Below you will see Jane Fonda’s frequently under-appreciated radio broadcast that was delivered on her courageous and magisterial peace mission to Hanoi. Her reference to President Nixon as a “true killer” was correct. Her denunciation of American B-52s cowardly bombing civilian and other non-combatant targets was accurate. Her huddling with a child in a bomb-shelter and her description of the devastation wrought by the American imperialist forces is stirring and humane. While I would not have sat in a A.A.A. piece or suggested the virtue of retaliation against Air Force sorties flying over country, I can empathise with her efforts to save the children, stop the war and end the genocide that was unfolding before our eyes in this war of extermination. Ladies and gentlemen this was a war of genocide, fueled by a maniacal Cold War bipolarity: an effort to eliminate a population due to its ethnic and racial composition.
One would think particularly after Secretary of Defence Bob McNamara’s belated recogniton in his 1995 mea culpa, In Retrospect, that the war was wrong and should never have been fought, that U.S. veterans would honour Ms Fonda for denouncing a war in which 58,100 U.S. soldiers died in vain for an unjust cause, despite individual acts of valour and serving under conscription in many instances.
I have a hunch that Jane Fonda and the Dixie Chicks’ Natalie Maines, were criticised for their antiwar activities due to their gender, youth, prepossessing qualities and wealth. Folks in the military or their blind partisans feel gender threatened when women of fame and fortune criticise actions of state terrorism in which the military becomes the means of execution of policy. I am not suggesting that only women from the entertainment world run a greater risk of reprobation but I believe the parallels are similar in these two instances of heroism and protest during Vietnam and Iraq.
About 25-28,000 additional U.S. casualties resulted from President Nixon’s “secret plan” of Vietnamization which was merely a prolonged extrication of U.S. colonial forces to save face with “peace with honour.” The only peace with honour is to end war, not to prolong the suffering due to personal ambition and fecklessness. Who would you prefer looking backwards to have been politically dominant during this Iraq-type asymmetrical war: A Jane Fonda who wanted the war to end to save lives, or a ruthless American president who was not interested in victory but in preserving the alleged reputation of a great power that would extricate its conscripts under its own timetable? Was it worth the deaths of those soldiers? Jane Fonda in 1972 thought “no” and she has nothing to apologise for but should be proud of her trip to North Vietnam. She caved in as so many do under pressure but that is her call and her choice when she subsequently apologised. The only apologies should emerge from the U.S. government for a war of genocide and racism against the innocent people of Southeast Asia.
This is a picture of the movie star in Hanoi, Democratic Republic of Vietnam, when she was addressing the press while attempting to save the children and other innocent combatants from American bombing. History will judge her as a citizen of the world and not as a narrow-minded patriot who construes war and patriotism as always conjoined.
This is Jane Fonda. During my two week visit in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, I’ve had the opportunity to visit a great many places and speak to a large number of people from all walks of life- workers, peasants, students, artists and dancers, historians, journalists, film actresses, soldiers, militia girls, members of the women’s union, writers.
I visited the (Dam Xuac) agricultural coop, where the silk worms are also raised and thread is made. I visited a textile factory, a kindergarten in Hanoi. The beautiful Temple of Literature was where I saw traditional dances and heard songs of resistance. I also saw unforgettable ballet about the guerrillas training bees in the south to attack enemy soldiers. The bees were danced by women, and they did their job well.
In the shadow of the Temple of Literature I saw Vietnamese actors and actresses perform the second act of Arthur Miller’s play All My Sons, and this was very moving to me- the fact that artists here are translating and performing American plays while US imperialists are bombing their country.
I cherish the memory of the blushing militia girls on the roof of their factory, encouraging one of their sisters as she sang a song praising the blue sky of Vietnam- these women, who are so gentle and poetic, whose voices are so beautiful, but who, when American planes are bombing their city, become such good fighters.
I cherish the way a farmer evacuated from Hanoi, without hesitation, offered me, an American, their best individual bomb shelter while US bombs fell near by. The daughter and I, in fact, shared the shelter wrapped in each others arms, cheek against cheek. It was on the road back from Nam Dinh, where I had witnessed the systematic destruction of civilian targets- schools, hospitals, pagodas, the factories, houses, and the dike system.
As I left the United States two weeks ago, Nixon was again telling the American people that he was winding down the war, but in the rubble- strewn streets of Nam Dinh, his words echoed with sinister (words indistinct) of a true killer. And like the young Vietnamese woman I held in my arms clinging to me tightly- and I pressed my cheek against hers- I thought, this is a war against Vietnam perhaps, but the tragedy is America’s.
One thing that I have learned beyond a shadow of a doubt since I’ve been in this country is that Nixon will never be able to break the spirit of these people; he’ll never be able to turn Vietnam, north and south, into a neo- colony of the United States by bombing, by invading, by attacking in any way. One has only to go into the countryside and listen to the peasants describe the lives they led before the revolution to understand why every bomb that is dropped only strengthens their determination to resist. I’ve spoken to many peasants who talked about the days when their parents had to sell themselves to landlords as virtually slaves, when there were very few schools and much illiteracy, inadequate medical care, when they were not masters of their own lives.
But now, despite the bombs, despite the crimes being created- being committed against them by Richard Nixon, these people own their own land, build their own schools- the children learning, literacy- illiteracy is being wiped out, there is no more prostitution as there was during the time when this was a French colony. In other words, the people have taken power into their own hands, and they are controlling their own lives.
And after 4,000 years of struggling against nature and foreign invaders- and the last 25 years, prior to the revolution, of struggling against French colonialism- I don’t think that the people of Vietnam are about to compromise in any way, shape or form about the freedom and independence of their country, and I think Richard Nixon would do well to read Vietnamese history, particularly their poetry, and particularly the poetry written by Ho Chi Minh.