Chuck’s Briefing of the Ambassador in Last of the Annamese

The protagonist of Last of the Annamese, Chuck Griffin, briefs the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) once a month. His boss, Colonel Troiano, chief of the DAO Intelligence Branch, assigns that job to Chuck because Chuck has the rare ability to look at a series of events and know what’s going to happen next.

This is one more case where Chuck’s experiences almost exactly match mine. I briefed the U.S. Ambassador, Graham Martin, regularly, and, like Chuck, warned him of North Vietnamese preparations to attack Saigon. He didn’t believe me. Instead, he believed the assurances of the Hungarian member of the ICCS that North Vietnam had no intention of invading Saigon; it wished, instead, to form a coalition government “with all the patriotic forces” and rule jointly. That gentleman was a representative of a communist government allied to North Vietnam. And the Ambassador accepted his statements in the face of the overwhelming evidence I was providing him that the attack was imminent.

Chuck’s gift for foreseeing the future was another trait he and I have in common. Over my many years of working on intelligence about North Vietnam, I found a small handful of analysts who possessed that same insight. They and I worked together to warn the U.S. government and military commanders of what was coming next. We successfully foretold each major North Vietnamese offensive from 1964 on. Our fate was like Chuck’s in Annamese: all too often we weren’t believed. It happened so often I coined the name “Cassandra Effect” to describe it.

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