The Furtive War by Wilfred Burchett

Author's Preface

For a large part of my professional life I have watched wars waged in Asia. After riding a truck over the Burma Road more than twenty years ago to Chungking—then the world's most bombed capital—to report the Sino-Japanese war, I followed the trail of wrecked cities and burned villages through most of the countries of Asia and the Pacific area during World War II. Until the blood-soaked trail led to Hiroshima… There at least one thought it ended. But it soon started up again with the "dirty war" in Indo-China and the civil war on the China Mainland. Then the agony of the Korean war, with hardly a village or house north of the 38th parallel spared from high explosive or napalm.

I saw more than a fair share of blood and tears in those wars.

During two years at the Panmunjom ceasefire talks to end the war in Korea and three months at the 1954 Geneva conference to halt the fighting in Indo-China, I have seen how difficult it is to quench the flames of war, so easily kindled. After those painfully negotiated Panmunjom and Geneva agreements, it seemed Asia could breathe again, could relax and heal the war wounds. For two and a half years after the Geneva Agreements, I travelled in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia to watch the application—often enough the non-application—of those Agreements.

In the first half of 1962, I revisited the former states of Indo-China. By then it was an open war in Laos and a quiet war in South Vietnam that were the focus of world attention.

On questions of war and peace, it is difficult to be impartial and dispassionate. The book that follows sticks to carefully verified and verifiable facts that throw light on dark places in Southeast Asia. I was able to seek the opinions of South-east Asian leaders most directly concerned with present-day problems, including the Laotian princes; Prince Sihanouk of Cambodia; President Ho Chi Minh and Premier Pham Van Dong of North Vietnam; Professor Nguyen Van Hieu, Secretary General of the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam, and many others.

If the book contributes to finding the end of the war trail in Asia, it will have served its purpose.