May 28, 2001
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There are a lot of things in life which do not make a whole lot of sense.
Take Christianity, for instance. I spent years trying to figure this one out. It's headed by a God who is supposedly all-powerful and good. However, he appears to be not exactly all-powerful, because he allows the existence of evil-Hitlers and Stalins, etc.
Well, actually, no, Christian theologians tell us, God actually is all-powerful, he's just designed the world the way it is, with poles of good and evil for us to get lost between, and horrors like cancer to face, so that human beings will be forced to find their way to good through grueling individual journeys of personal redemption. This is better than the short cut.
What's more, rather than simply guide us on our way to the promised land through more direct means, this God chooses to save us by sending his only son, who is half-man, half supernatural creaturea sort of Minotaur with a bearddown to earth to be violently crucified by an obscure Roman bureaucrat in an act which will be endlessly interpreted and re-interpreted for thousands of years, with no conclusion in sight.
There are intelligent people who actually believe this stuff. I don't know how they do it, but they do. Santa Claus makes more sense than the Christian trinity. What's even stranger is that the rest of us, the ones who don't believe, are made to feel like the ones with deviant beliefs. It is perfectly acceptable in our society for missionaries and proselytizers to bang on our doors and try to convince us that we're living a lie, but just try walking into a church full of chanting weirdos on Sunday and yelling "What the fuck! Just look at yourselves!" You'd be hanged from the nearest flagpole, and even your own mother might not cry at your funeral.
Our society is full of paradoxes like this. A man can snort cocaine in college, lie about it for twenty years, become governor of a huge state, and then sentence thousands of people to lengthy prison terms for doing the same thing. Then, when it comes out that he lied, the very people who elected him to put drug-abusers in jail can cry out in unison: "Get off his back!"
Subsequently, that same man can be elected president on a vague platform based on "values."
This is more than just the vicissitudes of politics, it's actual insanity, but we accept it because we're trained to accept the fact that many things in life do not make sense.
The bad thing about all of this is that the only way for a reasonable person to accept a lot of these things is to simply not think about them. It's like driving a car down the highway and suddenly being confronted by some terrible hallucination in your field of visionsay, a winged sheep flying across the horizon, carrying a shrieking naked woman. If you were to pay that sheep the attention it would seem to deserve, you would crash your car, without a doubt. So on some unconscious level your mind intercedes and tells you that there are no such things as flying sheep, that you should block it out, and just keep driving your car.
To relieve the stress of having to deal with things like this, we usually try to laugh about it all. Two friends will meet for lunch, each having mastered God knows what hallucinations just to get to the restaurant. One says to the other: "I saw a donkey fucking your mother in my driveway this morning." The other friend sighs, laughs, and says, "Yeahtell me about it." Then they go on with their business.
That's the way it goes for a lot of people in America. They just black out everything they don't need to think about, and concentrate only on the things that they need to focus on to make it through the dayimmediate tasks at work, for instance. Then, in their leisure time, they just find a safe direction to stare in, and park there until the next work day begins.
If you ever want to understand the phenomenon of professional sports addicts, this is a good place to start. You can watch ESPN twenty-four hours a day and not once see a donkey fucking anybody's mother. Some people are so grateful for this oasis that they'll pack up their things and move their whole emotional lives there. They'll dress up in funny hats and sweatshirts and wave huge index fingers made of foam on their hands and let their kids watch them wear stupid dog masks and bark at the field for three straight hours while the wife deals with the blankets and the hot dog man. The weirder the world gets, the more you need an escape.
The problem with all of this is that if you keep it up long enough, you'll eventually be forced to block out so much of the world that there'll be no room left in it for your actual physical person at all. That only happens when the hallucinations become so intense that they defy any attempt at ignoring them.
Which brings me to the Bob Kerrey story. This story, about a former senator who was involved in a massacre in Vietnam and remained a hero even after the truth came out, is so insane on its face that when it broke, I felt like running into an ESPN studio and never coming out. But as a sort of exercise I decided instead to stare directly into the hallucination. I am going to describe what I saw. You can then judge for yourself: am I the one who's crazy?
I never liked Bob Kerrey. Two things in particular always bothered me about him. The first is his head. If you look closely at Kerrey's head, you'll notice that the proportions are all wrong. The area above his eyes, i.e. the forehead and the crown of his skull, is as wide around as an NBA basketball. Sunk into the base of the basketball are two huge insectoid eyes which always seem to be wide open and scanning the landscape. Directly below the eyes, Kerrey's head narrows rapidly down to a tiny miniaturized cone containing his mouth and chin, creating a sort of hot-air-balloon-meets-Antz effect for the head overall.
I've been seeing more and more people with heads like this lately, particularly in the States. I don't know what it means. But it makes me nervous.
The second thing about Kerrey I never liked was the fact that he was a U.S. senator. At age 31 I've already learned to expect that a U.S. senator, any U.S. senator, will start lying the instant he opens his mouth.
I wouldn't trust a U.S. senator to tell me the time. He'd look right at me with a smile on his face and say: "The American people say it's four-thirty." Then I'd have to go ask someone else.
Well, okay, so our senators lie to us. That's their job, right? Tell me about it. You can almost live with that, but then it happens sometimes that these guys get in trouble, and they ask you to feel sorry for themlike they're real people! This is too much, and it's exactly what happened when the news about Kerrey first broke.
The actual chronology of the Kerrey scandal is fairly simple to follow. On Wednesday, April 25, the Wall Street Journal ran a front page story reporting that the New York Times was planning an expose in its next Sunday edition which would assert that the former Nebraska senator, while commanding a unit of Navy SEALs, had overseen the massacre of at least 13, and probably 21, unarmed Vietnamese civilians in 1969.
Kerrey had been tipped off that the Times was going to run the piece that week, so he came forward a few days in advance to soften the story's impact by putting out his own version of the incident first. This was perfectly natural, what any self-interested politician would do in those circumstances.
But before we were even given a chance to think about the substance of the story, lies began to fly back and forth about how the story came out in the first place.
About the actual events of the village of Thang Phong 32 years ago only the witnesses know for sure, but the objective truth about the release of the story is something that we can all determine easily enough. Something happened on February 25, 1969 that resulted in the death of a number of unarmed civilians; that's a fact no one disputes. Kerrey lied about that, writing in his report that the mission to Thang Phong had resulted in "21 Viet Cong dead." He kept silent about the story when he won a Bronze medal, a medal which it appears he won for shooting if not outright executing unarmed civilians, including women and children.
Kerrey then kept quiet about the story for 32 years, successfully running for office several times, even concealing the information while running for president. Another fact not in dispute is that reporter Gregory Vistica, who eventually wrote the Times piece, had the story as early as 1992, during Kerrey's presidential campaign. Vistica pitched the story back then to Newsweek magazine political editor David Hackworth, a retired army colonel, who not surprisingly killed the story. In its May 7 issue, Newsweek claimed that it first heard about the story in 1997 and contacted Kerrey then, but it is lying about thisKerrey has known that someone was on to him (and not just someone, but Navy pariah Vistica, who broke the Tailhook sex-abuse story) for at least nine years, and still kept silent all that time.
In fact, he kept silent about the story even when applying for his post-Senate job as president of the New School of Social Research, a post he assumed this past January. He continued to keep silent right up through to the bitter end, until the New York Times Magazine story was already set in print, and thenand only thenhe finally came forward to head off the upcoming media disaster.
Nonetheless, when the story finally came out, Kerrey was actually praised in many places for showing "candor" and "courage" in facing up to his old ghosts. Los Angeles Times columnist Richard Reeves was one of many to lie brazenly about the reason for the story's release:
"Kerrey is by far a better man than Calley. For reasons of his own, it was he who decided to tell this shaming story himself. I know that he talked about it because he wanted it out and probably because he thinks it is healthy to talk about what young men are actually called upon to do to survive in war."
Many other news organizations reported the story the same wayas though Kerrey had broken the story himself by coming forward with an unexpected "revelation." Here's how Christopher Michaud of Reuters put it:
"The barrage of interest in the revelation by the former senator and U.S. presidential candidate shows that the protracted conflict which bitterly divided the nation during the tumultuous 1960s, remains a painful topic."
Forget for a minute that we're not talking about the whole war, the "tumultuous 1960s," or some broadly "painful topic," but one specific incident on a specific day involving the alleged massacre of unarmed women and children. Let's just stick to the whole issue of how it came out. Michaud never once mentions that Kerrey pre-empted a damaging expose. Instead, he writes, "Kerrey told this week of a combat mission he led in Vietnam 32 years ago during which more than 20 unarmed civilians, mostly women and children, were killed in the Mekong Delta."
Forget also the passive tense in the phrase "were killed," which does not specify who did the killing. The fact is that Kerrey clearly demonstrated the maximum possible level of duplicity at least insofar as the release of the story is concerned; he waited until the very last minute, sweated out at least nine long years hoping against hope that Vistica would continue to strike out with his editors or, perhaps, be hit with a bus, and then finally, when there was absolutely no other choice, he was forced into an extremely reluctant public admission that a "tragedy" happened 32 years ago.
And the story he told in that public admission was in itself extremely contradictory and unsatisfactory. On the one hand, he called the incident an "atrocity" which could not be justified "either morally or militarily," but on the other hand he insisted that his unit had been fired upon and that the victims had been killed only by return firein other words, in a militarily justifiable act. On the one hand, he denied allegations by fellow squad member Gerhard Klann that the civilians had been rounded up and executed, but on the other hand, he refused to say explicitly that Klann had been mistaken.
In other words, he lied every step of the way until it wasn't possible to lie anymore, and then even when he couldn't lie anymore, he couldn't quite tell the truth. But for all that, Kerrey was described as having "courage" for coming out with the storyjust look at this passage from a Newsweek report:
"From time to time, and with increasing urgency as the years passed, Kerrey contemplated going public with the story. But, he told NEWSWEEK last week, 'I was never able to muster the courage to do it.'... Kerrey finally told his agonizing tale last week, submitting to interviews by a number of national news organizations."
This article went on to point out, by Kerrey's "own admission," that the revelation had been made in advance of the Times story. But the thrust of the lead was clear, that this was a memory that Kerrey struggled with and was now finally confronting. Even the headline, "Coming to Terms With a Tragedy," is misleadingKerrey in fact was brought or maybe even dragged to terms in this instance.
And just look at the language: "Kerrey finally told his agonizing tale last week..."
"His agonizing tale?" He wasn't the one who got shot! Jesus Christ!
Within days of its release, every aspect of Vistica's story came under attack by the national media. It was a breathtaking display of media vengefulness. There were concerted efforts to undermine every single element of the report. Of course, they attacked the reporter first. The abovementioned Hackworth, now a Fox news analyst, called Vistica and CBS's Dan Rather (the report was also broadcast on 60 minutes II) "snakes" and added, "Neither one of these frequent military bashers is fit to shine Kerrey's one jungle boot." The syndicated anonymous "Dateline, D.C." column, published in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, among other places, went even further:
"Gregory Vistica was a child in 1969 when Kerrey was serving his country in Vietnam. He graduated from San Francisco State University, a third-rate establishment lagging far behind the University of California system, with a bachelor's degree in international affairs."
What are we supposed to think about a world where it's acceptable to shoot unarmed women and children, but a crime to study at "a third-rate establishment lagging far behind the University of California system?" Good thing Vistica was never caught driving a shitty car or having a thin resume we'd be trying him for war crimes!
Klann also came under attack, with writers like Reeves noting that he "changed his story" about the killings being deliberatewhile failing to note that Kerrey himself had changed his story many times. When Vietnamese witnesses were found corroborating Klann's story, stories came out which asserted that they were not telling the truth. Several papers noted that the witnesses were subject to pressure from the communist government.
"Two Vietnamese women claim to have been eyewitnesses to a U.S. military atrocity," wrote one columnist. "However, they have wildly different stories to tellwhich they do with bells and whistles provided by Vietnam's communist government.'
Kerrey himself, with regard to statements from a local Vietnamese official who interviewed survivors of the incident, said, "That account is absolutely untrue."
Even the other famous Vietnam "Kerry," Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, came under fire in the wake of the Bob Kerrey story. Kerry's crime was his role in organizing protests by Vietnam veterans against the war back in 1971. He was not a proud soldier like Bob Kerrey, and so he came under fire when the proud soldier was attacked, despite the fact that he had nothing at all to do with the story. Columnist Mona Charen noted that it was "peculiar" that in the wake of the silly attack on a real soldier like Bob Kerrey, it should come to light that John Kerry's famous protest involving the throwing of medals onto the Pentagon steps was a fake. "It turns out that Kerry threw someone else's medals that day. He kept his. Hypocrite."
Then there is the actual incident itself, and the facts of the case.
I was born in 1970. The Vietnam war means nothing to me personally. None of my relatives served. Nobody close to me lost anyone in the war. I only know the history of the conflict from what I've read in books. My earliest memories are of Scooby Doo; I don't remember seeing the evacuation of Saigon on television.
Nonetheless, I can try to imagine what happened that night. I do have a personal frame of reference to put it all in. Like a lot of kids, I grew up with the legend of the bogey man, or boogie man, as my parents called himthe scary deformed monster who somehow appeared in my room in the middle of the night, peeking out from behind the Red Sox banner on my closet door, waiting to eat me alive while I slept. I was probably actively afraid of the boogie man from the earliest age of conscious thought until about six. I was still checking my closet from time to time until I was at least ten.
So I think I can imagine how this whole thing looks to a six year-old Vietnamese kid. You're lying asleep in your little hut late at night, with insects screeching in the darkness, while somewhere miles away, some tall, pale creep with a giant oblong forehead and ANTZ eyes is putting on a mask and diving into the night to head to your house. He is not a native of your village or even your country, but a very different-looking creature from another world. Thenif we are to believe Klann and the Vietnamese witnesses, of coursehe actually arrives in your village in the middle of the night, storms into your house, a big boogie man in a mask, rounds everyone up, and kills you and the rest of your family, slitting their throats with a knife.
Kerrey's version of the story has it that his group was fired upon, and he somehow accidentally killed women, children, and old people, presumably as they stood around in the line of fire, not ducking for cover or running for shelter, in the middle of the night, in the middle of the village, where they all magically fell dead in a neat pile, close enough for Kerrey and his team to count the bodies.
There are five graves marked with the same date of deaththe night of Kerrey's raid still in the village. Three are children who were stabbed to death. Stabbed to death! Even if you accept Kerrey's version of the story, these kids still ended up dead, killed at close range in a surprise attack at night, and we're still talking about the boogie man.
That's why this Kerrey business isn't just a matter of "reopening old wounds." There are new wounds here. The new wounds come when rational people are asked to accept things as insane as the idea that we should protect the bogey man from public censure. Just think of all the different absurdities you have to accept in order to come around to the official explanation for conduct like Kerrey's. You have to accept the idea that killing civilians in a faraway land in covert nighttime operations was necessary in order to protect the same population from having a communist government forced upon them. That's what it came down to, the official explanationthat we had to travel halfway across the world, sneak into foreign villages at night, and kill civilians in order to preserve the principle of... free enterprise!
And why did we have to kill women, children, and old people? Because they were all the enemy. Here's how Mona Charen articulated this excuse:
"Vietnam did present more challenges to conscientious soldiers than World War II, though, because of the nature of the enemy. It was routine for a Vietcong to dress as peasants and blend into them for camouflage."
The "Dateline, D.C." column repeats the same argument:
"Vistica did not mention the thencommon Vietcong practice of employing women as soldiers, of using women and small children as spies, couriers, and human shields."
Other pundits repeated the same line, that women and children could be killed because they were often collaborating with the enemy.
Think about this argument for a minute. What does it tell you when you're fighting an enemy that is willing to send women, children and old people to throw grenades at you? Remember, these are not women, children and old people who were, say, invading Vermont. They were sitting there, living in their own villages in their own country, defending themselves against a foreign invader. If people were indeed using their kids to fight their wars, they must have hated us to a degree that made it possible to sacrifice their own children rather than submit to our will. Now why would anyone hate us that much?
It's important to understand what we were really doing in Vietnam. It's important even now that the war is long over. Kerrey himself probably said it best when he sneered, in response to the new controversy, "In Laos and Vietnam the war is over; in the United States, it is not."
Why isn't it over here in America? Because we're still in denial about what we were doing there!
Look, the facts are there for everyone to see. In 1954, Dwight Eisenhower created a puppet government in South Vietnam, installing a dictator named Ngo Dinh Diem as the country's ruler. Diem was a Catholic exile who prior to assuming power had been living in a seminary in New Jersey. His installation, incidentally, was an affront to an overwhelmingly Buddhist country that had only just escaped the colonial rule of France, which brought Catholicism to Vietnam. Before Diem took power, the Geneva accords had mandated free elections in 1956 that were supposed to unite the North and the South, but Diemon orders from the U.S.prevented those elections from ever taking place. He did so because it was well known that if elections were held, a U.S. antagonist-Ho Chi Minh-would have won easily.
So we prevented the elections, coming out against the principle of democracy.
Then, in 1963, when Diem vacillated about accepting an increased U.S. military presence, he was assassinated on the orders of the CIA.
So we took this tiny country, installed an illegitimate dictator, prevented free elections, and then killed their ruler when he refused to turn over absolute sovereignty to the U.S. military. Then we went in and sent armies of Bob Kerreys to prowl the countryside wantonly killing civilians, including children and old people, who might have been Viet Cong, on the principle that we were preserving their democratic rights there.
Now, 32 years later, it comes out that a man who returned from the war with a piece of his leg missing and a Medal of Honor on his chest, and subsequently became a U.S. Senator, was involved in one of these civilian killings. It took nine full years for the reporter who worked on the story, Vistica, to convince someone to publish it. And when he finally broke through, what does nearly the whole of the American media apparatus do?
It tries to convince us that we should feel sorry for Bob Kerrey!
Just look at the headlines. "Bob Kerrey's Nightmare" (Newsweek). "Bob Kerrey's Burden" (Washington Post). "Bob KerreyAdmirable American with a Conflicted Conscience" (syndicated columnist Mark Shields). "Coming to terms with a tragedy" (again, Newsweek).
All of these stories reflect the central psychosis of the American world view, a defect of vision that we expatriates should be particularly conscious of.
In the case of Vietnam, we continue to call that war "our national tragedy," even though it was Vietnam that suffered a million civilian casualties and Laos thatlost a tenth of its population as we bombed their countries into submission, literally turning huge chunks of territories into moonscapes.
The tragedy we see in this is not that we killed such a monstrous number of innocent people for no real reason, but that the experience caused us to feel badly about ourselves for a short period of time. Evidence of our total inability to grasp what actually happened there came during the Gulf War, when George Bush, Sr. talked about our swift and impressive victory against Iraq putting an end to the "Vietnam syndrome"that national bummer we suffered when we lost to a bunch of guys in pajamas.
The Kerrey story crystallized this madness. The dead Vietnamese in Thanh Phong are a cause for sorrow and reflection only because they caused a well-known American to be "haunted" for a period of yearsnot haunted enough to confess or perform anything like an act of contrition, mind you, but enough to make it impossible to fully enjoy his Washington cocktail parties. Washington Post columnist Mary McGrory articulated the "Hasn't he suffered enough?" argument when she wrote that:
"Bob Kerrey, who lost a leg and his peace of mind in Vietnam, should not have to answer for all of this."
Our movies about Vietnam reinforce these demented myths. The main character is always some well-meaning, naive young man who goes over to the jungle, kills a bunch of people, discovers too late that he is confused about what the hell he's doing there, and then comes home to be screamed at by dirty hippies before retreating into some dreary life of dead-end jobs, ratty flannel shirts, and periodic bouts of social awkwardness.
These are the poignant tragedies we've bravely come to terms with. You never get the real tragedies the Vietnamese went throughthe concentration camps (which we called "Strategic hamlets"), the loss of your entire family at the hands of pimply kids with machine guns, the experience of watching your mother or your sister or your daughter raped by foreigners while you're hog-tied on the ground and forced to watch.
Actually, it's not true that we don't get the Vietnamese point of view. In the Kerrey affair, we were told what the Vietnamese thought. As it turns out, they feel sorry for Kerrey too!
Here is a real headline from a real news story which hit the wires a few weeks ago. It was written by Sonya Hepinstall of Reuters:
SORROW, SYMPATHY FOR KERREY AMONG VIETNAMESE IN U.S.
Hepinstall for this story quoted two Vietnamese-Americans who expressed sympathy for Kerrey. One is an unidentified woman in a mall, who says, "Accidents do happen in wars... I kind of feel sorry for him having to go through all that, and for the families in the village."
The other Vietnamese quoted is Nguyen Xuan Nghia, a broadcaster for the California-based Little Saigon Radio station. Nghia was among the most frequently quoted people in America in the past few weeks. I found the following quote in nearly a dozen news reports:
"We believe it was an accident... It was very damaging for him and his family to come forward... Confronting the past makes us stronger and we all share our sympathies with Senator Kerrey."
In case we missed the point of all this, Hepinstall was there to clear things up:
"From shoppers in suburban Washington, to a California-based radio broadcaster serving the Vietnamese community, the Kerrey incident is a reminder of the accidents, tragedies and sorrow of the war, and the need to heal old wounds."
Look at how many lies and exaggerations and manipulations there are in just this once sentence. Charen doesn't quote many shoppers, but just onebut it's "shoppers" here. The phrase "From...to" asks us to consider the geographical distance between Washington and California, suggesting that all the Vietnamese in between feel the same way. The "broadcaster" is not just one broadcaster, but a broadcaster "serving the Vietnamese community'" as though he is a spokesman for his listeners. The Kerrey incident, again, is a reminder of "accidents, tragedies and sorrow" (sorrow being the "sorrow for Kerrey" in the headline?) of the "war"again relying on the old trick, repeated probably five thousand times in the weeks following the break of the Kerrey story, of equating controversy over a specific allegation of a war crime with our national disagreement over the entire Vietnam war.
Finally, at the end of all this, Hepinstall invites us to eat her conclusion, which is that everybody agrees that it is time to "heal old wounds" which is the standard Kerrey-story euphemism for forgiving and forgetting and letting the whole thing go.
There's Western journalism for you. Find me two Vietnamese who'll let Kerrey off the hook, and I'll give you 1400 words on page 2. Try the mall in Arlington. Be back by four.
Kerrey himself, incidentally, is similarly interested in healing old wounds. Newsweek wrapped up its coverage of the incident in the following fashion:
"Kerrey, 57, who recently married for the second time and whose wife is expecting a baby, dismissed rumor that he is again thinking of running for president. He says he is prepared to 'tolerate' the uproar over the incident. 'It'll be confusing, shocking, and difficult. But I think it'll heal wounds. It's already healed mine."
What does Kerrey mean when he says he'll "tolerate" the uproar? What would not tolerating it entail? These are the things you think about when you start wondering whether it's you that's the crazy one, or it's everybody else.
The Kerrey story broke on April 25. It's now May 16, and it's been completely dead in the United States for almost two weeks already. It wasn't buried by any media conspiracy. It died because of that look people give you in the States when you talk to them about anythinganything!that doesn't involve sports or movies.
You all know the look I'm talking aboutthat thing where your best friend physically backs up as you talk to him, tilts his head and widens his eyes to convey a sort of embarrassed surprise, and then shoots you this look that says, "Yeah, I'm with you, dude, but let's move on, ok?"
You can bring up the Kerrey thing. Hey, Jesus, did you see this story? They massacred 20 people, and we're supposed to feel sorry for them! And that's after we bombed the Serbs for doing exactly the same thing. Isn't that crazy?"
"Yeah," he says. "Tell me about it."
You try again. "Did you see that other report today? It turns out Klaus Barbie, the Nazi "Butcher of Lyon," worked for us. We hired him after the war to torture people and deal coke in Bolivia!"
Your friend is walking sideways out of the room, and is now pretending to clean something up on his kitchen counter. "Wow," he says. "That's weird."
"Hey," you yell out. "Is you mother home? I'd like to go over and fuck her. And your Dad, too."
Just let it go, he's thinking, it's all talk. Keep fiddling with stuff on your counter. "Yeah," your friend says. "You do that. Give them one for me..."
Now you throw him a curveball. "Hey, did you hear what the Colts did today? They traded Peyton Manning to Miami for Olindo Mare and two number ones!"
Now your friend snaps awake. "What?" he says. "You've gotta be kidding. Olindo Mare's a placekicker!"
But you're just fucking with him. At least you got his attention.
One of the ways doctors check for signs of life is to poke a body with a sharp object. If you don't respond to having something jammed in your armpit, that's a good sign you might not be alive anymore.
What does it say about you if you don't even blink when the society you live in tells you that murder is bravery and deceit is candor? There isn't much room for this stuff to get weirder.
Matt Taibbi is Editor in Chief, with Mark Ames, of the iconoclastic eXile, a magazine published in Moscow, Russia. Both Taibbi and Ames are known for their journalistic acumen and their sense of humor; they are also famous for not mincing their words! They have published a book about the magazine, The eXile: Sex, Drugs and Libel in the New Russia (April 2000, Grove Press - ISBN: 0802136524). This article was first published on The eXile and is re-published with the author's written permission. Matt Taibbi can be reached at email@example.com
Please, DO NOT steal, scavenge or repost this work without the expressed written authorization of Swans, which will seek permission from the author. This material is copyrighted, © Matt Taibbi 2001. All rights reserved.
On the subject of Vietnam, you may want to read Vietnam: A Retrospective, a series of 10 essays Swans published last year at the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the end of the war (the links to each essay are located at the bottom of each page).
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