(Part of on-going Vietnam Legacy Project as detailed in July 4 post.)
The Saigon Post, April 9, 1971
The Will of the West
Wheaties or Cheerios for breakfast, of course, is no guarantee of political
stamina. Communist and fascisr propoganda against the West has always been
emboldened by the theme or conviction that the capitalist democracies are monied
forms of semi-anarchy without real staying power in the jungle of world
politics. Lenin, Hitler and Ho Chi Minh have all been convinced that Western
will is fickle or downright flabby in comparison to the iron will displayed by a
Nazi Berlin, a Stalinist Moscow, a Red Hanoi or a fascist Tokyo.
US news media, especially the major television networks, generally disclaim
any responsibility in molding American attitudes and wills. This, despite the
fact that American families, whose TV screens serve generous helpings of
selected carnage, violence, firefights and wounded soldiers and civilians with
dinner every night, have actually seen much more of the war than the average
resident of Saigon has seen. Their nerves have been played upon for hundreds of
evenings this way. This electronic living room war is a new event in history,
still awaiting its sociologists, psychoanalysts and other intellectual
And so, in the April 3 New York Times, Max Frankel in Washington reports a
new kind of Indochina debate and "enlightens" us as follows:
"Whatever the past divisions between Hawks and Doves, or Conservatives and
Liberals, it is clear from the polls and discussions in Congress, that more and
more of the country is united in its desire to quit Indochina---sooner rather
than later---and for a growing segment of the population, regardless of the
"The daily reports of civilian as well as military casualties and the
preoccupation at home with talk of war crime and high-level guilt are leading a
number of legislators on all sides to conclude that the country can't stand much
more such pressure."
That's just part of Frankel's piece. He plays artfully on the theme that
the US is becoming a nervous wreck over Vietnam. Watch him closely. Observe how
the literate, logical NY Timer throws his ponderous weight behind a policy that
calls for the US Government to rectify its mistakes by acting like a depressed
fishwife who shouts, "Max, I can't take it anymore. I ain't gonna take it
anymore, I ain't, I ain't. You hear me, Max, you old bastard?"
INFORMED SOURCES SAY
Semi-intelligence sources are speaking again of a general increase in
defection from VC ranks, especially by long-term cadre members who have had as
much as 20 years experience in the underground. They say this development, which
is most noticeable in the Delta, includes many political officers, committe
members etc who entered the movement as young idealists and are leaving it in
middle-aged disillusionment, Dwindling numbers in the ranks are leading the
organization, at times, to make party secretaries out of 20-year olds. Which
indicates that there are lots of executive and junior executive positions
available for ambitious young men wo see Red in the future. Qualifications:
better than average intelligence and willingness to do lots of night work.
These same sources add cautiously that the VC infrastructure, even when in
shreds, has much tenacity and refuses to die altogether.
"Let's face it," one official said. "No other organization in the world can
hold together like the Communists---except the Catholic Church."
A WORD TO THE NUDE
One of the specialties of a certain hotel in downtown Saigon are signs
which are painted on all the corridor walls. Some give information on how to
safeguard your valuables. Others describe the do's and don'ts which a guest
should observe. One sign by the stairway is very emphatic about the
"Please don't wander about the building when your body without trousers and
shirts or your body naked, partially clothes. Don't tease, embrace and kiss
women and girls in public....
"These rude manners will lose the good morals, customs of the Vietnamese
and the serious appearance of this building."
AROUND THE TOWN
An exhibition of watercolors by JOSE DE MONTREUIL, at the ALLIANCE
FRANCAISE, 24 Gia Long Street. Lots of Vietnamese scenes with a European
influence of primary colors, often done with brief vertical or horizontal
dabs....Film ROMEO AND JULIET due soon at the REX....The new iron grill work in
the corner window of the Givral cafe is one of the most elegant little sights in
PS. TIPS? DOPE? (The information kind) Write c/o The Saigon Post. For fast
action, leave note on bulletin board, JUSPAO, 145 Nguyen Hue Street.
(Ongoing Vietnam Legacy Project. Details at July 4 post.)
November 30, 1970, The Saigon Post
SAIGON NOTES:The Commando Raid in N. Vietnam
Bold, yes. Imaginative, yes. A propoganda coup that may eventually aid the
POW's indirectly. In motivation, even noble. The volunteers, heroic. But
successful in the stated task? Let's stop the kidding.
The abortive rescue mission demonstrates how strongly the US feels about
the POWs and Hanoi's exploitation of them.
Unfortunately, it also demonstrates an open secret: the US military in
Vietnam has no intelligence system adequate for such a delicate operation. A sad
thing about all this is that such an operation has to succeed the first time.
The enemy won't give you a second chance to surprise him in the same way. Does
anyone doubt that he will now make it virtually impossible to rescue the
surviving POWs in another such raid? Kidding each other won't change this fact.
Neither will it change the fact that the US military's intelligence was bush
We see no equivalent of the German air commandos who sprung loose Mussolini
himself from Allied captivity in Northern Italy. Or the tiny Israeli team that
tracked down Eichmann in Argentina and whisked him all the way back to Tel
All we see is people congratulating each other for an aborted mission.
Brave men were landed in N. Vietnam and found nobody home. In Vietnam the US
military, it seems, is best suited for expensive meat-grinding, H & I fire
and saturation bombing. In football terms it produces a maximum of blistering,
hulking tackles, a minimum of artful quarterbacks and deft half-backs. It may
snow the Washington civilians, but we don't propose to be snowed.
ps The American-distributed Vietnam Round-up and Vietnam Press Review will
be excused from reprinting this commentary.
AROUND THE TOWN
Strange rains? Folks are wondering why the beginning of the dry season has
been so wet....TITO V. CARBALLO has settled in Phnom Penh with his wife BLANCA,
for the Phillipine News Service. TITO has been with the Saigon Post for two
years....An American who retired from the US Army after more than 20 years
service is living in Saigon with his wife and children and working for a
US-Government operated contractor. Yet MACV refuses to give him Commissary
privileges, he says. He claims that USAID employees get these privileges with
no sweat....LOLITA re-appeared at the Vinh Loi cinema recently. James Mason
plays the poetic middle-aged Humping Humbert who does a cross-country station
wagon tour with glorious fair-haired nymphette played by Sue Lyon. In the movie
she's about 16. In NABOKOV'S original novel she was 13....Remarkably the
non-political Association of Foreign Correspondents in Vietnam has decided to
involve itself in the accreditation case of DON LUCE who is firmly established
in many minds here as a political personality....What is ARTHUR DOMMEN smoking
up there in Vientiane? More on this later...Chinese own the TOKYO restaurant on
Le Loi. but the food is Japanese-style and reasonably priced....Somebody has
spread reports that we're wedding HENNY SCHOUTE the air-borne blonde. Nothing to
it. We are not jump-qualified.
Phone, write tips in to the Post, or leave phone number.
(The Vietnam Legacy Project. Details at July 4 post)
June 12, 1971 The Saigon Post
A POW BREAKTHROUGH?
Now that the Associated Press (Bangkok) on Teusday of this week confirmed
the story that appeared in this column the previous Sunday, the question of the
neutral of "third country" looms larger.
The private American group, headed by the CROSBY brothers, BING and LARRY,
is seeking to bargain with Hanoi by offering to re-build war-damaged facilities
in North Vietnam. This week it got a qualified "maybe" from Hanoi officials in
Vientiane. This is already more than US Government officials have ever gotten.
Vis-a-vis the US Government, Hanoi has always demanded the prior withdrawal of
all American troops before the POW issue can be settled. Obviously the CROSBY
group is in no position to withdraw all US troops from Vietnam. Yet it got a
qualified "maybe" in response to its offer. A source informs this column that
the group is emphasizing the pragmatic methods of the American
The private group, (initials PEACE) also proposes that the American POWs be
interned in a third country till the war's end. The country being proposed will
surprise a great many people. A source in direct contact with the CROSBY group's
chief spokesman has informed this column of the country's name, but we are still
not authroized to print it.
CALLING ALL US OFFICERS
This column issues a formal invitation to all ranking (and maybe not so
ranking) American officers in South Vietnam to appraise this country's mood
during the pre-Election period. While aware that the public analyses of a
country's "mood" are not the normal function of US officers, we couldn't help
but take notice of the anonymous officer who does just that in the June 7
issue of US News & World Report.
This column will offer any US officer equal time and equal anonymity.
Comments on the waiting list for General are certainly welcome to respond.
Generals anticipating a peaceful retirement are assured of the utmost
invisibility in this space, but let it never be forgotten that views of the
lowliest lieutenant are also eligible for airing.
If no replies are received, this column will not take the position that
officers experienced sudden mental blank spots. It will only assume that they
agree. Generally speaking, as the news mag says, the officer was drawing on
years of intelligence work here.
Samples of the man's views, according to US News & World Reports, June
"The Oppostion appears to be better organized for propoganda than the Thieu
Government. There are many signs of that in town. Consider the press in Saigon.
Consider the press of Saigon. Many papers published here could not possibly make
a go of it on their own. The money backing most of these papers must be coming
from Hanoi's Reds through local banks.
"The theme of such papers is 'peace now.' They expose scandal---and there
is plenty of that here. They appealto the under-paid, over-taxed, war-weary and
have-nots in terms which seldom offer both sids of any story."
He adds that, as October's elections draw near, expect more demonstrations,
more discovery of scandal and more anti-Americanism, both the calculated and
PS TIPS? CONSTRUCTIVE GRIPES? Do what others have done. Contact SAIGON
NOTES, the mon-Wed-Fri column that is read in the inner sanctums of Government.,
private enterprise, MACV and barrooms. Names withheld on request.