Viet Cong attacked Phuoc Long province - a main province in northern Saigon in December 1974, which was a blatant violation of the accords, the U.S. made no military retaliation at all. Five months later on April 21, 1975, under intense political pressure as Saigon and South Vietnam were on the verge of collapsing, Thieu resigned as President. In his televised farewell speech, he admitted the wrong decision on evacuation from the Central Highlands and Northern provinces that had led to debacle and then went on to criticize the U.S. who had not “respected its promises".
15. “TODAY, AMERICA CAN REGAIN THE SENSE OF PRIDE THAT EXISTED BEFORE VIETNAM. BUT IT CANNOT BE ACHIEVED BY REFIGHTING A WAR THAT IS FINISHED AS FAR AS AMERICA IS CONCERNED . WE, OF COURSE, ARE SADDENED INDEED BY THE EVENTS IN INDOCHINA. BUT THESE EVENTS , TRAGIC AS THEY ARE, PORTEND NEITHER THE END OF THE WORLD NOR OF AMERICA'S LEADERSHIP IN THE WORLD.” – GERALD FORD, 1975. After North Vietnamese forces had captured Phuoc Long province on January 6, 1975, President Ford requested a $522 million aid package for South Vietnam17, which was previously promised by the Nixon administration. However, Congress rejected the President’s request by a wide margin18. In April 1975, around one hundred thousand North Vietnamese soldiers were advancing toward Saigon. Meanwhile, the world waited to see how the United States would react to the pending collapse of South Vietnam which they had fought hard to preserve. South Vietnam also looked for U.S. reactions as their last slim chance to survive. The U.S. answer soon came from President Ford in his address at a Tulane University Convocation on April 23 - two days after South Vietnamese President Thieu resigned blaming the U.S not keeping their promises. During the speech, Ford declared that the Vietnam War was over “as far as America is concerned”. This announcement was reportedly met with thunderous applause. A week later, Saigon fell and South Vietnamese government surrendered unconditionally. Vietnam was reunified as a Communist country.
www.thevietnamwar.info | 11
16. “TELEVISION BROUGHT THE BRUTALITY OF WAR INTO THE COMFORT OF THE LIVING ROOM . VIETNAM WAS LOST IN THE LIVING ROOMS OF AMERICA, NOT ON THE BATTLEFIELDS OF VIETNAM.” – MARSHALL MCLUHAN, A CANADIAN PHILOSOPHER OF COMMUNICATION THEORY , 1975. The media role in the Vietnam War was probably best described by media scholar Marshall McLuhan in the Montreal Gazette, 1975. According to Marshall, the U.S. lost the war to their media in the living rooms of America rather than to the Viet Cong on the battlefield of Vietnam. Few would disagree with him. In fact, Vietnam was the first American war reported daily on television, in color, during dining hours with relatively uncensored images19. It was also the first war being discussed enormously by American public. While the fact that more and more young men drafted to fight in an increasingly unpopular war led to the first anti-war movements, candid images of brutal battles, dead and wounded soldiers and civilians on both sides sparked massive protests growing both in size and intensity throughout the country. The Tet Offensive in 1968 exemplified the important role of the media in the war. Although the offensive was a terrible loss for the Communists, grisly TV pictures and reports that led the notion that the enemy could launch such massive attacks after years of war shook American public’s confidence. Many dreadful incidents such as My Lai massacre and Pentagon Papers broadcasted widely by the media critically damaged the government’s credibility as well as fueled the furious public. The dramatic plunge in support for the war contributed to Johnson's decision not to run for the second term, preliminary peace talks in Paris, and then Nixon’s Vietnamization strategy and eventually the Paris Peace Accord signed in 1973. Television and the media in general arguably helped bring about the end of the Vietnam War.
17. “ONLY YOU CAN PREVENT FORESTS" A SHORTENING OF THE U.S. FOREST SERVICE FAMOUS WARNING TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC "ONLY YOU CAN PREVENT FOREST FIRES". – SIGN IN ROOM OF U.S. AIRMEN SPRAYING DEFOLIANTS. “Only you can prevent forests” was a sign hung over the Operation Ranch Hand Ready Room door in Saigon. During the Vietnam War, the Viet Cong regularly utilized lush jungles for food and shelter. To deprive them of food and hiding places, Operation Ranch Hand was conducted with the aim of eliminating forest cover as well as crops which might be used to feed them by defoliation. From 1962 to 1970, there were about 19 million gallons of herbicides sprayed in South Vietnam20. As a consequence, South Vietnamese environment was heavily damaged. Around 10 million hectares of agricultural land and 10 percent of tall trees in inland forests were destroyed21. In coastal areas, mangrove forests were terribly damaged and steadily eroded.
www.thevietnamwar.info | 12
Two boys at the special ward for children with conditions attributed to the effects of Agent Orange at Tu Du Hospital, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Even worse, defoliation also left severe impact on human. According to many studies, people who exposed to Agent Orange, the most used herbicides in the war, could suffer many serious health issues such as mental problems, muscular dysfunction, birth defects and even cancers. Unfortunately, during the war, between 2.1 and 4.5 million Vietnamese and 2.4 million U.S. veterans were presumed to be exposed to the Agent Orange22. Those adverse health effects still last even to date.
18. “IT'S TIME THAT WE RECOGNIZED THAT OURS WAS, IN TRUTH, A NOBLE CAUSE.” – RONALD REAGAN, 1980. In 1980, although five years had passed since the end of the Vietnam War, its impact still overshadowed U.S. society and government policy. Most Americans still hold a distrusted and defeatist attitude toward their government and a biased opinion against wars. The government was stuck in a less interventionist foreign policy. Its military was discredited for years23 which resulted in a relative absence of American wars. The combination of those after-war impacts was called “Vietnam Syndrome”, a shorthand for the idea that the failure in Vietnam was the beginning of an utter decline of the United States. In the speech to the Veteran of Foreign War (VFW) in 1980, then presidential candidate Ronald Reagan talked about “Vietnam syndrome” and argued that Americans could overcome it if they adopted a more confident and optimistic posture. Reagan believed Americans had lived in the “Vietnam Syndrome” for “too long” while much of that syndrome was created under the influence of North Vietnamese propaganda that Americans were the aggressors bent on an imperialistic conquest. He also suggested that Americans had to rethink of the war as they had fought for “a noble cause” which was to support a small country to establish their self-rule against a totalitarian neighbor.
www.thevietnamwar.info | 13
19. “NO EVENT IN AMERICAN HISTORY IS MORE MISUNDERSTOOD THAN THE VIETNAM WAR. IT WAS MISREPORTED THEN, AND IT IS MISREMEMBERED NOW. RARELY HAVE SO MANY PEOPLE BEEN SO WRONG ABOUT SO MUCH. NEVER HAVE THE CONSEQUENCES OF THEIR MISUNDERSTANDING BEEN SO TRAGIC .” – RICHARD M. NIXON, 1985. This line was the first line in the first paragraph of “No More Vietnams” written by former President Nixon as an attempt to explain American failure of letting South Vietnam fall into the hands of the North Communists. Throughout the book, Nixon illustrated how the public’s misunderstanding about the war in Vietnam had contributed to the overall failure. Although the war was the subject of over “1,200 books, thousands of newspapers and magazine articles, scores of motion pictures and television documentaries”24, too many people still misunderstood about the cause, purpose, soldiers as well as North and South Vietnamese political backgrounds. According to Nixon, many myths as a result of North Vietnamese propaganda such as America was a foreign invader, and that South Vietnam was just a puppet regime had influenced American public’s points of view. And as the war was “misreported” then, and “misremembered” now, it led to tragic consequences for both Vietnam and the U.S. after the end of the war.
20. “AMERICA HAS MADE NO REPARATION TO THE VIETNAMESE, NOTHING. WE ARE THE RICHEST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD AND THEY ARE AMONG THE POOREST . WE SAVAGED THEM, THOUGH THEY HAD NEVER HURT US, AND WE CANNOT FIND IT IN OUR HEARTS , OUR HONOR, TO GIVE THEM HELP BECAUSE THE GOVERNMENT OF VIETNAM IS COMMUNIST . AND PERHAPS BECAUSE THEY WON.” – MARTHA GELLHORN, THE FACE OF WAR, 1986. Following the end of the Vietnam War, Hanoi began to put efforts to normalize their relations with the United States in the belief that they could obtain $3.3 billion in reconstruction aid which President Nixon had secretly promised after the Paris Peace Accords were signed in 197325. However, those efforts were neglected due to the high-tension political climate in the wake of the war. Worse still, Washington also imposed a trade embargo on Vietnam right after the war, which was only lifted after twenty-long years in 1994. This quote was added in an update of the book “The Face of War” written by Martha Gellhorn, one of the greatest war correspondents. In this book, Martha Gellhorn condemned U.S. policies as they had ignored their responsibility for Vietnam and Vietnamese people after the end of the war. By punishing Vietnam, the U.S. had kept the country ruined and thus forced it into complete dependence on the Soviet Union. Those ruthless policies are regarded by Martha as “nothing more than malign ill will toward a small distant country.”
www.thevietnamwar.info | 14
REFERENCES 1. Macdonald D. J. (1995), "Communist Bloc Expansion in the Early Cold War: Challenging Realism, Refuting Revisionism," International Security, Vol. 20, no. 3. Retrieved March 25, 2014 from https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/macdon.htm. 2. Lamb D. (1 Oct. 2001), “Nguyen Van Thieu, 78; S. Vietnam's President”, Los Angeles Times. 3. Demery M. B., “Finding the Dragon Lady: The Mystery of Vietnam's Madame Nhu”, p.12. 4. Budge K. G., “The Pacific War Online Encyclopedia - Strategic Bombing”. Retrieved March 26, 2014 from http://pwencycl.kgbudge.com/S/t/Strategic_Bombing.htm. 5. McNamara R., “An Argument Without End”, p.151. 6. King M. L. (1967), “The Casualties of the War in Vietnam”. Retrieved January 13, 2014 from http://www.aavw.org/special_features/speeches_speech_king02.html. 7. Anson R. S. (1972), “McGovern: A Biography”, p.154-157. 8. Hirschman C., Preston S., and Loi V. M., “Population and Development Review”, Volume 21, Issue 4, p.791. 9. “1957-1975: The Vietnam War”. Retrieved January 13, 2014 from http://libcom.org/history/1957-1975-the-vietnam-war. 10. Ives M., “In War-Scarred Landscape, Vietnam Replants Its Forests”. Retrieved January 13, 2014 from http://e360.yale.edu/feature/in_warscarred_landscape_vietnam_replants_its_forests/2336/. 11. Dallek R., “Lyndon B. Johnson: Portrait of a President”, p.320. 12. Larson D. L., “The Constitution and U.S. Foreign Policy: The President, the Congress, and the People”, p.146. 13. Schlesinger Cf., Arthur M., Jr., “The Imperial Presidency”, p.188-189. 14. Lipsman S., Weiss S., et al. (1985), “The False Peace”, p. 10. 15. “People & Events: Paris Peace Talks”. Retrieved March 26, 2014 from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/honor/peopleevents/e_paris.html. 16. “An Analysis of Linebacker II Air Campaign: The Exceptional Application of US Air Coercion Strategy”. Retrieved March 26, 2014 from http://www.vietnam.ttu.edu/events/2002_Symposium/2002Papers_files/linebacker.php. 17. Mieczkowski Y., “Gerald Ford and the challenge of the 1970s”, p.290. 18. Mieczkowski, p.291. 19. Bradford J. C., “A Companion to American Military History”, p.952. 20. Tucker S. C., “The Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War”, p.273. 21. Luong H. V., “Postwar Vietnam: Dynamics of a Transforming Society”, p.3. 22. “Herbicide Exposure: Agent Orange and Related Defoliants”. Retrieved January 15, 2014 from https://hss.sbcounty.gov/va/1-AgentOrange.htm. 23. Sitikoff H., "The Postwar Impact of Vietnam". Retrieved March 26, 2014 from http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/vietnam/postwar.htm. 24. Behr J. F., “Vietnam Voices: An Oral History of Eleven Vietnam Veterans”, p.15. 25. Cima R. J., “Vietnam: A Country Study – The United States”. Retrieved January 4, 2014 from http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field%28DOCID+vn0114%29.
www.thevietnamwar.info | 15
ABOUT US What is thevietnamwar.info? Vietnam War was a major event and perhaps the second most prominent war of the 20th Century, after the World War II. In fact, Vietnam is one of the longest wars the United States has involved in its entire history. It has also been the subject of thousands of newspapers, magazine, books, movies and documentaries. However, most of the Vietnam War information available online is either incomplete, disconnected or biased towards one side in the war. Despite its importance, there is not any dedicated website about the Vietnam War. Almost all of its notable articles come from personal blogs or general sites like about.com or history.com. Therefore, the Vietnam War Team created thevietnamwar.info in an attempt to connect many disjointed information as well as to give some further insights into the Vietnam War based on various sources and different perspectives. As part of our desire and vision, we also strive to present and deliver our content in the best possible fashion so as to make History in general and the Vietnam War in particular a fascinating subject to learn. Why is the Top 20 Vietnam War Quotes? To let our beloved readers have a better view and understanding of the infamous war, the Vietnam War Team have compiled the Top 20 Vietnam War Quotes comprising 20 famous quotes about the Vietnam War. These quotes come from various persons and perspectives, which will give you a broader view about what happened before, during and after the longest war in U.S. history. These persons include North and South Vietnamese leaders as well as American generals and soldiers who actually served and fought the Vietnam War. Besides, there are quotes from U.S. Presidents, critics and activists who opposed the war in Vietnam. Top 20 Vietnam War Quotes features:
Ho Chi Minh – Vietnamese communist revolutionary leader, Prime Minister (1954 – 1955) and President (1945 – 1969) of North Vietnam Nguyen Van Thieu – South Vietnamese President (1968 – 1975) Dwight D. Eisenhower - 34th U.S. President (1953 – 1961) John F. Kennedy – 35th U.S. President (1961 – 1963) Richard Nixon – 37th U.S. President (1969 – 1974) Martin Luther King Jr – a famous American activist and many more
www.thevietnamwar.info | 16
INDEX Agent Orange .......................................................... 6, 10, 13 Curtis E. LeMay ...................................................................4 Domino Theory ............................................................... 2, 4 Eisenhower .........................................................................2 George McGovern...............................................................6 Gerald Ford ................................................................... 9, 13 Ho Chi Minh ................................................................ 3, 5, 6 Johnson ......................................................... 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10 Kennedy ..............................................................................2 Kissinger ..............................................................................8 Le Duc Tho ..........................................................................8 Madame Nhu ................................................................ 3, 13 Marshall McLuhan ..............................................................9
Martha Gellhorn ............................................................... 11 Martin Luther King ....................................................... 5, 13 Ngo Dinh Diem ................................................................... 3 Nguyen Van Thieu .................................................... 3, 8, 13 Nixon ................................................. 1, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13 Paris Peace Accord ....................................................... 8, 10 Ronald Reagan.................................................................. 10 Thich Quang Duc ................................................................ 3 Viet Cong ............................................................. 3, 4, 6, 7, 8 Viet Minh .................................................................2, 3, 5, 6 Walt W. Rostow.............................................................. 5, 6 Westmoreland.......................................................... 6, 7, 10
www.thevietnamwar.info | 17
RECOMMENDED BOOKS Title: We Were Soldiers Once...and Young: Ia Drang - The Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam Author: Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway Paperback: 480 pages Publisher: Presidio Press; Reprint edition (Nov, 2004) Language: English
Title: Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War Author: Karl Marlantes Paperback: 640 pages Publisher: Grove Press; Reprint edition (May, 2011) Language: English
www.thevietnamwar.info | 18
Title: Chickenhawk Author: Robert Mason Paperback: 496 pages Publisher: Penguin Books; Revised edition (March, 2005) Language: English
Title: A Rumor of War Author: Philip Caputo Paperback: 356 pages Publisher: Holt Paperbacks (Nov, 1996) Language: English
www.thevietnamwar.info | 19