Viet Nam
Part 1: The Wall
by Robert L. Kocher

In Washington, D. C., stands a long black wall with over fifty-eight thousand names of dead American military personnel engraved upon it. The total is not completed. New names are added periodically, reflecting new information. That wall is a memorial to those who died in the Viet Nam war.

The wall is appropriately colored. The period of the war, which really lasted from 1960 to 1969, after which the political condition in America made the situation unsalvageable and an expression of self destruction instead of a war, was one of the darkest periods in American history. The period was marked by deep division in America. Segments of the American population openly supported what was supposed to be the enemy. Actress Jane Fonda was displayed on TV happily perched on a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun. Mobs of American demonstrators took to the streets waving North Viet Nam flags and chanting Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh in support of the communist north. There were “teach-ins” by university professors supporting North Viet Nam and other left-wing causes unconditionally while endorsing all methods of impeding or sabotaging any resistance to communist expansion.

Concurrently, the content in TV and other areas of the media seemed to have become a public relations machine supporting the entire spectrum of what newscasters euphemistically labeled the anti-war movement and social or political activism. The interpretations and language employed on TV news were the same as the demonstrators used to describe themselves. The premises assumed by the movement went unquestioned on TV and were stated as news fact.

During that period there developed a new type of deep mistrust of the American government which still exists today. There was serious question as to how far the support for North Viet Nam and the extreme left—seen in large demonstrations, in classrooms, and in the media—extended into the structure of government, and how that support influenced, or sabotaged, the conduct of the war, with the American military betrayed and in the middle.

In the Korean war the American armed forces were asked to engage in military tactics which made little sense to the troops. They were asked to push the enemy back to the 38th parallel, then stop to be attacked again. There was speculation that perhaps there were possible indigenous leftward political elements back home that betrayed America. Such speculation was dismissed as being too far-fetched. In a few years any such consideration would be smeared and ridiculed as McCarthyism.

But, General Douglas MacArthur argued that his military plans in Korea were being given to the communists before they were to be executed. In fact, copies of his plans were given to the British government in London. It was later found that there was a high level communist spy ring operating in the British government. MacArthur may have been correct in his accusation.

Socialism or Incompetence?

In Viet Nam, the far-fetched was still far-fetched, but was becoming the most reasonable conclusion. The unthinkable was still the unthinkable. To come to what otherwise would be a reasonable consideration, if not conclusion, would place someone in the category with right-wing caricatures, and be accused of bizarre thinking patterns. But something was clearly wrong. There were too many things that didn’t make sense. Evidence seemed to support the contention that a political movement which might have been developing underground for decades in this country, and which was in sympathy with the system we were conducting military operations against, was now positioned and surfacing to make itself more strongly felt and make its long-planned move. It was clear that increasing segments of the society felt secure in openly supporting the enemy in ways that would have been unthinkable and not tolerated in Korea or World War II. For some within this society the view could arguably have changed from “My country, right or wrong” to a frame of reference of “Socialism/communism, right or wrong.” The war was being undermined and fought in debating salons, university classrooms, and political infiltration, while servicemen were being sacrificed to mark time and preserve appearances during this move. Is it possible that members of the military were put in a position of deliberate loss and sabotage for purposes of engineering collapse of opposition to communist advances while the argument was being concocted the resistance was attempted but was impossible?

Or was the Viet Nam defeat a byproduct of simple absolute incompetence?

The statistics show as participants in the war:

Army               4,386,000
Navy               1,842,000
Marines              794,000
Air Force          1,740,000


In Washington, D. C., stands a long black wall with over fifty-eight thousand names of dead American military personnel engraved upon it. The total is not completed. New names are added periodically, reflecting new information. That wall is a memorial to those who died in the Viet Nam war.

The wall is appropriately colored. The period of the war, which really lasted from 1960 to 1969, after which the political condition in America made the situation unsalvageable and an expression of self destruction instead of a war, was one of the darkest periods in American history. The period was marked by deep division in America. Segments of the American population openly supported what was supposed to be the enemy. Actress Jane Fonda was displayed on TV happily perched on a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun. Mobs of American demonstrators took to the streets waving North Viet Nam flags and chanting Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh in support of the communist north. There were “teach-ins” by university professors supporting North Viet Nam and other left-wing causes unconditionally while endorsing all methods of impeding or sabotaging any resistance to communist expansion.

Concurrently, the content in TV and other areas of the media seemed to have become a public relations machine supporting the entire spectrum of what newscasters euphemistically labeled the anti-war movement and social or political activism. The interpretations and language employed on TV news were the same as the demonstrators used to describe themselves. The premises assumed by the movement went unquestioned on TV and were stated as news fact.

During that period there developed a new type of deep mistrust of the American government which still exists today. There was serious question as to how far the support for North Viet Nam and the extreme left—seen in large demonstrations, in classrooms, and in the media—extended into the structure of government, and how that support influenced, or sabotaged, the conduct of the war, with the American military betrayed and in the middle.

In the Korean war the American armed forces were asked to engage in military tactics which made little sense to the troops. They were asked to push the enemy back to the 38th parallel, then stop to be attacked again. There was speculation that perhaps there were possible indigenous leftward political elements back home that betrayed America. Such speculation was dismissed as being too far-fetched. In a few years any such consideration would be smeared and ridiculed as McCarthyism.

But, General Douglas MacArthur argued that his military plans in Korea were being given to the communists before they were to be executed. In fact, copies of his plans were given to the British government in London. It was later found that there was a high level communist spy ring operating in the British government. MacArthur may have been correct in his accusation.

Socialism or Incompetence?

In Viet Nam, the far-fetched was still far-fetched, but was becoming the most reasonable conclusion. The unthinkable was still the unthinkable. To come to what otherwise would be a reasonable consideration, if not conclusion, would place someone in the category with right-wing caricatures, and be accused of bizarre thinking patterns. But something was clearly wrong. There were too many things that didn’t make sense. Evidence seemed to support the contention that a political movement which might have been developing underground for decades in this country, and which was in sympathy with the system we were conducting military operations against, was now positioned and surfacing to make itself more strongly felt and make its long-planned move. It was clear that increasing segments of the society felt secure in openly supporting the enemy in ways that would have been unthinkable and not tolerated in Korea or World War II. For some within this society the view could arguably have changed from “My country, right or wrong” to a frame of reference of “Socialism/communism, right or wrong.” The war was being undermined and fought in debating salons, university classrooms, and political infiltration, while servicemen were being sacrificed to mark time and preserve appearances during this move. Is it possible that members of the military were put in a position of deliberate loss and sabotage for purposes of engineering collapse of opposition to communist advances while the argument was being concocted the resistance was attempted but was impossible?

Or was the Viet Nam defeat a byproduct of simple absolute incompetence?

ce          1,740,000

with 153,000 total wounded and close to 60,000 sent to their deaths throughout the Viet Nam conflict.

In action movie plots of the Viet Nam war, the dramatic description of the combat soldier’s position in Viet Nam is one of fighting to survive. There is never any portrayal of commitment to this country. Their condition is described as divorced from any context of defeating an enemy, or being angry at the enemy, or winning, or fighting for a moral cause. The context is, and was, one of being placed in a war and treading water without moral or military direction and determination.

One can sense the argument or belief that the United States government had lost its way and that millions of service men were being sent to their possible deaths as a mistake in a military action against an enemy who really wasn’t an enemy while the enemy who wasn’t an enemy killed or wounded 200,000 Americans. In his book Lost Victory, ex-CIA Director William Colby says (John) “Kennedy had privately indicated to several of his close associates his intention to limit further American involvement in Vietnam and even to withdraw from involvement there.” [1] Privately indicated. It was so private that only a few ever claimed to have heard it and assert its truth. Colby’s statement was hearsay—admittedly not one based upon personal knowledge, but based upon rumor based upon speculation based upon wish. The speculated decision was at odds with decisions Kennedy made days before he died.

That Kennedy rumor, however speculative, underwrites the belief that even presidents were not certain of the war’s validity and further undermined, and undermines, any stable conception of what happened. It leaves those who fought isolated from any sense of belief.

Many things have been attributed to Jack Kennedy—especially when it suits various purposes.

The Deification of Kennedy

Why Kennedy’s view on anything should be a matter of concern in retrospect is puzzling. Kennedy’s conjectured intentions, if he even had any, are not germane to anything. The protection and attempted canonization of Jack Kennedy has become a major industry in this country. That includes excusing or softening what Kennedy actually did. There seems to be a desperate attempt to construct and perpetuate a view of Jack Kennedy as having been endowed with an all-powerful special wisdom and capacity conferred by God. The wish is that he would have led the world to perfection in all things if he had not been prematurely crucified for his goodness. Somehow, Kennedy was the written word equivalent to the Bible and if his mind were properly interpreted by those claiming the unique gift of exegesis, it would provide the authoritative answer to all things, past, present, and future. Excessive reverence for Jack Kennedy has had a destructive influence in immobilizing acceptability of the simple truth for more than 35 years. Colby’s progressive irritation with, and breaking free of that immobilization, will be discussed later.

There are many arguments as to what Kennedy would, or would not, have done if he had lived. None of them are conclusive. In fact, there are no clear public statements by Kennedy himself. What does seem clear that even at high levels of government there was not a consistent view that Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Cong were politically or morally repugnant enough to inspire serious indignation or be looked at as an enemy who needed to be defeated. The idea of communism as an intrinsically oppressive and morally offensive system which was a mortal enemy to all humanity was definitely lost or brought into parity with doubt. While in recent weeks we dropped tens of thousands of bombs on the Serbians as an outraged expression of the intolerability of their alleged atrocities, there continues to be silence on any possibility that a similar moral outrage and intolerability was justified by the killing of many many millions of people by the communists in South East Asia. The peculiar selective blindness and leniency toward any and all atrocities committed in furtherance of world socialism has been a consistent pattern for more than 60 years and makes the strongest possible statement about the power, position, and intent of the political left in this country.

The American solder was sent to Viet Nam to fight or be killed. But, who was the enemy? There was no consensus that there even was an enemy. So he fought to survive, not win. Survive what? He was supposedly to survive what was going on politically.

The Viet Nam war was lost at a cost of many tens of thousands of dead and wounded. How much of that loss is to be realistically attributed to the intrinsic impossibility of winning the war, how much due to sabotage, and how much due to ineptitude?

Mainlining Premises

This series is not an action account of acts of bravery. Rather, it is a story of the degenerate condition of critical areas of this county, its politics, and government. This series does not contain new facts. It integrates existing information into a complex, but yet simple, previously forbidden analysis. In one sense, the approach here will be psychoanalytic or psychotherapeutic in nature. In this process, the therapist does not begin in the middle by accepting and building upon the pathological premises accepted by the patient, or by accepting the pathological premises being pushed upon the patient by those attempting to keep the patient warped and pathological. Instead, we start with basics, and at the beginning, to arrive at a legitimate interpretation of events. In fact, in matters of analysis of a destructive situation in general life, it is best not to begin by starting with the premises that produced that situation. Never start by accepting anyone else’s poppycock.

About 15 years ago I read a book by a well-known psychoanalyst who made the serious point that in his clinical experience, somewhere in the background of many schizophrenic patients there was someone, or several people, who had systematically tried to drive the patient crazy. In fact, in my experience, this is often a consideration in evaluating the source of someone’s mental state. Whether the attempt to drive the patient crazy is an attempt to make the patient conform to the pathology of the one making the attempt, or whether it’s part of an attempt to subdue and exploit the patient is not always a critical matter of concern. There are people who attempt to undermine other people or drive other people crazy. There are also other people who attempt to keep those who have been driven crazy in a crazy condition. The therapist sometimes ends up fighting those attempting to keep the patient in a crazy condition in the battle to restore the patient’s mental health and functionality.

Sometimes the path to progress is making the patient understand that he or she has been undermined, then countering the crazy-making distortion with the truth.

Healing the Country

In the present case the patient is the country and many people in it. Clearly the Viet Nam war, and the politics of the period, are a point of fixation upon this country. The war still has a political hold in this country. In the event of potential military conflict there is an almost reflexive cry of, “No more Viet Nams!” from some quarters. The assumption is that Viet Nam was unwinable. There are many who argue the war unwinable because of the indomitable commitment and idealism of the adversaries, and no one advancing a similar political cause should ever be militarily opposed again. This is particularly employed as an argument of convenience to prevent military action against various political or social systems the arguers support. Just as importantly, the emotional scars from the Viet Nam war have not healed, and the divisions have not ended. One of the major reasons the scars have not healed is that the injury was not due so much to the war itself, but due to a component of almost sadistic irrationality surrounding the war that pushed a type of craziness upon the country. The scars have not healed because the sadistic irrationality not only has never been acknowledged or explained, but still continues while being denied.

Why don’t we put Viet Nam behind us and heal? The answer may begin with serious consideration that the reason is, what we are being told to believe in order to achieve that healing is so unreasonable and so insulting that no rational mind could accept it. Like a patient in the hands of exploitative sadists, the demands that the patient adapt to that sadism is not an attempt to help the patient, but is a further attempt to undermine and exploit him.

The reason why the American patient has not healed is because the irrationality is still being forced upon him, and the people who claim to be healers actually want to impose repressive mechanisms denying a truth so obvious as to require levels of denial whose attainment is impossible short of approaching a psychotic break. The necessity of accepting levels of denial approaching advanced mental disorder as a precondition to making peace with critically placed dissidents who decline to part with that denial is not a prospect which contains the sincerity and integrity necessary to relieve tension and promote healing.

There are two methods of meeting the discomforts of reality, or of dealing with reality. The first is defense against, and denial of, reality. While it allows temporary escape, this leads to constant varied forms of long term turbulence. Those who are asked to become enablers and co-conspirators in denial are under constant pressure because the attempt is being made to force them into a psychotic, or nearly psychotic break. Those who exist in, and who may have even found a measure of comfort in, the reality-escape of pathological denial and rationalization find their escape from reality threatened by those who refuse to concur in their irrationality and become as irrational as they are. In other words, those who resist being driven nuts to make it comfortable for those who are already nuts and would like to be complacent in their condition are a source of continual threat, anxiety, and resentment. This leads to emotional investment and impasse on both sides. It also results in pathological evolution by at least one side in the disagreement. Those who practice denial of reality are forced to construct additional denial in the face of additional arguments, and so become progressively pathological over time.

The second form of adjustment to reality is an acceptance of the truth. For people with a backlog of self-deception and deception of others, this acceptance may require a period of considerable pain and embarrassment, the avoidance of which is the purpose of denial in the first place. If the desire is for real long term healing, acceptance of reality is the way to go.

To the mind uncontaminated from having started with the confused premises or events surrounding the war, the interpretations, events, and conduct of the war given to us as virtual reality in the liberal media make no sense. Something, indeed many things, seem to be somehow wrong.

Three factors have held sway over the direction of this country for more than 35 years: the memory of the Kennedys, the war, and the reasoning opposing the war integral to a larger war.

The Viet Nam war was really two wars. There was a military action thousands of miles away in Viet Nam. There also erupted an internal war in this country that had been decades in preparation. The first war was exploited as an opportunity or vehicle for waging of the second. The problem is that the second war has never stopped. For that reason, there has been no peace. The patient is not psychologically healing because he is still being undermined and attacked while being told it is not happening. There is no way the patient can adapt to the lies and heal. It’s time for the therapy of truth.

The conclusions arrived at in this series will differ substantially from predominant interpretations.

Notes

[1] William Colby, Lost Victory, p. 169.