A Nation Betrayed
The author states this is the definitive account of a nation betrayed. The preface: a spider web of patriots-for-profit operating from the highest positions have successfully circumvented our Constitutional system in pursuit of a parallel government. It goes on to say that they have infused America with drugs in order to fund illegal, covert, world-wide operations while sealing the fate of our servicemen left in Communist prisons after the Vietnam War. Hiding behind a mask of official righteousness, this secret combination seeks to impose their own concept of geopolitical navagation, nullifying liberty as the hard- won birthright of all Americans. This book contains these strong words from the most decorated Green Beret Commander of the Vietnam Era, James “Bo” Gritz
- Hardcover: 370 pages
- Publisher: Lazarus Pub Co; 2nd edition (October 1991)
A Nation Betrayed is the story of a tough Army guy who went back to Vietnam to look for lost American POW camps. The Hannibal Smith character on the A-Team, and Sylvester Stallone’s character in the original Rambo movie “First Blood” are based on this guy named Bo Gritz.
On his POW rescue mission, he ran into Kuhn Sa, the local drug warlord who controlled the Golden Triangle. He didn’t know anything about POWs, but told Gritz that we’re the biggest customer of his merchandise and, while he wouldn’t say who his current contact in the government is, he’d throw out the prior one: a former Naval Officer and then Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitrage. This being the multi-lingual officer stationed all over Vietnam for the length of the conflict, Poppy Bush’s “gopher.”
Gritz ran home with the video, and our warlord was punished by being served international warrants for his arrest, until he decided it would be safer to turn himself over to his own government rather than face American wrath.
Meanwhile, Gritz tried to denounce US involvement in the heroin business, was blackballed, made a pariah, pushed out of the public eye, until a new documentary — Erase and Forget — resuscitated his case. There was a great video, the actual footage of him interviewing drug baron Khun Sa, now since deleted from YouTube. A shorter clip has just now been reposted, watch the truth with your own eyes!
John Rambo, the character famously played by Sylvester Stallone, was said to have been inspired by tales of this decorated Vietnam veteran’s feats behind enemy lines. Cigar-chomping Colonel “Hannibal” Smith was loosely based on his adventures with a real-life A-team. And for Apocalypse Now, Francis Ford Coppola wanted to superimpose Marlon Brando’s head on to a photograph showing this legendary soldier surrounded by a bunch of Cambodian mercenaries.
Like his filmic alter egos, James Gordon “Bo” Gritz was frequently confronted with violence and destruction during a lengthy military career. By his own claims, he killed more than 400 people in operations ranging from the Bay of Pigs to Afghanistan.
A new documentary, which premiered at the Berlin film festival last weekend, applies re-enactment methods familiar from Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing to tell Gritz’s story and explore the deep bonds between Hollywood’s fictionalised conflicts and America’s hidden wars.
Filmed over a period of 10 years, Andrea Luka Zimmerman’s Erase and Forget interweaves unseen archive footage and exclusive interviews with scenes of Gritz acting out sequences from 80s action films said to have been inspired by his own life. For one scene, the German film-maker hired a Russian Rambo lookalike for a scene in which Gritz demonstrates his interrogation techniques.
“Bo has appeared on screen many times, as actor and as presenter, so he was not averse to being filmed,” said Zimmerman, who used to be part of the same experimental film collective, Vision Machine, as Oppenheimer. “It was more a question of getting beneath – or rather, working through the staged persona towards larger and deeper truths.”
After retiring from the army in 1979, Gritz was welcomed back to the US as a hero but grew increasingly disillusioned with the country he had risked his life for. During the 80s, he made a number of trips to Burma – funded in part by William Shatner and Clint Eastwood – to locate what he believed to be prisoners of war that had dropped off the government’s radar.
He returned as a whistleblower. In an interview Gritz had taped, Khun Sa, a Burmese warlord nicknamed the “Opium King”, appeared to name several officials in the Reagan administration as being involved in drugs trafficking in south-east Asia, including Richard Armitage, later a deputy secretary of state under George W Bush.
Though these allegations were never proved, they led other former soldiers to become increasingly open about missions that had previously been shrouded in a veil of silence, such as the secret training of Afghan mujahideen in the Nevada desert.
On the one hand a pro-life gun collector with an inclination for “one-world government” conspiracy theories, on the other an anti-war whistleblower who defended conscientious objectors, Bo Gritz for a long time managed to appeal to both the left and the right of the US political spectrum.
In 1988, he ran for the US presidency on behalf of the Populist party (under the slogan “God, guns and Gritz”), dropping out of the race when he discovered that former Ku Klux Klansman David Duke was his running mate.
Erase and Forget is thus also an essay on the historic causes of America’s deep disillusionment with its own government. In one interview, Gritz describes how he and his team dressed up as local militia during a covert mission in Panama, deliberately running over people in the road to sow distrust between the people and their army.
“These people were in the business not of fake news but of false history, dressing up as the enemy,” says Zimmerman. “When you are at the mercy of such policies, how do you ever figure out what is really going on? That’s what is really dangerous. We’ve lost trust in our politicians partly because these things happened.”
Zimmerman paid her last visit to her subject just before the US elections, meeting Gritz in the trailer he inhabits in the Nevada desert, surrounded by large-calibre guns and ammunition.
“Bo is a member of the Republicans. He leans to the conservative right for sure, but I don’t believe in any way that he is a racist or antisemite. He really, really hates Trump. He was trained in graphology in the military and he said Trump’s signature reminds him of Himmler’s. And yet he still said he couldn’t vote for Clinton. So if he did vote, he probably would have voted Trump.”
Twenty years ago, she suggests, Gritz was the presidential candidate that the current president pretends to be. “The difference between Trump and Bo is that Trump believes in money while Bo believes in values – whether we share his values or not. He’s not out for profit.”
How come Gritz failed while Trump succeeded? “I think it’s a class issue. Bo comes from a working-class background. He’s concerned about people who have no voice. People like Trump have a different sense of entitlement.”
Zimmerman, a softly spoken figure with a buzz cut, makes for an odd match with Gritz, a muscular, mustachioed bullet of a man. But though their backgrounds and politics are worlds apart, she says he respected her when they first met in 2003. “I think he understood very quickly that we were very rigorous and thorough. I never felt threatened by him.”
One of the few times she and Gritz openly clashed was when she wanted him to revisit the spot where he tried to take his life in 1998. Instead, that segment in Erase and Forget contains one of the most poignant scenes in the film: a deleted alternative ending to First Blood in which Rambo forces his former superior to shoot him in the chest. The scene was discarded after a test audience had found it too hard to stomach.