Sunday May 18, 2014
Back in the spring of 1968 I also got an invitation to evacuate. It was from Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, suggesting I evacuate my cushy life as a student in East Lansing, Michigan to join his crusade to stop the “chicoms” from annexing Vietnam.
According to McNamara, Chairman Mao and Uncle Ho were joined at the hip in a crusade to turn all of Southeast Asia “red”. Unless forcefully deterred with American guns and blood, the chicoms would come pouring across the Vietnamese border any day; it would be the Yalu river crossing all over again.
As it turns out, right about then 40 million people were starving in the villages of China due to the massive crop failures brought on by Mao’s earlier “Great Leap Forward”. During that ingenuous project, hundreds of millions of Chinese peasants had been instructed to become overnight industrialists by building tiny steel furnaces in their backyards. Unfortunately, the peasants had gotten so enthused by the Great Helmsman’s vision of turning the Yellow River Valley into the Ruhr overnight that they had melted their hoes and rakes for scrap!