Vietnam Revisited

Vietnam Revisited


Morgan Reynolds

May 12, 2016

Nick Reynolds, a grandson of mine and a Bryan high school junior in Texas, asked me on May 1, 2016 if he could interview me about the Vietnam war via email. “Sure, I’d be delighted,” I replied. This Q&A exercise was part of an assignment for a junior college course in U.S. history Nick was taking. Here are Granpa’s answers:

1. What were your personal thoughts about the war?

lbj-jfk death stare


Same back then as today: “Madness, madness, madness” as the doctor said at the end of the magnificent movie “Bridge on the River Kwai.”  I thought at the time of the Vietnam War, what?  Are the Viet Cong going to cross the Pacific in canoes and threaten America?  Is that the “national security” interest for the U.S. Government’s war in southeast Asia?  What nonsense.  And the domino theory of Communist triumphalism? More unfettered rubbish on stilts.  Someone should read Marine Corps General Smedley Butler’s book, “War is a Racket,” or as my wife says of all our wars today: “Somebody’s making money.”  Mass murder for fun and profit.  As a young college student, JFK was the first presidential candidate I’d ever campaigned for and he had turned decidedly toward peace.  That was just one of many “provocations” his policies fostered and led to his assassination by the establishment (LBJ, Hoover, Dulles, Pentagon, CIA, etc.).  Many references establish the responsibility for and cover up of the awful truth about JFK’s death; my favorite book proving it beyond reasonable doubt is Phillip F. Nelson’s “LBJ: From Mastermind to the Colossus.”  America should wake up to the notion that we are often ruled by psychopaths (4% of births), none more easily proven than LBJ who engineered a reversal of ‘nam policy from JFK’s initial de-escalation to incredible escalation with over one-half million U.S. troops, ending in abysmal failure.  As Richard Nixon said (to paraphrase), “I wanted the presidency as badly as Lyndon.  The difference was I wasn’t willing to kill for it.”

I should also note that in those days I was subject to the draft (i.e., slavery) and I was not going to and never did risk my life for such a fool’s errand.  But what about those nasty North Vietnamese, in their “unprovoked attack” on our U.S. Navy boys, innocently sailing around in the Gulf of Tonkin, you say?  Oh yeah, that was a BIG LIE, never happened, another fake causus belli.

2- Did you know anyone that was fighting in the war?

Yes, two whom I know very well come immediately come to mind: my lifelong friend and college roommate Tim Sheil, and Jerry Arnett, my wife’s ex-husband.  Tim was an army supply officer though he did get in one harrowing firefight with the Viet Cong.  Tim became career army and died in July 2014 while Jerry was a flight surgeon who served 365 days in ‘nam.

3- What did your parents think about the war?

Oddly enough I recall no discussion about it, even though I debated my father early and often.  The subject usually centered on economic policy. My father was an adamant unionist during my youth and I found his arguments weak at best.  By the way, I am a retired Texas A&M emeritus professor of economics and author of two books on the ill consequences of unionism.

4- How was the American culture different during the war than it is today?

The ’60s antiwar mass protests

Of course the youth culture dominated the ‘60’s and standard imagery about that decade is mostly true.  The draft played a big role in stimulating the antiwar movement and effectively driving LBJ from office and ending U.S. participation in the war.  I campaigned for Eugene McCarthy in the 1968 presidential race and his victory in the New Hampshire primary (as I recall) put the writing up on the wall in unmistakable fashion for LBJ. Today I read every morning and an equivalent antiwar mass movement has not reemerged in opposition to all our military interventions, mostly in the middle east and south Asia. However, Donald Trump has put our interventionist foreign policy front and center, in a somewhat jumbled way, unnerving the military-industrial-intelligence-congressional complex, tapping into the public’s quiet antiwar, so-called “isolationist,” streak.  Hooray for that.

Vietnam’s enormous expense in lives

5- Did you think it was necessary for the U.S. to enter the war?

Nobody could successfully defend such nonsense.  “Necessary!?”  “You cannot be serious,” as John McEnroe would shout.  The Vietnam was a disaster from start to finish.  It was clearly a matter of choice all the way, a reversal of policy by LBJ over JFK’s alarming peace tendencies.  We took up the cudgel of failed French colonial rule in southeast Asia and the American empire did no better, at enormous expense in lives and treasure. But all LBJ’s military contractor buddies in Texas did great.  Today our wars “of choice” halfway around the world bleed us to death, as America descends toward mediocrity and poverty “by [government] choice.”


Is this a patriotism promoter?











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4 Responses to Vietnam Revisited

  1. Have your grandson , bless his heart , for bringing this up again . Hamburger Hill , so highly praised in the AARP ; a nurse on duty there at the time is now Deputy Secretary of the VA. The wounded were all over the place and so were the dead . We( not me )took over the Hill , only to see it was worthless strategically . The Officers running this place obviously weren’t in the fight , just giving orders . With AirPower ( John McCain , ) it took several deadly attacks..

  2. dachsielady says:

    Define please:


    “4 % of births”

    Link(s) please supporting 4%

    If saying ’born that way’
    Prove it up, please.


    Long live the long little doggies!

    • Yes, long live the long little doggies, Dachsielady! Got two of ’em, as you know. Love ’em.

      Are psychopaths 4% of births? Granted, it is arguable but I’m willing to bet it is a big number like that no matter how we slice it. Psychology is a soft field, if not spongy in the extreme, so most things here are arguable, right? One source, however, for the 4% number is a book by Martha Stout, Ph.D., “The Sociopath Next Door.” On definitions of psychopathy versus sociopathy? Doesn’t matter much to me, a distinction without a difference, but however labeled the condition(s) reduces to a mental “disorder,” as they say, whose keys are ruthlessness, a lack of human empathy and missing or deeply impaired conscience. No remorse, baby! Little or no moral compass.
      Now the real reason I am so confident about my claim that we should recognize that psychopaths often rule us without worrying a lot over psychology/psychobabble is the evidence about the behavior of rulers from time immemorial. What do we see? Talk about callous toward human life! Overwhelming. The carnage is incredible and no leaders I know about ever reported any loss of sleep. Madeleine (no conscience) Albright, anyone? Half a million babies die in Iraq–“It’s worth it.” What can we say except, “She’s a psychopath.” Loss of thousands upon thousands of innocent young lives? No problem. End justifies means. The Albrights of the world do not think like ordinary people. I have no other explanation.
      Nature versus nurture? Both are at work but, yes, I strongly suspect loaded toward the nature side. I do not intend to prove it here (too much work) but as Phil Nelson pointed out in one of his two LBJ books, grandma early on predicted LBJ was headed to prison. Doesn’t take a genius. Or, as John Mellencamp sings in “Crumblin’ Down,” “Some people ain’t no damn good.” Right. Right from the git go. And what is government? The rule of force. The odds of kind-hearted people rising to the top of drug cartels, the mafia and government are slim and nada.

      • dachsielady says:

        “End justifies means. The Albrights of the world do not think like ordinary people. I have no other explanation.
        Nature versus nurture? Both are at work but, yes, I strongly suspect loaded toward the nature side.”

        Agree about the soft nature of psychology and brain science. I strongly suspect the nurture side. Something happens to the person, often a very young person, and their brain reacts consistent with the way our brains are wired, and it is in that sense that I do not think psychopaths are necessarily “mad”. The developing defense behaviors may physically imprint the brain but it was the nurture thing that happened first. There are “mild psychopaths” in our families and lives everywhere, but basically most of them end up in prison or the CEO of a large corporation such as the USA. It is interesting that the behaviors manifested are characterized by “no conscience”, no moral sensibilities whatsoever, and leads me to think, if there is any physical/brain explanation, that there is a certain part of the brain that governs “morality.”

        There is no treatment or cure for psychopathy and no real research or effort at all in that area. Perhaps that is because psychiatrists are often psychopaths.

        I think there are many many people and organizations in the world throughout world history who operate by the end justifies the means philosophy that are thought of as perfectly normal. They do not value human life above any other matter and their “moral compass” is programmed by their worldview.


        From January 2008
        newsletter by Dr. Stan Monteith

        “Who was Niccolo` Machiavelli, and why is his political philosophy important today? Machiavelli was a member of the revolutionary government that ruled Florence from 1494 to 1512, and Machiavelli was forced to leave Florence after Pope Julius II helped the Medici family regain control of the city. In the years that followed, Machiavelli wrote The Prince, which established his place in history. What did Niccolo` Machiavelli believe? He believed people are inherently evil, people cannot rule themselves, and a successful State needs an authoritarian ruler (a Prince). To succeed, the “Prince” must wage war, he must be willing to use deceit and cruelty, and he must believe “the end justifies the means.” Where did those concepts originate?” 5

        5. Barry Goldwater, With No Apologies, William Morrow and Company, Inc., New York, 1979, pp. 280-285.

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