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An American GI Opposes the War in Vietnam

In this letter to a close friend back in the United States, Douglas McCormac, a sergeant in the Special Forces, describes the economic corruption spreading through war-torn Vietnam.

August 13, 1968

Dear Steve,

I think perhaps the experience is changing me. Of course, it would but it is happening not as I expected. Of course, again, I have not found much opportunity to ‘help’ the people, as I once almost romantically rationalized. But I’ve learned a little here. I’ve learned to dislike this war more.

It’s not that I’ve seen more atrocities than I anticipated or that I’ve noticed an oppressed willingness in the Vietnamese to be governed by Ho Chi Minh and Company. What I’ve seen is the superabundant American economy overflow with its war effort into the Vietnamese peasants’ and city dwellers’ environment. While most Americans sit in their clubs or tanks or B-52s and scatter their lethal currency over the countryside, the higher-ranking Vietnamese grabble for the rake-off and black-market profits and the rest of the crowd (including the Montagnards) reap the scraps and the burden of the casualties.

Of course, Americans are dying, and I would not belittle anyone who served "with proud devotion" and faith in this enterprise. It may not have been a terribly wrong theoretical idea at one time. But the foreign, introduced offensive, the consequent corruption and then the contempt that developed between people and groups—it makes a mockery of the ‘noble’ words used to justify this war. It belies the phony enthusiasm with which those words may be delivered. It’s now a war of survival….

Yours,
Doug

Source | In Bernard Edelman, ed., for the New York Vietnam Veterans Memorial Commission, Dear America: Letters Home From Vietnam (New York: W.W. Norton, 1985), 216.
Creator | Douglas McCormac
Rights | Used by permission.
Item Type | Diary/Letter
Cite This document | Douglas McCormac, “An American GI Opposes the War in Vietnam,” HERB: Resources for Teachers, accessed December 15, 2018, https://herb.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/671.

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