The Asian Mind/The American Mind

by Mark Chmiel

1.

The following remarks are from Captain Ted Shipman, a U.S. intelligence officer in South Vietnam:

“You see, they do have some–well, methods and practices that we are not accustomed to, that we wouldn’t use if we were doing it, but the thing you’ve got to understand is that this is an Asian country, and their first impulse is force. Only the fear of force gets results. It’s the Asian mind. It’s completely different from what we know as the Western mind, and it’s hard for us to understand. Look–they’re a thousand years behind us in this place, and we’re trying to educate them up to our level. We can’t just do everything for them ourselves.”

2.

The following is Leaflet No. 244-286-67, which was used by the Marines in Quang Ngai, South Vietnam in 1967.

DEAR CITIZENS,

The U.S. Marines are fighting alongside the Government of Vietnam forces in Duc Pho in order to give the Vietnamese people a chance to live a free, happy life, without fear of hunger and suffering. But many Vietnamese have paid with their lives and their homes have been destroyed because they have helped the Vietcong in an attempt to enslave the Vietnamese people. Many hamlets have been destroyed because these villages harbored the Vietcong.

The hamlets of Hai Mon, Hai Tan, Sa Binh, Tan Binh, and many others have been destroyed because of this. We will not hesitate to destroy every hamlet that helps the Vietcong, who are powerless to stop the combined might of the G.V.N. and its allies.

The U.S. Marines issue this warning: THE U.S. MARINES WILL NOT HESITATE TO DESTROY IMMEDIATELY, ANY VILLAGE OR HAMLET HARBORING THE VIETCONG. WE WILL NOT HESITATE TO DESTROY, IMMEDIATELY, ANY VILLAGE OR HAMLET USED AS A VIETCONG STRONGHOLD TO FIRE AT OUR TROOPS OR AIRCRAFT.

The choice is yours. If you refuse to let the Vietcong use your villages and hamlets as their battlefield, your homes and your lives will be saved.

Peaceful citizens, stay in your homes. Deny your support to the V.C.s.

— from Jonathan Schell’s collection of reports from Vietnam, The Real War, first published in 1968, reissued in 2000.

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