Defeat and fantasies of betrayal

August 6th, 2010

As the war in Afghanistan goes badly, as evidenced by the recent WikiLeaks documents, no doubt that in a year or so we will be looking for someone to blame. Just as Americans had the need to explain emasculation and defeat in Vietnam through fantasies of home-front betrayal, like images of Jane Fonda and the character of "Hanoi Jane," perhaps our current failures will give rise to a whole new and similar kind of imagery. Certainly anxieties about America's declining global status and deteriorating economy are fueling a populist reaction now, just as they did then.

Jerry Lembcke, in his book Hanoi Jane: War, Sex, and Fantasies of Betrayal, gives us provocative analysis of how and why Jane Fonda, the person, become Hanoi Jane the myth and what we might lean from that mythology. My conversation with Jerry Lembcke: