Saturday, September 30, 2017

Five Myths About the Vietnam War

Lan Cao offers five myths about the Vietnam War in the Washington Post.

Ken Burns and Lynn Novick say their multi-part PBS documentary about the Vietnam War, which concluded this past week, was intended to unpack a complex conflict and to embark upon the process of healing and reconciliation. The series has catapulted the Vietnam War back into the national consciousness. But despite thousands of books, articles and films about this moment in our history, there remain many deeply entrenched myths.


The Viet Cong was a scrappy guerrilla force.

“Vastly superior in tools and techniques, and militarily dominant over much of the world,” historian Ronald Aronson described the hegemonic United States and the impudent rebels, “the Goliath sought to impose on David a peace favourable to his vision of the world.” Recode recently compared the Viet Cong to Uber: “young, scrappy and hungry troops break rules and create new norms, shocking the enemy.”

In reality, the Viet Cong, the pro-North force in South Vietnam, was armed by North Vietnam — which planned, controlled and directed Viet Cong campaigns in the South — the Soviet Union and China. According to the CIA, from 1954 to 1968, those communist nations provided the North with $3.2 billion in military and economic aid, mostly coming after 1964 as the war accelerated. Other sources suggest the number was more than double that figure.

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