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Vietnam: The Consensus Unravels

Vietnam: The Consensus Unravels

“Why did the world’s most powerful nation fail to achieve its objectives and suffer its first defeat in war, a humiliating and deeply frustrating experience for a people accustomed to success?” -- George Herring

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Spiro Bolos

April 14, 2022
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  1. Vietnam The Consensus Unravels

  2. America’s Longest War? 1950 - 1975

  3. Why?

  4. Why? Despite the expenditure of more than $150 billion,

  5. Why?

  6. Why? Despite the application of its great technical expertise,

  7. Why?

  8. Why? Despite the employment of a huge military arsenal,

  9. Why?

  10. “Why did the world’s most powerful nation fail to achieve

    its objectives and suffer its first defeat in war, a humiliating and deeply frustrating experience for a people accustomed to success?”
  11. George C. Herring Author, America’s Longest War

  12. John Olson, ©1968 (Battle of Hue)

  13. ~58,000 ~millions

  14. None
  15. None
  16. None
  17. None
  18. None
  19. None
  20. None
  21. None
  22. Ho Chi Minh

  23. Vietminh + OSS Office of Strategic Services

  24. 1941-42

  25. 1941-42

  26. “Your statesmen make eloquent speeches about helping those with self-

    determination. WE are self- determined.
  27. Why not help us? Am I any different from... even

    your George Washington?”
  28. September, 1945 INDEPENDENCE

  29. “We hold these truths to be self-evident. That all men

    are created equal.”
  30. March, 1946

  31. “French…troops are making active preparations for a coup….I therefore most

    earnestly appeal to you… and to the American people to… support…our independence…” TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:
  32. President Harry S Truman

  33. The United States could not “afford to assume that Ho

    is anything but Moscow-directed.” US State Department, 1947
  34. “Fall” of China 1949

  35. “domino theory”

  36. None
  37. Bao Dai (SOUTH)

  38. None
  39. $152 million > 1950-51 50

  40. $152 million > 1952

  41. None
  42. “New Look”

  43. $385 million > 1953

  44. Dienbienphu 1954

  45. Dienbienphu 1954

  46. Dienbienphu 1954

  47. Dienbienphu 1954

  48. Dienbienphu 1954

  49. “No more Koreas!”

  50. Geneva Accords 1954

  51. “[The USA] has not been party to or is not

    bound by the decisions taken by the conference.”
  52. 17th parallel

  53. Elections 1956

  54. CIA (formerly, OSS)

  55. Ngo Dinh Diem

  56. Ngo Dinh Diem 98%

  57. None
  58. patronage

  59. abolished elections

  60. shut down

  61. dissenters

  62. A two-part Civil War

  63. Ho Diem vs.

  64. Ho Diem vs. NLF vs.

  65. NLF

  66. NLF: National Liberation Front > Vietcong (VC)

  67. Understanding Vietnam

  68. vs.

  69. Consensus Assumptions

  70. JFK

  71. “Project Beef-up”

  72. 16,000 “Advisers” 489 killed

  73. Strategic Hamlet program

  74. None
  75. Thich Quang Duc burns himself to death on a Saigon

    street.
  76. “I feel that we must bear a good deal of

    the responsibility for it…”
  77. “Why do the leaves fall?.... <pause> I was shocked by…”

  78. Dallas, TX: 11/22/63

  79. None
  80. LBJ “I’m not going down in history as the first

    American President who lost a war.”
  81. Tonkin Gulf Resolution August 7, 1964

  82. Tonkin Gulf Resolution 416-0 (House) 88-2 (Senate) 1:48

  83. “take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against

    the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression.” Tonkin Gulf Resolution
  84. Tonkin Gulf Resolution 416-0 (House) 88-2 (Senate)

  85. On Kawara, Title ©1965

  86. Catherine Leroy, ©1968 (Battle of Hue)

  87. Tet Offensive January, 1968

  88. Tet Offensive January, 1968

  89. Tet Offensive Catherine Leroy, ©1968 (Battle of Hue)

  90. My Lai: March 16, 1968

  91. My Lai: March 16, 1968

  92. “We huddled them up. We made them squat down…I poured

    about 4 clips into the group….The mothers was hugging their children….Well, we kept right on firing. They was waving their arms and begging….I still dream about it.” Pvt. Paul Meadlo, father of two
  93. None
  94. Above and Beyond © 2016

  95. “I feel like a hitchhiker caught in a hailstorm on

    a Texas highway. I can’t run, I can’t hide, and I can’t make it stop.”
  96. None
  97. Nixon

  98. Kent State: May 4, 1970

  99. “Vietnamization”

  100. The Consensus Unravels

  101. “The United States’ involvement in Vietnam was not primarily the

    result of errors of judgment of the personality quirks of the policymakers, although these things existed in abundance.
  102. “It was the logical, if not inevitable, outgrowth of a

    world view and a policy; the policy of containment which Americans in and out of government accepted without serious question for more than two decades.”
  103. George C. Herring May, 1979

  104. We must act to stop Communism and we have the

    right to do this, everywhere.
  105. DEFEAT April 29, 1975

  106. We have faith in our leaders and our [superior] political

    institutions.
  107. End of the Great Society

  108. America can solve or is already solving all of its

    problems.
  109. Vietnamese “boat people”

  110. None
  111. “The earliest architects of America’s containment doctrine…had always predicted a

    Soviet implosion. If we had believed our own rhetoric…we would not have thought it necessary to fight…every battle. [W]hich is why…those of us who make the annual pilgrimage are always reduced to tears.” — Joseph Ellis
  112. None
  113. None