You have to see this picture clearly in your minds to understand all that follows. Unlike World War II, we couldn't have convoys of trucks rushing supplies from ports to the front lines. In most cases, supplies had to be airlifted over enemy strongholds to scattered units. Communications had to be relayed between microwave antenna towers located at each base camp or by wireless radio. Landlines were vulnerable to any man with a pair of wire cutters.
Those of us who served in Vietnam often reflected that life inside the base camps, surrounded by earthen berms and barbed wire, was like living in a prison camp. The enemy were our prison guards. They shot anyone who ventured outside. Given the opportunity, they also shot those who remained in their cells.
In the coming days I will explain how we not only coped, but also waged war effectively against an enemy that lurked in the midst of the civilian population we were attempting to protect. Mine is neither the majority nor the popular view. However, you may find it amusing.
Every war is steeped in politics, even the popular ones. Take World War II as an example. Almost no one regrets our involvement and yet, the vast majority of Americans were opposed to becoming involved in it. Franklin Roosevelt was elected President on his sworn opposition to our country becoming involved in another “foreign war.” Of course, immediately after making that promise he turned to his advisers and asked, “It's not a foreign war if we're attacked, is it?” Just how prescient was that?
Every war is fought with words as well as guns and bullets. Take for example, the War on Terror. I hope that President Obama will forgive me for writing that. He has forbidden the use of that phrase in his Administration. Yet, here we are fighting a war with terrorists regardless of what we call it. Regardless, the most important battles are being fought in the court of public opinion.
The same was true in Vietnam. There we fought an invasion, but were never allowed to name it as such. We called it a “counterinsurgency” as though we were trying to protect an established government from discontented rebels. In truth, we were fighting a communist invasion sponsored by the Soviet Union abetted by Communist China. Unfortunately, we had no will to fight that war. We preferred to let it remain “cold.”
How do I know this? It's a long story. It will take several weeks and months to tell, one posting at a time. Feel free to disagree. Most people do. However, the truth is in the history, not in the news media, not in our schools, and definitely not in our political posturings.
Ultimately, you may ask the same question I have come to ask: Should we have fought the war in Vietnam more conventionally? I hear some of you saying, "Isn't the more important question whether or not we should have fought it at all?" Hopefully, when we're done, you'll learn that the answer to that question was answered long ago, and the answer might not be what you expect or agree with.