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Author Topic: Destroy the town in order to save it.
The Red and the Green Stamps

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Recently I had an exchange with a person who used this quote. Someone posted that it was actually a misquote by the reporter Peter Arnett. It is attributed to a Major Brown, but one source I found said he claimed to have said something like the town was destroyed and it was a shame about the civilians. There also seems to be some disagreement about who destroyed teh town or at least who desttroyed most of it, 85% keeps getting quoted. Arnett originally said it came from a unnamed Major, but recently atributed it to another unnamed soldier who commented while he was talking to Maj Brown. That last part is what makes me suspect this quote.

Does anyone know the whole story?

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Let There Be PCs on Earth

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I'm not sure if anybody does. Most of the accounts of the story go as you described it: Peter Arnett quoting an Army Major as saying that after a devastating attack on Ben Tre. Peter says that what he was told; the person quoted swears he said something different. Most of the "pro" Vietnam War accounts of the story are as follows:

Peter Arnett, a now-infamous journalist in Vietnam, infamously made the quote up, in reference to the non-village of Ben Tre a non-village that was destroyed by the other “we,” the Viet Cong. That “we” had no intention of “saving” anything, of course, and the soldier most likely quoted by Arnett remembers saying “it was a shame the town was destroyed.”
whereas anti-war accounts go like this:

After the Tet offensive American forces went on a wild counterattack. After the village of Ben Tre was virtually destroyed, an American Major said to journalist Peter Arnett (who would become famous for his work on CNN during the Gulf War), "It became necessary to destroy the village in order to save it."
(as quoted by Neil Sheehan in his book about John Paul Vann -- A Bright Shining Lie.)

buf 'being about as much help as a jock strap in a snowstorm' ungla

"Pardon him. Theodotus: he is a barbarian, and thinks that the customs of his tribe and island are the laws of nature."

George Bernard Shaw, Caesar and Cleopatra

Posts: 4847 | From: Washington, DC | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
The Red and the Green Stamps

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I get the impression Brian Carnell doesn't like Peter Arnett. [Wink]

There was a similarly apocryphal quote from a Vietnam GI that went something like, "We sure liberated the hell out of this village." Don't know if that was ever verified.

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I'm Dreaming of a White Sale

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On the principle that it's never too late to give chapter and verse: the story was first printed in The New York Times on 8th February 1968. The wording was 'To save the town, it became necessary to destroy it' and, yes, it was an unnamed major who was credited, if that's the word I'm looking for.
Posts: 10 | From: West Sussex, England | Registered: Apr 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator

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