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« Camelot and Cuba | Main | The Politics of Intelligence Postmortems: Cuba 1962-1963 »

11 August 2007


David R. McNabb

Do you know if Pham An had any relationship with the Center for Vietnamese Studies, an organization that provided psyops field workers to the Joint United States Public Affairs Office (JUSPOW)?

DE Tedooru

Mr. Pribbenow has been a good fog clearer. I recall a gathering at the Asia Society a few years after the fall of Saigon where this book was hailed. Media luminaries, with Hanoi's UN ambassador in the audience, insisted then he really was at least pro-the American journalists who so blindly depended on Mr. Pham and had wanted to live in America but had to go back because Hanoi held his family. I got up and raged at how they were incriminating him before members of the Hanoi government that employed him. They were trying to incriminate just to salvage their own bacon and may well be putting him at risk.

Much on the "insider" reporters made a cartoon of the Vietnam War. It has been left to Mr. Pribbenow and his ilk, a bit too late, unfortunately, to clarify US war policies in Vietnam. It is a bit late as we repeated many of he same failings in the Iraq and Afghan wars.

The sad reality is that only a few media outlets are deemed "the one" if you want to know what's going on. These are so hungry for scoops that they will often pay for their access with outrageously stupid cover stories by government agencies. The result is that opinion is hammered into desired form and Congress reacts to that opinion in permitting executive actions. After Vietnam, Mr. Pribbenow's services, I'd bet, barely provided him a living wage and couldn't even match his pension as a civil servant despite that fact that he has been one of the kindest courtier of the Muse of History, Clio, than most government "insider" retirees. I would suggest in closing that just as medicine has learned from molecular biology that life is one hell of a lot more complex and multi-factorial than the physiology on which medicine is based has ever been, recent history is a lot more than a thesis substantiated by dynamite quotes from dusty archives. I can only hope that Mr. Pribbenow will devote a lot more time putting into perspective the archival pooper-scoopers going to Hanoi [who] come out with [work] and [they] pass off as scholarship. Mr. Asselin is a perfect example of pre-forms that are taken to Hanoi in hunt of "all the documents that fit to quote," if I may paraphrase the much discredited New York Times. Contrary to Mr. Berman's claim, Mr. Pham was a known and suspected quantity because he had to use as couriers people serving Thieu. He found himself, therefore, played in petty inter-GVN rivalries. Much of that was of little consequence as in the end RVN was sacrificed for the cause of cementing irreversible the Sino-Soviet Rift. This Hanoi was never privy to when it made the mistake of attacking the Pol Pot regime. Mao's China was a true loyal friend to Nixon in its Deng days and so a victory was ripped out of the jaws of defeat in as far as Hanoi's Soviet-directed march west was concerned. Ah, but that's another story about which I hope Mr. Pribbenow will some day enlighten us. More interesting is that young Viet-Americans and Viet-Aussies are now delving into the history their families kept mum about in shame and in service of current local interests, they are provided a peek at documents few Americans get to see in Hanoi. I can only hope that Mr. Pribbenow will be an active guide to whatever historical scholarly interest still exists in America which will enlighten us on how Hanoi worked the Sino-Soviet split in their efforts at global Socialist international unity. With so many good people dead or silenced by disgust, Mr. Pribbenow's admirable resilience would be--and is--quite an asset; Clio must loooove him!

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