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LBJ's War -- 50 Years Ago This Day


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#1 Greg Burnham

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Posted 08 March 2015 - 10:41 AM

50 years ago today, on March 8, 1965, the first combat troops arrive in Vietnam as 3500 Marines land on the shores of Vietnam. 1965 was a very seminal year for American involvement in Vietnam.

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January 20, 1965 - Lyndon B. Johnson takes the oath as president and declares, "We can never again stand aside, prideful in isolation. Terrific dangers and troubles that we once called "foreign" now constantly live among us..."

 

January 27, 1965 - General Khanh seizes full control of South Vietnam's government.

 

January 27, 1965 - Johnson aides, National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, send a memo to the President stating that America's limited military involvement in Vietnam is not succeeding, and that the U.S. has reached a 'fork in the road' in Vietnam and must either soon escalate or withdraw. 

 

January 1965 - Operation Game Warden begins U.S. Navy river patrols on South Vietnam's 3000 nautical miles of inland waterways. 

 

February 4, 1965 - National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy visits South Vietnam for the first time. In North Vietnam, Soviet Prime Minister Aleksei Kosygin coincidentally arrives in Hanoi.

 

February 6, 1965 - Viet Cong guerrillas attack the U.S. military compound at Pleiku in the Central Highlands, killing eight Americans, wounding 126 and destroying ten aircraft.

February 7-8 - "I've had enough of this," President Johnson tells his National Security advisors. He then approves Operation Flaming Dart, the bombing of a North Vietnamese army camp near Dong Hoi by U.S. Navy jets from the carrier Ranger.

 

Johnson makes no speeches or public statements concerning his decision. Opinion polls taken in the U.S. shortly after the bombing indicate a 70 percent approval rating for the President and an 80 percent approval of U.S. military involvement in Vietnam. Johnson now agrees to a long-standing recommendation from his advisors for a sustained bombing campaign against North Vietnam. 

 

In Hanoi, Soviet Prime Minister Kosygin is pressured by the North Vietnamese to provide unlimited military aid to counter the American "aggression." Kosygin gives in to their demands. As a result, sophisticated Soviet surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) begin arriving in Hanoi within weeks.

 

February 18, 1965 - Another military coup in Saigon results in General Khanh finally ousted from power and a new military/civilian government installed, led by Dr. Phan Huy Quat.

 

February 22, 1965 - General Westmoreland requests two battalions of U.S. Marines to protect the American air base at Da Nang from 6000 Viet Cong massed in the vicinity. The President approves his request, despite the "grave reservations" of Ambassador Taylor in Vietnam who warns that America may be about to repeat the same mistakes made by the French in sending ever-increasing numbers of soldiers into the Asian forests and jungles of a "hostile foreign country" where friend and foe are indistinguishable.

 

March 2, 1965 - Operation Rolling Thunder begins as over 100 American fighter-bombers attack targets in North Vietnam. Scheduled to last eight weeks, Rolling Thunder will instead go on for three years.

 

The first U.S. air strikes also occur against the Ho Chi Minh trail. Throughout the war, the trail is heavily bombed by American jets with little actual success in halting the tremendous flow of soldiers and supplies from the North. 500 American jets will be lost attacking the trail. After each attack, bomb damage along the trail is repaired by female construction crews.

 

During the entire war, the U.S. will fly 3 million sorties and drop nearly 8 million tons of bombs, four times the tonnage dropped during all of World War II, in the largest display of firepower in the history of warfare. 

 

The majority of bombs are dropped in South Vietnam against Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army positions, resulting in 3 million civilian refugees due to the destruction of numerous villages. In North Vietnam, military targets include fuel depots and factories. The North Vietnamese react to the air strikes by decentralizing their factories and supply bases, thus minimizing their vulnerability to bomb damage.

 

March 8, 1965 - The first U.S. combat troops arrive in Vietnam as 3500 Marines land at China Beach to defend the American air base at Da Nang. They join 23,000 American military advisors already in Vietnam. 

 

March 9, 1965 - President Johnson authorizes the use of Napalm, a petroleum based anti-personnel bomb that showers hundreds of explosive pellets upon impact. 

 

March 11, 1965 - Operation Market Time, a joint effort between the U.S. Navy and South Vietnamese Navy, commences to disrupt North Vietnamese sea routes used to funnel supplies into the South. The operation is highly successful in cutting off coastal supply lines and results in the North Vietnamese shifting to the more difficult land route along the Ho Chi Minh trail.

 

March 29, 1965 - Viet Cong terrorists bomb the U.S. embassy in Saigon.

 

April 1, 1965 - At the White House, President Johnson authorizes sending two more Marine battalions and up to 20,000 logistical personnel to Vietnam. The President also authorizes American combat troops to conduct patrols to root out Viet Cong in the countryside. His decision to allow offensive operations is kept secret from the American press and public for two months.

 

April 7, 1965 - President Johnson delivers his "Peace Without Conquest" Speech at Johns Hopkins University offering Hanoi "unconditional discussions" to stop the war in return for massive economic assistance in modernizing Vietnam. "Old Ho can't turn that down," Johnson privately tells his aides. But Johnson's peace overture is quickly rejected.

 

April 15, 1965 - A thousand tons of bombs are dropped on Viet Cong positions by U.S. and South Vietnamese fighter-bombers.

 

April 17, 1965 - In Washington, 15,000 students gather to protest the U.S. bombing campaign.

 

Student demonstrators will often refer to President Johnson, his advisors, the Pentagon, Washington bureaucrats, and weapons manufacturers, simply as "the Establishment."

April 20, 1965 - In Honolulu, Johnson's top aides, including McNamara, Gen. Westmoreland, Gen. Wheeler, William Bundy, and Ambassador Taylor, meet and agree to recommend to the President sending another 40,000 combat soldiers to Vietnam.

 

April 24, 1965 - President Johnson announces Americans in Vietnam are eligible for combat pay.

 

May 3, 1965 - The first U.S. Army combat troops, 3500 men of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, arrive in Vietnam.

 

May 11, 1965 - Viet Cong over-run South Vietnamese troops in Phuoc Long Province north of Saigon and also attack in central South Vietnam. 

 

May 13, 1965 - The first bombing pause is announced by the U.S. in the hope that Hanoi will now negotiate. There will be six more pauses during the Rolling Thunder bombing campaign, all with same intention.

However, each time, the North Vietnamese ignore the peace overtures and instead use the pause to repair air defenses and send more troops and supplies into the South via the Ho Chi Minh trail. 

 

May 13, 1965 - Viet Cong attack the U.S. special forces camp in Phuoc Long. During the fighting, 2nd Lt. Charles Williams, earns the Medal of Honor by knocking out a Viet Cong machine-gun then guiding rescue helicopters, while wounded four times.

 

May 19, 1965 - U.S. bombing of North Vietnam resumes.

 

June 18, 1965 - Nguyen Cao Ky takes power in South Vietnam as the new prime minister with Nguyen Van Thieu functioning as official chief of state. They lead the 10th government in 20 months.

 

July 1, 1965 - Viet Cong stage a mortar attack against Da Nang air base and destroy three aircraft.

 

July 8, 1965 - Henry Cabot Lodge is reappointed as U.S. ambassador to South Vietnam.

 

July 21-28 - President Johnson meets with top aides to decide the future course of action in Vietnam. 

 

July 28, 1965 - During a noontime press conference, President Johnson announces he will send 44 combat battalions to Vietnam increasing the U.S. military presence to 125,000 men. Monthly draft calls are doubled to 35,000. "I have asked the commanding general, General Westmoreland, what more he needs to meet this mounting aggression. He has told me. And we will meet his needs. We cannot be defeated by force of arms. We will stand in Vietnam." 

 

"...I do not find it easy to send the flower of our youth, our finest young men, into battle. I have spoken to you today of the divisions and the forces and the battalions and the units, but I know them all, every one. I have seen them in a thousand streets, of a hundred towns, in every state in this union-working and laughing and building, and filled with hope and life. I think I know, too, how their mothers weep and how their families sorrow." 

 

August 1965 - Combined Action Platoons are formed by U.S. Marines utilizing South Vietnamese militia units to protect villages and conduct patrols to root out Viet Cong guerrillas.

 

August 3, 1965 - The destruction of suspected Viet Cong villages near Da Nang by a U.S. Marine rifle company is shown on CBS TV and generates controversy in America. Earlier, seven Marines had been killed nearby while searching for Viet Cong following a mortar attack against the air base at Da Nang.

 

August 4, 1965 - President Johnson asks Congress for an additional $1.7 billion for the war.

 

August 5, 1965 - Viet Cong destroy two million gallons of fuel in storage tanks near Da Nang.

 

August 8, 1965 - The U.S. conducts major air strikes against the Viet Cong. 

 

August 18-24, 1965 - Operation Starlite begins the first major U.S. ground operation in Vietnam as U.S. Marines wage a preemptive strike against 1500 Viet Cong planning to assault the American airfield at Chu Lai. The Marines arrive by helicopter and by sea following heavy artillery and air bombardment of Viet Cong positions. 45 Marines are killed and 120 wounded. Viet Cong suffer 614 dead and 9 taken prisoner. This decisive first victory gives a big boost to U.S. troop morale.

 

August 31, 1965 - President Johnson signs a law criminalizing draft card burning. Although it may result in a five year prison sentence and $1000 fine, the burnings become common during anti-war rallies and often attract the attention of news media.

 

October 16, 1965 - Anti-war rallies occur in 40 American cities and in international cities including London and Rome.

 

October 19, 1965 - North Vietnamese Army troops attack the U.S. Special Forces camp at Plei Me in a prelude to the Battle of Ia Drang Valley in South Vietnam's Central Highlands. 

 

October 30, 1965 - 25,000 march in Washington in support of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. The marchers are led by five Medal of Honor recipients. 

 

November 14-16 - The Battle of Ia Drang Valley marks the first major battle between U.S. troops and North Vietnamese Army regulars (NVA) inside South Vietnam. American Army troops of the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) respond to the NVA threat by using helicopters to fly directly into the battle zone. Upon landing, the troops quickly disembark then engage in fierce fire fights, supported by heavy artillery and B-52 air strikes, marking the first use of B-52s to assist combat troops. The two-day battle ends with NVA retreating into the jungle. 79 Americans are killed and 121 wounded. NVA losses are estimated at 2000.

 

November 17, 1965 - The American success at Ia Drang is marred by a deadly ambush against 400 soldiers of the U.S. 7th Cavalry sent on foot to occupy nearby Landing Zone 'Albany.' NVA troops that had been held in reserve during Ia Drang, along with troops that had retreated, kill 155 Americans and wound 124. 

 

November 27, 1965 - In Washington, 35,000 anti-war protesters circle the White House then march on to the Washington Monument for a rally. 

 

November 30, 1965 - After visiting Vietnam, Defense Secretary McNamara privately warns that American casualty rates of up to 1000 dead per month could be expected. 

 

December 4, 1965 - In Saigon, Viet Cong terrorists bomb a hotel used by U.S. military personnel, killing eight and wounding 137.

 

December 7, 1965 - Defense Secretary McNamara tells President Johnson that the North Vietnamese apparently "believe that the war will be a long one, that time is their ally, and that their staying power is superior to ours." 

 

December 9, 1965 - The New York Times reveals the U.S. is unable to stop the flow of North Vietnamese soldiers and supplies into the South despite extensive bombing.

 

December 18-20 - President Johnson and top aides meet to decide the future course of action.

 

December 25, 1965 - The second pause in the bombing of North Vietnam occurs. This will last for 37 days while the U.S. attempts to pressure North Vietnam into a negotiated peace. However, the North Vietnamese denounce the bombing halt as a "trick" and continue Viet Cong terrorist activities in the South.

 

By year's end U.S. troop levels in Vietnam reached 184,300. An estimated 90,000 South Vietnamese soldiers deserted in 1965, while an estimated 35,000 soldiers from North Vietnam infiltrated the South via the Ho Chi Minh trail. Up to 50 percent of the countryside in South Vietnam is now under some degree of Viet Cong control.

 

Time Magazine chooses General William Westmoreland as 1965's 'Man of the Year.'


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#2 Phil Dragoo

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Posted 09 March 2015 - 03:53 AM

1101660107_400.jpg

 


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#3 Jim Hackett II

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Posted 09 March 2015 - 07:41 AM

You folks make me proud to be part of this.

 

This thread and in just two profound and explicitly expressive posts is in fact part of 'theassassinationofjfk'.

 

Consequences of not keeping the damn dog on the leash five decades ago.

 

The evil of leadership does not sully the effort of the military only corrupts and cheapens valor and never extinguishes it.

 

Semper Fi, y'all.

 

Jim

 

PS watch the video please.


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#4 Greg Burnham

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Posted 09 March 2015 - 10:55 AM

I have made several additions and some corrections to the post below. Attempting to cut and paste that information into the existing post has proved very difficult. The revised information can be found at the following link:

 

 LBJ's War: Vietnam

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

Note the propaganda that yet remains with us even to this day [in blue and red text]:

 

December 25, 1965 - The second pause in the bombing of North Vietnam occurs. This will last for 37 days while the U.S. attempts to pressure North Vietnam into a negotiated peace. However, the North Vietnamese denounce the bombing halt as a "trick" and continue Viet Cong terrorist activities in the South.

 

==========================

Burnham's commentary follows:

 

 

marineslanddanang.jpg

March 8, 1965 – U.S. Marines are among the first American combat troops to arrive in Vietnam as 3,500 land at China Beach in defense of the American air base located at Da Nang. At the time of their arrival there were already 23,000 American military advisors stationed in Vietnam.

 

On October 11, 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed National Security Action Memorandum No. 263. As of that date, the United States had a total of 16,000 “personnel” in country in South East Asia. The document memorialized the President’s Vietnam Withdrawal Policy. On November 22, 1963 President Kennedy was assassinated as the result of a conspiracy while being driven through downtown Dallas, Texas.

 

Within the text of that document [NSAM 263] Kennedy had, only six weeks prior to his death, ordered the first 1,000 military personnel home before Christmas (1963) and all remaining personnel out of Vietnam by the end of 1965. The first 1,000 were, in fact, sent home by Christmas a month following the assassination, leaving 15,000 in-country. However–a little more than a year later–by March 1965, the number of personnel deployed to Vietnam had increased by an additional 8,000 thus equalling a total of 23,000 (not including the 3,500 Marines who arrived on March 8th).

 

The majority of Americans remain mystified about the circumstances surrounding the genesis of the Vietnam War for good reason: The truth was either withheld from them for such a long period that the details began to get lost through the passage of time or they inadvertently bought into the propaganda machine’s official history.

 

LBJ’s War: Vietnam

 

Let’s analyze some of the propaganda popularized during that period: Who were the so-called “Viet Cong?” Where did they come from? What was their ideology?

The official history, reported on events toward the end of 1965, includes the following:

 

December 25, 1965 – The second pause in the bombing of North Vietnam occurs. This will last for 37 days while the U.S. attempts to pressure North Vietnam into a negotiated peace. However, the North Vietnamese denounce the bombing halt as a “trick” and continue Viet Cong terrorist activities in the South.

As a point of fact, the Viet Cong were not comprised of “North Vietnamese” natives nor were they “operatives” from Hanoi nor did they “take orders” from the “Government” of North Vietnam.

 

Therefore, the continued attacks by the Viet Cong were wholly separate from the alleged “suspicions held by Hanoi that it was being tricked by our ceasing the bombings in the North.” There was no ideological connection between the Communist GOVERNMENT of North Vietnam and the Viet Cong “underground” of South Vietnam.

 

Moreover, even if the Government of North Vietnam had agreed to a negotiated peace with both the US and with the Government of South Vietnam (post-Diem era) — the Viet Cong would still have continued their resistance against the newest US-backed regime and against US troop presence in their country! The Viet Cong were not Communists. They were originally anti-Diem, due to his oppression, but by 1965 they had become anti- “any American-backed GOV of SVN;” anti-Northern (Catholic) “refugee” invaders (due to the displacement their presence had caused); and anti-US troops (as we were viewed as supporting another unpopular regime). They NEVER were “pro-Communist” notwithstanding US propaganda to the contrary.

​Most Americans were under the misapprehension that the Viet Cong originated from the North and/or were ideologically associated with Communism. That was a myth promoted by US Intelligence in order to justify the American intervention that was taking place in the form of a “Pacification Program” — a euphemism for genocide — that was known as the “Strategic Hamlet Program.”

 

 

USmarines-200x150.jpg

To recap: The Viet Cong were never pro-Communist. The Viet Cong were SOUTH Vietnamese natives. They did not originate from–nor did they ever have ideological ties to–Hanoi, notwithstanding the aid that they eventually received from the North in their struggle against US presence. The “non-governmental” politics of the indigenous people were neither Democratic nor Communist. Rather, they were cultural.

 

The religious beliefs of the South Vietnamese were and are diverse. The relatively “post modern / outside religious influences” include: Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Animism, and Taoism. Later–mostly as a result of the “installation” of Diem as the first President of the Republic of South Vietnam–Catholicism began to gain traction.

 

Although many of the indigenous peoples of South Vietnam practiced “Cao Dai” since the 1920’s, far and away the greatest religious influence upon the very fabric of South Vietnamese culture and belief systems resides in Ancestor Worship, which originated in Vietnam approximately 200 BC. It has been the single most persistent “constant” in Vietnamese culture for over 2 millennia!

 

 

It should be noted that President Diem (the first President of SOUTH Vietnam) was a Roman Catholic and was a native of NORTH Vietnam, born in Tỉnh Quảng Bình. Indeed, one of his brothers (Thuc) was a Roman Catholic Bishop of a Central Vietnamese Province that lay just south of the 17th parallel!

 

Because Ancestor Worship has existed as the most influential “religious system” in Vietnam for more than TWO THOUSANDS YEARS, its presence in South Vietnam even predates that of Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and Hinduism by more than ONE THOUSAND (1,000) YEARS. It remains at the core of Vietnamese “cultural awareness” today.

REFUGEE.jpg

 

It is no wonder, then, that turmoil erupted in response to the CIA’s “Saigon Military Mission’s” efforts, in which the Agency–with the help of the Vatican and Cardinal Spellman–persuaded ONE MILLION, ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND (1,100,000) Northern Vietnamese (Tonkinese) Catholics to “migrate” to the South in order to “protect their religious freedom from Communist oppression.”

 

As the more than ONE MILLIION ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND (1,100,000)  North Vietnamese Catholic “refugees” arrived in the southern regions, many South Vietnamese natives were forced out of their homes and off of their farms. These “refugee invaders from the North” also disrupted the South’s most basic religious stabilizing factor: an “Ancestor Worship based” family / community structure; a system that depends upon farming your familial land of birth.

 

For the most part, the “migration” to the South by the Northern “refugees” was not accomplished “over-land” on foot nor by ground transportation. Rather, the vast majority were transported by the US Navy and thus they never crossed over the 17th Parallel via land. Instead, they were “dropped off” in the Delta Region to fend for themselves. Their presence (over one million additional mouths to feed!) necessarily caused considerable strain on the limited natural resources available. It was unsustainable both agriculturally and economically. To be clear, the “North Vietnamese Catholic Refugees” who migrated south were neither native to South Vietnam nor were they Communist. They came primarily from the Gulf of Tonkin region and were “placed” in the Delta Region [see photo above — courtesy Colonel L. Fletcher Prouty, USAF].

 

The Viet Cong were created, then, inadvertently, by the CIA and the Vatican. As South Vietnamese natives, the Viet Cong should have been counted among those whom the “US was ostensibly there to protect from Communist aggression” if such aggression had been actual. The Viet Cong were created as a direct result of the displacement of the Ancestor Worshipping Indigenous People of South Vietnam by the injection of “foreigners” into their land.

 

A distinction between the Vietminh and the Viet Cong is in order, too.

 

The Vietminh were indigenous to North Vietnam, were fiercely Nationalistic, and fiercely opposed to French Colonialism, as was their right! The Vietminh ideology was primarily anti-French Colonialism, rather than pro-Communism, at the start. They eventually were dominated by Communists, but the turning of the Vietminh toward Communism is arguably an unintended consequence of French Colonialism rather than a result of expansionism by the Sino-Soviet bloc.

 

JFK never favored a war in Vietnam

 

john_f_kennedy.jpg

In a speech delivered in 1954, then Senator John F. Kennedy, expressed in the strongest of terms, his objections to American involvement in Vietnam. He referenced an earlier speech he had given while a member of the House of Representatives following his trip to Indochina in November of 1951, in which he stated:

 

“In Indochina we have allied ourselves to the desperate effort of a French regime to hang on to the remnants of empire. There is no broad, general support of the native Vietnam Government among the people of that area. To check the southern drive of communism makes sense but not only through reliance on the force of arms. The task is rather to build strong native non-Communist sentiment within these areas and rely on that as a spearhead of defense rather than upon the legions of General de Lattre. To do this apart from and in defiance of innately nationalistic aims spells foredoomed failure.”

 

LBJ’s War: Vietnam


LBJ.jpg

 

The waters became very muddied as the Vietminh began sending aid to the Viet Cong. American propaganda would have had the world believe that the “Communist North Vietnamese” were actually the result of Soviet and/or Chinese Communist expansion. That was false. The Vietminh initially had no ties to Soviet or Chinese Communism. They simply wanted to rid themselves of French Imperialism.

 

 

 

Quick review:

 

The Vietminh were Northern Vietnamese natives who were fiercely anti-French and were violently opposed to French domination. They eventually were dominated by Communists but only because it was from Communists (the Soviets) that they garnered support in their resistance of the French. In other words: The French were indirectly responsible for turning North Vietnam’s “Vietminh” to Communism.

 

The Viet Cong were South Vietnamese natives who NEVER were–nor did they ever become–Communists. Rather they were among the indigenous people of South Vietnam who were displaced by the migration of over ONE MILLION ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND “North Vietnamese Catholic refugees” from the Gulf of Tonkin Region.  When the South Vietnamese natives were driven from their ancestral villages, land, and livelihoods they resorted to their only remaining option: Banditry. Later they began to resist the US Government installed regime of President Diem whose tyrannical method of governance included the oppression of all religions except for Roman Catholicism. He was particularly cruel to Buddhists.

 

As the conflict was extended, the indigenous people of South Vietnam, who were displaced as a direct result of the CIA’s “migration” program aka: “The Saigon Military Mission,” formed groups in order to SURVIVE. These groups went guerrilla and fought a jungle war the likes of which we had never before encountered. This group became known as the Viet Cong.

The Viet Cong and the Vietminh had nothing in common, except for their mutual desire to rid their native land of external aggression. The Vietminh wanted the French out and used the Soviets to that end. The Viet Cong had a more difficult task: They wanted their home back even more than they wanted the US out.

 

Vietnam has survived for more than 2,000 years and counting. History will record this war as a small, but very costly (in terms of lives lost and culture suppressed) blip on the Vietnamese radar.

 

And perhaps, it is among the biggest military blunders of any so-called superpower in the history of the world.

 

LBJs War: Vietnam

 

Was Vietnam a “Civil War?” In a word: No.

 

To make the point, if a ground war–in which ballistic missiles were not an option–took place between Canada and the US wouldn’t we expect that the fighting would break out near the border between the two countries? Wouldn’t skirmishes be expected to occur first at or near Seattle and Vancouver? Or maybe at or near the border between Windsor, Ontario, Canada and Detroit, Michigan, USA?

 

We wouldn’t expect that a ground war between the western regions of those two countries would originate in San Diego. Imagine Canadian guerrilla warfare units battling against San Diego National Guard troops near Sea World while the cities of Seattle and Vancouver were relatively unaffected!

 

Absurd. If such a ground war took place it would at least start on the border.

 

So why did the resistance to Diem’s Government of South Vietnam originate in the Delta Region of the South rather than at the border between North and South Vietnam at the 17th parallel?

 

The answer, as I said above, is because the “underground forces of resistance” to the US backed Diem Regime did not originate in North Vietnam! They originated within South Vietnam. DIEM, himself, on the other hand, originated from North Vietnam! Diem was, in fact, an “invader” from north Vietnam.

 

Indeed, those 1,100,000 “refugees” who migrated from the North to the South SUPPORTED the Diem Regime as he was one of their own.

 

The South Vietnamese were not threatened by “North Vietnamese Communist” invaders, but rather by “North Vietnamese Catholic” invaders!

 

The Viet Cong, the name the South Vietnamese “underground” later came to be known by, were resisting ALL invaders from the North! The fact that they were resisting any US backed regime (initially, Diem who was from the North) made them our enemy despite the fact that it was their land!

 

LBJ’s War: Vietnam

 

On the evening of November 21, 1963–and less than 24 hours before Kennedy’s life and policies would be violently rendered moot–his Special Assistant on National Security, McGeorge Bundy, drafted and signed a document, later to become National Security Action Memorandum 273, which effectively began the reversal of JFK’s Vietnam Withdrawal Policy. JFK’s successor, Lyndon Baines Johnson, usurped the authority of the Kennedy Administration’s Policies by signing that document [NSAM 273] on November 26, 1963–a mere four (4) days following the death of his predecessor– and one (1) day following President Kennedy’s funeral.

 

 

[I revised this post to correct some errors. Thanks to Cliff Varnell for bringing a couple of awkwardly phrased passages that were ambiguous to my attention. It is now on the main website here:
 

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Greg Burnham
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"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." -- JFK

"It is difficult to abolish prejudice in those bereft of ideas. The more hatred is superficial, the more it runs deep."  -- Farewell America (1968) 

“The ancient Greek definition of happiness was the full use of your powers along lines of excellence."  -- JFK

"A wise man can act a fool, but a foolish man can never act wise."  -- Unknown

 

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#5 Mark Jamieson

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Posted 09 March 2015 - 02:27 PM

The following is the Introduction to the book "Cheers and Tears: a Marine's Story of Combat in Peace and War " by Lt. Gen. Charles Cooper, USMC (Ret.) with Richard Goodspeed (Trafford Publishing, 2006). Lt. Gen. Cooper was one of my father's instructors at TBS 4-60, company F, The Officer Basic School (TBS), at Quantico MCB, 1960.

The Day It Became the Longest War
“The President will see you at two o'clock.”

It was a beautiful fall day in November of 1965, early in the Vietnam War-too beautiful a day to be what many of us, anticipating it, had been calling “the day of reckoning.” We didn't know how accurate that label would be.

The Pentagon is a busy place. Its workday starts early-especially if, as the expression goes, “there's a war on.” By seven o'clock, the staff of Admiral David L. McDonald, the Navy's senior admiral and Chief of Naval Operations, had started to work. Shortly after seven, Admiral McDonald arrived and began making final preparations for a meeting with President Lyndon Baines Johnson.

The Vietnam War was in its first year, and its uncertain direction troubled Admiral McDonald and the other service chiefs. They'd had a number of disagreements with Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara about strategy, and had finally requested a private meeting with the Commander in Chief-a perfectly legitimate procedure. Now, after many delays, the Joint Chiefs were finally to have that meeting. They hoped it would determine whether the US military would con¬tinue its seemingly directionless buildup to fight a protracted ground war, or take bold measures that would bring the war to an early and victorious end.

The bold measures they would propose were to apply massive air power to the head of the enemy, Hanoi, and to close North Vietnam's harbors by mining them.The situation was not a simple one, and for several reasons. The most important reason was that North Vietnam's neighbor to the north was communist China.

Only 12 years had passed since the Korean War had ended in stalemate. The aggressors in that war had been the North Koreans. When the North Koreans' defeat had appeared to be inevitable, communist China had sent hundreds of thousands of its Peoples' Liberation Army “volunteers” to the rescue.

Now, in this new war, the North Vietnamese aggressor had the logistic support of the Soviet Union and, more to the point, of neighboring communist China. Although we had the air and naval forces with which to paralyze North Vietnam, we had to consider the possible reactions of the Chinese and the Russians.Both China and the Soviet Union had pledged to support North Vietnam in the “war of national liberation” it was fighting to reunite the divided country, and both had the wherewithal to cause major problems.

An important unknown was what the Russians would do if prevented from delivering goods to their communist protege in Hanoi. A more important question concerned communist China, next-door neighbor to North Vietnam. How would the Chinese react to a massive pummeling of their ally? More specifically, would they enter the war as they had done in North Korea? Or would they let the Vietnamese, for centuries a traditional enemy, fend for themselves?

The service chiefs had considered these and similar questions, and had also asked the Central Intelligence Agency for answers and estimates.

The CIA was of little help, though it produced reams of text, executive summaries of the texts, and briefs of the executive summaries-all top secret, all extremely sensitive, and all of little use.

The principal conclusion was that it was impossible to predict with any accuracy what the Chinese or Russians might do.Despite the lack of a clear-cut intelligence estimate, Admiral McDonald and the other Joint Chiefs did what they were paid to do and reached a conclusion. They decided unanimously that the risk of the Chinese or Soviets reacting to massive US measures taken in North Viet¬nam was acceptably low, but only if we acted without delay. Unfortunately, the Secretary of Defense and his coterie of civilian “whiz kids” did not agree with the Joint Chiefs, and McNamara and his people were the ones who were actually steering military strategy.

In the view of the Joint Chiefs, the United States was piling on forces in Vietnam without understanding the consequences. In the view of McNamara and his civilian team, we were doing the right thing. This was the fundamental dispute that had caused the Chiefs to request the seldom-used private audience with the Commander in Chief in order to present their military recommendations directly to him. McNamara had finally granted their request.

The 1965 Joint Chiefs of Staff had ample combat experience. Each was serving in his third war.

The Chairman was General Earle Wheeler, US Army, highly regarded by the other members.

General Harold Johnson was the Army Chief of Staff. A World War II prisoner of the Japanese, he was a soft-spoken, even-tempered, deeply religious man.

General John P. McConnell, Air Force Chief of Staff, was a native of Arkansas and a 1932 graduate of West Point.

The Commandant of the Marine Corps was General Wallace M. Greene, Jr., a slim, short, all-business Marine. General Greene was a Naval Academy graduate and a zealous protector of the Marine Corps concept of controlling its own air resources as part of an in¬tegrated air-ground team.

Last and by no means least was Admiral McDonald, a Georgia minister's son, also a Naval Academy graduate, and a naval aviator. While Admiral McDonald was a most capable leader, he was also a reluctant warrior. He did not like what he saw emerging as a national commitment. He did not really want the US to get involved with land warfare, believing as he did that the Navy could apply sea power against North Vietnam very effectively by mining, blockading, and assisting in a bombing cam¬paign, and in this way help to bring the war to a swift and satisfactory conclusion.

The Joint Chiefs intended that the prime topics of the meeting with the President would be naval matters-the mining and blockad¬ing of the port of Haiphong and naval support of a bomb¬ing campaign aimed at Hanoi. For that reason, the Navy was to furnish a briefing map, and that became my responsibility. We mounted a suitable map on a large piece of plywood, then coated it with clear acetate so that the chiefs could mark on it with grease pencils during the discussion. The whole thing weighed about 30 pounds.

The Military Office at the White House agreed to set up an easel in the Oval Office to hold the map. I would accompany Admiral McDonald to the White House with the map, put the map in place when the meeting started, then get out. There would be no strap-hangers at the military summit meeting with Lyndon Johnson.The map and I joined Admiral McDonald in his staff car for the short drive to the White House, a drive that was memorable only because of the silence. My admiral was totally preoccupied.

The chiefs' appointment with the President was for two o'clock, and Admiral McDonald and I arrived about 20 minutes early. The chiefs were ushered into a fairly large room across the hall from the Oval Office. I propped the map board on the arms of a fancy chair where all could view it, left two of the grease pencils in the tray attached to the bottom of the board, and stepped out into the corridor. One of the chiefs shut the door, and they conferred in private until someone on the White House staff interrupted them about fifteen minutes later.

As they came out, I retrieved the map, then joined them in the corridor out¬side the President's office. Precisely at two o'clock President Johnson emerged from the Oval Office and greeted the chiefs. He was all charm. He was also big: at three or more inches over six feet tall and something on the order of 250 pounds, he was bigger than any of the chiefs. He personally ushered them into his office, all the while delivering gracious and solicitous comments with a Texas accent far more pronounced than the one that came through when he spoke on television. Holding the map board as the chiefs entered, I peered between them, trying to find the easel. There was none. The President looked at me, grasped the situation at once, and invited me in, adding, “You can stand right over here.” I had become an easel-one with eyes and ears.

To the right of the door, not far inside the office, large windows framed evergreen bushes growing in a nearby garden. The President's desk and several chairs were farther in, diagonally across the room from the windows. The President positioned me near the windows, then arranged the chiefs in a semicircle in front of the map and its human easel.

He did not offer them seats: they stood, with those who were to speak-Wheeler, McDonald, and McConnell-standing nearest the President. Paradoxically, the two whose services were most affected by a continuation of the ground buildup in Vietnam-Generals Johnson and Greene-stood farthest from the President. President Johnson stood nearest the door, about five feet from the map.

In retrospect, the setup-the failure to have an easel in place, the positioning of the chiefs on the outer fringe of the office, the lack of seating-did not augur well. The chiefs had expected the meeting to be a short one, and it met that expectation. They also expected it to be of momentous import, and it met that expectation, too. Unfortunately, it also proved to be a meeting that was critical to the proper pursuit of what was to become the longest, most divisive, and least conclu¬sive war in our nation's history-a war that almost tore the nation apart.As General Wheeler started talking, President Johnson peered at the map. In five minutes or so, the general summarized our entry into Vietnam, the current status of forces, and the purpose of the meeting. Then he thanked the President for having given his senior military advisers the opportunity to present their opin¬ions and recommendations. Finally, he noted that although Secretary McNamara did not subscribe to their views, he did agree that a presidential-level decision was required. President Johnson, arms crossed, seemed to be listening carefully.The essence of General Wheeler's presentation was that we had come to an early moment of truth in our ever-increasing Vietnam involvement. We had to start using our principal strengths-air and naval power-to punish the North Vietnamese, or we would risk becoming involved in another protracted Asian ground war with no prospects of a satisfactory solution.

Speaking for the chiefs, General Wheeler offered a bold course of action that would avoid protracted land warfare. He proposed that we isolate the major port of Haiphong through naval mining, blockade the rest of the North Vietnamese coastline, and simultaneously start bombing Hanoi with B-52's.General Wheeler then asked Admiral McDonald to describe how the Navy and Air Force would combine forces to mine the waters off Haiphong and establish a naval blockade. When Admiral McDonald finished, General McConnell added that speed of exe¬cution would be essential, and that we would have to make the North Vietnamese believe that we would increase the level of punishment if they did not sue for peace.

Normally, time dims our memories-but it hasn't dimmed this one. My memory of Lyndon Johnson on that day remains crystal clear. While General Wheeler, Admiral McDon¬ald, and General McConnell spoke, he seemed to be listening closely, communicating only with an occasional nod. When General McConnell finished, General Wheeler asked the President if he had any questions. Johnson waited a moment or so, then turned to Generals Johnson and Greene, who had remained silent during the briefing, and asked, “Do you fully support these ideas?”

He followed with the thought that it was they who were providing the ground troops, in effect acknowledging that the Army and the Marines were the services that had most to gain or lose as a result of this discussion. Both generals indicated their agreement with the proposal. Seemingly deep in thought, President Johnson turned his back on them for a minute or so, then suddenly discarding the calm, patient demeanor he had maintained throughout the meeting, whirled to face them and exploded.I almost dropped the map.

He screamed obscenities, he cursed them personally, he ridiculed them for coming to his office with their “military advice.” Noting that it was he who was carrying the weight of the free world on his shoulders, he called them filthy names-shitheads, dumb shits, pompous assholes-and used “the F-word” as an adjective more freely than a Marine in boot camp would use it. He then accused them of trying to pass the buck for World War III to him.

It was unnerving, degrading.

After the tantrum, he resumed the calm, relaxed manner he had displayed earlier and again folded his arms. It was as though he had punished them, cowed them, and would now control them. Using soft-spoken pro¬fanities, he said something to the effect that they all knew now that he did not care about their military advice.

After disparaging their abilities, he added that he did expect their help.

He suggested that each one of them change places with him and assume that five incompetents had just made these “military recommendations.” He told them that he was going to let them go through what he had to go through when idiots gave him stupid advice, adding that he had the whole damn world to worry about, and it was time to “see what kind of guts you have.”

He paused, as if to let it sink in. The silence was like a palpable solid, the tension like that in a drumhead. After thirty or forty seconds of this, he turned to General Wheeler and demanded that Wheeler say what he would do if he were the President of the United States.

General Wheeler took a deep breath before answering. He was not an easy man to shake: his calm response set the tone for the others. He had known coming in, as had the others, that Lyndon Johnson was an exceptional¬ly strong personality, and a venal and vindictive man as well. He had known that the stakes were high, and now realized that McNamara had prepared Johnson carefully for this meeting, which had been a charade.

Looking President Johnson squarely in the eye, Gen¬eral Wheeler told him that he understood the tremendous pressure and sense of responsibility Johnson felt. He added that probably no other President in history had had to make a decision of this importance, and further cushioned his remarks by saying that no mat¬ter how much about the presidency he did understand, there were many things about it that only one human being could ever understand.

General Wheeler closed his remarks by saying something very close to this: “You, Mr. President, are that one human being. I can¬not take your place, think your thoughts, know all you know, and tell you what I would do if I were you. I can't do it, Mr. President. No man can honestly do it. Respectfully, sir, it is your decision and yours alone.”

Apparently unmoved, Johnson asked each of the other Chiefs the same question. One at a time, they supported General Wheeler and his rationale. By now, my arms felt as though they were about to break. The map seemed to weigh a ton, but the end appeared to be near. General Greene was the last to speak.When General Greene finished, President Johnson, who was nothing if not a skilled actor, looked sad for a moment, then suddenly erupted again, yelling and cursing, again using language that even a Marine seldom hears. He told them he was disgusted with their naive approach, and that he was not going to let some military idiots talk him into World War III. He ended the conference by shouting “Get the hell out of my office!”

The Joint Chiefs of Staff had done their duty. They knew that the nation was making a strategic military error, and despite the rebuffs of their civilian masters in the Pentagon, they had insisted on presenting the problem as they saw it to the highest authority and recommending solutions. They had done so, and they had been rebuffed. That authority had not only rejected their solutions, but had also insulted and demeaned them.

As Admiral McDonald and I drove back to the Pentagon, he turned to me and said that he had known tough days in his life, and sad ones as well, but “. . . this has got to have been the worst experience I could ever imagine.”

The US involvement in Vietnam lasted another ten years.

The irony is that it began to end only when President Richard Nixon, after some backstage maneuvering on the international scene, did precisely what the Joint Chiefs of Staff had recommended to President Johnson in 1965. Why had Johnson not only dismissed their recommendations, but also ridiculed them? It must have been that Johnson had lacked something. Maybe it was foresight or boldness. Maybe it was the sophistication and under¬standing it took to deal with complex international is¬sues. Or, since he was clearly a bully, maybe what he lacked was courage. We will never know.

But had General Wheeler and the others received a fair hearing, and had their recommendations received serious study, the United States may well have saved the lives of most of its more than 55,000 sons who died in a war that its major architect, Robert Strange McNamara, now considers to have been a tragic mistake.

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#6 Phil Dragoo

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Posted 09 March 2015 - 02:27 PM

Thank you, Greg, for presenting a briefing on the vital operation described by Col. L. Fletcher Prouty:  http://www.amazon.co...y/dp/1616082917

 

The events of 1965 began the decade which ended with the punctuation mark below:

 

bigcrash103_01.jpg

 

Diem was one of the leaders installed by CIA in the manner of the Shah of Iran.

 

John F. Kennedy (with Robert F. Kennedy) travelled to Vietnam in 1951 to discuss the French occupation with Ambassador Gullion.

 

The French had their Saigon Embassy event in 1954 at Dien BIen Phu.

 

U.S. entrance thereafter must have run on the track of U.S. completion of the Panama Canal following enormous French investment and failure.

 

The military was tasked with the impossible in the tweny years post-DBP to Last Chopper Out of Saigon.

 

Fight an invisible enemy which is nowhere and everywhere--be a stone dam in a raging current while political will is blown by corporate interests.

 

 


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#7 Greg Burnham

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Posted 10 March 2015 - 02:46 PM

You're welcome, Phil.

 

I revised the original post [above] and created a page on the main website for it:  LBJ's War: Vietnam


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“The ancient Greek definition of happiness was the full use of your powers along lines of excellence."  -- JFK

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#8 Mark Jamieson

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Posted 10 March 2015 - 03:31 PM

Thanks, Greg, for your continued diligence.  History does not support the notion that Vietnam was JFK's war.  LBJ was a prisoner of his own arrogance, and relied heavily on the same old yarn about "40,000,000 dead" and "WWIII" to intimidate and coerce.  



#9 Jim Hackett II

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Posted 10 March 2015 - 08:20 PM

Wasn't it Gen. V. "Brute" Krulak that described a Presidential briefing in which POTUS Johnson was asked to define what "it" was that the theater commander was ordered to get done in Vietnam?

 

Sounds like the vague "Get 'er done" admonition wasn't good enough for once, not even for a President by default.

 

Consider a pick up war another nation already lost against an amorphous enemy manufactured by policy of a puppet government of the colonial powers refusing to give it all up in '45.

The Cong had to be made "commie" inspired and supplied. The CIA's SMM was ready for the job.

The Dulles Brothers effort of decades was bearing fruit, bitter strange fruit coming home in boxes.

Though the brothers were either dead or "out-of-the-loop now",

the role of the collator of information had been morphed already into a secret army of the corporations.

 

The real commie enemy was already empowered in 1956 and scam elections that never were.

Again a manufactured enemy created when the US Government turned away from FDR's policy of anti-colonialism as part and parcel to victory in WW2.

"North" Vietnam need not have been enemy but to invaders as was made clear before the wars.

 

SMM was doing the job long before NSAM 57 and the like and after.

CIA was lying all along as they did in 68 before Tet destroyed credibility of estimates and body counts.

 

Thanks Greg and Phil and Mark.

 

Jim



#10 Phil Dragoo

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Posted 11 March 2015 - 04:06 AM

Mark, the article appeared in the May 1996 Proceedings of the US Naval Institute and I copied and faxed it out before getting on line.

 

Was Johnson truly worried about World War III?  Hadn't he worn that ruse out with the lone gunman coverup as a chaser?

 

Krulak is cited as having insisted upon bombing Hanoi and mining Haiphong in 1966.

 

Petroleum-Oil-Lubricant (POL) targets were discussed--and attacked--in 1966.  Here is a fascinating exchange between Johnson and McNamara:

 

164. Editorial Note

 

At 7:59 a.m. on June 28, 1966, Secretary of Defense McNamara telephoned President Johnson and asked for authority to strike the two major POL storage installations in the Hanoi-Haiphong area that evening Washington time. The strikes had been decided upon earlier (see footnote 4, Document 161) but delayed several days due to bad weather and concern over press leaks. The President expressed hesitation about proceeding immediately rather than waiting until July 1, citing events scheduled for June 30 that might be impacted adversely, including his own trip to the midwest.

 

The President then queried McNamara about the possible repercussions of hitting a Soviet tanker in the Haiphong harbor. After noting that he thought the chances of hitting one were small, McNamara replied: "I think it's serious, Mr. President, but I think that we have told the Russians that this clearly is--and we put it in writing--that we have done everything possible to avoid antagonizing them in this military conflict; and I think while it would be serious and while we would have a very strong protest, I myself doubt that it would lead to any military action. As a matter of fact, the appraisals are that if we mined the harbor and stopped Soviet ships from coming in there it won't lead to military action, so if we hit the tanker I doubt that it would lead to military action."

 

After further discussion of this issue and of Secretary of State Rusk's position on the strikes, the following exchange took place:

 

"President: I think now what we've got to analyze very, very carefully and we have, but before we execute, I think we've got to say, do we get enough out of this for the price we pay. The Hartkes are all--they're starting their campaign tomorrow on the Senate floor, they're speaking.

"McNamara: Well, Lippmann's got an article in this morning's paper, same thing, on exactly that point, and I think the answer is, this is just a minor incident in the war, and it's almost an incident that you can't avoid taking. I don't see how you can go on fighting out there, Mr. President, without doing this, to be absolutely frank with you. I don't think you can keep the morale of your troops up; I don't think you can keep the morale of the people in the country who support you up without doing this. About that point. Now in addition to that I myself believe it has military value, although I don't for the minute put the weight on it that the Chiefs do; but I don't put the cost on it that some in State do. I don't put the cost on that George Ball does, for example. I don't believe any Soviet experts, including Tommy Thompson, put the cost on it that George Ball does."

 

During further discussion, McNamara recommended sending out an execute order and then canceling it later in the day if the President changed his mind. The President gave his assent. Subsequently the following discussion took place:

 

"President: Things are going reasonably well in the South, aren't they?

 

"McNamara: Yes, I think so.

 

"President: What are these 6,000 men doing? They're trying to locate the enemy, I see, and they've run 'em into caves. Do you know anything about that?

 

"McNamara: Yeah. It's just so typical, Mr. President, it's a relatively small enemy force. We think we're taking a heavy toll of them. But it just scares me to see what we're doing there. We're taking 6,000 U.S. soldiers with God knows how many airplanes and helicopters and fire power and going after a bunch of half-starved beggars of 2,000 at most, and probably less than that. And this is what's going on in the South and the great danger, and it's not a certainty, but it's a danger we need to look at, is that they can keep that up almost indefinitely.

 

http://www.state.gov...iv/154_174.html

 

Six thousand?  Which number would be increased to fifty times six thousand.

 

Consider:

 

In the end, Gen. Giap would outlast his enemies. The French grew tired of paying the price of fighting him in Southeast Asia, and so did the United States, after 58,000 American deaths in a war that promised no more than a stalemate.

 

He said: “The United States imperialists want to fight quickly. To fight a protracted war is a big defeat for them. Their morale is lower than grass. . . . National liberation wars must allow some time — a long time. . . . The Americans didn’t understand that we had soldiers everywhere and that it was very hard to surprise us.”

 

To at least one U.S. military commander, this strategy was apparent even in the early years of American involvement in the hostilities. Marine Corps Gen. Victor Krulak, in a 1966 memorandum to President Lyndon B. Johnson and Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara, wrote that Gen. Giap “was sure that if the cost in casualties and francs was high enough, the French would defeat themselves in Paris. He was right. It is likely that he feels the same about the USA.”

 

http://www.washingto...9e59_story.html

 

 

John Newman who was the first at George Washington with a China studies major chose his PhD thesis JFK and Vietnam--and received cooperation from "men in uniform".

 

At the core of the debate is this question: Did President Kennedy really believe the rosy picture of the war effort being conveyed by his military advisors. Or was he onto the game, and instead couching his withdrawal plans in the language of optimism being fed to the White House?

 

The landmark book JFK and Vietnam asserted the latter, that Kennedy knew he was being deceived and played a deception game of his own, using the military's own rosy analysis as a justification for withdrawal. Newman's analysis, with its dark implications regarding JFK's murder, has been attacked from both mainstream sources and even those on the left. No less than Noam Chomsky devoted an entire book to disputing the thesis.

 

But declassifications since Newman's 1992 book have only served to buttress the thesis that the Vietnam withdrawal, kept under wraps to avoid a pre-election attack from the right, was Kennedy's plan regardless of the war's success. New releases have also brought into focus the chilling visions of the militarists of that era—four Presidents were advised to use nuclear weapons in Indochina. A recent book by David Kaiser, American Tragedy, shows a military hell bent on war in Asia.

 

http://www.history-m...vietnam1963.htm

 

 

 



#11 Charles Drago

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Posted 11 March 2015 - 05:45 AM

Those with true power who were -- and remain -- "above Cold War [and contemporary rewrites] differences" utilize nuclear and thermonuclear arsenals as collections of weapons of mass oppression -- WMOs.

 

Theirs was -- and remains -- a TIGHTLY controlled brinkmanship.  Yet no control system, no matter how ingeniously designed and fastidiously operated, is foolproof.  

 

So far, so good.


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#12 Mark Jamieson

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Posted 11 March 2015 - 06:31 AM

Mark, the article appeared in the May 1996 Proceedings of the US Naval Institute and I copied and faxed it out before getting on line.

 

 

 

Thanks you, Phil.  I was only aware of the article from its use in as the introduction to Cheers and Tears: a Marine's Story of Combat in Peace and War.  I met Lt. Gen. Cooper in 2006 at Quantico for the dedication of a wall at the Marine Corps University Library in honor of the 1st Amphibious Tractor Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, of which my father was commanding officer 1966-67 on the Cua Viet.  He spoke very highly of him, although my father remarked that "many" weren't quite so fond of Gen. Cooper.  At the time, I had no idea regarding his storied career.

 

 

 

Was Johnson truly worried about World War III?  Hadn't he worn that ruse out with the lone gunman coverup as a chaser?

 

 

Exactly my point.  I'm not convinced that he even believed it immediately after November 22nd, however, it became his "go to" when other forms of persuasion proved ineffective.  Which leads me to...

 

 

The President then queried McNamara about the possible repercussions of hitting a Soviet tanker in the Haiphong harbor. After noting that he thought the chances of hitting one were small, McNamara replied: "I think it's serious, Mr. President, but I think that we have told the Russians that this clearly is--and we put it in writing--that we have done everything possible to avoid antagonizing them in this military conflict; and I think while it would be serious and while we would have a very strong protest, I myself doubt that it would lead to any military action. As a matter of fact, the appraisals are that if we mined the harbor and stopped Soviet ships from coming in there it won't lead to military action, so if we hit the tanker I doubt that it would lead to military action."

 

 

The Gulf of Tonkin incident was provocation for war, but hitting a Soviet tanker in Haiphong harbor would not "lead to military action."  Right.  After all, "…we put it in writing…"

 

 

To at least one U.S. military commander, this strategy was apparent even in the early years of American involvement in the hostilities. Marine Corps Gen. Victor Krulak, in a 1966 memorandum to President Lyndon B. Johnson and Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara, wrote that Gen. Giap “was sure that if the cost in casualties and francs was high enough, the French would defeat themselves in Paris. He was right. It is likely that he feels the same about the USA.”

 

 

There were some who paid attention and understood.  Gen. Krulak obviously did.

 

The brothers' vision for the world continued even in their absence then, and their prodigy fulfill it even to this day.



#13 Mark Jamieson

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Posted 11 March 2015 - 09:29 AM

On the evening of November 21, 1963–and less than 24 hours before Kennedy’s life and policies would be violently rendered moot–his Special Assistant on National Security, McGeorge Bundy, drafted and signed a document, later to become National Security Action Memorandum 273, which effectively began the reversal of JFK’s Vietnam Withdrawal Policy. JFK’s successor, Lyndon Baines Johnson, usurped the authority of the Kennedy Administration’s Policies by signing that document [NSAM 273] on November 26, 1963–a mere four (4) days following the death of his predecessor– and one (1) day following President Kennedy’s funeral.

 

 

 

Greg, a question regarding Bundy's document: Do we know for a certainty that is was in fact written on the evening of November 21, or is it possible that it was back dated in order to make it appear to be a reversal on JFK's part?  Just wondering if you had any insight into this.  Thank you!



#14 Greg Burnham

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Posted 11 March 2015 - 10:11 AM

Greg, a question regarding Bundy's document: Do we know for a certainty that is was in fact written on the evening of November 21, or is it possible that it was back dated in order to make it appear to be a reversal on JFK's part?  Just wondering if you had any insight into this.  Thank you!

 

Great question. We are certain of the date. You must not have watched my presentation on the YouTube provided. I cover the fact that the document (DRAFT) was circulated throughout the Government that evening as well as the next morning before the assassination. Indeed, nearly the entire Kennedy Cabinet was en route to Tokyo for an Economic Summit. While airborne 35,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean they not only learned that JFK was assassinated, but they also had been given copies of this document.

 

Consider this, why would the Secretary of Agriculture have a "need to know" regarding TOP SECRET Vietnam Policy? Yet even he was furnished a copy the morning of the 22nd! It's all about paragraph 4... 

 

But we are also certain that JFK did not authorize it. Rather than me write all of this down--again--research my research on it. You will find it here: NSAM 273 Introduction

 

Also be sure to watch the video.

 

 

Last September I gave a speech in Washington DC in which I covered a new angle to this topic. I will upload the video asap.


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#15 Mark Jamieson

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Posted 11 March 2015 - 01:38 PM

Great question. We are certain of the date. You must not have watched my presentation on the YouTube provided. I cover the fact that the document (DRAFT) was circulated throughout the Government that evening as well as the next morning before the assassination. Indeed, nearly the entire Kennedy Cabinet was en route to Tokyo for an Economic Summit. While airborne 35,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean they not only learned that JFK was assassinated, but they also had been given copies of this document.

 

Consider this, why would the Secretary of Agriculture have a "need to know" regarding TOP SECRET Vietnam Policy? Yet even he was furnished a copy the morning of the 22nd! It's all about paragraph 4... 

 

But we are also certain that JFK did not authorize it. Rather than me write all of this down--again--research my research on it. You will find it here: NSAM 273 Introduction

 

 

Thanks for your quick response, Greg!  I did watch your video, but was interrupted and missed that critical part, so I watched it a second time.  Exceptionally thorough for such a relatively short presentation.

 

Seeing then that it was not back dated, Bundy was committing treason in producing and distributing the "draft."  Additionally, he MUST have known that he would not have to deal with the consequences of his actions.  Foreknowledge of the president's assassination would seem to be the minimum atributed to him.

 

After the draft was distributed, there was no way JFK could be allowed to survive Dallas.



#16 Greg Burnham

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Posted 11 March 2015 - 05:08 PM

Very well put, Mark. 

 

Some have argued that the DRAFT seems somewhat irrelevant since it was not the final version of NSAM 273. In my view, the DRAFT was essential. It provided the basis upon which a false continuity could be recorded. After all, once JFK was out of the way (assassinated) his Vietnam withdrawal policy could have easily been effectively vetoed by the signing of a countermanding NSAM at any point in the future. Even if "time was of the essence," relatively speaking, for those fomenting war in South East Asia, how urgent was it really? Not that urgent. How do we know? Because the first 1,000 troops were, in fact, withdrawn as per NSAM 263 by Christmas 1963! That is hardly an indication of urgency.

 

Bundy could have easily DRAFTED it 4 weeks after (rather than 12 hours prior to) the assassination and then LBJ could subsequently have signed it. This would have had no effect on how we executed the war effort nor on the outcome. The only result effected by the dubious timing was apparently a consequence of deliberate design. It allowed the hands of those responsible for the perpetuation of endless war to remain in the shadows.

 

Even the Gravel Edition of the Pentagon Papers fails to record the facts. While it accurately reports that following the Honolulu Conference the Ambassador to Vietnam, Henry Cabot Lodge, met with the President to discuss the conclusions reached at the conference, it fails to mention--even in passing--that Lodge met with a different President of the United States (LBJ) than the President of the United States (JFK) who was sitting at the time the Honolulu Conference convened and recessed!

 

Indeed, the Pentagon Papers are allegedly the Official History of the United States Involvement in Vietnam. Yet nowhere in that entire report is there any mention that the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated immediately following the Honolulu Conference! Nor does it mention that the sitting President of the United States, JFK, was subsequently replaced by a successor (LBJ) who REVERSED his predecessor's (JFK's) Vietnam Withdrawal Policy!

 

Now you know why.

 

Colonel L. Fletcher Prouty's character "X" from the movie JFK:

 

"The organizing principle of any society, Mr. Garrison, is for war. The authority of the state over its people resides in its war powers. And Kennedy wanted to end the Cold War in his second term. He wanted to call off the moon race in favor of cooperation with the Soviets. He signed a treaty with the Soviets to ban nuclear testing. He refused to invade Cuba in 1962 and he set out to withdraw from Vietnam. But all of that ended on the 22nd of November, 1963. As early as 1961, they knew Kennedy was not going to war in Southeast Asia. Like Caesar, he is surrounded by enemies and something's underway, but it has no face. Yet everybody in the loop knows.

 

"Everything is cellularized. No one has said, 'He must die.' There's been no vote. Nothing's on paper. There's no one to blame. It's as old as the crucifixion. A military firing squad: five bullets, one blank. No one's guilty, because everyone in the power structure who knows anything has a plausible deniability. There are no compromising connections except at the most secret point. But what's paramount is that it must succeed. No matter how many die, no matter how much it costs, the perpetrators must be on the winning side and never subject to prosecution for anything by anyone. That is a coup d'état..."


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"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." -- JFK

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“The ancient Greek definition of happiness was the full use of your powers along lines of excellence."  -- JFK

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#17 Jim Hackett II

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Posted 11 March 2015 - 09:41 PM

The age of perpetual war dawned over the grave of the 35th President.

 

A fact denied to this day in official history and education/media.

 

Obviously WeThePeople are not so stupid to deny it.

 

Jim

Treason clear abundant and arrogant, a certain arrogance.

Bundy's NSAM another act of a facilitator, but a telling one.



#18 Phil Dragoo

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Posted 12 March 2015 - 03:33 AM

4.            It is of the highest importance that the United States Government avoid either the appearance or the reality of public recrimination from one part of it against another, and the President expects that all senior officers of the Government will take energetic steps to insure that they and their subordinates go out of their way to maintain and to defend the unity of the United States Government both here and in the field.

 

This statement is missing from the final version.  As Greg notes the record does not mention "the president" is not the slain 35th but the successor 36th.

 

Peter Dale Scott discusses the Memorandum in detail:  http://www.history-m...Vietnam1971.htm:

 

With respect to events in November 1963, the bias and deception of the original Pentagon documents are considerably reinforced in the Pentagon studies commissioned by Robert McNamara. Nowhere is this deception more apparent than in the careful editing and censorship of the Report of a Honolulu Conference on November 20, 1963, and of National Security Action Memorandum 273, which was approved four days later. Study after study is carefully edited so as to create a false illusion of continuity between the last two days of President Kennedy’s presidency and the first two days of President Johnson’s. The narrow division of the studies into topics, as well as periods, allows some studies to focus on the “optimism”[1] which led to plans for withdrawal on November 20 and 24, 1963; and others on the “deterioration” and “gravity”[2] which at the same meetings led to plans for carrying the war north. These incompatible pictures of continuous “optimism” or “deterioration” are supported generally by selective censorship, and occasionally by downright misrepresentation.

 

…National Security Action Memorandum 273, approved 26 November 1963. The immediate cause for NSAM 273 was the assassination of President Kennedy four days earlier; newly-installed President Johnson needed to reaffirm or modify the policy lines pursued by his predecessor. President Johnson quickly chose to reaffirm the Kennedy policies…

 

Emphasis should be placed, the document stated, on the Mekong Delta area, but not only in military terms. Political, economic, social, educational, and informational activities must also be pushed: “We should seek to turn the tide not only of battle but of belief…” Military operations should be initiated, under close political control, up to within fifty kilometers inside of Laos. U.S. assistance programs should be maintained at levels at least equal to those under the Diem government so that the new GVN would not be tempted to regard the U.S. as seeking to disengage.

The same document also revalidated the planned phased withdrawal of U.S. forces announced publicly in broad terms by President Kennedy shortly before his death: “The objective of the United States with respect to withdrawal of U.S. military personnel remains as stated in the White House statement of October 2, 1963.”

 

No new programs were proposed or endorsed, no increases in the level or nature of U.S. assistance suggested or foreseen…. The emphasis was on persuading the new government in Saigon to do well those things which the fallen government was considered to have done poorly…NSAM 273 had, as described above, limited cross-border operations to an area 50 kilometers within Laos.[3]

 

The reader is invited to check the veracity of this account of NSAM 273 against the text as reproduced below. If the author of this study is not a deliberate and foolish liar, the some superior had denied him access to the second and more important page of NSAM 273, which “authorized planning for specific covert operations, graduated in intensity, against the DRV,” i.e., North Vietnam.[4] As we shall see, this covert operations planning soon set the stage for a new kind of war, not only through the celebrated 34A Operations which contributed to the Tonkin Gulf incidents, but also through the military’s accompanying observations, as early as December 1963, that “only air attacks” against North Vietnam would achieve these operations’ “stated objective.”[5] Leslie Gelb, the Director of the Pentagon Study Task Force and the author of the various and mutually contradictory Study Summaries notes that, with this planning, “A firebreak had been crossed, and the U.S. had embarked on a program that was recognized as holding little promise of achieving its stated objectives, at least in its early stages.”[6] We shall argue in a moment that these crucial and controversial “stated objectives,” proposed in CINCPAC’s OPLAN 34-63 of September 9, 1963, were rejected by Kennedy in October 1963, and first authorized by the first paragraph of NSAM 273.

 

The Pentagon studies, supposedly disinterested reports to the Secretary of Defense, systematically mislead with respect to NSAM 273, which McNamara himself had helped to draft. Their lack of bona fides is illustrated by the general phenomenon that (as can be seen from our Appendix A), banal or misleading paragraphs (like 2, 3, and 5) are quoted verbatim, sometimes over and over, whereas those preparing for an expanded war are either omitted or else referred to obliquely. The only study to quote a part of the paragraph dealing with North Vietnam does so from subordinate instructions: it fails to note that this language was authorized in NSAM 273.[7]

 

And study after study suggest (as did press reports at the time) that the effect of NSAM 273, paragraph 2, was to perpetuate what Mr. Gelb ill-advisedly calls “the public White House promise in October” to withdraw 1,000 U.S. troops.[8] In fact the public White House statement on October 2 was no promise, but a personal estimate attributed to McNamara and Taylor. As we shall see, Kennedy’s decision on October 5 to implement this withdrawal (a plan authorized by NSAM 263 of October 11), was not made public until November 16, and again at the Honolulu Conference of November 20, when an Accelerated Withdrawal Program (about which Mr. Gelb in silent) was also approved.[9] NSAM 273 was in fact approved on Sunday, November 24, and its misleading opening paragraphs (including the meaningless reaffirmation of the “objectives” of the October 2 withdrawal statement) were leaked to selected correspondents.[10] Mr. Gelb, who should have known better, pretended that NSAM 273 “was intended primarily to endorse the policies pursued by President Kennedy and to ratify provisional decisions reached (on November 20) in Honolulu.”[11] In fact the secret effect of NSAM … was to annul the NSAM 263 withdrawal decision announced four days earlier at Honolulu, and also the Accelerated Withdrawal Program: “both military and economic programs, it was emphasized, should be maintained at levels as high as those in the time of the Diem regime.”[12]

 

The source of this change is not hard to pinpoint. Of the seven people known to have participated in the November 24 reversal of the November 20 withdrawal decisions, five took part in both meetings.[13] Of the three new officials present, the chief was Lyndon Johnson, in his second full day and first business meeting as President of the United States.[14] The importance of this second meeting, like that of the document it approved, is indicated by its deviousness. Once can only conclude that NSAM 273(2)’s public reaffirmation of an October 2 withdrawal “objective,” coupled with 273(6)’s secret annulment of an October 5 withdrawal plan, was deliberately deceitful. The result of the misrepresentations in the Pentagon studies and Mr. Gelb’s summaries is, in other words, to perpetuate a deception dating back to NSAM 273 itself.

 

This deception, I suspect, involved far more than the symbolic but highly sensitive issue of the 1,000-man withdrawal. One study, after calling NSAM 273 a “generally sanguine” “don’t-rock-the-boat document,” concedes that it contained “an unusual Presidential exhortation”: “The President expects that all senior officers of the government will move energetically to insure full unity of support for establishing U.S. policy in South Vietnam.”[15] In other words, the same document which covertly changed Kennedy’s withdrawal plans ordered all senior officials not to contest or criticize this change. This order had a special impact on one senior official: Robert Kennedy, an important member of the National Security Council (under President Kennedy) who was not present when NSAM 273 was rushed through the forty-five minute “briefing session” on Sunday, November 24. It does not appear that Robert Kennedy, then paralyzed by the shock of his bother’s murder, was even invited to the meeting. Chester Cooper records that Lyndon Johnson’s first National Security Council meeting was not convened until Thursday, December 5.[16]

 

[1] Pentagon Papers (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1972), hereafter cited as USG ed., IV.C.1, pp. ii, 2; Pentagon Papers (Boston: Beacon Press, 1971), hereafter cited as Gravel ed., III:2, 17.

[2] USG ed., IV.B.5, pp. viii, 67; Gravel ed., II:207, 275-276. Leslie Gelb, Director of the Pentagon Study Task Force and author of the study summaries, himself talks in one study summary of “optimism” (III:2); and in another of “gravity” and “deterioration” (II:207).

[3] USG ed., IV.B.3, pp. 37-38; Gravel ed., II:457-59; emphasis added.

[4] USG ed., IV.C.2.a, p viii; Gravel ed., III:117; cf. Pentagon Papers (New York Times/Bantam, 1971), p. 233. Another study on Phased Withdrawal (IV.B.4, p.26; Gravel ed., II:191) apparently quotes directly from a close paraphrase of NSAM 273 (2), not from the document itself. Yet the second page of NSAM 273 was, as we shall see, a vital document in closing off Kennedy’s plans for a phased withdrawal of U.S. forces.

[5] USG ed., IV.C.2.a, p. ix; Gravel ed., III:117.

[6] USG ed., IV.C.2.a, p. i; Gravel ed., III:106.

[7] USG ed., IV.C.2.a, p. 2; Gravel ed., III:150-151; cf. Stavins et al., pp. 93-94.

[8] USG ed., IV.B.4, p. v; Gravel ed., II:163.

[9] NYT, November 16, 1963, p.1; November 21, 1963, pp. 1, 8; Richard P. Stebbins, The United States in World Affairs, 1963 (New York: Harper and Row, for the Council on Foreign Relations, 1964), p. 193: “In a meeting at Honolulu on November 20, the principal U.S. authorities concerned with the war could still detect enough evidence of improvement to justify the repatriation of a certain number of specialized troops.” Jim Bishop (The Day Kennedy Was Shot, New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1968, p. 107) goes further: “They may also have discussed how best to extricate the U.S. from Saigon; in fact it was a probable topic and the President may have asked the military for a timetable of withdrawal.” Cf. USG ed., IV.B.4, p. d; Gravel ed., II:170: “20 Nov. 63… officials agreed that the Accelerated Plan (speed-up of force withdrawal by six months directed by McNamara in October) should be maintained.”

[10] NYT, November 25, 1963, p. 5; Washington Post, November 25, 1963, A2. [FRUS, 1961-63, IV, 637.]

[11] USG ed., IV.C.1, p. ii; Gravel ed., III:2.

[12] [NSAM 273 (6)], USG ed., IV.C.1, p. 3; Gravel ed., III:18. See Postscript.

[13] Rusk, McNamara, Lodge, McGeorge Bundy, and McCone. McCone was not known earlier to have been a participant in the Honolulu Conference, but he is so identified by USG ed., IV.B.4, p. 25 (Gravel ed., II:190). [We now know that the 1000-man McNamara withdrawal plan had been whittled down by General Taylor by November 20. See Newman, JFK and Vietnam, 432-33.]

[14] The only other new face was George Ball.

[15] USG ed., IV.C.1, pp. 1-3; Gravel ed., III:17-18.

[16] Chester Cooper, The Lost Crusade: America in Vietnam (New York: Dodd Mead, 1970), p. 222. Cooper should know, for he was then a White House aide to McGeorge Bundy, Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs,. If he is right, then Pentagon study references to an NSC meeting on November 26 (USG ed., IV.B.4, p. 26; Gravel ed., II:191) are wrong—naïve deductions from NSAM 273’s misleading title. [We now know that there was concern about disunity between Lodge and Harkins in the Saigon US Embassy, as well as alleged leaking by Harriman and Hilsman.]

 

[13] Rusk, McNamara, Lodge, McGeorge Bundy, and McCone. McCone was not known earlier to have been a participant in the Honolulu Conference, but he is so identified by USG ed., IV.B.4, p. 25 (Gravel ed., II:190). [We now know that the 1000-man McNamara withdrawal plan had been whittled down by General Taylor by November 20. See Newman, JFK and Vietnam, 432-33.]

[14] The only other new face was George Ball.

 

For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men--

 



#19 Larry Trotter

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Posted 25 March 2015 - 06:01 PM

This topic is well worth reading, and then read again.

 

Many thanks for some very informative posts!


Larry

Student of Assassination Research


#20 Greg Burnham

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Posted 01 April 2015 - 07:15 AM

You're very welcome, Larry!


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"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." -- JFK

"It is difficult to abolish prejudice in those bereft of ideas. The more hatred is superficial, the more it runs deep."  -- Farewell America (1968) 

“The ancient Greek definition of happiness was the full use of your powers along lines of excellence."  -- JFK

"A wise man can act a fool, but a foolish man can never act wise."  -- Unknown

 

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