Pacification: The American Struggle for Vietnams Hearts and Minds

Richard A. Hunt, Author Westview Press $36 (368p) ISBN 978-0-8133-1182-1
This is a major look at the so-called other war: the combined efforts of the U.S. and Saigon governments to win the allegiance of the South Vietnamese populace in the struggle against the Viet Cong. Hunt describes how various pacification efforts were put under a single authority in 1967 with the creation of the Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support (CORDS), headed in turn by Robert Komer and William Colby. He reveals that the Phoenix Program, centerpiece of the effort to dismantle Viet Cong leadership, was originally a system for pooling information from South Vietnamese intelligence agencies. Hunt shows how the program hurt not only the enemy but also the allies. ``There remains a profound ambivalence about the Phoenix Program,'' he writes, for ordinary Vietnamese citizens were caught in the dragnets that killed the Viet Cong. His authoritative study provides a clear account of the pacification effort in each of the four military-political regions of South Vietnam, essential to an understanding of the war itself. One odd shortcoming: the short shrift given to the Marines' Combined Action Platoon (CAP) program. All pacification programs failed in the end, but the CAP was arguably working the best at the time of the U.S. pullout. Hunt is director of the army's Oral History Program. Illustrations. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/29/1995
Release date: 06/01/1995
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-8133-3459-2
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