ON THIS DAY: General Westmoreland Observes That Viet-Cong Has Allies in the United States

We shall file this under the ‘nothing new under the sun’ category. Of late, our own UN ambassador has been repeating the Chinese line about the United States, which is that it is infected with the apparently incurable disgrace of systemic racism. Ending slavery in North America, defeating fascism around the world, and even driving the Japanese to defeat and freeing China of the Imperial Japanese system of slavery and mass rape matters little now. The pattern of American defense of freedom and justice is quickly forgotten, as is the pattern of American citizens siding with the Communist powers of Asia to denounce their own country. Forgotten or not, this pattern has a long and ignoble tradition and was in evidence while thousands of American soldiers were fighting and dying defending freedom in Vietnam, ironically a country chock full of non-white people. 

On April 24, 1967, the American General in charge of fighting that war, General Westmoreland, spoke to the press while President Lyndon Johnson stood close by. In this remarkable speech, he made several claims and observations, including this pithy summary of the North Vietnamese strategic plan: The enemy, he said, had “gained support in the United States that gives him hope that he can win politically that which he cannot win militarily.”

All of which subsequently proved to be exactly as things worked out. President Nixon negotiated an end to the American presence in Vietnam and handed the fighting to the ARVN military, but when Nixon resigned, the North Vietnamese knew for sure that their allies in the US would never allow the Americans to reengage in Vietnam and so they broke their treaty obligations, overran the South and renamed the capital after their conquering hero General, Ho Chi Minh. Thousands of Vietnamese died in the aftermath either in Communist reprisals, re-education camps, or at sea in less than seaworthy boats they had used to flee.

Today, Vietnam is a semi-prosperous country that is following in the footsteps of China and becoming a highly capitalist country economically while remaining a communist country politically. That exact situation seems to be the preferred arrangement many US citizens have in mind for the United States. Given the depredations both China and Vietnam suffered at the hands of the European colonial powers, the British in China and the French in Vietnam, their positions are a bit easier to understand. Those that would undermine the legitimacy of the United States from within are a bit more difficult to fathom. A loss in Vietnam was psychologically difficult for the United States, but life went on. An economic loss to the Chinese, who are rivals for economic dominance, could mean that the Chinese poor rises to the status of middle class, and the American middle class falls to the status of the Chinese poor.

Geneal Westmoreland testified before Congress later that same year.

Westmoreland with President Johnson, April 1967