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"Project Pursestrings" and the new McGovernites
Posted by: McQ on Friday, February 23, 2007

Lance at A Second Hand Conjecture has a very interesting article up in which he discusses James Webb's recounting of the abandonment of the people of Vietnam and Cambodia and the seeming indifference those who did so displayed. An excerpt from Webb:
This so-called Watergate Congress rode into town with an overriding mission that had become the rallying point of the American Left: to end all American assistance in any form to the besieged government of South Vietnam. Make no mistake—this was not the cry of a few years earlier to stop young Americans from dying. It had been two years since the last American soldiers left Vietnam, and fully four years since the last serious American casualty calls there.

For reasons that escape historical justification, even after America’s military withdrawal the Left continued to try to bring down the incipient South Vietnamese democracy. Future White House aide Harold Ickes and others at “Project Pursestrings”—assisted at one point by an ambitious young Bill Clinton—worked to cut off all congressional funding intended to help the South Vietnamese defend themselves. The Indochina Peace Coalition, run by David Dellinger and headlined by Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden, coordinated closely with Hanoi throughout 1973 and 1974, and barnstormed across America’s campuses, rallying students to the supposed evils of the South Vietnamese government. Congressional allies repeatedly added amendments to spending bills to end U.S. support of Vietnamese anti-Communists, precluding even air strikes to help South Vietnamese soldiers under attack by North Vietnamese units that were assisted by Soviet-bloc forces.

Then in early 1975 the Watergate Congress dealt non-Communist Indochina the final blow. The new Congress icily resisted President Gerald Ford’s January request for additional military aid to South Vietnam and Cambodia. This appropriation would have provided the beleaguered Cambodian and South Vietnamese militaries with ammunition, spare parts, and tactical weapons needed to continue their own defense. Despite the fact that the 1973 Paris Peace Accords called specifically for “unlimited military replacement aid” for South Vietnam, by March the House Democratic Caucus voted overwhelmingly, 189-49, against any additional military assistance to Vietnam or Cambodia.
Note the name, "Project Pursestrings". Think about what Murtha, et al, are attempting today.
 
Also note the players. Many are still with us today. Again, Webb writing:
The rhetoric of the antiwar Left during these debates was filled with condemnation of America’s war-torn allies, and promises of a better life for them under the Communism that was sure to follow. Then-Congressman Christopher Dodd typified the hopeless naiveté of his peers when he intoned that “calling the Lon Nol regime an ally is to debase the word…. The greatest gift our country can give to the Cambodian people is peace, not guns. And the best way to accomplish that goal is by ending military aid now.”
Of course the results of the "greatest gift" are well known as the "killing fields" in Cambodia.

"Project Pursestrings" was, of course, also aimed at South Vietnam. Webb writes:
On the battlefields of Vietnam the elimination of all U.S. logistical support was stunning and unanticipated news. South Vietnamese commanders had been assured of material support as the American military withdrew—the same sort of aid the U.S. routinely provided allies from South Korea to West Germany—and of renewed U.S. air strikes if the North attacked the South in violation of the 1973 Paris Peace Accords. Now they were staring at a terrifyingly uncertain future, even as the Soviets continued to assist the Communist North.

As the shocked and demoralized South Vietnamese military sought to readjust its forces to cope with serious shortages, the newly refurbished North Vietnamese immediately launched a major offensive. Catching many units out of position, the North rolled down the countryside over a 55-day period. In the ensuing years I have interviewed South Vietnamese survivors of these battles, many of whom spent ten years and more in Communist concentration camps after the war. The litany is continuous: “I had no ammunition.” “I was down to three artillery rounds per tube per day.” “I had nothing to give my soldiers.” “I had to turn off my radio because I could no longer bear to hear their calls for help.”
Thousands died in battle, tens of thousands died later after the Communists took over, and even more thousands died as they tried to flee in leaky boats which often fell prey to pirates. And those who abandon the Cambodians and South Vietnamese?

They simply didn't care. It's really that simple. They simply denied what happened. Thinking like this was common:
Tom Downey, having become a foreign policy expert in the two months since being freed from his mother’s apron strings, pooh-poohed the coming Cambodian holocaust that would kill more than one-third of the country’s population, saying, “The administration has warned that if we leave there will be a bloodbath. But to warn of a new bloodbath is no justification for extending the current bloodbath.”
Sound familiar? In fact, the reaction of those who backed this "strategy" of abandonment is stunning in both it's arrogance and its cluelessness. For example:
There is perhaps no greater testimony to the celebratory atmosphere that surrounded the Communist victory in Vietnam than the 1975 Academy Awards, which took place on April 8, just three weeks before the South’s final surrender. The award for Best Feature Documentary went to the film Hearts and Minds, a vicious piece of propaganda that assailed American cultural values as well as our effort to assist South Vietnam’s struggle for democracy. The producers, Peter Davis and Bert Schneider [who plays a role in David Horowitz’s story—see page 31], jointly accepted the Oscar. Schneider was frank in his support of the Communists. As he stepped to the mike he commented that “It is ironic that we are here at a time just before Vietnam is about to be liberated.” Then came one of the most stunning—if intentionally forgotten—moments in Hollywood history. As a struggling country many Americans had paid blood and tears to try to preserve was disappearing beneath a tank onslaught, Schneider pulled out a telegram from our enemy, the Vietnamese Communist delegation in Paris, and read aloud its congratulations to his film. Without hesitating, Hollywood’s most powerful people rewarded Schneider’s reading of the telegram with a standing ovation.
That literally makes me sick to my stomach. And, as mentioned, the results were deadly:
Not a peep was heard then, or since, from Hollywood regarding the people who disappeared behind Vietnam’s bamboo curtain. No one has ever mentioned the concentration camps into which a million South Vietnamese soldiers were sent; 56,000 to die, 250,000 to stay for more than six years, and some for as long as 18. No one criticized the forced relocations, the corruption, or the continuing police state.
Today those same people who applauded the communist takeover are still in denial just as they were then.
For those who had evaded the war and come of age believing our country was somehow evil, even as they romanticized the intentions of the Communists, these few weeks brought denials of their own responsibility in the debacle, armchair criticisms of the South Vietnamese military, or open celebrations. At the Georgetown University Law Center where I was a student, the North’s blatant discarding of the promises of peace and elections contained in the 1973 Paris Accords, followed by the rumbling of North Vietnamese tanks through the streets of Saigon, was treated by many as a cause for actual rejoicing.

Denial is rampant in 1997, but the truth is this end result was the very goal of the antiwar movement’s continuing efforts in the years after American withdrawal. George McGovern, more forthcoming than most, bluntly stated as much to this writer during a break in taping a 1995 edition of cnn’s “Crossfire.” After I had argued that the war was clearly winnable even toward the end if we had changed our strategy, the 1972 presidential candidate who had offered to go to Hanoi on his knees commented, “What you don’t understand is that I didn’t want us to win that war.” Mr. McGovern was not alone. He was part of a small but extremely influential minority who eventually had their way.
The new McGovernite wing has taken over the Democratic party. And because of that they prescribe the same solution to the Iraq situation they did then. Abandonment. Simply walk away. Cut off funds. Leave this country to twist in the wind. How many times have you heard any of those who say "get out now" (or get out in 90 days, etc.) mention their concerns about what might happen to the Iraqi people?

How many of them even consider the chilling words of al Qaeda's number two man when he says: "These traitors [who entered Kabul and Baghdad on the backs of American tanks] in Iraq and Afghanistan must face their inevitable fate ..."? Who do they suppose will pay the eventual price of the US leaving before a stable Iraq is established?

More chilling, at least to me, is how someone like James Webb, who wrote so eloquently and truthfully about the consequences in real human terms of abandoning South Vietnam has now completely thrown over the same principles in his opposition to Iraq, and is behind doing to that country exactly what he condemned concerning Vietnam.
 
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Deaf ears is what you are preaching to, McQ.

They don’t and will never admit anything you posted. I reached the point roughly 2 years ago that there was no point in debating this anymore. when they talk of debate, like Carters request of debate over his book, is a rhetorical device and completely insincere from that side.

So who will reach the congrats letter from Zawahiri this time? ;)
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
I have another point to make. We see any number of Democrats running from the vote, a vote they willingly took, under the false pretense that they were misled. You have done a good job of showing that both Edwards and Hillary Clinton at the time justified their vote because it agreed with what the Clinton administration had told them as well. Most Democrats cast the vote based on a consensus that held at the time, not what the Bush administration said. Now they wish for political reasons to act as naive waifs led down the primrose path by the evil Bushco.

So for political reasons they don’t want to force the straightforward vote that means they own the consequence of our departure, for good or ill. Instead they wish to sabotage it and then stand back and claim "see what a disaster was wrought by Bush."

We get the worst of both worlds this way, the consequences of leaving the Iraqi government to the wolves with the long humiliation of fighting and our soldiers dying in a hopeless conflict. This is not because they truly believe this is the best course. Some, if not pressured by domestic political concerns, would have us stay and continue as long as there was a chance of success.

Others would have us leave in good order as fast as we could. Instead we get in some ways a more disgusting version than 1975. At least then they actually straight forwardly twisted the knife. Many in the media and history have white washed the event, acting as if what happened was inevitable (sound familiar Erb?) when any sense of humility would tell them nothing is, rather than a calculated betrayal. Of course the political leaders know that that whitewashing was only skin deep. It didn’t lead to a resurgence of the Democratic party, it was a major factor in the Democratic slide to minority status. Only five years later Jimmy Carter was crushed by the antithesis of McGovern, Ronald Reagan, as the American public repudiated those who called for America’s retreat in favor of a man who wanted to build up our military and reassert our power in the Cold War.

Therefore they plot what they believe is a more clever, if even less honorable approach.

I don’t think it will fly with the public as the polls you and I have been talking about show, the Democrats are misreading the level of support they have for even straight forward withdrawal.

This is in my opinion so dishonest an approach it will be a political disaster. Maybe we should never have intervened in Vietnam, or invaded Iraq. Political cowardice however when it comes to national honor, when it leads to mass death and disgrace are rarely rewarded over anything but the shortest of time spans.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
They don’t and will never admit anything you posted.
Oh, I know that, capt joe. In fact, one of them will most likely beam in here any minute and confirm that. But it is still called "denial" and it’s still historically wrong. And, as they say, those who are ignorant of history (or deny it) are doomed to repeat it.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
And, as they say, those who are ignorant of history (or deny it) are doomed to repeat it
Yeah, except they’re going to make us repeat it, and they couldn’t give a damn. They didn’t care then and they haven’t gotten any better.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
A side note: There is a very large immigrant Vietnamese community in America now and they have not forgotten any of this.
 
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://
True aldo, one of my coworkers was in one of those labor camps
 
Written By: ChrisB
URL: http://
" one of them will most likely beam in here any minute and confirm that."

I predict a deafening silence. This post may be read by them, but there will be no real response.

"There is a very large immigrant Vietnamese community in America"

If I recall correctly, almost one million Vietnamese refugees successfully escaped to the US. I don’t know how many made it to other countries, and we will never know how many died trying. This was from a population of about 20 million.

Congratulations, McQ, you have succeeded in ruining my day.:{
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Albright says next president must `restore goodness of American power’

And this from the woman who said that if the sanctions were killing 500,000 thousand Iraqi children a year, they should be continued indefinitely.

I don’t think we have the technology for an irony meter that can handle this load.

Cheer up tim, these viciously amoral surrender monkeys haven’t won yet.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Future White House aide Harold Ickes and others at "Project Pursestrings"-assisted at one point by an ambitious young Bill Clinton-worked to cut off all congressional funding intended to help the South Vietnamese defend themselves.



Ickes is now a high-level adviser to the Hillary campaign.
 
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://
"...one of them will most likely beam in here any minute and confirm that.
No, they won’t. The liberal think tanks are still polishing the wording on the explanation for why it isn’t their fault for [any bad thing that happens in Iraq after the withdrawal]. Liberals don’t know what they think yet about that subject. As soon as the tanks talk, the liberals will chime in with their "fake, but true" stories. Currently they are making do with "Iraq isn’t anything like VietNam was" meme, if pressed.
 
Written By: Robert Fulton
URL: http://
McQ, reading your post underscores my thought that the American left lives mostly in the past: every scandal is Watergate, and every war is Vietnam.
 
Written By: steverino
URL: http://steverino.journalspace.com/
There is a very large immigrant Vietnamese community in America now and they have not forgotten any of this.

I know I’ve said this before, but when I got my first college degree at the age of thirty, one of my classmates was a young man of Vietnamese ancestry.

His parents never made it here. They thrust him into the arms of total strangers as their boat left Vietnam - boat people. Years later he attempted to trace them but they had disappeared when the Communists took over. But as John Kerry is so quick to remind us, the South Vietnamese did not care what kind of government they lived under.

They could not tell the difference between Communism and democracy. They just wanted us to go away and leave them alone.

Yeah. Right. And now we know what happened when we did.
 
Written By: Cassandra
URL: http://www.villainouscompany.com/vcblog/
They simply didn’t care. It’s really that simple.
And they were elected into power.

Congratulations you are learning there is a time constraint on actions in Iraq. Need to achieve success sooner or not at all. Replace the existing strategy with one that will win before the rug is pulled.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://
And they were elected into power
And even the people who elected them tend to care. It’s only the m00nbat’s who don’t care or openly want us to lose.
Congratulations you are learning there is a time constraint on actions in Iraq.
We’ll see. 2008 has to go the far left Dem’s way for any constraint to be realized, and we have to be in an alternate universe for it to be wise.
Need to achieve success sooner or not at all.
Sooner is better, but soon enough is all that’s required—whether that’s in 1865 or 2012.
Replace the existing strategy with one that will win before the rug is pulled.
The existing strategy is working great by all historical measures (of contested occupations) and I don’t see you moving the goalposts in a justifiable manner.

We aren’t having to slaughter the general population to preserve our forces, in fact our losses are slight (tragic, but still light). The local populace generally wants us there, and they think our pulling out would be disastrous for them.

If we stay we win. If we stay, are successfully clever, and lucky, we win sooner and at lower cost.

We only lose if we bail.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Great post. It just shows how alluring the lust for power is. Jim is extra special because he seams to be governed by the principle dejur. What a sad lonely world he lives in.
 
Written By: coaster
URL: http://
It is the cynical conceit of the Democrat Party, most of the Media, much of Hollywood, many university professors, a few Republicans and, worst of all, the majority of our hoodwinked electorate that if America loses, the world wins!

And that, for them, is DESIRABLE and GOOD! America needs to be humbled to learn humility! That’s the real meaning of McGovern’s shocking statement all those lifetimes ago, and the actions of the Michael Moores of today!

Of course, in this belief they stand shoulder to shoulder with every terrorist, pacifist, collaborator, traitor, dhimmi and who ever opposed the use of Power.

Reputation is what Men say of you; Character is what the angels know of you!





 
Written By: eliXelx
URL: http://
We aren’t having to slaughter the general population to preserve our forces,
This is no measure of success - Boer War, Malaya, Southern Vietnam were successful on the back of slaughtering.
in fact our losses are slight (tragic, but still light).
The losses are not success or failure, just the cost of being there.
If we stay we win. If we stay, are successfully clever, and lucky, we win sooner and at lower cost.
America is one economic hiccup away from having a Democrat President, who will likely withdraw troops. The managing of the economy is not brilliant enough to ensure this does not happen.
We only lose if we bail.
Staying forever is not a possibility, losing becomes likely.

Gloomy prediction: Democrat President will withdraw the troops, but remain committed to supporting the Iraqi government. Some bright Republican will make mileage out of having distaste for the Iraqi Shia government who will be carrying out a bloody CI operation against Sunni & be strongly linked to Iran. This bright guy will call for a withdrawl of funds from the Iraqi government.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://
This is no measure of success - Boer War, Malaya, Southern Vietnam were successful on the back of slaughtering.
I cannot understand your obtuseness on this point. It is better to have the success we have without mass killing as opposed to with it, also, if you think our policy in Vietnam was mass slaughter, you show all the same historical awareness as Erb.
The losses are not success or failure, just the cost of being there.
Our losses are the price of the success we’ve had.

Recognize it or don’t, reality persists.
America is one economic hiccup away from having a Democrat President, who will likely withdraw troops. The managing of the economy is not brilliant enough to ensure this does not happen.
The economy seems to managing itself quite well, and would do it better if government were not attempting to manage it at all. Additionally, it is far from clear a Democratic President would be able generate the support from Republicans and blue dog Democrats required to bring a about a catastrophically stupid withdrawal. Frankly, I don’t think enough Americans believe we deserve another Vietnam style debacle—and if it is inflicted on them twice by the same party, no succeeding Democrat will have national influence of note for thirty years.
Staying forever is not a possibility, losing becomes likely.
Staying forever is not required, most likely, staying for one to three years in numbers roughly like our current level is. Staying in some fashion for ten to thirty is plausible. Only leaving soon could be a garranteed defeat.
Gloomy prediction: yada yada yada
Only if a large fraction of the Iraqi Shi’ite ecclesiastes are killed first, which ain’t likely at all.

You seem to imagine a large number of Iraqi Shi-ites want to dance to Tehran’s tune. They don’t.

In fact, it is quite doubtful if most of the Shi’ites who have accepted Iranian war alms will survive the next year outside a prison camp.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Tom,

Hope you are right.

PS meant the suppression of the South under communist occupation.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/

 
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