“The flames were all around you. I mapped it all out and seventy, eighty percent of the villages were just dust – ashes and dust. But that was not the story. The story was still how we were going to help the South Vietnamese resist the attack from the North. In Vietnam I learned about the capacity of the human mind to build a model of experience that screens out even very dramatic and obvious realities.” (Jonathan Schell)
“every military clash, every demonstration, every propaganda appeal was seen as part of an intelligible whole: each had consequences far beyond its immediate apparent result. It was a framework that allowed us to view battle as a psychological event and to undertake negotiations to strengthen the military posture. The Americans seemed never to appreciate fully this strategic perspective… It was after all a traditional Vietnamese approach to warfare, a technique refined over centuries of confrontation with invaders more powerful than ourselves.” (Truong Nhu Tang, Viet Cong Memoir)
Quotes from Kurt Jacobsen’s acute refutation of contemporary US revisionism about counter-insurgency in Vietnam, Pacification and its Discontents (2009).