THE LONG CHARADE: Political Subversion in the Vietnam War by Richard Critchfield

THE LONG CHARADE: Political Subversion in the Vietnam War

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The dope; since 1965, with the aid of southerners Khanh, Thieu, et al., South Vietnam has been run by the Dai Viet, a ""secret fascist brotherhood"" of rich northerners including Ky, police chief Loan, and the sinister Dr. Sung, sent south in 1954 by Le Duan, Hanoi's political warfare strategist, and finally ousted this summer by middle-class southerners (and the U.S.?). This is the claim of Critchfield, who was Washington Star correspondent for over three years. His interview with Tran Van Van (later murdered) turned him on to the hypothesis that South Vietnam's rulers have deliberately exacerbated its ""internal contradictions"" by sabotaging land reform, economic rationality, military prudence, while the police state destroyed any potential political base, and the NLF turned U.S. military power against itself like a judo throw. Critchfield justifies persecution of the Buddhists and ignores Diem's terror, as well as eradication of local control in the villages, although he discusses counter-insurgency on the administrative level at length. (Also fascinating comments on regional differences and Saigon dirt.) In sum, there is a blatant equivocation between ""manipulated by"" and ""collaborating with"" Hanoi. Critchfield allows himself a further out by conceding that the Dai Viet may simply be ""opportunistic power-seekers."" But one cannot dismiss the book as sheet fifth-column, stab-in-the-back, fantasy. Unlike Marguerite Higgins' Our Vietnam Nightmare (1965) which prefigured a conspiracy theory, it will receive serious attention, though many critics will find it monumentally beside the point; as Douglas Pike told the author. ""They don't win by your hanky-panky plots in Saigon.

Pub Date: Oct. 30th, 1968
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World