Not Worth the Effort

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

When I first started reading Hilaire du Berrier’s Background to Betrayal, which describes the situation in Vietnam leading up to the war, I found it dry and somewhat confusing, and I was even considering putting the book down — and then I came to this passage:

If the reader’s head is swimming as he peruses the descriptions of these ministers of government with their strange names, let him pause for a moment before he puts the whole confusing business out of his mind as not worth the effort. For that is just what the men to whom American conservatives looked for information did for nine long years, while South Vietnam rotted.

One of the most respected columnists in Washington refused to look into the Vietnam picture. “America isn’t interested in what is happening out there,” he protested. It was not true. America was devouring an ocean of newsprint on South Vietnam — tripe put out by the United States Information Service, the State Department, and the most despicable high-pressure public relations campaign ever put over on a civilized nation. But the men and publishers to whom thinking Americans looked for sound information would not make the mental effort to familiarize themselves with the area and its leaders so they could do an intelligent report.

As du Berrier explains it, South Vietnam rapidly devolved into a police state after the French were forced out — which FDR and Stalin had agreed to — as the new leadership focused its efforts on wiping out any competition for power — and US dollars — from other anti-Communist factions. Those ministers of government with strange names are just a tiny piece of the puzzle, which involves French socialist politicians, American university professors, journalists, and international socialist NGOs — oh, and gullible American politicians, of course.

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