REVIEW of Richard Gould's book, Refusal to Submit,
by Rick Erlich
My God, this author Dick Gould was so brave and principled. By 1966 it seems he already knew so much about the prior history of Viet Nam. He knew about the USA propping up the Diem/Nhu/Ky regime against the huge percent of locals not in favor, and knew about American ordered murders of civilians in villages per the CIA’s Phoenix Program. He knew that all the news reports and numbers were lies. That stuff is so widely chronicled and known now, and began to circulate since the last part of the 60s, but I am awed that Gould was so aware and strongly principled then while still a teenager. This book shows the bravest of the brave of our time weren’t really my fellow Vietnam veterans, but by a big leap were those few (4000) like him who knew, who understood the cost of refusing (imprisonment), and paid it willingly. His book rips open again the never healed festering cauldron of what a huge pointless disaster our war was.
The writing in Refusal to Submit also reminds us of the early 70’s when so many American citizens had finally joined in the protest against a war created and pursued on obvious lies, a totally unnecessary intervention. We the citizens hoped for decency and strongly found our voice. Today widespread objection to official dishonesty for benefit of the war machine is curiously missing/ needed. The brutal M.O. of the USA has only gotten much worse since the 9/11 event. The “Defense industry” or defense/ security/ intelligence industry remains the biggest of all by a wide margin, its propaganda mill working round the clock to make people fear and believe we need all that stuff, and to celebrate our military, no matter what. Whether we have Democrats or Republicans no longer matters externally because they are all owned by the Defense lobby and vote accordingly. Now we wage war in so many countries at once, and even our Congress doesn’t really know what the CIA / special forces are doing.
This book should be made into a movie ! Such an important (true) story would then reach many more people. For me, Refusal to Submit joins The Devil’s Chessboard, (D Talbot) Confessions of an Economic Hitman, (J Perkins) and The CIA as Organized Crime (D. Valentiine) in the pantheon of must-read info sources on how our American government has subverted all honest relations with other countries, trained the populace to applaud the military without question. Gould by example clearly shows how we should demand the truth, resist, speak out, and try to get back to some idealism consistent with the US Constitution, democratic principles, agreed rules of the UN/ international agreements, and basic decency in the world.
The murderous Phoenix program is still hard at work in multiple countries, in person and by drone target strikes; the widespread killing, maiming, and destruction continues. The book format of Gould’s letters to his college-age children shows lessons in how to resist, seemingly adaptable even today if America is to climb out of the over-militarized fear driven morass we have been in during recent memory.