For those who plan on watching the upcoming 18-hour PBS documentary produced by Burns/Novick, I ask you to keep the following points in mind:
First, the American War in Vietnam was unnecessary. If we really wanted to help that country we could have done so in 1946 when Ho Chi Minh, after liberating Vietnam from the Japanese, asked President Harry Truman for help in establishing independence in Vietnam. Instead Truman chose to help bring the French back to Vietnam and support them (up to 80 percent of its costs by ’53). This went on until the French defeat in 1954 at Dien Bien Phu.
After their defeat the U.S. basically picked up where the French left off. We ignored the Geneva Accords and suppressed the election in 1956 to reunite the country — reason being we (especially President Dwight Eisenhower) knew Ho Chi Minh (who was a Nationalist first and Communist second) would win. The rest is history. We never were to good guys on this one. You reap what you sow.
Barry Riesch is a Vietnam veteran, a lifetime member of Veterans For Peace and a lifetime menber of the VFW.