The truth of the Greek dramatist Aeschylus’s famous line that “In war, truth is the first casualty” keeps getting demonstrated over and over again. The latest example is the effort by the US government to revise the history of the Vietnam war. During that war, the US government kept insisting that things were going fine even as the reporters on the ground could see for themselves that things were going horribly wrong. The evening press briefings provided by the military became known as the ‘Five O’clock Follies” and the source of much dark humor.
Since the war ended, journalists, historians and other analysts have studied this debacle and documented all the lies and distortions that were promulgated at the time to try hide the truth from the American people and one would have thought that this consensus was now irrefutable.
But now the US government has created a website that claims to be the real history of the war and it turns out that they are resurrecting the same old lies that were thought to have been convincingly debunked. So says reporter Nick Turse, author of the book Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam, in an interview with Bob Garfield of On the Media. He says that reading the website is like being transported back into the 1960s and early 1970s, because the golden oldies of Vietnam war lies, like zombies, have come to life again, such as:
- The Gulf of Tonkin is once more an unprovoked attack by the North Vietnamese on innocent US warships in international waters, instead of the reality that the US warships were engaged in covert attacks on North Vietnam.
- Similarly, the My Lai massacre of 500 Vietnamese civilians is reported as an isolated incident by a single rogue officer instead of being emblematic of something that was practiced systematically and was dwarfed by even greater atrocities like Operation Speedy Express that was about 10 to 12 times the size of My Lai.
- The infamous ‘secret’ war waged by president Richard Nixon and his henchman Henry Kissinger on Cambodia is now portrayed as if Nixon had been upfront about the bombings all along.
You can listen to the interview or read the transcript here.