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July 30, 1972: Fonda to American servicemen in South Vietnam

FBIS Transcript #15:

Address to GIbs in South Vietnam attributed to Jane Fonda

B021302 Hanoi in English to Europe, Africa and the Middle East 2000 GMT 30 Jul 72 B

We now bring you American actress Jane Fonda's address to American GI's in South Vietnam:

((Follows recorded female voice with American accent b FBIS))

This is Jane Fonda speaking from Hanoi. A phenomenon has been taking place in the United States called the GI movement.

In 1968 the situation in the American army was qualitatively changed. Prior to 1968, many of the soldiers -b the grunts, the ((word indistinct)), the ground troops in South Vietnam b- had believed what their officers and their generals had told them: that they were there to help the Vietnamese people, that large areas of Vietnam had been pacified, that the war was about to be won.

If you recall, at the end of 1967 General Westmoreland announced: We can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. And 2 months later the Tet offensive occurred. And the soldiers were forced to face certain facts. They realized that in order for the offensive to have taken place, it meant that the very people that they were told had been pacified were in fact part and parcel of the liberation fighters. It was these people who were helping the soldiers bring weapons into town, hidden into the laundry baskets and the -b and the bunches of flowers. It was these people who were part of the struggle.

The men were attacked for the first time on their own American bases and they had to start asking themselves questions. And they began to realize that they had been lied to. And since these young men are no longer (?John Waynes) b they're not like their fathers in the Second World War -b they began to say no: We no longer want to die for someone else's lies. We will no longer be wounded for a war that we do not understand and do not believe in.

In 1969-1970 the desertions in the American army tripled. The desertions of the U. S. soldiers almost equaled the desertions from the ARVN army, and in the United States we laughingly said it was the Vietnamization of the American army.

The new recruits sent to South Vietnam were separated from the guys who had been there for a while behind barbed wire so they wouldn't find out what had been going on. The men had to turn in their arms at night. Why? Because there were so many U. S. officers being killed. Fragging -b the word fragging entered the English language. What it meant was that the soldiers would prefer to roll a fragmentation grenade under the tent flap of their officer, if he was a gung-ho officer who was going to send them out on a suicide mission, rather than go out and shoot people that they -b that they did not feel were their enemy.

In America we do not condone the killing of American officers -b we do not condone the killing of anyone -b but we do support the soldiers who are beginning to think for themselves. I've spent 2 years working with the antiwar soldiers in the United States, in the Philippines, in Okinawa, and in Japan. I've seen the movement grow from a movement of individuals taking courageous action as individuals to thousands of soldiers taking collective action to voice their protest against the war -b marching, demonstrating in uniform and holding up their ID cards, risking to -b going to jail if necessary, jumping ship, the petition campaigns which started on the Constellation in San Diego and spread to the Coral Sea, the Ticonderoga, the Enterprise, the Han*censored*, the Kitty Hawk.

And word about the resistance within the American military has spread throughout the United States. There was a time when people in the peace movement thought that anyone in uniform, anyone who was coming over here to support the Thieu regime, must be the enemy. But we have realized that most of these young men were not fortunate enough to get draft deferments, were not privileged enough to have good lawyers or doctors ((words indistinct)). These are the sons of the American working class. They're the sons of the hardhats. They're guys who came because they thought it was the thing to do, or because it was the only way they could get an education, or because it was the only way that they could learn a skill. They believed in the army, but when they were here, when they discovered that their officers were incompetent, usually drunk, when they discovered that the Vietnamese people had a fight that they believed in, that the Vietnamese people were fighting for much the same reason that we fought in the beginning of our own country, they began to ask themselves questions.

And one of the biggest things (?they began to think) about the U.S. Government and about the U.S. military in particular is that it doesn't allow people to think for themselves. It tries to turn us into robots. And the young people of America, and particularly the soldiers, are beginning to say: We don't want to be robots anymore; we will define for ourselves who our enemy is.

Perhaps the soldiers who have been the first to recognize the nature of the war in Vietnam are those soldiers who have suffered the most in the United States -b the black soldiers, the brown soldiers, and the red and Asian soldiers.

Recently on a tour of the U.S. bases on the Pacific rim -b in Okinawa, Japan and the Philippines -b I had the chance to talk to a great many of these guys and they all expressed their recognition of the fact that this is a white man's war, a white businessman's war, that they don't feel it's their place to kill other people of color when at home they themselves are oppressed and prevented from determining their own lives.

Women in the military -- those who are so often forgotten -b have their own way of identifying with the Vietnamese struggle. I heard horrifying stories about the treatment of women in the U.S. military. So many women said to me that one of the first things that happens to them when they enter the service is that they are taken to see the company psychiatrist and they are given a little lecture which is made very clear to them that they are there to service the men. They are given birth control pills. This is a big shock to these girls who come into the service with all kinds of high ideals about what the army will do for them, and the kind of training that they will get.

This very powerful grassroots movement -b the GI movement b- is forging probably the most important link in the United States -b the link between the white middle class peace movement and the working class. These men who are coming back from Vietnam, their lives in fragments, are putting the pieces back together in a new kind of way with a new kind of understanding. And in doing so, as they go into the factories b- those who are lucky enough to get jobs b or as they stand in -b in the unemployment lines, they are beginning to change the political complexion of the American working class.

In California particularly -b at least I can talk about California because that's where Ibm from -b the rank and file insurgency among the working class has augmented in the last 6 to 7 months (?steadily), and this is particularly due to speed up of mandatory overtime, peculiarly true in the major industries such as steel and auto. The young workers, particularly with the new consciousness, have become aware of the fact that they've been sold out by the national labor leadership and they're indicating that a new alliance may need to be formed between workers and students.

Like the soldiers on active duty, the thing that the young workers resent the most is the fact that -b that their lives are being destroyed that they are alienated from their work, that they're treated like robots.

I think it's important that people in Vietnam as well as other parts of the world know this -b that while America preaches prosperity, the workers of America are suffering more than ever before. The suicide rate among workers has risen more than ever before. They are beginning to realize that Nixon's economic reform is in fact falling on their back.

((Recording ends b FBIS))

You have just listened to American actress Jane Fonda's address to American GI's in South Vietnam.

Last Updated Thursday, June 19 2008 @ 01:27 PM MDT; 4,951 Hits View Printable Version