THE GREEDY WAR by James Paterson


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More the personal story of one Cornelius Hawkridge's relentless attempts to arouse U.S. opinion against black marketeering and dope running in South Vietnam than a genuine expose of that corruption, The Greedy War expends an awful lot of ink on biographical trivia and strident, questionable assertions which go unchallenged. Hawkridge, a zealous anti-Communist refugee from both Stalin's labor camps and the 1956 Hungarian Revolt, first went to Vietnam in 1966 as a USAID adviser but almost immediately his ""policeman's mentality"" was outraged by the widespread profiteering he encountered; moreover local American officials seemed unconcerned or reconciled, unmoved by Hawkridge's gumshoe-compiled evidence. He then began an extensive letter-writing campaign (to Westmoreland, congressmen, ambassadors) but the replies, if they came at all, were pro forma thankyou-we-are-concerned-but. Eventually he did interest Life magazine but the resulting article had the misfortune to appear at the very time Senator Kennedy drove his car off a bridge and its impact was nil. ""Telling the American public about corruption involving their own money in South-East Asia was like trying to explain Hiroshima to Stone Age peasants."" Later in 1969 he also testified in camera before a Senate investigating committee, again with negligible results. About the same time, Hawkridge was involved in an automobile accident which killed his wife and left him with a gimpy leg; he insists, despite the fact that it occurred on a snowy day and on a road hazardous under any conditions, that the ""accident"" was really a plot by ""they"" to kill him because he knew too much. Less sinister but grander is Hawkridge's speculation that corruption in Vietnam has been the chief obstacle to winning the war and that American policy makers have unwittingly played the Russians' game by not stamping it out: ""America has done anti-Communism a huge disservice. . . . Those bastards in Moscow are just sitting back with a ledger and laughing their heads off."" Paterson, who is described as an ""Asian expert,"" might have produced a useful book had he critically examined Hawkridge's ideas.

Pub Date: June 12th, 1972
Publisher: McKay