Thursday, October 01, 2020

Vote November Third

 Listen therefore, O kings, and understand; 

learn, O judges of the ends of the earth. 
Give ear, you that rule over multitudes,
and boast of many nations.

For your dominion was given you from the Lord,
and your sovereignty from the Most High,
who will search out your works
and inquire into your plans.

Because as servants of his kingdom you did not rule rightly,
nor keep the law, nor walk according to the purpose of God,
He will come upon you terribly and swiftly,
because severe judgment falls on those in high places.

For the lowliest man may be pardoned in mercy,
but mighty men will be mightily tested. 
For the Lord of all will not stand in awe of any one,
nor show deference to greatness;

because he himself made both small and great,
and he takes thought for all alike. 
But a strict inquiry is in store for the mighty.

To you then, O monarchs, my words are directed,
that you may learn wisdom and not transgress.

Wisdom 6: 1-9.


It is nice to think of our leaders as the “Kings and Judges”
especially when they are from a different political party
and consider the wrath of God with unjust joy.

But This is a democracy; and at least on Election Day
we all are the “Kings and Judges,”
as servants of His Kingdom will we
rule rightly when we vote?

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Veterans day 2019

The First World War nominally ended on November 11th. First celebrated as Armistice Day, it became Remembrance Day for the Commonwealth to honor those who had fallen. In the United States where Memorial Day already commemorated those who died defending our country it became Veteran’s Day to also honor the veterans who came home.

Lord Grey, the British Foreign Minister described the beginning of the war as "The lamps are going out in Europe". The immediate costs in dead and treasure of this ultimately pointless war were horrific. The horror of the trenches scarred the psyche of the Western world. The resulting despair allowed political movements to come to influence and power, which have changed for the worse Western culture, the holocaust and gulag being just the tip of the iceburg. Too many of the lamps are still out.

It is a hard truth that this is an especially appropriate day to remember our veterans living and dead. One of the very few bright spots were the solders and sailors whose dedication, loyalty, and valor shamed the politicians and “statesman” who sent them to war. They should always be remembered.

But also we need to remember that in other wars it was this same dedication and valor that bought our Freedom and Liberty, certainly against the forces released as a result of the First World War.

Enjoy the holiday, but remember to think of and pray for those who served.

In 2007 David Duff objected to the war being called pointless. El Jefe Maximo responded. Their interesting and informative discussion is a must read.

Related posts:

Labels:WWI and Veterans Day posts

Sunday, January 06, 2019


To day the feast of the Epiphany, the coming of the Magi or wise men to honor the birth ofJjesus, manifesting th birth of our Savior to the world.


Little known details about the visit of the three wise men seeking the birth of Jesus.

Being wise men they knew this was too important of an event not bring their wives, so they gladly hired the extra camels and tents so their wives and families could come.

Being wise men they went on the Star Web and got Astrology Positioning System (APS) coordinates and instructions to “follow the star.”

Being wise men, they always stopped and got directions when their wives suggested. Also being wise men they realized the directions were mostly useless; checked the APS coordinates and “followed the star.”.

They and their wives were truly overjoyed at visiting their Savior and His family.

The whole trip was a great success except for stopping to ask directions in Jerusalem. That was a bummer.

The moral: wise men and women still seek Him.

Monday, December 24, 2018

GAUDETE! -- REJOICE! – Christ is Born!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Christmas Eve -- AWAKE Mankind!


From a sermon of St Augustine

Awake, mankind! For your sake God has become man. Awake, you who sleep, rise up from the dead, and Christ will enlighten you. I tell you again: for your sake, God became man.

You would have suffered eternal death, had he not been born in time. Never would you have been freed from sinful flesh, had he not taken on himself the likeness of sinful flesh. You would have suffered everlasting unhappiness, had it not been for this mercy. You would never have returned to life, had he not shared your death. You would have been lost if he had not hastened ‘to your aid. You would have perished, had he not come.

Let us then joyfully celebrate the coming of our salvation and redemption. Let us celebrate the festive day on which he who is the great and eternal day came from the great and endless day of eternity into our own short day of time.

He has become our justice, our sanctification, our redemption, so that, as it is written: Let him who glories glory in the Lord.

Truth, then, has arisen from the earth:
Christ who said, I am the Truth, was born of the Virgin.

And justice looked down from heaven: because believing in this new-born child, man is justified not by himself but by God.

Truth has arisen from the earth: because the Word was made flesh. And justice looked down from heaven: because every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.
Truth has arisen from the earth:
flesh from Mary. And justice looked down from heaven: for man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven.

Justified by faith, let us be at peace with God: for justice and peace have embraced one another. Through our Lord Jesus Christ: for Truth has arisen from the earth. Through whom we have access to that grace in which we stand, and our boast is in our hope of God’s glory.
He does not say: “of our glory”, but of God’s glory: for justice has not come out of us but has looked down from heaven. Therefore he who glories, let him glory, not in himself, but in the Lord.

For this reason, when our Lord was born of the Virgin, the message of the angelic voices was: Glory to God in the highest, and peace to men of good will.

For how could there be peace on earth unless Truth has arisen from the earth, that is, unless Christ were born of our flesh? And he is our peace who made the two into one: that we might be men of good will, sweetly linked by the bond of unity.

Let us then rejoice in this grace, so that our glorying may bear witness to our good conscience by which we glory, not in ourselves, but in the Lord. That is why Scripture says: He is my glory, the one who lifts up my head. For what greater grace could God have made to dawn on us than to make his only Son become the son of man, so that a son of man might in his turn become son of God?

Ask if this were merited; ask for its reason, for its justification, and see whether you will find any other answer but sheer grace.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Fourth Sundayu of Advent

Celibate Christ's Mass at Mass

and keep Christ in Christmas. Find a nearby Mass here.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Second Sunday of Advent

One of my favorite Christmas Carols is O Come O Come Emmanuel. The verses, based on scripture describe the hope for which Israel waited the coming of the Messiah and which we share in the celebration of Advent.

The monks of the Early Church, and still today, sing at Vespers the song of Mary in Luke’s Gospel My soul magnifies the Lord. The antiphon that would be sung with it varies with the season and day. The antiphons for 17th to the 23d of December date from at least the 9th Century and were at some point collected in to a single hymn, Thomas Aquinas is reputed to have provided a Gregorian chant setting for them. In the 19th Century they were set to a French folk tune and given the Chorus.

The Antiphons

December 17

O WISDOM, who came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: COME, and teach us the way of prudence. Amen. "O Sapientia..."

O Wisdom: Proverbs 1:20; 8; 9 and I Corinthians 1:30

December 18

O LORD AND RULER of the House of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the flame of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: COME, and redeem us with outstretched arms. Amen. "O Adonai..."

O Lord and Ruler of the House of Israel: Exodus 3; Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:6

December 19

O ROOT OF JESSE, that stands for an ensign of the people, before whom the kings keep silence and unto whom the Gentiles shall make supplication: COME, to deliver us, and tarry not. Amen. "O Radix Jesse..."

O Root of Jesse: Isaiah 11:10; Romans 15:12; Revelation 5:5

December 20

O KEY OF DAVID, and Sceptre of the House of Israel, who opens and no man shuts, who shuts and no man opens: COME, and bring forth the captive from his prison, he who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death. Amen. "O Clavis David..."

O Key of David: Isaiah 22:22; Revelation 3:7

December 21

O DAWN OF THE EAST, brightness of light eternal, and Sun of Justice: COME, and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. Amen. "O Oriens..."

O Dawn of the East (Dayspring): Luke 1:78, 79; Malachi 4:2

December 22

O KING OF THE GENTILES and their desired One, the Cornerstone that makes both one: COME, and deliver man, whom you formed out of the dust of the earth. Amen. "O Rex..."

O King of the Gentiles (Nations): Revelation 15:3; Psalm 118:22; Isaiah 28:16; Matthew 21:42; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17; Acts 4:11; Ephesians 2:20; I Peter 2:6

December 23

O EMMANUEL, God with us, Our King and Lawgiver, the expected of the nations and their Saviour: COME to save us, O Lord our God. Amen. "O Emmanuel..."
O Emmanuel: Isaiah 7:14; 8:8; Matthew 1:23; Haggai 2:7 (KJV)

Turn up your speakers and Enjoy

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Advent -- He is Coming!

Jesus adent ultrasound christmas

"We do not preach only one coming of Christ, but a second as well, much more glorious than the first. The first coming was marked by patience; the second will bring the crown of a divine kingdom.

In general, whatever relates to our Lord Jesus Christ has two aspects. There is a birth from God before the ages, and a birth from a virgin at the fullness of time. There is a hidden coming, like that of rain on fleece, and a coming before all eyes, still in the future.

At the first coming he was wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger. At his second coming he will be clothed in light as in a garment. In the first coming he endured the cross, despising the shame; in the second coming he will be in glory, escorted by an army of angels.

We look then beyond the first coming and await the second. At the first coming we said: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. At the second we shall say it again; we shall go out with the angels to meet the Lord and cry out in adoration: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

The Saviour will not come to be judged again, but to judge those by whom he was judged. At his own judgement he was silent; then he will address those who committed the outrages against him when they crucified him and will remind them: You did these things, and I was silent.

His first coming was to fulfil his plan of love, to teach men by gentle persuasion. This time, whether men like it or not, they will be subjects of his kingdom by necessity.

The prophet Malachi speaks of the two comings. And the Lord whom you seek will come suddenly to his temple: that is one coming.

Again he says of another coming: Look, the Lord almighty will come, and who will endure the day of his entry, or who will stand in his sight? Because he comes like a refiner’s fire, a fuller’s herb, and he will sit refining and cleansing.

These two comings are also referred to by Paul in writing to Titus: The grace of God the Saviour has appeared to all men, instructing us to put aside impiety and worldly desires and live temperately, uprightly, and religiously in this present age, waiting for the joyful hope, the appearance of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Notice how he speaks of a first coming for which he gives thanks, and a second, the one we still await.

That is why the faith we profess has been handed on to you in these words: He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

Our Lord Jesus Christ will therefore come from heaven. He will come at the end of the world, in glory, at the last day. For there will be an end to this world, and the created world will be made new."

Catechism, St Cyril of Jerusalem, cira 350 A.D.
Office of readings, First Sunday of Advent Second Reading

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Vote November 6th

Listen therefore, O kings, and understand;
learn, O judges of the ends of the earth.
Give ear, you that rule over multitudes,
and boast of many nations.

For your dominion was given you from the Lord,
and your sovereignty from the Most High,
who will search out your works
and inquire into your plans.

Because as servants of his kingdom you did not rule rightly,
nor keep the law, nor walk according to the purpose of God,
He will come upon you terribly and swiftly,
because severe judgment falls on those in high places.

For the lowliest man may be pardoned in mercy,
but mighty men will be mightily tested.
For the Lord of all will not stand in awe of any one,
nor show deference to greatness;

because he himself made both small and great,
and he takes thought for all alike.
But a strict inquiry is in store for the mighty.

To you then, O monarchs, my words are directed,
that you may learn wisdom and not transgress.

Wisdom 6: 1-9.


It is nice to think of our leaders as the “Kings and Judges”
especially when they are from a different political party
and consider the wrath of God with unjust joy.

But This is a democracy; and at least on Election Day
we all are the “Kings and Judges,”
as servants of His Kingdom will we
rule rightly when we vote?

Sunday, January 28, 2018

TET 1968 - 50 Years later – A personal Narrative

The Tet Offensive occurred 50 years ago.

The Year of the Monkey

Nineteen Sixty-Eight was a strange year. First there was Tet or Vietnamese New Years, the occasion for the North Vietnamese offensive. Then I was in the hospital for a week, which was the week of the Martin Luther King riots. I spent the week lying on my back watching the country burn down on TV. Then there was the Democratic Convention. Some said they would disrupt the convention. The Mayor said he was going to protect the right of people to peacefully hold a political convention. It was clear that if you liked to bash in heads for fun or else have your head bashed that was the place to be. I did not care for either so I stayed home. Generally, it seemed like rioting was the recreation of choice that year around the world, the tactics and method of the “sixty- eighters,” if not their stated goals, seemed awfully brown shirtish. There seemed to be general mood that year that things were bad and getting worse. The year wasn’t all bad; I escaped (graduated) from high school and went to college.

The War at Home

This was the height of the Viet Nam war. Going to school in the morning, right in front of our school bus was the Navy ambulance bus taking casualties from the Air Station to the Naval Hospital. I remember sitting on my parent’s sofa watching the news. Not news of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and suicide idiots that everyone takes so seriously these days; but regular armies with trained soldiers and manufactured explosive devices, maneuvering divisions and engaging in major battles. Two hundred to three hundred US dead a week, week in week out. North Viet Nam was being bombed, but apparently under so many restrictions it was almost useless. There were negotiations about the shape of the peace table if there were ever real peace negotiations. It seemed a Dien Bien Phu II was shaping up at Khe Shan. A truce had been announced by both sides for the Tet holiday, the question being when and where the North Vietnamese would violate it. They violated it everywhere. Saigon, Hue, Dak To, Da Nang, Pleiku all with enemy forces in the city. The US Embassy in Saigon occupied. The walled citadel of Hue, the old Vietnamese Imperial capital, was lost. News coming so fast you couldn’t absorb it. That week, over seven hundred dead. Like Nine Eleven, everyone was sitting glued to the TV watching the bad news. Unlike Nine Eleven no stories of dramatic escapes and heroic rescues.

On the third day the New York news teams got to Viet Nam to report what happened. I remember watching Walter Cronkite in dirty wrinkled fatigues and a dented helmet reporting how serious things were, if we actually survived this battle you knew the war was lost.  He repeated this in a TV Special report a few weeks later. Statements by military press officers were ridiculed.

This was a shock wave. The net effect of months of watching heavy fighting on television, the staggering scope of the enemy attack, along with a narrative that said we were defeated even if we survived this battle changed the mood of the country. The next few years are only understandable when you realize we were in a state of national “ongoing traumatic stress syndrome.”

US and South Vietnamese forces defended and attacked to no pattern we saw in the media. The Embassy was recaptured. The Battle of Hue dragged on forever. It was agreed to end the negotiations about negations and have negotiations on the same subjects as the negotiations about negotiations. The war seemed to continue as before. Johnson stopped the bombing of North Vietnam not for any gain but because he thought it would help win the 1968 election. Even so Nixon won the 1968 election.

Nixon invaded Cambodia. This resulted in riots in the US that culminated in the Kent State incident. Next Nixon invaded Laos. In 1972 North Vietnamese tanks crossed the border. To read the newspaper headlines or watch the TV news it seemed things were getting worse. A keystone of Nixon’s policy was the Vietnamization program of upgrading the South Vietnamese Army and tuning things over to the South Vietnamese. The media reported every problem and generally trashed the program. A company went berserk at My Lai and massacred about a hundred people, apparently covered up by the Army. The Special Forces tried to but failed to liberate some POW’s in North Viet Nam. In 1972 the bombing of North Viet Nam was resumed, including this time the ports and Red River Delta. The press and others were frantic; this was an escalation that would bring China into the war.

But then, almost from no place, the 1972 peace agreement was signed. The US and the North Vietnamese agreed to a cease fire and to mutually withdrawal from South Viet Nam. The US was allowed to keep a very finite number of advisors and promised to come to the aid of South Viet Nam if North Vietnam went back on the agreement. In the press it seemed like a face saving surrender. There was some doubt that the US would keep its promise. (At this point I remember in our first week of Officers Basic they told us that even if we volunteered we could not go to Vietnam, the mock groan of disappointment was overwhelming.)

Nixon cut corners to be sure he won reelection in 1972 against one of the most unelectable Democratic candidates ever. His burglars were caught at Democratic headquarters in the Watergate Apartments; the step by step investigations eventually forced him to resign in 1974. But he was politically paralyzed long before that, and his successor was, by default, a seat warmer until the 1976 elections.

In 1975 South Vietnam fell. Congress made it clear we would not keep the promise to come to South Viet Nam’s aid. The first wave of boat people came to the US. The second wave was abandoned at sea. South Vietnam was put under a totalitarian regime that rivaled anything of Hitler, Mao or Stalin. The same for Laos. But this was child play compared to what the Khmer Rouge (Communist Party) did in the killing fields of Cambodia.

Bandaging The Wounds

I think three things aided national reconciliation,

- The Independence Bi-Centennial celebration in 1976. This turned everyone’s attention to something all could agree on or at least use the same words if we didn’t agree.

- Richard Nixon and Watergate. He became the scapegoat for everything from 1954 to 1975. He was guilty of enough that no one cared if he was being accused of things he didn’t or couldn’t have done. “It’s all Nixon’s fault”, even if it wasn’t, was a statement that allowed people to avoid accusing friends neighbors and relatives of supporting the “wrong” side, whichever side that was.

- And a number of myths about the war grew and were accepted. Often not factual, but allowing people to live together, except when one myth challenged another, or worse, was challenged by facts.

And we went from “ongoing” to “posttraumatic stress syndrome.”

The Real War

Some of this was apparent at the time, to a political and military geek such as myself, much I learned later.

In 1959 the North Vietnamese Government ordered the Viet Cong to begin military action to take over South Viet Nam. They used the classic guerilla war pattern of Mao Zedong. They were greatly helped because they had much more resources than normal to start up a guerilla campaign. Much of the prepatory work had been done by the old Viet Minh while fighting the French, there was logistic support from North Vietnamese base areas in Laos and Cambodia, the South Vietnamese government had major problems, really the problems of any third world government, but easy to exploit. By 1965 this campaign had progressed to Mao’s third or mobile phase. The South Vietnamese were in a bind. They had no uncommitted reserves. (I think I remember reading at the time that South Viet Nam had one or two battalions available everything else was committed). And the North Vietnamese were massing a mobile force of Viet Cong and North Vietnamese divisions to finish off their victory. If the South Vietnamese army consolidated forces to defeat the mobile units they would abandon a fatal amount of territory, but leaving their forces disbursed meant their units would be destroyed one at a time by the enemy mobile forces.

The solution was the introduction of US combat units to fight the North Vietnamese mobile forces, and have the South Vietnamese deal with the guerillas. (This was the general plan though there were exceptions, such as the Army Special Forces and the Marine CAP platoons, and token South Vietnamese forces always accompanied large US operations.)

The introduction of US troops put the North Vietnamese generals in a bind. They could not defeat the US Army and Marines in the field. Not that they didn’t try. Through 1965, 1966 and into 1967 they launched a number of operations trying to defeat the US forces. They quickly learned that human wave attacks against fire bases using howitzers as shotguns was suicidal. Sometimes they would win against a small unit but they could never win against a force large enough to advance Mao’s mobile war strategy. All they ended up with was massive amounts of casualties; even the small battles they won were often Pyric victories. They needed to change their strategy.

Their problem was Mao’s theory said they had to capture the county side first before moving into the cities. Prematurely moving into the cities would cut them off from their bases and invite destruction. But they were unable to defeat US forces to take over the countryside. There were two proposals considered, to back off the lower level phases of guerrilla war to wear down the US so it would grow tired and withdraw, or launching a major offensive to dislodge the US forces. They decided to take a long shot gamble on the later.

It was always possible to infiltrate the cities but anything larger than a patrol that could melt into the population could not survive the counter attack. They decided if they infiltrated enough forces into the cities, launched a surprise attack and captured enough critical points they could survive the counter attack and it would be the US forces that were cut off. They expected that there would be a large response to a call for a popular uprising. Success required they obtain firm control over their critical targets in the first twenty-four hours or so isolating the US forces from their bases.

They obtained initial surprise. We knew what their doctrine was, we believed it was a good doctrine, but we did not realize they were so desperate that they would throw it out on a gamble.

They got into the cities, captured large amounts of space. They got control of civilian areas that had no defense force beyond local police. A call for a general uprising was made. The Viet Cong political officers came out and started to organize a new government and had “counter revolutionaries” rounded up and executed.

Many South Vietnamese and US units were isolated, a few were destroyed. Support units of all types became infantry to survive. But most held until relived or even counter attacked.

There was no popular uprising. The North Vietnamese captured no critical military bases. The combat units in the field turned around and came back to the cities, made sure the bases were secure and cleared the cities. That sounds so easy, it wasn’t. By the third day it was clear the offensive had failed. The North Vietnamese were still in control of most of what they had captured, but couldn’t take more and were being attacked. There were still several months of fierce fighting to clear the cities and restore the pre-offensive status and several more months to exploit the situation.

In many areas the defeat of the offensive resulted in the destruction of the local Viet Cong infrastructure. Many Viet Cong units joined the offensive and were lost or seriously damaged. After a few months when units with the name and number of a Viet Cong unit rejoined the fight it was almost exclusively staffed with North Vietnamese. When the local Viet Cong political cadres outed themselves to set up a new government their identities became common knowledge. Killing the counter revolutionaries left a lot of people who wanted revenge for dead relatives and friends. They were known and easy target for Operation Phoenix. In many places vigilantes acting on their own killed them. The Viet Cong’s local political organization never recovered though it took a long time exploit this.

The Vietnamization program, which really should have started earlier, meant pulling units off line giving them a rest, new equipment, time to train and develop confidence. When it went back on line it was a much better trained, equipped and confident force. They were able to slowly gain control over larger areas of the countryside on their own. By 1972 guerilla activity had ceased to be a major problem in much of South Viet Nam. (I read a news report that in parts of the Mekong delta the per capita rate of “guerilla attacks” was about the same as the pre-WWII per capita rate of criminal activity.) Aggressive large operations such as the border crossings gradually reduced the North Vietnamese Armies ability to conduct large scale operations in South Viet Nam. When the North Vietnamese crossed the DMZ in a tank assault in 1972 it was the South Vietnamese Army that stopped them.

US units were being withdrawn. Because of the individual replacement policy there were very few unit homecomings to make this visible in the US. A unit was deactivated in place it’s people redistributed and that many replacements were not sent. By 1972 most US combat troops were gone.

Ending the War

So long as North Viet Nam could they would continue to send its armed forces to south to capture South Viet Nam. Attacking North Viet Nam involved risks of escalating the war by bringing in China or Russia to help North Viet Nam. This was a real risk though it probably played larger in Washington’s mind than was the real case. How to convince them? Negotiations by themselves would not do it. The North Vietnamese first and last  negotiating position was that they would get complete control of all Viet Nam. Invasion and regime change of North Viet Nam (to use the current term) was politically impossible in the US political situation. Bombing risked intervention and excessive political fallout if not successful in a short period of time.

Nixon’s National Security Advisor (and later Secretary of State) Henry Kissinger had a plan.

The first part was for the vigorous prosecution of the war in South Viet, as well as destroying bases in sanctuaries in Cambodia and Laos.

The second was Vietnamization program to turn the war back to South Viet Nam. This would allow the US to leave at some point.

The third was to give both China and Russia a reason not to intervene if bombing in the North was resumed.

Fourth was to launch a bombing campaign that would make North Viet Nam agree to stop the war in the South.

While it wasn’t obvious in the news Russia and China did not get along. In 1969 they even had a large border fight in Manchuria. China refused to let Russia transship to North Viet Nam across Chinese territory. Most of the equipment that North Viet Nam needed to support the war came from Russia and was unloaded at the port of Haiphong. China was only able to provide basic infantry weapons and a large manpower pool if they intervened, which North Viet Nam probably did not want because they could not be sure it go away after the war. This was an opportunity. If a strategic bombing program could close Haiphong Harbor and hit other high value targets, North Viet Nam would not get the weapons and supplies it needed to prosecute the war, or maintain a basic economy, and possibly stay in power.

Kissinger opened a diplomatic campaign to make both Russia and China feel they had more to lose by intervening to support North Viet Nam than if they just left it to it’s own devices. To the Russians he opened a softening of détente including signing the ABM and SALT weapons reduction treaties. To China he offered diplomatic recognition and opening of trade relations. President Nixon’s famous visit to China in 1972, was part of this campaign.

The strategic bombing campaign was started. It closed Haiphong Harbor. Bridges on major highways were destroyed. North Viet Nam had to agree to withdraw in order for their government to survive. But it did not change their goal of taking over the South.

An agreement was signed. POW’s came home. Both sides withdrew. South Viet Nam started to recover from the war. North Viet Nam rebuilt it’s Army. In 1975 they attacked with fourteen divisions from Cambia, Laos, and North Viet Nam. South Viet Nam asked the US for air support, the request was denied despite our promise in the peace agreement. This caused the South Vietnamese Government to panic, and the war was lost. The general opinion is that South Viet Nam could have held with air support and quite possibly without it if they had not panicked.

Collateral Damage

Today, 1:29 PM


At the beginning of the war, the President of Viet Nam was Ngo Ding Diem.  He had worked long and hard for independence and do develop the country and fight the Viet Cong. Perhaps not the favorite of many South Vietnamese factions he was the properly elected leader of the country and acceptable to most factions.  Unfortunately, he did not meet the expectations of many in the Kennedy administration and it’s supporters. A group of generals overthrew and killed him in a coup in 1963.  Kennedy knew about the Coup and gave at least passive support.  This coup and several that followed greatly damaged the credibility of the South Vietnamese government. 

Negotiations had started early in the war. They preliminary negotiations stalled. The North Vietnamese insisted that they and the Viet Cong be separate parties and negotiate with US only. Accepting this would deny that the US was helping a sovereign government against foreign attack. The US and South Viet Nam insisted that the US and South Viet Nam be separate parities and negotiate with North Viet Nam only. Accepting this would deny that the Viet Cong was an indigenous uprising. Every so often one side would make a proposal that the other found unacceptable, which had an annexed diagram for a negotiating table, about the least important part of the proposal. The press, especially television, only reported on the shape of the table. (After the war North Viet Nam’s military published in their professional journals a number of “how we won articles” that make it clear that the Viet Cong was always an instrument of North Vietnamese policy and never an indigenous movement or independent organization.) After the Tet offensive President Johnson to proposed a plan that sidestepped the issue by ignoring it, thus doing nothing to advance the negotiations or produce peace; and got the North Vietnamese to agree to the proposal by stopping the bombing. Both of which Johnson also believed would help a in the 1968 elections.

The Cold War standoff with the Soviet Union resulted in a de facto policy of what was called Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) though it always seemed to me that something like Massively Asinine Dumbness would be a better name. A central concern was to prevent an escalation of violence to the point where nuclear weapons were used. This concern had a major impact on US military policy during the war. On one hand President Johnson considered a withdrawal or defeat as politically unacceptable. On the other hand, the question he asked was how to prevent escalation, not how to end the thing. As a result, the Johnson kept the war in “maintenance mode” with no purpose or end in sight. Maybe earlier in the war there was no way to end it without unacceptable escalation, maybe not, but the “no escalation” groupthink prevented serious consideration of how to end the war.

The press’s “investigative reporting” of the My Lai massacre broke the story two weeks after an Article 32 board returned an indictment. Article 32 Boards are public hearings, following a major investigation that took over at a year. It developed that there had been a few small incidents like this, the Army and Marines investigating and prosecuting whenever there was evidence to convict. The press usually knew about these but did not report them until after the My Lai incident and the Army made formal charges.

Unlike most of today’s news persons, the main news teams in New York had been covering wars since WWII and were usually pretty good military analysts in their own right. In addition to his confidence building style Walter Cronkite of CBS news was one of the best. It is hard to imagine when he made that report from a five star hotel in Saigon, with borrowed fatigues and helmet that he did not understand the actual situation.

The war needed large amounts of men.  The draft was unpopular.  Calling up National Guard and reserves for the 1962 Berlin crisis caused so much political costs that the administration did not want to repeat.  Secretary of Defense Robert MacNamara announced, purportedly as an effort to help the poor and disadvantaged, that 100,000 men would be drafted who did not meet the normal minimum standards for military service.  In addition to taking casualties at much higher rate, these men received no benefit for their post service life.  But the middle class served as a much lower rate or in safer positions, which many believe was the real purpose of the program.

Thousands of Vietnamese “boat people” came the US at the fall of South Viet Nam. (Many got on boats and sailed to US ships thus the term.) Later, in response to the communists “reeducation” polices there was a mass emigration from Viet Nam by boat, it was clear if the President ordered the navy to pick them up he would have major confrontation in Congress he could not win, so the Navy was ordered not pick them up, even if the boat was not seaworthy and sinking.


At the 1974 conference on missing in action servicemen, a (North) Vietnamese Colonel was asked about the North Vietnamese Army never wining a significant battle against the US military. He responded

“So What!”

[I have since found out the actual quote was:  "That may be so, but it is also irrelevant."]

A summery of Mau Zeitung’s guerilla war doctrine, essential to understand the war.


This is an edited and slightly expanded copy of the post I made on the 40th anniversary of the Offensive.

Hanks Eclectic Meanderings

My summery of Mao’s three phase guerilla war theory.


South Vietnamese


North Vietnamese

US Army Center for Military History Published material – Viet Nam


The History Place

International Socialist Review

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