Why the US Lost the Vietnam War

50 year anniversary of start of Vietnam War - Daily Press

A Skeptics View of American History

Episode 19 The Real Blunders of the Vietnam War

Mark Stoler PhD

Film Review

In one of his better lectures, Stoler debunks a number of myths about the Vietnam War.

He traces the history of the war to the reversal of Franklin Roosevelt’s policy opposing continued French colonization of Indochina. With Truman’s initiation of the Cold War, the US sought to strengthen France’s suppression of colonial independence movements as a defense against communist expansion into Eastern Europe. Truman also saw Western control of Indochina as essential to guaranteeing US-occupied Japan’s access Indonesia’s and Malaysia’s rubber, oil and mineral resources in Indonesia and Malaysia.

In 1954, a major defeat at Dien Bien Phu led the French military to withdraw from Vietnam. Under the 1954 Geneva Accord (which the US refused to sign), Laos and Cambodia were awarded independence, while Vietnam was temporarily split at 17th parallel (pending reunification elections in 1956). The southern Republic of Vietnam was ruled by a French puppet government under King Bao Dai, and the northern Democratic Republic of Vietnam by Ho Chi Minh.

According to Stoler, the US government made their first major blunder in 1918, when President Woodrow Wilson refused to meet with Ho Chi Minh (seeking US support for Vietnam’s independence struggle) during the Versailles treaty negotiations. So he met with the Soviets. However the biggest biggest blunder was misperceiving the independence struggle (supported by the majority of both North and South Vietnames) ar in Vietnam as a Cold War proxy war sponsored by the Soviet Union and China. Stoler blames this mistake on Senator Joseph McCarthy’s House Un-American Activities Committee and their successful purge of all major Asian experts from the US State Department.

Refusing to hold elections in 1956 (because they knew Ho Chi Minh would win), the Eisenhower administration replaced the king with a Vietnamese exile living in the US named Ngo Dinh Diem. They also massively ramped up military and economic aid to South Vietnam, emboldening Diem to begin a ruthless purge of Vietnam’s freedom fighters. Most went underground to join the Viet Minh (national independence cadres) Ho Chi Minh started in 1941. Calling themselves the National Liberation Front, they were known in the West as the Viet Cong.

Under Kennedy, the US responded to continuing Vietnamese unrest by sending in special forces (Green Berets) and allowing the CIA to assassinate Diem. The number of US “advisors” (to the South Vietnamese arm) in South Vietnam increased from 900 in 1961 to 17,000 in 1963.

By 1964, North Vietnam was on the verge of defeating the US puppet government in the South. Facing conservative hawk Barry Goldwater in the November election, President Lyndon Johnson (determined not to be blamed for losing Vietnam) increased troop numbers to 500,000.

This film can be viewed free on Kanopy.


How a Small Group of Activists Helped Bring Down Corrupt Government In Malaysia

Borneo Death Blow

Directed by Erik Pauser and Dylan Williams (2017)

Film Review

This is a fascinating documentary about an activist group that campaigned hard to bring two major Malaysian corruption scandals to international attention – including one involving former Prime Minister Najib Razak and 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The story starts in the early nineties when Bruno Manser, a Swiss environmentalist, and Mutanga, a Penan tribesman in Sarawak, paired up to protest wholesale rainforest logging on the island of Borneo (Malaysia). After successfully blockading the logging trucks for more than nine months, the activists and their supporters were imprisoned and torture.

In 1992, they undertook a world tour to bring the plight of Borneo rainforests and the Penan. They visited 24 cities in 13 countries, including the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and the UN. The response they received was underwhelming.

In 2000, Manser returned to Sarawak and was “disappeared” in the jungle. Fearing for his own life, Mutanga went into exile in Montreal.

Fifteen years after Manser’s death – – concerned about a controversial dam project that  permanently displace an additional 50,000 indigenous Penan – Mutanga linked up with activists running Radio Free Sarawak shortwave station from London

Meanwhile the founder of the radio station Claire Rewcastle Brown partnered with the Bruno Manswer Foundation in Switzerland to research the $15 billion in private wealth the Malaysian forestrt minister Taib Mahmoud accrued for allowing foreign companies to illegally log Bornero’s pristine rain forests. It was an extremely complex scenario involving money laundering, off shore accounts and holding companies, as well as Goldman Sachs, UBS, HSBC and Deutsche Bank.

The went public with their findings at a Deutsche Bank shareholder meeting. Their presentation instantly focused international and social media attention on Malaysian corruption for the first time.

Taib was forced to resign, with the new forestry minister committing to ban both logging and new palm oil plantations.

Thrilled by the outcome, Brown subsequently undertook an investigation of the corrupt relationship between Malaysia’s prime minister and 1 MBD. In July 2015, she published a  report revealing that personal bank accounts of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak held nearly $700 million tied to state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The attention her report received led to a prolonged mass protests in Malaysia and the defeat of Razak in the 2018 general election.

*1MDB was a fund set up to finance various Malaysian development projects: Malaysia Corruption 1MDB Scandal



What Really Happened to Malaysian Flight MH370?

Goodnight Malaysian 370: The Truth Behind the Loss of Flight 370

by Geoff Taylor and Ewan Wilson

Wilson Aviation Limited (2014)

Book Review

This book, co-authored by a New Zealand pilot and a New Zealand journalist, lays out a precise chronology of the mysterious disappearance of Malaysian flight MH370 on March 8, 2014. Media reports at the time were extremely confusing and contradictory, owing to an initial cover-up by Malaysian authorities. This book goes a long way towards untangling some of this confusion.

According to New Zealand commercial pilot Ewan Wilson, even though the wreckage, black box or cockpit voice recorder of MH370 have never been found, certain facts remain indisputable:

  1. Approximately 40 minutes into the flight, the pilots ceased communicating with air traffic control and deliberately switched off the transponder enabling the aircraft to communicate electronically with air traffic control.
  2. The Malaysian military picked up MH370 at roughly the same time on radar as it deviated from its Beijing flight path and headed back towards Malaysia.
  3. No fighter jets were scrambled, which is standard practice in Malaysia when an a) radar locates an identified aircraft or b) a known aircraft deviates from its scheduled flight path.
  4. Electronic data automatically transmitted from MH370’s engines to Rolls Royce in the UK (as part of routine maintenance) indicated that MH370 continued to fly for a total of seven hours (when it would have run out of fuel.) It also indicated that instead of flying towards Beijing, it turned back and cross the Malaysian peninsular heading towards the Indian Ocean. Because the Malaysian government tried to conceal this fact, the initial search for MH370 wreckage began in the South China Sea and Strait of Malacca. Once the new data was made public, search operations (conducted by Australia, New Zealand and the US) switched to the Indian Ocean.

Evidence that the pilot deliberately deviated from the scheduled flight plan and switched off the transponder suggests MH370 didn’t disappear by accident. Moreover post 9-11 cockpits are impenetrable to passengers or cabin crew, ruling out any possibility hijackers were responsible for these occurrence.

The authors believe the most likely scenario is a successful mass murder/suicide by pilot  Zaharie Ahmad Shah, who had recently shown evidence of withdrawn and isolative behavior. They acknowledge, this hypothesis can only be conclusively proven by finding the plane wreckage, black box and cockpit voice recorded.

Since this book’s publication in 2014, small pieces of probable MH370 wreckage have washed up on the coast of Australia, Africa and several Indian Ocean Islands. In addition, the FBI extracted a flight plan similar to that followed by MH370 (before it vanished) on the hard drive of a flight simulator Shah had built at home.


How to Steal an Airplane

A great video by James Corbett on the history of remote controlled aviation. What the corporate media isn’t telling you about the disappearance of MH 370 and cyber hijacking. If this turns out to be a cyber hijacking, it isn’t the first. Growing evidence suggests the first occurred twelve and a half years ago in New York City.

I’m curious when other people first sensed we weren’t being given the full story. A Boeing 777 doesn’t simply disappear.