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NY Times on Rescuing a Vietnam Casualty: Johnson’s Legacy


Douglas Caddy
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I was going to comment on this but nausea overcame me...

Only yesterday I was looking through The Wise Men, and was astounded at how clear it is that LBJ WANTED the war in Vietnam. Yeah, sure, he didn't want it to drag on and on, and was tortured by the deaths of so many young men. But he and a few of his closest advisers--Rostow, for example--wanted it just the same.

The old guard, the wise men--McCloy Harriman, Acheson, etc--thought an escalation would be foolish, and were proved right.

As far as LBJ's other achievements, they were almost all put into action by Kennedy, or made possible because of his death.

I tend to think of LBJ as a pathological xxxx who lied and manipulated (and quite possibly killed) his way to the top, only to find the dirty looks of those on to him unbearable, and the view from his lofty perch unrewarding.

He's America's MacBeth. And Lady MacBeth, for that matter.

P.S. Is anybody else watching House of Cards, and noting all the references to LBJ on the show? Well, that's no coincidence. The show's creator, Beau Willimon, admits he modeled the character of Frank Underwood on LBJ. So far he's murdered his way to the Vice-Presidency. It will be interesting if he makes it to President.

Edited by Pat Speer
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  • 2 weeks later...

I was going to comment on this but nausea overcame me...

Only yesterday I was looking through The Wise Men, and was astounded at how clear it is that LBJ WANTED the war in Vietnam. Yeah, sure, he didn't want it to drag on and on, and was tortured by the deaths of so many young men. But he and a few of his closest advisers--Rostow, for example--wanted it just the same.

The old guard, the wise men--McCloy Harriman, Acheson, etc--thought an escalation would be foolish, and were proved right.

As far as LBJ's other achievements, they were almost all put into action by Kennedy, or made possible because of his death.

I tend to think of LBJ as a pathological xxxx who lied and manipulated (and quite possibly killed) his way to the top, only to find the dirty looks of those on to him unbearable, and the view from his lofty perch unrewarding.

He's America's MacBeth. And Lady MacBeth, for that matter.

P.S. Is anybody else watching House of Cards, and noting all the references to LBJ on the show? Well, that's no coincidence. The show's creator, Beau Willimon, admits he modeled the character of Frank Underwood on LBJ. So far he's murdered his way to the Vice-Presidency. It will be interesting if he makes it to President.

Pat:

Very interesting. I was unaware that these were your beliefs.

Some comments:

(1)Re Vietnam. . . : IMHO: LBJ probably believed (foolishly, of course) that he could send a "brigade" (or so) to Vietnam, win the war, and that would be the end of it. (Yes, I think he was that ignorant when it came to foreign affairs). By contrast, Kennedy had visited Vietnam, understood that was absurd. Most important, Kennedy gave his rather stunning anti-Colonial speech on 7/3/57, which made clear he understood the historical context: that the time had come for people to be allowed self-determination; and if a nation's hero was a nationalist who was a Communist, then it was absurd to fight that because of some mistaken adherence to a "domino" theory (and/or the Munich theory).

(2) Re your exploration of The Wise Men, could you provide some page references? Or a brief summary of some of the key quotes? (I'm interested).

(3 ) Re House of Cards. . I know little about the show, or its author. Very interesting.

(4) You really ought to read MacBird. . its a brilliant analyses and I don't for a minute believe the author's claims that she did not mean to imply what (to me, anyway) was her obvious intent. (And fyi: Her husband, Marvin Garson, ran the Grassy Knoll Press [as I recall] ).

More another time.

DSL

3/1/14; 6:15 M

Los Angeles, California

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Pat:

Very interesting. I was unaware that these were your beliefs.

Some comments:

(1)Re Vietnam. . . : IMHO: LBJ probably believed (foolishly, of course) that he could send a "brigade" (or so) to Vietnam, win the war, and that would be the end of it. (Yes, I think he was that ignorant when it came to foreign affairs). By contrast, Kennedy had visited Vietnam, understood that was absurd. Most important, Kennedy gave his rather stunning anti-Colonial speech on 7/3/57, which made clear he understood the historical context: that the time had come for people to be allowed self-determination; and if a nation's hero was a nationalist who was a Communist, then it was absurd to fight that because of some mistaken adherence to a "domino" theory (and/or the Munich theory).

(2) Re your exploration of The Wise Men, could you provide some page references? Or a brief summary of some of the key quotes? (I'm interested).

(3 ) Re House of Cards. . I know little about the show, or its author. Very interesting.

(4) You really ought to read MacBird. . its a brilliant analyses and I don't for a minute believe the author's claims that she did not mean to imply what (to me, anyway) was her obvious intent. (And fyi: Her husband, Marvin Garson, ran the Grassy Knoll Press [as I recall] ).

More another time.

DSL

3/1/14; 6:15 M

Los Angeles, California

I have read MacBird, and found it quite interesting. As I recall, one of the murders committed by MacBird was of a character based on Adlai Stevenson. It had never occurred to me at the time that Stevenson may have been murdered. I followed up on it a bit and found that Stevenson's death was indeed suspicious. As I recall, he dropped dead on the streets of Paris after doing a radio interview in which he denounced the Vietnam war. He died of a heart attack. Well, as we now know, the CIA and KGB etc had poisons that could initiate or simulate massive heart attacks, that could be delivered via a hand shake or a bump into a stranger on the street.

As far as the Wise Men, I guess the main bit that hit me was a quote attributed to Averill Harriman, after running into Roger Hilsman in early 1964. It's on page 641 of the paperback. Harriman and Hilsman were both on the outs with Johnson at the time. They'd both supported the Diem Coup and by early '64 it looked like they'd made a mistake. In any event, according to Hilsman, who was interviewed for the book, Harriman at that time believed he'd be invited back into Johnson's circle because "Johnson's going to escalate and it's not going to work...He'll have to negotiate and he'll do it through the Russians. I'm the only one he can send."

Keep in mind that this was early '64, long before the Tonkin Gulf incident, or non-incident,, for that matter... And Harriman was already talking about an escalation that would not work...

Edited by Pat Speer
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