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There are a number of myths and falsehoods that exist in the public understanding of the Vietnam War. Many of these were promoted and continue to be advanced by the "anti-war" crowd, a number of whom now hold positions in academia. The following is not an exhaustive list but consists of the main issues that we have identified. Each myth is linked to a documented response.

myths lies
  1. The US had no reason to be involved in Viet Nam
  2. The Vietnam war was immoral and illegal
  3. Ho Chi Minh was a nationalist and a benevolent leader of his people
  4. The South Vietnamese government denied the people a free election on unification [related to the guarantee of free elections written into the Geneva Accords]
  5. The Viet Cong were an idealistic nationalist group, just like the American Minutemen
  6. The rationale for US intervention in Viet Nam was based on a fraud
  7. The US military routinely used inhumane tactics on the people, while the VC were benefactors
  8. The great majority of villagers were VC sympathizers, so no counterinsurgency programs ever succeeded
  9. The Tet Offensive was a devastating blow to the US and SVN forces and a major military victory for the communists
  10. Media coverage of the war was balanced and accurate and contributed to development of appropriate US policies
  11. Antiwar protests shortened the war and saved lives
  12. The war was fought by victims of US society, and the lasting effects on survivors were much worse than for other wars
  13. The South Vietnamese never really fought well, they weren't really committed to the fight
  14. American POWs and other prisoners of the communists were treated humanely
  15. The determination of the North to carry the war on was never affected by any military setbacks or US actions
  16. The United States fought and lost a war in Viet Nam (which was unwinnable in any case)
  17. After NVN "liberated" the South, everything went well and suffering ended
  18. The Domino Theory was a silly invention, and nothing remotely positive resulted from US involvement in Viet Nam
  19. Most U.S. troops were poor soldiers: they lacked discipline, were poorly led, were usually stoned (and older ones/lifers were usually drunk)
  20. Almost all US troops committed atrocities against civilians
  21. Many US troops committed acts of violence against their own command (fraggings)
  22. US troops were barbaric, racist and hated gooks to the extent they saw the Viet Namese as a sub-human species
  23. The use of defoliants destroyed 70% of the crops in the South, poisoned the ground in Viet Nam for decades and caused an enormous increase in birth defects throughout the country
  24. The National Liberation Front which was the underground opposition government to Saigon controlled the Viet Cong and prepared the declaration of how the South would be governed once the revolution was accomplished
  25. The guerilla forces of the Viet Cong were made up of southern nationalists and their strategies and tactics led to the defeat of the US and in the end, the ARVN forces
  26. That by '71 antiwar activities among the troops was common and resulted in frequent refusals to leave the bases
  27. That in reality the stories of returning soldiers being spat at or upon was made up by Far Right extremists as a way to smear the antiwar movement
  28. The coup against Diem was one example of the messiness and foolishness of Vietnamese politics, since things were messier for years afterwards than they were when he was in power, and the US really had nothing to do with it
  29. Giap was a true military genius, his defeat of the French at Dien Bien Phu was a military marvel
  30. The devotion of people in the North to the defeat of the South was shown by the 1.4 million men that died in the struggle, all volunteers eager to serve their country (and there was never any draft resistance in the North, again showing the solidarity of the people for the cause)
  31. The USA paid 80% of all the costs of the French war against the Viet Minh
  32. The level of aid from China to the Viet Minh was really tiny compared to the aid from the US to the French
  33. The Pentagon Papers showed conclusively that the US government had lied about every facet of the war, from its earliest stages to the end, and that the US should never have been involved in Viet Nam at all
  34. We deiberately targeted the rice paddies in the North to flood the homes of innocent civilians and, thus, kill thousands more by starvation. Also, we purposely bombed well-marked hospitals.
  35. With the signing of the Paris Accords, the communists did return all our POWs to us
  36. The Phoenix Program was an immoral 'assassination program' that killed many innocent civilians, as well as Viet Cong political cadres.
  37. U.S. used poison gas (proscribed weapons) in Vietnam and Laos and conducted secret operations to assassinate American POW's [longshadows] in Communist hands.
  38. There was no bloodbath in Vietnam after the communists took over.