About

I'm Mike Pope. I live in the Seattle area. I've been a technical writer and editor for over 30 years. I'm interested in software, language, music, movies, books, motorcycles, travel, and ... well, lots of stuff.

Read more ...

Blog Search


(Supports AND)

Google Ads

Feed

Subscribe to the RSS feed for this blog.

See this post for info on full versus truncated feeds.

Quote

Deeply held beliefs of any kind prevent you from being open to experience, which is why I find all firmly held ideological positions questionable. [...] One of the signs of a damaged ego is absolute certainty.

Milton Glaser



Navigation





<September 2018>
SMTWTFS
2627282930311
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30123456

Categories

  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  

Contact

Email me

Blog Statistics

Dates
First entry - 6/27/2003
Most recent entry - 9/21/2018

Totals
Posts - 2522
Comments - 2582
Hits - 2,081,911

Averages
Entries/day - 0.45
Comments/entry - 1.02
Hits/day - 374

Updated every 30 minutes. Last: 12:17 PM Pacific


  01:42 AM

Another slice o' cites from Barbara Tuchman's The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam. (For background, read the intro post.)

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4
Executive War 1964-68 (Part I)

Johnson felt he had to be "strong," to show himself in command, especially to overshadow the aura of the Kennedys, both the dead and the living. He did not feel a comparable impulse to be wise; to examine options before he spoke. He lacked Kennedy's ambivalence, born of a certain historical sense and at least some capacity for reflective thinking. Forceful and domineering, a man infatuated with himself, Johnson was affected in his conduct of policy by three elements in his character: an ego that was insatiable and never secure; a bottomless capacity to use and impose the powers of office without inhibition; a profound aversion, once fixed upon a course of action, to any contra-indications. [311]

No one in the Executive branch advocated withdrawal, partly in fear of encouragement of Communism and damage to American prestige, partly in fear of domestic reprisals. And for another reason, the most enduring in the history of folly: personal advantage, in this case a second term. [303]

Enormity of the stakes was the new self-hypnosis. To let North Vietnam win would give incalculable encouragement to Communists everywhere, erode confidence everywhere in the United States and arouse the right at home to political slaughter. [312]

The Senate, a third of whom were also up for re-election, did not wish to embarrass the President two months before a national vote or show themselves any less protective of American lives. After a one-day hearing, the Resolution authorizing "all necessary measures" was adopted by the Foreign Relations Committee by a vote of 14 to 1 and subsequently approved by both Houses. It justified the grant of war powers on the rather spongy ground that the United States regards as "vital to its international interests and to world peace, the maintenance of international peace and security." [...] By its ready acquiesence, the Senate, once so jealous of its constitutional prerogative to declare war, had signed it over to the Executive. [317]

Not concealing his displeasure at this rejection, [U.N. Secretary General] U Thant pointedly told a press conference in February that further bloodshed in Southeast Asia was unnecessary and that only negotiation could "enable the United States to withdraw gracefully from that part of the world." By that time the American bombing campaign had begun and under the crashing and killing of American air raids the opportunity for graceful exit would never come again. [318]

In all their public justifications, the President, the Secretary of State and other spokesmen harped on "aggression," "militant aggression," "armed aggression," always in comparison with the failure to stop the aggressions that had brought on World War II, always implying that Vietnam too was a case of foreign aggression. They made the point so insistently that they sometimes said it explicitly, as when McNamara in 1966 called it "the most flagrant case of outside aggression." [323]

United States soldiers were killing and being killed, United States pilots were diving through anti-aircraft fire and, when crashing, were being captured to become prisoners of war. War is a procedure from which there can be no turning back without acknowledging defeat. This was a self-laid trap into which America had walked. Only with the greatest difficulty and rarest success, as belligerents mired in futility have often discovered, can combat be terminated in favor of compromise. Because it is a final resort to destruction and death, war has traditionally been accompanied by the solemn statement of justification. [...] However false and specious the justification may be, and usually is, a legalism of this kind serves to state the case and automatically endows the government with enlarged powers. [325-326]

In an unveiled warning to members of Congress in the mid-term election of 1966 the AFL-CIO Council resolved, "Those who would deny our military forces unstinting support are in effect aiding the Communist enemy of our country." [327]

A journalist who had covered the war in Europe recalled the smiles and hugs and joyous offers of wine when GIs came through liberated areas of Italy. In Vietnam, the rural people, when American units passed them on the streets or in the villages, kept their eyes down or looked the other way and offered no greetings. "They just wanted us to go home." Here was a sign of the vanity of "nation-building." What nation has ever been built from the outside? [329]

The Administration was chained to the aim of ensuring a non-Communist South Vietnam in order to make its exit with credibility intact. The goal had subtly changed from blocking Communism to saving face. [329]

[categories]   ,

|