When the Americans left, Luette offered to start a guerrilla movement in our behalf. He knew that without American support the movement would fail. Our embassy, without actually promising support, gave the impression that it would be forthcoming. There are no weasel words in the Montagnard languages. If somebody nods and smiles when you ask a yes or no question, that means yes. The Montagnards fought on for a decade. Y Tlur Eban, one of their guerrilla commanders, told me, "We won every battle and came out of every one worse off than before." Their weapons broke; they ran out of ammo. Their radios broke down. But they couldn't quit because they were wanted men. Four thousand of them set out across Cambodia for Thailand, to find the Americans. Four years later 200 of them arrived and were immediately clapped into a refugee camp to rot.
My friend, the late Don Scott, who had run a civilian hospital in Vietnam for an outfit called Project Concern, spent two years of his life and a quarter of a million dollars of his own money to get them to the U.S. I took a couple of years off to help him. A lot of folks, mostly former Special Forces, jumped in to help.
It's still going on. Carl Regan, at 21 the youngest captain in the U.S. Army, spent about that much time and money to ramrod a movement to get another thousand Montagnards to the U.S. last year. All told there are now more than 8000 Montagnards here. None are on welfare; most work two or three jobs. When we found them they wore loincloths and hunted with crossbows. There are now three or four Montagnard millionaires (one says his favorite English word is "interest"), some Ph.D.s, and one published author.I'm proud of what the Americans who fought with them have done, not so proud of what the government we both fought for has done.
In 1968 there were 2,000,000 Montagnards in Vietnam, and now there are 750,000 and dropping. They are in hell. We left them in hell.
Afghanistan is swiftly becoming another kind of hell.
As for Iraq, we shall soon know if we're birthin' this baby, or if we were just jerking off.