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Vietnam Declassified: Kennedy, Johnson,Nixon


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I think beyond helping the poor South Vietnamese "democracy" defend themselves from a communist takeover the main reason I remember reading, hearing or being taught we were there is the Domino Theory.  I imagine most posters here are at least somewhat familiar with it.  Maybe a younger newer reader or two is not.  I did not realize that, at least according to this article, some US clandestine support went as far back as Truman.

http://www.history.com/topics/cold-war/domino-theory

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As a great industrial and military power, the United States has an interest in the region because it is an important source of strategic materials. Southeast Asia produces two-thirds of the world's tin and over 75 percent of its natural rubber. While its output of oil is not large in terms of total world production, American Policy 285 it is nevertheless of great strategic importance because so little oil is produced in South or Eastern Asia. In 1954 Free Asia (which for these particular commodities meant chiefly Southeast Asia) supplied the United States with 99 percent of its imports of copra, 91 percent of its natural rubber, 67 percent of its Manila hemp, 61 percent of its spices, and 58 percent of its tin. The loss of these supplies of strategic materials to the West would be serious but probably not irreparable. But free access to them by Communist countries would greatly strengthen the Red orbit. Before the war, the region also produced 65 percent of the world's copra, 40 percent of its palm oil, 85 percent of its pepper, 90 percent of its quinine, and 70 percent of its kapok. Burma, Indochina, and Thailand are also capable of producing tremendous quantities of rice.

The loss of Southeast Asia would have serious economic consequences for many nations of the free world and conversely would add significant resources to the Soviet bloc. Southeast Asia, especially Malaya and Indonesia, is the principal world source of natural rubber and tin, and a producer of petroleum and other strategically important commodities. The loss of Southeast Asia, especially of Malaya and Indonesia, could result in such economic and political pressures in Japan as to make it extremely difficult to prevent Japan's eventual accommodation to communism." 

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58 minutes ago, Martin Blank said:

 

As a great industrial and military power, the United States has an interest in the region because it is an important source of strategic materials. Southeast Asia produces two-thirds of the world's tin and over 75 percent of its natural rubber. While its output of oil is not large in terms of total world production, American Policy 285 it is nevertheless of great strategic importance because so little oil is produced in South or Eastern Asia. In 1954 Free Asia (which for these particular commodities meant chiefly Southeast Asia) supplied the United States with 99 percent of its imports of copra, 91 percent of its natural rubber, 67 percent of its Manila hemp, 61 percent of its spices, and 58 percent of its tin. The loss of these supplies of strategic materials to the West would be serious but probably not irreparable. But free access to them by Communist countries would greatly strengthen the Red orbit. Before the war, the region also produced 65 percent of the world's copra, 40 percent of its palm oil, 85 percent of its pepper, 90 percent of its quinine, and 70 percent of its kapok. Burma, Indochina, and Thailand are also capable of producing tremendous quantities of rice.

The loss of Southeast Asia would have serious economic consequences for many nations of the free world and conversely would add significant resources to the Soviet bloc. Southeast Asia, especially Malaya and Indonesia, is the principal world source of natural rubber and tin, and a producer of petroleum and other strategically important commodities. The loss of Southeast Asia, especially of Malaya and Indonesia, could result in such economic and political pressures in Japan as to make it extremely difficult to prevent Japan's eventual accommodation to communism."

Apply the negative template: what is left out of the above analysis of SE Asian commodity markets?

Opium.

In the 50's heroin was weaponized, flooded into minority urban communities in a mass exercise of eugenics.

Apply the negative template: what is commonly left out of Vietnam war analyses like Jim's here?

Kennedy's policy in Laos.

Edited by Cliff Varnell
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On ‎6‎/‎21‎/‎2017 at 7:37 PM, Paul Brancato said:

Joe You're draft story reminds me of my own in a way. I think I'm a little older. My draft number was 45, and like you I went to Oakland for my exam, probably in 1970. I passed the physical, but before I went for my psyche exam I put a 'get out of Vietnam' sticker, which someone there was handing out, on my papers. I did have a letter from a Quaker org that supplied psyche exams for draftees. I ended up getting a psychological deferment. My examining psychologist told me he agree with my anti war sentiment!!!!

Joe and Paul maybe you can relate to this.  I just finished reading an article in the latest issue of Rolling Stone on Greg Allman.  "Greg also had no use for the Vietnam War.  One night he got drunk and shot himself in the foot.  He was then exempt from the selective service."

Edited by Ron Bulman
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I agree about what it did to this country.

But man, what about Vietnam?  Those poor people had just fought the French for eight years.  They finally won, and then the Dulles brothers, Nixon and Ike decided that they really had not won.  So they switch out Bao Dai for Ngo DInh Diem, and have him cancel the 1956 unification elections.  Nineteen years later, after about three million civilian casualties (and another 1.7 million if you throw in Cambodia) then the country is finally independent. 

And BTW, it did not take that long after for us to establish relations with them.  

Aas C Wright Mills once said, American foreign policy during the Cold War was really crackpot realism.

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Imagery of the horror of the war for both sides was deeper than anything before or since.  From taped video on the nightly news  to Life and Time magazines pictures it changed public opinion.  They and the newspaper were the only sources of information at the time for the few who cared to read. No IPhone or Internet, until the pictures and video tape, in magazines and on tv.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2441235/Historic-images-Vietnam-War-courageous-AP-photographers.

http://time.com/3841060/iconic-vietnam-war-photos/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3zNJ9yTdJY

Take the time to watch all 17 minutes of the last one in full screen.  Only seen it myself for the first time tonight.

 

 

Edited by Ron Bulman
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BTW Ron:

Those films and photos were just really powerful.  Vietnam  was not like other wars.   It was so unusually in so many ways.  The civilians were caught in the middle of so much of it.  

All those bombs dropped on what, rice paddies and palm trees?

And the US army started falling apart in 1969.  I knew a captain there.  He said when Nixon announced the first withdrawals with more to come, that is when we knew it was over.  He said there was no way the ARVN was going to defeat both the Viet Cong and the Army of North Vietnam.  He said if the Americans could not do it, the ARVN had no chance.  So the army began to collapse.

As John Kerry so memorably said on the DIck Cavett show:  Who wants to be the last guy to die for a mistake?

Edited by James DiEugenio
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6-8 months ago I asked my 24 year old high school teacher daughter if she had ever heard of Kent State.  No.  Some history is ignored in high school and most college courses.  I physically blocked her view of her cell phone to get her to pay attention to parts of this (with my open hand). 

Neil Young, an illegal at the time Canadian immigrant wrote the song after reading and seeing images in a newspaper, then on TV.  Within about 24 hours.  It was recorded and on the air within 72 hours.  No video or internet support but highly requested from dj's.   

https://www.bing.com/search?q=crosby+stills+nash+and+young+ohio&form=PRUSEN&mkt=en-us&httpsmsn=1&refig=ad25c23c830e47ec8a6f4fbdd8789d73&sp=-1&pq=crosby+stills+nash+and+young+ohio&sc=10-33&qs=n&sk=&cvid=ad25c23c830e47ec8a6f4fbdd8789d73  

Me Lai would probably result in me what or me who?

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Jim

I think we need to cross-out 3 and insert 4 for it was four US presidents that guided the Vietnam disaster.

From Kinzer, "The Brothers", pg 210.

"We have been exploring ways and means to permit our aid to Vietnam to be more effective and to make a greater contribution to the welfare and stability of the government of Vietnam", Eisenhower wrote to Diem in a letter`dated October 23, the same day as the staged-managed referendum. "I am, accordingly, instructing the American Ambassador to Vietnam to examine with you in your capacity as Chief of Government, how an intelligent program of American aid given directly to your government can serve to assist Vietnam in it's present hour of trial".

Three days later in accordance with the offer, Secretary of Defense Charles Wilson directed the Joints Chiefs of Staff to prepare a "long-range program for the organization and training of a minimum number of free Vietnam forces for internal security." Some historians point to the decisions of this week - Eisenhower's letter and Wilson's directive - as the biginning of a commitment to South Vietnam that would, over the next two decades, cost the United States more then $100 billion and the lives of more than fifty-eight thousand soldiers.

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George,

 

If you go to the third part of the show, I name the Dulles brothers, Nixon and Ike as the people who got us into Vietnam.  I then use what I think is a great quote from Foster Dulles as to how joyful he was that the French lost at DIen Bien Phu so now we could take over.  Which has to be one of the stupidest comments anyone has ever made about Vietnam.

The point of the show was to accent decalcified docs on the Vietnam disaster of which there have been many in the last decade or so from those three administrations.

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Jim

I understand. However I wanted to highlight Eisenhower's role in Vietnam since it seems historians, except for a few, give him a pass on Vietnam.

IMHO, Eisenhower and Allen Dulles are partners-in-crime. Many on this forum think that's baloney but it's a fact. Kinzer doesn't spare Ike and I feel his work, "The Brothers" is a valuable contribution to our understanding of Eisenhower's administration, especially foreign affairs.

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3 hours ago, George Sawtelle said:

Jim

I understand. However I wanted to highlight Eisenhower's role in Vietnam since it seems historians, except for a few, give him a pass on Vietnam.

IMHO, Eisenhower and Allen Dulles are partners-in-crime. Many on this forum think that's baloney but it's a fact. Kinzer doesn't spare Ike and I feel his work, "The Brothers" is a valuable contribution to our understanding of Eisenhower's administration, especially foreign affairs.

I should probably read the reviews at amazon for perspective before posting but I thought I'd read somewhere (maybe on this site?) that "The Brothers" gives Allen and John Foster at least somewhat of a fawning treatment.  Not that this would necessarily preclude it from still being informative. 

Edited by Ron Bulman
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On 7/6/2017 at 1:36 AM, James DiEugenio said:

If you go to the third part of the show, I name the Dulles brothers, Nixon and Ike as the people who got us into Vietnam.

Kennedy green-lit the overthrow of Diem on August, 24, 1963, having been taken off-guard by Averell Harriman, George Ball, Roger Hilsman, and Michael Forrestal okaying Cable 243 to So Viet Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge

If JFK had fired all four of those guys and sent a new cable to Lodge that countermanded Cable 243 he would have taken control of SE Asia policy.

Kennedy's failure to seize command of that policy had as much to do with the Vietnam war as anything.

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