Edward Lansdale

From SourceWatch
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Edward Lansdale (1908-1987), born in Detroit, Michigan, "was a member of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), an organization that was given the responsible for espionage and for helping the resistance movement in Europe" during World War II.[1][

Lansdale was appointed chief of the Intelligence Division in the Philippines, where "his main task was to rebuild the country's security services. ... On his return to the United States in 1948 Lansdale became a lecturer at the Strategic Intelligence School in Colorado. However, in 1950, Elpidio Quirino, the president of the Philippines, requested Lansdale's help in his fight against the communist insurrection taking place in his country.[2]

"In 1953 Lansdale was sent to Vietnam to advise the French in their struggle with the Vietminh. The following year Lansdale and a team of twelve intelligence agents were sent to Saigon. The plan was to mount a propaganda campaign to persuade the Vietnamese people in the south not to vote for the communists in the forthcoming elections.

"In the months that followed they distributed targeted documents that claimed the Vietminh and Chinese communists had entered South Vietnam and were killing innocent civilians. The Ho Chi Minh government was also accused of slaying thousands of political opponents in North Vietnam.

"Colonel Lansdale also recruited mercenaries from the Philippines to carry out acts of sabotage in North Vietnam. This was unsuccessful and most of the mercenaries were arrested and put on trial in Hanoi. Finally, Lansdale set about training the South Vietnamese army (ARVN) in modem fighting methods. For it was coming clear that it was only a matter of time before the communists would resort to open warfare.

"In October, 1955, the South Vietnamese people were asked to choose between Bo Dai, the former Emperor of Vietnam, and Ngo Dinh Diem for the leadership of the country. Lansdale suggested that Diem should provide two ballot papers, red for Diem and green for Bao Dai. Lansdale hoped that the Vietnamese belief that red signified good luck whilst green indicated bad fortune, would help influence the result.

"When the voters arrived at the polling stations they found Diem's supporters in attendance. One voter complained afterwards: 'They told us to put the red ballot into envelopes and to throw the green ones into the wastebasket. A few people, faithful to Bao Dai, disobeyed. As soon as they left, the agents went after them, and roughed them up... They beat one of my relatives to pulp.'

"After the election Ngo Dinh Diem informed his American advisers that he had achieved 98.2 per cent of the vote. Lansdale warned him that these figures would not be believed and suggested that he published a figure of around 70 per cent. Diem refused and as the Americans predicted, the election undermined his authority.

"Another task of Lansdale and his team was to promote the success of the rule of President Ngo Dinh Diem. Figures were produced that indicated that South Vietnam was undergoing an economic miracle. With the employment of $250 millions of aid per year from the United States and the clever manipulating of statistics, it was reported that economic production had increased dramatically.

"Lansdale left Vietnam in 1957 and went to work for the Secretary of Defence in Washington. Posts held included: Deputy Assistant Secretary for Special Operations (1957-59), Staff Member of the President's Committee on Military Assistance (1959-61) and Assistant Secretary of Defence for Special Operations (1961-63).

"In 1963 Lansdale was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for counter-insurgency work and became consultant to the the Food for Peace programme.

"Lansdale returned to Vietnam in 1965 and became Senior Liaison Officer of the U.S. Mission to South Vietnam. Two years later he became assistant to Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker. Lansdale retired in 1968 and his book, The Midst of Wars, was published in 1972.

"Edward Lansdale died in McLean, Virginia, on 23rd February, 1987."

Edward Lansdale: Pioneered use of psychological warfare in counterinsurgency during Cold War... author of Phillipine counterinsurgency 1950s... Vampire tricks, etc... Viewed by later (Viet-era) US counterinsurgency operatives as an amateur...

Graham Greene supposedly based his "Pyle" character in The Quiet American on Lansdale...

Other Related SourceWatch Resources