The Vietnam War Is Still Killing People – By George Black – The New Yorker

Munitions-clearing operations in Vietnam in 2005. Since the end of the Vietnam War, in 1975, more than forty thousand Vietnamese have been killed by unexploded ordnance.Photograph by Patrick Zachmann / Magnum

“On Saturday, President Obama will set out on a trip to Vietnam, for a visit that’s being billed as looking forward to the future rather than back at the bitter history of the past. On the same day, a funeral will be held in Quang Tri province for a man named Ngo Thien Khiet.

Khiet, who died at the age of forty-five, and who leaves behind a wife and two sons, was an expert on the unexploded ordnance, or U.X.O., left over from the Vietnam War. He was particularly skilled at locating, removing, and safely destroying cluster bombs found in the farm fields of Quang Tri, an impoverished agricultural province that straddles the old Demilitarized Zone, or D.M.Z., which once divided North and South Vietnam.

Quang Tri is a place of great natural beauty, a narrow strip of land that stretches from the curving beaches and breakers of the South China Sea, in the east, to the misty, forested mountains along the border with Laos, in the west. Perhaps no other part of the country suffered more grievously during the Vietnam War. More ordnance was dropped on Quang Tri than was dropped on all of Germany during the Second World War. The province was also sprayed with more than seven hundred thousand gallons of herbicide, mainly Agent Orange. The names of battlefields like Cam Lo, Con Thien, Mutter’s Ridge, and the Rockpile still give American veterans nightmares. The seventy-seven-day siege of the Marine base of Khe Sanh, in Quang Tri, so obsessed Lyndon Johnson that he kept a scale model of the base in the White House, and demanded daily updates on the course of the battle.”

Source: The Vietnam War Is Still Killing People – The New Yorker

Nixon Tried to Spoil Johnson’s Vietnam Peace Talks in ’68- Notes Show – The New York Times

“Richard M. Nixon told an aide that they should find a way to secretly “monkey wrench” peace talks in Vietnam in the waning days of the 1968 campaign for fear that progress toward ending the war would hurt his chances for the presidency, according to newly discovered notes.

In a telephone conversation with H. R. Haldeman, who would go on to become White House chief of staff, Nixon gave instructions that a friendly intermediary should keep “working on” South Vietnamese leaders to persuade them not to agree to a deal before the election, according to the notes, taken by Mr. Haldeman.

The Nixon campaign’s clandestine effort to thwart President Lyndon B. Johnson’s peace initiative that fall has long been a source of controversy and scholarship. Ample evidence has emerged documenting the involvement of Nixon’s campaign. But Mr. Haldeman’s notes appear to confirm longstanding suspicions that Nixon himself was directly involved, despite his later denials.

“There’s really no doubt this was a step beyond the normal political jockeying, to interfere in an active peace negotiation given the stakes with all the lives,” said John A. Farrell, who discovered the notes at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library for his forthcoming biography, “Richard Nixon: The Life,” to be published in March by Doubleday. “Potentially, this is worse than anything he did in Watergate.” “

Vietnam: The War That Killed Trust – by Karl Malantes – NYT

“In the early spring of 1967, I was in the middle of a heated 2 a.m. hallway discussion with fellow students at Yale about the Vietnam War. I was from a small town in Oregon, and I had already joined the Marine Corps Reserve. My friends were mostly from East Coast prep schools. One said that Lyndon B. Johnson was lying to us about the war. I blurted out, “But … but an American president wouldn’t lie to Americans!” They all burst out laughing.

When I told that story to my children, they all burst out laughing, too. Of course presidents lie. All politicians lie. God, Dad, what planet are you from?

Before the Vietnam War, most Americans were like me. After the Vietnam War, most Americans are like my children.America didn’t just lose the war, and the lives of 58,000 young men and women; Vietnam changed us as a country. In many ways, for the worse: It made us cynical and distrustful of our institutions, especially of government. For many people, it eroded the notion, once nearly universal, that part of being an American was serving your country.”

This op-ed was the first in the Vietnam ’67 series now running at the NYT.

So, What Is Trump Hiding? – by Hedrick Smith – NYT

“Five decades of reporting have taught me that whenever a president starts screeching about the media, it’s a sure sign he’s in hot water and fearing revelations about some policy disaster, damaging mendacity or political villainy. Even popular presidents with reputations for charming the press occasionally stoop to blaming the press for quagmires of their own making.

John F. Kennedy, for example.

In September 1963, with the Vietnam War escalating and the pro-American authoritarian regime of President Ngo Dinh Diem besieged by popular protests, President Kennedy used a private meeting with The New York Times’s publisher, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, and James Reston, the Washington bureau chief, to charge that David Halberstam, the Times correspondent in Saigon, was undermining the American war effort and to pressure the publisher to pull Mr. Halberstam out of Vietnam. President Kennedy was particularly angered by a stream of front-page articles by Mr. Halberstam graphically describing battlefield defeats and the self-immolations of Buddhist monks.

What the president did not know was that The Times was already planning to replace Mr. Halberstam because the editors feared that Vietnamese secret police had marked him for assassination. Because I covered Vietnam policy in Washington, I had been told to get ready to replace Mr. Halberstam.”

Washington’s Army Celebrated St. Patrick’s Day to Cure Winter Blues | Smart News | Smithsonian

Washington declared the day a holiday in an attempt to raise morale and acknowledge the army’s many soldiers of Irish descent

Source: Washington’s Army Celebrated St. Patrick’s Day to Cure Winter Blues | Smart News | Smithsonian

What I Saw in Vietnam – by H.D.S.Greenway – NYT

“I had come to Saigon thinking that we needed to make a stand against Russian and Chinese Communism as we had done in Korea. But in time I became less and less sure. I began to see that for the Vietnamese the long struggle against the French, and now the Americans, had blended into one, and that the anticolonial struggle was more important than Communism or anti-Communism. Of course Americans didn’t see themselves as colonialists, but from the Vietnamese perspective it was hard to tell the difference. Our Vietnamese allies could never shake the charge that they were lackeys of a foreign power, while our enemy, albeit equally dependent on foreigners for their arms and ammunition, were better able to cloak themselves in the heady smoke of nationalism.”

America’s Case of ‘Tonkin Gulfitis’ – by Mark Atwood Lawrence – NYT

“But with the benefit of hindsight, it’s clear that the abrupt turn away from activism and idealism in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America amounts to one of the little-noticed tragedies of the Vietnam War.”

The Feud That Sank Saigon – The New York Times

“Buddhists against Catholics. Northerners against southerners. Civilians against the military. Capital against periphery. Ethnic Vietnamese against ethnic minorities. In 1967, anti-Communist South Vietnam was a caldron of overlapping rivalries, precipitating and reinforcing the political chaos consuming the country after President Ngo Dinh Diem’s 1963 assassination during a military coup.”

The Workers Who Regret Trump’s Scrapping of a Trade Deal – by Neil Gough – NYT

“HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam — Do Thi Minh Hanh, a labor activist, had grown accustomed to being beaten, hospitalized and jailed for her work in a country where independent trade unions are banned.

So it gave her hope for a reprieve when Vietnam reached a trade deal with the United States and other countries that called for its members to bolster workers’ rights and protect independent unions.

That hope fizzled in late January, when President Trump pulled the United States out of the trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, with the stroke of a pen.“

The Vietnamese government will use this as an excuse to suppress the labor movement,” Ms. Hanh said. “They never wanted to have independent unions in Vietnam.” “

What Is TPP? Behind the Trade Deal That Died – The New York Times

“Today, the United States and most developed countries have few tariffs, but some remain. The United States, for example, protects the domestic sugar market from lower-priced global suppliers and imposes tariffs on imported shoes, while Japan has steep surcharges on agricultural products including rice, beef and dairy. The pact was an effort to create a Pacific Rim free-trade zone.

Environmental, Labor and Intellectual Property Standards

United States negotiators stressed that the Pacific agreement sought to level the playing field by imposing rigorous labor and environmental standards on trading partners, and supervision of intellectual property rights.”