July 20, 2009
On February 27, 1968, Walter Cronkite delivered his verdict on the (ongoing) war in Vietnam. The most trusted man in America pronounced that it was "...more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam War is to end in a stalemate."
The Tet Offensive, which battle prompted Cronkite's televised towel throwing, was a decisive American victory -- of the more than 80,000 Communist troops who poured south on the Vietnamese New Year, American and allied South Vietnamese soldiers would kill or capture more than 58,000, while suffering a combined, and comparatively light, 9,000 casualties.
Tet was in fact a disaster for the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong. Not only was the invasion repulsed by American forces - who fought valiantly and fiercely in spite of being taken by surprise -- but the uprising in the south upon which the Communists had gambled never happened.
From this, Cronkite conjured his "stalemate." But he was not done with his shameful propaganda, continuing,
"...it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could."
Not as victors...thus Cronkite convinced America the war was already over and lost, while our men, our soldiers, our sons and fathers, were fighting and dying and triumphing on the field of battle.
Uncle Walter got his wish. America came home -- Saigon fell. The result?
The Viet Cong consolidated its power over the whole of Vietnam. Like all good Communists, they proceeded to enslave the population, herding hundreds of thousands into concentration camps to be tortured, starved, and killed. The people of South Vietnam, who had trusted America and fought alongside us as allies, put to the sea en masse in whatever rickety craft they could find. Hundreds of thousands drowned in this desperate attempt to escape; by 1980, these "Vietnamese Boat People" were recognized as one of the greatest humanitarian disasters of the modern age, as over 800,000 people fled their country in terror.
But that was a picnic compared to what happened next door in Cambodia, where the North Vietnamese-created Khmer Rouge seized power and implemented a policy of systematic extermination. Out of a population of perhaps 7 million, the Communists slaughtered between 1.5 to 2 million Cambodians. Millions more were forced into slave labor.
Walter Cronkite was called the most trusted man in America. He abused that trust, peddling his own opinion (hope?) - steeped in anti-American ideology - as fact. The Killing Fields were fertilized with this man's lies.
So speak to me not of this newsman's great legacy - it lays buried under a mountain of skulls in South East Asia.
Matt Patterson is a National Review Institute Washington Fellow and the author of "Union of Hearts: The Abraham Lincoln & Ann Rutledge Story." His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.