July 19, 2005

Vietnam Ret. Gen. William Westmoreland dies

(link) Retired Gen. William Westmoreland, who commanded U.S. forces during the Vietnam War from 1964 to 1968 and advocated a strong military buildup at a time when American casualties were mounting, has died.

Westmoreland died Monday of natural causes at Bishop Gadsden retirement home, where he had lived with his wife, said his son, James Ripley Westmoreland. He was 91.

"I have no apologies, no regrets. I gave my very best efforts," Westmoreland told The Associated Press in 1985. "I've been hung in effigy. I've been spat upon. You just have to let those things bounce off."

The silver-haired, jut-jawed officer, who rose through the ranks quickly during World War II and later became superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., contended the United States did not lose the conflict in Southeast Asia.

"We held the line. We stopped the falling of the dominoes," he said in 1985 at the 20th anniversary of the Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade's assignment to Vietnam. "It's not that we lost the war militarily. The fact is, we as a nation did not make good our commitment to the South Vietnamese."

He could not be more correct.
As commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam, Westmoreland oversaw the introduction of ground troops in South Vietnam and a dramatic increase in the number of U.S. troops there. He also sought in vain permission to engage enemy forces in their sanctuaries in Cambodia, Laos and North Vietnam.

American support for the war suffered a tremendous blow near the end of Westmoreland's tenure when enemy forces attacked several cities and towns throughout South Vietnam in what is known as the Tet Offensive in 1968. Though Westmoreland fought off the attacks, the American public remained stunned that the enemy had gained access to the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, even if only for a few hours.

After the event, President Lyndon Johnson limited further increases in troops; Westmoreland was recalled to Washington to serve as the U.S. Army Chief of Staff after asking for reinforcements in response to the attacks.

You know why he called for a solid number of reinforcements?

To get the job done.

Westmoreland knew what it took to win a war---his strategy, in a way, mirrored our strategy today in the War on Terror--go after the sons of bitches where they were, be it N. Korea, Cambodia or Laos.

The following excerpt from the Anti-American Press is a prime example of what we here at WK? like to call, "protecting their own"... (Notice the culprit in bold...)

A decade after his retirement, Westmoreland fought another battle involving Vietnam.

In 1982, he filed a $120 million lawsuit against CBS over a documentary "The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception," which implied he had deceived President Johnson and the public about enemy troop strength in Vietnam.

At the time, Westmoreland said the question "is not about whether the war in Vietnam was right or wrong, but whether in our land a television network can rob an honorable man of his reputation."

After an 18-week trial in New York, the case was settled shortly before it was to go to the jury.

Wikipedia, on the other hand, describes a more detailed account.
In 1982, Mike Wallace interviewed Westmoreland for the CBS special The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception. The documentary alleged that Westmoreland and others had deliberately underestimated Vietcong troop strength in order to maintain morale and popular support for the war. The result was the disastrous Tet Offensive.

In Westmoreland v. CBS, Westmoreland sued Wallace and CBS for libel, and a long and arduous trial process began. Westmoreland surprisingly settled with CBS for an apology, about as much as they had originally offered. Research after the trial uncovered the reason: while CBS' internal investigation revealed that they had used shoddy journalistic practices, Judge
Leval's instructions to the jury over what constituted "actual malice" to prove libel were so weighted in favour of the defense that Westmoreland's lawyers knew he would lose.

Westmoreland not only faced a more deceptive media opponent, but a jury tainted by a judge's deliberately slanted instruction.

I strongly encourage you to find out more about General Westmoreland.

Wikipedia has a decent biographical spread.

It is simply disgraceful (yet completely unsurprising) how little the media will comment about the accomplishments of this great serviceman. All in the name of consise journalism, I guess. Here is a rather simple, humble "resume" of sorts...

Thank you, for your service, General.

“Television is an instrument which can paralyze this country.” - Gen. Westmoreland

"Do not fear the enemy, for your enemy can only take your life. It is far better that you fear the media for they will steal your honor." - Bobby McBride, Crew Chief, 128th Assault Helicopter Company, RVN 1969-1970

Posted by Kyer at July 19, 2005 08:15 PM | TrackBack

interesting post

Posted by: tom at July 21, 2005 10:30 AM