Chapter 18: THE IMPOSSIBLE VICTORY: VIETNAM
Argument1 the United States supposedly were backing the regime of Vietnam president Diem but really The United States secretly had thousands of troops on the ground in Vietnam trying to get rid of that regime and put in a new one
- Under the Geneva Accords, the United States was permitted to have 685 military advisers in southern Vietnam. Eisenhower secretly sent several thousand.
- 1961 Pres. Kennedy sent people to Vietnam to engage in sabotage and light harassment
- Under Kennedy, the figure rose to sixteen thousand, and some of them began to take part in combat operations.
- Diem was losing. Most of the South Vietnam countryside was now controlled by local villagers organized by the NLF.Diem was becoming an embarrassment, an obstacle to effective control over Vietnam
- Diem thought he had United States backing but the US lied. Diem called Lodge and he blew him off
- Diem was murdered
Agree or Disagree and why
The facts look pretty clear. Although we were allowed to have a handful of people there we had thousands. 1956 the United States said that Pres. Diem was doing a great job but really we sent troops there to undermine peace in North Vietnam and to engage in sabotage and light harassment. I have no idea things are better or worse under Diem. If monks were committing suicide because the regime is so horrible it's hard to imagine a thing could be worse but I suppose it was in the future so I honestly don't know. I do agree that United States lied and secretly undermined a foreign regime that was in power but I don't know if it would've changed anything in the long run it looks like the people of Vietnam were going to suffer either way under any regime.
Argument 2 President Kennedy said we needed Vietnam because it was about spreading democracy and saving them but really it was about economic interests in the area.
- 1963, Kennedy's Undersecretary of State, U. Alexis Johnson, was speaking before the Economic Club of Detroit said Vietnam provides a lush climate, fertile soil, rich natural resources, a relatively sparse population in most areas, and room to expand.
- The countries of Southeast Asia produce rich exportable surpluses such as rice, rubber, teak, corn, tin, spices, oil, and many others.
- President Kennedy in his explanations to the American public. He talked of Communism and freedom. In a news conference February 14, 1962, he said; "Yes, as you know, the U.S. for more than a decade has been assisting the government, the people of Vietnam, to maintain their independence."
- It later turned out that the Gulf of Tonkin episode was a fake
- The CIA had engaged in a secret operation attacking North Vietnamese coastal installations — so if there had been an attack it would not have been "unprovoked.
- It was not a "routine patrol," because the Maddox was on a special electronic spying mission.
- And it was not in international waters but in Vietnamese territorial waters.
- It turned out that no torpedoes were fired at the Maddox, as McNamara said.
- Another reported attack on another destroyer, two nights later, which Johnson called "open aggression on the high seas," seems also to have been an invention.
Agree or Disagree and why
It looks as though we were after Vietnam's natural resources and so we decided to attack them and pretend that it was in self-defense. It was never about democracy or building a better America and spreading the good word that about getting oil and tin, of all strange things. It looks as though the Vietnamese were going to fight for their land. You have to wonder what would happen if they just gave up would we still own Vietnam today like we do Hawaii? With the Vietnamese people be better or worse off? I honestly don't know. These are really hard questions cousin asked you to look in a magic eight ball that honestly doesn't exist. There is mass suffering in Vietnam people live way below the poverty level and there's a lot of reasons why America is a better place to be so maybe they would be better off if we took them over.
Argument 3 The United States bombed Vietnam with no regard to military targets or communities of women and children.
- United States jet bombers pounded the hills into which they were headed. Many Vietnamese — one estimate is as high as 500 — were killed by the strikes.
- The American contention is that they were Vietcong soldiers.
- But three out of four patients seeking treatment in a Vietnamese hospital afterward for burns from napalm, or jellied gasoline, were village women.
- United States aircraft accidentally bombed a Buddhist pagoda and a Catholic church ... it was the third time their pagoda had been bombed in 1965.
- In another delta province there is a woman who has both arms burned off by napalm and her eyelids so badly burned that she cannot close them. When it is time for her to sleep her family puts a blanket over her head. The woman had two of her children killed in the air strike that maimed her.
- Few Americans appreciate what their nation is doing to South Vietnam with airpower . . . innocent civilians are dying every day in South Vietnam.
Agree or disagree
It's pretty obvious that we are bombing things right and left. The free fire zones covered large areas of South Vietnam and everybody there were considered an enemy. You have to remember that of course they don't have televisions so they don't know that they are in a free fire zone they could just think they're at their friends house or having a picnic by the water. The United States really didn't give them anywhere to go it's not like they could hop in their car and travel someplace to get out of town these are villagers who live in grass huts they had no other options. It sounds disgraceful and embarrassing they could cut down people this way. When people are rounded up and murdered it's a slaughter not warfare.
Argument 4 there was a slaughter of people in the town of MyLai 4 in Quang Ngai United States military rounded up everybody and murdered them in a ditch.
- there is testimony from American soldiers including The testimony of James Dursi, a rifleman, at the later trial of Lieutenant William Calley, was reported in the New York Times: where he talked about the massacre and detailed the women and children and elderly being rounded up put in a ditch and shot
- November, 1969, in connection with the My Lai probe in the United States, they found mass graves at three sites, as well as a ditch full of bodies. It was estimated that between 450 and 500 people -most of them women, children and old men-had been slain and buried there.
- There were photos taken of the killing by an army photographer, Ronald Haeberle. Seymour Hersh, then working for an antiwar news agency in Southeast Asia called Dispatch News Service, wrote about it.
- The story of the massacre had appeared in May 1968 in two French publications, one called Sud Vietnam en Lutte, and another published by the North Vietnamese delegation to the peace talks in Paris-but the American press did not pay any attention.
- There were letters reported a letter sent by a GI to his family, and published in a local newspaper: it told of the attack.
Agree or disagree
It's pretty clear that the United States was trying to break the will of the Vietnamese people. It's to Vietnam's credit that they held out as long as they did. If someone did this to me I would've given up right away. I think because this all happened in the 60s is really almost unbelievable. We think of the Nazis as being monsters because they rounded up innocent Jews put them into ovens and murdered them yet this is exactly what American troops did in tiny villages all over Vietnam. It was only 20 years before the Nazis murdered all those Jews so you have to assume that the soldiers know people that were in World War II some may have even fought in World War II. It makes you wonder didn't they learn anything from the atrocities suffered there? I see a direct correlation between murdering innocent civilians in World War II and murdering innocent civilians in Vietnam. What it does is crush the soul of the people and take away their desire to do anything but to submit to your will. I'm amazed Vietnam didn't just give up, I would have.