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Vietnam and the Domino Theory


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#16 Bob Fromme

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Posted 01 May 2005 - 09:37 PM

The revolution which is beginning will call in question not only capitalist society but industrial society. The consumer society is bound for a violent death. Social alienation must vanish from history. We are inventing a new and original world. Imagination is seizing power. (Poster attached to the main entrance at the Sorbonne, May 13, 1968)

'Salami Tactics' in support of balony, A.K.A. Communism ?

John emailed a request for me to share my thinking concerning his post about weakness in the Domino Theory and his observation of past and contemporary life in Vietnam.
Well, this old soldier doesn't claim to be much of a historian or much of an intellectual.... my response should only be seen as an attempt to share my thoughts. Perhaps that they may be constructive in support of the discussion.

First I want to mention that the 'Domino Theory' is/was based on observations from Americans and others, watching Europe, Asia and elsewhere early in the 20th Century. In the vacuum of the demise of Hitler, Communism began growing like a cancer across Europe. Soon it was taking over major areas of Asia and began moving into parts of South America and Cuba.

The War in Vietnam was only part of the larger picture of the Cold War against the Communists.

'Pie in the Sky' Communism and the Reality

The theory and system of social and political organization called Communism was one of the forces in world politics for much of the 20th century. As a political movement, it sought to eradicate Capitalism through a workers' revolution and establish a conformity in which property is owned by the community as a whole rather than by individuals. In theory, communism wanted to erect a classless society of abundance and freedom, in which all people enjoy equal social and economic status.

In practice, communist regimes appear to have taken the form of coercive, authoritarian governments that care little for the predicament of the working class and seek above all else to preserve their own hold on power. In turn, the order appears to have given little respect for individual contribution to society and it seems to have offered slight reward for individual incentive and creativity. It fostered a living and working environment that was stagnant.

Observation of 'Salami Tactics' gave rise to the 'Domino Theory'

During 1946-47, Stalin made sure that Communist governments came to power in all the countries of eastern Europe (the countries which Russia had conquered in 1945). The Hungarian Communist Rakosi described this process as 'slicing salami' - gradually getting rid of all opposition, bit-by-bit. In this way, Russia gained control of Albania (1945 - the Communists took power after the war without opposition), Bulgaria (1945 - a left-wing coalition gained power in 1945; the Communists then executed the leaders of all the other parties.), Poland (1947 - a coalition government took power in 1945, but Stalin arrested all the non-Communist leaders in 1945, and the Communists forced the other non-Communists into exile), Hungary (1947 - Hungary was invaded by the Russians, and in 1945 the allies agreed that Russian troops should stay there. Stalin allowed elections, in which the non-communists won a big majority. However, some communists were elected, led by a pro-Russian called Rakosi), Rakosi now started demanding that groups which opposed him should be banned. If not, he hinted, the Russians would take over the country. Then he got control of the police, and started to arrest his opponents. He set up a sinister and brutal secret police unit, the AVH), By 1947 Rakosi had complete control over Hungary. Romania (1945-1947 - a left-wing coalition was elected in 1945; the Communists gradually took over control), Czechoslovakia (1945-48 - a left-wing coalition was elected in 1945. In 1948, the Communists banned all other parties and killed their leaders) and East Germany (1949) - the Russian turned their zone of Germany into the German Democratic Republic in 1949)

Seeing the creeping control of Russian power, oozing out behind the mask of 'Pie in the Sky' Communism, Winston Churchill gave his Fulton speech, (5 March 1946), at which he said that the countries of eastern Europe - cut off by 'an iron curtain' - were 'subject to Soviet influence . . . totalitarian control [and] police governments'. Russia responded to the remarks , saying Churchill had declared war on them.

Further events, however, brought The United States into the conflict. In February 1947, the British said they could no longer afford to keep soldiers in Greece in the struggle against the Communists there , President Truman stepped in and paid for the British soldiers in Greece. Then, in March 1947, Truman said it was America's DUTY to 'contain' Communism (the 'Truman Doctrine'). Truman had officially declared 'cold war' against Communist Russia. In June 1947, the American general George Marshall went to Europe and observed that every country there was so poor that it was in danger of turning Communist. He suggested that that The United States should give $17 billion of aid to get Europe's economy going. At first, the American Congress did not want to give the money for Marshall Aid. But by March 1948, when the Communists took power in Czechoslovakia. The U.S. Congress and voted for Marshall Aid. Russia and America were at 'cold war'.

The ‘dominos’ had been falling all over the globe. It was within this context that one must consider the value of America's involvement in Vietnam. The advance of Communism stopped with the Vietnam War. In turn, the survival of the remaining communist countries seems to depend upon the degree to which they seem to incorporate Capitalism and shift some ownership and respect back to the individual citizens.

John's use of statistics from concerning the opinions of contemporary Vietnamese in support of his position made me smile. I would like to point out that I see his remarks as support against the ideals of Communism. Perhaps capitalism and the causes of freedom and respect for the individual won in Vietnam, in spite of the lack of political will of LBJ and Nixon who walked away from their responsibilities in that war. From my personal observations of the quality of life in Vietnam at war, I can certainly attest that they had no where to go except up.Remembering the Locals
I would like to suggest that much of what the communists today try to flaunt as social and economic success in support of their way of governing may well be attributed to the simple contrasts of a nation at war and then at peace. One would also add an increase resulting from their survival tactics when faced with a deteriorating economy. Years after the war, the communist government made a reluctant decision to grant some individual freedoms and loosen control over some ownership in an effort to manage capitalistic efforts.

I would be interested in a comparison between the quality of life of the common Vietnamese family struggling today in Vietnam and the quality of life for those families who were fortunate enough to escape the grip of the communists. I know that the majority of Vietnamese in the US have developed close-nit, supportive and goal oriented families. Like so many refugees that have come before, they and their children are embracing 'the American Dream'.

Bob Fromme

For better or worse, most of what is presently happening that is new, provocative, and engaging in politics, education, the arts, social relations (love, courtship, family, community), is the creation either of youth who are profoundly, even fanatically, alienated from the parental generation, or of those who address themselves primarily to the young. (Theodore Rozack, The Making of a Counter Culture, 1969)

#17 John Simkin

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Posted 02 May 2005 - 07:38 AM

The domino theory and the theory of containment that were the basis of US foreign policies were not wholesale failures.

Vietnam was a bad war, but to wholly read Vietnam's recent turnaround as the proof that trying to fight in the name of the domino theory was wrong is not something to accept without qualification.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


The  theory and system of social and political organization  called Communism was one of the forces in world politics for much of the 20th century. As a political movement, it sought to eradicate Capitalism through a workers' revolution and establish a conformity in which property is owned by the community as a whole rather than by individuals. In theory, communism wanted to erect a classless society of abundance and freedom, in which all people enjoy equal social and economic status.

In practice, communist regimes appear to have taken the form of coercive, authoritarian governments that care little for the predicament of the working class and seek above all else to preserve their own hold on power. In turn, the order appears to have given little respect for individual contribution to society and it seems to have offered slight reward for individual incentive and creativity. It fostered a living and working environment that was stagnant.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


It is an over-simplification to attribute US involvement in Vietnam to the Domino Theory.  We became involved due to a complex mix of ideology, historical circumstance and realpolitik.  A good resource for this is Leslie Gelb's (he has a co-author, whose name I've forgotten) The Irony of Vietnam:  The System Worked.  Gelb, as you may know, was the person responsible for the assembly of the Pentagon Papers (but not, of course, their release to the public, which was Daniel Ellsberg's province).

I would argue that the Domino Theory was developed primarily for public consumption - as a simple way to describe the reasons for our involvement.  I doubt that any politician of consequence really believed it as stated.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I do in fact agree with a modified version of the Domino Theory. My disagreement is over the Eisenhower/Nixon interpretation of communism. What we saw following the end of the Second World War was a desire in the underdeveloped world for independence from the major powers. This was a natural reaction, especially when the Allies claimed they had been fighting the war for freedom and democracy.

Germany lost its empire because of the war. Those countries controlled by Britain and France understandably thought they should have their independence as well. Some like the nationalists/communists in Vietnam decided to take up arms against the people who they saw to be their oppressors. Understandably, they considered the victorious Allies to be hypocrites when they resisted this movement. You cannot blame them for concluding that the Second World War had nothing to do with the principles of freedom and democracy. They were right. It was only about the freedom and democracy of the rich and powerful.

Countries that were part of the European empires began to demand their freedom. Some of these countries, for example, India, got their independence fairly early. You could argue India was one of the first dominos to fall. This inspired others and one by one they got their independence. However, in some cases, such as France in Vietnam, they resisted this process. By 1954 the French had been defeated and another domino was about to fall. As the freedom fighters in Vietnam included many who called themselves communists, the Americans decided to get involved. In doing so it was creating its own empire (however, because of its own history, it could not call it that).

Eisenhower and Nixon were right to believe that if Vietnam fell, it would be followed by other dominoes. That is why they became so concerned by the revolution in Cuba in 1959. Like the other examples, the revolutionaries in Cuba were nationalists rather than communists. That is why initially the CIA had given support to Castro. However, the reaction of Eisenhower to Castro’s victory forced Castro into the communist camp. The success of Castro in Cuba posed a greater threat to the Americans as it was so close to home. Understandably, the example of Cuba would inspire others in the region to take up arms against American-backed military dictatorships.

I can fully understand why Eisenhower/Nixon developed the Domino Theory but they made two major mistakes. (1) They equated the desire for independence as a desire for communism. (2) They failed to understand the power of capitalism.

Eisenhower and those presidents who followed him came under pressure from American capitalists to make sure that they had access to the raw materials, labour, markets, etc. of the underdeveloped world. They feared that this independent powers would go the same way as the Soviet Union, China, etc. These were seen as communist states although they have nothing to do with communism. State capitalist would be a better definition of these countries.

American presidents therefore decided to spend large sums of money and to sacrifice the lives of large numbers of men to ensure the free flow of capital. As I have pointed out, in Vietnam it lost over 58,000 men and spent $165 billion in order to stop Vietnam becoming a communist state. It failed. However, capitalism did not. Vietnam has one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Foreign investment is pouring into the country. Vietnam, like its neighbour, China, is not a communist country. It is a military dictatorship that uses its power over the trade union movement, the media, the political system, etc. to exploit its workers more successfully than those living under a free-market economy. Understandably, in such a country, labour costs are low and it therefore becomes an ideal place to produce your goods.

Unfortunately, political leaders in America do not have a full understanding of economics. Their political backers are sometimes impatient and are unwilling for capitalism to do its work. It therefore pressurizes them to interfere in the market. This is what of course is happening in Iraq. Although it is given the cover of being a fight against international terrorism (after all they could not argue it was part of a campaign against communism as the military government in Iraq had already destroyed all those on the left) and an attempt to introduce democracy. As Rubert Murdoch has admitted, the war in Iraq is about the price and ownership of oil.

In a few years time, America, after spending billions of taxpayers money and sacrificing hundreds of thousands of lives, will withdraw from Iraq. Soon afterwards Iraq will become a Muslim fundamentalist state. Iraq will be seen the same way as we see Vietnam now. A tragic mistake. But will our political masters learn the right lessons? I suspect not.

#18 David Richardson

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Posted 02 May 2005 - 10:10 AM

I'm a great believer in the cock-up theory of history. I wonder what would have happened if it hadn't been an understrength unit of the British Indian Army which arrived to receive the Japanese surrender in Vietnam in 1945. The British, perhaps understandably, didn't want to hand over control of a colony to the colonial subjects, led by the Viet Minh, which was led by a certain Ho Chi Minh, a client of the OSS (later CIA). It would have set a terribly undesirable precedent in all the other colonies (a lot of which were British). Re-arming the Japanese, though, was bound to play badly in Vietnam.

I witnessed the aftermath of what I see as a very similar situation when I was in Angola in 1985. When the Portuguese dictatorship suddenly collapsed in 1974, the Portuguese colonies in Africa suddenly became independent. Angola was, and is, an incredibly rich country, but, rather typically, the USA had been backing a playboy, Holden Roberto, who was suddenly faced with the choice between giving up the high life in Europe (funded by US dollars, provided he made the occasional obligatory statement about anti-Communism) and returning to rough it out in a very backward former colony. (The departing Portuguese had done everything they could to sabotage the country when they left - to the extent of unscrewing the lightbulbs and breaking them.)

Unfortunately, in 1975, Gerald Ford was President. The South Africans immediately invaded the country to support their clients, UNITA, and were advancing rapidly up from what is now Namibia. The MPLA, who had been the main force fighting against the Portuguese, turned desperately to the Americans for help … but when Ford asked the CIA, they said that their guy was called Roberto. Castro was the only leader who responded, and the combination of the MPLA and Castro's personal guards (who arrived in Angola with only as much equipment as would fit in transport planes) managed to hold the South Africans 50 kms from Luanda, the capital. When the first ship-borne Cuban units arrived, the Angolans and Cubans together 'whipped the South Africans' asses' all the way back to Namibia.

When I was there, the Cubans were finally withdrawing from the country. If you read the newspapers in Europe or the USA, you'd think that they were horrible oppressors, who the Angolans would be glad to see the back of. They were actually heroes to the Angolans. I was living in a small village outside Luanda, and I remember a Cuban convoy coming through and all the local people breaking into singing and dancing - without any involvement of party cadres. I had dark hair and a moustache then, and whenever I went out, I'd be surrounded by adults and children wanting to shake my hand, and calling my 'Camarado Cubano', and shouting 'Primo' (the Cuban military term for 'buddy' - which the Angolans had heard time and again on the battlefield). The only thing anyone ever begged from me was empty cans - and it was the children who wanted to make them into fantastic toys to play with.

Angola became a military dictatorship backed by the Communists only because everyone else turned their backs on the country. They really didn't like the Communists either. The Russians in Angola hated Swedish involvement because Sweden was teaching the Angolans about fisheries protection, whilst it suited the Soviet Union that Angola had no knowledge of marine biology and no patrol vessels, because the Angolans were being made to pay for military supplies with fish. If you can't tell whether there are 50 or 500 Russian trawlers over the horizon, you've got no way of knowing whether your comrades are screwing you.

This is more or less what I think happened to Vietnam too …

#19 Tim Gratz

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Posted 02 May 2005 - 11:56 AM

John wrote:

That is why they became so concerned by the revolution in Cuba in 1959. Like the other examples, the revolutionaries in Cuba were nationalists rather than communists. That is why initially the CIA had given support to Castro. However, the reaction of Eisenhower to Castro’s victory forced Castro into the communist camp.

John your entire post above was interesting and its analysis astute, even though I disagree with part if not most of it.

There is no question the US "gave" Cuba to Castro, and of course in December of 1958 Earl E T. Smith, acting on the orders of the State Dept and Allen Dulles, ordered Batista out of Cuba. We were concerned about corruption in the Batista regime and believed he was losing "effective control" of his country. In addition, we believed Fidel's promises to bring democracy to Cuba.

I think there is abundant evidence that Fidel was a Communist since his student days (as he himself later admitted). Even after he came to power, the CIA still believed (and issued reports stating) he was not a Communist. What I think started our disenchantment with Castro was his regime's brutal murder of hundreds of Batista supporters and his refusal to hold the elections he had promised.

There is evidence that at least one State Department official who was pushing US support of Fidel was a secret Communist.

Since we "delivered" Cuba to Castro in exchange for his promise to bring democracy to Cuba, I think we should have simply used his breach of promise to build a democratic Cuba to justify a regime change in Cuba. With US military might our victory over Castro's supporters would have been a cakewalk. Then, rather than the US trying to "select" Cuba's future rulers (a continuing strategy of both the CIA and the Kennedys) we should have allowed the Cuban people to select their own leaders. I think the Cubans would likely have chosen progressive democrats (such as the Cuban leaders supported by the Kennedys) rather than followers of Batista. (To over-simplify things, I suspect Artime or Ray would have defeated Masferrer or his ilk).

Had JFK rejected the CIA's ill-conceived BOP operation and followed the above, I doubt that JFK would have been assassinated.

In my opinion, had Eisenhower been in office he would not have approved the BOP with its ridiculous premise that US involvement could be publicly hidden. However, based on reports that Nixon was the man pushing the BOP, he may have started the operation but I suspect he would have provided the air power. Even with the air cover, I doubt whether Brigade 2506 would have been able to defeat the Castro troops which had them considerably outnumbered. Ultimately, a complete commitment of US troops would probably have been required.

#20 Mark Knight

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Posted 02 May 2005 - 02:55 PM

In my opinion, European dominoes begat visions of Asian dominoes, and the visions began with China and Korea, and progressed to Vietnam. When the French were getting their derrieres handed to them on a platter at Dien Bien Phu in '54, the US made the mistake of seeing this as a battle against communism...while hindsight gives us the insight to realize that it was more a battle against colonialism [anyone care to recall Algeria?]. The French sphere of influence was on its way out of existence, much as the British Empire also saw the sun set in the years following WWII. Unfortunately, the US view of Vietnam was regional [think Korea] rather than global [think India, et al].

There may be those who see the Vietnam war as a battle for control of the Indochina drug trade cloaked in the camoflage of capitalism-vs.-communism, and there may actually be a glimmer of truth in their arguments. But I believe that Vietnam began as a naive attempt by the US to help the non-communist government--ANY non-communist government--resist the tide of communism that some Americans saw as sweeping the earth. This is why, even in 1963, the US troops were still considered "advisors," and that their mission was to train the ARVN troops how to successfully wage war. Unfortunately, the bullheadedness of the US military leadership caused them to refuse to merely accept the ARVN's unwillingness to fight--by and large, the Vietnamese citizens didn't care WHO the government was, as long as they had rice and weren't being attacked--and walk away from the indifference of the Vietnamest people. But once committed, the US military was too blinded by pride to let what was essentially a civil war play out on its own; if the ARVN wouldn't fight Charlie, then by damn, WE'LL fight Charlie FOR 'em...it's for their own good.

Friend and foe looked and spoke alike in Vietnam...and often, your friend today turned out to be your foe tomorrow. Essentially, the majority of Vietnamese MAY have cared about the outcome, but it became increasingly evident over the years that those who opposed the communists didn't care ENOUGH to keep the fight up themselves. Remember, "you can lead a horse to water, but..." There was no national unity in South Vietnam, or at least not enough to create a credible resistance. In the end, THAT is what doomed the US-led forces. With no visible desire to fight the communists shown by the South Vietnamese, the will of the US citizens to provide troops--and money--to defend those unwilling to defend themselves eventually crumbled.

The Domino Theory was only partially correct; where the people had a strong enough will to fight their own battles, the people eventually prevailed against communist domination [witness Poland...a long time coming, but it signaled what could be accomplished by a proud people in the battle against repression]. But where the people were apathetic, communism took over despite outside help. The lesson the US should havelearned from Vietnam is that one cannot drag a country kicking and screaming into independence; that country must be a willing participant in the fight if the fight is to ever be successful. Whether the same result will occur in Iraq or Afghanistan remains to be seen. While the Afghani people are a race of fierce warriors [witness their fight against the Soviets], I believe it's still too early to judge whether the US-led "reform" government there will remain for a significant length of time. And in Iraq, the formation of a government, even WITH US guidance, has been a formidable challenge; whether stability will result still hangs in the balance. Stay tuned.

#21 Pat Speer

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Posted 03 May 2005 - 07:36 AM

Tim, I know you're stuck on this idea that any war that ends in "freedom," or has "freedom" as its goal, is a good one, but you should at least acknowledge that in Vietnam the U.S. had no intentions of spreading "freedom." Ho Chi Minh was the leader of Vietnam...We CREATED DIEM and South Vietnam!!! North Vietnam was no more an invading force than the North was in Virgina during the Civil War. The Pentagon Papers were dangerous not because they revealed military secrets but because they revealed that the supposedly evil Ho Chi Minh had been our ally during WW2 and had wanted our support after the war; he had NO interest in being a Chinese or Russian satellite...WE KNEW THIS..thus, the Domino Theory was a lie from the beginning--that some believed it was undoubted, but they were WRONG. With our focus on Vietnam and incessant bombing of civilians we CAUSED Communism to spread to Cambodia; rather than being a friendly force for good, we were seen as oppressors and murderers, which we were. These millions of dead lives, and thousands of dead Iraqis, which you refuse to see, are the price others have paid for OUR failed policy; (after all, who funded Hussein's military build-up to begin with?) You seem to think if the magic DEMOCRACY appears somewhere down the road than all the dead bodies of people you never knew or loved are worthwhile. This ARROGANCE is why the rest of the world hates us. Our behavior, in fact, has been little different than the commies you so love to hate.

The fall of the Soviet Union, rather than being the feather in the cap for Ronald Reagan and his fellow cold warriors, was in fact the proof that they HAD BEEN WRONG ALL ALONG. All those people need not have died in Guatemala, Cuba, Chile, Nicaragua,Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Afghanistan, etc... Communist governments do, IN FACT, FALL and get re-organized the same as other failed governments. Through diplomacy, economic pressure, and by SETTING A FINE EXAMPLE, the U.S. has accomplished more in the way of spreading democracy than in any of our wars. It is noteworthy that democracy only spread to Latin America after the U.S. stopped sponsoring the coup of the month, and recognizng dictators as legitimate governments just because they sold us cheap bananas.

It is my contention that both Vietnam and Cuba would be democracies today if we hadn't tried to overthrow the will of their people, thereby spreading anti-Amercan sentiment to those previously pro-U.S. Castro and Ho Chi Minh were both friendly to the U.S. till we declared war on them. If the Cold Warriors had only had a broad view of history they would have seen that history was on the side of Democracy, and not communisim--unfortunately they had little faith in their own system...maybe because they knew how corrupt it was and how corrupt they were personally.

Three other specific points 1) While Kennedy wished for a democratic Vietnam, no one who knew him, including McNamara, has ever suggested he was willing to send U.S. ground troops into action there. MacArthur had, in fact, told him it was hopeless to fight a ground war in Asia. It follows from that that the Vietnam War would have been quite different if fought at all, should Kennedy have not been murdered. Furthermore, since part of the reason LBJ got sucked in was because he was insecure and overly trusting of his advisers, and Kennedy had already crossed that hurdle with the Bay of Pigs and missile crisis, it is absolutely ridiculous to believe that the war was inevitable no matter who was President. Hogwash!! 2) Nixon interfered with the peace talks in 68 in order to get elected; he then dragged out the war to get re-elected. He and Kissinger saw the war as a way of sending a message to the Soviets and Chinese and NEVER had any intention of winning it, only in achieving a "peace with honor," which meant an agreement with the North Vietnamese to hold off for a certain period of time before invading the South after we left, so it would not be so obvious the U.S. had admitted defeat and high-tailed it outta there. Watergate only had something to do with it to those still enamored by Tricky Dick's delusions. Nixon was as outta touch with reality as LBJ. 3) I may be pre-judging you on this one, but you're so conservative in your anti-commie and anti-abortion diatribes that the thought occurs you may have a problem with homosexuality as well. So you should know your hero Tom Dooley was kicked out of the military for being gay. Evidently, there have been attempts to make a movie on his short fascinating life for years but they always hit this stumbling block, particularly since he may have been active sexually within the communites he was supposedly helping fight against communisim. Even today we don't know what to make of him.

Edited by Pat Speer, 04 May 2005 - 07:56 AM.


#22 David Richardson

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Posted 03 May 2005 - 09:41 AM

I studied a comparative course in US and Soviet politics and society at university in the 1970s. The fascinating aspect for me were all the points of similarity between the USA and Soviet Union (I think mainly because of their size) - we already knew about the points of difference!

On a parallel course in political theory, one of our lecturers used Watership Down's General Woundwort as an illustration. Woundwort refused to expand the size of his warren, because he knew that the greater the geographical area you have responsibility for, the harder it is for you to control it.

In my view, this was exactly where the Soviet Union was. Every invasion of Russia since the Mongols had come from the West, and Russia had been obsessed with creating a buffer zone between the aggressive European powers and the heartland of Russia. The statue of Peter the Great in St Petersburg says it all - he's got his fist raised towards the West and his foot firmly on the body of the Swedish snake! (You might not be aware that St Petersburg was actually a Swedish fortress, built as a forward base to keep Russia under control …)

But look how hard it was to keep even a supine satellite like East Germany under control. The idea that the Soviets were just panting to add to their problems by invading Germany and Holland just lacks credibility for me.

I think that one problem was the relative ignorance of geography and history among a lot of Americans. I remember seeing a 'proof' of Finland's secret alliance with the Soviet Union produced by one of Nixon's hawks. It showed the railway system of Finland, which was supposed to have been designed to facilitate the transit of Soviet troops. There were just two problems: 1) the only East-West line had been built by the German Army to facilitate the invasion of Russia (!) - all the rest ran, as you'd expect, to the capital city, Helsinki, which is in south-east Finland; and 2) the Soviets tried twice to subjugate Finland by force, and failed because of the stiff resistance of the Finns. Nuclear weapons don't work so well on countries which don't have lots of major centres of population.

As in Europe … so in Asia.

#23 Tim Gratz

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Posted 03 May 2005 - 10:03 AM

Pat,
I agree with some, but certainly not all, of your comments.

You are correct that one of the reasons the Soviet Union fell was because of economic pressure. That pressure was deliberately applied by President Reagan. It is one of the reasons why a great amount of credit for the fall of communism rightly belongs to Ronald Reagan, and one of the reasons why he was one of our greatest presidents (comparing favorably, in my opinion, with Lincoln and Roosevelt). Unlike other Cold War presidents who were satisfied with detente or peaceful coexistence with the Soviet Union, Reagan recognized it as an "evil empire" that had to be defeated. The atrocities commited by the Soviet Union were as bad as the atrocities of Hitler's Germany.

Have you read "Victory" by Peter Schweitzer? If not, I would commend it to you, and other membes of the Forum.

It was not just coincidence that the Soviet Union collapsed shortly after the end pf Reagan's presidency.

I also think the recently deceased Pope deserves much credit for the defeat of Communism.

I do agree with you that the cause of freedom was assisted when the US stopped supporting the "dictator of the month" merely because they were anti-Communists and instead is concentrating on spreading democracy. I would also submit (not an original point with me by any means) that the increase in worldwide communications assisted in the fall of communism when people behind the "Iron Curtain" could observe the economic success and liberties of the West. But that was not sufficient in itself to defeat Communism. It took courageous leaders such as Ronald Reagan and the Pope.

I do believe you as wrong as can be that the US drove Castro to Communism. Castro may have been "the will of the people" when he promised to bring freedom to Cuba, but he lost that when he turned to Communism, suppression of the press, cancellation of elections, mass executions, etc. Do you have any understanding of how many people have lost their lives trying to cross the straits of Florida to escape Castro's paradise?

I think there is probably truth in your comment that some of our country's leaders did not have faith in the strength of the ideals of freedom and democracy because they themselves were corrupt.

I agree with you that Nixon may have had no intention of "winning" the war in Vietnam, any more than LBJ did. There is no question in my mind the US could have won the war if there had not been political restraints imposed on the military. It was a war of aggression from the North but our military leaders were never able to take the war to Hanoi. I am not sure what would have happened on Vietnam had JFK not been assassinated but I do bot think he would have abandoned Vietnam to the Communists--in part because he was influenced by the thoughts of Tom Dooley. And, of course, what happened in Vietnam after the US abdicated proved that Dooley was correct in his denunciations of the Vietcong.

By the way, Pat, the article that I posted about Dooley did discuss his homosexuality. I do not agree with the homosexual life style as you can imagine but are you aware that Cuba (and other Communist systems) often repress and persecute homosexuals as much as they do religion?

#24 Pat Speer

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 08:54 AM

Pat,
I agree with some, but certainly not all, of your comments.

You are correct that one of the reasons the Soviet Union fell was because of economic pressure. That pressure was deliberately applied by President Reagan. It is one of the reasons why a great amount of credit for the fall of communism rightly belongs to Ronald Reagan, and one of the reasons why he was one of our greatest presidents (comparing favorably, in my opinion, with Lincoln and Roosevelt). Unlike other Cold War presidents who were satisfied with detente or peaceful coexistence with the Soviet Union, Reagan recognized it as an "evil empire" that had to be defeated. The atrocities commited by the Soviet Union were as bad as the atrocities of Hitler's Germany.

I disagree about Reagan, although we've certainly had worse Presidents. The current one, for example. There were signs of Soviet Collapse going back to the 70's. If you read former CIA Director Robert Gates' book you'll see that he makes the case that the fall of communism came not from one Big Heroic President, but from the consistent cold war tactics of every president from Truman to Bush. While I believe Reagan's build-up was in large part well-intentioned, I also believe that SDI is the biggest scam played on the American people probably ever. A trillion dollars and counting spent on an ineffective weapons plan to fight above board enemies that don't exist, when all our real enemies would need to bring us down is a couple of box-cutters at the neck of the right person or a couple of cargo holds full of Pakistan's left-over nukes. That trillion dollars could have and should have been spent on other more important things, like developing solar and wind energy for example, or on universal health care. If Star Wars had been proposed by a Dem it would have been shut down a long time ago. But there's just too much PORK and the Defense Department just can't let go.

Have you read "Victory" by Peter Schweitzer? If not, I would commend it to you, and other membes of the Forum.

It was not just coincidence that the Soviet Union collapsed shortly after the end pf Reagan's presidency.

I also think the recently deceased Pope deserves much credit for the defeat of Communism.

I do agree with you that the cause of freedom was assisted when the US stopped supporting the "dictator of the month" merely because they were anti-Communists and instead is concentrating on spreading democracy. I would also submit (not an original point with me by any means) that the increase in worldwide communications assisted in the fall of communism when people behind the "Iron Curtain" could observe the economic success and liberties of the West. But that was not sufficient in itself to defeat Communism. It took courageous leaders such as Ronald Reagan and the Pope.

I do believe you as wrong as can be that the US drove Castro to Communism. Castro may have been "the will of the people" when he promised to bring freedom to Cuba, but he lost that when he turned to Communism, suppression of the press, cancellation of elections, mass executions, etc. Do you have any understanding of how many people have lost their lives trying to cross the straits of Florida to escape Castro's paradise?

Not having spent as much time in Florida as yourself, I have a different perspective on Castro. From where I sit I see a man who made overtures to the U.S. from early on in his regime, only to be rejected in part because of Nixon's fear of the Big C. If the U.S. had quietly supported him I believe he would have been OUR communist, and under our influence, instead of the Russians. Over the course of time, after Castro had implimented some of the much-needed changes he implemented, including education and health care reform, I believe it's logical to believe a form of limited capitalism, something akin to what's going on in China, would have come to pass. But that's impossible to prove. What isn't impossible to prove is that U.S. policy towards Cuba has done almost nothing to alleviate the suffering of the Cuban people and has only made matters worse.

I think there is probably truth in your comment that some of our country's leaders did not have faith in the strength of the ideals of freedom and democracy because they themselves were corrupt.

I agree with you that Nixon may have had no intention of "winning" the war in Vietnam, any more than LBJ did. There is no question in my mind the US could have won the war if there had not been political restraints imposed on the military. It was a war of aggression from the North but our military leaders were never able to take the war to Hanoi. I am not sure what would have happened on Vietnam had JFK not been assassinated but I do bot think he would have abandoned Vietnam to the Communists--in part because he was influenced by the thoughts of Tom Dooley. And, of course, what happened in Vietnam after the US abdicated proved that Dooley was correct in his denunciations of the Vietcong.

Whatever excesses the Vietnamese Government have performed pale in comparison to the excesses we performed in the name of preventing their excesses. How many My Lai Massacres have occurred since we left?? How many napalm strikes on old women and young children? My last post was extra harsh because this topic just grates on me, having been raised by a series of surrogate big brother marines, many of them just back from Nam. If McNamara, who was only the damned architect of the war, now admits it was a mistake, why is it so hard for others who only saw it from a distance to admit as much? What would it have taken to win the war? The North Vietnamese were never going to quit, any more than the U.S. would quit if the western United States was invaded by Japan. It just was not going to happen. How many would have had to die?? And to what end? So we could put in place a puppet regime which would fall in 30 or 40 years like the Shah? M-I-S-T-A-K-E.

By the way, Pat, the article that I posted about Dooley did discuss his homosexuality. I do not agree with the homosexual life style as you can imagine but are you aware that Cuba (and other Communist systems) often repress and persecute homosexuals as much as they do religion?

Believe it or not I don't particularly like communists or communist regimes. Most of them have done horrible things. I just have a stronger dislike for the excesses the U.S. has undertaken to kill and defeat them. And why do I hold us to a higher standard? Because we're supposed to be the good guys. It's as simple as that. I grew up watching cowboy movies and learning the American code of ethics, and in that code the good guy leads by example. That code is also in the Bible, for those who actually read it, and is what supposedly lifts America above the fray. I just despise our hypocrisy. When the Communists murder their enemies we call it a purge or a slaughter, but when we sponsor the cold blooded murder of thousands we call it "Operation Phoenix" or something equally contrived to disguise from ourselves what we are sponsoring. We know what we do is wrong. We just have to stop doing it. How does a bully stop bullying when it's so easy to get one's way?

Edited by Pat Speer, 04 May 2005 - 09:21 PM.


#25 David Richardson

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 10:59 AM

Two days ago, Swedish TV did a report on the situation in Uzbekhistan, one of the new client states of the USA in central Asia.

The photos of the corpses of people who'd spoken out against the regime were sickening - the favoured method of torture there is to pull out all the finger nails and then immerse the victim up to his chest in boiling water, and keep him there till he dies.

The former British ambassador spoke out against these practices … and was disciplined and dismissed by the British government. The US government have kept almost total silence about the situation (Uzbekhistan allowed the Americans to open a huge airbase there, and the country is one of the ones to which people are sent to be tortured).

The former British ambassador did visit and interview one of the only dissidents brave enough to speak openly to foreigners. As the ambassador left, the corpse of the grandson of the dissident was found on the doorstep. He'd been horribly tortured to death.

One of the reasons for the moral collapse of the USA, at least as seen by people outside the country is that countries like Uzbekhistan are favoured allies of the USA. Until they put their own house in order, no-one is going to take American assurances of being the good guys as anything other than lies.

#26 Daniel Marvin

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Posted 05 May 2005 - 04:39 AM

The Domino Theory was first developed under the presidency of Dwight Eisenhower. It was argued that if the first domino is knocked over then the rest topple in turn. Applying this to South-east Asia Eisenhower argued that if South Vietnam was taken by communists, then the other countries in the region such as Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, Malaysia and Indonesia, would follow.

DDM (Dangerous Dan Marvin) says:  I truly believe the original domino theory was an honest appraisal of possibilities in any kind of forceful takeover or invasion/occupation of a nation that would eventually, if not checked, spread into a large area and gradually dominate the world. IF we had not stopped Hitler??  IF we had let Japan conquer us???  Yes - in that era - the world would have suffered.
===================================================
      Eisenhower’s vice-president, Richard Nixon, was a devout follower of this theory. In a speech made in December, 1953, Nixon argued “If Indochina falls, Thailand is put in an almost impossible position. The same is true of Malaya with its rubber and tin. The same is true of Indonesia. If this whole part of South East Asia goes under Communist domination or Communist influence, Japan, who trades and must trade with this area in order to exist must inevitably be oriented towards the Communist regime.”
      The Domino Theory was accepted by those who followed Eisenhower: John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. It was the main justification for sending troops to Vietnam. As one Domino Theory supporter (H. W. Baldwin) said in February, 1965: “Vietnam is a nasty place to fight. But there are no neat and tidy battlefields in the struggle for freedom; there is no 'good' place to die. And it is far better to fight in Vietnam - on China's doorstep - than fight some years hence in Hawaii, on our own frontiers.”

DDM Says: The actual WWII development of a political/military/industrial complex or base in this once great nation led to the Post WWII need for continued conflict somewhere to sustain that same complex.
=====================================================
    As a result of this theory 58,183 American soldiers died in Vietnam. Vietnamese losses were far greater – more than 1.3 million soldiers and a further 4 million civilians killed or wounded. In fact, because of the use of chemical warfare, people are still dying as a result of this war. This death and destruction cost the American taxpayer $165 billion.

DDM Says:  The shame and the outright planned (subsequent to the assassination of JFK) aiding and abetting of the enemy so as to not permit the South Vietnamese with our forces in support to win that war is what I feel in my heart MUST be investigated.  In my judgement there was a multi-lateral involvement of nations that included Communist China, Communist North Vietnam, and our nation among others that would assure the Communist take-over of the South Vietnamese people.  Please take the time to read the following and AS YOU RED  note that what I say of our aiding and abetting the enemy was corroborated by General Westmoreland himself.
                              General William C. Westmoreland
                                    The Man and the Myth
      by Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Marvin, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

There are many displays and tributes to this general who we should instead have established a wall of shame to signify those who would be with us today had it not been for a man named William C. Westmoreland who knowingly aided and abetted our enemy in the war against Communism in Vietnam and who admitted that fact in his own published testimony: A Soldier Reports © William C. Westmoreland.  If we are so unwise as to ignore these facts of the Vietnam era we will but set ourselves up for future recurrences of same.  Who is calling the shots in Iraq and Afghanistan?  Are the generals and admirals of today, at the expense of KIAs, WIAs and MIAs acquiescing to the dictates of a circle of men dedicated to maintaining a conflict of sufficient depth to satisfy the lusts of the political/military/industrial complex?
Nearer to now: on 24 July 2003 I spoke on the telephone with General Tommy Franks’ aide, LTC Chris Goedeke, expressing my admiration of the General and my concern that he did not appear to have sufficient troops in his command in Iraq to secure the population centers after they taken the area and cleared the enemy out.  I was led to believe, when told unequivocally that General Franks had only received half of the numbers of forces he asked for to properly conduct the war, that General Franks had unwillingly bent to the desires and dictates of the Secretary of Defense, and knowingly went to war with insufficient men and women to realistically get the job done. One who wishes to remain anonymous advised that the staff that developed the invasion scenario for Secretary Rumsfeld were primarily personnel without combat experience.
My question to those who love this great nation of ours and who want it to once again be known to the world as The Defender of Freedom is:
 
Why has the world press refused to publish the truth?

General William C. Westmoreland, as Commander of all American Forces in South Vietnam from June of 1964 through March of 1968, aided and abetted the enemy by permitting them safe havens inside the Cambodian territory adjacent to South Vietnam and by permitting that same enemy the unrestricted use of the Mekong River as a protected waterway to transport war materiel through South Vietnam to their sanctuaries in Cambodia. It seemed obvious to me, after putting all of the facts together, that General Westmoreland considered his own position, rank and place in history more important to him than the lives of American and Vietnamese warriors and South Vietnamese civilians (men, women and children) alike or he would have demanded an end to President Lyndon Johnson’s provision of safe-havens and protected supply routes to the enemy.  Lacking positive action by the President, General Westmoreland should have resigned publicly, informing the American people that he was leaving the service not wanting to be a part of the sham that was Vietnam, the sham that supported the enemy while subjecting our forces and our allies, along with the civilian population to death and destruction.
Corroborated proof of my direct knowledge of General Westmoreland’s acts to encourage and assist the enemy is contained in my book Expendable Elite – One Soldier’s Journey Into Covert Warfare, © 2003, Trine Day Publishers. 
In General Westmoreland’s book A Soldier Reports © 1976, Doubleday & Company, Inc. he states rather matter-of-factly and very clearly on page 218: “The enemy’s obvious use of Cambodia as a sanctuary and refusal of Washington authorities to allow me to do anything about it was frustrating.”  He went on to write, on page 219, of the proof of major shipments of arms and other supplies “reaching the VC via international shipping passing through South Vietnam up the Mekong...”  It may have been “frustrating” to General Westmoreland, but his lack of action to deny the enemy sanctuaries and a protected supply route was indeed deadly to many tens of thousands of Americans who depended on him for leadership.  From what I was told by officers in Saigon at the time, General Westmoreland wasn’t so frustrated that he denied himself the playful pleasures of a daily tennis routine.
Strangely enough, General Westmoreland writes at the beginning of Chapter XV (Reflections on Command) of having a quotation of Napoleon Bonaparte under a panel on my desk which states, “A commander-in-chief cannot take as an excuse for his mistakes in warfare an order by his sovereign or his minister, when the person giving the order is absent from the field of operations and is imperfectly aware or wholly unaware of the latest state of affairs.  It follows that any commander-in-chief who undertakes to carry out a plan which he considers defective is at fault; he must put forward his reasons, insist on the plan being changed, and finally tender his resignation rather than be the instrument of his army’s downfall.” 
The lack of strong moral leadership in this four star general is typified in his own admission, on page 220 of his book: “For long all we could do to the enemy in Cambodia was drop propaganda leaflets on our side of the border whenever the wind was right to blow them across.”  And, on page 222, he states unequivocally, “My every request to inform the world press of the enemy’s use of Cambodia was denied...”  Why then, inasmuch as our permitting of “the enemy’s use of Cambodia” was somewhat akin to tying our soldiers’ hands behind their back as they were ordered into battle, didn’t he take that matter forward as the sole rationale for his resignation from the military service?
In 1983, Presidio Press published LTC Charles M. Simpson’s book, Inside the Green Berets, included the account of how LTC Dick Ruble, a member of General Westmoreland’s Intelligence staff, had without the knowledge of the Special Forces Group commander, denied their access to intelligence (“code word” documents) as retribution for Special Forces’ denying MACV non-airborne personnel, who were to be disguised as Green Berets, access to Special Forces Camps (see page 181).  The Special Forces Group had been excluded purposely from their distribution list and would include intelligence gathered by CIA resources.  Many of those resources were highly classified and compartmentalized, according to my source, who understandably wishes to remain anonymous. 
Directly related to this denial of critical combat intelligence, was a time of solemn remembrance one summer afternoon in 1988 when I stepped through the doors of the Special Warfare Museum on Smoke Bomb Hill at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, wanting to revisit my past.  The Green Berets were, after all, a very special organization that would and could tackle any mission, anytime, anywhere and get the job done.  No task was too dangerous, too onerous or too difficult as “the impossible just takes a little longer.” 
I was enjoying the many and varied exhibits in that small, but awesome collection of unconventional warfare memorabilia until I was stopped in my tracks in front of an exhibit honoring General William C. Westmoreland.  I understand fully that one should not despise another, but that singular word best describes my feeling for that military man who, by his own inaction and lack of courage before Congress and his military superiors, aided and abetted the enemy in the Vietnam conflict, the same foe that had killed my four best friends, all of them Green Berets.
My best friend Jerry, his name now engraved on THE WALL - Master Sergeant Gerard V. Parmentier - was killed in action his fifth time in combat in the Southeast Asian War Theater.  Jerry, a fellow Green Beret and a number of South Vietnamese irregulars, all mortally wounded in battle by Viet Cong insurgents on 17 August 1967 near Dak To, South Vietnam, were also unsuspecting victims of a power struggle between General William C. Westmoreland’s headquarters and the Special Forces Group commander. 
His son Albert, a Green Beret himself, was serving in a neighboring Special Forces camp when he got word that his father had been killed.  After learning details of the battle and its aftermath from his father’s commanding officer, Albert accompanied his Father’s body back to the United States where he was interred with military honors, including a Special Forces Color Guard, at Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego.
After the funeral I spoke with Albert and he confirmed what I’d suspected, having learned from his father’s commanding officer that Jerry’s unit had met defeat and suffered heavy casualties, with most KIA due to faulty or withheld intelligence.  The enemy force that killed Jerry was many times the strength that had been gleaned from available intelligence.  That fact, in and of itself, was not uncommon in war, particularly in a counter-insurgency situation.  What was unusual and unforgivable in my judgment, was the fact that the enemy order of battle was known but withheld from Special Forces.  Hard to believe?  Yes, I would rather it had been a lie.  But those facts were told Albert by Jerry’s commander before he left Vietnam escorting his father’s body to the US.  Albert told me, just a few days later and agreed it was important information for the book I was writing about Special Forces in South Vietnam.  We also agreed that it would be put on the back burner until his mother was gone as it would hurt too much for her to know the truth.  When Jerry’s widow, Rose, died and was buried in Providence, Rhode Island, I spoke with Albert shortly after the funeral had concluded.  I told Albert of my need to obtain his signed statement telling of the facts of his father’s death so as to be evidence with which I would demand an investigation and a public disclosure of facts.
I was to learn instead that Albert had retired from the U.S. Army and was working for the “company.”  Needless to say, he was then conveniently forbidden from disclosing any knowledge relating to the CIA.  No sense arguing, the cards were stacked against the truth.
My book, Expendable Elite – One Soldier’s Journey Into Covert Warfare, contains much detail regarding General Westmoreland’s refusal to demand an end to the enemy’s safe-havens in Cambodia and his lack of courage when given the opportunity to go before Congress and tell them that American and Allied forces and innocent civilians were being killed and maimed by the enemy operating out of the “sanctuaries” that President Johnson had provided against the wishes of then Premier Nguyen Cao Ky.  He admits to these failures in his book A Soldier Reports. 
Another fact of life in South Vietnam at the time I served as a Green Beret in An Phu and Chau Doc was the absence of routine resupply of Special Forces units by General Westmoreland’s Saigon depot.  This was a great cause of concern to me when stationed at the B team and responsible for logistical support of Special Forces Camps under the wing of B-42 in Chau Doc in late 1966.  That lack of logistical support by the Saigon depot forced me to “borrow” a Landing Craft Utility (LCU) from the US Navy, pilot it down the Bassac River and on into the Mekong to reach the Saigon Depot.  We then “borrowed” two of the depot’s trucks and drove past the fearful guards to pick what we desperately needed from shelves, bins and pallet storage, loaded everything on the trucks and then off loaded onto the LCU at the depot docking site.  From there we re-traced our way back to Chau Doc and returned the LCU to where it had been tied up.  Within a year of my return to the US, while attending the US Army Career Course at Fort Lee, Virginia, Colonel Pieklik, the former commander of the Saigon Depot - who had commanded it at the time we were forced to steal supplies from that same depot, was a guest lecturer and stood in front of our class at the end of his presentation and responded to questions.  I was class president and got to field the first question.  I was impressed with the fact that he answered unequivocally, telling our class that the reason his depot was not supplying the Special Forces needs in the IV Tactical Zone (the entire delta area) was that General Westmoreland had ordered him not to.  I would learn that Westmoreland’s futile attempts to convince the Commanding General of IV Tactical Zone (Lieutenant General Quang Van Dang) of the need to permit the use of conventional American forces in the delta had angered him to the extent that he refused logistical support of all unconventional forces in the Delta area.
      Is this of whom I write the General Westmoreland you have pictured in the past? Interestingly, his personal Analysis of America’s Unique Experience in Vietnam, titled "As I Saw it and Now See It" © 1988 General William C. Westmoreland (Go to http://members.aol.c...eroes/wcw2.htm)  contains NO reference to the safe havens or protected shipping permitted our enemy during his watch.
================================================
    It is now 30 years since American troops were forced to retreat from Vietnam. Was the Domino Theory correct? Did those other countries “fall to the communists”? Are the Americans fighting the communists in Hawaii? 
    What happened to Vietnam after the Americans left?  What is Vietnam like 30 years after becoming a united country ruled by communists?
    Well, the communists are still in control. The Vietnamese people seem to be very happy with its government. Despite calling itself communist it has pursued a capitalist economy. It has an annual growth-rate of more than 7%. It had doubled gross domestic product per head since 1995. In the years following the end of the war over 85% lived in poverty. Today that figure is down to 15%.
    The main way that Vietnam has done this is by encouraging foreign investment. Much of this money has come from the United States. (Ironically, the main economic reason for fighting the war was  the fear that a communist Vietnam would prevent foreign investment.)  In the first four months of this year foreign investment tripled to $2.1bn from the same period in 2004. Foreign investors want to use Vietnam as an export base because of its cheap, skilled labour.
      The Vietnamese people have welcomed the investment of foreign capital. A recent poll in Vietnam’s Youth Magazine showed that Bill Gates was seven times more respected than any member of the Politburo of the Vietnamese Communist Party.
    I wonder what the American public thinks about this situation. Do they believe their sacrifice was worthwhile? Does anyone still believe in the Domino Theory?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


DDM Says: The sacrifice of soldiers on both sides was a terrible waste to satisfy those who yearned for power and for control of the almighty dollar. I was blessed to be with 64,000 Buddhist Hoa Haos in my area of n Phu District. No better people have I ever met, bar none. They are now one of the principal peoples that the Communist do not permit to follow their religious faith openly and according the tenets of the founder of the Hoa Hao sect. We must, as a people and as a nation do our best to again become a nation known as "The defender of Freedom" IF we, with our allies, could defeat Hitler and Hirohito you KNOW we could have beaten the Communists in Vietnam IF we had wanted to. Surely the men and women on the ground on both sides believed they were doing right while the power structure played games with their lives.

#27 Mike Toliver

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Posted 05 May 2005 - 08:54 PM

It is interesting that those of us who were in 'Nam often have very different opinions. It is not surprising, however. I spent my time up in I Corps, where the vast majority of Vietnamese were opposed to US involvement. Daniel spent much of his time in close contact with Vietnamese who supported US involvement.

I would guess that, taken as a whole, 70 - 90 % of the South Vietnamese viewed the US as invaders, not liberators. If my guess is close to correct, there was no way we could win the war, no matter what our political will.

The only thing I can add to the discussion is that there was also an important domestic element driving our policies. LBJ wanted his "Great Society", and in order to get it he had to appear hard on communism. He knew that the war was unwinnable, but chose to go ahead because he thought the domestic outcome would justify the losses. You decide if he was right....

#28 Raymond Blair

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Posted 05 May 2005 - 11:15 PM

Mike,

That is in interesting interpretation. I usually hear it the other way. That LBJ was hoping to focus on his War on Poverty but he got drawn into the War in Vietnam. I am not sure how the Vietnam War would help the Great Society programs. MLK Jr. made a clear step away from the Johnson administration by complaining that young black lives were being drawn into Vietnam and not being well supported at home as the focus was lost on Great Society programs.

Johnson and the liberal democratic party wing was committed to out Cold Warrior the Republicans. That meant, no matter what the situation take a stand to avoid any more China's and Cuba's.

His style was more the bull in a China shop variety, and that is how our policies applied themselves in Vietnam.

I write this not to correct you, but to share my academic impressions of a war that I was born during.

Any added insight on how the Great Society was dependent on the Vietnam War?

#29 Mike Toliver

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Posted 06 May 2005 - 12:01 AM

Hi Ray -

I think LBJ did want to focus on the Great Society, but he knew that the only way he'd get the votes to pass it was to "stand up to those commies in Vietnam". So it's not that he viewed Vietnam as "helping" the Great Society in any way, just a political deal he had to cut to get his way.

Johnson, as you know, was a big deal maker. He'd give the cold warriors their "line in the sand" as long as they gave him the Great Society. Then he tried to make deals with the North Vietnamese - but they weren't interested in deals.

So, my interpretation is not very different from yours - I just put the decision to fight in 'Nam first because I believe LBJ did that - just to lay the ground-work for his Great Society "deal".

Now you're making me feel old! You were born during the war? Well, the war went on a long time, so maybe you were born in the early years....

#30 Raymond Blair

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Posted 08 May 2005 - 10:13 PM

Does 1966 help or hurt your feelings on this Mike?



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