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The Vietnam War — Commentary

David Meakes July 18, 2018

Vietnam War

A pre-war commentary- President Johnson said to U.S. National Security advisor, McGeorge Bundy May 1964, (2 months before his election, and a year before his troop build-up in Vietnam). “What is Vietnam to this country? ——- I don’t think it is worth fighting for.” Yet   in 1965-7 he sent in about a half million ill-fated American soldiers.  Was fear of losing the next election the reason?

When those records were released, Robert Scheer wrote in the LA Times, March 27th, 1997, “Yet, despite seeing no value in the war, Johnson soon ordered a massive escalation of the conflict that left 58,000 Americans dead, and more than a million mostly adult civilian Vietnamese dead, and his own nation divided as it had not been since the Civil War. ——– Johnson sent over a half million troops to Vietnam and carpet bombed the country with more explosives than were used in WWII —.”  May 2, 2000- Robt. Scheer, “Yes, we, a decent, educated and free people, did something enormously vicious and stupid. But we can’t admit to its full dimension because to do so would call into question that assumption of national virtue, our most revered, but corrosive, characteristic. Even now the war must be reviewed as a “mistake”, a “quagmire”, a “bad compromise,” but never acknowledging the descent into barbarism. For such behavior is reserved only for those who live under a flag different to our own.”

George Kennan- quoted by David Hackworth in About Face, “The lessons of Vietnam are few and plain: not to be hypnotized by the word Communism.”  A total reversal of his Cold War view in 1944.

H., R. McMaster in Dereliction of Duty, “The war was lost, ——- in Washington D. C. —– before the first American units were deployed.”

In 1995, in his book In Retrospect, the war’s architect, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, using the blame-shifting word “we”, nevertheless courageously, placed much of the war blame on himself and his associates. At one point he listed, “11 major causes for our disaster in Vietnam.”  He used the phrases, “We failed to — We underestimated —-We misjudged —- We were totally ignorant —” every in every case. His 1996 soft back edition added 118 pages of national commentary about his year-old analysis, most of it scathing, His regret was more about why the war was lost, than why it was fought in the first place. Compassion for lives, both American and Vietnamese, did not appear to be his major concern. As a notably brilliant ‘whiz-kid’ President of Ford Motors, he was analytically oriented, and his book reflects that quality.  But clearly, he devastatingly blundered in Vietnam war management. It also appears that his conscientious regret was for losing the war, and not Golden Rule compassion for American or Vietnamese lives.

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    David Meakes

    David Meakes

    David Meakes is a Canadian-born World War II veteran. He is ninety-five years old and a retired podiatris... read more

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