Donald MacDonald, head of the biggest AID project in the history of the world, was hosting a dinner party at his Saigon home when the conversation shifted to the war. One of the guests suggested that the AID boys were fooling themselves with their pacification schemes, which had never worked and were not working. The color rose in MacDonald's face, as it tends to do, his eyes gleaming with some unmentionable zeal. His hand dropped to his middle jacket button, and after having established that it was securely fastened, climbed to stroke his chin. He looked dapper but grim in his shiny suit, like a salesman who really believes in his product, selling something nobody wants to buy.
"We can't get out," said a guest, a CIA official working for AID. "We're up to our necks in it now and we're going to stay. We're going to beat the communists at their own game, use their methods, cut off their cocks and cut up the women and children if that's what it takes, until we break the communist hold over these people. We can stand it. We're going to make this place as germ-free as an operating room. And we can afford to do a better job of it than the VC."
The hygiene imagery shocks the uninitiated, but one hears it continually from U.S. officials in the war zone. An area is "sanitized" when supporters of the National Liberation Front are killed, captured or relocated, and the "germs" are not only the Front troops and cadres, but their millions of sympathizers as well.
What is in fact being contemplated by the military men who run things in Saigon and their numberless military- minded colleagues in AID, CIA, USIS and the Embassy is a "final solution" to the Vietnamese problem. The first steps toward "solving" it, detailed in the following pages, have long since become implemented policy. But how far the military____________________