Friday, June 22, 2007

More on Reframing the Vietnam War

This one has kind of flown under the radar -- my radar, at least -- but it's apparently been a hot item in the wingnut blogosphere at least since the 2004 election.

According to this latest reframe, North Vietnam's famous general, Vo Nguyen Giap, made the statement in his 1985 published memoirs that North Vietnam was ready to throw in the towel and ask for surrender terms following the crushing defeats of the 1968 Tet Offensive. But the news reports out of the liberal American media caused him to change his mind when he saw that the media was reporting Tet as a "victory" for the North Vietnamese. This was allegedly "verified" by later interviews with Giap and with a dissident NVA named Tin.


Do a Google search for "giap surrender tet media" and you'll see for yourself -- the vast majority of the web pages for this particular phrase belong to such reliable sources as Free Republic and Front Page Magazine. But surprisingly, a number of middle of the road and even left-wing sources seem to have picked it up.

Okay, let's deconstruct it. First of all, Giap did not publish a memoir in 1985, but he did write one later. I have not read it myself, but my friend the historian has and he says that there's nothing in the memoir that could conceivably be stretched to account for this story. Various "interviews" with Giap are cited in this wingnut frenzy to blame the media in which Giap supposedly made this statement, but where are they? Somebody provide an authentic link to just one of these interviews, or a reference to a page number in Giap's book, and I will publicly eat my words.

And Mr. Tin...? Well, he's just a guy who became disenchanted with the People's Republic of Vietnam and his former homies, and came to the west with a wheelbarrow full of bullshit to feed to his erstwhile rescuers who were desperate to find a reason why we lost Vietnam.

And there it is: Walter Cronkite and liberal media! Those commie motherfuckers who snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, sold out the American fighting man, and enabled those America-hating traitors, Hanoi Jane Fonda and John Kerry.

That's become the latest revisionist frame for the rightwing to point fingers at the "real winners" of the Vietnam War, the subversive anti-American fifth-columnist reporters, editors and antiwar activists who toiled tirelessly at home to undermine the war effort.

Jeez, that sounds vaguely familiar. It kind of sounds like the incoherent rantings of one Adolph Hitler, who was quick to blame the treacherous defeatist Jews in the government and the banking industry for Germany's defeat in WWI.

No doubt Tet was a tactical blunder of epic proportions, wiping out something like 75% of the Viet Cong in the south. And it's true that after Tet, the NVA, of necessity, had to take a much larger role in the prosecution of the war, but to claim that Giap was ready to surrender flies in the face of both history and reason.

Otherwise, how could the NVA have continued fighting the Americans for five more years, with a body count ratio of NVA to US of something like ten-to-one? How to explain that following Tet, the American military and its ARVN sidekicks withdrew from major parts of the countryside, in essence turning them over to the NVA? Was that the work of the liberal media and the antiwar activists as well? What about the public opinion polls in the US that STILL showed a majority of people in support of the war weeks after Tet? How about the reevaluation of the Vietnam war strategy by Lyndon Johnson, The Wise Men and what was left of the Best and the Brightest, which began on the day after the Battle of Tet started?

Jesus, those liberal media guys and maggot-infested war-protesting longhair hippie bums sure had a lot of control over the nation back then, didn't they?

Give me a fucking break. It's just another ludicrous example of The Big Lie, a revisionist talking point expounded by propagandists on the right to point out the treachery of the media and the antiwar movement.