Suckered into Stupid Wars

A US President inadvertently informed Americans on the war against Vietnam ... and Korea

Unknown to most Americans, the US ‘totally destroyed’ North Korea once before” — Irish Times

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later that someone of high notoriety would blurt out the truth about the American genocide in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, and lift for a moment the curtain of imbecility that keeps why-me-worry silly American society, self-indulgent in sales and sports, gung-ho slap-happily accepting what its criminal media tells it about being proud of its Vietnam War veterans and proud of today’s American soldiers, who have invaded whatever little countries on criminal orders or are stationed in active duty in 150 countries. ((“’Endless Wars,’ Here’s Where About 200,000 Troops Remain,” New York Times, Oct. 21, 2019.))

What comes to mind are photos of dead babies and their mothers lying in a ditch in South Vietnam shot point blank by American soldiers; of America soldiers setting fire to the straw roofs of village homes with their cigarette lighters; of an American tank dragging a roped Vietnamese ‘enemy’ behind it down the road; of naked children with burnt skin running from fiery napalm dropped from an American fighter plane over farm houses … of photos of B-52 bombers high-altitude carpet bombing ‘free fire zones’; of planes dropping Agent-Orange to destroy whole forests in South Vietnam; of super heroes like US Senator and presidential-candidate-to-be pilot John McCain, who dropped bombs for months on Hanoi city before being shot down, and who Nuremberg Trial Prosecutor Gen.Telford Taylor would have prosecuted as a war criminal. ((Gen. Telford Taylor, a chief U.S. prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, is reported as having said that he would be proud to lead the prosecution of U.S. pilots captured in Vietnam. Robert Richter, an Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker, and political director for CBS News from 1965 to 1968 wrote in Bomber Pilot McCain: War Heroism or War Crimes? published by Institute for Public Accuracy, October 15, 2008: “I will never forget how stunned I was when Gen. Telford Taylor, a chief U.S. prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials after World War Two, told me that he strongly supported the idea of trying the U.S. pilots captured in North Vietnam as war criminals — and that he would be proud to lead in their prosecution.” History News Network. Jay Janson, “U.S. Nuremberg Trials Prosecutor Would Have Proudly Prosecuted McCain As a War Criminal,”, 10-19-08 ))

We were wrong, terribly wrong,” the former Secretary of Defense broke down in tears. 

Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara from 1961 to 1968, formerly President of the Ford Motor Company, had pushed so hard for deeper American military involvement in Vietnam that the US conflict in French Indochina became nicknamed “McNamara’s War,” but 20 years after the US embarrassingly mortifying withdrawal in 1975, he wrote a book in which he confessed “We were wrong, terribly wrong. We owe it to future generations to explain why.” He broke down in tears while talking to Diane Sawyer of ABC News.

McNamara claimed he once sent President Johnson a note warning, ”There may be limits beyond which many Americans and much of the world will not permit the United States to go. The picture of the world’s greatest superpower killing or seriously injuring 1,000 noncombatants a week, while trying to pound a tiny backward nation into submission … is not a pretty one.” After presiding for years as the Devil incarnate over the deaths of millions, McNamara, upon his resignation, was appointed President of the World Bank! (In America, war seems to be just business and money, while life, on the other hand, is cheap. Like many Americans, McNamara was emotional about the Americans who died because of his decisions but never seem to care about the nearly a hundred times more Vietnamese who died because of his commands.)

Recently, more than a half-century after the US lifted its years of cruel international sanctions on Communist Vietnam, an American president reportedly called the American war in Vietnam “a stupid war.” From Associated Press and according to one former senior Trump administration official: “When the President spoke about the Vietnam War, he said, ‘It was a stupid war. Anyone who went was a sucker.’” Jennifer Griffin, a national security correspondent for Fox News, confirmed the president’s remarks. What is important is how something critical said about the Vietnam debacle that took millions of lives has been ridiculed and characterized as wrong headed and improper by America’s criminal media which lied about that war in its time and continues to lie about it even today.

What did today’s US president have in mind when he reportedly referred to the war as “stupid”

#1. Why “stupid?

The war was supposed to prevent a communist run government in Vietnam.

Today the Communist Party of Vietnam runs Vietnam which is currently America’s 8th biggest trading partner at $9 billion worth of goods traded per year. So why did Americans bring death to all those millions of fellow human beings. For what? For nothing. All that mega colossal amount of grief and sorrow and pain. For what? Stupid right? Why is a Communist Vietnam okay now, but before was worth murdering millions of people to block Communism and protect Capitalism — French Colonial Capitalism at that?

#2. “Stupid?” Before sending in American armed forces, President Truman brought back the French Colonial Army in US ships, and America funded eight years of France’s bloody war to reconquer Vietnam. That French Colonial Army had been Vichy French fascist, an ally of Nazi Germany. It had run Vietnam for the Japanese, causing a million Vietnamese to starve because the Japanese took away rice to feed their soldiers. Stupid? Americans on the side of racist murdering former fascist French military colonialism? How infamously brutal the French were in Haiti and Algeria and on into in Indochina. (Oh, the French were so joyous when US troops liberated Paris from the Nazi Germans.)

#3 “Stupid?” America betrayed its Vietnamese WW II ally Ho Chi Minh, who the US awarded a medal for his work saving the lives of American downed airmen. A high America officer had stood by Ho Chi Minh’s side as he declared Vietnam independent. Then Americans murderously betrayed their Vietnamese heroic WW II ally! 

#4. “Stupid?” After the Vietnamese, at a great cost of lives, had defeated the US backed French Colonial Army, President Eisenhower blocked the election for president of all of Vietnam that he admitted Ho Chi Minh would have won with 80+% of the vote. “Stupid?” Or were, are, Americans undemocratic by nature and imperialists in trying to have made the South of Vietnam a separate country and a US neo-colonial satellite. (Eisenhower also had both Congo and Guatemalan democracies murderously overthrown and Laos bombed. Ike was very beholden to the Military-Industrial-Complex he warned against.) No, not stupid! Undemocratic! and a crime against humanity.

#5 “Stupid?” Six US Presidents oversaw 30 years of genocidal slaughter of the soft-spoken Buddhist, basically farming population of the three French colonies of the Indochinese peninsula, first by the US-backed French and afterward with the Americans dropping three times the amount of bombs the US dropped during all of the Second World War in Europe and Asia, ((Clodfelter, Micheal Vietnam in Military Statistics: A History of the Indochina Wars, 1792—1991. (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc. Publishers, 1995): p. 225.))  while eventually introducing a half-million US troops with tanks, helicopters, river patrol boats, and state-of-the-art military equipment. Then Americans ignominiously gave up and enacted cruel international sanctions on the then liberated Communist Party-run Vietnam. In retrospect, super stupid, just plain daft, and genocidal! 

#6 “Stupid” for an American fascination with body counts 

58,310 American troops were reported ‘Killed in Action.’

These 58,310, plus two and a half million more American troops, who didn’t die, executed a 15-year invasion and occupation war that brought death to ten times that number: 587,000 poor Vietnamese civilians and death to 1.1 million of the amazingly brave and patriotic Vietnamese, who fought against the American invaders. ((Lewy, Guenter. America in Vietnam. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978). Appendix 1, p. 450–53.)) Were Americans just highly stupid or just enthralled with killing? Were many Americans cruel people then, during their Vietnam debacle war, or are many still, rotten, uncaring people today causing children in Yemen to die of starvation or American guided missiles, while American soldiers kill in Afghanistan and Somalia.

#7 “Stupid” or evil?

Unexploded illegal anti-personnel cluster bombs dropped by Americans from planes so many years ago, continue to detonate and kill people today. The Vietnamese government claims that unexploded ordnance has killed some 42,000 people since the official end of the war in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia according to Vietnamese government databases. Horrible birth deformities and cancers by the thousands continue to occur from Agent Orange. Were Americans, are Americans, inhumanly irresponsible in their behavior?

The current US President also is reported to have said regarding Vietnam, “Anyone who went was a sucker.”

Since the TV channels of America’s CIA overseen six giant entertainment/news controlling conglomerates still hail Vietnam veterans as heroes, let’s try to imagine what today’s US president had in mind when he reportedly insinuated that Vietnam War veterans were all “suckers.” Let us consider the President calling Vietnam veterans ‘suckers’ in the context of Americans seeming to love, or at least accept, watching their military continually bomb and invade smaller countries.

Did the current American president actually mean, “Anyone who went” to risk his life to participate in what turned out to be the slaughter of upwards of 3 million Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian men, women and children, “was a sucker” for believing his government was decent and would not send him to kill poor and innocent people? Or was he “a sucker” for not knowing what his government was doing in French Indochina or a sucker for not wanting to be threatened with time in prison if he refused to be drafted into the US Army?

Well, apparently, half-million guys refused to be suckered into killing anyone, because during the Vietnam War, approximately 570,000 young men, more than half a million, were classified as draft offenders, ((Cortright, David. Peace: A History of Movements and Ideas. (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008): p. 164–165.))  and approximately 210,000 were accused of draft violations; however, only 8,750 were convicted and only 3,250 were jailed.

Some draft eligible men were angry enough at the government’s attempt to sucker them into war to publicly burned their draft cards, but the Justice Department brought charges against only 50, of whom 40 were convicted.

Those who were drafted made up more than one third of the 3,403,100 (including 514,300 offshore) personnel, who served in the Southeast Asia Theater (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, including flight crews based in Thailand, and sailors in adjacent South China Sea waters).

World Heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali’s draft board statement should have been guidance for all prospective draftees: “I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over.”

If we take the word of the only American whose birthday is celebrated with a national holiday, then guys who participated in the merciless slaughter of the men, women and children of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia did not ‘serve’ their country. No, what they did to poor people in France’s Indochina colonies shamed their country, and was worse, much worse behavior than that of those Americans who Martin Luther King said betrayed their country at home by their silence.

In his world shaking New York sermon a year before he was shot dead, King pointed out, “So far we may have killed a million of them, mostly children. They languish under our bombs …primarily women and children and the aged as we herd them into concentration camps. They know they must move or be destroyed by our bombs. They see their children degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food, see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers.” 

Anybody who let themselves be suckered into participating in the genocide that was an American war on Vietnam is to be pitied. Sure men were being drafted and threatened with jail time if they refused induction into the US Army, but 20 or 30 thousand just moved to Canada. Thousands more demanded and got deferment as conscientious objectors. Few went to jail.

Huge percent of GIs in combat realizing that they had been ‘had’ turned to drugs and some turned to ‘fragging’ their officers.

A great percentage of GIs, in constant danger of being killed or maimed in combat, realized that they had been suckered into a deadly and ignominious trap to kill people fighting in and for their own country. These GIs turned to illegal drugs and quite a number covertly murdered their immediate officers or non-commissioned officers in what was called “fragging,” being that fragmentation hand grenades were the usual weapon of choice. A well calculated estimate is that 1,017 fragging incidents may have taken place in Vietnam causing 86 deaths and 714 injuries of U.S. military personnel, the majority officers and NCOs. ((Gabriel, Richard A. and Savage, Paul L., Crisis in Command, (New York: Hill & Wang, 1978): p. 183. Lepre, George. Fragging: Why U.S. Soldiers Assaulted their Officers in Vietnam. (Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 2011).))

According to a 1971 report by the Department of Defense, 51% of the armed forces had smoked marijuana, 31% had used psychedelics, such as LSD, mescaline and psilocybin mushrooms, and an additional 28% percent had taken hard drugs, such as cocaine and heroin. But drug usage wasn’t just limited by what enlistees could illicitly buy on the black market. Their military command also heavily prescribed amphetamines, which were used to boost endurance on long missions, sedatives were prescribed to help relieve anxiety and prevent mental breakdowns. In his book Shooting Up: A Short History of Drugs and War, author Lukasz Kamienski argues that amphetamine withdrawal may be partly to blame for some of the atrocities committed against Vietnam’s civilian population, with strung-out young servicemen overreacting to the already stressful conditions of war.

How many veterans committed suicide out of shame for what they did in Vietnam? More U.S. veterans have committed suicide between 2008 and 2017 than the number of U.S. soldiers that died during the entire Vietnam War. According to the defense news site, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) shared these alarming rates in a September 2019 report. The U.S. suffered around 58,000 fatalities over the course of the Vietnam War, which lasted from 1955 to 1975. This number has now been eclipsed by the more than 60,000 U.S. veteran suicides in a recent span of just 10 years. More than 6,000 veterans committed suicide every year during that timeframe. Many were veterans of horror in Iraq, Afghanistan, Dominican Republic, Panama or Somalia, but a lot of suicides were by Vietnam vets. ((Marco Margaritoff, “More U.S. Veterans Have Committed Suicide in the Last Decade Than Died in the Vietnam War,” November 11, 2019, Updated April 13, 2020.))

In “Shame, Guilt, Self-Hatred and Remorse in the Psychotherapy of Vietnam Combat Veterans Who Committed Atrocities,” Mel Singer, L.C.S.W. describes the plight of a subgroup of Vietnam veterans suffering from combat-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), who committed atrocities while serving in Vietnam.

Years after their service in Vietnam ended, certain veterans continue to exhibit shame, guilt, self-hatred and a sense of being interminably unforgivable, all feelings related to the atrocities they committed. …Some have committed suicide and others remain at risk. … The American combat soldier in Vietnam averaged between 19 and 20 years of age and had little more than a high school diploma.

One suffering veteran’s guilt was apparent as manifested by emerging themes of retaliation. He believed that it was only natural for his enemy to kill him. After all, if they did to him what he had done to them, wouldn’t he be seeking revenge?

The impossible-to-describe amount of suffering caused by Americans willingly, though some against their will, to Vietnamese, Laotians and Cambodians in French Indochina must be brought to attention.

Calling that unjustifiable genocidal American war in French Indochina “stupid” is a mega vast understatement, inappropriately dismissive sounding regarding the crimes against humanity Americans committed.

Calling the unfortunate Americans who went there, some to die, some to be crippled and all to kill, “suckers” trivializes the inestimable suffering and seems dismissive of the deadly crimes of those who went and those who sent them to make war on poor and innocent people.

This Writer Was Himself ’a Sucker’ During the American War in Korea

The writer of this article can give a personal parallel experience, because in 1952, he, with his 19 year old head filled with thoughts of women, music and making his pals laugh, let himself be drafted into the US Army during the Korean War without even attempting to find out what that war was about and didn’t even read the newspaper and as didn’t realize his government was killing Koreans by the hundreds of thousands in their very own country.

I was a sucker to believe in my government. I know now that the North Korean army had overthrown the American Army-created mass-murdering police state in South Korea in a just few weeks. Then the Americans invaded the South while it bombed flat all 38 cities of the North. ((South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung (once condemned to death under military governments), established the first Truth Commission in 2000. When this Commission completed its work in 2004, the Parliament felt that a further, much broader Truth and Reconciliation Commission was needed to examine Japanese colonialism, the partition of the Peninsula, and decades-long anticommunist dictatorships. In 2005, the South Korean Assembly therefore enacted a law establishing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Here are excerpts of Commission member of five years Prof. Kim Dong-choon’s article for Asia-Pacific Journal, March 1, 2010, titled: “The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Korea: Uncovering the Hidden Korean War -The Other War: Korean War Massacres”:

“Few are aware that the South Korean authorities as well as US and allied forces massacred hundreds of thousands of South Korean civilians at the dawn of the Korean War on June 25, 1950. The official records of government, military and police, as well as survivor testimonies, reveal that mass killings committed by South Korean and U.N forces occurred before and during the Korean War (June 1950 to July 1953). These incidents may be categorized into four types.

The first category involves summary executions of civilians and political prisoners suspected of opposing or posing a threat to the ROK (Republic of Korea) regime.The second category involves the arrest and execution of suspected North Korean collaborators by the ROK police and rightist youth groups. …

The third category includes killings conducted during ROK counterinsurgency operations against Jay Janson is an archival research peoples historian activist, musician and writer; has lived and worked on all continents; articles on media published in China, Italy, UK, India and in the US by Dissident Voice, Global Research; Information Clearing House; Counter Currents, Minority Perspective, UK and others; now resides in NYC; First effort was a series of articles on deadly cultural pollution endangering seven areas of life emanating from Western corporate owned commercial media published in Hong Kong’s Window Magazine 1993; Howard Zinn lent his name to various projects of his; Weekly column, South China Morning Post, 1986-87; reviews for Ta Kung Bao; article China Daily, 1989. Is coordinator of the Howard Zinn co-founded King Condemned US Wars International Awareness Campaign, and website historian of the Ramsey Clark co-founded Prosecute US Crimes Against Humanity Now Campaign, which Dissident Voice supports with link at the end of each issue of its newsletter.communist guerillas.The ROK employed a three-all policy (kill?all, burn?all, loot?all), which was a scorched earth policy used by Japanese Imperial forces while suppressing anti?Japanese forces in China. [Officers of the Southern armed forces were made up of Koreans who fought in the Japanese Army, whereas the cadre of the Northern armed forces were Korean guerrillas who had distinguished themselves fighting the Japanese in Manchuria.]

Counterinsurgency atrocities also occurred in North Korean occupied territory. As the ROK police and rightist youth groups followed the U.S. military across the 38th parallel, they encountered people they suspected to be communists and collaborators. A typical massacre occurred in Sinchon (a county located in southern North Korea). North Korea accused American troops of killing 35,380 civilians, but newly released documents disclose that right?wing civilian security police, assisted by a youth group, perpetrated the massacre.

The fourth category involves civilian and refugee deaths from bombings and shootings in U.S. combat operations.

A History of Silencing Bereaved Families and Oppressing Memories of Atrocities

The Jeju Island April 3 incident of 1948 occurred shortly before the first general election, and was unique in the number of victims, and the lasting effect on the Jeju Island. Since the incident occurred during the period of US military government, the operation, which resulted in numerous civilian deaths, was conducted under the sponsorship of U.S forces. Embedded in a strong collective regional identity, the Jeju people’s tragedy became a popular theme for novels and poems. The world’s most famous artist Pablo Picasso painted his masterpiece Massacre in Korea. There is a wall in Jeju Island Peace Memorial Park with the names of the estimated 30,000 Jeju uprising victims. While the final report of committees of investigation failed to confirm or spell out a US or UN role, it concluded that 86% of the 14,373 deaths reported were committed by security forces including the National Guard, National Police, and rightist groups. …

Frantic anti-communism paralleled the rise of McCarthyism in the U.S., heavily influencing South Korea’s political atmosphere from 1953 onward and resulting in society’s collective amnesia over the mass killings committed by ROK and U.S. troops. …

In 2008, President Ro Moo-Hyun made an official apology on behalf of the state for the massacres of the Korean War.

In 1996, Chun Doo-hwan, former South Korean army general who ruled as the President of South Korea from 1979 to 1988, ruling as an unelected coup leader was sentenced to death for his role in the Gwangju Massacre of 1980. His successor as president, Roh Tae Woo, was sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison. The Gwangju Uprising, alternatively called May 18 Democratic Uprising by UNESCO, and also known as May 18 Gwangju Democratization Movement. This past February 2018, it was revealed for the first time that the army had used McDonnell Douglas MD500 Defender and Bell UH-1 Iroquois attack helicopters to fire on civilians. Defense Minister Song Young-moo made an apology.))

I was so distracted by the healthy routines and camaraderie of basic training that I never once had the thought that the weapons I was practicing with could kill somebody, and never thought about Korea while having fun training in the mountains of Pennsylvania.

I could have wound up killing relatives of the Korean students I came to be teaching in subsequent years. I could also have wound up having my dead body thrown into a pit in North Korea as did four bunkmates and members of my squad from basic training. My poor buddies had never even heard of Korea before being sent there to fight and die.

I was a sucker to believe my government was not a criminal war investors run government and to have allowed myself to be drafted and be part of its killer war machine, but ignorance is never a legal or moral excuse. I was fortunate to have been sent to be part of the occupation forces in former Nazi Germany, while my buddies were sent to kill and be killed in Korea.

I was so blind and ignorant to have been comfortable in my US Army uniform, but I was stationed in what had been criminally insane Adolph Hitler’s Nazi Germany, which most of the world including America had to fight a war with. I didn’t know then what I know now that it was American industrialists that had armed Nazi Germany by heavily investing in, and joint venturing with, a financially prostate and completely disarmed Germany building Hitler’s army up to world’s number one military power in five short years. But I only learned of American tycoons backing of Hitler to attack Communist Russia many years later. In 1952, I was a patriotic sucker, indulging in my youthful life and not much interested in my government’s anti-communist war in Korea.

Another famous African-American gave succinct guidance for those, who like your author, were foolishly asleep to the reality of a murderous war yawning. Malcolm X reasoned, “You’re not to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it.” 

Of Importance

This writer has sought to take advantage of a inadvertent awkward slip-up by a high official lackey of the deep state investors in war who control our existence. Apparently, a criminal American President, just one in a long series of criminal US Presidents, let himself be overheard making an off-hand truthful remark that contradicts what the CIA overseen criminal media tells the world in excusing America’s genocidal crimes against humanity. 

When a crack in the deep state wall of TV inculcated self-indulgence, dis- and mis-information and limitless militant subservient patriotism opens up, with an awkward truth jutting out, jump on it! Don’t let smiling commentators make a joke out of some truth about America’s genocides that accidentally slipped out in relaxed conversation. No, don’t let a truth that slipped out and contradicts the lies told on TV about Vietnam and Vietnam veterans be forgotten. 

Remember how “they” made a joke about Senator Barack Obama’s family pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s anguished cry, “God bless America? No, no, God Damn America for killing innocent people!” 

Remember how American peace activists failed to take the ball from presidential candidate Ron Paul, and run with it, failed to keep repeating what he said on prime time coverage of the presidential candidates debate: “All the bombings and invasions beginning with Korea were illegal, unconstitutional and a horrific loss of life! ”The silence of the rest of the candidates and the commentators was striking, but seemed to fit the public apathy. Our war torn world continually threatened with nuclear winter is our payment for public apathy.

Whether anyone actually called the Vietnam war stupid and its veterans suckers is not what is important. Important is how criminal media sought to ridicule someone saying something truthful about the genocide of poor and innocent men, women and children Americans committed in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, and keeps calling Americans, who participated in that horrific genocidal crime of Holocaust proportion, heroes.

Call attention to that crack in the wall within your family, among friends and acquaintances! Humankind is in an ugly period of suffering in the bloody hands of imbecilic investors in war, who own our governments and media and who cannot stop themselves from planning war, even terminal nuclear war, since they know from centuries of experience that wars make money. 

If and when we can have the resources and money the reigning investors in war dedicate to war and preparation for more war to use for maintenance of the planet and feeding well the starving, what a happy world it will be! 

Let’s have a New Year’s resolution to start talking about our Democratic and Republican parties’ immensely dangerous subservience to the investors in war! Would that being  independent of political party affiliation were compulsory for all candidates for public office!

Jay Janson, spent eight years as Assistant Conductor of the Vietnam Symphony Orchestra in Hanoi and also toured, including with Dan Tai-son, who practiced in a Hanoi bomb shelter. The orchestra was founded by Ho Chi Minh,and it plays most of its concerts in the Opera House, a diminutive copy of the Paris Opera. In 1945, our ally Ho, from a balcony overlooking the large square and flanked by an American Major and a British Colonel, declared Vietnam independent. Everyone in the orchestra lost family, "killed by the Americans" they would mention simply, with Buddhist un-accusing acceptance. Jay can be reached at: Read other articles by Jay.