Wednesday, October 26, 2005

War Counsel

I spent a few hours yesterday with the folks at the Fundación Francisco Franco. Their offices were much as you'd expect: dark and a bit musty, walls hung with faded tapestries and flags; a paneled board room with a floor-to-ceiling portrait of the Caudillo dressed in full regalia. And the Foundation officers also what you'd expect: elderly, gracious, rather tenaciously nostalgic.

One of the most interesting things to come out of the meeting was the correspondence they showed me between Franco and Lyndon Johnson. It seems that the US president had asked the Generalísimo to send Spanish troops to support the American ones in Vietnam. And Franco's reply was, well, insightful:

"My military and political experience allows me to appreciate the great difficulty of the enterprise in which you are engaged: guerrilla warfare favors the indigenous insurgents, who with very few men can keep contingents of better-armed troops in check. ...War in the jungle is an affair without end.

"I don't know Ho Chi Minh personally, but from his history and his efforts to throw out the Japanese, the Chinese, and the French, we must credit him with being a patriot....Without a doubt, he could be the man that, at this time, Vietnam needs."

Someone should have shown that letter to Aznar.

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