Vietnam - Dear General Westmoreland, I believe that the...

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Dear General Westmoreland, I believe that the most prudent course of action is to end the bombing of Vietnam and start negotiations to end the war altogether. The primary reason that our efforts in Vietnam will never come to fruition is that the Vietnamese people are not on our side. We can see from Truong’s account that the Vietnamese not in the NLF often sympathize with many of the Front’s viewpoints. i Accordingly, the NLF calls itself “The sole authentic representative of the South Vietnamese people.” ii Truong even goes so far as to explain that the most likely reason more people were not systematically terrorized and questioned by the Diem regime was that the majority of Vietnamese would fit systematic criteria. As Truong puts it, “If all these people were Viet Cong, the only ones left would be the police and the army.” iii I will now outline factors in why Vietnamese pe o ple are not on our side. The first of these factors is terror. In my view, terror is worthy of consideration, but not likely to be a primary motive for the actions of the majority of Vietnamese. We see terror playing a part in Sheehan’s account on a Vietnamese peasant named Kim. Kim seems to understate the threat he feels when he says, “… I felt a veiled threat, because the government seemed pretty indifferent or helpless to prevent the armed agents from coming into my village and taking people away for indoctrination.” iv Clearly, he is motivated to join the VC because of this. Fear shows up in Sheehan’s narrative again on p. 158 when Kim explains “I was afraid to arouse suspicion, so I said I wanted to continue.” v Clearly, Kim is terrified into continuing to serve the VC; he has no alternative. Later, on his task in the village, he is constantly aware that he is being carefully watched by VC officials. While I believe that terror, for certain individuals in certain situations, is a very strong motive for actions, I don’t think it was a major motivation for the vast majority of Vietnamese. The reason for this is: the two accounts, Truong’s and Sheehans, will verify that the attraction of the Vietnamese to the insurgency movement could be achieved successfully without terror. We see no terror aspect from the VC side in Truong’s account. This isn’t to say that it did not exist. My impression is that terror existed, but given the forces of the factors discussed below, it was unnecessary.
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The second factor in the Vietnamese resistance to our efforts can be explained by the “Rational Peasant” model. This model sees peasants as rational actors who try in all situations to elevate their economic and social well-being. They strive to protect or raise their subsistence
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This note was uploaded on 06/10/2010 for the course INST 310 taught by Professor Ta during the Spring '07 term at University of Mississippi Medical Center.

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Vietnam - Dear General Westmoreland, I believe that the...

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