(Guest contributor – Chaplain Scott Foust – to mark the anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War – April 30, 1775)
Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
During the Vietnam War, the RAND Corporation (an intellectual think tank) was commissioned by the Pentagon to determine the effectiveness of war efforts on America’s adversaries, the Vietcong. In 1964, RAND appointed Mr. Leon Gouré to set up an intelligence-gathering office in Saigon with the focus of interviewing Vietcong defectors and prisoners. The operation was called the Vietcong Motivation and Morale Project. The operation produced an astounding 62,000 pages of intelligence!
Gouré analyzed the data and submitted his report: in the beginning, 65% of Vietcong defectors believed the Vietcong would win; after one year of American bombing, 20% believed the same. His conclusion? According to Gouré, the United States was well on its way to victory in Vietnam. Gouré’s findings were held in the highest regard by the US’s highest in command. In fact, President Johnson was known to carry a copy of Gouré’s findings in his back pocket.
Later in 1966, RAND appointed Mr. Konrad Kellen to take over the operation. Kellen analyzed the same pages of information that Gouré had analyzed. Yet, he reached an entirely different conclusion: “The Vietcong are not crumbling, on the contrary. … We’re never going to win.”
What happened? Gouré was Russian-born, whose family was expelled from Moscow in 1922 during the rise of the Communist Party. His family fled to Berlin, and then Nazi pressure drove the family to Paris in 1933. Within a decade thereafter, the family fled to New York. Gouré was as a perpetual refugee for twenty years until the United States became his final haven. Communism expelled him, and America offered him a home. He would forever regard Communism with disdain. He would also forever extol the United States and was convinced that American decision-makers could do no wrong. Consequently, he read intelligence reports with a skewed perspective. Gouré was influenced by a bias, one of which he was unaware. This blind spot led to a complete misreading of the situation, and it was extremely costly.
King David had the good sense to know he was susceptible to blind spots. Therefore, David asked the Lord to reveal his biases and prejudices, to divulge his skewed perspectives, and to expose his blindness. PLEASE PRAY THAT OUR NATION WOULD OPEN ITS HEART TO THE LIGHT OF GOD’S WORD, that we would allow our blind spots to be exposed and supplanted with Truth!