Thursday, June 25, 2020

John Ellis - always with us. . . 

"Last year, the rainbow came out for John's ashes at Swan Bay and the same thing happened June 15 for his anniversary. Beautiful and heart warming and 'a double asterisk' as John would say. Dear John - always with me."  
- Dianne Jones

READ MORE about the remarkable life
and achievements of John Ellis:

Friday, June 19, 2020

Intrepid Launch New 
Range Of Domestic 
Retreats And Adventures

Intrepid Travel has launched a new range of tours called
Intrepid Local, with 75+ initial offerings in Australia,
New Zealand and Europe.

All Intrepid Local tours were developed to 
empower and support local communities during the economic recovery, in line with Intrepid’s values of using travel as a force for good.

As with all Intrepid Travel tours, the Local range will be 
100% carbon-offset and designed to have a low environmental footprint while having a positive impact on local communities.

All Intrepid trips will be operated under 
new Safe Travel protocols developed and endorsed by the World Travel & Tourism Council.

Travellers can also book with confidence with Intrepid’s new 
Flexible bookings policy.

Monday, March 16, 2020

I hope you and your family are keeping healthy, and not suffering economically, in these worrying and uncertain times of the COVID-19 virus pandemic.

The general health and economic consequences of this pandemic are already utterly disastrous for millions of people around the world, and tragic for all those who have died and for their loved ones.

It will get worse before it gets better. This was never the time for cruel jokes or complacency. No one on this planet is safe from its consequences, as viruses do not respect borders.

The temporary global suspension of all Intrepid Travel tours, at least until September 30, will create enormous stress and economic hardships for many in our company, and many associated local businesses and communities in Vietnam and around the world. But it was the responsible thing to do.

Intrepid Travel is now promoting new domestic travel in various countries. See website for more details.

So far, Vietnam has done extremely well in taking this virus attack seriously and acting quickly and effectively, with few positive cases and no deaths. It is inspiring to see the government and local people and communities all working constructively together to defeat the latest foreign invader.

Vietnam’s relative success is all the more remarkable given that it shares a long border with China, and trade and tourism from China was so enormous. Quickly closing the border to tourists from China and other affected countries was vital in slowing the spread of the virus here.

Vietnam is doing much better than everywhere else, especially Europe, UK, US, even Australia, where too many thought it was a joke, or media hype, or no worse than the common flu. How wrong they are proving to be. Many who were laughing before are not laughing now! Vietnam was wise to stop entry to such careless people.

It seems this particular virus has disturbing characteristics which make it more dangerous than “just a common cold”. A person can already be infected with COVID-19 but be unaware of it and have no symptoms for 14 days or longer, and yet be contagious, unknowingly infecting others with the virus.  That is staggering!

True or not, there are reports that it may not be an entirely natural virus but the result of human engineering to make it more contagious. While it targets more elderly people, it is a myth that young, healthy people cannot get infected and die. Humanity is in this together. 

To add to the mystery of where the virus started, there are reports that so far only one form of this coronavirus has been found in China, while all five have been detected in the USA.

All this surely raises pertinent questions about whether its release was deliberate or accidental, by whom, and for what purpose. The world was quick to blame China, but where did it really begin? These are all valid questions real investigative journalists should be investigating.

Once again, as with all major news events, it has been interesting to compare the reporting in the corporate-state media with the alternative media. China has been the undeserved victim of a vicious, racist and politically-motivated campaign of media misinformation and lies, which has gone as viral as the virus itself.

This was especially so at the beginning when people foolishly and selfishly thought it was just a “China problem”, but the misreporting in the media continues. I have been reading widely from various different sources. The story is actually much more serious and consequential than probably most people realize, if they only rely on the inadequate reporting in the mainstream media.

How countries are dealing with COVID-19 has also been revealing. Countries with a more collectivist approach, such as China and Vietnam, have been much more successful than Western countries that are more focused on individualism and looking after the corporate elite. 

While China sends medical personnel and aid to Italy, Iran and many other countries, the USA continues to illegally sanction and bomb countries, and even sends thousands of soldiers for military exercises in Europe!

Bruce McPhie
March 16, 2020
(Anniversary of the infamous My Lai Massacre by US troops in Vietnam, 1968)

Updated: March 18, 2020
              June 6, 2020

More news and daily updates on Facebook: Bruce McPhie

Including practical information on COVID-19, the symptoms, how to minimize 
your risk, and news analysis beyond the mainstream media.  

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

                50th Anniversaries

  February 22, 2020 
We were impressed by the week of activity at George Washington University in November on the fiftieth anniversary of the Mobilization demonstration as reported below.

This spring gives us a chance to remind ourselves and the public about the largest most intense public rebellion against the war. President Nixon's invasion of Cambodia provoked an unprecedented and never replicated national student strike that exceeded even the Moratorium six months earlier. The killing of students at Kent State and Jackson State poured gas on the peace movement fire, both figuratively and literally.

With at least 883 protests reported nationwide, can 100 local commemorations be held this spring? National and local media largely ignored the anniversaries of the Moratorium and Mobilization. Let's help them do better this May. A phenomenal interactive map with thumbnail descriptions of strike actions produced by the University of Washington can be seen here.

Another seminal anniversary is of the Chicano Moratorium march of 30,000 in East Los Angeles on August 29, 1970 where four persons were killed, including LA Times reporter Ruben Salazar. We should also not forgot the need to memorialize Dr. Martin Luther King's contribution to the anti-war movement with readings of his "Breaking Silence" Riverside Church sermon on April 4th. Also worth recognizing annually is the civilian massacre at My Lai on March 16th, a symbol for out of control killings at Ben Tre and other villages, as well as of the still daunting humanitarian legacies of the war.

We value greatly members of this unique list who gave much for the cause of peace half a century ago. Hopefully you will find personal resonance in one or more of the anniversaries described below to launch a commemorative project that fits your own experience and current situation, be it small or large. We must reclaim our history piece by piece while we are still able to do so.

And needless to say, financial support is essential for this work to go forward. Tax deductible contributions can be made by clicking here.
50th Anniversaries
The National Student Strike
May 1 - .... 1970

“The national student strike [of May 1970] was unprecedented in its scale and is an inspirational testament to the power of young people to disrupt politics at a national level and force their concerns to be acknowledged.“ 
       Mapping American Social Movements Project, University of Washington

An interactive map here identifies 883 protest sites nationwide and provides an excellent overview by Amanda Miller. We offer some ideas of how you can foster recognition of your community's own experience here.

The only substantial account we have found was "On Strike...Shut It Down!" a 133 page "Report on the First National Student Strike in US History" published in May 1970 by the Urban Research Corporation in Chicago. It contains greater detail than the map about each school. Copies can be found on Amazon. We can share on request here a 16 page PDF of the introduction and the information about particular schools.

Kent State University

May 4, 1970

Kent State University is organizing more than 80 educational programs, special events, speakers, conferences, exhibits and performances during the year. The program peaks May 1 - 4. A published summary is here. For additional details, monitor the university website here.

Panels on Friday, May 1, will address the anti-war movement. VPCC member Frank Joyce will talk about his experience while visiting a North Vietnamese village when they learned of the deaths. Jane Fonda will speak at the largest public event on May 3d.

On February 20th Kent State held a symposium on "Rebuilding State and Society After Civil War". On February 29th, the Department of History will host a research symposium entitled, “The May 4th Event and New Directions in Scholarship on the Vietnam War”, free and open to the public, program here
Jackson State University

May 15, 1970

A good account of what took place fifty years ago can be found on this 22 minute video. The commemoration program is being organized by the Margaret Walker Center at Jackson State University. Events for Gibbs/Green 50 can be followed here

April 3-4 As part of the 14th Annual Creative Arts and Scholarly Engagement Festival, VPCC is assisting with a panel that will inform current students of the influence of the civil rights struggle on the anti-war movement, including Dr. Martin Luther King's Breaking Silence sermon at Riverside Church 53 years before. Speakers on April 3 will include Martha Noonan, Mandy Carter, Rev. Richard Fernandez and VPCC Washington representative Terry Provance.

May 13-15 50th Commemoration of the Gibbs Green Tragedy. VPCC friend Peter Yarrow is expected to sing. A panel is being organized for the 15th on the relationship of Jackson State with the anti-war movement that will include John McAuliff, VPCC Coordinator.

Jackson State's connection to Kent State and the anti-war movement is not direct, although they are linked in the politics of the time and in many Kent State remembrances. The coincidence of timing and the long relationship of the civil rights and anti-war movements led to the events being linked in the later stages of the student strike that had incorporated concern about racism in its initial call.

A perceptive essay by Patrick Chura who will speak on the May 15 panel appeared in the journal Peace & Change, “'Mississippi Phenomenon': Reinterpreting the 1970 Jackson State Shootings in the Era of Black Lives Matter". He summarizes the view of Alan “Tre” Dufner, then a Kent State junior and president of the May 4 Task Force, that 'the most currently meaningful connections between Kent State and Jackson State stem not from a common cause of antiwar protest that never existed anyway, but from their joint reflection of truths about police brutality and abuse of government power." Chura, a professor at the University of Akron who teaches a course on American Literature of the Vietnam War, also integrates into his analysis the perspective of Viet Thanh Nguyen in the book "Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War"
Chicano Moratorium

August 29, 1970 

Thirty thousand Chicanos and Mexican-Americans took to the streets in East Los Angeles to protest discrimination and lack of civil rights, and in particular, the high rates of the draft of Chicanos for the Vietnam war. An attack by the Los Angeles Police Department led to four deaths, including LA Times reporter Ruben Salazar. (summary here, 4 minute video here)

KCET Television's Artbound series included moving interviews about the event in a one hour documentary about young activists who used creative tools like writing and photography as a means for community organizing, providing a platform for the Chicano Movement in the form of the bilingual newspaper/magazine La Raza. View it here.

The web site for 50th Chicano Moratorium Organizing Committee is here.
The People’s Peace Treaty

November 1970 - May Day 1971

In late November of 1970 the US National Student Association sponsored a delegation of students from fifteen US Colleges and Universities to meet with student representatives in South Vietnam and North Vietnam to negotiate a peace treaty. Members of the delegation met first in South Vietnam with the Saigon Student Union and later In Hanoi with the Vietnam National Union of Students and the South Vietnam Liberation Student Union. The treaty, which became known as the Peoples Peace Treaty, was formally signed in Hanoi on December 17, 1970. The US delegation then came home via Paris where the treaty was publicly unveiled. A few days later the delegation returned to the US where it was used as a major organizing tool on campuses during the spring semester of 1971, culminating in the May Day demonstrations in Washington, DC. More information and a list of 167 participating colleges and universities issued on April 27, 1971 is here. See also Doug Hostetter's chapter in "The People Make the Peace", listed below in Resources.

Please contact VPCC member Doug Hostetter here if you were active with the Peoples Peace Treaty.
To Recognize Annually

My Lai

March 16, 1968 (52d anniversary)

An easy way to honor the memory of the 16th anniversary of My Lai is to arrange a showing in your living room for friends, or at a school, library or religious institution, of "The Whistleblower of My Lai" directed by Connie Fields. It is available on-line here for a rental of $4.99 for 24 hours.

"The film follows the Kronos Quartet’s production of Jonathan Berger and Harriet Chessman’s opera which takes at its heart the actions and life of Hugh Thompson, the helicopter pilot who revealed the 1968 massacre by U.S. troops and rescued some of the victims. Tackling the concept of heroism, the definition of morality in wartime, and guilt both personal and national, The Whistleblower of My Lai is not only a film on opera and the process of creativity, but a work on the nature of humanity itself."

A larger agenda could include discussion of the ongoing legacies of war, including the victims of land-mines, unexploded ordnance, Agent Orange, as well as the frequency of additional civilian massacres like in Ben Tre..

For greater depth about what happened, show before, after or with Whistleblower, "Four Hours in My Lai, Anatomy of a Massacre" Yorkshire Television on youtube here

Beyond Vietnam
A Time to Break Silence, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

April 4, 1967 (53d Anniversary)

One year before his assassination, Dr. King spoke out against the war at a meeting organized by Clergy and Laymen Concerned at Riverside Church in New York. His words inspired the anti-war movement, but he was criticized harshly by other civil rights leaders and the media. The full sermon can be heard here and read here. Tavis Smiley's perceptive documentary about the sermon and its consequences is available here. A follow-up interview by Merv Griffin can be seen here. Additional background and analysis can be found in the first two articles listed below in Resources under Previously Posted.

Dr. King's memory should be honored on the anniversary of his death every year or during the national holiday in his name by bringing together friends, classes or organizations. They can watch the Smiley video, listen to King give the sermon or share a group reading. United for Peace and Justice prepared a full sample program based on an annual event in Oakland, California. The sermon as divided for up to sixteen readers and supportive materials are available here.
Join us in Viet Nam to Celebrate
45th anniversary of peace and reunification
or 25th anniversary of normal relations

The trip is currently scheduled from April 19 - May 3 with an optional extension to Cambodia and Laos. The itinerary is Hoi An, My Lai, Da Nang, Hue, Quang Tri, Vinh Moc, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Bien Hoa, Ben Tre, including official observances of the anniversary of the end of the war. If required by concern about risk from the corona virus, the trip will be postponed with adjusted content until late June - early July for the anniversary of diplomatic relations between Viet Nam and the U.S. More information is here. If interested, contact us here by March 1st.
Vietnam Legacies Symposium

University of Dayton, May 21-22, 2020

Organized by the university's Human Rights Center, the Symposium will bring together scholars and practitioners to explore the enduring social, political, and human rights legacies stemming from America's involvement in the Vietnam War. The principal aim of the Symposium is to assess the extent to which U.S. society has come to terms and changed as a result of the conflict. A second aim is to foster understanding of the legacy of the War in contemporary Vietnam.

The Symposium will be organized into a series of speakers and panels addressing specific themes including reconstruction aid, reconciliation, and memorialization. Confirmed participants include Chuck Searcy of Project RENEW (working on unexploded ordnance in Viet Nam), Dr. Nguyen Ngoc Hung of the Hanoi University of Business and Technology, David Cortright from Notre Dame and Terry Provance of the Vietnam Peace Commemoration Committee.

For more information, contact Paul Morrow here.
Peter Yarrow and Rev. Richard Fernandez launch the walk to the White House after the conference (photo by Rick Hind)

George Washington University November 11 - 15, 2019

The 50th anniversary of the Mobilization / Moratorium demonstration in Washington was the occasion of a week of programs at the Elliott School of George Washington University, culminating in a vigil at the White House.

VPCC organized a panel, The Vietnam War Comes Home, with Clara Bingham, author "Witness to the Revolution: Radicals, Resisters, Vets, Hippies and the Year America Lost Its Mind and Found Its Soul"; Dr. Mary (Munchen) Posner, organizer of the Moratorium demonstration on October 15, 1969, at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, and of a contingent in the November 15th Mobilization in Washington; Rev. Richard Fernandez, founder of Clergy & Laity Concerned about Vietnam, organizer of the March Against Death; Robert Levering, staff of New Mobilization Committee, responsible for training 5,000 marshals; Anne Gallivan, Lessons of the 60's (Washington oral history project), Vietnam Peace Commemoration Committee; Martha Norman, Baltimore civil rights and peace activist, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, co-editor Hands on the "Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC"; Moderator: John McAuliff, Fund for Reconciliation and Development, VPCC, It can be seen here

Conference panels available on C-SPAN are described and linked here

  • Book launch of Waging Peace in Vietnam
  • Vietnam War Diplomatic and Peace Initiatives
  • Teaching the Vietnam War
  • Vietnam War Soldier and Civilian Peace Initiatives
  • Legacy of Agent Orange on Vietnamese and American Citizens

Recent Additions

Photos like the one above taken at the San Francisco Moratorium by Stephen Shames can be seen here. He has compiled a book of photos from the 60s and is seeking a publisher. Contact him here

Don't Burn is the only available film that portrays the war from a Vietnamese perspective; made by Dang Nhat Minh about the journal of a young woman doctor serving in the south that was found by an American soldier and returned to her family in Hanoi decades later; English subtitled DVD for public showings is available in appreciation of donations of at least $20, contact us hereNew option The film can be previewed on nonpublic youtube by clicking here.

Landon Carter Schmitt Memorial Fund, created by Dabney and Dick Schmitt to honor their son who died in Viet Nam after studying and working there for five years. They have assisted a school for visually impaired children in Dong Ha and other projects, details here.

The “Research Arm” of the Peace Movement: How Power Researchers Helped the Vietnam Antiwar Movement, an interview with Diana Roose about the NARMIC project of the American Friends Service Committee

"Vietnam: The Power of Protest" The 2015 VPCC conference in Washington is only first person broad assessment of the anti-war movement undertaken to date. Videos can be see here: The site also includes videos from the October 2017 conference in Washington, "From Protest to Resistance" on the 50th anniversary of the March on the Pentagon except for the first half which is on C-SPAN for session one here and session two here.

A 50 minute video based on interviews conducted at the 2015 conference was produced by Activist Video Archive. It and the complete interviews of 43 participants can be seen here

"The People Make the Peace". edited by Karin Aguilar-San Juan and Frank Joyce, reflections by activists who traveled to Hanoi during the war and returned in 2013 (includes VPPC members Frank Joyce, Doug Hostetter and John McAuliff) More information and order here

The best web site on Agent Orange, land mines, unexploded ordnance is here  

Previously posted

"The MLK Speech We Need Today Is Not the One We Remember Most", an essay by Viet Thanh Nguyen in Time Magazine on the relevance of the Riverside Church sermon to the present. "King’s prophecy connects the war in Vietnam with our forever wars today, spread across multiple countries and continents, waged without end from global military bases numbering around 800. Some of the strategy for our forever war comes directly from lessons that the American military learned in Vietnam: drone strikes instead of mass bombing; volunteer soldiers instead of draftees; censorship of gruesome images from the battlefronts; and encouraging the reverence of soldiers.”

"Exceptional Victims" an essay by Christian Appy in the Boston Review linked to King's speech "The resistance to the Vietnam War was the most diverse and dynamic antiwar movement in U.S. history. We have all but forgotten it today."

"Overcoming War Legacies: The Road to Reconciliation and Future Cooperation Between the United States and Vietnam", a remarkable March 26, 2019, conference at the US Institute of Peace featuring high level representatives of both countries' foreign and defense ministries and of the US Senate and NGOs; sessions available on-line Especially notable is the eloquent luncheon speech here by Vietnam's Ambassador to the US Ha Kim Ngoc about the path that took him from fleeing US bombs in Ha Noi as a child to Washington. (He was introduced by William Taylor, then Executive Vice President of USIP, before returning as ambassador to Ukraine and most recently giving historic testimony at the impeachment hearing.)

"Witness to the Revolution" by Clara Bingham An oral history of 1969-1970 includes interviews about the Moratorium and Mobilization with Sam Brown, David Hawk, David Mixner, Daniel Ellsberg, Seymour Hersh, Oliver Stone, Barry Romo, Wayne Smith and Bobby Muller. (Clara spoke on the VPCC panel in Washington November 13th.)

"Waging Peace in Vietnam: U.S. Soldiers and Veterans who Opposed the War" Co-editors: Ron Carver, David Cortright and Barbara Doherty, New Village Press, distributed by NYU Press; Review in The Progressive

"The United States, Southeast Asia, and Historical Memory" Edited by Caroline Luft and Mark Pavlick, essays by antiwar activists and scholars. Fred Branfman describes the tragic lives of Laotian peasants under US bombing. Cambodia scholar Ben Kiernan and colleague Owen Taylor illuminate the course of Cambodia history after unprecedented US bombing. The book also includes classic works by Noam Chomsky, Nick Turse, and Edward Herman. Full description and order information here.

Tom Hayden on Social Movements, consisting of four unpublished talks and an interview by Rolling Stone from 1972 – 1977. Available through Amazon on Kindle and paperback

Thank You for Your Service: Collected Poems by W.D. Ehrhart order directly from the publisher McFarland & Company

Swarthmore College Peace Collection Sound Recordings over 160 recordings from the Vietnam war era available here

The War at Home by Glenn Silber is the best documentary to convey to a younger generation how the anti-war movement evolved from silent vigils to militant confrontation in the microcosm of Madison, Wisconsin from 1967 to 1972. It has become available in a restored 40th anniversary DVD with supplemental material. Order from the filmmakerReview in Isthmus

"Soldiers for Peace" is an audio documentary produced by American Public Media (APM) featuring first-person interviews and oral histories with Vietnam veterans transformed by the war. • Documents their decisions to organize and participate in their own antiwar movement • Highlights the numerous ways GIs and veterans protested the war, both in collaboration with the civilian antiwar movement and separately. To hear it, click here. For information, contact

"Vietnam Reconsidered: The War, the Times, and Why They Matter", a new book by John Ketwig, author of "…and a hard rain fell" (now in its 27th printing over 34 years)

"Safe Return: A Vietnam Veteran’s Involvement in the 1970s Amnesty Movement" by Michael Uhl available as an Amazon e-book

Veterans for Peace website Full Disclosure

"Reclaiming the Community One Bomb at a Time: The View From Indochina", text and photos by Ted Lieverman; The Asia-Pacific Journal

Letter from Vietnam War Correspondents to Rory Kennedy about her misleading film, "Last Days in Vietnam"; published in The Shipler Report
The Problem of China
a personal perspective

A motivating force for the anti-war movement was the right of the Vietnamese people to independence and freedom. For a century the problem was France. For two decades, it was the US. For centuries before, and again now, it was China. Just as Russia helps Cuba and Venezuela resist US hegemony, the US helps Viet Nam and the rest of South East Asia resist China's dominance. The big powers provide support because it serves their strategic and economic interests. Nevertheless, the support is essential to the recipient, no matter the contradictions and compromises. The situation in the South China Sea merits our attention, not just for the benefit of Viet Nam and its neighbors, but because if could become the provocation of superpower military conflict with tragic costs for all.

If this concerns you, set a google alert for "South China Sea" to receive daily links about the festering danger of conflict.

In the meantime, some sample articles from the past few weeks follow.

"South China Sea of brewing troubles and its implications for India", Mona Thakkarin ModernDiplomacy.

"Vietnam To Counter China With Asean Backing On Mekong River Region", Thitinan Pongsudhirak in Forbes Asia

"China threatens stability in the Pacific: U.S. commander", Colin Packham reports from Australia for Reuters

'In challenging China’s claims in the South China Sea, the US Navy is getting more assertive', David Larter in Defense News
"Understanding Total Competition and China’s Challenge in the South China Sea" an interview in The Diplomat, by Prashanth Parameswaran of Patrick Cronin and Ryan Neuhard of the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank.

"In The South China Sea Do As We Say Not As We Do",Analysis by Mark J. Valencia sympathetic to China in the Eurasia Review

Testimony by Fiona Hill during the impeachment hearings that illustrated the transactional character of superpower support, an indication that the Russians would accept US application of the Monroe Doctrine to Venezuela if the US gave them similar authority over Ukraine.

-- John McAuliff
Vietnam - The Power of Protest
Vietnam Peace Commemoration Committee

* Sally Benson * David Cortright * Ann Gallivan * Susan Hammond * Rick Hind * Doug Hostetter
* Susanne Jackson * Frank Joyce * Steven Ladd * Paul Lauter * Jack Malinowski * John McAuliff * Terry Provance * Brewster Rhoads * Nancy Jane Woodside *