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LBJ was signaling weakness, so he was talking nonsense, and Hanoi called him on it. Sign of things to come.
1966 was a bad year. But it was followed by much worse.
Just prior to the 1972 elections Dick Nixon mined Haiphong Harbor and pounded Hanoi flat with B-52s. The North Vietnamese, who spent 7 months stalling the peace talks over the shape of the table, suddenly found it in their hearts to sign a peace treaty. Imagine that!My point is that there is nothing Dick Nixon did in the summer and fall of 1972 that he couldn't have done in the spring of 1969 (after his "secret plan to end the war" failed as miserably as it deserve to), and for that matter nothing that he did in the summer and fall of 1972 couldn't have been done by Johnson back in 1966 or 1967.
I too curse the "Johnson clique" and have been for 50 years. 58,000 lives lost in a half-assed war. When you go to war you commit to winning and winning in the shortest time possible commensurate with a "reasonable" casualty rate. If not prepared to do that, don't commit. I am a big fan of the Powell Doctrine of overwhelming force. I disagree with Obama's policies in general, but at least he has been consistent in the " not prepared, don't commit' aspect of his foreign policy (although, in his case, his failure to consider the use of force has left us in much worse shape all over the world).Nothing Johnson, McNamara, Westmoreland or the rest of the "best and brightest" did in their lives, before or after, can or should erase the stain of the VN debacle from them.
We still haven't healed the wounds.
Obama has been consistent in not-prepared, don't commit foreign policy?Gee, someone tell Arabia.Obama's foreign policy has been not-aware, do stupid stuff.
Somebody please remind me. Was Obama committed in Libya?
You know what this is? Clique bait.
These stilted sorts of public comment have been a hallmark of communist regimes forever. The Norks proudly carry on the tradition today. Language like this might seem quaintly amusing to today's NYT readers, if you don't stop to remember that the rhetoric masked some really brutal inhumanity.
Sort of like the expression of progressive horror at the thought of Trump's candidacy. Same tone, different folks.
Johnson was "fighting the last war", terrified that if he crossed some unknown line, hordes of Chi-Coms would come pouring over the border, as they had in Korea.This underestimated the traditional antipathy between the Chinese and the Vietnamese,but still might have been right (less so after Russo-Chinese relations deteriorated). We'll never know. An amphibious landing in the North, combined with a drive from the DMZ would have taken Hanoi's mind off of infiltrating the South for while, though.
Big MikeNixon never had a "secret plan" to end the war, Nixon or his campaign never said he did. The press made it up.When Nixon became president in 1969 there were 536,000 in V Nam. Nixon had it down to 158,600in 1971. Think of the logistics as the US transferred the fighting to SVN while withdrawing US troops.One might need a refresher course, Nixon's Vietnam Address to the nation, Nov. 3, 1969.http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/primary-resources/nixon-vietnam/
Mac McConell said...When Nixon became president in 1969 there were 536,000 in V Nam. Nixon had it down to 158,600in 1971. Think of the logistics as the US transferred the fighting to SVN while withdrawing US troops.And no one in the press batted an eye when John F'n Kerry repeatedly referred to Vietnam as "Nixon's war."
@Big Mike - I am reading an excellent book on Linebacker and while Nixon not getting involved in target selection (duh) and letting the dogs loose (double-duh) was critical, once again I am startled by the sheer logistical might of the military.From 20 B52's and 24 fighters in theater to 200+ adn 350+ in a matter of weeks. Wow.The other thing that continues to impress me is amount of learning that can be compressed in battle..._XC
"And no one in the press batted an eye when John F'n Kerry repeatedly referred to Vietnam as "Nixon's war.""One of the best bits of propaganda was passing blame on to Nixon when he successfully outsourced the war to the ARVN. But it happens that at the time Nixon's approval rating on the war was very high.Johnson fought that war in a way that fit his personality--thinking he was always right, and more pressure and leverage was all it took. Eventually it grew to a real mess (far more Americans killed each week than during peak weeks of the Iraq War) and a cost well out of proportion with the upside.
To think, there was a time when if the President stood in Detroit and wanted to talk about a third-world, war-ravaged shithole, he had to talk about a place all the way across the Pacific Ocean!
I know a guy who watched Kennedy's speech on TV about no US military personnel being involved in Vietnam. He watched it in the VIP lounge at LAX waiting for his flight to Saigon, where he was going into combat. That guy, now an ancient but still tough retiree, for some reason has to this day a great antipathy against Kennedy, and against Johnson, too.
The lazy, crazy, hazy days of Viet Nam were easy according to Pentagon spokesmen in 1966 and 1967. LBJ an McNamara planned on an easy win.Then the fun times went to hell. Instead of beating off a few Gooks at Long Dong, the Tet Offensive happened all over and the Pentagon Papers Report was published in the NYT and Noam Chomsky unloaded as only he could unload.
@tradguy - remember, Tet was (thanks to Cronkite) a PR win but a military defeat in detail for the NV.For a real win by the commies, "The Last Valley: Dien Bien Phu and the French Defeat in Vietnam" by Windrow is a horrific read.-XC
Of course the USMC won the Tet Offensive with counter attacks. But the point was these gooks were able to plan it and launch it successfully all over the country. We had accomplished nothing to that date, except run up lots of combat deaths in a long war of attrition.Think that through. The end game was invisible. Even LBJ realized it. Nixon had to be brought in to end the Draft and end the war.
The old 1966 joke:"They said if I voted for Goldwater, we'd be at war in Vietnam. And they were right.
The '68 election is a lesson for us in 2016.We had a no-win war in Vietnam, riots in the streets, busing, an unpopular Warren Court, inflation, a soaring budget deficit, out-of-control crime, and a "credibility gap".Yet despite all that, and LBJ's unpopularity, Humphrey almost got elected. Because you had 45% of the country that would vote Democrat NO MATTER WHAT.Just like today.
@rcocean - Actually, 55% of the country voted for a Democrat in 1968, once you add HHH's 42% plus pro-segregation racist George Wallace's 13%.
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