Examining the Myths of the Vietnam War

Teach-In -- 2004

Steve Sherman: We had hoped for a large influx of students from the community that have questions and we are all prepared to answer with all the resources that we have here, virtually any question that could be asked. We have a special guest who came to us all the way from Ithaca, New York, where he is sitting on probably the finest repository of Southeast Asian literature and has got most of it digested and stuck in between his ears. He is here and I would like him to say a few words and I see a couple of faces in the audience that I haven’t been seeing for the last couple of days. I would like to offer them an opportunity to pluck those things out from between his ears.

Keith Taylor: I graduated from [George Washington] University in 1968 and within about two weeks of my commencement I lost my student deferment, and got my draft notice. It was one of those springs when there was a pretty high quota. I found out very quickly that if I enlisted, I could get my own branch. I could get past this, kind of, feeling of losing control of my life completely. So I bid for military intelligence and that is what I got into. I went to Vietnam in 1970-71, came back and I was very angry, because what I came back with was this feeling; I was there during out redeployment as it is called, we were withdrawing from Vietnam, and the country from everything we could hear back home was very much opposed to the war by then and even the politicians and Congressmen were pretty much unanimous that they were pulling us out, so it was very demoralizing for those of us who were in Vietnam at that time. You probably know how it felt. As a result, when I came back, I tried to figure out what it was all about. So I went back [to school] to the University [of Michigan] to study about Vietnam and universities are where I have been ever since. I have written a book about ancient Vietnamese history and I have done a lot of research through the years working on Vietnamese history and literature and for most of the time, I didn’t want to think about the war at all. I didn’t even want to think about being a veteran because it just sort of made me feel ill. But around five or seven years ago, I began teaching a course on the war and the more I taught about the war, the more I was stimulated by the students. So many of the young people today are extremely curious about the war and I am not sure why. I really don’t fathom why this continuing interest. Many of them don’t even have family members who were in the war any more. I think it has something to do with the way we think about being American, this popular notion that the war was somehow a huge mistake and that it was wrong and it was just something that remains undigested in the way that most people are conditioned to think about it. And most of my students, if they know anything about the war at all, they have gotten it from courses in their high school, where basically they were taught that the war was wrong, it was stupid, it was doomed to fail. And so they are very curious to know more, and I was asked by Steve to come around and talk about my experiences teaching the war, things that are interesting to students and the kind of way that I have learned to think about it myself.

To begin, going back to Vietnam, I went back again for the first time after the war in 1986 and I have lived in Vietnam for a few years in the early nineties -- ‘92, ‘93, ‘94 -- and I would go back very frequently. So I know the country well. I speak Vietnamese and I do a lot of research in Vietnamese historical materials and literature from old times up to the present. So thinking about the war was a very personal thing for me, because I had my own experiences and my own gut feelings, but I didn’t have any good way to talk about my experiences to students. And as I began to read the shelves and shelves of books that we have in the library on the Vietnam War, and there are more and more coming out all the time, I began to notice some things that are very wrong and the kind of taboos and dead spots and things that had been silenced in the way that the war is explained, the kind of conventional narrative of the war as most Americans know or, if they think about it or know about it or read about it at all, that most of them imbibe.

So, today, I just will give you some of my thoughts about the myths and issues and I am not going to take up much of your time, I know it is getting late. There are three basic axioms that you find in most narratives of the war that I think are fundamentally in error. One is that United States had no reason to be in Vietnam. There was no rational cause. We were somehow there unaccountably, without a good reason. I think that this comes up a lot with students because after the end of the Cold War, there is just no sense of what it meant to live during those years and how this Vietnam War was part of the Cold War. A very important part, also of this, is the conviction that that war could never have been won. There is a lovely little book recently that came out by Dale Walton called “The Myth of an Inevitable American Defeat in Vietnam” and it is just one of these crazy ideas that have become so fixed in people’s minds, that somehow the war was unwinnable, when absolutely it was not. There are many reasons why we did not win it, but one of them was not that somehow we were against the curve of history and it was just an impossibility. What has amazed me, too, is that a lot of the way that we think about the war has to do with Ngo Dinh Diem, the President of the Republic of Vietnam from 1954-63, and how he is used as a scapegoat for many of our own frustrations and failures, and the way in which he is portrayed I think is very significant. Let me just jump toward the end of the war, just to give some perspective. There is a very strange irony in the kind of final impasse, I would call it, of this war. In the last years, by the early 70s, the war was really being won, but at the very same time, the people in this country had turned against the war and it is that strange contradiction when the war was basically over and in our hands, but the people didn’t want it. They didn’t want the victory, they wanted defeat and then the politicians were recycling this kind of attitude into Congressional action. I blame a lot of this on just poor leadership we have had. We had some Presidents who made some terrible decisions related to Vietnam and also just the public opinion, which eventually had enough of this kind of poor leadership. There is a problem of sustaining a foreign policy in a democracy like ours, which even in time of war will not stifle public debate. I hope this will never change because I hope we will always have a democracy that is worth defending even though it will create these kinds of problems in wartime. I am not sure how much to take up your time with various points; I mean it is really like many wars, the Vietnam War, going through from one administration to the next and there is just so much garbage out there that has just gummed up our public thinking about the war. For example, the myth of the self-sustaining southern insurgency. I think that the people that have been speaking here before me have been probably referring to a lot of these points and I don’t need to go over them, but the more I have studied and taught, the more respect I have for Ngo Dinh Diem as a man. He was a great national figure in his country and, today, Vietnamese are beginning to realize that more and more. In the past five years plus, historians of Vietnam are reevaluating him in a very positive light, and they are seeing him as a truly patriotic figure, someone who was an honest and upright man and who stood up for his people. If anything, they think he failed because the Americans turned against him because he was too independent; he didn’t want to submit to the Americans, and I believe that the way the Kennedy administration and Diem reached a point of no return, shows that Diem really understood much better than his would-be American advisors what was going on in his country. He defeated the insurgency in his country twice, in 1956 and 1958, and when Hanoi made the decision for war in 1959, the reason they did that is not because they felt that Diem was going to collapse, but they did it out of desperation because they knew that if they didn’t make a move then, it was over, because Diem was definitely consolidating his position and it was for them the last chance to try to reopen the struggle because Diem was making great progress despite the kind of press that he got in the US. I think the bad press came largely because Americans, reporters, advisors, politicians, and decision-makers simply did not understand what that country was as well as Diem and his people did and he was dealing with it in a very sensible way. The prospects of building a democracy in South Vietnam, I think are really what I went to Vietnam for and that is why I am proud that I am a veteran of that war because I went there to fight and to defend people who wanted to have a free future, not under the Communist kind of regime. And I have a lot of Vietnamese friends who, although the years pass and the bitterness fades, but you know, they feel that if we had stuck with them the way we had with some other countries, countries that were also very dictatorial and not at all democratic when we were sticking with them, countries like South Korea and Taiwan and Thailand. Today, they could have their country in South Vietnam and have the same kind of prosperity and democracy that South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand enjoy today, but their patron was a bit more fickle than the patron of their enemies in the North. Likewise, the Second Republic, I mean Nguyen Van Thieu was President from 67 to the end of the war, it is so easy for Americans in their accounts to make light of these men, as if they are of no account and unfortunately, our government many times did treat them as if they were of no account. But in fact, we find by the early 70s, I believe, that Saigon was becoming more stable. All it would have taken was for us to continue to give that government the same level of support that we were giving governments all over the world, instead of which we just cut them off completely and threw them to the wolves. That is the great shame that I feel as a veteran, the betrayal of the people who trusted us, that is the real tragedy of Vietnam.


Keith Taylor: I will just say a few words about Kennedy’s administration, because this comes up in my teaching in a way that I never expected, but Kennedy really made some huge errors. I don’t think he made them thoughtfully, but he wasn’t paying attention and he delegated a lot of decision-making to people around him or often at cross purposes but, in particular, Laos I think was one of the fundamental errors that he made to neutralize Laos; basically giving the enemy the inside track and we never got away from having to deal with that impediment, with that handicap. I am not saying that it was an irreversible handicap. I don’t believe it was, but it certainly made things much, much more difficult than they should have been. In a way Kennedy escalated the war without really being honest either with the South Vietnamese government or with the American people. Diem was not even told or informed how many Americans were in his country, military personnel, because he was very much opposed to all of these people coming in. He didn’t want that, the Americans taking over the war. He understood it was to be the real kiss of death. What he wanted in retrospect probably would have won the war quite quickly. If the US would have simply kept the North off the Southerner’s backs, they could have taken care of their own problems down there. How that could be done, I think, again it is a very controversial issue in the study of the Vietnam War, but the Chief of the Army, Harold K. Johnson at that time; he had an idea, which I think was on track. And even though so many people pooh-poohed it and think that it didn’t make any sense, it was what Diem was suggesting, and I think he understood it. All he needed the Americans for was to keep the North out, and Johnson was suggesting if they could just simply draw a line from the Mekong [at the 16th parallel] to the South China Sea and just keep things from coming across. I mean that would be a sensible thing that we had the capability to do and in the South, Diem was very successful in dealing with the so-called insurrection there. The strategy that was eventually employed under the Johnson administration is just frankly I still can't get over thinking about it. What were people thinking, and why was Westmoreland on a search and destroy thing? I mean there were so many other more sensible ideas around the place. The Marine Corps had the CAPs policy up in the I Corps which was working and was actually the same kind of policy that the French has used when they had occupied the country 100 years earlier. This search and destroy business, just like a dog chasing its tail, that is what we were into a war of attrition, and a war of attrition is a war without any strategy. They had no plan to win this war. Anyway, I am not going to go on and on about all that, but Tet ‘68 and thereafter, when Nixon comes in, yeah, I mean Tet is the big famous turning point. It was a military victory for us, but as the cliché goes, it was a political defeat, because what it did do was it turned the American people against the war. For too long, the government had been predicting success and then this happens and the patience of the people began to turn the other way. Nixon really did, I think, the best job he could out of it under the political restraints, but in the end, pushed by the need to redeploy, by the negotiations and the momentum of that, and reaching the agreement in 73, I think Nixon, still as Larry Berman has argued in his book, could have pulled it out if it hadn’t been for Watergate. This whole thing about the ARVNs not fighting and the South Vietnamese being incompetent, I just don’t buy it. ARVNs fought. I saw them fight. In 1972, they held off the entire North Vietnamese Army, not only the forward divisions, but the whole reserves of the North were thrown into the South and there were no more American combat troops in the country and ARVN held them off and that’s really what led to the Hanoi agreeing eventually to sign, of course, along with Nixon’s Linebacker bombing campaign. But, the kind of romanticization of Hanoi, of Ho Chi Minh and all of this, it is so popular, really this needs to be looked at again as I think it has been here today and probably will be again. I am just going to stop here, because I think it is getting late and if you have anything you want to discuss or any questions, it is fine. Yes?

Max Friedman: I guess I have been in this as long as you have, in fact, a little bit earlier, but not as a soldier, as a journalist and researcher also in the antiwar movement; I don’t know if you heard my presentation earlier, but I think you have really done in about ten minutes the best summary I have ever heard, especially from an academic point of view of what the problem is out there, with what America knows, wanted to know and doesn’t know and is not being taught and there is plenty of blame to go around. We will leave aside Johnson and Nixon for the moment. The fact that the enemy had a great propaganda operation through the antiwar movement and through some academics, especially [George] Kahin at the Cornell and so many other groups, it is a tribute to the way that congress operated and the fact that we did not sufficiently address the propaganda of subversion type of war. The media fell for it and, as a journalist, I can say there were a lot of journalists who were not qualified to report in Vietnam, because they knew nothing about the country even in the first place, so whatever they saw they reported and it had no context. That came back and that created a lot of the myths. Diem was very interesting. You go back and look what he had inherited. He did quite a job of cleaning up the South. He had problems, but he was a mandarin and if you say the word ‘mandarins’, and most of the journalists, they hadn’t the slightly idea of what he was talking about. You talk to the students, they think it is kind of a Chinese food. They don’t understand the mandarin government in Vietnam, the Buddhist concepts and the other minorities. I’m wearing a Hoa Hao pin. You say, “Hoa Hao,” they say, “Wha’, how to you too?” These are some of the problems I have seen. I think your approach and of several others in this room are very very good. You are getting down to the nitty-gritty, you are getting out the facts, you are talking to the people who have been there and are getting whole new experiences which would go against what you see in the popular media, and this is crucial. Bob Turner and I and Dolf Droge, we have been on campuses for about 35 years I guess. I found it easy to debate English professors, Sociology professors, because they don’t know a damned thing about Vietnam. They didn’t even know where it was. The Poly Sci and History professors in the ‘60s didn’t get into the Vietnam debates, very very few and the few that did were on the Left. I think because they realized that this was a very complicated issue and that they knew there was more to it than what was being presented. So the liberal arts professors went off on a cause and they got sucked into any movement that came by and a lot of them and their students became the teachers, the ones that have wrecked our educational system for the last 30-some years. Some did not do it deliberately. They were traditional liberals, but they didn’t understand the concept of the Truth. They gave information they thought were facts, but it was not the Truth, and they didn’t challenge it. So they repeated, and wrote, and they created what I called “clones.” One teacher has a class up at Cornell, creates four or five or six clones, they go out and become academics, get grants, they write books, they create more clones. And there are very few people around the time of, as I said before, a lot of people are just working people with a lot of experience and knowledge, but we don’t have time to sit there 24 hours a day to get paid to do the research, which is one of the reasons this conference is being held. We have got a hell of a lot of knowledge and experience in this one room, probably more than you can find in a hell lot of the history books in some of the high schools and even the colleges, and we are approaching a very unique point in American history. You hit on this, you said that you had a question and didn’t know why it was of interest to the young kids in Vietnam. I’m 59, my father was in World War II, my father-in-law was on Iwo Jima. That generation you know like and I have been doing essentially oral histories and writing books on members of my congregation that were in the Holocaust or were in the military. Once they have gone, our link with the 20th century with the greatest generation is gone. So what are the kids in school going to do today? They are doing some oral history projects. They are watching, ‘Saving Private Ryan’. The Korean War does not interest them, the Vietnam [War] is their parents. I was speaking to a journalist in Washington; I had a story I was doing on John Kerry and John O'Neill from the Swift Boat operations, and as I was telling him what my story was, and how I felt that as an observer of the Veterans in Vietnam that Kerry was betraying the honor of the veterans, he said to me, “I had never thought of that, not until you just said that.” It turns out that he was also in one of the coastal divisions in the Delta. He said, “Yes, I see what you said. I was betrayed by Kerry. I went out to serve in an honorable cause and he called me a war criminal.” And the reaction that I have seen on television to the C-SPAN show, the call-ins. I never expected such a high percent of the Vietnam Veterans who call in; it is about 75% or 80, to be against Kerry with a very visceral hate. It is not hate for his service or the medals, but they don’t like the way it was played. They don’t like the fact that he betrayed them and he was rewriting history for his political gain and he was making them the villains, whereas they were actually the heroes. And all of a sudden, I hear a lot of guys from Vietnam are talking to their kids, and they are asking, “What did you do?” And the fathers, they are saying, “I was not a baby killer.” One of the guys at the Swift Boat Association Press Conference said, “How do I answer my daughter and my wife? Was I a baby killer, a war criminal?” He said, “No” and he wanted to tell his story. My son served in Iraq and we had some talks about what went on there. He was in a little bit of combat. He saw some things that were upsetting, so I said, “You are a liberator. You have a very unique opportunity, you are in a very unique place in history and that I appreciate it. Don’t let anybody put you down. Don’t let anybody challenge you, say that war was wrong. You did something, unique to humanity.” This is what, I think, the new generation is seeing. We took a hit on 9/11, we fought back and we liberated two countries. The pride in Americais coming back. It is going to be up to the Vietnam veteran now as the Voice of America’s Just Cause to go out and tell their children and their grandchildren of what really happened. We are doing it and others in this room are doing it, and you are zeroing in on the myths and that is great, because the myths can be refuted by facts and the more you do that on an academic level with your colleagues on the college level and others here on the high school level and then the junior high school level, you are going to be re-writing history. You are not revising it. You are correcting it. You are updating it with knowledge, with the experience, with the facts, documents from the archives. That is our tool and we are doing this exactly what should have been done 30 years ago and I really applaud you for what you are doing.

Keith Taylor: Anybody have any other questions or want to say something?

Unidentified Audience Member: You said you have been back to live in Vietnam several years now. What is your impression of the government there and do you see them lifting some of the restrictions that they placed on the people? The current government of Vietnam.

Keith Taylor: Yeah. You know they are incorrigible. It is a one-party state, so they have had to make changes simply because they had run themselves in the ground so bad. In the late 80s, things were so bad they just screwed the country so bad. First time I went back in 86, I couldn’t believe the place. The people were hungry. I was in Hanoi when the first typhoon hit of the season and just like that. I was doing work with the Institute of History and nothing was done for three days, because when the typhoon hit, they didn’t have any sanitation in this big city. Everybody got sick, just like that. There was no decent water system and everybody was in bed. Things are a lot better now, but they had to apologize. The strange thing is that they couldn’t begin to make the change until Le Duan died. This guy who had been charge since the late ‘50s as the Secretary of the party, finally he died in 86, and they could finally begin to make some needed changes that people had been needing, seemed that they needed for a long time. But, you know, it is like a step forward and a step back again almost the Vietnam War over and over again because they will make some changes, things will seem to get better, but then the party gets nervous that they are going to lose control and they slam things back down again. You know it is a country that if you could just get this party off the backs of the people and out of the government and let the people begin to build up the country with all of the energy and intelligence that they have, it would be a great place.

Unidentified Audience Member: [Unintelligble].

Keith Taylor: Every generation, there is a constant generation change and the hardliners are different. They are not hard in the same way that the other ones are, but there is still, I mean, it is a one-party state and as long as you have that structure, that kind of system, there is only so far you can go.

Steve Sherman: But it is my impression that the hardliner is not a matter of ideology, as a matter of fact they have privileges now that they took from being Communists and they don’t want to give up the rice bowls that they have gotten.

Yvonne Vaillancourt: Hi! First of all, I would just like to say thank you to everybody in this room. This is quite an experience for someone in my shoes, and I have two things; I just want to make one statement. I have never had in a history class anything on Vietnam. I am in my thirties, and I think that part of that was, it was so emotional. Even in my own family at home, my father was a veteran, and we have lots of veterans in the family, but I think that during the time that I should have been educated to the realities of what happened, it was so emotional. In particular, in the schools, they just didn’t do it. I think now, I work at the university, I am in the sciences, but I gravitate towards this type of thing in particular because there was a need for it, there still is. I will stop there because I will keep rambling, but I do have a question and again, I would like to thank everybody here, not just for doing something like this and getting the truth out, but also for your service. I am very proud of everybody who is a veteran. My question is, what do you think the role of the draft was [then – regarding the War in Vietnam] and how does that relate to what [or where] we are today. Do you think it would be an error to institute a draft to send people to the Middle East or wherever now that we have carte blanche to go anywhere [regarding the War on Terror] with our volunteer military?

Keith Taylor: I have a very unpopular opinion about this, because I believe in UMT -- Universal Military Training -- and I have nothing against the draft. I think everybody should serve. You don’t have to serve in a combat unit, but everybody should do some kind of national service. I don’t have any problem at all. I think it would do us a lot of good as a country if we would have something like that.

Steve Sherman: And surprisingly, I agree as well. The Universal Military Service is a leavening agent for society. Unfortunately within the society we have, we seem to find loopholes in everything. That may be the legalistic nature of what we have. In the Vietnam War, the loophole was a college deferment. The college deferment led to some students going to schools for soft sciences, for journalism, for education, for law, for sociology. It turned out bureaucrats, it turned out teachers, it turned out lawyers, it turned out journalists, who were not capable of staying in school to be doctors and scientists who were perfectly capable of screwing the society that we have had for the last 30 years. Keith’s reaction to the question is an interesting thing. I just would sort of like to find out by a show of hands or something how many others agree that Universal Military Service is a good thing?

Unidentified Audience Member: [Unintelligble] agree that one, it is a good thing. That is probably all of us would agree and second, it shouldn’t be used to force any power [unintelligible], force everyone else to do only what is good for them [unintelligible].

James McLeroy: There are other ways. It is one thing to say you are for Universal National Service and I certainly agree with that, but that is totally different from saying the Universal Military Service. There are two kinds of drafts it seems. Those who are patriotic and feel patriotic, like most people in the Second World War. They would volunteer, because they would be embarrassed not to be in etc., etc., and there is a kind like the Vietnam War. A lot of them were very reluctant, and so if you have a conscripted military force and they are disaffected and they don’t want to be there and they don’t feel patriotic, it is just a perfect tool for opposition politicians to mobilize them and for opposition media people and entertainment people and all that, academics, to make them disaffected and feel disaffected and that can tear the guts out of your program like it did in Vietnam. So the all voluntary military as long as you have enough is definitely the way to go as far as I am concerned.

Steve Sherman: I think that we didn’t stress the fact that it was Universal National Service rather than Universal Military Service, and certainly one can put different balances on it like, if you want to be a low-paid Peace Corps volunteer school teacher, spend six years to do it.

Dolf Droge: I would like to suggest that we have a tremendous success in this country with the Vietnamese who literally, they had this saying in Washington DC, ‘well, we lost Vietnam, but the Vietnamese won Falls Church' [Virginia] and they have taken it over and anyone that wants to live the Vietnam days again goes to Falls Church, Virginia. But the fact is they are so independent in the country of the United States having sheltered them after they came from memories in Vietnam, which was also memories of defeat. But they found that there was no barrier here, and now those youth and those people are talking and so Hanoi is coming to talk to the Governor of Virginia and there is a great movement to prevent the Governor from meeting with the person that says that there is a Hanoi regime, while the Governor today salutes the salutes the Vietnamese community that have came as boat persons and refugees and we recognize and work with them and the battle is now beginning to take the ranks. You have to choose a side if you are Vietnamese. Are you going to say ‘yes’ to that flag, or are you gong to have the Red Star on the North Vietnamese flag and this is really being talked about by the young people growing up, by the adults that came here and also by the people that have gone to our schools and are coming out of the schools with degrees and they are just really wild about the opportunities in this society. However, there are a few of them that would like to go back if there was a Free Vietnam. So I can't believe that there won’t be a revolutionary movement that sparks from our country. The incubation of this kind of feeling is irresistible and probably the people that are running the noodle shops and all the rest of the things going on, they probably are at a stage where they are just glad to be here. But I think a lot the Vietnamese youth would love to find a path, and including a path of liberation, to go back to Vietnam and get them out of having chosen the worst system ever devised for the governing of human beings, and that is the Communist Party because it is only 6% of the total population of Vietnam. Now that Hanoi has the total population; 6% are in the party, 94% are victims of the party. The Communist Party in the Soviet Union was the same. When that thing went down, it went down with 19 million members of the Communist Party and 5 million resigned in shame, so they wouldn’t be part of a criminal organization as they came to the end of their days. Now that happened with Yeltsin and Gorbachev having gone into a situation where they kidnapped him and then Yeltsin came in the middle and took over. When he took over, he unleashed so much of the youth feeling because if you are born in the Soviet Union, you had to choose at 18 to try to get into the party, and if you didn’t get in at 18, you were never going to get in, and then you were assigned your job, a lousy apartment, your mother and father had to live in the same apartment, you had to share your dinner table with two other neighbors and you never had anything that was declared to be civilized around you as an economy. They went through this and now they are so rabidly in love with a free enterprise system even though it’s imperfect, they are so in love with that now. I think the Vietnamese are merely showing us the same virus as refugees as they come in and they are learning more about how you create a democracy. So, that spirit that you are talking about when people are growing up and 30 years old and 40, that is going to be in this country, the reverse of what it would look like in totalitarian Vietnam. There’s going to be people that get more and more enthused about becoming a revolutionary, a real revolutionary, and freeing their people from the worse governing system that has ever been invented.

Bill Laurie: Dr. Taylor, when you were in Vietnam, were you able to ascertain whether or not you can buy copies of the book Hoa Dia Nguc? For those who don’t know Nguyen Chi Thien was a poet who wrote poetry beginning in 1956. Some of his cute phrases were to call Ho Chi Minh ‘the devil king’ and it is some of the most eloquent literature one can imagine and very few people, I recall reading in one article where someone said Vietnam has no soul and the answer isNo, Vietnam has Nguyen Chi Thien.’ Nobody knows about him. But, can one buy his books over there or even have them? Here is my feeling on the Vietnam Human Rights Act; simply yes or no will do. The Vietnam Human Rights Act, which of course was held up by Kerry, I think should be passed because it would encourage elements in Vietnam right now to continue their battle for human rights, which is very costly to them in terms that they are being imprisoned, they are being put in jails, all the other things, and I think the signal, I don’t want to sound MacNamarian, but the signal we sent when we say, ‘oh, don’t worry about the Vietnam Human Rights Act’ is very costly to Vietnam because we tell Hanoi in effect, ‘hey, we can get away with it again.’ Your response please?

Keith Taylor: No, there is no way they would let anybody gain access to those poems. Nobody knows what actually happened to him. I mean he was arrested again eventually in the end after he threw his poems over the wall of the British Embassy. Is he in the States now?

Unidentified Audience Member:Yeah, he is here.

Keith Taylor: Is he? I guess I am really out of date. I didn’t even know that he got out of the country. That is good. But no, I don’t think, I have never seen anything of his there and I couldn’t imagine that it would be allowed to be available.

Unidentified Audience Member: I have a couple of questions. Well, I also wanted to thank you for the South Vietnamese soldiers who fought there. They also have the same posttraumatic syndrome as the American soldiers and whenever the younger generation tried to talk about it, they would not talk. So it is on both sides also, it is just not the American soldiers. I am sorry, I missed that posttraumatic syndrome presentation, as I went to see a constitutional panel. But my question for Dr. Taylor is that, when you were in Vietnam, did you see a rift between the South Vietnamese Communists and the North and the ideological differences between them, and how they are behaving now or what are they going to be like in the future?

Keith Taylor: Yeah, you put your finger on what I think is the most important issue today in Vietnam and for the future of the country. It is still basically two countries and southerners, even in the party, have very different perspective on priorities and it is a very, I think, tense relationship still between Northerners and Southerners and in many ways, there is more freedom in the South to do business mainly, I think, because they can buy that to some extent by providing a source of money for the central government. So there is a lot going to be said about this [in the future]. The Southerners [and Northerners] have been different for centuries. In fact, there were two separate countries for many generations back in the 17th and 18th century. They had their own views of the world and their languages were quite different. They had different ways of relating to outsiders, different ways of how to do business and different concepts of authority. So, yeah, the old wartime axiom that this was one country and that somehow that negated the rationale for American involvement; I think it is really wrong.

Steve Sherman: I want to suggest we help the economy of Boston a little bit here and adjourn to the steak restaurant that somebody says was somewhere nearby. I know a seafood [place], but it is too far away to get the entire army over there. Now, we have got to make a trip over to the dorms and drop off bags. I am going to go to the dorm and drop off bags and I am going to follow the moo’s.